Sunday, April 2, 2023

Sacred Ground or The Dirty Solitude

I’m driving home, after another student missed an appointment with acting classes, coached by yours truly. I am contemplating either playing the role of insulted artist, or sympathetic father. Nothing is more crushing than the knowledge no one is achieving their New Year’s goals. I truly feel I’m doing my students a favor in being lenient with their time, especially on the weekends. Then again, commitments start with a little pain. There’s nothing like lighting a fire under you more than rejection. Or in their case, failure. I am disheartened. I’m disappointed. I’m sad. 

I’m tired of being sad. I guess I am here to teach passion. I really don’t think that’s possible. In this day and age, there are so many points of reference, so many daily messages to the ego, so many suggestions to disconnect the brain, so few appeals to the heart. I am outgunned. Welcome to the New World. 

It’s been a good six months since I’ve been laid off. I have learned a lot. I have finally enjoyed my home life to get my fill, but I don’t want to leave this state of mind quite yet. I love what I made of my home. The air is clear. My thoughts are sober. I am alone in the middle of a job search. I am back to betting on my self. I am 20 again. 

No, I’m confidently in my 50s. 

Across the street, kids are playing at the elementary school, and they are unaware of all the decisions they have to make in life. What a great position to be in, as a human. Even my little doggy (Wallace the Yorkie/Scottie) enjoys the time we have together. Recently, though, I think he’s starting to get sick of me. It’s time to get up. It’s time to shed another skin, turn another page, write a new chapter. 

I jumped into this break with a freewheeling spirit, and an innocent belief that everything would turn out OK. I was wrong. I have to keep working for the happiness I feel. I have to be the Big Generator at my work, at my craft, in my home, in my life. Big Generator can never stop. 

A former boss passed away lately, and I noticed his mighty legacy was diminished by the ones who inherited his fortune; dropped into a red pool of circling shark fins. Frittered away with endless garage sales and impersonal transactions. I really didn’t like the guy, but nature is cruel to those without a Godly disposition. I truly hate the fact he died on the same day as my father, one year after. I will always be forced to remember the sun always goes down. There is one constellation of truth though, piercing pinholes in my sleepy, velvet-coddled mind, while I try to make sense of my given circumstance: never leave your work in the hands of someone else. 

My side business lost a big client, and rightfully so. The fight to get them back was not worth the cost. That’s what we told ourselves, at least. I had to force myself to walk away for a while, like a dad leaving the jail where his son is drying out. It’s the best for both of us, so we can find our own footing, without my help. Nowadays, I am left with job interviews, audition copy, and my own thoughts. I have a few acting students I coach (when they want to show up), and I have accepted a substitute teaching role in the area. What perfect timing, as another school shooter was killed in a private school, days ago. In this world, no dream is safe. It’s a dirty solitude. 

Just as true, as anything else, fortune turns on a dime. This morning, I was cast in a small, independent film. One of the lead roles. The excitement welling inside me is either adrenaline or another oncoming heart attack, laying in wait. Earlier in my life, I would’ve jumped for joy. As a hardened soldier, I am cautious. 

Keep breathing. Keep paddling. The land in sight is either an illusion or a cruel button on a punchline. I’ve hit bottom before, but this feels different. I have planted way too many seeds to fail. I’ve done all the work, and I’ve done it the right way. I am at peace. These are the days I will teach from, I will share to those who care. 

I won’t have it any other way, and it looks like I am forced to walk through another forest, even though I don’t know where I’m going. It’s the uphill climb. It’s the part where my lungs burst, and my breath tastes like blood. This is where I get strong. This is sacred ground.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Where Are The Wonkas...?

Kids are magical.

They are all about possibilities and potential.

Adults are different. They are about choices. How you deal with the consequences of your choices dictate your life. You choose to get married. You choose to buy a house. You choose to raise kids. You choose a career. You choose to deal with your closest ones in whatever manner you prefer.

Choices are power.

My son moved away.

Damn. I thought I was good company.

Who am I kidding—I can be a drag, I know that pretty well. After all, I gotta live with myself every day. That kind of stings my ego though, but it is HIS choice. To be honest, it’s a nice arrangement for him and I, as we don’t always see the world the same way. It’s always refreshing to see him every now and then. Hugs and kisses mean more. We choose to love the time together, watching F1 races and swapping artsy anecdotes.

At work, I feel alone. I am now the only one who can do the things I do, and that’s why they keep me around, given the tough times in the marketplace. I feel that time is disappearing, and I know I will have to make a fateful choice.

Cancer spread its shadow over our personal health this year, and we chose to deal with it through surgery, without unnecessary radiation. We will choose down the road, if we need to fight it further.

Incedentally, I have a female dalmatian, Sara, who graces our halls with eccentricity for the past 12-13 years. Our family came across an organization who rescued her: they found her tied up in a bag along with another dog, left for dead in a field in New Mexico. Over the years, her behavior has always been skittish, and full of fitful slumbers. Every time we open a new trash bag with that first whip of puffed air, like the fluffing of a wrinkled towel as it’s pulled from the dryer—Sara always recoils in a bit of fear. She takes very little away from training, but her heart is tender and is always in the right place--especially for food and neck scratches. We all happily chose to bring her into our circle, backyard plants be damned! I always feel a disconsolate ambiguity for animals, especially when I see cooking shows featuring meat and dairy and seafood. They really don’t have a choice, themselves. I’m not a vegan by any means, but I always felt a bit sad for their service, unawares. For my dog Sara, she didn’t choose to get cancer.

We’re given a gift. We are in complete control. We have power, to be sure, but I don’t desire my choices to be informed.

I want my maturity with whimsy.

I have yet to see a happy, talented person on this planet. Like Willy Wonka.

I choose to retain a youthful mind, a playful brain.

I choose not to see this fog of sadness as an ever-growing mist--rather, I choose to see God taking an eraser to the dark parts of this world.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Eugene Robert Vigil

“Goddamned old people”.
That’s what a former boss of mine would say when he heard from colleagues having older parents, when they mentioned their illnesses, detailed their struggles and even mentioned their passing from this life. That was the first thing I thought, when I heard my father was sick. Of course, he’d been sick for a few years now, and I always held out hope that he would get better. By now, we all know the knowledge that the mathematics of this life always trend down, and everything deteriorates. Things naturally wither, they diminish, they fall, they lose their color, their luster. Mighty designed embellished structures give over to a streamlined, modern, minimal design; all intricate languages devolve into abbreviations and half-words. There’s a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes, and it mentions everything having a season. It’s true. There are times of plenty, times of hunger, times of anger and times of elation. You all know the rest. Just listen to the song. That’s why I felt a great sense of relief and closure when I heard my father died. The painful season for him was finally over.

I will cut to the chase. There are others who have known my father years more than I, and I will rely on them to give you more details on how he was as a younger man. But for me and what I remember, I recall an intense man. He was passionate. He had a temper. His humor had timing, and a wonderful sense of immediacy. I loved the way he loved me, hugging me with the tightness that I will miss forever. At least, until I see him again. There are times when you grow up, and you begin to see the parent you’ve always known change as a person, as they grow old as well. His sharp intensity became smooth moderation after a few years, and he was always accommodating and kind. With the temper he had, I began to realize I wasn’t afraid of making him mad. I just didn’t want to disappoint him. There’s a big difference, and I appreciate noting this later in life, especially when I became a father myself. I didn’t really see him play music as much as I wanted to, but I just knew from all the colleagues he had--distinguished artists in their field, and accomplished musicians in their own right, they testified to his absolute skill. It spoke to me as an artist, and as a son. He was a father to everyone. His family is huge as a result.

He coached me, my brothers, and he was a great mentor to all the young people in the community. He gave of his time freely, and he personally indulged my awkwardness with grace, my individuality with love and care. I have so many great memories with him by my side, over my shoulder, embracing me in his warmth, and I am confident in being a better man because he’s still with me to this day.

I was a young science-fiction fan, and he recognized that and took me to see Star Wars for the first time. I remember when we giggled leaving the theater, watching a guy in his pick up truck, sitting in the parking lot with his son on his lap, in battle with imaginary starships. They had such a good time, and my dad and I shared that same smile. It changed my life, because I didn’t want to be an astronaut anymore. Too many numbers. But I wanted to be an actor, to tell stories, and to lead with my imagination, chasing those fantastical dreams with my heart. He understood that. He may not have liked it, but the way he handled my oddities gave me a deep appreciation for how varied his passion was for life.

He took me to see John Elway play for the very first time, and it was a joy.

He went with me to fire off awkwardly-built model rockets, and he had no problem believing they would fly.

He stood beside me and hugged me in the dark after my first dog died. He told me there was too much pain for the little guy to live, and he needed to rest. And that’s what we all needed to do ultimately, just have rest.

He was happy for me when I received scholarships from different schools to study acting, but I knew his heart was broken as he gently left the room to be by himself.

We shared some wonderful times watching movies, as he had such an appreciation for not only the leading actors and technicians, but for the forgotten character actors. The ones in the background. They may not appear often in the stories, but they have to hit home runs when they step up.

He loved entertainment and the arts. He read comic books! We talked about the Fantastic Four and Star Trek. We listened to old time radio programs. He played for me the old Abbott and Costello routine, Who’s On First. When I heard that for the first time I kept staring at him, confused. He explained to me, "the one guy thinks the other guy is keeping the players' names secret, while the other guy knows the fake names are actual names". I still couldn’t get it. Later on in life, I giggled to myself thinking that his explanation to me and my resistance to understand became a comedy routine in itself. He had a great appreciation for Mel Brooks movies and the 2000 Year Old Man. Along with some Lenny Bruce and Redd Foxx, there were a lot of uncomfortable things comedy exposed, but he told me that’s really what you want to laugh at, the things that no one wants to say out loud. That was where the gold was. We listened to Richard Pryor together, I even relayed some old Steve Martin comedy bits to him, much to his enjoyment and curiosity. I tried to explain Steve Martin to him a little, and it was like him explaining Who’s On First back in the day. Eventually, he came around on Steve Martin, and we would see all of his movies together. The R-rated ones. He took the family to see kung fu double features a lot, at the old Mayan theater downtown. He introduced me to Bruce Lee and Shih Kien, the Chinese villain actor of the time. I still remember in between films there was a local karate academy who went on stage and performed some kung fu moves. One of the students slipped and put his foot right through the screen. The theater erupted. I felt so bad for the guy, but I felt good when I looked down the row and our whole family was laughing together. He was goofy. He knew good jokes. He had impressions and accents. He would've been a lovely actor.

I knew Dirty Harry at a young age, watched dozens of horror films of the day, I beheld Don Rickles, Martin and Lewis, Marx Brothers, Hope and Crosby, Buster Keaton, Charles Bronson, Peter Sellers and all the old time Denver Broncos of the early 70s. We watched Looney Tunes on early Saturday mornings and he always mentioned they were better than Disney cartoons, because they were all comedians. Mel Blanc is my favorite actor, to this day.

Although we knew I was a nerdy chap growing up and loved classical music, he could always talk to me on my level. I don’t remember the exact point, but he introduced me to a few vinyl records he played, from some of his favorite artists who played jazz. We talked for hours about that stuff. I am very proud to say he had the chance to watch not me--but my son--play jazz, live. He cherished those moments with such reverence. It seemed like he saw a prophecy come true. I am happy he got to see my son play. I can barely hold a tune.

Later on down the road, I overheard him being upset, questioning God. I had to go into his room and talk with him. The youngest kid never really did that in those days, but I was the only one around, and I hated to hear him in misery. In his youth, he had gone through catechism, had learned the Bible, and he knew all the figures and places of the word of God. I think at that moment, he wanted a response from the world, not merely a word of comfort, but a reflection of the things he believed were true in his younger life, to help him with the events that tortured him that day. I think he needed to be reminded, and see that reflection, looking back at him. Call it a divine appointment or just simple family relations, but we both ended up in tears, holding each other in our arms, with him repeatedly saying, "my son. My son". We had a deep understanding of life after that day. It reflected in both our eyes as I saw him the last few times, lying in his final bed.

To think that my story is one of many thousands of stories, staggers me. For every one of you out there who knew him: you have volumes of love and adventures with this man. He was epic, and the scope of his life was magnified with the volumes written on his heart.

So, here we are. I am comfortable. It is well with my soul. He is walking freely under lustrous skies, seeing his parents, even talking with the son he never knew, the one who passed away in childbirth earlier in his life. Nothing deteriorates any more. There’s no more pain, there are no more tears except for those he’s leaving behind right now. We are all sad down here, but he is living a beautiful, mystical, glorious homecoming.

My story is his story, and I know I will see him again.

--Son, 2022

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bridge Construction


I gotta go back.

Set my jaw, clench my fists, and take one step at a time.

It's not as if I haven't done this tango before, with ex-girlfriends, agents, clients, my wife... even my own son. All of them, multiple times. That's how stupid and quick-triggered I was, at those times.

This time, it's different, though. I'm a lot older. Maybe a bit more wise, but I don't want to out-kick my coverage.

Let's just say, I'm learning to finally play the game of Peace.
To plot the map of Good Will.
To finally traverse Forgiveness.

I'm not really as important as I think I am, and I needed to work on more vulnerability as an artistic tool, anyway.

That's it....!

I was an Artistic Tool.

Don't be like me, son.
Apologize quick.
Get out of your own way.
Don't burn the years the way I did, at the Altar of Shallow Self-Consciousness.

You're not worth it.

Your health IS worth it, though--your family's health, as well as the health of those loved-ones who have invested their lives in you.
Always go back, and make it all right.

If it's up to you, do it.

You have honor.
Show loyalty.
Value friendship.
Cherish help.
Welcome correction.
And fix your mistakes.

You are a supreme investment.

Thus, follow suit.
(Act like it)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On the Ruminations Of Blood and Burritos

          Medical treatment and therapy is nothing more than a waiting game. Actually, it's a racket, as well as a waiting game. You know, it's also a communications train wreck along with a racket and a waiting game.

          Last July, I hurt my leg when I inadvertently stepped through a steel grating and pulled my calf muscle. Expecting nothing more than a little swelling and stiffness the next morning, I woke up to find my leg had turned tomato-red and blew up to twice the size. I wasn't really alarmed, except for the fact I couldn't move my leg, as it was bloated and radiated heat and deep pain. It tingled. It throbbed. My brain was cloudy--more cloudy than normal. I really couldn't think straight, but I still went to work, the good soldier I was--I had no idea. I really should've took into account the fact I couldn't fit this leg is not my already-loose pant leg. I had lost a good 50 pounds or so, I was working out like a pro, and I had my eyes focused on tipping the scales at a mighty sub-200 pound number. So, the idea that I had suddenly gained weight in my legs was inconceivable. Maybe it was the DingDongs I had a day before--a modest guilty pleasure for the sudden healthy training I have been chasing for most of my life!

          Now, my workplace is not necessarily a shining sort of positivity. Whether it be working retail at a car lot, or working full-time at a busy multimedia studio, or plugging along as a middle-aged character actor, the general consensus states: if you can't perform a job, they can find someone who will. Superiority, attendance, loyalty, or excellence in your craft be dashed! Knowing this full well, I went into work. There are two brilliant technicians I work with, and I've known them for many years, I'm proud to say. Together, we're a three-man orchestra. That said,  comfort didn't come from them.
"Put some ice on it."
"Put some heat on it."
"Drink some tea."
"Have a shot."
"Rest your leg."
"Walk on your leg."
"Elevate it."
"Shake it out and flex it."
Even though they're multitalented, they don't seem to know about these kinds of issues. By noon, my leg started to turn dark. I told my compatriots I needed to go in and have it checked out, and they seemed to agree, with the funny rejoinder, "Oh, don't worry about it, it's probably blood clots. They might even settle in your chest. Nothing to worry about. See you at in a bit......"

          The general practitioner (aptly titled the GP, thrown around arrogantly in the medical biz), started to get irritated when I told her it hurts, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly where. She glibly tossed her stethoscope onto the table and said, "I guess we'll have to check you for.....blood clots."

          Knowing she mentioned the punchline from a work-gag mentioned earlier in the day, I started to giggle. She glared with condescension and piety, "This is not a laughing matter, Mr. Vigil. Your life could be at stake."

          Now, I had no idea what blood clots were. Over the next few minutes--as my leg continued to swell--I was briefed on the dangers of having some of these nasty invaders in my body. Apparently, they cause havoc--from heart attacks, to strokes, suffocation, and amputation. It turned to 7pm as I was told to rush to get an ultrasound. It's a surreal feeling, rushing to an emergency diagnosis in my own car. What if I didn't want to go in? Will this pass, if I didn't get a confirmation? Who will pay for these procedures? When do I call the wife? Will I be home soon? What if I blackout right now? Should I travel in the slow lane, in case I crash? Will the car flip? Will the crash jumble the clots loose? Can I operate on myself? My heart raced, and I felt sadly mortal.

          The ultrasound was completed, and there were clots in my leg. The technician mentioned my voice sounded weak, and suggested I go to the emergency room in the hospital next door! Clots may be in my chest. Go now!!!

          Off I went to the hospital. They let me in, as they knew I was coming, and I found a quiet room with three nurses waiting. Apparently, blood clots get you VIP treatment! They stabilized me, put tubes in me, and rushed me into a cat scan. Long story short, I had a couple clots in my lungs. I needed to stay. In all this chaos and rushing me around--all of which took a good five hours or so--I forgot to call my loving wife. It was 1am in the morning. I politely asked for a phone to reach her. Two in the morning rolls around, and still, no phone. At precisely 2:30am, I receive a phone from one of the receptionists, claiming there's an irate female on the phone. My wife was searching for me, and called a few hospitals around the area, with no one helping her. You'd think with all the technology, everyone would be interconnected with their inpatient data. We finally spoke, and I got in a terrible mood. Ron started wandering the halls of the ICU, waiting for a room to be prepared for me, in the other part of the hospital. I really couldn't believe all this needed to take so long. As I passed by a few patients--waiting patients, mind you--one thing burned in my mind: what a mess of a system. No one was checking on patients, no one checked on me, but there was a TV. It didn't work, but there was a TV.

          It really was a surreal scene--all of us were waiting around, groaning, walking ourselves into the restroom (I even helped this older Mexican grandmother into the restrooms, prepping her for doing a deuce). I was ready to fill out my paperwork and collect a check for my services! Five in the morning rolls around, and a couple big bruisers show up at my door, ready to WHEEL me to my room! To say I didn't rest is such an understatement. I mentioned I left my invoice on the bed, but that didn't receive any reaction. Don't know why, I thought my delivery was on point.

          The room in the larger part of the hospital was okay--my "roommate" was this dude who asked for EVERYTHING. He wanted a glass of ice. Shaved ice. Separate from a tall glass of plain water with NO ICE. He wanted breakfast well done. I don't know what PART of breakfast he wanted well done, but he just wanted WELL DONE. He wanted lotion. He wanted someone to show him how the TV worked. He wanted aspirin. He wanted an extra dose of morphine. He wanted to call his cousin. He wanted to call his brother. He wanted lunch early. He wanted to see the menu NOW. He wanted a burrito for lunch. Bodily noises frequently punctuated his requests. I was in Gross-out Heaven.

          The doctors visited me at a regular pace of once. Strike that, twice. The second time was getting my info for insurance. The other communications consisted of a nurse relaying facts from the doctor, basically telling me I was going to be discharged by the afternoon. Thank goodness--I didn't want to be around when my bunk buddy had a burrito.

          Toward the end of my stay, my dorm partner crossed over to my side and struck up a conversation:

"I'm Mark."  
"Hey Mark, I'm Ron."
"What are you here for?"  
"I guess I have blood clots all over me. You?" 
"I have a blood condition I have to keep coming back for....I keep fainting for the last few years, so the doctors want me in here a lot, for my health." 
"Do they know what's happening with you?" 
"Not really. I just keep getting infected." 
"That sounds terrible. I hope you get to feeling better soon." 
"I don't. I just want to go away. That's why I call my cuz--so he can bring me something to fuck me up." 
"You should watch out for those clots, man. My Aunt got one in her lung, and it traveled to her brain. Killed her quick. Don't mess around with those, man." 
"Anyway, I heard you were going soon. You be careful." 
"You too. I'll be praying for ya." 
"You don't have to. I got it. I'm always careful, man. I order everything in my life the way I want it. I'm tired of being not in control, you know?" 
"I hear ya. I hope you make it." 
"I hope I don't. Peace."

          I was released at a prompt 2:48pm. I guess I was stabilized. I don't know, nobody really told me. I was wheeled to the car (where my phone and iPad™ were). I called my wife and told her I was coming home, and I NEEDED a shower. I told my job the same.  
          I stared through the windshield all the way home, listening to the in-between station static, as I couldn't concentrate on anything during the car ride. Whatever problems interfered with my life, I felt for the many people that system let hang on to it, clinging like dead skin on a whale. The old grandmother's humility, the burned-out receptionist, the obviously-overrun Doctor, the irritated nurses, and Mark.

          I really don't know what's to come of all this, and I'm realistically pessimistic about the future. But I'm not nearly as bad off as I have selfishly led myself to believe. I make my weekly appointments to the blood specialists to get my finger pricked (I'm a moving target of being almost-therapeutic--whatever that means), I watch my intake of EVERYTHING, and I move a little slower to avoid extreme bruising. I won't lie, the little pill I take for my blood kicks my ass, though. I'm tired ALL THE TIME, even though I try to muster a workout every once in a while. 
          I feel like such a jerk. You know, I wasn't looking for a stay at the Hilton, but I left more stressed than I did when I came in. Something was intrinsically wrong with this picture, yes? Overall, what a dreadful ordeal. There has to be a better way to do all this.
          As much as I hate this systemic, joyless mincing, I am fully aware other people hate their situations more. I am blessed to get out when I did, and I think about those people in the hospital bowels who shared the horror. I get the uneasy feeling I'm the alert deer who sought higher ground before the tsunami hit the shore. The only difference is, I had no idea there was a tsunami. I escaped an administrative haunted house. I do know one thing, though--I'm taking lots of supplements. And I'm praying for those souls.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Louise J. Vigil

It takes a long time to sift through memories, these days. When I think of my Grandma Louise though, a flood of memories come to mind. I remember my grandmother accompanied with a range of emotions, from passionate arguments and confrontations to effortless friendships, altruism and humor. She fought a lot, gave a lot, and laughed a lot. When Louise was younger, she worked for the war effort, helping to build grenades during World War II. How fitting it is, the imagery sticks with me to this day. She had a fiery temperament and an explosive personality.

She's in my heart and in my blood even now, as my wife and son can verify. Being in a job that requires a presence in public, I meet a lot of people and shake hands, and wave to anonymous passers-by. It's often difficult to make an impression from an interaction that lasts a few seconds. So it's imperative that you leave people with some knowledge that you're an important part of EACH OTHER'S lives. I found you always knew where you stood with Louise. You were the priority. Most notably to me, though, was the fact she kept an amazingly extensive record of names in her head. She knew names of cousins I still don't know to this day – a fact that is to my utter shame. She once told me her secret: she knew everyone by name because they all meant something to her. At first listen, her statement sounds so simple, even as a common sense quote quilted on a pillow, but there's a lot more at work in HOW she relayed this secret. With each day at my job, her thoughts resonate. Almost everybody meant something to her. That hits hard, and I want to try to live up to that thinking.

In summing up our relationship, I'm told I need to relay memories of my time with Grandma Louie:

-- I remember watching funny Burt Reynolds movies with her, laughing at the f-words, while I spent the night. I was always falling asleep with a giant bowl of ice cream in my lap.

-- I remember watching TV with her, as the Broncos went to their first Super Bowl, the stadium noise blaring right outside her front yard, on a colorfully-lit evening during the holidays.

-- I remember the beers we had in her high rise apartment, looking over the Denver skyline, chatting about what I wanted to do in life; she always said it didn't matter, as long as I remembered my family.

-- I remember the arguments we had later, but the feelings vaporized as we hugged again.

-- I remember telling her my newborn son's name. 
"Kalel! What the hell?"
I was still a kid at heart, but I had no idea her rap game was off the chain.

-- I remember when her recollections, stories and their details started to fade. She still remembered nicknames she had for some of us. A couple of them were the 'cussy' ones.

-- I remember once telling her life was tough. She said, "Bullshit. You stopped praying."

And so, and finally, at long last, it has come to this—
May you rejoice in your newly discovered reunions.
May you breathe new air, move with no pain, remember with no sorrow.
May you rest in the arms of a loving, giving, graceful God who knew your name from the very beginning.
Peace be with you.

-- Grandson, 2016

Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Appreciation

Tasting stouts might be a little passé, but this one rocks. There's a full roasted finish with a nice orange middle that makes for a heady beast, without sinking into the IPA hell that's so prevalent these days. The smell greets you with a cocoa sweet stillness of archaic notes, cradling a literate flair.

To be sure, this stout brings me back to my first taste of stouts, in my 80's high school days. So full, it closes my throat while I remember 4-hour tilts of RISK. Good times. 

Understand, I don't get out much, and this foray into an open night hails my memory with a tweak of sadness.  My son turns 15 soon, my friends have high school kids bordering on college age, so accessible funds and available minutes are a rare commodity. Anyway, it's nice to just sit and enjoy my life. 

Relax, loyal reader, I'm not going down memory lane. I won't regail/repulse you with reflections on Ron.  I won't try to make you sad, nor will I solicit a sentimental response. I'm here to tell you at the foot of the mountains there sits a mildly chubby cherub who is grateful for the adventure, however mundane it may seem. 

As I look into the stemmed glassware cradling this gorgeous potion, I want to tell you this is what it means to win. When I read the headlines of this backward world, listen to the non-melodic music of the age, and turn away from the shallow nature of today's vernacular, I'm refreshed at the simplicity of pleasurable things. People are laughing around me (maybe they're drunk), the day's repose is the right temperature, the sun's sitting just right over the peaks, and I have time to myself. 

You know, if I must truly confess, my back hurts. The couple next to me are getting on eachother's nerves with consistent reminders that they both look "shitty". The college couple on the other side of me are eating stinky food, raped by the reek of wing sauce. My palette's getting corroded with the stank--glassware is now being dropped on a consistent basis. I'm swirling the stout in a desperate attempt to summon better odors. One of the bartenders has an open shirt down her back, revealing a typical tribal design--a shame, really, she'd be more attractive without the Mark of the Fad. She must make good tips. It's irritating, really--I get upset just thinking about it. 

Do you really have to put your iPhone (trademark) in your back pocket? Don't you ever sit?! Or, in your clunky attempt to look cool, do you need to have it precariously hanging out of your dirty jeans? What do I care, you could probably afford another one--

And, what's up with the long beards? Are you studying sorcery? Are you wise? Are you compensating for the bald head? Why don't you conjure a spell to make your feet stink less, when you wear those disastrous thongs. Look in your tome of magic under the letter "S", for "stink foot".

Swirling the caramel concoction a little more, now.... The drink temperature is getting to where I like it, and the aromas are blitzing like an '77 Orange Crush front five. Grapefruit, that's what it is! I mistakenly took the orange citrus train to Prediction Town on this heavenly mixture. Make this blitz an '85 Bears front five! Oranges, begone, there is a dark grapefruit hither--No, cherub, this stout has the bitter numb of grapefruit. Brewers, well done: your palettes have foresight and ingenuity. I am contrite.

The dude next to me chugged his... Troglodyte. 

And, do you really need to drag your dogs to the brewery? Their filthy nature doesn't drum up a tinge of appreciation from my like, I have two charming furries of my own. Here's the difference: your pups aren't endearing, they're spoiled from you parading them around the local inebriates, like an emperor without clothes, who happens to eat his own scat.

Golly, this stout is good.  Best to leave it at just one. A good memory. 

They're playing rap, now. Time to head out. The mountain scenery has turned black, and the interior just looks like any other bar, with dreadful music filling the room. Thank you, God, for the magical drink. I suppose I really won't experience its like for a while. 

Guys are starting to stare at the tattoo, and I feel ashamed for the sex I'm a member of--until this girl opens her mouth and flashes gang signs, swearing like an amateur.

Going in for the descent, time to join life again. Not the hustle and bill-paying of earthly gears, but the warmth of a family and a newfound appreciation for momentary gaps. 

Appreciation, indeed. This was a worthy culinary experiment. I could go for a good movie, about now.

Friday, September 5, 2014


"Jump! Don't look down!"

"You've really got nothing to lose," they encourage me.

"You've done it before, you know..."

Ron looked into the glass and pondered the deep bourbon's legs as they shrouded the sides.  "I almost went bankrupt, as well."

"You have endless contacts and resources!"

"Yes, I do," Ron glared into the garish computer screen, and clicked the Unfriend icon, "--every one of them attached to a human."


I see myself at the foot of a sickly bed. The poor dog stretched before me--starved, face lined with desperate worry, pummeled by uneven tempos of breath. I put so much hope into it--I thought I was providing such favor, keeping it locked away, being safe. The bloodshot eyes turn my way, and the whimpers turn into a low mumble. I'm going to lose my furry friend, I know.

With a rush of quivering strength, I kick the bed posts, "Look, I know what I'm doing: I'm convincing myself to not step out in faith. There's no real way to lose, so go ahead and die, for all I care!"

Why am I afraid?


Ron adjusted himself under the table, moving his arm as such to give the illusion he's itching his leg.

"I just don't want to go through the...leg work, again," he explained to the interviewer with big diamonds and global implants, "the empty calls, the awkward meetings: the dry days of waiting for an answer--"

He knew he was talking to himself, at this point.  How would a corporate trophy wife ever understand the struggle? Inside her head, she rolls her eyes--gotta get the pool cleaned!

"So much excessive spinning; so many un-answers. So much time was wasted, trying to apprehend a hopeful nugget--" Ron abruptly stops, and glares at her. He sets down his pen, crumbles his resume, places it on her iPad (trademark).

Ron, looking around, whispers in her ear, "Look, I'm going to be responsible for a staff of people who need the work. Times could get thin, and it could be my fault. I'm going to be accountable for the quantity and quality of the work.  It stops at me--"

The interviewer reaches around his head, and squeezes his cheek.

She whispers back, smelling of lipstick and Starbucks (copyright): "It also starts at you! Isn't that what you want? No one to tell you how to edit yourself, someone to set your limitations; an overseer who doesn't really know your passion?" 

Ron adjusted himself again. This time, everyone noticed. He didn't care.


I'm back at my dog's death bed, but I know it's really me, lying there... I'm mad at the situation. I can't believe I'm explaining myself to my dying dog.

"I didn't know what I was doing. I'm so sorry."

"The right colleagues were impressed," Man's-Best-Friend seems to say, "and you have some true jewels of work. You slept at night."

I start to weep a bit, "The superiors I work for might be upset."

"Your only superior is the one who loves you more than you'll ever know," the doggie rests its head, nuzzling its pillow, "and I always knew you loved me."

...that new damned bag of organic dog food....


"Looking in the mirror is scarier with each year," he thought to himself, walking the narrowing path.

He covered his mouth, collecting the data as to what could happen.
Am I reaching too much?

          "You haven't reached in a while."

He relaxed, paused, fixed his gaze to the path beneath him. The green moss dwindled as it drew closer to the edge of the end, close to where his feet felt the most discomfort, as his body lurched forward and back. The comfort of green disappeared amid this balding rash of regret. 

I don't want to lose--

          "You already won."

Breath was unbearable now, and this was it: he clenched inside, shaking his younger self.

But it might be to high--

          "Then," he gasped at the inhalation of new birth, "...jump..."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wait a minute

It's all about waiting. 

I've put it in writing for all to see.

Someone once said "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." I can see that. I can also see people walking about, smoking their cigarettes, sipping pops. Filling up gas cans, making small talk, setting their gum on the dashboard: everybody's getting ready. 

You see, no one's really "there" yet, but they're gonna be--Tolkien's "last deep breath before the plunge..."  A drama professor once said "great drama shows the highlights; no one wants to watch the in between moments". True. Even actors wait for their cues....and there it is: Life doesn't grind us, waiting does. 

Not everybody lives. Not everybody gains. Not everybody loses. Not everybody enjoys. Not everybody dreads, desires, cheats, assails, curses, prays or preys.  But everybody--and this is everybody--waits.

We wait for life to happen. We wait for love. We wait for sports matchups. We wait for justice, we wait for convergence, revelations, we wait for a diagnosis, we wait for Jesus. We wait to be born. 

I'm not going to the next logical thought here: you'll have to wait.

It carries the wisdom of verisimilitude. Doesn't matter what we wait for, or for how long. We're all stuck in that syrup-slow aquarium of anticipation, and it links our tired lives through its timeless tendrils of tedium. Stan Lee would be proud of that one!

Waiting drives us crazy. It endows the value of the main course. It's the Everything, But....

Every emotion exists in "wait", every adjective. Every quantity is calculated in "wait". 

"Wait" trumps everything but Time. Even for anything that happens, however the immediacy, there still exists an element of "wait". Waiting is the ultimate substance in the universe.

Great thinkers and apologists will suddenly sit up and try to be recognized. They'll no doubt slip on the dusty specs of knowledge and place their caps of academia here, and simply ask: "you've defined the condition, now what's the question...?"

Well, then, let's bring out the questions:

Can "wait" become a "do"? No, that's lame: I'm trying to energize a passive verb. 

Can "wait" be gussied-up? Glamorized? Made more enjoyable?  No, muzak's got that cornered.

Since it's ever-present, can "wait" be ignored like the cute 20-something with a brand new selfie?

It's something we all have to deal with, certainly, so can we choose to steal its power? Harness its intimidating presence? I'm not presumptuous enough to tame and make it my ally, much less my friend: waiting knows me all too well. But there might be hope in siphoning this relentless resource.

Waiting can work for us. Wait can wait on us. Make t-shirts: Ween Wait. We can willfully woo wait!

Love waiting. 

Fill it love, endow it with the energy of action. 

Any action. 

Never let a wait go to waste.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Number One!

The other day, I was cutting holes in a plastic jar with a big blade.

That should be your story right there. An incidental element to a family story of arts and crafts. No controversy, and certainly no Ron Vigil-ness anywhere. Even with my good friends at work watching me--twirling the blade with an air of self-assuredness and sophistication--were not aware of the obvious accident to come. You should've seen me, though! My associate Sergio and the Sheriff's Deputy with him kept squinting, watching me pull and jerk through the brittle plastic, as I dropped in the occasional: "I'll be fine" and "this is almost done".

In fact, I was pretty much finished with my Sloppy Task (great band name, BTW) when the blade skipped out of a hard plastic groove and whispered through the webbing between my thumb and fore finger. Just like a samurai film, blood jumped onto the carpet, darted across a desk, and dribbled onto a collectible t-shirt that shouldn't have been lying underneath, from a nearby display case (guess who has that shirt now, kids!).

My friend the Sheriff's Deputy, whisked me off to the designated medical center to seek Workman's Comp Medical Attention, conveniently located on the other side of the city in Rush Hour traffic. This was after me sitting in the company office bloodily filling out corporate forms making sure I don't sue them over a cut I made to myself on the job. Awkward sentence? Yes, but the whole situation was awkward, thankyouverymuch! So Larry and I (the Sheriff's Deputy is Larry here, and will be mentioned from here on out as such designation) went searching for the designated medical center. We arrived after searching the surrounding neighborhoods--I did, however, find a couple locations for a possible future house, though--very nice, and affordable, I hear...

I must tell you, dear reader, this isn't about Poor Ronnie Gets A Cut And Tries To Explain The Universe. Well, we'll get to it--

Once I arrive at the place, I'm told I need to wait for someone to arrive so I could take a drug test, since the accident occurred while I was on the job. Fair enough, I thought, as I waited in the Trauma Room, regretting the fact I should've gone to the bathroom BEFORE I left work...

Long story short: doctor arrives, cut is cleaned out, preparations are made for stitches, here we go Ron!

Just then, a delicate smell of Under Arm and Dirty Clothes greets our nostrils, and a larger woman--apparently in a hurry--charges into the room, carrying three bags. No one shook hands, no one smiled, no one even knew her name even when she shoved a sweaty palm in my face: "I'm here to test you". Talk about an entrance. The doctor, bless his heart, sought solace in another room. You could tell he was a clean freak, and this chick was his mortal enemy, you could tell. Besides, he probably had to throw up down the hall. We exchanged desperate glances when he left, as if he told me he'll get me out of this cell in eight-to-ten years...

After a quick waft of Body Stank, she thrust forth an empty cup, and led me down the hall to the restroom. Good thing, because I really needed to go, this task would be completed soon, and she could go on her merry way, where she could go home and hopefully take a freaking shower.

Alright, dear reader, let's get something straight: I'm a heavier guy myself, and I don't take pleasure in ripping heavy people. But when you're challenging human proportion, you don't tend to the Pit Farms, and you have an "air" of self-importance, you're fair game.

"Fill it up as much as you can", she said, standing guard outside the bathroom door. This was going to be no problem, with no waiting, just a simple "here you go, have a nice day". Cup was filled, cup exchanged hands, now it's onto the final paperwork. As the doctor was still nowhere in sight of the Trauma Room, this lady started to rush to the end of her task. As I sat back down on the table, I noticed the room and its surroundings compress into a slow motion ballet. Paper forms gracefully folded onto themselves, breathing slowed uneasy sighs, and the Venti-Urine danced along the counter as a hurried elbow shoves it along. Here, time stopped.

She spilled the pee all over the counter, the floor, and down the front of her white dress. Never heard so many whispered f-bombs in all my life... scratch that, yes I have. I meant "f-bombs from someone other than myself". A large part in my heart was joyous--schadenfreude in its purest state! A lingering tiny voice in my heart was scared; I was on empty.

We might have to wait here longer, if I can't get something, if youknowwhatimean. Should've asked her if she accepted semen, I could've had that going in a minute! As the entire medical facility was out of water, I had to throw a couple cups of tap water down my gullet, and the messy clean up was underway. I really dreaded this lady to move around too much, because the air became less-and-less fresh. All the while, I'm doing kegel exercises to load the howitzer for another enemy bombardment. Talk about marking your territory: the room, the paperwork, the dress and the woman were mine! Sure there may have been body odor around, but I'm Number One!

Denoument--I squeezed out a bit of urine, and she did the test (why did she ask me to fill the cup in the first place?). As she left in a hurry, I heard a faint "it was nice to meet you, so sorry about the mess". The door closed. That was it? After all we'd been through together, this was all I receive? At least I left her with a couple creepy Ebay items.

Everything else from here on in was standard operating procedure: stitches and pleasant conversation were vollied, I made another appointment, I signed a couple autographs (it still feels so surreal), and we all said our goodbyes.

As Larry and I left the clinic to jump into his van, I began giggling to myself. A few minutes passed, we were sitting in Rush Hour, and it hits. We REALLY needed to hurry back: Wonnie had to go wee-wee.