Home Again, Home Again (Totem Pole)

I was near collapse when I got home, standing at the front step, seeing my sister’s tiny cat rise up to greet me through the window. A long two weeks, straight working, traveling, lifting, writing, tracking, being a diplomat or a mule. It was good work, despite the bumps. It was man’s work in a woman’s realm. I talked to my father about the shoot, since he is second in command of the company that hired me (for the record, he had no hand in my employment, he does not hire field crews or tells his production manager who to hire). Afterwards, I sat with my mother as she rested as we talked. We talked about the shoot and the office politics that plagued it its first week. I went on about how it would be good despite the manipulations of the director/producer, who is not loved by the production company, but who was the brain behind the show and a great interviewer of these deeply scarred people.

My mother took me to task over not taking sides, that, in the end, I was just a private in the army and my producer just a captain, the production manager higher in rank than both of us. I was a slightly offended that despite the good work we did, even with the problems, my mother was scolding, in her deadpan way, my bias of our product. She later articulated that it is probably a great show, but the process of creating it was way off base from the channels originally set up. I did not argue. I didn’t have the strength nor the mind to take sides, which would of just proved her point.

You bond with a crew. I worked 16 straight days with these people and we worked well. You develop comradeship and you go out to eat and drink and relax together. It is not difficult to have bias, most of all when you’re the bottom of the totem pole like I was. You have pride in your product and the sweat and negative energy and the rough moments you had to go through to get it shot well, audio recorded cleanly and subjects to show. So when told I had to be neutral because, as the bottom of the food chain, I was still representative of the office, connected to the office, in charge of the paperwork and informing my boss, the production manager, of the goings on. That isn’t hard when everyone is on the same page, creative and management, but when they are at odds, politicking and subverting one another, it puts in more stress than my job requires. When prides collide and egos burst, it is the man with the set celluar, the petty cash and the production binder that ends up squeezed between the highs and lows of entertainment.

Even today, a day I want to rest, I work, I deal with things from that job and from the transcription job, which has also fallen to the dregs of ego and malice. I did a script job the best I could in the small amount of time (8 hours) given with the criminally sloppy transcript (half what was written was wrong) and had to do it by 6am, starting at 11pm, for a one hour show. According to my transcription boss, the production company blacklisted her for it. Of course, that is not the whole story, but with everything else on a day of rest, it did not create guilt for the poor woman’s woes. It created anger and resolve, as I wrote of in my last post. Politics or whatever, I did not want another bullshit reason for being in the aura of bad energy. I called her, we talked and then I informed my father, her mentor, of what was up. Best I could do for a co-worker and distantly considered friend.

It is the point where my care cup, usually full to overflow, is empty, drunk clean and put on the bar, the tab paid and the patron out the door, that cup never to be filled in that venue again. I am a man of intelligence and will and ambition. I am a man working to break out from years of self-exile from my balls and my brain and my self-interest. Why the fuck should I be the poor bear face, half buried in the grass of some coastal tribal village, washed away when the tide comes in? Why should I be under the vassalage of red tape and lunatics, sweet personalities and manipulators? I care not, anymore. I have lost that empathy, willingly, because in the end, it only serves those who I consider inferior and withour honor.

I felt today I was trying to get back in to any industry that doesn’t fit me. That I should just of joined the Canadian military when I got back. Made it easy on myself. But that would of solved nothing. Kicking up the mud, falling into shit only to get back up, more determined, is exactly what I need, what any man needs, in his life to prove to himself, and only himself, that he is a man, a good one, and one that should not be trifled with unless said agitator enjoys being buried under his own ill will.

Young Cardinals

___

I feel like I’m an old soul when it comes to politics. I’m no wise man, but I’ve encountered more than my fair share of ignorance from the left and the right. Anarchists who support public unions and welfare. Conservatives who want to overthrow every government that isn’t a democracy. Social traditionalists who can’t budge on the state controlling marriage. Social activists who won’t stop until every monument they see is secularized or destroyed. Two movements, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, at each others’ throats when they should, at some level, unite against the government and the banks. Its a world of factions within factions. No one agrees. No one can comprimise.

The senior of my two young sisters is a socialist and a basic socialist at that. Holds the Nordic social systems in high regard, has a low opinion of America and Americans, despite born there. She’s a smart cookie, making it through school and through her crippling anxiety condition with an A average. When we talk politics, she falls back on the socialist talking points. More money, more government, more social programs. I’ve never tried to convert her to my way of thinking. I even got her a Noam Chomsky book for this Christmas, even though I believe him to be a raving lunatic.

Today, we had a talk about North Korea that turned into a talk about socialism. She fell back on America being a capitalist system. The banks, the economy. I countered with the Progressives and how the American economy is more fascist since fascism is a socialist-born ideology. All she said was, “Oh.” I continued on, talking about the different socialist-based thinking and, at least in my view, guide her to a more libertarian left view.

I let her borrow Our Word is Our Weapon, the book of writings by ELZN spokesman Subcommadante Marcos. It was one of the few socialist books I kept after my swing to the right. Marcos and the ELZN aren’t your typical revolutionaries. Their armed revolt in Mexico’s south lasted months, and afterward they returned to Chiapas to work with the people they were fighting for and since their uprising in 1994, they’ve worked peacefully creating an alternative for Mexico. His allegorical stories and his letters to politicans and others have real passion and real care in them. They have real, new ideas, not the same old socialist crap we see on the streets with OWS and we hear from the White House. Even during my hardcore righty days, I referenced his ideas on long term economics in debates against people who should have been on his side. Irony for the win.

I thought I gave up politics, leaving it behind with everything else, but its dragged me back in. The banking crimes, OWS, North Korea, the world falling apart faster than I thought. Its like the mafia, never letting me truly leave.

I hope she can learn from it. If she can, she will give me some hope for the future generations.

All The Small Things

Once you’ve crossed the line over to a new personality, things seem easier to do. Being forward doesn’t take energy out of you, it actually pumps you up. Your wit bursts out naturally instead of your eyes darting, thinking of what to say. Movements natural. Body relaxed.

The problem becomes the smaller things you used to do that your shift didn’t erase. The stupid smile when a girl talks to you. Leaning in during a easy to hear conversation. Or, in my case, excitement at seeing someone I knew outside of the place I know them from. It’s an odd-ass thing, but my brain goes “HEY LOOK HEY LOOK HEY! HEY!….. HEY!” It happened when I saw one of the Waitresses on Tuesday. I did pretty well though. I didn’t wave like a child. I didn’t say “I KNOOOOOW YOU!”. I looked at her, since my relatives and I were waiting for a while, and said a “I know you” style “Hey”. Once I gauged she either didn’t recognize me or wanted to acknowledge that she did, I just let it pass. I acted normal. Once the older saw me and we talked for a moment or two, the first one, the younger one, came over and gave an invite for tonight.

I keep saying it, and its true: baby steps. Baby steps, brothers, and you’ll be a man.

Start With A Strong And Persistent Desire

***

It was his first full day with me in over a year. My dad sat across from me, grey in his hair and beard, but not a moment under young. Fifty-one, three kids all now of legal age, a long marriage and a job that calls him up even when he’s helping his son, he was still smiling. I wasn’t. I was tired. The day after he flew in to calm down the overwhelming mess the move and pack was becoming. The small bedroom room was full her shit. Everything strewn on the floor. It looked impossible. That’s why my father came down. “The hardest part is always starting,” he told me. By the end of that first night he was there, the day of my final shift, we had all of it packed and most of it stored. I had run on short naps and caffeine. That night I collapsed into sleep.

We were at IHOP. The good one south of where I lived. I got coffee, him just water. He had lost a about three toddlers in weight and kept it off for years. He wasn’t going to change just because we were going out to eat while he helped. Fresh eggs, no cheese, avocado, fruit. I had the full omelette with bacon, cheese and the works. I still ran on anything. I wouldn’t be able to do it for much longer.

Our waitress, Alexis, was a looker. Blonde, skinny, cute face. Very friendly. She woke me up a little before the coffee came. I could feel the urges begin. I wanted to game. I had comments and smiles and moves ready. I looked for rings on her fingers. None. I watched her as she walked away. Yes, this would be a good one to work with. Then, the genetic gift, the man I had doubted in previous manifestations of myself, came to the front. Years of being away. Years of indoctrination and bias and hurt and angst burned away like mist over Los Angeles in the morning sun. My dad spoke to her, naturally, in a way I’ve tried to do for years. Socially extroverted. Assertive, but so subtle the ticks in her brain were unnoticeable. I’d think of something to say when she came over and it was already out of his mouth with his smile bookending the neg or the compliment or the simple observation. My dad is happily married to the woman of his dreams. My dad isn’t doing this because he read it in a book or, like myself, trying to improve his pick-up. This is my father. This is who I can be.

During that breakfast of insight, he asked me about what I’ll do in television when I get back to Canada. Immediately out of my mouth is a lack of ambition. “I can just be a runner,” I say. He shakes his head with a stern “No.” As he’s about to speak, the man underneath years of middle ground pipes up and mentions writing. “I can write,” I say with a stronger voice. His nods says that’s a better answer. We talk more. He talks about the current show he’s working on and the wannabes who are screwing it up. He reminds me that I have a complex of hating my bosses, calling them all idiots. I acknowledge this. I tell him it was never my job to question or hate them. In the last day I’ve realized I don’t need to try to change anything. I just make the money. Do what I’m told and tell others. Things are changing fast, but they are changing correctly.

The next day, he’s dealing with problems with the crew while we drive around. He gets a call and his voice changes from father to boss in a split-second. I listen in. I used to listen for amusement. This time I listened for lessons. Subtle, unspoken lessons I ignored before because I rode the wave of mediocrity. As he chewed out a inept man, a man who’s nose is browner than the dirt, my brain caught fire. I could feel it burst with electricity as I took it all in. I sat quietly and listened. I heard tone. I heard words. I re-programmed myself with his movements of the air. Things get done his way because he does his job. Things get done because he sees the big picture. Things get done because he says so. He’s hired to make people money. These replaceable people are put in their place. This isn’t important work to the rights of man or the environment or politics. Its television. They get their perspective readjusted.

Beaten and broken for months by a woman, he’s rebuilt me in days. He put the focus in. He returned his legacy to the man he saw once in a while. I’m sorry I ever doubted him and his personality. I blamed everyone for what was happening to me, while in the end, it was me. My weakness and my biases and my outlook. Even while figuring out what needs paying off, and she left a lot to pay off, he tells me point blank that it isn’t fair. It isn’t right. She needs to pay off. I still try to explain it away. That she locks up and gets stubborn. He reminds me I have the code for the lock on the storage shed we rented. I smile, the manifestation of him in my soul laughing the loud chuckle of my father.

We’re allowed our weak moments. I’ve had my quota.

Thank you, Dad.

Fortunate Son

***

I’m laying on the long, brown couch that’s pressed against the living room wall. Its part of a large, L-shaped contraption that I can run across over and over, my feet sinking into the cushions. I barely span one a half of those buttoned topped things.

My dad is looking through his numerous CD collection. He takes a minute, going through several different drawers of cases. He fishes out what he was looking for. At the top of the lightly colored wooden entertainment center, above the drawers filled with VHS tapes and the monster Zenith TV, is a black CD player. One disc only. Basic digital read-out. Large buttons. I love to make it open and close over and over. He puts the CD in and adjusts the green-lit dials of the amplifier. He moves them out the odd pattern I put them, the sound coming through much clearer than my imaginary mountainscape of vertical dials.

I hear high notes being picked on an electric guitar. I know this song. My dad with his big, bearded smile, walks over to me and picks me up into his arms in a sudden swoop. He dances with me, leaping around the small, unstable floor of the living room. I’m laughing up a storm. I hug him tightly as the lyrics croon from speakers. He hugs me back. I’m happy, a pure and innocent happy. His songs and his music just add to the moment.

Things are just better when his music is playing.