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

For We Have Been Touched by Magic

There is a line in a chant we using at the closing circle at Rites of Spring, a pagan gathering we go to every Memorial Day weekend in the Berkshires called Rites of Spring. “For we have been touched by magic, and the magic will make us whole.”

Maine is beautiful, it’s a special place. Portland is a magical city.

But since we have moved to North State Street in Ansonia, CT the place ahs been touched by magic. When my wife saw the two benches in the gravel she immediately thought it was a Fairie garden. It seemed touched with something special.

The song of crickets at night makes my soul happy. All of the beautiful rocks. The old trees. The old houses. It’s beautiful.

The amazing view across the valley, special. Seeing insects lit up by the late evening sun looking like little fairies.

Bees loving the wildflowers, playing with the pollen and being happy.

The world would be a better place if we planted gardens over grass. Better for the local wildlife. Prettier. Food during the harvest. Canning. Old ways.

Also less gas used, less sameness, less blah.

Not sure when planned communities in beige with bizarre homeowners association rules and sameness became desirable.

Feeling touched by magic in the local forest. I am a forest person.

Going from the beautiful Ansonia Nature Center and exploring off trail into the Naugatuck State Forest. Getting lost, feeling the spirit of the trees, stumps and old rocks. Feeling the energy of the land. I am feeling deeply connected here.

Who know I may have some roots here. My ancestors in America go back a long way, a lot fo them in the 17th and 18th Century. I know I have some roots in Mexico, Maine wondering if I have roots in the valley.

This area built things. Rivers like the Naugatuck, and the Presumpcot which goes through Westbrook, Maine and was the most dammed river in the US per mile not long ago, were industrial corridors. The United States, used to build things. Ansonia was a copper center, Waterbury a center of Brass, Westbrook a paper town, tires made in the Valley working people.

Beautiful old mills, sometimes destroyed, sometimes converted to beautiful use. Like the North Dam Mill in Biddeford, ME and the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook, Maine.

I heard a rumor while fixing my car that the huge copper mills in Ansonia are due to be torn down too. I hope they are made into a park. I would rather they were converted into something cool and beautiful. I need to ride the Metro North to Waterbury and go through them before they go.

I have heard everyone in Derby and Ansonia knows each other. I need to get into those circles and I think I will be a lot happier. It’s a matter of time.

I do like the neighborhood and it’s a special place. And touched by magic.

eddie

Blogtober

My friend Margaret Finch is one of the better bloggers I know. And she is trying to blog every day in October. I am very tempted. I miss the blog. I miss thinking about it everyday.

So I think I will try it and maybe start by adding to some of my good things posts every day on Facebook.

That way I can get the first three days in.

I certainly write enough to blog on the Facebooks.

So why not and let’s see how it goes.

eddie

Thoughts Two Weeks After Moving

Been in Ansonia, CT almost 2 weeks now. 2 weeks ago we were sleeping on an egg crate, exhausted and overwhelmed. So, so much stuff, so much crap. Terrible loaders, filled the truck too much (were still packing) and after a while had to tell them to come back up and get things. Of course the fact that there was wasps didn’t help. I sympathize with that, but movers be expensive.

We did leave early in the morning, exhausted and a full minivan, did leave some stuff behind, a desk that we couldn’t take apart, and the big step stool being two things we wish we had brought. And simple things like lightbulbs (almost brought), trash cans, the toaster … Also need to give a big thank you to my mother in law Dottie Maheux and some family who helped us clean up after we left. Big, big thank you, I appreciate it so much.

I don’t even know if you can prepare for the nightmare and shitshow that is moving. My friend said it can take a year off your life, and I think I now agree.

We brought too much media, and not enough little things. We had and even after culling have way, way too much stuff. Started a storage with one minivan load of boxes, still need to take a couple down.

My old desk didn’t survive the move well, was pretty much a POS, couldn’t believe how flimsy it was when we took it apart. Was able to get two new desks, 3 lamps and a bunch of stuff at IKEA for under $300. That was pretty awesome.

Able to get a vacuum that looks like a good model but is a pain to put together for $150, Hoover Industrial Vacuum, tons of power from Sears Outlet. Lanna’s old (over 10 years) drill died trying to put together the second desk (hers) from IKEA. Bought a new drill at Sears Outlet with more than twice the power for $70 with a powerful shop light. Went from 9.5 to 19.2 Volts. Huge, huge increase in power.

One of the other frustrations is that the queen boxspring couldn’t go down to the cool, cool basement where we now sleep. So slept in the guest bedroom for a week and had to buy a split boxspring at Sleepy’s. $200 for the boxspring ($100 each piece) was so bad, but $100 for delivery and $20 for the takeaway was a HUGE ouch. But the bed is very nice downstairs, it’s good to sleep in a cooler space, and having a frame makes and enormous difference.

Just got through my first week working remote. It definitely takes getting used to, so, so quiet. With the heat wave here, upper 80s to 90s, I have been very happy with central AC, such a nice thing to have. The view is beautiful we have in Ansonia, CT. We look across the other side of the very green Naugatuck Valley. And it’s so hilly here, a 5 minute drive away we are in a state forest. I loved that when I took the 40 minute drive to play pinball in an old industrial park in Meriden, CT I drove through a state forest in Woodbridge, down country roads, and up the beautiful, treelined Merritt Parkway. I tried the route down 691, 84 and 8 on the way back and didn’t like that nearly as much. Still pretty but so much more work. And the fact that a FedEx semi tried to cut me off on the 84 onramp didn’t help, he could have passed me miles earlier.

The drivers in Connecticut are terrible. Rude, aggressive and driving like 45 MPH in a 25 zone in my residential neighborhood, slow down, pay attention, be in less of a rush. The world is more beautiful when you are able to appreciate it.

We are also down to one car. My 99 Mercury Sable with over 150,000 miles on it was looking at a $3000 repair bill. Decided to junk it with a local guy who decided to keep it for himself and registered it. His problem. There is a lot of good features about the car: leather sunroof, 6 cd changer (wish I left the holder for the 6CDs now, originally wanted him to take it out, just as well I didn’t), and it’s good for a big guy like me, nice engine too, but fuel filter leak, oil leak, bad suspension, brake issues and most expensively a messed up power steering rack and huge leak made it better to stay in Maine. Living with one car hasn’t been bad so far, and it’s great I can work remote.

It’s also been nice to drop Lanna off and walk around the beautiful Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. The initial enterance I got from Google Maps is my favorite, going through a neighborhood of ugly, huge, expensive, cheaply made McMansions that won’t look good in a few decades, to a little court with huge, rustying bulldozers and industrial equipment. I would think the construction company would want them for other projects. Maybe the town of Shelton bought the land before a second round of development. Anyway, I went into the trail and there were beautiful rocks to sit on, great graffiti and just a sense of peace. Really excellent place to spend a morning and then get a small cannoli, and a bagel with cream cheese at the delicious Royal Bakery.

I would say more but I am running out of writing gas. It’s lovely here I love hearing the cricket songs (my original idea for the post), and the beautiful, trees, flowers and bees. Had amazing real tacos, for the first time in years from taco trucks in New Haven Long Wharf, near IKEA and 95. There is a good puerto rican place to eat up the block …

More updates to come. We are getting settled, I think this will be a great plus for us, but moving is a frustrating mess. A moving adventure, which I think is U-Haul’s motto, is a horror film. Glad we are here, glad I got rest today.

Blessed be.

edmund

Lucy – 0* (full of spoilers)

This review is full of spoilers and plot summary. I highly recommend you skip “Lucy” as it may be the worst movie I have ever seen, but going to give that warning.

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I went to see Lucy with my wife last night. The previews looked cool, I like Luc Besson and I like Scarlett Johannson. I read a horrible review of it but I thought I would give it a chance since it was the most interesting option at the movie theater.

It was absolutely horrible. Horrible, ridiculous setup. Seems like there should be much easier ways to transport drugs that with stomach surgery. Horrible druglord.

And when she becomes “enhanced” she just acts more and more like in a major mania where she should be hospitalized, while taking something like cocaine and angel dust. Kind of like Charlie Sheen when he was “winning.”

And she kept needing more, and was supposed to be somehow “enlightened” and could go through communication media.

Also if she had all this power couldn’t she stop the drug lords without a shooting sequence?

And all of the animal cut-outs were ridiculous and annoying too.

Luc Besson is a very talented director. This could have been a good movie but it was just horrible.

The idea that we only use 10% of our brains isn’t true. The concepts Morgan Freeman’s professor character gives for more “cranial capacity” are ridiculous. The idea that more brain power makes you worse to people is insane. Lucy’s lack of compassion for humanity is terrible.

Awful, horrible, ridiculous. Although I think this could use Rifftrax. There is so much to make fun of.

7 Good Things

Today I will just be lazy and just post my 7 good things for the day.

I feel like a lot of my blogging and writing goes directly to Facebook.

Three good things: Day 11

1. The success of my poem “Write Poorly”. It even ended up in Colleen Hoover’s we wonderful bestseller “Point of Retreat.”

2. That I was able to write a chapbook last year. “Embrace the Geek.”

3. That I have this pocket computer in my hand that allows me to blog with WordPress and use Facebook without being on a computer.

4. Wi-Fi. May it be free in more places.

5. The open space of the internet to allow ideas to come out.

6. The teaching power of failure and practice.

7. The chance to pontificate on lists about positive things.

I wonder if I will keep having more of these as I keep at it. I think I plan to. It’s a nice way to start the day.

Things, People and Places I Will Miss in Westbrook and Gorham, Maine

Alex Steed — rare to find an activist who is in such great humor about the world and sarcastic — rare to find someone who can still dance like the silly idiot in Junior High School (which was me) as an adult
Allie Munier — Very cool, and one of the best blogs in Maine with Broke 207.
Keith Luke — Character, planner, fan of curling
Greg Daly — One of those wonderful distinctive artists characters you keep hearing about
Rick Hersom — A fellow man of skepticism and beer
Tod Gary — Good friend, better golfer than me (which doesn’t take much).
Dottie Maheux — It was great having my mother in law crosstown in so many ways.
and so many others.

Places:
Westbrook, Maine
The Dancing Elephant — Legit Indian food around the corner
The Frog and Turtle — Awesome brunch, poutine and atmosphere. Although sometimes they have bands that are too loud.
Catbird Creamery — Andrew Bird is a genius. Some of the best ice cream you will find anywhere. If you haven’t been here yet (across from Bank of America on Main Street) go. Your taste buds will sing. It’s 100% on Urbanspoon for a reason. And five stars on Yelp, get there this week in the afternoon if you can. I think this might be dinner tonight. Just reading the reviews is giving me a craving.
Baker’s Bench — Legit baked goods. Their prairie bread with lots of seeds is awesome with peanut butter.
The Saccarappa Falls — I can see them from my window during the winter. Not so much with the thick green trees of July. Awesome to hear on the quiet morning or at night too. Unfortunately the drone of Main Street and the William Clarke Extension drowns them out.
The Presumpscot River Trail — Right by the house and a lovely walk.
Riverside Park — Enjoy seeing the ducks.
Sunset Ridge Golf Club — Underused, a lot of fun, great challenges, good prices. Cumberland Avenue near Windham border.
Digby’s Variety — I didn’t go here enough. They make a wicked good hot dog and cheeseburger sub. Drove by it way too many times before stopping. On New Gorham Road about 3 blocks or so from 25.
Walker Memorial Library — No idea how I almost didn’t think of this. Probably my favorite place in Westbrook, so many great books through the library and the Maine Minerva service that allows books from many of the best libraries in Maine. I really hope there is something similar to Minerva in Connecticut.

Gorham, ME
Gorham House of Pizza — Wicked delicous, simple Maine food. Odd that one of the biggest pizza “chains” in Maine is independently owned by Greeks all over the state. Wish they had more Greek food but a great place for Maine staples like pizza and sandwiches.
Gorham Country Club — Accessible, moderate price, good challenge, pretty open for a terrible player like me. Beautiful.
Bennett Farm — Great place to play Disc Golf. Very long and there is a lot of long grass between the holes. The best disc golf place I have found in the area (only other ones I have played here are Pleasant Hill in Scarborough and the one in Saco.) About 4 miles from USM on 114 towards Sebago Lake on the left. $5 cash with drop off box so bring exact change.
The University of Southern Maine — So many mixed feelings about USM since it is so poorly run. But great job for my wife at the School of Education and Human Development. And three of my favorite Maine sports memories. Watching Bowdoin vs. USM in a match up of two top 10 Division III Women’s Basketball teams put on a coaching clinic of great defense. Gary Fifield is a better coach (for USM) than most Division I programs have. And watching St. Joseph’s vs. USM baseball for a few innings on a beautiful day and having a hot dog, easily the best baseball experience I had in Maine.

Portland, ME: One of the best small cities in America
Port Veritas: Been with them a few years, even moved my schedule around to be out earlier on Tuesdays. Saw them a couple times at Acoustic Coffee, the last few months of the North Star Cafe (still missed), Blue, Local Sprouts and now Bull Feeney’s upstairs. Slam poetry has been probably my favorite reason to go out the last few hours. Planning to spend time at Poetry Slap in Bridgeport, CT when I move. If you are interested go to the website and sign up for the e-mails. Have seen so, so many great poets through PV. Lauren Zuniga, Theresa Davis, Billy Tuggle, Ryk McIntyre, Laura Lamb Brown-Lavoie, Heidi Therrien, Ellyn Touchette, Wil Gibson, Ryan McLellan, Brendan Constantine …

Rhythmic Cypher — The second poetry slam in Portland (amazing we have two of the 72 teams that competed in Boston/Cambridge for the 2013 National Poetry slam last year) designed for the outsiders. I have seen some amazing poetry here from queer, trans, the mentally ill, and just outsiders. Also great to have poetry with music behind you.

Miyake — Seriously amazing sushi. Expensive so don’t order everything. Hamiyake is one of the many delicious things here. I also discovered monkfish liver, which is so rich and full of umami, almost tastes like pork. Here is the Yelp on it.

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.

This is 40

Terrible movie, waste of talent **.

I turned 40 on June 23rd. Already looking like a very different year. Lanna just got a new job in Shelton, Connecticut, big raise, big opportunity. She is starting there at the end of the month. And we are looking to move completely by September 1st.

Big move for me. Will be nice to have New York City an easy drive or better train ride away. Will be nice to be closer to my mom, Allentown, PA will be 2 hours away. Will be unfortunate to be farther from my mother in law, from across town to 4 hours away.

Maine has been really good for us. Met a bunch of awesome people through work, Twitter, Facebook, poetry, tweetups, church, community.

Portland is a fantastic city. Amazing food. Excellent art scenes. Even two poetry slam teams which is just astounding. Tons of theater companies, a great regional art museum, lots of galleries and artists. And it actually is a city in the peninsula. Walkable, interesting, lots of character. Resurgem.

Westbrook I think is still finding itself. A mill town, where the mill doesn’t run the town anymore. It has the advantage of being next to Portland so it has become more a commuter city, but still with a lot of people in section 8 who never recovered from the mill being gone. Happy James Tramontagne is in the city with the Frog and Turtle, I love the Dancing Elephant and I love my local library. I also liked being able to walk in town, but I do wish it had better links to Portland Trails and the wonderful city of Portland. To me it’s still Westbrook it’s there. I expressed my love for the town with my poem “The Smells of Westbrook.”

The Shelton, Connecticut area will be a new adventure for me. Driving around during Lanna’s interview on Tuesday it reminded me a lot of the area I grew up in Somerset County, NJ. Reminded me a lot of Bridgewater. Lots of businesses in huge parks in an area with a lot of trees. A lot of affluence, just very similar.

I look forward to the new adventure and discovering new places. Right now it all feels overwhelming.

40 has come. I think I will really like my fifth decade. I do want to get in touch with as many people as possible in the next few weeks and get a beer, coffee or lunch.

The move feels so fast but it’s a great opportunity and I look forward to it.

Blessed be.

edmund

Bad Houses **

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan (story) and Carla Speed McNeil (illustration).

Story just didn’t grab me.

I think there definitely could have been more there.

I think graphic novels are most interesting when they either embrace the spare in a beautiful work like Jeff Lemire’s Essex County. Or if they provide a snapshot of an unknown world in Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang or Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”.J

There is also the power of work like Palestine by Joe Sacco. But for relatively standard storytelling the effect can actually be pretty thin.

I feel like this could have been more interesting in more traditional narrative, like the characters live richer lives that what is shown in the book. The central couple’s story is just beginning in the book, and I think can get richer.

Ok at best. Definitely disappointing.