The Evening of the Seventeenth, the Day of the Eighteenth and the Morning of the Nineteenth.

Well, here we are. The dreadful dragging, rocky and clamoring jump-start to the work week known as MONDAY. The very word bringing dread, it is first out of seven of our daily obligations to provide a business-quantitative benefit to the corporations that deem us acceptable enough to be provided a fixed quantity of bank notes. Bank notes with which we purchase a share in places to live, medical treatment for our various ailments, things within our respective yet unfair means and food on our plates. For how cut and dry things are as a clerk, I am coming off what turned out to be quite an emotional roller coaster of a weekend. I hope to properly exude the emotional cargo that rode atop the caravan that flung me into this week.

It begins as all carnival rides do, the excitement of walking into the prospect of fun; a way to relax and release pressure that entails a few small-batch brewing establishments that carry a quality set of beers that neither bloat nor immediately intoxicate. The first was a smokehouse anthology to begin the experience, a fantastic barbecue spot with a bevy of beers that made it difficult to choose only four per flight in adherence with the coupon we luckily nabbed. They were all well named, with the 5 Bridges Kolsch, Maplewood Fat Pug Nitro, Soundgrowler’s Leather Apron, and my personal favorite, the Spiteful God Damn Pigeon Porter. My date ordered a pleasant array with the likes of a Hibiscus Ale, Boulevard Jam Band, Solemn Oath Lu, and Buckle Down Brewing’s Shady Aftermath. While sipping from these delicious wee ounced quads, we made quick work of the barbecue brisket redneck fries. Julienned potatoes dusted in dry rub before drenched in cheese and bark plenty beef with a pleasant bite. Our attentive and informative staff led to a fantastic first experience overall, but we had plans and couldn’t stay for a main course whose bouquet flowered through the building. Our next and final stop, we hit the industrial park further north of the latter for one of our favorites. Solely selling their own beer and visiting ciders, it featured a predominantly Mexican menu, with traditional ingredients that follow the west coast playbook in their execution. It is the absolute best locally. I feel this way because all the other Mexican restaurants within the diameter of a reasonable travel distance from my home and my office (1 hour apart) are still suffering in their gentrified, bastardized tomato-and-lettuce hell from whence they may never return. It is cooked properly, dressed adequately and the available pepper sauces are legitimately made in house and beyond complimentary in flavor. Traditional Mexican street food, it is tacos and nachos and burritos with onion and cilantro, chihuahua cheese or queso fresco, and the burritos have correctly prepared pappas fritas, all tightly wrapped together in their fresh grill-pressed tortillas. They even do a mixed brunch on Sundays, as well as a delightful doom metal yoga with tacos and beer, with everything being fifteen dollars altogether. There was time to kill, so I relaxed on a cushioned windowsill, the booming demonic melodies thundering above us while our cool and crisp seven-ounce glasses rested atop overturned rustic wooden barrels. My partner unsheathed her phone, and the time spent waiting for our third party passed with the help of a few crossword puzzles that referenced the likes of Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and novelists from the beginning of the 1900’s. We were pleased to discover a foursome was leaving their iron and wood tabletop precisely when our third arrived. We requested food and refilled our libations, proceeding to banter on about our personal and professional lives. Eager for the sustenance whose aroma wafted from the small short order kitchen, we guzzled our glorious brews and were rewarded with refills that became available punctually with our food. I love that quick little kitchen. Pleased with our meals, my two compatriots fled outside to meet their tobacco vices for a dessert of nicotine and humidity. Southwest Chicago lands are a gym class armpit this time of year. This did not stop the guitar salesman out front from setting up shop from the back of his truck, nor his adorable and loving Corgi, Cooper, from taking part in an emotional display of balanced reciprocity with our eager scratches and his round itchy haunches & loving demeanor. Before we devoted another half-hour to what was clearly one of the best boys, we exfiltrated and retired to our quaint apartment. Relaxing on the porch with some fresh water and allowing our bodies to filter the remaining calories and alcohol from our blood streams, we exchanged our modern interpretations of pleasantries and upcoming intentions for the weeks to come. Reaching the point in the evening where it was healthy to call it a night, we bid adieu and sought out our personal clouds to transport ourselves to dreamland, via the horizontal position.

Upon awakening to a bright Saturday morning, I made way to the exterior before riding shotgun for an hour to a lovely town in DuPage county. A member of my family has encountered a difficult scenario in life; after serving as a volunteer fire fighter, a coach of high school hockey and diving teams, running countless marathons (that included the Chicago and prestigious Boston iterations) and after teaching health class at the high school level for decades, it was discovered that a growth upon his brain stem was restricting nerve impulse traffic to his left side. After tests and examinations took place, it was found to be inoperable cancer and restricted him to using a wheelchair. The outflow of support and love for this man was incredible, bringing people and supplies from every corner of this community as fellow teachers, families and students did what they could to support both him and his family. As a further display of appreciation, these wonderful people held a small music festival on the street in front of his house. Complete with catering, a stage and PA system, musicians, a bouncy castle and a slew of audience members filtering through the event, it was incredible. Knowing only a fraction of the people, their effort and care with which he lived his life and helped others live the best of theirs, seeing the support in action left me in a state of awe that superseded how I originally thought of this man as a personal hero. He is why I will forever support good teachers at every level, that leave everything they have out there for the youth of the world to grasp. The shows of joy and sadness, that this event cultivated, led me to believe that it was all worth it. We begrudgingly said our goodbyes and made the hour trek home to prepare for the wedding ceremony of a family friend. I thought a lot about my Uncle and his family on that long roll home. The friends they made through the years that made themselves available for such an event made me swell with pride; first for being a member of this wonderful family full of people that lived this way on a regular basis, and second for being one of hundreds who was taught and advised by this unbelievable individual at a proximity not readily available to everyone. I felt genuinely lucky. Him and his family are a loving and hardworking bunch that deserves the best, and from what I saw that morning, they have it. A tearful morning, I ask that you and your religious figurehead bless everybody that helped and were present. The heart beats strong in their community and this was a day for family.

Following a pit stop for a card and gift for the future bride and groom, I donned my black suit and white shirt, choosing a purple and gold patterned tie to accent my socks; a goofy pair that carried surfing chihuahuas against a neon blue backdrop. It’s quickly apparent that I’ve been hitting the tacos a little hard as my formerly well-fitting slacks, from the beginning of the year, now cinch around my waist like a medieval corset. It appears I might have to establish some better eating habits. But now is not that time. Our travel to the small town in Indiana revealed a hidden gem- a shipwreck-themed bar & grill with great beer and booze, and a plate of buffalo fries- ‘taters in buffalo sauce, drizzled with bleu cheese dressing and topped with crumbled bleu cheese. I was in heaven before realizing my date would refuse to kiss me, advising that maybe next time I should “hold the mold”. She got her revenge by getting me a taste of a peach-flavored whiskey, that while pleasant in the front end, was less than apt to go down. I do not discredit my lovely counterpart’s ability to help me branch out and try new things, as this is something I love about her and will fiercely defend until my dying day- nor do I feel bad ripping this beverage apart, given that the staff was great, and the presentation was fantastic. All parties present did their part- She was eager to order, they obliged and poured four accurate and equal shots to all willing to attempt, myself included. I know they were accurate since the paper cups they used were Dixie-equivalent quality and delightful, designed like old-school liquid medicine cups with graduated measurements. Snake oil, this was indeed. A lilting, bright and fruity entry this stuff had. The finish it did not. Towards the end of the flavor was an awful and pungent smoke stack. A burnt woody conclusion that was entirely too heavy for this dogged whiskey. It quite literally tasted like I had just sucked down a concentrated liquified version of those cheap peach gas station cigars. Not horrible, and not worth publicly discrediting by name. It was an affordable and fun reminder of the occasionally downward-facing scenarios adventure holds for us, lest we forget that fortune favors the bold. I finished what was left of the buffalo fries, and ordered a neat snifter of Evan Williams in a meager offering to the bourbon gods that I would do right by them and return my palette to its rightful place of celebratory preparedness. I like to think that Bacchus and Dionysus, in their Roman and Greek iterations respectively, saw this as pleasing and rewarded us with a wonderful ceremony and reception. It was a beautiful setting, a lush grassy lawn in front of a courtyard that led to a calm blue-green pond, bordered by young willows and mature evergreens. It was an intimate, modern storybook wedding- a white cloth path that led to wooden chairs dressed in white and silver. Two young flower girls disproportionately distributing the contents of their baskets; one pinching solitary selections of the pink and yellow leafy rose parts, the other chucking fistfuls of the soft, candy-colored petals together at once, leaving a confetti explosion in her wake. The ring bearer was a young boy that matched the groom and his men, carrying two boxes atop a sliced round of tree with the bark intact. A wonderful display of family with great food, great music, an attending Sheriff’s Deputy by the bar, and a close friend of ours both officiating the ceremony and catching the bouquet to her family’s delight.

Feeling a bit stir-crazy after dancing our faces off and then being forced to sit in a car for an hour for the trek home from neighboring Indiana, we decided on stopping at our local brewery on the way back. The punk-and-wrestling-themed compound was a clean finish to a bubbly sort of day, providing refreshing brews and a patient wait staff, both to our tardiness and the expert handling of a difficult customer. The beer was delicious as always, a peanut butter porter that presented itself like a stout, but finished the conversation like a peanut butter snack. Just like our beers, we were finished and made our way home- eager for soft, cool pillows and a warm, comfortable bed.

Turning finally to the last portion of the weekend, we have the day known as one of rest. Usual to the modern day, this one was anything but. Heed my description not as one of complaint, but rather fulfillment. Ice picks of sunshine blasted into our room, waking us. Yes, us; we, the undead remnants of our formerly fancy selves. What was once beaming faces, bodies clad in formal garments, eager for the evening’s celebrations to commence were now beaten and dizzied vagabonds, emitting ungodly groans and wails of pain from sore limbs and angry intestines. While we did not consume copious amounts of alcohol the night before, the mixture of two days’ worth of individual beers, whiskey and soda as well as bar food and banquets turned us to forms normally reserved by the crypt keeper and his cruel mistress, Death, herself. Bidding my lovely darling an unfortunate farewell to fend for food and water amidst her state of recovery, I prepared for my bit of the weekend that left me solitary on my mechanical steed.

With this being the falling action of my weekend, I was eager to start my day, ready to take on the oncoming poundage that both the sun and mulch would be ready to issue on the behalf of the elder village’s grounds. I had agreed to deposit and groom five large bag’s worth of brown, shredded, earthy material back to the dirt from whence it came. Originated by that which it would assist in helping to grow. I made a brief stop for a poorly assembled, palm-sized ball of fat and grease which I washed down with melted Styrofoam-infused coffee, complimented by a review from an archaic form of information, advising the reader of the latest breakdown of open wheel racing taking place the world over. I missed reading the paper, as, I assume, did many other patrons. It made me feel important and the tangible aspect of reading with a kinetically operated object made the information feel learned. I actually retained the story about the last five years of Indy-Car standings when a leader seemed apparent with four races to go, whether it was with Scott Dixon in the lead, or Helio Castroneves… or from earlier years, like with Dario Franchitti. Ironically, two out of the three were robbed some time late last year at a Taco Bell drive-thru; not fast enough I guess. Speaking of quickness that has since fell past its respective prime, I came to the realization that I was at an elder oasis. Groups of seniors packed the fiberglass booths, clutching their respective print information and plastic coffee. Interesting that I was on my way to the elder village. I felt like I had undertaken an adventure, sent forth by the demigods in search of a bespoke wisdom rooted in manual labor and hard work. A balding bespectacled elder, much larger than myself, was sitting in an adjacent booth, staring at me. Neither happy nor angry- he was just staring without blinking. I felt as though we had a moment in time in which two parallel lives led us to two different locations, however it was this one in which we intersected. It felt as though he was looking at me, somehow try to say, “You can avoid my fate. Do whatever it takes.”. Our surreal figure seemed sad and lost. I also looked like shit so it’s entirely possible that he was thinking about me being some messed up kid, with my long curly hair and disheveled beard preventing him from looking away. Regardless his intent, his unending gaze gave me the creeps and I decided to move on with the day, no doubt looking uncomfortable while making peace with the fact I was uprooting myself in any way I could to pursue something better than what I had currently available to myself. This thought carried on as I made my way to the bathroom. Realizing immediately that I stumbled into an enclosed space with what sounded like an ill-tempered water buffalo, my daily routine would have to wait and I made my way back outside to the mangled machine of rust, cream-interrupted crimson paint, and dull chrome. A purple-amber glow emanating from the point of contact between the exhaust pipe and the exhaust head. She called to me. It was time to fly. All of my thoughts, that ranged from my own mortality and the unbearable concept of being, to the poor quadruped suffering in the lavatory, slipped away.

I’ve heard racers and travelers alike all describe motorcyclists as mechanical purists that were experts at ignoring risk. I’m sure at some point that’s true, but my relationship with the sport is neither one of elitism or ignorance. It’s one of love, knowledge and passion. To care for the ability to move about aimlessly, getting nowhere and somewhere all at once, is to know everything that goes into making the machine work as one. It is not to ignore the risks every time we straddle the mechanical marvels, but rather to understand and accept them for what they are. And we as riders, we know from the very beginning that the second we depart our destination, after mounting our dearest ally in the pursuit for true freedom, that we are already dead. Thin margins of error, the velocity at which we travel and the unprotected openness of one roaring atop an engine… well, it leaves little to the imagination. A world rife with distractions, we are forced to leave highways and thruways with their cellphone wielding bimbos & aggressive brunch-drunks, and take to the side roads. Mild and smooth, these are undulating heavens bordered by cornfields and soybean groves. I hopped the nearest one and headed west. My grandparents’ home is an hour’s drive as the crow flies, situated between farmland, industrial parks and a retirement community. I think of the experience and work compiled in places such as these. Granted, the quantity is greater in some more so than others, yet to qualify or quantify these people takes away from that which this place truly is- a village for the elders. Some are larger, some smaller, but they are all the same. Houses are borderline identical structurally minus some acute design details that all fall in with that which is predetermined prior to their arrival. Split levels in varying degrees of beige with manicured lawns and pretty groups of perennial flora and fauna. Smooth concrete streets that seldom see expensive rubber pace the twisting network, lay bound to this place. Designed to confuse intruders, these networks allow the local police their stellar record of response time. Young kids that are far from the age of true trouble, dismissed as punks for the mildest annoyance, lest they witness the local vigilante, an elderly man with his old, cracked, dark red impala, personally equipped with an orange construction strobe siren light atop his roof. His method of self-defense guaranteed to be a shaking fist and the local precinct on speed-dial. I stop at the security kiosk to advise my entry, lest I experience the pendulum of clenched fingers in my general direction. I pull through the neighborhood, the dull thump of my engine in low gear so as not to disturb the neighbors. I slide into a patch of shade given by a small tree next to the street in front of their house. I stop to examine the wooden sign next to the entry- a simple Italian greeting I’ve seen every visit since I was a kid.

A brief moment’s wait after a gentle press of the illuminated button results in a quick blast of laughter and joyful greeting by my family’s patriarch. A former pipeline salesman that worked with the city of Chicago and surrounding municipalities, my grandfather played hockey well into his early eighties. He is still a slender yet robust man, his wide smile and laughing eyes peering through large silver frames, in his aviator-styled glasses. I greet my grandmother with the usual warm smile and hug. Her wary look indicating her ER nurse’s intuition is still spot-on. Or I just continue to look like complete garbage- “So, you two had a rough night, huh?” as she giggled with a smirk and I nod in shame, my counterpart’s absence noted. I acknowledge the existence of a wedding the night before, omitting unnecessary details such as my desire to pay for a Sheriff’s whiskey and boogying to such hits as the electric slide. I advise her that I’m solo as the bike can barely handle me let alone the presence of another. She nods and asks if I’ve eaten, am I well and if I’m hydrated. I respond in the affirmative and beckon them outside to review the necessary work that needs to be done before we get off track and lose prime work time to either an angry sun or menacing clouds. After reviewing the patches of dirt that border their home, I get to work shuffling bags to their assigned locations, tearing them open and emptying their contents amidst ferns and fronds. The work is quick, taking me roughly an hour to empty them all and spread them around, neglecting a four-inch space between each patch’s border with healthy green grass. The empty dirt may serve as a gutter system, carrying away water and moisture to certain parts of their garden that may utilize it better than others. Brown dust and debris from the bags’ contents stick to my sweat-lined skin, leaving a dirt tan that will easily wash off in the sink. My clothes sticking to me like a low-grade adhesive, I make my way back into the house, seeking a cold water from the fridge.

Grandma drops me an ice pack for my neck. I’m uncomfortable- both tepid and steamy, so her gesture is appreciated. They chuckle in appreciation of the work I’ve done, and we relax with grandpa for what appears to be a modern western drama. The weather hasn’t turned south outside, so I let the cool pressure of the blue cold pack sink into my bones, the water in my condensation-fogged glass returning my body temperature to a more reasonable indoor degree. I relax and let myself get lost in the story of this wild west preacher, his son and a former prostitute. We take a moment to review the weekly email my elders have received from their local association, full of business matters revolving around current events and recent goings-on. Trivial matters for those of us present in the work force, such as those of how many children should require a guardian if visiting and using the pool, who has access to the popcorn machine and various scams circulating the compound. Brief blurbs of trespassing “punks” and curbing the local vigilante as the less-than ideal candidate to meet problematic issues should they arise. The hilarity of being a kid once and the chaos I must have caused sets in. Time is passing and my brain is growing tired. I initiate my farewells and advise my relatives of my intent to depart. We exchange pleasantries and salutations as well as a coupon for a retailer intended for my mother. I start my motorcycle and head home. The morning has been long, but the gorgeous hour-long drive back returns my mind to one of active peace and eagerness for rest. A little too eager in action, the local sheriff clocking me at a brisk 18 ticks over the posted limit before sternly advising me of local code and sending me into a panic attack when he mentions his observation of my laughing as I passed him. The otherwise imposing appearance of the man and his rookie partner appreciative of my stop and smirking at my delayed attempt at pulling up a mobile insurance app that’s fraught with technical issues. The presence of an error message and incompetent customer support staff acting as my savior, we exchange information, I get his card and mosey my way around the little turn-off in which I pulled after spotting the pulsating “cherries-and-berries” in the handlebar-mounted mirror to my right.

With the thorough execution of a traffic stop behind me, I arrive safely at home. Sauntering upstairs, I am eager for the warm embrace of my love in an air-conditioned condo and wanting for the relief a big soft couch will bring to my tired body. Queue the entertainment streaming service, an order for unhealthy, yet satisfying crab Rangoon’s, egg rolls & barbecue pork, and resulting heavy eyelids. I am tired physically and mentally, in need of a boring work week to fly by as quickly as it came so it can all be done, over and over again.

CIBO DE GIUSEPPE!

So about a year ago, I really threw myself at food. I had just returned from an incredible two week jaunt through Germany, Italy and Holland, and wanted to try to recapture some of the most delicious things that I had tasted and for which I had fallen madly in love.

It starts with heavier fare, the more German, Dutch and Italian meat-inspired dishes, but continue onto lighter cuisine, marked by experiences with street vendors and fresher ingredients made into little hand held sandwiches no bigger than your palm.

Essentially, I wanted this to be a sandwich shop experience where I could share what I found made me happy and gave me a recharge for the day’s exploring. I included dollar signs for how complicated or expensive something might be.

I’m not sure if it is obvious or no, but I have a hot, deep, glowing love for bread.

Happy eating adventurers, maybe when you’re done trying these out, I’ll write out my experiences. 🙂

“The Heavies” PESANTISIMO $$ or $$$

The Butcher! (Il Macellaio) $$$
Fresh Italian (Semolina Bread) using your best olive oil possible to dress. Mix red grapes, assorted berries and dark red wine like Malbec or Port and blend until liquid for a red spread. Heat in saucepan, stir until thick. Place a thick, frozen cut of meat into a super-hot pan. Flatten the meat against the pan until medium rare, remove and allow it to rest. Slice the meat into half inch thick slices, drop into bread, then smear the red spread onto the bread. After, lay on roasted sliced peppers, fresh basil & arugula, drop sea salt, and the preferred formaggio Italiano (Italian Cheese, i/e Ricotta Salata, Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, etc…)

Hinterhältige Gurke $$$
Thick dark Rye or pumpernickel, brushed with a spicy horseradish or Thousand Island-style dressing, topped with Liverwurst and 1 slice of pastrami, draped with slices of Muenster, covered in Sauerkraut with chopped onion & pickles.

Breakfast $$
Thick toasted or grilled bagel, or fresh made tortillas. Dollop of scrambled eggs whipped in cream cheese, topped with shredded smoky cheddar and crispy bacon over thickly-julienned potato strips seasoned with garlic and marjoram, fried in olive oil.

BLT $$
2 slices of thick Grilled bread spread with Horseradish aioli, topped with a thick crispy home-cut Bacon-esque pork belly draped with greens (arugula, basil, romaine) and 4 razor-thin sliced heirloom tomatoes rolled over one another.

Le Petite Pauvre $$$
Fresh French baguette with beer-battered Fried fish, chicken or shrimp (depending on fresh availability) drizzled in a garlic lemon aioli and covered in Diced ice berg lettuce, sliced pickles and fresh yellow onions.

The Flyer (small) $$ /Broad Street Bully (large) $$$
French baguette spread with horseradish aioli, thin grilled chopped steak with mushrooms and onions, draped with provolone/cheddar and melted to perfection, served with optional homemade Gairdner.

The Admiral (L’Ammiraglio)$$$
Thick hoagie roll cored out (save bread for dipping crumbs/croutons, toasted, grilled or fried) sliced beer brat, spread 1 side w/German mustard, 1 side w/garlic & herb goat cheese, drop cheese curds on top, followed by diced onions & homemade pickle slices.
Cinnamon & Chile Apple & fruit sauce for dipping or as a side.
Small Wisconsin Creme Puff for dessert.

“Pretty Lites” LUCI GRAZIOSE $
Heiss/Kalt ButtaBrot
Thick slice of crispy/crusty fresh bread, fried in pan olive oil & garlic style. Spread thick with cold salted butter after heated, or served chilled.
Allow with a small slice of Cheese-
Such as the Dutch Raw Milk Truffle Gouda from Melkbus in Holland.

RaucherLoek
Smaller, sliced, open faced bagel halves layered with cream cheese topped with a.) Capers & diced white/red onions under smoked salmon filet OR b.) Melted cheddar topped with the smoked barbecue meat of the day-
Brisket, pulled pork, chopped ribs or pulled chicken.

Italian Sandwich Street Snack (Spuntino al Risto)
Rustic Italian Roll with poppy seeds, liberally spread with salted butter. Topped with aged & wine-soaked Prosciutto & Salami topped with Manchego, Gorgonzola or Robiola Bosina cheese, dressed with basil and arugula, drizzled with Balsamic de Modena.

Formaggio Grigliato
Slices of rustic baguette grilled or seared to golden brown, dressed with butter & cheese, assorted herb-dusted and closed.
Pan-melted cheese combinations-
Cheddar, Mozzarella & Bleu
Gruyere, Smoked Gouda & Cabot/Aged Sharp Cheddar

Alcohol provided with each meal-
(Nothing too light, nothing too heavy. Get hammered on your own time.)
1 Dopplebock, Bock or Fest Ales served in half pints.
1 Kentucky Bourbon, small batch porter or country ale served in small snifters.
1 Traditional Italian Grappa or home made Limoncello in tiny ornate glasses.
And finally, a deep red dessert wine, served from a glass jug, treated with respect & care, and wiped with a white cloth after pouring into a small, shallow, dessert wine glass.

A Long, Appreciative Post. I’m Happy and Grateful. Trust Me and Have Faith.

People that are close to me have brought to my attention, throughout the last month or so, that I’m excessively negative. That my complaining, whining and otherwise “bitchy” posts are not taken as humor, as intended, but rather as negative insight that garners more pity than some “glad that’s not me” appreciation for their situation. All of you that have built lives for yourselves give me an example of how to live a personally fulfilling life when given the methods and the means. Pardon the heinous grammar, but you give me something to shoot for. You do what you can with what you have. I am significantly younger than many of the people I am friends with and at most a decade under those of who I follow. You have been through what I go through and give me a glimpse into what I can accomplish. There are also those of you who are my age or less, and in some cases you have accomplished more or achieved a higher calling with a greater importance. You are an example as well. An example that can invoke a little jealousy and envy, but also awe. You are all awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I realize I don’t put enough good into this world. Maybe I should give you all the things that I find joyous and appreciate in hopes of understanding.

First off, my status as recovering Catholic leads me to wanting to thank a higher power. Not just one but all. To whomever you pray, somebody or nobody, thank them for me. I wake up alive and breathing with a heartbeat in my chest and control of my immediate bodily vessel. For that I am grateful.

I have a loving and ever-present family in my life. We could always use some more time together. I’ve been a disappointment in some cases. Nevertheless, my blood line carries with it several positive memories and a healthy support system of learning, healing and growing. It is the people I love and love me, my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who are responsible for molding me into the man I am today. For them I am grateful.

There is another ring in my sphere of influence where many of you reside closely as friends. People I’ve known since I was a child and others that came into the picture later on, you’re on my team. While the things you have said or done may not have been executed with the best foresight, I’ve seen and felt your compassion and empathy as well as your desire for rectification and atonement. You have also taught me and helped me understand the world around me. You saw my flaws and horrible darkness as shadows in need of sun. While some of you forced light upon them more brutally than others, your intent was the same. To help. To teach. To inspire change and growth. Some of you have served me as emotional heavy bags and comfortable support couches without asking anything in return. Some of my anxiety comes from having no f$%&ing idea how on this green earth I’m going to get you all back for the happiness you’ve given me. Some of you are close by, hours away, multiple states away and even on the opposite side of our planet. No matter our collective situations or the lives we lead, you’re getting a hug and a smile. If you’re sad or in trouble, you have my shoulder and my sword. It is because of you that I will forever do what I can to serve the order of things. You recognize that I am only a human, incapable of neither magic nor psychic ability in an increasingly capitalist society. We work together, play together, consume together, mourn together and celebrate together. It’s all together. For you I am grateful.

I was granted beautiful talents that I do my best to improve and grow, in search of a final finished product. For them I am grateful.

I was given all these passions in hopes of an opportunity to share with others and make them happy. Sometimes I hate the things I’m good at. They made me no money and gave me no power. I had to learn to love them. For it was Robin Williams who once said “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” This is more important now than ever. My job is necessary to sustain my life, and it is for what I give to the world that makes my life worth living. For them, I am grateful.

To expound on this, if you worry that in my rhetoric I may harbor some foreshadowing of violent action, do not do this to yourself. I do not have it in me to intentionally harm another with physical violence. Trust me. Have faith. I was taught very early that inflicting swift, intense violence on another human being is only acceptable in times of immediate and offensive personal danger. This thinking has kept me safe and out of heaps of trouble. For this I am grateful.

I have made decisions both good and bad, that led to happiness and sorrow, health and sickness, safety and danger, sheer boredom and intense adventure, review and discovery, yet still here I am to tell the tale. For this I am grateful.

I can only assume I am a happily content human, capable of building and destroying, that wants the same as everybody else. Life. Should I die, be it tomorrow at 28 or ripely at 108, I have still lived. I have climbed large mountains to incredible summits with limited equipment, raced cars and motorcycles that had no business being on a road let alone a racetrack, jumped out of perfectly good fine, creaky airplanes with 30 year old rigs, survived near death experiences by inches and centimeters, witnessed incredible performances by world-renowned musicians far outside of my comfort zone, helped keep people safe with no experience, helped people in medical emergencies with limited training, met heroes, superstars and villains in moments and glances, attempted to help racists and sexists while reverting my own personal prejudices, and witnessed death as well as fresh new life. Do not cry for me when I am gone, for I am happy in this life and the next. Not every day, no, but more frequently than you’d think. I think it’s because I try not to take life so seriously. You should do the same.

Besides, none of us are getting out of life alive, right?

Trust me and have some faith; I am happy and I am grateful.

An Inkling from an Inker, that Tinkers with Drinkers and Plinkers.

I’d like to welcome you!

From my Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, y’all are more than welcome to gaze upon everything from my museum of thoughts and creative ideas, to my interpretations of and adventures in the outside world.

BE WARNED!

I am not a professional writer.

I am not an amateur writer.

My writing experience is limited.

I’m more of what you might call a modern-day eccentric, in that I am weird, vulgar, overly expressive, overly descriptive and share entirely too many details.

To paraphrase an enjoyable author; “He who shits out a piece of work of any kind, regardless of the end result, has done more than the greatest theorist whom merely hopes to ponder that which is possible.” I’m pretty sure I’m attempting to quote a Patrick Rothfuss podcast.

I’m pretty happy this thought appeared when it did, because you are going to notice an underlying theme as a reader of my work; my brain is an apple tree, once a sapling, it is now growing older with age, releasing thoughts like apples as they grow along the synapses of the brain’s elusive nervous network, my fingers acting as the local orchard’s little picking boy, running underneath each tree. Hoping to catch one of each before sitting down, sorting the delicious orbs of thought and existence by size, color, flavor and density. Keeping the best for myself to prepare and share with everybody, should they so desire, and discarding the worst via the time-honored tradition of any apple-picking youth; caving to the desire of loading the softest and most rotten into a bungee cord launcher, pulled back as far as possible and flung out over the orchard and into the information superhighway, where hopefully it splatters across the windshield of a grossly-underinformed and disgustingly -overconfident protestor that refuses to vote and/or vaccinate their children. But I digress.

As you can see, I am not a classical writer by any means or definitions.

Enduring the scholastic endeavor of pedagogical training ended in college. This came following three scholarships, 8 majors and 10 years, none of which culminated in a degree, let alone anything marketable. Upon my retreat, re-entry and subsequent repeated retreat from the fields of education, I wandered the earth in search of thrilling experiences. Those thrilling experiences led me to a broke and morbidly lost period known as early adulthood, deep in injury-riddled medical debt and lost without any direction or accomplishments. I was left with my self-destructive thoughts, my possessions, limited work experiences, eager friends and hyper-successful family.

Fearing the worst and thinking I had nothing left for which to live, I sold my soul to Hades, Lucifer and probably Vlad the Impaler, in exchange for safe passage to a pleasant and comfortable life.

Like all deals with the devil, my benefits package resulted in me spending the remainder of my days chained to a desk as a clerk for a global investment management firm. Throughout what I’m sure Dante included in his initial edit copy edition as the “2.5th circle” in betwixt Lust and Gluttony, I navigated the early phases of genuine adulthood with the nimble eagerness of a mustang pony on meth, both learning how to walk and carry itself inside of a second-grade schoolroom filled to the brim with children’s handmade popsicle castles. This is in place of the usual cliché that involves a unfixed steer and a storefront for a porcelain peddler. I like to create my own variants of these classic dichotomies to provide a unique experience and some Easter eggs for the attention of you loyalists I may earn along the way.

In the meantime, you’ll learn tidbits about who I am, where I came from, my carefully documented adventures and their effects on me, as well as those who helped me along the way and those that didn’t. You won’t necessarily find out whom exactly, as the names are changed to protect the innocent. Their actions and some descriptions may give them away in the meantime to those of you who were lucky/unlucky enough to take part in my realized insanity. I’ll provide visual aids, context clues and a seemingly endless supply of scrambled stories.

As an artist I am an Inker, my fascination with Lego’s made me a Tinker of machines, my mother made me an eater and a Drinker, with this blog as my wall I am a county fair Plinker of paint-filled balloons placed and filled at random. Let’s get it popping.

 

Feel free to voice any questions, comments, concerns and grammatical advices into comments or messages.

Hopefully I’ll notice them.

 

An Ode to Bread.

Every crumb and crust,
The abominable loaf from the local Panettiere.

I dream of a loaf the size of an iceberg.
When really, an igloo would do.

I would burrow and hide away inside.
A fluffy, toasted, happy shrew.

From the air pockets created by yeast,
To the crispiest of sienna crusts.

I prefer butter, or jam at the least.
Although shmear isn’t always a must.

For as the wind that blows
through every tree knows…

My fancy of bread isn’t love,
But rather it is lust.

Not of Stifle or Finch,
I must say in a pinch,
It is definitely not that of brim.

I would never desecrate,
But rather eviscerate,
The warm fluffy dough from within.

Now I’d hazard to say in an eager way,
That this really kneads to be said.

With all things considered,
Stale or withered,

That this love that I will forever have for bread.

A Distant Smokey Memory of an Influence From a Simple Time, in a Simple Place.

I remember a writer from my beginning times. We were only acquainted well enough for me to recall sparse memories of his smoky residence off of 63rd, polluted with green glass grenades and their capped puzzles & brain teasers. Fogged with a bearded insomnia that was highlighted by a small gold chandelier that hung over the stained wooden bar, in front of a full length mirror in the living room. It smelled of cracked black couch leather, crusty drunk pirates, and a kitten with a gloppy eye infection. When you approached the door you could tell it muffled the news brought by ESPN & various mysteries of cinema from spilling out into the long damp hallway. He didn’t pussyfoot around the point he was trying to make, he didn’t hide the feelings he had on the topic or your feelings for the matter. He wanted better out of everybody in his own way, and if you were patient enough of a person to garner a fuck out of him, you’d learn that.

A purple mother of pearl dragonfly had just finished playing something new at our local java brewing establishment. I thought my opinion was relevant at the time, so somewhere between indifference and the unbearable likeness of being, I filed a simple compliment. “I liked that, and I thought it was really artistic.”

Out of the corner of my eye I saw him shake his head, snicker and belch a hearty chuckle. “What a shitty compliment!” It was followed by a burping hiccup of a laugh, the kind of chortle that bubbles up from a bouncing basketball of a diaphragm that had marinated in gallons of malt liquor and Brandy. It was scoffed out of his inverted rhombus of a mouth, a shape created by his smirk and the cheap 100-sized cigarette hugged betwixt his teeth to one side. His arms and legs were crossed, and the blue tinted smoke trailing from his teeth squinted the eye that was north of his burn-off. “I hate when people say that. You can think of the words to describe what you liked. It goes further than it’s just artistic. You ever go up to a painting and say ‘That’s artistic’?” He hiccuped more chuckles. “It sounds stupid. It’s redundant and obvious.” I was surprised he even spoke to me, to defend myself was futile.

“Artistic, what bullshit.” He quipped. “It’s a shitty adjective.” He was right, I didn’t think about the person’s craft that was displayed for the world to see. Deep in this dank split level business hugged from behind by the trees at the local forest preserve. “You passively listened to it and paid a vague general complement that made you sound like a horrifically ambiguous jackass. Everybody does it. Why do you think people play the same thing every week? Because someone told them, oh that was just so artistic. You’re effectively quitting as a listener. Jesus Christ, use adjectives. Why else would you do it?” This was fairly obvious, had I decided to use my brain instead of my mouth. He went on-“If you’re not there to grow or help the person with specific feedback, what the fuck are you doing there? After a while you’re effectively getting up on stage and masturbating with your guitar in a public bukake, all over the audience’s cookie of irrelevance. Maybe that’s what you should do next week. Go onstage with your guitar and amp and place a cookie in front of you. Then, instead of playing, just whip your dick out, beat off on the cookie and eat it. I guarantee some mongoloid will tell you that they liked it because it was artistic.” I never saw him perform so I was stunned at the strength of his opinion. I like to think that, at my urging, he would change his mind. This was rare since I wasn’t yet a regular.

The next Wednesday, he went up. Every time he read a sentence or paragraph he’d written, people would laugh, and he threw the sheet away to the side, allowing it to softly float down. Others were crumpled up and thrown at the audience or folded into an airplane and thrown like a dart, only to have them either catch someone in the chest or flip and immediately hit the ground and made more laughs between pauses. After he was done, I went up to him and told him which jokes I liked and why. He responded with “Huh. Not artistic?”

That’s when I understood. He made us his experience his bukake cookie of indifference. He had done what brought him enjoyment without the expectation of critique and then did what he wanted with his work. He took the milky white sheets of paper and molded them to whatever fit his fancy before firing them off one at a time only to have them connect with his audience.

What Started Out as an Intent-to-Build, Turned Into Tongue-in-Cheek Mechanical Motorcycle Smut.

My dream motorcycle does exist.

It exists in that it is always running through my mind and in my heart.
Electrical impulse-firing and ever-pulsating.
If I were to build it, it would become real and I probably would never leave it, except when expelling bodily waste or entering buildings. But that which is not started… cannot exist.

It is beautiful, I assure you. The first of its kind from my very own hands.
I would name it The OXCART Mk 1. A little nod from design history, if you can find it. (pun intended)
It would be sustainably manufactured from extra spare parts, somewhere behind a neighborhood garage, on a smooth concrete slab surrounded by soft green grass. Probably with a cold delicious beer.
It would start with a simple frame, with a brown leather saddle intentionally in the center of gravity.
Stiff & supple hydraulic springs bending and flexing through deep bumps and mild, dirty, off-road grit.
It would float on chrome-wire-spoked, gunmetal rimmed wheels wrapped with firm, tubed rubber.

In the event of an emergency, squeezing or stepping on the metallic crimson brake levers would result in sending good old DOT3 brake fluid coursing through braided, shimmering stainless steel lines to blood red multi-piston calipers. These beautiful Mediterranean-machined pistons would clamp warm pads across the faces of expertly drilled rotors. “What would create such an emergency?” you might be thinking- Why, that would be the engine causing all that trouble towards the front. The simple, robust, powerful v-shaped twins exploding a chorus from one thousand, five hundred, ninety-nine cubic centimeters of displacement. All the while being fueled by the gorgeous streamlined tank. Round and stretched in the front, sweeping towards the back to a rounded boat tail. Just to the left and under the very end of the bulbous metal cannister, premium race gas would drip from the petcock, down through the translucent fuel filter, into the fuel line before being sucked through the plenum into the combustion chamber meeting its fate… and igniting. The stroke and rods together in a 1.6-1.8:1 ratio symphony, compressing 9.5-10:1 worth of a perfectly stoichiometric mixture breathing in air from a free-flowing racing filter, coming from and leaving four titanium valves seated in a ported and polished head, pressed up against twin overhead cams twisted by a chain gear timed with each crank, blowing hot exploding air out of unrestricted straight pipes. They would be made from plasma cut Titanium, bowing away from the manifold, down toward the ground, ripping hot exhaust gasses out of the engine and under my feet. They would follow the body lines of this motorbike straight back where the blasting sound wave would be all that’s left to leave the dust dancing behind us. Of course, this whole machine would be assembled under sterile conditions, with neither a flake of dirt nor particle of dust making its way into the tight and highly-toleranced fold. The difference between sheer pleasure and drastic failure living within a 10,000th of an inch. Things would get electric from a weatherproof, reliable and simplified wiring harness that would perform all necessary commands to seven design-integrated, policy-exceeding LED bulbs, a user interface with a tachometer that would tickle the red line and powertrain sensors commanding a programmable fuel injected interface.
Oh yea, and a retractable license plate holder.

We would go everywhere together, moving side to side and twisting through hills and canyons, maintaining stability with my legs wrapped tightly around the tank. It would listen with every twist of the throttle spooling the engine faster and faster. The sleek, raised bars wrapped with red and brown stiped grips remaining strong through the entire ride, yawing with the curves and counterweight of the turns. Our route would only be halfway done, because after those swinging dips and dives, would be an open road, all the way to the purple mountains. Straight as the crow flies, a blue and goldenrod streak flying through amber waves of grain and mirror-glass lakes and crisp streams. We would see it together as the sun would peak up behind us, illuminating the future in our foreground. With a burping interlude cracking off the trees creating a shudder while she caught up to me flexing my wrist, until she found her wings, I would break it. Utterly and completely, wide open.

As the saying goes;
“If the engine has timing, fuel, ignition, and compression, it has no choice. Physics obliges it to run.”

Run like the wind Estelle, run like the wind.
For you will ever be in my heart, until the day when I set you free.