You are always on my mind

My dad has been on my mind a lot this week.

I felt his presence watching my guitar instructor George Lesiw jamming with a cool 7 string guitar almost sounding like a stand up bass.

Kids were playing and being silly. I was being silly with them while counting time.

We were talking jazz, of concerts, of memory, of good times.

I look forward to going to the Jewish Community Center again in 2 weeks on the 2nd anniversary of his death of April 1st and listen to some jazz keyboard and then go off to play pinball. I haven’t gone to play pinball in a wild. It’s a lot harder when you break and damage your coccyx to drive 30 miles each way. But, I miss it. Playing Pinball Arcade on your phone isn’t the same as going to Pinball Wizard Arcade with over a hundred pinball machines and over a hundred classic games. The New England Pinball Associated is packed in there today for finals. I am happy not to be there, it’s a lot of pinball. But if you are near Lowell, MA and love pinball and classic arcade drive a few miles to Pelham, NH. It’s magic.

I am really taking to guitar. I have been considering it for years. And when I heard a tone that said yes on the Ibanez Jazzbox, I just had to get it. It was marked down from $400 to $300 and the Fender Frontman 25R Amp from $100 to $80. I am very happy. And even happy I got the insurance. I don’t trust myself not to damage the guitar. Although if you are good to your guitar paying $60 for 3 years insurance on a $400 guitar is a lot.

I am amazed how much the memories of my father are positive but sometimes I need to cry. Here i the excellent Willie Nelson playlist from the classic country standard written by Kris Kristofferson “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” I would love to sing a lot of these songs. They are beautiful.

Sometimes you just need to cry.

Blessed be.

ecq

Memories of My Father

I had a huge disruption in my life on April 1, 2013.

Had written everyday in the blog from I think Thankgiving, 2011 into mid-April.

I lost the rock of my life, my father Henry Edmunds Davis.

He always had a twinkle in his eye, incredibly intelligent and grounded with someone who wanted to be a farmer as a kid. He became an agronomist which means a weed scientist and a Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin. I was born in Madison while he was studying. We even had food stamps for a short time while my dad was in school and my mom was a full time mom. We all need help sometimes.

We moved to Dublin, Ohio near Columbus when I was a little kid and my sister was still a toddler around 1977 or so when my dad completed his Ph.D. She as born on June 2, 1976, me on June 23, 1974. I have very happy memories from our time in Ohio. I remember being awed by the coal mine exhibit at the COSI science museum in Columbus. I think there is a groundedness to the midwest that you don’t see in New Jersey and Connecticut but begin to see again in Maine.

We moved to NJ when I was in 1st grade, because my dad got a good job offer at Mobil in NJ. I remember I was way, way ahead in math and had already completed second grade in math at the more self directed private school that my parents took us to Ohio. New Jersey is very different. Beautiful, underrated, but more of a drive to look out and look to keep doing better. I think people sometimes look to get ahead without worrying about others. I think similar things like places like Greenwich, CT and Well Street where money is worshipped over people. I think I always felt like an outsider in New Jersey, even though I ended up going to Montgomery schools all the way through High School. And there are people I have known there for over 30 years now. I am someone who I think feels like an outsider even when I am a regular and I know people. Does anyone else get this feeling?

Unfortunately, not long after dad moved his job ended and he had trouble finding another job so he decided to open a business, the Weed Doctor, doing home lawn care. He did this for decades after and I helped him out in high school and college. We had a lot of bonding there. Like me he had a map of places he has been in his mind. It’s an interesting superpower to have. I think he often charged to little for his services, and certainly had a bunch of characters work for him, some of which embezzled, one of which propositioned me when I was in Junior High School. Which I think affected me for a long time.

His mom lived until 90, and I expected to him to have him so much longer than I did. We didn’t expect brain cancer, I guess nobody does. Got lucky with his first operation. He had 5 good years, and 9 terrible months after his second operation. And I feel like there is nothing I need to say to him, I have no regrets, I just wish he was around so much longer.

It’s amazing how the death of a parents changes you. I have still been very active on social media and am now up to 187 straight days of Three (or way more) Good Things but there is something different about sharing things on WordPress. I have been wanting to get blogging every day for a long time. Hopefully these posts come out a lot more than I got a computer again.

ed

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux

I had a wonderful day. Got up at 4am, which may seem crazy but it’s when I got to get up tomorrow (or today since I am writing this on Sunday evening and posting it for Monday morning).

Two hour walk around Ansonia and the Ansonia Brass and Cooper site (formerly The American Brass Company) which will be going away soon. Took maybe 100 pictures with my phone. Was beautiful to see the sunrise.

Wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about.

Saw a link somewhere called “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Greg Maddux” I was a a big fan of his. Control pitcher, pitched fast. Didn’t get showy. Amazing to watch.

I liked him since he played with the Cubs. Although I am a Phillies fan always loved watching Greg Maddux even thought he was on the Phillies big rival team, the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s.

But this article was not about Greg Maddux. It was about an incredibly talented friend. A lost talent. So much potential. So much alcohol.

SCOUTING REPORT: Jason Kenney, age 19, by Boyhood Friend & College Roommate Collins

Height: 6’2, Weight: 216, DOB: 1/9/77. Home: Atlanta, Georgia.

Abilities: Three-Sport Athlete. Center Fielder, Georgia Little League World Series team, 1990; Fullback and Tight End, Atlanta Colts Pop Warner Football National Champions, 1991; Guard and Small Forward, Dunwoody High School, Georgia High School Basketball Champions, Undefeated, Ranked No. 3 by USA Today, 1995.

A “natural.” Hyper-competitive. Crazy instinctive touch and feel. Inspires envy.

Once bowled a 290 in Rome, Georgia while consuming 2 1/2 pitchers of Bud Light.

Weakness: Lacks control (drinking). Dismissed from basketball team two days before state title game — showed up drunk (again) to school. Binge drinking since age 14.

Jason and his friend Jeremy Collins loved the Atlanta Braves and Greg Maddux.

Greg Maddux who had such beautiful control as a pitcher and worked on it with a famous baseball coach when a scot at 18 said: “Weakness: Lacks control on all his pitches. Just has to get ahead of hitters more often.”

We have so many weaknesses as teenagers.

Seventy one days sober. Let’s celebrate. Six miles from their destination. Didn’t stop with just one pitcher. Car flips, he survives, his friend doesn’t, only 19.

Stunningly beautiful writing. A tale of control and loss of control. One night out, lost potential a lost friend. And Greg Maddux who had amazing control. Addiction hurts. So many lives and relationships are lost without control. I give my love to anyone working to leave addiction and to those lost. Powerful. #longform

Death Card

A few weeks ago before Lanna got her new job on our tenth anniversary on July 3rd, I went to Pinecone + Chickadee in downtown Portland and got some random Portland Pins from the gumball like machine. One was death with a nautical image.

I asked Lanna what it meant and she said in tarot it’s a symbol of new beginnings. From this Tarot site it states:

Death is symbolic of the ending of a major phase or aspect of your life that may bring about the beginning of something far more valuable and important.

My first thought was to be frightened but I didn’t know it was the symbol of good change. It’s been a difficult few years. I lost my dad on April 1st, 2013 and had a major mental health crisis and breakdown a couple weeks later where I ended up at Spring Harbor. Manic depression is indeed a frustrating mess. Dad’s was a long departure which I talked about extensively on the blog. I am still recovering 15 months later.

Lanna’s died just a little over a year before in March, 2012. His departure was fast. From seeming pretty healthy and in good spirits to gone not long after.

I feel like I have grown as a person. Learning to mediate, accept my many weirdnesses, learning patience, writing, interacting with words. Maine has been good to me. Maine has been very good to me.

Especially with the patience and perspective of just getting by with life. And that there is nobility to just living. You have a house, you have family, you have food, you are doing alright. Ayuh.

Moving to the Shelton, CT area for Lanna’s new job, she leaves today to start her new job tomorrow, feels like coming home in a way. I grew up in Central NJ in Montgomery Township, just a town north from Princeton up 206. Shelton, CT reminds me a lot of Bridgewater, NJ. Green, bucolic, with huge office parks and lots of money. And I am guessing a lot of the same attitude of not being satisfied and always wanting to have more in life. There is something beautiful in having enough.

I also feel this desire to work in counseling, mental health, anti-drug war and anti-prison efforts. I had a conversation just last night about trying to get people with mental health away from prison. Considering going into mental health work, maybe as a counselor maybe even as an NP. Although I still don’t like blood. I feel like I need to help people directly. As someone with creativity, mania and mental health issues, my current job in a medical call center has helped me gain patience. Listening is a powerful skill. Simply letting people get out what burdens them, helping them get to a nurse or doctor for advice.

Feeling grateful that my job can go with me and I can go remote. It’s one big less stress for this long move.

Feeling happy to unburden myself, I keep way too much crap. Let it go. Let it go.

Happy to have the kitties for support.

I’m going to miss my wife this week and a half. She is going to start in CT for a fortnight on the new job, and I am going out next Tuesday. It’s going to be strange, we are such strong partners with the 11 1/2 years we have been together (met in mid-January, 2003).

I am excited, and daunted by my next step in life.

Also looking forward to a cleaner house and having a place for people to stay. Our moms, our friends, etc. Good friends in good spirits is all it really takes to be happy. I was reminded of that last night at a wonderful party.

To new beginnings. As scary and daunting as they can be.

Numbing Agents

We are often uncomfortably numb.
Not engaging.

Using crutches
pain pills
alcohol
Facebook
cigarettes
pot
TV
Radio
Internet.

Keeping feeling internal
hard to shar

Afraid to say what we feel
Worried about offending others.

Wanting to be the good guy.

Not connecting to people in person,
social media isn’t that social.
It’s a lot of words,
a lot of noise
not much connection.

Texts
for hours
for hundreds of messages
while driving
while with an actual person
in front of you.

There are a lot of things out there
retail therapy
commercialism
you need more crap, more stuff,
more shit.

We live in bizarre times.
Don’t know out neighbors,
have hundreds or thousands of “friends” we hardly know.
That are at most acquaintances.

I like social media,
I can like TV,
like beer.
But there is just too much noise right now,
too much static.

We need to connect,
need to talk,
need to interact,
with people in-person,
not just online.

Need to connect with people,
of different classes,
races,
ages,
genders,
backgrounds.

Realize we have more in common,
than different.
That those with a difficult life,
little money,
families in jail,
addiction,
illness,
madness,
need love.

What a better life we would live if
we could just be
“Excellent to each other.”

Don’t be a dick,
listen,
too many people are bogus.

Love people for who they are,
“party on dudes,”
listen,
cry,
laugh,
love.

The world needs you.
Needs you to love.
To listen, to write, to create,
to be only the person you can be.

I am trying,
it’s not easy,
there is so much shiny, so much debt, so much hardship.

We are all in this together, kid.
Cliches and all.

Love. Love. Hug. Cry. Listen. Or just be there.
There is someone who needs you,
and someone you need,
blessings to you all.

Peace.

edmund

My Dear Aunt Sallie

(This is a work in progress — expecting to edit but really like the idea.)

My Dear Aunt Sally
learn it in school

Multiplication
Division
Adding
Subtracting

So 8*5/4-3 = 40/4-3 = 10-3 = 7

My Dear Aunt Sallie

Multiplying
student loans
Multiplying
interests.

dividing
families
dividing
relationships.

adds
debt
adds
fees

Subtracting
opportunity
spending money
the economy

Adds
new dorms
for-profit schools
tuition.

Subtracting
meritocracy
affordability

Multiplying
Government profit
Debt Collectors.

Dividing
young from old
rich from poor

It’s a mortgage.

If you can’t afford it
here is some “student aid.”

More semesters
more student loans
more debt
even in public colleges
even when working in school.

The tuition will be fine
the loans will be fine
college will pay off.

Will give
chances
opportunity
growth,

Make you a better person.

Successful, rich.

If you are so smart, why ain’t you rich.

Poets, artists and philosophers have never had money
unless they had a benefactor.

Give money
give money
give money
give money
10, 20, 30 years.

Disabled
pay me
mental illness
pay me
bad job market
pay me

Pay me
calls
pay me
default
plus give me 18.5%

We want your money
you signed a contract
sorry, no bankruptcy.

Sorry we can’t help you
go back to school,
take a forbearance,
take more debt.

Sorry we can’t help you
pay it in full of 18.5%

Pay me. Pay me.
Pay me.

My Dear Aunt Sallie Mae
forgive us.

We know not what
we signed

We just wanted to
go to school.

Send it was aid

Just want to go to
school
FAFSA said
I needed loans.

just wanted
to learn
to learn

opportunity
to learn
to learn.

Forgive us.
Forgive our debt
forgive the debts.
forgive. forgive.
forgive.

Improve the economy
end sleepless nights
allow creativity
allow entrepeunship
allow people to use their degrees
for good.

Giving our smartest people
who had parents without money
or enough money
a mortgage to start life is insane.

Just end Sallie Mae.
End it.
Forgive it.

Maybe less people would go to school.
That’s okay.

Student aid should be grants not loans.
Should allow people to follow their passion,
not take jobs that pay enough money.

We need to do better as a society
to the strivers
from poor, working class, middle class
families.

To improve themselves,
bring creativity,
bring a better world.

And not have the shackles
of thousands,
tens of thousands,
even hundreds of thousands in debt.

It would make the world
a better place.

edmund

Time of Renewal, Time of Peace

Easter.
Time of Renewal.
Time of Peace.

Mid-April.
Green slowly returning in Maine,
an explosion of color in most of the world.

April in Paris.
Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC and Japan.
Magnolias in the American South.

Easter.
Time of Egg hunts
and chocolate.

Of the scary bunny,
with hollow dead eyes.

Of eating off the top of
chocolate bunnies
head first.

Jelly Beans.
Easter Grass,
odd plastic stuff.
What weird times we live in.

Of thankfulness,
family,
forgiveness.

Of praying for your sins,
to improve.
To flower along with the trees
and grasses, annuals and perennials.

Jesus.
The Prince of Peace.
May you help heal a broken world.
Help the meek,
help the poor,
help those suffering.

People need help
in these greedy times.
Capital is merely a tool,
Capitols aren’t supposed to
controlled by capital.

Enjoy the green,
enjoy seeing winter trees slowly bud,
the birds slowly return.

The sun is almost set,
Easter in the morning.
Blessings to all
in this holy time
of Easter, Ēostre and Passover.

May it bring renewal to your life.
May it bring peace.
After a difficult 2 years I could use peace in my heart.

Blessed be.

A year later

It’s been a year since my dad passed away on April 1st, 2013.

At first I felt relieved when he passed away after so much suffering. I was able to write about his struggle finally. And here is the piece I wrote a year ago about losing him.

Music is so important to us both. We bonded through jazz, I even got to see Dizzy Gillespie as a toddler. And good straight ahead jazz not bebop, not the awful elevator music that calls itself cool jazz. It has no relation to what Miles Davis started with the “Birth of the Cool.”

April was so hard. I enjoyed the rush of hypomania, had full blown mania and was hospitalized almost 2 weeks. On lithium much of last year, which was good because it slowed the brain down when I needed it to, and bad because it slowed the brain down.

My creativity suffered. I had my last post blogging every day on April 13, 2013 which is a sweet kitty poem, after writing everyday since Thanksgiving, 2011. I miss it. I just haven’t been inspired to keep going. I have had thoughts, but I do think the practice matters.

I have been reading a lot of poetry this year, haven’t been to as many slam readings, I usually just don’t have the emotional energy out there. I have tried to make the monthly prose Lowry’s Lodge readings in Westbrook with two features and I have written a little bit of poetry.

I feel like the last year has been a year of recovery from losing my dad and from mental illness. I hope the next year is easier. I could use an easier more creative year.

I appreciate all the love people have sent out. It’s time for me to keep moving on my journey. Trying to live a deeper and simplier life even in the Age of Social Media and Facebook. It’s hard. I feel like smartphones want you to keep looking at them.

But, I am trying to meditate more. And I feel like I need to get more involved in passions of mine. Like ending the madness of the drug war, having student loan forgiveness, slowing down the assault on the constitution from NSA and Homeland Security, poetry and just treating people better.

Blessed be.

Don’t forget to tell people you love them.

Edmund

Tough Month

Today has been a tough month.

Last week, I lost my glasses on Wednesday and my iPod on Thursday. I have been out of sorts, watching a lot of Netflix and exhausted. I have also been very melancholy. My father-in-law died two years ago. I was very close to Walter, and he was an amazing man. My wife Lanna, did a great piece about him yesterday. Her series of posts about her father is beautiful and heartbreaking.

And a year ago, my dad was at death’s door. He died last April 1st, which just shattered me. A year earlier in March 2012, my father in law passed within a month. I still miss him too. I have been thinking about the suffering of both this month.

Had a friend who’s mom passed away in hospice this month and it brought a lot of feelings back to me. Losing a parent is something I am not sure you ever get over.

Me and Lanna were both lucky to have great fathers.

edmund

Music That Changed My Life: For the Good Times

So I decided to a do a post on the varieties of pop this morning. I had so much fun with it wanted to some more. Music has always been a big deal for me. One of the big things that bonded me to him.

Dad was all about jazz.

To me the best composer of the 20th Century is Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. No one compares to his output or influence in my opinion. My favorite Duke Ellington record from my dad’s collection is his double LP “The Great Paris Concert.” Turns out the whole thing is on YouTube so enjoy the Duke Ellington Orchestra from February 1st, 2nd and 23rd, 1963 from Paris.

Here is some as good as it gets music. John Coltrane’s full album “Blue Train”. One of those records any music fan just needs to own. It’s just beautiful. Glad to find out I can hear full CDs on YouTube. That’s awesome.

Now I have to add what I consider the best jazz record of all time, the absolutely amazing “Kind of Blue.” Grew up with this music. One of the last things I did while he was still consious in March of last year (he died on April 1st, 2013) was watch a DVD about the making of the record that I found with a CD for like two bucks at the Allentown Thrift Store. They have that CD copy. Found this in a Bull Moose grab bad and gave the copy to someone in Portland near Longfellow Books. It’s just an amazing thing to give music. I think it was after a poetry reading. If you have never heard this take a listen now, and buy it at your favorite record store. This is an extraordinarily important album to me. I love you, dad.

My mom’s favorite singers of all time are Simon and Garfunkel. My favorite track of theirs is “The Only Living Boy in New York.” I can gather all the news I need on the weather report. The lyrics are beautiful, as a song, as poetry the don’t work as well. And Paul Simon is a very underrated singer. This just makes me think of having perspective in life.

The Beatles “Long and Winding Road” is poetry as lyrics and just words. This one makes me cry. THe last two years have been a long and winding road. It wasn’t one of my blogposts but when I blogged about my dad dying on April 1, 2013 it started with: “My dad Henry Edmunds Davis passed away at 3:45pm today.

It’s been a long and winding road. “

And there have be a lot of tears including right now. And that’s a good thing, all of our lives are. They are supposed to be. Illness is always a long and winding road. I was lucky to have him 4 1/2 years with brain cancer even if the last 7 months were so, so hard.

In my “Rest in Piece” blogpost that night. Two songs came up. One I called: “But my theme song for this sickness has been “For the Good Times” by Johnny Cash.” Johnny Cash’s good friend Kris Kristofferson wrote the lyrics here they are:
Don’t look so sad
I know it’s over
But life goes on
And this old world
Will Keep on turning

Let’s just be glad
We had this time
To spend together
There is no need to watch the bridges
That we’re burning

Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine
Hear the whisper of the raindrops
Blow softly against my window
Make believe you love me
One more time
For the good times
For the good times

I’ll get along
You’ll find another
And I’ll be here
If you should ever find
You need me

Don’t say a word
About tomorrow
Or forever and ever and ever and ever
There’ll be time enough for sadness
When you leave me
For the good times
For the good times

Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine
Hear the whisper of the raindrops
Blow softly against my window
Make believe you love me
One more time
For the good times
For the good times

Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine

Mom and dad were always inseparable. I worried about her without dad and she is doing really well. Better than me I think. She was there for his illness and didn’t want to leave him. Even kept a big stuffed dolphin with her in bed to represent his spirit. I read a poem on Higgins Beach to the waves and wind in my mania on Thursday, April 11th for about 30 minutes just talking. It was a beautiful moment. The madness of mania can. This is a gorgeous song. Johnny Cash has the right voice for it as he is dying after already losing his beloved June Carter Cash in Johnny Cash’s beautiful album “American VI: Ain’t No Grave.” It’s a meditation on death and dying. Johnny Cash is amazing at covers and lived a remarkable life.