Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Old Clouds, Time Travel and Fresh Ink

“Sooner or later, I'll get me off this track.
Gotta do what it is that I do and then I'm coming back.
Got sun in my face-sleeping rough on the road.
I'll tell you all about it, when I get home.
Gonna roll up the sidewalk, I'm gonna tear up the ground.
Comin' round to meet you, The long way 'round.”

From Long Way 'Round, The Stereophonics 2005

There are times in our lives, more so these days I would imagine, when we all wonder what it is we are supposed to be doing.

Why am I here?

I won't go as far as too ask “What is the meaning of life, because I think I would agree with Monty Python's answer to that question, as presented in The Meaning of Life.

The meaning of life, states The Python, is “not very special. Just try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

But WHY am I here?

I feel like the child who will forever be asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Shit. I don't know.

You can keep asking the question, GOD knows I do, but I'm not sure I can give you an honest answer. Not that it's any of your business, anyway, but I can understand the curiosity.

After all, I am 44 years old and I bet none of you really know what I do.

Join the club. It's a nice club, actually. We have a free-weight room, tennis and racket ball, a sauna (although I have to ask that if you are over 65, please don't do the “hey-look-at-me!-I'm-naked-and-parts-of-me-are-dragging-on-the-floor” thing. I'll be 65 one day. Believe me. I'm not excited about seeing myself naked-I wouldn't expect anyone else to either.) My club also has a killer brunch on Sundays (the ambrosia salad? yum yum!) and every Spring we go to Disney World.

Of course, there is all the angst, but with no monthly dues and All-The-Shrimp-Balls-You-Can-Eat Wednesday (you know hard it is to get enough of those together to feed 50 people?) I have to ask....where's the downside?

Maybe I am just having one of those weeks where everything seems to be going to shit. I'm frustrated. I'm a little angry. And as hard as I try to look on the positive and tell myself that it is all going to work out, I have a black cloud hanging over my head.

There is a silver lining inside that cloud. I do know that. I just have to weather the hail and lightning and I'll be able to get a better look. Because I am pretty, almost certain, 73.8% sure, there is a silver lining in that cloud.

But that's just me trying to be positive. When people ask me if I am "a glass half-filled kind of a guy" or "a glass half-empty kind of a guy," I tell them I am a "someone better get me the right sized glass kind of a guy."

There's a fine line between being realistic and being pessimistic and I think I have been staggering between those two lines like a drunk being tested on COPS. I have a shirt on, so I'm guessing the chances there will be a good outcome.

Prepare yourself for a little bit of a jump here. Ready? Okay.

I am pretty sure my next tattoo will be the phrase “LONG WAY ROUND.”

You okay? Didn't pull anything, did you?

Not just because I liked the reality tv mini-series starring actors Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman and which chronicled their trek across the world on motorcycles from London to New York taking the “long way round.”

(Side note here: Check out that series. It's on DVD.)

No, I'm thinking my next tattoo will be “LONG WAY ROUND” because that seems to be the route I am taking in my life. Plus, it's a lot better than getting a tattoo that says “CONFUSED SCHMUCK.”

I know what I have told a few of you about my tats. That my Monty Python Holy Grail on my left shoulder would be my last. Yeah. Well. I'm not talking a huge tattoo on my back. I'm saving that for when I get Mt. Rushmore with the cast of Seinfelfd. (rim-shot) No. The "LONG WAY 'ROUND" tattoo is gonna be a small, 3-word tattoo. On my right arm. You won't hardly notice it. Seriously. It's all I can afford.

With everything I am feeling right now, I do have my shit together enough to know that I don't do anything easy. It's always the hard way. I always take the long way 'round.” I don't know why.

Why does a smoker still crave a cigarette even after setting themself on fire in bed? Ok. The answer to that is nicotine.

Shit! Stupid example. Never mind.

The point I'm trying to make is this. It's what I do. Who I am. For better or worse.
And there are plenty of times when I sell myself on the idea that that's okay. Then there are times....like today when I say, "There's got to be something better."

I don't know why I challenge myself the way I do sometimes. I'm pretty sure that if I was standing at a cross-roads and there was one sign that said “THE ROAD TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS AND ALL THE FREE ICE CREAM YOU CAN EAT” and there was another sign that read “A BUNCH OF AGGRAVATING SHIT AND SWEAT AND TEARS AND POSSIBLE HARD TIMES AND MAYBE EVEN GIANT KILLER HAMSTERS THAT WILL EAT YOUR FACE” I would probably choose the first road.

What? Wait a minute. Did you think I was going to say the second road? What are you fucking nuts?! I'm a little confused right now and feeling a little down. I'm not a freaking moron, for Christ's sake.

I mean...

Who doesn't love ice cream? It's ice cream! Cold and yummy. Hello?

C'mon! Giant face-eating hamsters or free all-u-can-eat ice cream. Hmmm....Oh. I dunno. It's so hard to choose...Are you kidding me?!

Here. Let me help you. That road? ICE CREAM!! THAT ROAD? NO FACE!!!

Where the Hell was I? Oh. The long way round. Yeah. Well. That's me. I'm okay with it. I guess. Regrets you ask? Sure. I have a Few. But if a man from the future appeared in front of me and said he could take me back in time so that I could have a second shot at things, I'm not sure I would take him up on it.

Oh. Sure. I might go back to my second night of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and answer “The Crimean War” just to find out what the $500,000 question would have been. Could you blame me? I have no interest in the money at all. (Yeah right)

And since we were riding through the highways and by-ways of time itself in our 1975 White AMC Pacer (A Dolorean? Please! Everyone knows the AMC Pacer is the perfect vehicle for time travel) I might warn my past-self about a few bad haircuts, all those lottery tickets I bought, and that speed trap on I-64 which resulted in a $100 ticket.

But as far as the BIG stuff is concerned? I'm not so sure I would change a thing.

And I say that because as tempting as it is to say “Why get married when you know it's just going to end in divorce?” or “Why work so hard for that jerk who is just going to use me and then toss me aside like so much garbage?” I'm afraid the consequences for my altering the past would be dire.

And I'm not talking about being worried about ending up in a planet ruled by talking apes.

And having said that, I would ask my time-traveling friend to make one more stop. I would ask him to take me back to the day I dropped $20 on tickets and refreshments to watch Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes)

It would be easy to wipe the slate clean and start anew, but I look at all that I would lose. They (men in white lab coats and Ashton Kutcher fans) refer to it as The Butterfly Effect. That is to say, who knows what the result might be were I to go back in time and change even the smallest event or action in my past.

Had my parents not divorced, I might not have ever left New Jersey. (Whoa. Huge cold chill just ran down my spine) I can't even begin to think what my life would be like if I had never moved to Virginia.

The point is, I might not be where I am right now, and more importantly, I might not have the people I have in my life at this moment.

There might not be a lot about my life right now that I understand-but I am smart enough to appreciate the people who are in my life. My friends. My family. My love, Fawn. Nothing would be worth taking a chance and losing those who are so precious to me

So I will play the hand that I have been dealt.

I was never that good at cards, and if this was a game of STRIP LIFE, I would be sitting here typing this as naked as a guy with no clothes on.

But I will see how this hand plays out. I will keep moving forward. One baby step at a time. I'm a little old for baby steps, I know, but I'm also too old for playing with my belly button when I'm bored, but you do what you enjoy and what you're good at.

There are a lot of unknowns staring me down right now.

Here are the knowns. I know I want to be happy. And maybe that is as simple as spending the rest of my life loving Fawn and seeing her laugh at my jokes and dancing with her in dance classes, making enough money to pay my bills and maybe taking a nice vacation every now and then. Those things would make me happy. They would.

I also know I'm never gonna be on American Idol (I'm too old) or COPS (my girlfriend would never tolerate a mullet) As much as I adore kids, I'm probably not going to have my own. I probably won't be President and I probably won't go into outer space. I'm not ever going to be pregnant and I am pretty freakin' sure Jim Carrey won't play me in a motion picture based on my life that Martin Scorcese will not direct...and that will be nominated for two OSCAR's but will not win.

Everything else is a crap shoot.

(Back to tattoos for a second)

If I was ever going to get a tattoo after my “LONG WAY 'ROUND” tattoo, it would probably be one that says “FIND YOUR GRAIL.”

“FIND YOUR GRAIL” is a line from Eric Idle's musical Spamalot. It's a song the Lady of the Lake sings to Arthur when he is at his lowest.

“If you trust in your song

Keep your eyes on the goal
Then the prize you won't fail
That's your grail
That's your grail

So be strong
Keep right on
To the end of your song
Do not fail
Find your grail.”

I guess, in a sense, we are all looking for our own “grail.”

And so, like Arthur, I will continue, and I will, as another Spamalot song tells us, “always (try) to look at the bright side of Life.” <insert happy whistle here>

I just hope that along the way I'm not killed by a rabbit with sharp, pointy teeth and a vicious streak a mile wide.

that's Jody with a “y”

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