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 Day Without a Smartphone

Smartphones are amazing things. What would be considered a super computer not that long ago in the palm of your hand.

The ablility to send a Tweet around the world. The ability to send a Facebook message to all your friends and followers. Amazing apps, games, messaging ….

You know you can turn them off. No, seriously you can.

My phone died on Tuesday afternoon. Put it in my coat pocket, went to fix my car and then weird squares on the bottom left.

I went to the Great Lost Bear for mac and cheese and beer and it wouldn’t work. I tried removing the Otterbox (which has a horrible design on the Galaxy S4 that already broke from Thanksgiving with loose rubber and breaking plastic that doesn’t seal), and changing the battery but the problem continued.

I want to tweet and message about the the first date going on next to me. It did seem to be going relatively well and I think they will have a second date, not sure if it will be a long-term relationship, but they will likely be friends.

I also tried the crazy mix at Great Lost Bear that is mac and cheese, topped with baked beans, topped with cole slaw and then three fried pickles in a mason jar. It was good but I think wicked farty.

Yesterday, I didn’t really miss my phone that much. I was mainly zoning out and watching stuff like “Orange is the New Black” (which is awesome.)

Usually at work I use my phone more. I check in with my wife, I use it to listen to music since I lost my iPod a few weeks ago, and I play smartphone games (been addicted to FIFA 14).

But the Galaxy is down for the count and the SD card is missing from my old Evo so most of the apps don’t work.

So on my downtime I read more. Read a bunch of the April “The Bollard” (easily my favorite free paper in town and favorite newspaper considering the Portland Press Herald kind of sucks these days.) And I read quite a bit of the 2013 Entertainment Weekly with the 100 best of all time. Really “My Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West is the 8th best album of all time, really? Between Aretha Franklin and “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, really?

And as much as I love Woody Allen and adore Annie Hall, I just don’t like Manhattan **, I have tried multiple times but it’s just ridiculous. Why would he really fall for Muriel Hemingway’s HS character, does he have some weird thing for young girls?

But, when I left work I felt like my mind was working on writing ideas. That I wasn’t as distracted all day. That I had a very good day.

So, I am getting my phone back on Monday, ok a replacement phone, but I think I will just turn it off more. I really don’t need to keep checking Facebook or Twitter or FIFA 14. It’s a weapon of mass distraction.

I am ADDish enough without it.

So, I hope to read more and smartphone less.

One of the things I love about my retreat every Memorial Day weekend in the Berkshires is that phones and the internet don’t work. I engage with people more. I don’t hear the traffic. I hear the running water, hear the birds tweeting their songs, not the clatter of millions in under 140 characters. I experience the green and beauty of a sacred place. It’s magic.

I have been feeling the need for a smartphone vacation. I miss my old Evo dying of battery faster. The Galaxy is too good at being a mini-computer. The Google Chrome works too well. Sometimes it runs better than my laptop at home.

So, I don’t think I will disconnect, but I will connect less. People are much more important than devices, if you find you can’t ignore your phone at a poetry reading, turn it off. If you can’t ignore your phone while having lunch or dinner with someone, turn it off. Seriously. If you want to connect it will still be there. If you really want to connect with actual people you should turn if off.

Seriously. Try it!

C’mon. Try it!

I know you don’t believe you can, but your public can wait. Especially if you have to pay attention to the road.

Be safe. Be mindful,

edmund

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

Moist

I don’t get the hate for the word moist.

We moisten things.
Use moisturizer.
Like a good moist cake.

It’s a good word moist-ly.
Unlike my puns.

Let’s look at the definitions: (via Google)

1. slightly wet; damp or humid.
“the air was moist and heavy”
We all know that feeling well, the lovely dew of the morning. Pretty much every summer day in the south.
Or that feeling when you had some exercise, not a lot just some.

2. (of the eyes) wet with tears.
“her brother’s eyes became moist”
synonyms: tearful, watery, misty, dewy
“her eyes grew moist”
Well me know that feeling too. Hearing someone is sick, in pain. Hearing someone give tribute to someone. Seeing someone triumph. Not a full cry, just the eyes moistening.

3. (of a climate) rainy.
synonyms: damp, dampish, steamy, humid, muggy, clammy, dank, wet, wettish, soggy, sweaty, sticky More
antonyms: dry
Pretty much the weather in England and Seattle where it drizzles a lot and is often wet but is rarely pouring.

4. MEDICINE: marked by a fluid discharge.
I guess some medicine can cause a discharge.

So we have a useful word that can mean rainy, wet with tears, or slightly wet, damp or humid.

It’s good to feel emotional connection, it can feel good to tear up. Seeing dew on the grass and leaves is a beautiful thing.

So learn to love moist moisture moisturizing the beautiful world moist-ly.

Just dew grow to love it. You will moist-ly feel better.

Hooray for puns!

Lenny Cat, Lenny Cat/ Cat Suite

My cat Lenny found out that his brother Squiggy had a song “The House of the Squiggy Squig”, and decided he needed one too.

(To the tune of Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man)

Lenny Cat
Lenny Cat
Friendly, nudgey Lenny Cat

He’s so big
He’s so cute
Watch out he’s got your foot

Plays with string any time
Sits on sink
Up so high

Can’t you see
He’s so fly
Look there, whenever you will lay down
There goes the Lenny Cat!
Here comes the Lennny Cattt!

—–

Another one to the tune of Batman, this is dedicated to Ryk McIntire
(to TV Batman Theme)

Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Len-ny
Len-ny
Len-ny

Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Le-nny
Le-nny

Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny
LENNY, LENNY, LENNY

————-

Found this from early April, not sure why it wasn’t published. Going to add two more for a cat suite to read.

Eddie, Cat Dude
(also to TV Batman theme)

Eddie
Eddie
Eddie
Eddie, Eddie
Cat Dude

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie
Eddie, Eddie
Cat Dude, Cat Dude, Cat Dudge

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,
Eddie, Eddie
Cat Dude

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,
Eddie, Eddie,
Cat Dude, Cat Dude, Cattt Duuuude

————————-

The House of the Squiggy Squig

(To House of the Rising Sun)

There is a cat in Westbrook town,
They call the Squiggy Squig

He’ll wake you up a 3am,
but you forgive the adorable Squig.

When you take a shower he waits,
On the side of the tub.
Waiting for you to be done.
Then he’ll lick all over the shower curtain.
In the House of the Squiggy Squig.

When someone new comes in the house,
Squiggy will hunt them out.
You better give him some petting time,
you’re in the House of the Squiggy Squig.

And you love to see this cat,
With the off center nosemark.
It’s cute it’s black, and again so cute.
Welcome to the House of the Squiggy Squig.

You’re in the house of the Squigggy Squiiiigggg.

Sunrise, Sunset

As I draw to the end of a tough and long 2013, the beautiful song from “Fiddler on the Roof” has been one of my big songs in my head.

The lyrics are beautiful. About children growing older, turning from children to adults, ready to marry. About the years moving across. For me about being 39, 40 on June 23rd. Being without a dad who I expected to have for 2 more decades (he died at 66). About missing my wife’s absolutely amazing father Walter Maheux, just a completely good guy who died with a “Satisfied Mind” like the great standard wonderfully sung by Johnny Cash.

For my dad it is more about jazz. It was always his favorite, listening to WBGO 88.3 out of Newark, NJ and Temple Radio which went half classical/half jazz which definitely annoyed him. In retirement, my mom and dad were going to many more jazz shows. I wish he could have gone to more.

Surprisingly for me, I have mostly thought good thoughts about my dad and father in law. They are there in my mind. With memories, with smiles, with lives well lived. Me and Lanna were lucky to have great fathers. Always there, always supportive, both wonderful men.

We were also blessed to be with loving couples who were clearly each other’s life partner. Both are struggling with losing a partner but mostly seem to be doing well at least publically. My mom is taking classes and seeing a therapist. My mother in law goes to the pool every morning and often goes to the gym. I think for me and Lanna also we didn’t forget to say anything. I especially was able to be with my dad for sometime, even though he lived 8 hours away in Allentown. He lived 3 1/2 years with brain cancer and it was only after his second surgery in September, 2012 that things got much worse. Strokes, paralysis, hospice.

For Walter, it was really fast. He was hiding symptoms like far too many men in Maine. “I cough up some blood and then I start my day.” President’s Day he was in the hospital, less than 2 months later he passed away. Friends and family coming down to see him mostly from central Maine, sister from California, sister that was so close, not seeing him even though she ended up being a mile away. That one hurt. On really in the last week or two did he really show he was dying soon. I was there to see him pass and it was a very spiritual moment. One moment he was there, the next gone and just a body. Made my really understand the concept of a soul.

When my dad died, some rang the doorbell asking about a drum kit to sell. I wasn’t in the room just mom. We were all close, my sister Mindy, brother in law Robert, wife Lanna and me, but no of us in the room. Maybe that’s what he wanted, she was so close to my mom. They were always in love and best friends. So I didn’t see him pass, but was grateful to see him no longer suffering. He barely got up the last 6 months of his life.

So I try to move on but have been so exhausted since April. The odd surge of energy of hypomania and then full blown mania in April. Two weeks mostly at Spring Harbor, but including 36-48 hours in jail where my mania went from full-blown to off the scale. Literally performing for almost 24 hours straight, unable to sleep, in a cell with 2 blankets. Jail and prison just aren’t right. And that’s right no clothes on suicide watch. In a mental health crisis the Westbrook Police brought me to the Cumberland County Jail not Maine Med or Mercy hospital. Then relieved to get to Maine Med. Hearing that I would only be there shortly. But no one even talking to me for a while. I didn’t want to sign papers. Wanted to just touch the metal detectors. Demanded to leave and forced down. Got loud. THen pushed down on the bed including on the neck and given an unknown shot. I didn’t now what it was, thought it was going to be a fatal dose of morphine.

Sitting waiting on Cumberland County jail in that period, told I could leave with only a $150 bail I had left the house with only a pair of pajamas and a t-shirt. No shoes, I don’t think any underwear and no wallet. If I had a wallet, pants on and shoes I may have been able to post bail. And the jailers who admitted me may be four of the most evil men I have ever met. The ones in jail were sane, often people homeless or a little crazy. The jailers were the ones who belonged in the cells.

My performance in jail was based on Kurt Vonnegut’s memoir/masterpiece “A Man Without a Country”, a small book I have probably read every year since it came out. Maybe 10-12 time since 2007. We are in terrible times. An NSA security state, millions of Americans in jail often for consensual crimes like marijuana possession, drug offenses, prostitution, etc. It’s a bizarre land when rapists get less jail time then people with a few grams of crack.

Yelling in jail, mad at things saying things needing to be destroyed with an often refrain of “AND I’M NOT KIDDING!”. I was in a bad place. Prisons are no place for mental health problems. Jailers and police officer want to fight you, arrest you, consider you often a threat, male energy. If you are in a mental health crisis you need someone to listen, someone to calm you down, someone to call you on your shit. You need therapists, and nurses. Caring people, female energy.

Spring Harbor was critical for me. Still didn’t sleep well at the beginning but the lithium calmed in what was probably the most intense mania of my life in prison. My uncontrolled mania I had at the Oxford Trade program where I didn’t get medicated or see anyone in August, 2001 was the worst. I was not myself for months after that, especially considering 9/11 happened about a month after. Was planning to finally explore Europe, ended up return to the US feeling broken.

Since late April I have been healing well. I miss the slam scene but I don’t have the spiritual and psychic energy for it now. Hopefully it comes back next year.

Saturday was the Winter Solstice, the Yuletide. Feels like it’s the beginning of a calmer year with new beginnings. I am glad I had heart-centered meditation from Whispering Deer at Rites of Spring to use. Glad I had work for money and to be something to go to. Happy about lithium and Spring Harbor and psychiatrists, although it’s a drug that calms me, it also numbs my mind quite a bit so happy to go from 1200mg to 300mg. And very, very thankful of my wife Lanna Lee Maheux and my therapist, not sure if I should give her name.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide and Wonderful New Year. May the world gain some sanity in 2014. I know 2013 was a rough year for me.

edmund

(Tevye)
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

(Golde)
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

(Tevye)
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

(Golde)
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?

(Men)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

(Women)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

(Tevye)
What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?

(Golde)
Now they must learn from one another
Day by day

(Perchik)
They look so natural together

(Hodel)
Just like two newlyweds should be

(Perchik & Hodel)
Is there a canopy in store for me?

(All)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Here is the beautiful song. Like the Zero Mostel original version the best.

Short Days of Winter

Total darkness at 5am, total darkness at 5pm.
Short days, gray skies.
Light snow, panicked shopping.

Giving of thanks, buying of things.
Christ is our lord.
Happy Holidays.

Icicles on roof.
American flags blows in the snow.
Maine flag smaller, blows lower.

Gloria
In Excelsis Deo.,

Joy for all.
Enjoy the short days, they are only getting shorter for a couple weeks.
Then the cold days of January and February the days get longer until the Spring Solstice.

It came upon the midnight clear.
Snow falls slowly on winter trees.

Quieter place out the window,
the tool of a poet, with eyes, pencil or keyboard.

Flag blows
in the wind.
The slushy roads.

Time to celebrate
for Yule, Solstice, family.
Christmas, Hannukah, the created holiday of Kwanzaa.

The blessed angel sings.
I love Christmas music (when I can choose it).
In Excelsis Deo.

Paw marks on my window.
Probably Squiggy.
I think there was a squirrel hanging out there.
I need to clear cups from my desk.

Still in observation mode after writing a journal/blog post on the #4 bus.
Choral Christmas music is calming.
Pop music gets the hairs on the back on my neck rising.

Last Christmas should be destroyed, banned from retail stores.
Same for So This is Christmas.
Bah humbug. We all have Mr. Grinch during the holidays.

Snow falling in Westbrook.
My cat Squiggy wondering what I am doing.
The soft sounds of fingers on a keyboard.
The winter season, a time to reflect.
A time to rest.
No reason to go crazy.

The mall is a place best avoided.
You don’t need to give so much.
You don’t need debt.
Put away the credit card.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Happy Hannukah,
happy Yule,
wonderful Solstice,
Remember to breathe.
Have some colorful candles for Kwanzaa or ignore it like everyone else.
Wear something warm, have some egg nog or cocoa.
Put your feet up.
Turn on the fire.
Get cozy.
and have yourself a merry Christmas season.
Remember to enjoy the winter
with the trees in slumber
waiting for Spring’s return.

I love to write

Been not doing much of it since an insane April.

Trying to do a few posts tonight, so I can have a few in a row.

Strange thing is I am feeling rather terrible with a sinus infection.

At least the Bell’s Third Coast Old Ale Barleywine I am drinking is awesome. Tis the season.

Feel like it’s time for a coat until April. I always hate that, but it’s mid-November and getting frost on the car in even a pretty nice day.

Wrote 2 posts today, that feels good.

Maybe starting to feel jealous of Lanna and Margaret with NaBloMo (National Blogging Month). I started writing every day around Thankgiving in 2011 until April, 2013 .. maybe turkey day can restart it for me again. Wooo!

Once an outsider …

I have always felt like an outsider.

In school I had big glasses, big hair, and was super duper nerdy.

Always felt on the outside.

Got bullied a little bit, although nothing like the movie “Bully.”

I think once you feel like an outsider, you always feel like an outsider.

You expect rejection too easily, maybe hold back on some friendships. Definetely take longer to trust.

It’s a useful perspective but not an easy one.

And although I have Embraced My Geek more, I still definitely feel the outsider.

I wonder if other outsiders feel the same.

Pain

To be human is to know pain.

Emotional pain, physical pain, psychic pain, hidden pain.

When we are young the pain can be temporary and heal quickly.

A toddler can fall, cry and then be okay, quickly.

When we get older we learn about emotional pain. Losing a pet, a relative, having a friend move away. Losing a friendship.

It just gets harder.

I am in a lot of pain right now. My dad passed away on April 1st and I am still healing.

And unfortunately lots of physical pain. Had an issue with plantar fascitis on my right foot for sometime now, several years. Have a left knee I twisted golfing 2 1/2 weeks ago. That was a scary pain where I could hear something. Was worried I would have to go to the urgent care or ER but was able to walk it off. Occasional headaches, other pains.

All are draining. Mourning is the largest drain on my psychic energy.

Pain is part of being human. I am glad we have Tylenol (although it’s a common drug for overdose), ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. I am trouble by the narcotic drugs like Oxycontin that are now commonly prescribed and often addictive, and very often abused. Oxycontin by far is the most commonly abused drug in Maine. Pot of course is the most commonly used, but it is absurd that that is class 1 and illegal.

I hope we get better at pain soon. It’s only going to get harder in an aging society.

Maybe we aren’t meant to last so long as humans.

Edmund