Monday, December 26, 1994

1994 Top Ten

10) The Noose of the News: The year certainly had more than its share of wacky news events. Locally, the cracking of the arson case raised a proud smile. In the sports world alone, we had the sale and salvation of the fighting Woofies; we had yet another baseball strike and the first missed World Series since the turn of the century; and to top it all off, the incredible OJ circus. With the growing influence of tabloid journalism, we see personal lives being dissected under the guise, the perpetual battle cry of legitimate news gathering and the "right to know". The ultimate example of this of course, was the incredible saga of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, perfectly scripted, purposely pursued by the "media" into one of the all time surrealistic journeys into the world of competition, corruption, greed, insecurity, insincerity and hype. All that was proven though, was that the escapism of the entertainment world is increasingly being mixed with politics and art into something perverse that is supposed to occupy us, concern us and matter to us. The unquestioned myth is that what is news is what is reported not that the corporate monopoly of the major news organizations and the sole basis of choosing what is reported is the film available, the gossip quotient, and if it makes compelling viewing.

9) Fabulous Babes of the Year: Sandra "SJL" Bullock and Liz Phair.

8) We Want Newt: Politics as usual? No way. Anything but that. OK, the government needs to "downsize" and the folks in Washington seem to have lost all grasp on what they are actually there for. Still I swear, I for one, will never vote again until someone, anyone comes out and admits they are a "liberal," a proud part of the counterculture, and deny the rewriting of history, that the mistake of Vietnam was nonsupport, and that JFK and MLK were deviants, and admit that government can help people, and that for some programs tax increases are necessary and that being tough on crime doesn't merely mean that you're against it and want more prisons and death sentences and so on and so on....

7) Bob's Events of the Year: In 1965 he plugged in and combined the dizzying, swirling effects of rock and roll with the pure joy of the written word. In 1994, he unplugged again and proved his contributions to his fans can take on so many different forms. One only hopes that the unreleased material from his MTV appearance will someday see the light of day (a version of Desolation Row was among that left out of the broadcast). His new song, Dignity is another timeless and priceless ranting from our best poet. Best lyric of the year? "Got no place to fade, got no coat. I'm on a rolling river on a jerkin' boat, trying to read a note, someone wrote, about Dignity." You want live performances? His was the only concert I attended all year and it was down in Rochester shared with a friend. Mr. Dylan proved even after the tenth time I've seen him, that he is still the most charismatic, most relevant singer/songwriter in our lifetime. Constantly challenging expectations, constantly questioning, and constantly coming up with ways to make one see something, feel something differently, Dylan continues to prove the power of music. If this is what growing old means, with grace and dignity and mercy, please sign me up.

6) The Song of the Year: A tie: Madonna's Secret, and Liz Phair's SuperNova. One song will years from now bring on memories of what this year was all about for me, the other continues the ascent of a shooting star.

5) The Album (CD) of the Year: For most of the year it wasn't even a question: Freedy Johnston's This Perfect World was like a breath of fresh air. I have played it over and over and there isn't a moment during the song cycle that doesn't ring true and add to what came before. The pictures painted beginning with Bad Reputation all the way through to the climactic Evie's Garden couldn't say any more. This is the one CD that I will still be playing years from now. But, the true gem of 1994 was Madonna's surprising "comeback" effort, Bedtime Stories. In danger of becoming a parody of herself with her recent output of music, books, movies and the embarrassing David Letterman appearance, who would have expected such a lush and moving collection of songs? The first two singles, Secret and Take a Bow are so well crafted that one is forced to reevaluate all of Madonna's recent excesses and once again consider what she might come to be in the future.

4) The Movie of the Year: The rollicking, rolling, always entertaining bus ride of a movie, Speed.

3) The Film of the Year: Hands down, Pulp Fiction. The mixture of dazzling dialogue, the threading together of multiple story lines, and the mastery of movie making and the love of the art itself was more than impressive. This movie stands as far above the rest as last year's best picture, Schindler's List did.

2) Television Event of the Year: During the unbearable, obnoxious, snobbish pledge "week" of our local PBS outlet, KTCA, came a gem of a rebroadcast, Frank Sinatra's 1974 concert, The Main Event. I owned the LP for years but to see it video wise, TV wise and other wise, was a treat. It's priceless just to see and hear Howard Cosell's introduction and the ultimate Sinatra banter, "I've never felt as much love in one room as I feel in this room tonight..."

1) Day of the Year: November 9. Reflection, deliberate introspection, evaluation and analysis. Survival and blessings for all that has passed and all that is still yet to come...

Monday, December 12, 1994

Those Wacky Wacky Staff Meetings

You always told me, people don't do what they believe in, they just do what's most convenient, then they repent..."

If you throw a group of people into a room, people with various skills, different amounts of knowledge, different motivations and levels of commitment, and have them discuss common issues and agendas, the results you get can of course, vary.

Throw those same people into the same room on a regular basis, and certain truths in group dynamics emerge. Some people will lead the discussions while others remain silent, either actively or passively listening. Some will become emotionally charged when an issue strikes their interest; others will always seem to be aloof, completely indifferent to discussions, giving the impression they would rather be anywhere than where they currently are.

The quality and importance of staff meetings varies as much as the people involved. I have sat in on meetings where the value of the outcome was definitely enhanced by the power of group thinking; where the sum was noticeably greater than the parts, where the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few.

I have also sat in on meetings where the group was so split, or so incompatible, or so poorly led that the results were downright demoralizing. The bottom of an admittedly mediocre state career was a staff meeting where the first agenda item we discussed was to define the meanings of the terms, "in" and "out." When was a person "out" of the office? Was it when they were outside the office proper, down in the breakroom, or did they have to be physically outside? To be "in" did they have to be at their desk? By the end of the discussion the eye rolling going on in the room nearly turned to tears as we never did agree on the definition of the terms but did prove that sometimes the taxpayers don't get their money's worth from state employees.

Now, as the leader of weekly staff meetings along with larger group meetings, I have learned the most important thing is to try and find a way to get everyone in the room actively involved, to create an environment where their input is encouraged at all times. To balance that with keeping everyone on track so the meeting doesn't turn into one long complaint or gossip session, is no easy task to accomplish. With effort, you do get better as you go along. The words Mr. Confident Conference Man, and the Personable People Person, and the Natural Born Leader all now appear bolded on my resume'.

The tone of the meeting is created not only in the chosen agenda items and their presentation, but in the room's ambiance, the mood set, the chemistry between the people involved, the structure of how the "leader" chooses to lead the discussion (do we go around the table and get/force everyone's input or do we create a give and take, free for all set up?), among many other variables.

Staff meetings can be a waste of time. With a desk full of work, often the last thing I want to do is set aside an hour to discuss issues rather than activelywork on them. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture; perhaps by participating in a discussion, an idea that wouldn't have occurred to me will be crystal clear to another. Meetings can be a place to see where the pieces fit together, how something I do, affects another's work and vice versa. Processes and procedures should always be questioned and examined. A group meeting is often the best forum for such an examination.

The attitude one brings into meetings makes a difference. Meetings can be WORK, a waste of time, but they can also be rewarding. To step back from the grind of one's workload to enforce the overall goals of one's group, can be a eye opening, educational experience. OK, it may not be as exciting as being on a speeding bus with Sandra Bullock at the wheel making googly eyes at you, but it can be fulfilling nonetheless. To want to make a difference, to want one's organization to be the best it can be, can be a job within a job. That's something those career conscious creatures long ago figured out how to best use to their benefit, advantage and advancement.

Monday, December 5, 1994

Write Away

So what does G.A.T.T. mean to you and me? Not a damn thing according to the Woman with Ideas. She is convinced global warming will do us all in long before the effects of G.A.T.T. take hold. Melt those polar ice caps. Burn those holes in our sky. It's only a matter of time.

But that has nothing to do with this week's topic. Rather, we would like to take the time now to tell you about a friend, and for purposes of privacy and anonymity, we will refer to him only as "Debbie."

"Debbie" has spent most of his adult life wanting to be a writer. For a long time, this meant taking classes, studying, participating in philosophical discussions on the art and history of the written word, and most importantly, sulking and suffering the way writers are supposed to do. Then one day, "Debbie" discovered a secret; to be a writer, one had to write.

These past five years have been far and away the most prolific writing period of "Debbie's" life. He even managed to get a steady writing job. Some say the quality of his writing has steadily deteriorated over the years. Some say his best writing these days are his two sentence e-mail memos he writes in his day to day responsibilities. Others say a significant piece of work is far beyond his reach and that he hasn't written anything substantial for years. Some would even say he has only mastered how to hide behind his words to avoid what he simply used to say. But "Debbie" persists. He'll write until someone tells him to stop.

He has learned it is often times difficult to hear one's inner voice. It is much easier to get wrapped up in one's job, in one's social life than it is to grab the pen and paper during the glow of the late night embers, further isolate one's self and try to communicate what's inside to others who will hold you in judgment for what you create. On top of that, the mind can be at odds with what's in the heart; and trying to find the right mixture of thoughts and feelings, working through the defenses, is one of the biggest challenges facing any writer. Thus to find another who speaks the same inner language can be an inspiring and sometimes overwhelming discovery. It certainly isn't something one should dismiss and walk away from.

But another lesson "Debbie" has learned over the years is it is possible to be inspired by the wrong things. Since writing is 90% inspiration and 10% suffocation, to "Debbie" this is one big mother of a serious lesson to have picked up along the way. Much of writing has to do with being synchronized with where one is currently at; another piece is striving for what one can possibly be. To use energy on ultimately futile endeavors is a criminal waste of the gift of inspiration.

"Debbie" certainly has learned a lot. Perhaps the most important lesson of all, is one many children have instilled into them at the earliest stages of development: To share can be one of the most fulfilling feelings a human can experience. To find a mirror who not only understands the reflection but encourages it, with humor, wit, kindness, and love, can go a long way to cure any ailment.

But one has to remain challenged. Even a mirror can't give a true, lasting image. One needs to touch to feel. It's equally valuable to find inspiration that will continue to question what one has come to take for granted; one who'll get under the skin, and in the heart, and just won't leave. To understand the intensity of pure light, often what is needed are walls to bounce the light off of, to give it a unique perspective. A ray of light can warm either from the inside out, or the outside in. You can't learn to blow smoke rings until you snap your jaw and hold down your tongue.

So what is the universal lesson we all can take from "Debbie's" education? That unchanneled, unchallenged passion can paralyze despite its importance to any artistic aspiration or any other accomplishment. You can analyze and examine our culture, our society to the point of hopelessness. Eventually one has to get up and just do it (sneakers speak). Some of the greatest accomplishments have never been done. You have to do the day to day to get to where you will be tomorrow. Angels may walk the earth, but you'll run across a few people along the way. Good night and drive safely.

Monday, November 28, 1994

Stuffing It

Well, I trust you all survived what many have termed, "the busiest shopping weekend of the year." Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that I truly look forward to and enjoy. I think it's the feastivities of the day. I also like the concept of taking time to count one's blessings, to feel appreciation for the things that you might otherwise take for granted, and which you really should be thankful. This Thanksgiving was no exception.

After I finished working on my Harvey Keitel body, I parked myself on the couch and listened to the conversations. One of the them that caught my ear was of the recent crimes being committed in the northern and western suburbs: A series of robberies accompanied by arson. These were hideous crimes, robbing families of their possessions, of memories and memorabilia, of the things a lifetime of work allowed them to accumulate seemed a cruel and tortuous act of terror. To also rob them of their sense of security, to violate their private worlds and to top it off by robbing them of their homes, was horrific. I asked my father if he had heard of any progress made towards a conclusion of the crimes. No, he hadn't. Someone mentioned arson is one of the most difficult crimes to solve. How do you gain any insight from leftover ashes?

So, as I sat down to put this week's newsletter together, and had the evening news on, it was of great pleasure that I heard the fine folks at our Fridley store helped facilitate the capture of some suspects in the crimes. The news people reported that three suspects were apprehended after they tried to sell some "allegedly stolen merchandise" and some "alert sales clerks" at Cheapo used some information distributed by the "Arson Task Force" to call the police.

WOO! Week after week, I read in these pages of employees who execute a difficult part of their job, and use their observational skills to remain alert to suspicious behavior. This is a hard thing to do. It's easy to dismiss a problem, or the appearance of a problem, look away and try and let someone else deal with it. It takes dedication and effort to make sure people adhere to rules and laws.

Community service is the duty of all of us. It's an obligation that sadly, most of the time goes unrecognized. So it says volumes about the quality of our employees when our Fridley store helps its community in such a substantial and newsworthy way. It is something for which we should all feel proud to be a part of. I know I for one, will be sure to proudly mention the efforts of our employees to any family member or friend I engage in a conversation. Yes, damn it, I WORK for that company...


Every once in a while, a song will hit the airwaves that somehow manages to seep its way from one's soul and encapsulate a personal moment into the lives of many. Such a song proves that an individual can be separate from, yet emotionally join an entire community; it proves that human experience is both a solitary journey and a bridge that connects us all. Madonna's latest single, Secret is just such a song.

Secret is Madonna's best song since 'Til Death Do Us Part from her Like a Prayer LP. Like that song, it is a heartfelt response to events in her life both public and private. It begins with a simple yet lovely acoustic guitar introduction. It blossoms into a tribute to one's contribution in reaching another. The lush arrangement brings out the timelessness of the ballad. It's the type of song you can hear in the malls of suburbia while shopping for knee pads with a friend and comfortably, yet secretly share a experience with a soulmate.

Being human is the every day struggle of trying to deal with life's many complex dichotomies. The value of a secret is the privacy, the power that comes from soleknowledge. To share that with someone else is to be inspired by the intensity of intimacy. Think of all the shared moments that occur daily between two people.

Secrets are everywhere within everyone. "Happiness lies in your own hand, it took me much too long to understand, how it could be, until you shared your secret with me." There are many unspoken things in day to day contact. Sometimes we are lucky enough to share those "secrets" with another. More often they remain hidden until it's too late and the meaning and time are lost. Madonna somehow captures all that in a four minute pop song. What an amazing accomplishment! Such a piece of art can/should remind us we are all in the business of music. Time after time, it can be proven that is the most powerful business of all.

Monday, November 21, 1994

Lost in the Fire

In Star Trek: Generations we get to see some of the following:

*Spot's movie debut

*Kirk enjoying a slab of cheesecake

*Data, in sheer terror, using profanity

*Scotty brushing his teeth

*An answer to the question of what becomes of the press in the future

*Data singing a little ditty about his love of searching for "little creatures"

*Dr. Crusher playing like Mrs. Robinson and seducing a younger man

*Picard having an Acid like dream/ hallucination

*Kirk dying, not once, but twice

You would think with some of the above occurring, the movie would be a more enjoyable experience than it actually is. There was the hope that since the last year of the series was so weak, the jump to the big screen would provide needed rejuvenation and energy. Unfortunately that isn't the case. The overriding question after viewing Generations, is why was this made into a movie? What would have made an average weekly episode doesn't translate very well into the much anticipated motion picture.

Yes, the special effects are impressive, but what Trekker goes to the movie wanting to be dazzled by special effects (wasn't that the lesson learned way back from the first Star Trek movie?)? If you want that, you might as well go to Stargate. And yes, the meeting between Kirk and Picard is fun. But the very problem of the movie is that Kirk is the only one that seems to be having any fun at all. Star Trek always has the tendency to take itself way too seriously, and this movie suffers big time from that affliction.

Movies are bigger than TV. They claim to hold more of a connection to artistry. Maybe the creative forces behind Star Trek, would be wise to keep that in mind. On a weekly television series, the characters (always the show's strongest point) are allowed to develop and grow. In the movies they have to pretty much stay the way the audience (many dressed in Starfleet uniforms) expect them to be. Ultimately a movie has to strive to accomplish or say something.

With the large ensemble cast, the movies overlook much of the interaction because they are forced to focus on the "stars" above all else. This was a problem for the cast from the first show, but not as much so since many of those characters never were fleshed out much on the original series. With the Next Generation's crew, one has to wonder if the movies will ever be allowed to focus on anyone other than Picard and Data.

"Time is a fire in which we burn," the evil Dr. Soren tells Picard. This series increasingly suffers from its history and having to live up to the standards set before. What used to be a series steeped in imagination and creativity now seems bent on repeating itself, only on a bigger scale than it's ever gone before.


In 1982, one of the first used records I bought at Cheapo Records was a fair condition copy of Frank Sinatra's ambitious, 1970 effort Watertown. The record is comprised of ten songs, thematically linked to create an achingly sad but beautiful story of a man whose wife leaves him and their two boys.

Last week I went to my friendly neighborhood Applause store to buy Sinatra's latest recording, Duets II. I also happened to pick up the recently released CD version of Watertown finally put out nearly twenty five years after its initial release.

Sinatra's last three studio albums have been disappointing not only because his voice isn't nearly the interpretive instrument it used to be, but because he seems to have finally lost his creative ambition. In contrast, the voice on Watertown isn't the Voice of the Columbia or Capitol years, yet there isn't a singer alive who could have gotten or said more out of the song cycle that paints such a sparse, bleak, yet ultimately moving landscape.

While it's nice to hear Frank still putting out music, one wishes he would maintain the risk taking on which he built his entire career. To hear him re-record his classic songs into "contemporary" duets only goes to show how much time has passed. At the same time, listening to a sadly overlooked 1970's effort and the reading of a quintessential Sinatra song like Goodbye, sung in a way so perfectly Frank "There is no great big ending, no sunset in the sky. There is no string ensemble and she doesn't even cry. Just as I begin to say that we should make another try, she reaches out across the table, looks at me and says 'goodbye'" makes one realize that it isn't so much the physical skills that have gotten old, it's the emotional ones.

Monday, November 14, 1994

Punky's Dilemma

At the earliest peak of sunlight, as the sun creeps its way over the horizon, it's time for some sleep, but first I must go to my dish for one last drink.

The water tastes good. Perhaps it would taste even better if I dropped one of my morsels of food in it. There. No, now the water doesn't taste good any more. How can I get more?

I'm not that thirsty, I'll just crawl back into bed. I need a warm body to lie next to. Damn I want to lie in the middle of the bed. How do I get him to move over? I'll just sit on his head until he rolls over and then inch by inch I'll make my way towards the middle. Did I hear something out in the living room?

Let's see if I can explain this to you, my understanding of the contract I have here. For free room and board, with all my meals provided, all I have to do is greet him at the door, purr while I sit on his lap, don't urp up my food or hack up too many hairballs, and make sure I use my box. Excuse me, I must lick myself now.

He's getting up now. I'll go sit outside the bathroom door, and wait for my food. Wait, was that a dust mouse I just saw? Wait here, I'll be back.

He's in the kitchen now, I hear a can opening. Damn it ain't for me. Why do I just get this dry stuff? Oh well, won't complain now, too hungry. What's that he's fixing? Man that smells good. Wish he'd just share once in a while. I'll just stare at him until he gives me some. C'mon.

He's reading the newspaper. He needs to pay more attention to me. I'll just go and sit on top of the paper. There, that's comfy.

Hey I smell something. I'll dart to the window so fast he'll be worried. See that kitty out the window there? I can whip its ass. And it better get out of my territory. It's lucky I'm trapped up here.

That sure was a piece of art I left in my litter box, think he'd reward me once in a while. I need a good brushing damn it. Oh well I'll try to get some of this excess hair with my tongue.

Well, it's been a busy morning. Time for a nap. I better find a good spot. The sun isn't up yet so I'll just crawl under the sofa here. Finally, he's going. Now I can get some serious sleep.

Sun's up. I'll just stretch out here. One nap over, time for the next. OOPS someone opened the door downstairs. Better bellow, meow as loud as I can just to let them know I'm here.

Where the hell is he? I better finish up my food so he'll fill up my dish when he gets home. I'm really not that hungry but as long as there's food out, I might as well eat it. What if he never comes back? Who'll feed me?.

Finally, he's home. Of course he's interrupting my nap, but I better greet him just to let him know my dish is empty. A pat on the head? That's all I get? Oh all right, put me down, let's not get too sentimental here, you've only been gone all day. Wait, do I hear something in the other room? I better check it out.

Where exactly does he go every day? All in all, he's a pretty decent guy, a real trend setter. As he gets older and more conservative, the rest of the country seems to follow suit. That's political analysis you can put in the bank.

One thing he does do that irritates me is every week he'll drag this vertical, upright contraption out of the closet and it's the loudest goll darn thing I've ever heard. He runs this thing through the entire apartment. I go to all my usual hiding places, under the bed, under the sofa, on top of the sofa underneath the afghan, but he has to hit every spot. If he's trying to chase me, he's awfully, and I mean awfully slow. I don't get the purpose of the thing. It just plain sucks.

Let's see if I can confuse him by meowing a lot. I won't shut up no matter what he does. Hah it's working. He's picked me up, he's filled my dishes with food and water and now he's getting the brush out. Scratch my belly. Ah, that feels good.

I'll hide under the bed for now. Boy something smells different here. I'll sniff it for a while. Boy that's tiring. Better sleep for a while.

He's on the phone now, I'll just meow and stand far enough away so he can't reach me. Don't yell at me buddy. Better go to the window. Those damn wildcats outside. I better let them know who's the boss. Yeah buster, you're lucky I can't rip your tonsils out from up here. Time to clean myself.

That smell I was telling you about? That was the toy in my toy box. Catnip. Man I feel drunk. Time to lie down. It's been a full day. I'm very sleepy. Excuse me I must lick myself now...

Monday, November 7, 1994

30 Good Reasons to be Alive

I haven't learned all that much along the way. I have learned that life is like a box of chocolates. Sometimes the best way to tell what it is, is to let somebody bite into it first. This comes to mind as I cross the line past youth and become a wily, grizzled veteran. With age comes experience, wisdom, knowledge, maturity, and receding gums.

You are only as old as you feel. And some remain lucky enough to feel at all. They say the first thing that goes are the eyes. Mine went in the third grade. The next thing to go are the ears. Mine were never the same after the tornado of '81. The next to go are the legs. Mine betrayed me sometime this past summer. The hair? Went goofy in junior high. The mind? Still as sharp as a tack.

At some magical point in the time line, things change, and they change over night when you're not looking. A job becomes a career, dreams become fantasy and the intangible stuff you one day wished for take on a whole different flavor. A shooting star is replaced by a decent, working fluorescent desk light; moonlight on the water is no more desirable than luke warm, soapy bath water; red sails in the sunset seem pointless compared to hitting the stop lights right on the way home; a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow can't compare with having the proper change stacked on top of your futon frame for laundry night.

With the passing of time, you can learn to better appreciate what you are lucky enough to have. We live in a wacky country during its wackiest time. Only in America, can a man named Newt grow up and become an influential political figure. The hustle and bustle, the rapid changes that are taking place every day all around us, this can be a confusing time, especially for us older folk. We sometimes need lists to help us organize and remember things. With this in mind, I have compiled a list of thirty things that have touched the untouchable, that have disturbed and affected the life of one individual. Let's hope that one day, there are thirty more.

Frank Sinatra's Young At Heart


There used to be a game called baseball

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3, featuring the smash hit, Dignity (Will there be a volume 4?)

Sandra Bullock and her predecessors

Liz Phair's Super Nova

Bicycling to the moon

A best friend

Babylon Revisited

Old Weller

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Pulp Fiction

Yes, Prime Minister


Pistachios and the cool refreshing taste of Lemonade Sunkist

Paul McCartney's Little Lamb Dragonfly

The Maeda Family


Worldwide Pants

Nicholas Cage

Wise Blood

Patrick Reusse

Zippy the Pinhead

A Keys Everything Omelet

Captain Furillo

Working for the Phatest Music Company in town

Elasticity in the old boxer shorts

John Hiatt's Straight Outta of Time

Simpsons repeats every night

A kitty that drools

(Get well soon Alex)

Monday, October 31, 1994

Full of It

A few years back, all things French set me off. If you wanted to get David cranky, all you had to do was mention anything French. It was association carried to the ninth degree; something having to do with a relationship gone wrong. One extreme way to deal with it (or not deal with it) was to block out all reminders.

Another way was learned this past week. Perhaps what I should have done (and saved myself seven years of touchless reflection) was go to France where all things are of course, French. That way the association either forces one to jump off the cliff, or the all encompassing pin pricks that constantly surround you dull the pain and point out one's silliness. Often times you are stronger than you think you are and all it takes is acting out a Twilight Zone plot to point that out.

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Alexandria, Minnesota are all the motels. Off the freeway you can see a Holiday Inn, a Comfort Inn, and a Days Inn. Not too far down the road is a Super 8. There is also an AmericInn, a Radisson and don't forget the Viking Motel in town. For a city of 9,028 people this seems a tad excessive. But they say Alex is a tourist town surrounded by many lakes and all the wonderful outdoor activities Minnesota is known far and wide for. It is a conveniently located city, just far enough from the Twin Cities to be a retreat, and just close enough to St. Cloud to make you feel like you can go somewhere quick if the town doesn't quite meet all of your recreational needs.

The next thing you notice is that Alex is cold. Darn cold. When I left the Cities, it was a balmy fall evening. By the time I got to Alex, there was frost all around and the wind blew through the skin like a splash of strong perfume. And I'm pretty sure the shivers were caused by outside elements not inside affiliated connotations.

You have to like a city where all directions are given in relation to the big Viking statue that stands proudly at the edge of downtown. It also seems to be one of those small cities in the middle of a transition. The downtown area is comprised of family owned businesses. Further down Broadway there is a Walmart (my first shopping experience in one of those), a Target and of course, a MALL. There were no music stores that strictly sold CDs. There were a couple that sold instruments. Thus the kids had to go to one of the above mentioned Superstores to fill their country music needs.

Another noticeable thing was people actually obeyed the posted speed limits. Many actually drove under the maximum allowed. That actually took some getting used to, but you know what the old saying says, "When you're in Alex you do as the Alexandrians do..." Why worry when your destination is always only a few miles away?

For food there were all the usual fast food places (two Subways), a Perkins and a Country Kitchen side by side (I had pancakes for dinner one evening), a decent restaurant called Old Broadway that featured a difficult baked Reuben, and a Chinese restaurant called Lee's that served a wonderful Almond Chicken. For some reason, all week long I craved a McDonald's cinnamon roll for breakfast. Man those things are tasty.
The Runestone Museum was a bright spot on the leisure circuit. It featured a rock and a very nice sales lady who listened to my story on why I needed a sweatshirt with the word ALEX written on it. (Just how would I survive in a place called Davesville?) The movie theater in town was showing The Specialist, Puppetmaster, Only You, and Little Giants, so needless to say I spent the evening in my motel room (watching Rocky II). Rocky's joke of the week: "Why do cows wear bells? Because their horns don't work."

Overall, I would have to say our decision to open a store in Portland as opposed to Alexandria probably in the long run was a wise one, although there is something to be said for life in a smaller sized city. In Alex, people don't feel the need to lock their cars; the help at County Kitchen smiles freely; people care about their high school football team; and one can drive the freeways void of stress and anger. For visitors and townsfolk, the big Viking is a stabilizing presence protecting all with its stern grimace, watching over the city with an air of familiarity. In a confessional way it would be nice to call Alex home. Day to day life somehow seems more significant in its relaxing package, where one can actually take the time to smell the cows in the fields. And fortunately, you learn in time that reacting to a book cover in fear of its contents is a neurosis that can be overcome. Au revoir...

Monday, October 24, 1994

I Do Like Her Like a Biker Like an Icon

Last year for my twenty ninth birthday, my parents, or as I like to call them, Mom and Dad, bought me a Black Specialized Mountain Bicycle with about thirty five gears. It was about the fanciest bike I ever did see, and as I pedaled past the neighbors I could hear their coos of admiration, their squeals of delight.

This summer, that bike sat in my hall closet, gathered a bit of dust and lost the air in its tires (there is a metaphor, a life lesson in there somewhere, but I'm too damn tired to think of it at this point). It wasn't until these past couple of weeks that I finally got out the bike and did some riding. They say you never forgot how, you know.

Bike riding is good exercise. It's a nice way to see the neighborhood's scenic sights. It can be soothing, it can be exhilarating, it can be just plain fun. Or it can be just another hour spent spinning one's wheels. As a child, countless summer days were spent under the blue light skies racing up and down the streets of Roseville. I would pretend my Blue Schwinn with its embarrassing curly que handlebars and banana seat was a horse. The fields of Kentucky stretched in front of me and I was either Gary Cooper or Willie Shoemaker depending on the day, with the excited sound of announcers calling the last leg of the critical race. Some days I would win, some days my horse or myself would have an off day and we would finish a disappointing nose behind the leader. It was the Tour de France on a Tour de Force horse, mixing genres, making no sense but having one hell of a fun time doing it anyway, day after day.

These days all I'm riding is a bike. It's not exactly an original observation but somewhere over time, the imagination of a dreamer is replaced by memories, by experience and it gets harder and harder to pretend. Some close their eyes to see; some do their best thinking when others are talking; some just get through, chore by chore. My friend suggested I pretend the bike is a spaceship or a race car, but I can't seem to stop the cynicism long enough to do so. Oh well, creativity ain't exactly bread and water, we don't need it to survive.

But we may need it to stay in business. Have you ever noticed how a shopping experience can absolutely be made by a unique atmosphere? Or how much a sales clerk who shows just a glimmer of innovation can truly be admired because such people are so rare to find these days? Creativity is a virtue, one to be treasured and actively sought.

With the recent salmonella scare from Schwann's ice cream, a memory (believe me, not a figment of my imagination) came to mind of my favorite local newscast report. KSTP, Channel 5 used to have an anchorman named Randall Carlisle. Mr. Carlisle used to like to start his newscast's lead story with a question. It is a technique they teach you to avoid in journalism school (say a story about hot air ballooning, it would be a cliché and an ugly sight to say, "How many of you have ever wanted to ride a hot air balloon?") yet it is fairly common to see in the medium of broadcast journalism.

Anyway, a few years back there was an outbreak of food poisoning that the experts pinned down to bad cheese. Mr. Carlisle thus began the newscast: "How many of us have enjoyed cheese?" To go against what they teach you, in many schools is defined as some sort of creativity. To do so in the extreme, without thinking of the end result, is often called a bad mistake.

A baseball card in the spokes, a revealing interview with a mother cow might be a method to capture your desire's attention. Risk taking is aptly named because often, a lot of effort doesn't pay off. But it really never hurts to try, and the benefits are more often than not, as valuable as the difference between a bike and a bike like horse. In other words, in a memory a creative spark can be born. Left brain, right brain, sometimes it is best to utilize it all, sometimes it's better to shut it all down. The secret comes in learning the timing, the right moment to tap in on one's unique resources. Imagination edited by critical thinking, realism enhanced by spontaneity, both can be useful approaches if the balanced, beneficial mixture can be found.


Monday, October 17, 1994

Language of an INFP

The good news of the week was I took a personality test, and I passed. It may not appear to be so, but I DO HAVE ONE!

The test was part of the mandatory Supervisory Core training all state supervisors are required to take. We took the Briggs-Myers test which breaks your personality into four categories: Extrovert or Introvert; Sensory or Intuitive; Thinker or Feeler; and Judging or Perceiving.

Basically the way the Briggs-Myers can be a useful tool in management is to understand that each personality type has different "languages." To communicate effectively with one's employees, one has to understand the differences in the languages we all speak.

For example, to reward one employee might be as simple as a praiseworthy statement. Another employee might need something more visual like a plaque or a certificate; still others need added responsibility in their assignments to feel appreciated.

As an Introverted, Intuitive, Feeler, Perceiver, I'm described:

"INFP's value inner harmony above all else. Sensitive, idealistic, and loyal, they have a strong sense of honor concerning their personal values and are often motivated by deep personal belief or by devotion to a cause they feel is worthy.

"INFPs tend to be reserved, being selective about sharing their most deeply held values and feelings. They value relationships based on depth, authenticity, true connection and mutual growth. Others usually see INFPs as introspective and complex, original and individual.

"It is natural for INFPs to give less attention to their non-preferred thinking and sensing parts. If they neglect these too much, however, they may become easily discouraged about the contrast between their ideals and accomplishments; withdraw from people and situations; and not give enough information to others, especially about important values."

So who, you ask, is your average State of Minnesota supervisor? At this particular training class there were 13 women 9 men (eight if you count me), 21 white people and one minority.

Only 4% of the American population are classified as INFPs yet seven of the twenty two in this class fell into that particular category. What does this mean? That your STATE is occupied by a bunch of shy, faithful, illogical sponges? Probably not. I certainly wasn't typical of others in the class (as if I ever am), and others in the class weren't exactly on the same page as those I work next to day to day.

When we first started discussing the results of our tests, I was skeptical (another feature of the INFP). Yet, there was something comforting in having your personality dissected and put in a box. Things stack easily when they're put in a box. It's more cleanly. The summary of my personality type was remarkably on the mark, almost eerily so. Almost made me believe in science. It's a safety net to have your strengths and weakness', how you might react in a given situation, written down in black and white. Better someone else explain who I am than myself. The danger of course is basing decisions on personality types; to discount the individuality of people and the uniqueness of day to day events. Categorizing and labeling lead to responses that are based on external observations. Prejudice is a negative vibe whether scientifically observed or not.

Thus I thought it was important that the emphasis was placed on telling us that there is no right way to be a supervisor, that each of us had to use our own style to succeed. Not too long ago, I decided if I was going to fail at my job, the best way to go out was to fail on my own terms, to screw up in my own fashion. If I was going to wind up back on the street, let me know I did it being true to myself. Since that time I have enjoyed my job more and one of my employees made it a point the other day to tell me that I've been easier to work with. You can't be something you are not. You can try but it takes a lot of work and wastes a lot of energy. Even a great monolith like the state can see the importance of knowing who you are.

Who am I? As stated previously, one of an INFP's weakness' is pulling back and not giving enough information to others. I'll try to remedy that with the following statement of clarification:

As YOUR newsletter editor, let it be known not only am I a proud INFP, but let the record also show that I am a Japanese American, cat owning, sore necked, blood clot fearing, stereotyped caricature of himself, whose imagination has been eroded by his memories, fond of Jodie Foster and Liz Phair loving baseball fan, who does his laundry on Fridays. All of which I'm sure you knew already.

Monday, October 10, 1994

The Graduate

It was the spring of 1987, when I graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. In a way it seems as though it was a million years ago; yet at the same time, it seems as if it were only yesterday. The morning of graduation I woke up to the annoying clatter of bagpipes billowing up through my dorm room window. It had been a restless night of sleep so my head was pounding from the droning din from the music below. It had just stopped raining so the air smelled of ozone and I knew that the memorable day ahead needed to be preceded by something. So I got up and took a walk.

I strolled past the dormitory where my parents had dropped me off freshman year; the same dorm that a couple of years later had housed her, the glue dissolver, the string unraveler. I moved on or at least tried to. I walked past the library, past Old Main, past all the classrooms, past hundreds of memories. I walked down Snelling and breathed in the fumes. Down past Saga, where I had dined not one decent meal. This was the day. I walked past the shell and seats where the ceremony would take place if the rain didn't fall any more.

Before I knew it, the festivities began. It was all a blur. I put on my gown which included my Twins' cap. Soon enough the ceremony itself began. My classmates (many whom I never saw in my entire four years at the college) and I, marched in. I received my diploma (which I later returned), handed the Prez in return, a baseball that I had caught off the bat of Phil Roof during batting practice at the Dome. Hi-fived Ted Hovet. Caps were thrown toward the sky. Bedlam. I made my way through the crowd back to my dorm to check out and meet my family. People came from out of nowhere to slap me on the back and smile their smiles-people I had met during the past four years, but never really knew. We were sharing in the moments, lamenting the time that had been too brief, and that would be no more. Happiness next to wistfulness. Everything seemed to be closing in, I found it so difficult to breath, the end seemed all too near. My head felt ready to explode from the pressure both outside and in.

Months later I found myself starting at Cheapo West. Shelter from the storm. It wasn't exactly what I pictured in my mind's eye during those dreamy days of college, but it was a job. Off and on for the past seven years, I have held various positions for this company. Yes, I landed on my feet, although at times it hasn't always felt that way.

All this is mentioned because I just spent my last whole Saturday pricing green tags at Landfill. Another shift in responsibilities. Seven day work weeks, turned to six, now down to a possible five. WOW! SKIPPO! In a way it will be missed. The peaceful sound of the blowers, and moving furniture up above. The ominous looking pool players who sometimes drifted in to look at scratched Ohio Player records. The child underneath a fixture. The regulars. The dust and mold. Al's booming, "Hey Buddy!" in the morning. Just think of the thousands of records and books I've sifted through and processed. Think of the handful of people I've seen. One of the first weekends I spent reading a book about a little girl named Alex who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. And on my last Saturday, I reread bits of the story. Cried both times. For a couple of reasons. The eternal circle. It was during my junior year at Mac when we picked our numbers for room draw to determine what room we'd get the next year. I got a great number and was all excited when I met my dissolver, tear wise and otherwise. She said to me, "You'll just get one of those isolated rooms, sit alone. You really depress me." Kind of put a damper on my enthusiasm. Years later, another friend thought my move to Landfill fit the same bill. Writing means solitude. Yet it has been a pleasant enough experience although I'm more than ready for the next phase. All I can promise is the newsletter should get even better as we devote more of our attention to it. Or maybe not as it could become even more focused on Dave dwelling on his own neurosis. Who can tell??? All I can say, is thanks to Al for all the opportunities, the chances, the job for the past seven years. Thanks to all you, my coworkers past and present who have been friends and readers, who have made the past few years fun to the extremis. Cheapo/Applause will forever flow inside my bloodstream the rest of my life. And I truly appreciate that. This company has grown so far so fast and I can't think of another one I'd rather be a part of. Who can tell where we are headed?


I sat inside another movie theater and endured Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. Although admittedly a masterful piece of filmmaking, it wasn't exactly an enjoyable movie going experience. Yet, during the middle when I asked myself if I wanted to continue watching, out drifted an all too familiar, distinctive voice singing Pee Wee King's classic You Belong to Me. A definitive version as this fella's usually is. I wasn't expecting this voice but it was comforting inside a collage of unforgettable images. Bob seems resigned these days to singing other people's songs. Which is O.K., yet our era's greatest songwriter still has a lot to say, and one wishes he would at least give it a try. Still, to hear him sing so effectively, is constantly a treat. See the pyramids along the Nile, watch the sunrise from a tropic isle, just remember darling all the while, you belong to me. The guitar solo is simple, sad and Dylanesque. He molds the lyrics to fit career long themes. I'll be so alone without you. Maybe you'll be lonesome too. Making sense out of chaos. Too little time to do too much. Lord it is beginning to feel a lot like a Merry Meek kind of Christmas...

Monday, October 3, 1994

Meekly Merging on to the Super Information Highway

Dave's Joke du Jour: "They're seeking in the OJ case, a jury of impartial people who haven't read the newspaper, who haven't been influenced by the media coverage. I think it will be hard to find twelve Amish people in L.A..."

Miracles used to be when someone came down from the mountains and delivered a bunch of commandments written on stone, or when someone else divided a few loaves of bread into enough to feed a mass of people, or when that same person took some steps on water. Now days, miracles have more to do with the speed and size of computer systems. That's one long, sinewy, and winding road.

SKIPPO! So merge with me, if you will, on to the appropriately named, but scary nonetheless, "super information highway." I know some of you out there are stubborn, determined, Neo-Luddites who continue to deny this is the age where computer knowledge is rapidly becoming the biggest factor in being successfully functional in the business world. But I once walked those same dark corridors as you, and I now count myself not among only the converted, but also among the true believers.

It wasn't too long ago when the truest saying of today's political and consumer driven culture was, "If you don't ride a camel, you ain't Shiite." Now days, that saying is as dated as a Haitian democrat. The world ain't about oil, it ain't about justice or the pursuit of happiness and freedom; nope it's about who controls the access of information, or data. Hard facts.

It was about one year ago when I finally purchased my IBM compatible computer and joined the legions who own the VCR of our day, the PC. It cost a lot of money, and sometimes it is reduced to participating in a game of Mah Jong, but someday, if not already, this baby will pay for itself just in its ability to tap into the vast amount of information that is needed to compete with the versed people, the people in the know, those that devote their time to such matters as 586's vs. 486's.

My friend of faith passed on to me advice as I took on my latest challenge, my change in job status: "Fake it 'til you make it," she said to me. One of the oddest parts of my current other job is that I'm seen as some kind of expert on computer systems. That my friends is a complete mind boggling myth, a complete bomboozelement of the system. Like anything I dare to undertake, I have tried to learn as much as I can, and have succeeded in my own limited terms. But I'm no expert, I can't separate my spreadsheets from my word processing package, my Internet from my e-mail, my laptop from my modem, my mouse from my LAN's.

I have learned enough to be able to e-mail my sister on one coast by somehow punching in my message, sending it to her address on the Internet and hours (though sometimes days) later I get a response. On the other coast I have begun a whole new chapter with destiny's friend, what's her name, finally finding a forum in which to communicate with her on a semi-regular basis. I send off a random musing through my modem, and a bit later she receives it and has the option of reacting. What's disturbing my mind, what stays inside now is electronically communicated with my pal from the past! A mere Ctrl-d. What a kick! Who says the Computer Age has to be cold, an impersonal drift down a pseudo blacktop highway? If it brings us all closer together, who can complain?

This isn't to say we should all just blindly buy into the myth of computers and the convenience of the advances our society develops. I, for one, despise fax machines. I just see them as another way to avoid people (as if telephones and mail aren't impersonal enough). Technology should be questioned every step of the way. I do believe however, that those who forsake what's going on out there because of a desire for the past, a need for things to stay the way they are out of the mere comfort of familiarity, for the way things used to be, are exactly the ones that will be steamrollered over, who will be lost when the kids come up with even more startling advances. We have nothing to fear but the power of who controls the information itself.

How does this apply to our organization? Dare I say we might begin looking into computerizing ourselves? I know it's a suggestion that has been mentioned before, but I have truly come to see that the benefit of computers isn't merely the convenience. The benefit is being able to do things that we once thought, and once truly believed couldn't be achieved in our lifetime: the ability to keep track of things, to organize information and our thoughts, to communicate on a broad and effective bunch of wires and chips.

Monday, September 19, 1994

No Joy in Davesville

The score was 0-0, the game yet to begin.
All the players got loose, some looked within.
It was a social gathering, a good time for all.
Conversations intertwined as we threw the ball.
Across the field, she strode towards us.
Others oblivious, as my mind's eye buzzed.
She was merry, slim and sleek.
I was inspired, separate and meek.
The grass long and green,
the infield recently cleaned.
The game began,
I led off, hit and ran.

After every summer there is a fall. This fall, however, will be unlike any I've experienced in my previous twenty nine. And I'm pissed.

For me, it started when I was in second grade, twenty two years ago. My mother gave me a Minnesota Twins yearbook which had a picture of the Q man, Frank Quilici on the cover, arms outstretched, questioning the call of an umpire. I studied that book cover to cover, day after day. I memorized all the pictures and stats. My Mom and I watched the Twins lose to the Yankees something like 12-2 on our new portable Panasonic black and white TV with a screen about 8 inches in diameter and I was forever hooked. I was in love. I started collecting baseball cards; Mom explained the nuances, and the infield fly rule. My brother and I spent all of our time trying to learn how to play the game, how to get all the moves and skills down.

Nearly every morning since then I have begun my days by looking at the box scores to the previous night's games. The routine now includes coffee, but not much else has changed about the way I prepare myself for the upcoming day. Besides my family, and my bad haircuts, not much else has followed me and stayed with me over that period of time. You get used to something and it hurts when it's gone. Absence makes the heart grow sadder.

She jabbered on, and I heard,
once again, hung on every word.
We played the game,
familiar and the same.
A figure in Greek
full of mystique
broke in time
in my heart and mind.

I'm not sure who's to blame for the premature end of this season. I don't care. But there is a huge hole in my day and I needed that like I need another hole in the head (trepanning might be the solution to this). I'm not into this nostalgic thing either- it doesn't much matter to me these fans moaning about the lost history, the cries to get back to what the game really means (those dweeby St. Paul Saint types). Yes, the game was never meant to be played in a sterile plastic blue THING downtown, and the meaning goes beyond making lots and lots of money. But so much of life is business and it's hypocritical to see why baseball should be held to this phony cleansing light. What does bother me these days is trying to find an alternative to something that has always been there, and I thought always would. I WAS PLAYING BOCCE BALL LAST FRIDAY FOR PETE'S SAKE! AND THINKING THIS GAME HAS POSSIBILITIES!!! I WAS INTO TOSSING THE PEA!!!! SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!

The final inning arrived
the score was not on our side.
It was my turn to bat
as she quietly sat.
The errors already made
the memories slowly fade.
One last chance,
a jig and a dance.
Runners on second and third.
Her voice was the last one heard.
I swung as hard as I could
the ball avoided the wood.

We all need, and some of us have our own outlets from the day to day frustrations of the job, of the family, of friends- somewhere, something we can go to, that helps us unwind and get our minds off the natural born dwelling that lies within. Baseball was my diversion. It is such a diverse game; intellectual yet simple; cerebral yet physically demanding; a team sport yet the game often comes down to what individuals can do; the very purpose of which is to make it home safely. I've seen thousands of games over the years and not one has been a waste of my time. The game didn't need this. America didn't need this. I didn't need this either. On top of a summer which wasn't exactly going along with grace and pleasure, this latest blow, blows the big one.

There has been a lot of apathy to the baseball strike. Apparently a lot of people are fed up with the greed, the absolute selfishness of all those involved. Most fans have gone on with their lives and found other things to do. Not David. David dwells. David sulks (again). This little guy admits he misses the game. Wishes all sides would get together and play again, pleas(e). Until then, I'll be on my knees.

Somewhere in the distance
happiness in an instant.
But tonight there is no joy
tonight the man is a boy.
The cheers come to a close
a sniffle in the nose.
For the mighty Dave hears no shout,
the mighty Dave has struck out.

Monday, September 12, 1994

Under the Influence of Speed

All summer I waited for the movie, Speed to make its way to the Roseville 4 so I wouldn't have to shell out more than two bucks to see a movie I was interested in, but hardly could classify as cinema (and by golly I'm not the type who will just go to a movie). Of all the blockbuster summer smashes, this is the one whose reviews and plot description caught my fancy. Well, last week, it finally arrived. And I quickly sped right on over to see it.

I was not disappointed. It was a fun movie, full of action, suspense and that Sandra Bullock, I need not say anymore (she made me have another of my occasional allergic reactions full of tears of familiarity hitting me in a still vulnerable spot). It occurred to me while I was contemplating what I learned inside the movie theater that afternoon, that the movie was an excellent commentary on life in today's society.

After all, isn't life just like a runaway bus? Out of control, headed in a singular direction? Going way too fast but somehow there is the feeling that if you slow down, take the time to actually evaluate stuff, it's all going to blow up in your face? Stuck among a bunch of strangers who you either don't care for or you develop a common goal which brings you together somehow if only for a moment? We all have our routines, our routes, and when events throw us off that schedule, often it is hard to make the adjustments without all hell breaking loose. Bury that head in the sand. Bus Alert!

The bad guy in the movie, played by Dennis Hopper (or maybe he wasn't playing), created all the havoc, was willing to hurt innocent(?) people just because he felt his life's work wasn't justly compensated. Who among us hasn't felt the same frustration at some point? You work like hell and no one seems to notice. You feel as if you could just make one grand statement, blow it off your chest, you'd be a healthier individual (or you would go off the deep end). Just be thankful we work with CDs, LPs, and cassettes, not with explosives. There are a lot of people out there who feel like life owes them something

Yeah, the fifty foot flying bus stretched credibility just a bit, but sometimes in life you reach a point where you have to take risks; risks that you wouldn't take under normal circumstances, but you are just too damned tired and all else seems lost. The logical approach might be to figure out how to defuse the situation in front of you, but the easier action is to just watch it unfold in front of you. Who among us doesn't take the easiest route when at all possible?

There was a repeated line that popped up a couple of times in the movie, where Keanu and Sandra said to each other, with irony in their love stricken eyes, "Relationships that begin under extreme circumstances never work out." Most of the time only shared experiences don't lead to coupledom. What draws us together can be dangerous. But there are other reasons to get involved. This movie's philosophy was right on the mark.

And yes, they never did get control of the bus. It blew up. Real good. Somehow no matter how hard you try, life will eventually do the same. Believe me.

Monday, September 5, 1994

After the Summer There is Always the Fall

"Sometimes God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers."

-the reverend, Garth Brooks

To give you a glimpse of what will be a fresh, regular feature in the new and improved newsletter, we ask the question, "Tell us the most intriguing thing you heard last week?"

The following are notes I jotted down from the past week, granted a fairly poor one for myself, of things I heard, many which came from the voices inside my own head. For any of you aspiring artists out there, feel free to use any of these in your work. Just make sure you make your checks payable to the newsletter. Thanks.

She was a friend of fate. But was she too late?

I want to be happy, but what can I do?

Now I'm too far down the road.

I'm looking for a woman that don't exist.

Simply smitten in a second.

Jealousy and envy, parallel lines, just like your heart and your mind.

Shot of whiskey, shot of novacane.

Coincidences happen more frequently than fate.

Flying bees.

You may be living on love, but you still have to feed the chickens.

You are a Cancer, but not a crab. I am a Scorpion that's been stung.

Can't get too deep and lose your beliefs.

Microscopic gossip jammed in a jar.

Destiny desires that go too far.

Comic relief that no one asked for.

She put the bang in gun powder.

A rhythm between flesh and bone.

Going down where the river falls.

Why so quiet?

Within your grasp, but you just can't touch.

The higher the hopes, the deeper the heartfelt sadness.

Outta sight, out of memory and mind. Never mind.

What might have been and what is aren't even related.

Don't worry about what you can't control.

Positively subterranean.

Darkest deep brown eyes I've seen.

Shimmering free and flowing clear.

Purr like jazz.

She smelled like the sweetest ocean breezes.

Funkier and more irresistible, more intelligent than six white horses. Beauty to its very core.

Monumental as anything you'd find in Washington DC.

You must look to see the other face in the mirror.

Dreaming in red.

Not to make light of the events of the past week, but last Wednesday Ramblin' Rose invited me over to have lunch with her. I wanted to stop at my bank located on Grand Avenue. As I left downtown, I drove up the hill, looked up John Ireland Boulevard towards the Cathedral, where I saw about 9,000 police cars lined up from sidewalk to sidewalk all the way down the road. The police procession was waiting to proceed. I don't know why, maybe the suppressed rebel within, but I had the overwhelming urge to put the petal to the metal and scream on by at about 90 mph, just to see if anyone would break ranks and come after me. But being the responsible adult I've become, I just fluttered on by.


On the same subject, while there was something very moving about the outpouring that followed last week's tragic events, and the number of people who showed their support, it also was an example of what is wrong with us. If our community demonstrated that much concern at the beginning, instead of waiting and accepting the end result, perhaps the problem wouldn't be so pervasive. There was a sad overture that played over the event as we watched the two people, who were just doing their duty (their duty being protecting us and enforcing the law) killed at random by someone who has stated he wanted to kill even more. Washington's solution is back ended, to put more cops on the streets and offer alternatives like midnight basketball. But why do we leave it up to people like Oliver Stone to look at the culture that creates this atmosphere? Just when did we reach the point where violence is now accepted as something for which we have no solution? Why does it take a tragedy to make us feel? How, as a community can we prevent, or try to deal with the overwhelming hopelessness and despair that leads to so many lost people?

Monday, August 29, 1994

I Do Like You

"And when you've reached that broken promised land, and all your dreams fall through your hands, you know that it's too late to change you're mind. Because you've paid the price to come so far, just to wind up where you are, and you're still just across that borderline."

Thanks go out this week to Jason Koffman for contributing a topical New York Times article. It's an article that should be an interest to many of our employees as well as an article par excellence, one that got me thinking which granted, I don't do often enough these days. Several of the themes in the article are worth spending a little time to ponder...

The article pointed out there are still people out there who reject the convenience and so called superiority of CDs as opposed to LPs. Technology often is just accepted as progress, a step forward. Most of the time, a technological advance makes things easier, but seldom do we think about how, when things become easier to do, often that comfort leads to laziness; of finding yet another reason, another excuse not to think.

I recently ran into a personal example of this very weakness that is so easy to succumb to. I took a state test for my current position. Among the areas covered was a section on spelling. I've always considered myself an above average speller (despite what you all have witnessed on these pages). Yet when I took the test, that was far and away the part that was hardest for me. Everything looked wrong in a dyslexic sort of way

Upon reflection, it dawned on me that perhaps my dependence on the spell checker on my computer might be a culprit in this problem. (I'm now thoroughly convinced that particular feature is an invention that was developed in Satan's laboratory.) It's become too easy, too convenient to click on a button and think all the words will come out right. Why waste the time looking something up in a dictionary or taking the time to get it right the first time, when you can have it all done for you so easily in the end? And that my friends, is the dependence and danger of word processing packages. Consider it a speed bump on the information super highway.

Our culture, our way of thinking has come to adopt the belief the quicker something can be accomplished, the better off we all are. The picture of progress is always associated with going forward although any change in technology means something else is lost along the way. My spelling anecdote for example, points out we seem to have forgotten that patience not only is a virtue, it's a close friend of accuracy. And an accurate person is a satisfied person. We have come to accept that it is a strength to get out in front of the crowd, demonstrate through saved time we can better channel ourselves to reach our full potential. But sometimes it really is best to lag behind the rest, to be a follower, to witness the mistakes others make ahead of you, and then learn from those mistakes and not make the same ones. We are taught early on, and constantly reminded and have reinforced in our minds, that to be number one, to be the leader is what we must strive for. Yet another myth that is hard to break away from, let alone discount.

The people ahead of us sometimes actually can offer some insight, some guidance in what we can expect. We all want to be unique, to celebrate our individuality and creativity, but at the same time it often is prudent to believe the phrase, "I do like you" because you, meaning the other, just might be right. If you made it through, I might too. Listen to what the man said: "Love is fine for all we know, for all we know our love will grow."

Someday we might actually come to accept the lesson that is the backbone of Catholicism: You have to suffer to come out ahead, to get to heaven. The conclusion reached might be that hard work and perseverance can be rewards by themselves. Those that struggle often times gain insight and wisdom not available to the general population. A former coworker of ours, the inscrutable one, revealed to me her belief that what she lacked in her life was a map maker, someone to give her direction. All these years later I'm happy to report back that it is that very feeling of being perpetually lost that can be the meaning behind it all. To become dependent on an outside source may be a temptation but it often times is better to rely on what is already inside. "Though it takes a lot of power to make a big tree grow, doesn't need a pot of knowledge, for a seed knows what a seed must know."

The grass might be greener on the other side, but it can also be a hell of a lot more colorful closer to home. Hard work and a good attitude just might be as important as pushing the right buttons. Often it isn't so much the end result, the final product that is what we take away and gives our experiences their value. Sometimes it is the history of the journey itself that can be so rewarding. Just like our friend the LP, the sound might contain less clarity, but that doesn't mean it is less pure, and by its very flaws, it can be appreciated much more. That which lasts can be of great value to us.

Monday, August 15, 1994

Can't Say Customer Service Without the Cus

When I purchased my brand new used car, I knew it was lacking one essential, a kick ass stereo cassette/CD player. The kind of stereo that you could crank up and take off on I94, drown your sorrows and do some serious damage. (Or at least pretend, and annoy your neighbor's quiet suburban existence nonetheless.)

So when I finally had some free time and the new used car began to feel as if actually belonged to me and wasn't merely a great rental unit, I drove to my neighborhood Audio King and had them install a missing but necessary piece to my wacky life. When I left their premises I was a proud owner of a rocking unit, and it made me yearn, made me itch for a serious road trip.

But before I hit the road and acted out the metaphor of the mobile roamer with wanderlust in his soul, I first had to fill out the customer service card they gave me with my purchase. I'm the type of dweeb who fills out all these cards believing in this day and age when we face so many examples of poor customer service it almost becomes expected, that my opinion/experience might be read by someone who will take note. I tend to make a special effort to take the time after I receive outstanding service believing that too many people complain, and when someone actually makes the all too rare effort to do their job right, that the praise should be given. I'm a shopper who appreciates good help more than good prices. I'm more than willing to pay extra for good customer service. But I also feel compelled to report unpleasant experiences too because you never know when you'll run into a company who takes the feedback to heart rather than using surveys as a meaningless customer service tool.

An example of the latter was last winter, when I had a major photocopying project I needed done so I stopped by Kinko's. I had a very bad experience with the sales person there so when the manager of the store sent me a follow up letter/customer survey, I wrote a long letter of complaint. She never got back to me, never responded. Before her letter, I was contemplating whether or not to continue to do business with Kinko's. Her lack of response to my complaints made the decision for me.

Well, my report card back to Audio King was mixed. I was happy with my purchase, the quality of the car stereo. I was also pleased with the job they did installing the system. They were quick and left no trace of the work. It looked as if the player had come with the car, that it belonged. I was not so pleased with my salesperson. The location I visited was pretty small and I went early enough where there were few other customers in the store. I waited what I felt was an unreasonable amount of time before anyone came over to help me. (I took to the old trick of playing with all the knobs I could, so someone might become alarmed.)

When someone did finally help me, the sale went quickly. I knew what I wanted, I knew how much I wanted to spend and I had enough experience with the various manufacturers to know who at this point I trusted and liked. So the guy had an easy sell and he brought me to the register to do the paper work and ring me up. During the middle of things he got a phone call which I could tell was a personal call. He talked awhile but since the installation was going to take some time anyway, I geared myself to be patient. I knew that the way I would have dealt with the situation would be to tell the caller I would get back to them, but who was I to say anything? Just the customer.

He finally got off the phone and returned back to finishing up with me. But the phone rang again. And again I heard enough to tell me it was another personal call. This time I was a bit miffed. I had picked Audio King from previous experience and also because someone close to me recommended them as a good place to get a car stereo. I'm sorry if I don't like to be treated as if I'm interfering with someone's personal life. But I wasn't about to complain. I vented my anger in another way. That day I was also interested in buying a VCR. After this salesperson's lack of courtesy, I wasn't going to spend any more money at that store. I ended up at a Circuit City.

The comments I made on my customer service card weren't all that harsh. I made sure I pointed out both the good and bad parts of my visit. I dropped it in the mail without a second thought. Thus I was pleasantly surprised when a sales consultant called me and wanted to know what happened. He went so far as to ask me what they could do to rectify the situation and make sure I remain an Audio King shopper. I didn't know what to say. The competition in the retail business continues to get tougher and tougher and quite frankly once I have a bad experience, I don't particularly care enough to go back. But this man was persistent. He eventually decided to wave the installation fee (over $50). Yeah, maybe I was bought off, my principles sold down the river, but I don't think so. He was willing to do what he could to get my patronage back and I appreciated his efforts. I didn't expect compensation, and really respected his desire to get me back. Now I know I'll return, I'll make the effort to shop Audio King whenever I need something they offer.

P.S. He said he was an Applause shopper and he is always impressed by the service we give.

Under the Sun

I don't believe in all this dressing up in black. Enough of the Uptown, hipper than thou, depressed artist, cynic skeptic, septic feel sorry for yourself, dealt all the wrong cards outlook on life. I believe in the sun. All things are pastel. And I must really apologize for the recent glut of pseudo philosophical, pigeon psychology that has appeared in these pages recently. No more, only news you can use.

For regular readers of this publication you might have noticed this week's edition is a little bit different than usual. And since it has always been our trademark to specialize in the unusual, irregular readers of this newsletter might just want to eat more vegetables or prunes. As for the above, somehow I have found myself more and more trying to offer advice to people, and specifically relationship and career advice. Maybe it comes from the sheer amount of mistakes I have made in those areas and that I think I actually have something to say, but it has gotten a little out of hand and pretentious. I'm sorry. I'm but a simple man. If just barely that.

For those of you keen enough to have picked up the unusual break from the routine, this week features a three day festival of peace and love. No we're not talking about Woodstock '94, we're talking about the newsletter. I do have to ask myself (and a few of you might do so also) if I will someday look back upon these days as a foundation for something special, something permanent, or at least long lasting, or will all this too pass into that massive abyss that now fills the space between my ears?

So what's going on here? Well, this weekend I participated in a softball tournament where I learned with age you never can stretch out certain muscles (i.e. the groin) long enough. Joan's Jets. We put on quite the show. I always thought it was nearly impossible to be shut out in slow pitch softball, but with this team, everything remained a possibility. But damn that little shortstop could field. Thanks to all of thee for showing up and for all the support. Thanks especially to Becca Will for filling in at Landfill for me. As I know Becca learned, you don't appreciate the green tag experience, the breathing in of mold, the piles of stuff you see on a sunny, Saturday afternoon, until you miss it. And miss it, I did. I owe you one Becca.

Enough of the babble though. We thought we would take the time here to explain the complicated process that goes into producing a regular newsletter every week. We hope to enlighten and put a stop to some of the sillier rumors currently circulating. First of all, it isn't well known but the newsletter is printed only on paper we produce ourselves. The paper is made from a special pulp we create using old Fleetwood Mac green tag album covers, baking soda, ginger root and a whole lot of tender loving care. Sure we could use so called regular paper, but at Landfill we don't believe in discarding anything that can possibly be reused in some form, and damn it, we pass the savings on to you!

Once the paper is produced, we of course have to have something to put on it. The writing of the newsletter is done for the most part by dedicated staff members (Al, Mary, Mark, Denise, Steve, Emmett, Phil, Scott, Sarah...) who we are eternally as well as internally grateful. The rest of the filler is created by our friends at the institution. It's good therapy.

Though it may not always seem so, only certain items of interest may appear in these pages. We do have our criteria: only items about or of concern to the stores; news about the employees; news about cats; and anything incoherent (i.e. what's in my heart or on my mind at the moment). We try to be entertaining but sometimes we slip up and are actually un-entertaining (see what you are reading).

After enough material is captured for the eight page format we have selected, the raw material has to be reproduced in a state of the art computerized fashion. Saturday nights (formerly known as party night, or social time) and Sunday mornings are spent inputting the material into a 486 IBM compatible. Any mistakes made at this point are no longer the result of human carelessness, but now can be blamed on technology. And it is at this point that the editor sighs a sigh of heavy relief. Another week gone by, another issue to distribute into the wind. The feedback ranges from sympathy to apathy but damn it, there is always next week. But for now, the pulp is nearly ready as well as the pap, and if we're not careful, and watch what we are doing, the combination of the two can be deadly. It's a labor of love and damn it, we do as we are.

Monday, August 8, 1994

Another Forest in the Tree

My mama told me "Life is like a box of chocolates. It's hard to find anyone who'll eat the coconuts." Mama had a way of putting things that would make sense.

As a friend, the one who says she has a dog with a man trapped inside its body, goes off to Chapel Hill to begin her graduate studies, I'm reminded that life is about constant change, a continual learning experience, full of wonder and opportunities. You never know what will spring up or who you will meet down the road. And literally alls ya gotta do is keep walking. Yet often times it is those that you are most familiar with, the routine, the one's that you continue to come home to, that help you sleep at night. And it's hard to turn away from that comfort, no matter how distant it becomes. I can be the jealous type and I am jealous of what she has ahead of her. That said, I truly hope she finds all she is seeking. I console myself knowing she'll always be with me- I guess. At least in my heart and dreams.

Another friend jokingly told me she is taking Prozac for her ulcer. I guess that is one way to deal with it; sort of a circular cure, but a cure nonetheless. I like that. I like the way she looks at things. Whatever it takes. She has nice shoes. Sometimes you have to bounce off obstacles before you find the right route. But it's important to keep the eyes open. Keep bouncing, keep moving, keep trying, keep the options open.

This friend also said the funniest thing I've heard this summer. "I didn't use to like alcohol very much, but now I can't get enough." Sometimes you meet someone that says something like that and you take an immediate liking because you know exactly what they mean. Free t-shirts and a bloody Mary.

It's funny how you always somehow manage to find people you can relate to, that you somehow already know, yet are somehow new and fresh; and as you grow older you feel as if you want to offer personal history and pass it off as wisdom and insight. You want to feel as if you still have something to offer and when you feel that, it feels good. Mama said if you haven't been there before, you won't be there again. I guess that's one thing my life has proven. My friend said the dictionary defines the term living death as "life emptied of joys and satisfaction." Been there. Look it up and you'll find my brave face. But I'm blessed and eternally thankful that I kept on bouncing, kept on runnin, kept on listening to those around me and you know, you just never know...

Sometimes in life, you have to be patted on the head, recognized for the efforts you make. As a little boy, I used to watch this certain fella, Capn' Bud, in fascination. I guess you could call him a hero, a role model. He would stand on the sidelines with an icy glare, expression never changing as all hell broke loose in front of him. His stoicism hid deeper thoughts, masked his emotions. You couldn't read him. And I thought that was cool, that it was ideal to remain a mystery, inscrutable, never let 'em know what you're thinking. Never offer more than you have to.

Capn' Bud was recently honored, inducted into an exclusive club. At the ceremony, he broke down in tears, and for once, the mask came off. As he stood emotionally naked, I saw another side I always wanted to see. Complexity in its rawest form. Yet for some of us, once the mask comes off, the fear is there will be nothing there to find. I could never convince my friend, the one with a man talkin dog, that I was but a simple man. I do think she thought I was too stupid to know about love, but I was just stupid enough.

You change as you grow older. A recent local hero, Big Herbie, performed his occupation with more enthusiasm, a goof ball that played a game just like a little boy. He seemed to be having so much fun, so when he announced his retirement because his body was falling apart and he wasn't having fun anymore, it added an additional layer of sadness to an already melancholy announcement. His message was that although it all may all seem like a business, the attitude you take is what really makes the difference. I'll miss the big guy, miss him a lot.

But life don't stop for no one. We're all here for such a short time. My mama told me never to take anything or anyone for granted. You don't know what you got till it's gone. It may not seem like it, because there are so many reminders, but every one of us is an individual; unique in our own way; special in what we have to offer to the mix. You never know who you'll run into and what role they will play. Mama said that we're all different, and because we're all different, that makes us all the same. The more you begin to realize that alone as we all might feel, life is about sharing. It's like a big old smelly shoe, sometimes it stinks but it's what's gotta get you where you want to go.

Monday, July 25, 1994

Daddy Sang Bass

WHO? Listen up. When things are running relatively smoothly, and you are getting by, it's very easy just to take things for granted. There reaches a point where you become so wrapped up in the routine, your work, that it's almost easier to ignore someone who is going through rough times than it is to be sympathetic. In essence you stop caring or learn only to selectively care. Why should you get involved? Why drag yourself down? It's easier to walk away than stay and join the crowd. Yet if you do reach that stage, isn't it time to wonder if it's you or them who has something to work on? What good am I if I'm like all the rest, if I just turn away when I see how your dressed.? I thank a Dairy Queen for reminding me of that valuable lesson in what life is about this past week. I've had many a moving and wonderful phone conversation (being a former phone professional) over the past few years, but none I appreciated and enjoyed more than the one I had the other night. Opening up, and the process of discovery, I might be on to something really special here. I just have to remember to use my journalism background and ask all the right questions. Stay objective. Someone near and dear to me once identified a strength of mine as being a good listener. We should appreciate and be thankful for our gifts. That's something I won't ever take for granted again. It's not a curse, it's a blessing, a matter of perspective.

WHAT? We began our weekly column last week with a tidbit about the importance of fruit juice. Quite frankly it made no sense, had no purpose like so much that has come to fill these pages and yet it was written as a springboard to get the creative juices flowing, or so I thought. Monday I went downstairs to the break room at work and got my usual can of grapefruit juice. On the way back up I rode the elevator with a woman who said she didn't ever drink fruit juice but that mine looked good. We were joined by a woman who jumped into our conversation by telling us that over in the World Trade Center, they have freshly squeezed orange juice every morning. Then last Friday I got called up by someone from the Health Department who surveyed me on health concerns. One of the first questions was how much fruit juice I currently drank and how much I thought a healthy person should drink. Coincidences? I think not. Just further proof the newsletter has its hand on the pulse of America's hottest trends.


*My first girlfriend was Loni Anderson's daughter?

*I once received college credit for auditioning for the dating game?

*Me and Max's stupid pet trick is that we sound exactly the same when we eat corn chips?

*In May, I may merrily, or might meekly marry a Mary?

*I once saw Christian Laettner at a "Hot Dogs and More"?

*I once bagged Frank Viola's groceries?

*I once ate dinner with Dave Winfield?

*I once talked to Prince's manager on the Secretary of State's corporation information lines?

*In the fall, my heart's inspiration will be in the nation's capital?

WHEN? And when a poll is taken showing a disturbing split- blacks believe the accused is innocent and won't receive a fair trial and whites believe the accused is guilty, where does that leave the rest of us that don't fit into those two groups? Are our opinions important? Doesn't that show the poll itself is skewed somehow or disruptive in its implications?

WHY? If you were accused of a crime and if you were absolutely 100% innocent, wouldn't you want all the evidence to come out? Wouldn't the more information that came out increase your side of things? Why would you be trying so hard to get evidence thrown out, like the results of DNA testing?

HOW? A former acquaintance once asked me why I had to have a favorite, favorite Beatle, favorite Bangle, favorite soda pop, favorite comic strip... why I couldn't just like them all, take things for what they are? When the issue becomes trying to treat people fairly, people you must treat fairly, how does this favoritism thing get solved? Everything changes, everything passes, you do what you think you should do... But why set yourself up in the first place? How to you deal with it?

Monday, July 18, 1994

Long Distance Dedication

The self addressed stamped envelope inevitably returns.

As we approach the so called "dog days" of summer, it is important to keep in mind that you should drink plenty of liquids. I prefer fruit juices myself, and Al has been very good at keeping the warehouse stocked with Lemon Sunkist. Water works, as do most soda pops. I think most Americans enjoy a good beverage. Just do it in moderation. Which reminds me that next week we begin a brand new regular feature: a health column. Enjoy, and let's stay healthy out there...


Apologies go out this week to Denise for our continuing misspelling of the word Northrop in her weekly concert summary. It's a long story but suffice it to say thanks to my brother, the former U of M marching band stud, I spent many a day down at the old auditorium. So when I saw Denise's list the word immediately jumped out at me. I was sure it was spelled, Northrup. I even looked it up in the Minneapolis phone book which verified my version of things. But upon further review, elsewhere in the very same source, the white page business listing has it spelled with an "O" and I have no ground left on which to stand. You see, last week I took the state's Consolidated Clerical Exam so that my recent promotion can become official. I flew by the math, the supervising, the alphabetizing and sorting portions of the test but when I got to spelling and proofreading I hit a wall. Despite my journalism degree, I absolutely struggled miserably on that part of the test. I'm sure it won't surprise a few (i.e. Nurse Jane), but after awhile, damn it, all the words looked wrong. I even began to think, was sure, there was a silent letter "h" in the word off. Sorry Denise.


Elsewhere in this issue you will find a copy of Emmett's newsletter he gives to the employees of #71 every week with their paychecks. After reading last week's edition, I thought a lot of what Emmett includes would be pertinent to other stores. So I asked him if he wouldn't mind sending us a copy every week. In the future, we might not reproduce the entire thing but pick out the information that other store's employees might find useful. (Although Barb's layout is most pleasant.) The vision I see in the future is for each of the stores to do something similar, and then we can devote space in this newsletter to actual store news! What a concept!!! Anyway, thanks Emmett (and Barb) and a reminder to the rest of you: we would like to hear any store news that is important to others. This is the perfect place for that, don't you know. (P.S. Thanks also Emmett for the Dylan LP. It was much enjoyed and needed this week...)


I've had a good weekend. Did what I'm doing more and more often: spent the weekend with my volunteer firemen friends and we got real drunk and tried to flush a canned ham down the toilet.


An explanation of last week's effort in this very space- an inadvertent memory came into mind while I was writing my little letter to my newest nephew. I got on the subject of buses and into my head came a most fond memory of a most fond acquaintance who begins grad school soon. We were driving down University Avenue on a very snowy and slippery afternoon. She was a bit nervous as was I, over the driving conditions, and we weren't saying much to each other (as was all too common at that stage of our relationship). Out of nowhere I heard her softly say, "Bless the Lord." It seemed a very odd thing to say at that point, but I let it pass without questioning its meaning. When we got to her place, the curiosity finally was too much so I asked her why she had uttered her blessing. She began to laugh and said, "I didn't say 'bless the Lord,' I said, 'bus alert.' I was trying to warn you about that bus..." It was the perfect microcosm of our relationship: one of us thinking of something the other wasn't; spiritual yet day to day; all too often misfiring on the communication, yet deep down a humorous understanding of each other. Good luck Alex.

Monday, July 11, 1994

Gum on the Soles

To: Jonathan Maeda Trygg (born July 7, 1994)

From: Uncy Dave

Subject: Getting to this point

Well Jonathan, as you sit there taking your first breaths of air (oxygen, it's a gas!), as the people who stand around you coo and gurgle, as time flies by, as you wonder what's going on, as you try to comprehend just enough to satisfy yourself, you've got to be asking yourself what it's all about. So from the tip of my tongue, to the back of my mind, to the top of my head down to the souls through my feet, I offer you the following bit of wisdom I somehow managed to stumble upon along the way- Life is a song.

It all must seem so confusing right now as you struggle with the commotion around you, the bright lights, the darkness, the noises, the smells, the stuff in your diaper, and as you will find out, not much changes (except hopefully, your diaper). Life is about struggling and learning to deal with the day to day tedium as well as the accidents, the disappointments that crop up.

Let me share with you a moment I had with an old friend from Cheapo, Christina, from the now world renown Tina and the B-Side Movement. We were both reflecting on hard times and we found we shared a common fear: that once things straightened out and we reached our individual goals, right as things finally seemed to be OK, it was inevitable something would happen like being hit by a bus. We shared a fear of happiness, a fear of struggling so long only to lose the sun as it finally appears over the horizon.

Jonathan,on your birthday I had one of those days. Which these days happen all too seldom but I do feel lucky that they happen at all. Maybe it's a temporary state of mind, and maybe that bus is on its way, but you know as I approach the big three-oh, it seems to me life isn't full of the melodrama, the strife it once held. Maybe I'm numb. Maybe I'm just wiser. I'm not exactly where I thought I'd be, nor am I with the people I thought I might be with, but you know, life is full of possibilities. Your dreams may not turn out the way you had them planned, but sometimes your hopes have a way of working themselves out. Here was my day, on your day:

Stuck inside these four walls. Sent inside forever. Never seeing no one, nice again. It took me awhile to get to this point, but I find myself spending at least forty hours a week inside a six by eight cubicle trying to process a mountain of work while trying to put out small office fires. If you do something right, people expect you to do more; if you do something wrong, people cry. Just the way it is. So it was a typical work day. (Well, not really. It was supposed to be a day off but I had to go in.)

I was finally able to leave around noon. Ying Yang. The morning was gone, but I had much to look forward to. Time is as individual as you and I. When you share it with someone, you have to appreciate that. I was to have lunch with my pal, my soulmate. Reliable like gum stuck on your the sole of your shoe. A Chinatown buffet followed by smokes and excellent conversation. Like youoohoohooh. Mama, youoohoohooh, Mama, youoohoohooh.

And it was softball night, which of course is usually the highlight of my week. Arrived at the same time as another, pitter patter pitter patter. Your future aunt? Tee hee. We warmed up. Can't stop time, can't say a word, dweeb dweeb dweeb. If only we could read minds. "He never says anything to me when he sees me, but yet he calls me up a lot..." I led off the game and there I was standing with a metal bat in my hands as the thunder boomed around me. Would Thor strike me down? No, and I even hit a single. But the skies let loose and we all scampered for cover. The evening cut way too short. The rain exploded with a mighty crash, as we fell into the sun. As the first one said to the second one there, I hope you're having fun.

We went our merry ways only to wait for another week, which now days seem to arrive faster and faster. And a bell was ringing in the village square for the rabbits on the run. So I came back home and prepared myself for upcoming tests. I was disappointed the night ended so quickly but I gathered my thoughts and said my prayers before bedtime. Then you arrived.

Bless the Lord, (or as my friend Alex might hear it, BUS ALERT) Jonathan you have much to look forward to. Please believe me that the longer you can last, the more worthwhile it all becomes. Work, play, sleep, eat, drink, sing the song in your heart. Avoid the bus. That's all there is. Happiness in simplicity. Who knows what tomorrow knows, what tomorrow will bring? The important thing is learning that there will be plenty of tomorrows, you may mess up today but for now, there is always another day.