Archive for mary

The Lock Just Keeps Spinning

Posted in Memoir, Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2014 by sethdellinger

I sure do like blue skies, clear wide-open blue skies and the wind on my face.  Getting tan.  Getting tan is like taking the outside world into yourself and then shooting it back out.  And all those vitamins and good vibes.  Also I like movies.  I like watching movies in air conditioned rooms while sweat dries on my skin.  I like rice with salt on it, and dogs who smile.

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I’ve been watching a lot of cable news lately, but I don’t necessarily think it’s good for me.  I’ve just become addicted to it, as I’ve been known to become addicted to just about anything from time to time.  I suppose it must just be cable news’ turn.  I mean, there is plenty that I like about it.  It really does inform you, and depending on what you’re watching, you usually learn about stuff you might not otherwise be following, like that shit in Iraq.  CNN is the way to go.  Typically they’re gonna tell you about the stuff that’s important, not just the tabloid stuff.  But regardless, most of it is rot.  You’re better off reading newspapers.  Please read newspapers.  They need you, and it’s still the best thing going.

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I’ve recently come across two different poems about turtles that really floored me.  It makes sense that turtles would make such rich poetic subjects: ugly, slow, and capable of withdrawing entirely into themselves.  They’re just begging for the poetic treatment.  The first is “Turtle” by Kay Ryan.  Watch her read it here, and the text of the poem is here.  The other is “To a Box Turtle” by John Updike.  Watch me read it to you!  Right here:

To a Box Turtle
by John Updike

Size of a small skull, and like a skull segmented,
of pentagons healed and varnished to form a dome,
you almost went unnoticed in the meadow,
among its tall grasses and serrated strawberry leaves
your mottle of amber and umber effective camouflage.

You were making your way through grave distances,
your forefeet just barely extended and as dainty as dried
coelacanth fins, as miniature sea-fans, your black nails
decadent like a Chinese empress’s, and your head
a triangular snake-head, eyes ringed with dull gold.

I pick you up. Your imperious head withdraws.
Your bottom plate, hinged once, presents a No
with its courteous waxed surface, a marquetry
of inlaid squares, fine-grained and tinted
tobacco-brown and the yellow of a pipe smoker’s teeth.

What are you thinking, thus sealed inside yourself?
My hand must have a Smell, a killer’s warmth.
It holds you upside down, aloft, undignified,
your leathery person amazed in the floating dark.
How much pure fear can your wrinkled brain contain?

I put you down. Your tentative, stalk-bending walk
resumes. The manifold jewel of you melts into grass.
Power mowers have been cruel to your race, and creatures
less ornate and unlikely have long gone extinct;
but nature’s tumults pool to form a giant peace.

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You may have noticed, on various and sundry platforms of social media, that I am losing weight (again!).  There will, of course, be a larger blog entry devoted to the subject once I hit a certain milestone, but I wanted to stop officially ignoring it on the blog.  So yes, I am once again losing weight.  If you’re a long-time reader, you may recall we’ve been down this road once before.    I’ll stop short of saying I’m a chronic “weight bouncer”—I’ve only done the up and down once, now going on twice—and I do think I’m going to be able to maintain it this time, seeing as how I actually do enjoy the “lifestyle” one must switch to in order to stop gaining the weight back.  I don’t want to go into too much detail, as the first of the “milestone” blogs on the topic should be coming soon.  But if you’ve noticed that I’m a little more energetic, happy as an idiot, and generally manic lately—this is the main cause.

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I don’t like, any more than you do, the way that things in our culture seem to have gotten so divisive.  Everything appears to be very “black and white” or “us vs. them”…either you agree with me, or I hate you.  All issues divided into two sides—usually liberal and conservative—so that most critical thought is now not required; you just have to know what team you’re on.  I don’t like it any more than you do.

But there seems to be, to most people, a thought that this is a terrible deviation from some Golden Era of American discourse.  That, not long ago now, everyone just kind of got along and accepted divergent opinions and engaged in a spirited and lively debate of the issues, before saying, ah, forget it! and heading out back for a barbeque.  This fever dream is made possible by the fact that nobody actually knows anything about our own history, and is cursed with the widely-held human belief that all things have just recently been much better than they are now.

Things have, of course, never been like that.  We’ve always been a country at one-another’s throats.  That’s because the issues that we disagree about are pretty fucking important and are not trifles.  If the biggest debate in America was chocolate vs. vanilla, I’d say some of us might be overreacting, but we debate about matters of deepest morality, life and death, and core philosophy.  If you’re not passionate about these things, get out of the ring.

The division seems more pronounced now that we’re on the internet all the time.  The biggest factor that plays into that is that we routinely interact with many people who we would previously not have been interacting with.  Before the internet, we just naturally and gradually gravitated to people of like-mind.  Now, we, in small ways, interact with dozens of people “on the other side” daily, which can cause little internet skirmishes which then, in turn, feel larger and more intense than real-world interactions, because we can’t gauge how the other is talking, as well as these skirmishes taking place in front of our 300 or so “friends” and remaining to view long after the words have been said.

The ease with which these divisive interactions can occur has given rise to something even worse than the “cultural division” itself: the everything is hunky-dorey crowd.  This “crowd” includes just about everybody.  We’re all so tired of having these online skirmishes with people with opposing views, almost nobody engages the argument anymore.  Nobody wants to appear “divisive”.  Everyone wants to make sure they are “accepting of other people’s views”.

The bottom line I’m trying to get to is this: I keep an open mind about things like calamari, the official naming of snow storms, and the future of the designated hitter in professional baseball.  But I’m an adult now, and I’ve thought a lot about my core beliefs, and I don’t have an open mind about abortion, gay rights, gun control, or even—yes, even the existence of a higher power.  I know what I think about these things.  Not only that, but having an open mind about these things would make me a man of feeble constitution.

Get rid of your open mind.

 

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WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS JOHN SLOAN PAINTING????

sunset-west-twenty-third-street-1906

 

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If you know me (and I think you do) you know that, obviously, I am a man with a ton of opinions.  Well, one of those opinions is that these things that pop up on social media as “photo challenges” are some of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen.  If you’re not familiar with them: they propose to be “30 day photo challenges” that list a thing you’re supposed to take a picture of once a day for thirty days.  First off, if you need a “challenge” to take interesting pictures of the world around you, you’re not interesting.  Period.  Secondly, the items in these challenges are never even remotely challenging or creative.  It’s like, “Day 1:  Selfie.  Day 2:  Food.  Day 3: Car”.  Really?  You spent time creating this, anonymous internet user?  How dreadful.

So, I thought I’d make an interesting one! Some things here are interpretable, whch, again, makes it interesting.  For instance, “Birth” wouldn’t necessarily be looking for a picture of something being born.  You decide what it means. If anyone actually wants to give this a spin, let me know, I’ll put it into a dedicated blog entry so it’s easier to reference.

Actually Interesting Photo Challenge

Day 1: An animal that you want to take home
Day 2: 
Gum
Day 3:  Something Upside-Down
Day 4:  Paint
Day 5:  How you’d like to be perceived
Day 6:  How you feel inside
Day 7:  Something you hate
Day 8:  Birth
Day 9: A chair
Day 10:  The passage of time
Day 11:  Something you love but can’t have
Day 12:  Space, area, void
Day 13:  Underneath
Day 14:  Scar
Day 15:  Home
Day 16:  Your bathtub.
Day 17:  Work
Day 18:  The ground
Day 19: The sky
Day 20: Between the ground and the sky
Day 21:  What you believe
Day 22:  Utensils
Day 23:  Lights
Day 24:  Transportation
Day 25:  Idealized
Day 26:  Action!
Day 27:  Water
Day 28:  Unattainable
Day 29:  Before you were born
Day 30:  Celebrate

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Life, and all that stuff, is sometimes too interesting to bear.  What I mean is, it can be very cyclical, or circular, or appear to be laden with damned meaning.  See, I’m a man who doesn’t believe in much.  I mean, I believe in science, and form and order amidst the chaos, but not in any Fate or creator or grand design.  Just rules and laws that govern the movements and the heat of things, basically.  So when life seems to have plans, folks like me sit up and take notice.  Not because it’s changing the way I think—I have thrown away my open mind—but because coincidence or happenstance on any large sort of scale is just so unlikely.

Take, for instance, a story from my life.  When I first got sober, I was 25 years old.  This was a little over eleven years ago.  I went to live with my mother and her husband in a small town in New Jersey.  This was the first time I’d lived anywhere outside of Central Pennsylvania.  This small town in New Jersey was relatively close to Philadelphia…maybe an hour, I think?  At any rate, it was certainly the closest I’d ever lived to a big city.

Eleven years may not seem like that long ago, but I was inhabiting a very different world back then, and I was also a very different version of me.  I drove a 1983 Ford Escort, named Earl Grey.  This car was a bona fide piece of shit, and it broke down with an alarming regularity (chronic fuel pump issues).  I had no cell phone.  No GPS.  When I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been, I printed out MapQuest directions and read them as I drove.  If I needed to call someone, I found a payphone and retrieved my list of phone numbers, hand-written on a sheet of paper inside my wallet.  It was interesting.  It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.  I drank a lot of Red Bull and wrote poetry almost every waking moment and listened to Pearl Jam like it was my job.

I had a very close friend who I’d been through the addiction wringer with.  She had a similar problem as I did, and we’d gone to the same rehab, and really just been to Hell and back together.  She had landed in a Recovery House in Harrisburg, PA.  After the tumult of the end of our addictions, we now felt very far apart.  Recovery Houses don’t allow you much leeway with visitors and phone calls.  Remember, this is also before everyone was texting and Facebooking (it’s even before MySpace).  I missed her very much.

She did manage to e-mail on occasion, and, ill-advisedly, we planned for her to sneak out one night.  We would meet in Philadelphia.  We were going to walk South Street.

I drove old rickety Earl Grey the hour to South Street, paging through my MapQuest directions.  I drove right past South Street at one point and just decided to park as soon as I could.  I found a spot and hopped out of my car.  As I walked away, I realized I might later have no idea where I had parked.  I got back into the car and grabbed my journal, the sacred notebook where I wrote all my poetry.  I looked around for a landmark and wrote it down, and put the journal in my backpack.

I met up with her and it was glorious.  I treasured being in her company, if only for a night.  I don’t remember what we did on South Street.  I don’t remember what we did at all.  But it stands as one of the more significant nights of my life, on my long road to becoming the current version of me.

A week or so ago, I decided to go back through some of my old journals and see if I had missed anything of value, any pieces of writing I could turn into something good.  I never did get around to it, but I threw the two oldest ones into my backpack, planning to look at them the next time I came to rest in some park.  I promptly forgot about it.

This evening, I was riding my bike through what is now one of my favorite sections of Old City (technically, the neighborhood known as Society Hill).  I love this section for it’s old houses, churches with expansive, historic graveyards, and shade-dappled side alleys.  I came to one of the more significant landmarks to me, the house that Thaddeus Kosciuszko lived in when he lived in Philadelphia.  Kosciuszko is my favorite revolutionary.  I feel deeply connected to him across the vast gulf of time.  The version of me from eleven years ago wasn’t yet even interested in history.  He would have had zero interest in this Polish freedom fighter’s house.  But I certainly do now.

I recalled, tonight, how the last time I was in the house, the park ranger had told me the woman who owned it and rented it to Kosciuszko was buried in the cemetery across the street.  I have spent some time in that cemetery before (American painter Charles Wilson Peale is buried there, and so is George Dallas, who was Vice President under James K. Polk), but I thought I’d wander through again and look for her grave.

It didn’t take me long in there before I had to face the fact that I couldn’t remember her name, and my iPhone’s power was getting too low to make Googling a wise choice, so I decided to leave and ride my bike elsewhere.  But as I stepped onto the sidewalk, the shade of sense memory hit me.  I’d been here many times these past six months, but perhaps never at this time of evening, in this kind of mid-summer air.  Suddenly I wondered it I’d been here before, long before.

I sat my backpack on the ground an hurriedly opened it, finding the oldest journal.  I looked at many pages before I found it, scrawled in my own unmistakable hand:

4th St., across from St. Peters Church

I craned my neck at the cemetery gate above me, and sure enough:  St. Peters.

Sure, maybe no big deal.  So what, this is where I parked that night?  If I moved to the city, it stands to reason I would pass by the place I parked that night, eleven years ago.

But the way that it came to me out of the blue, the way I had that journal on me, which was extraordinarily unlikely, the way I’d never noticed before that this was the place.  It has been long ago enough now that it’s starting to feel like deep past; I felt my younger self there.  I felt her younger self there.  I saw me getting out of my Escort, completely oblivious to Thad Kosciuszko’s house a half block away, not caring, not caring, not caring.  And life is crammed full of these bizarre cycles, these glances-back, these cosmic happenstances.  Like combination locks clicking into place.  But then the lock, it just keeps on spinning.

I sure do like blue skies, clear wide-open blue skies and the wind on my face.  Getting tan.  Getting tan is like taking the outside world into yourself and then shooting it back out.  And all those vitamins and good vibes.  Also I like movies.  I like watching movies in air conditioned rooms while sweat dries on my skin.  I like rice with salt on it, and dogs who smile.

 

 

 

 

You Would Not Survive a Vacation Like This

Posted in Concert/ Events, Erie Journal, Memoir, Photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by sethdellinger

So.  That was a pretty insane trip home (and lots of other places).  I’m not even sure where to begin.  This may end up being a ridiculously long and disjointed blog entry.  I apologize in advance.  If it ends up not being extremely long and disjointed, I will come back and delete this intro, and you will never read it.

First, I should like to thank my family (Dad, Mom, Sister) for their various forms of hospitality and much-needed displays of unconditional love.  Yay human spirit and the familial bond!  I feel pretty damn good about my family.  You guys rule!  And thank you to all my friends who made me feel as if I never moved away.  I am blessed beyond belief with deep, intense, loyal friendships!  In addition, a big frowny face to those who I had to miss on this trip (most notably, loyal blog reader and renowned Muse, Cory.  Little does she know, my next trip home is going to be so all about her, she will have to call the cops on me. And the truly lovely Mercedes, whom I am unabashedly smitten with.   Also, on-again-off-again blog reader Tiff, who I had *promised* a certain something to…well, next time, ok???).  I was stretched a little thin to do and see everything and everyone I wanted, but it was fairly satisfying nonetheless.

My Zany Itinerary

Let me just show you the zaniness of where I’ve been the last week and a half.  I am going to include tomorrow, as I go to Pittsburgh tomorrow for a work seminar.  Here’s where I was, for the most part, the last ten days:

3/25: Erie, PA/ Carlisle, PA
3/26: Carlisle, PA/ Asbury Pary, NJ
3/27: Mantua, NJ
3/28: Brooklyn, NY/ Newark, NJ
3/29: Manhattan, NY/ Mantua, NJ
3/30: Mantua, NJ/ Carlisle, PA
3/31: Carlisle, PA
4/1: Carlisle, PA
4/2: Carlisle, PA/ Erie, PA
4/3: Erie, PA
4/4: Pittsburgh, PA
4/5: Pittsburgh, PA/ Erie, PA

And I aint even tired yet.  Bring. It. On.

My Newville Tour

Early on in my trip, I had a little extra time to kill early in the morning, and I drove into Newville (the small town I grew up in) and walked around the town for the first time in many years (I have been there plenty as of late, but not actually walked around).  I took some pictures of major landmarks in my life, also making sure to get a few pictures of some of the places that have played large parts in some of my blog entries.  Here is a bit of a pictorial tour of Newville:

My first house, 66 Big Spring Avenue. My bedroom was the top two windows on the right of the picture.

The big enchilada….the childhood home.  Most famously portrayed in this blog entry right here.

I have been trying to upload the famous picture of my mother and I admiring my grandmother’s garden, but I am having some trouble, so here is a link to that picture on Facebook. And here is a picture of that back yard area today:

One of my most popular blog entries ever was “The Fruit that Ate Itself“, about me being bullied in a local church yard.  I snapped some pics of that area in current day:

The church yard itself.

The line of trees is where the dreaded swingset and slide had been.

The Senior Center where the "fight" ended. Those are the bushes I flew through in the climactic moment.

If you’ve read my blog entry “Down the Rabbit Hole“, you may be interested to see this cellar door on one of my childhood neighbor’s homes:

OK, so just a few more pics here, but not related to any previous blog, just some Seth-historic stuff:

The very spot where I got on a school bus for the very first time.

This was my corner when I was a crossign guard.

Friendies

I had almost too much fun with friendies to try to sum things up here.  I’ll hit some highlights:

I surprised Kate with my presence not once but twice, and she lost.  her.  shit. each time.  First, Michael and I surprised her at her house:

It was also on this visit that this picture of Michael happened:

A few days later, I was strolling through Carlisle wasting a few minutes before picking up another friend, when I came across Kate and her family at the local eatery The Green Room.  As I was leaving them I took this pic of Kate, her husband Matt, and their son Dylan:

Let me just take this moment to say, as I was strolling around Carlisle that night, I was struck by just how freaking cool of a town it is.  Those of you who still live there, please do not take it for granted.  First, it is totally adorable.  And such a great pedestrian town!  And for a relatively small town in central Pennsylvania, it is arts-friendly.  Open mic nights, free music, poetry readings, public displays of photography, and on and on, are quite common.  The area known as the square and the surrounding blocks are humming with a vibrant intellectual life (not to mention some fantastic cuisine).  Please partake of what the gem of a town has to offer!

My brief time with Burke was spent in some fairly intense conversation that may, in fact, make me think about my life differently.  Oh, and Johnny Depp is a fucking sellout.

I spent some truly hilarious time with Jenny.  Jenny is quickly becoming a Major Friend.  (if her name is unfamiliar to you, this was the last woman to be an “official girlfriend”…and if my hunch is true– that I am a lifetime bachelor– she may go down in the history books as the last woman to be an official Seth girlfriend…what a distinction!).  Anyway, I sure do love this woman.  She has the special ability to make me laugh until I am worried about my health…without saying anything. She has a non-verbal humor akin to Kramer.  She can just look at me and I lose my shit.  Here we are, loving life:

Of course, you know I saw Michael, and it resulted in a moment of hilarity that I am pretty sure you “had to be there” for, but we decided that Merle Haggard had at one point recorded the “classic” song “You’re Gonna Make Daddy Fart (and Momma Aint Gonna Be Happy)”.  I still laugh when I type that.

Mary and I had one helluva time trying to find parking in downtown Harrisburg—notable because it’s usually not THAT hard.  Sure, those few blocks in the very center of town are tough, but we were unable to find ANY spots on the street ANYWHERE.  When we finally did park (in a garage) we ended up just hanging around Strawberry Square , when in fact we had intended to go to the Susquehanna Art Museum. I’m still not sure in the least how this distraction occurred, but we had a blast.  But the major news from this venture is that Mary has OK’d some photographs of herself!  You may or may not know that pictures of Mary are quite rare.  She just hates pictures of herself, and of course I love taking pictures of people, so this is a friction.  Plus, she really is one of the most exquisite women in existence, so I always feel as though the world in general is being deprived of some joy by the absence of Mary pictures.  When I take a Mary picture, I have to show her, wheneupon she then either insists on immediate deletion, OKs the picture for my own personal collection but not anyone else’s eyes, or (the most rare) OKs a picture for online distribution.  So here, lucky world, are 4 new Mary pictures:

That's the back of Mary's head in the lower right.

Staying at Dad’s

It is with much chagrin that I realize I did not take a single picture of my papa and me on this trip. *sad face*  Nonetheless, I must say, spending time with my dad just gets more and more pleasant as the two of us age.  It never stops surprising me how we continue to grow into friends (while he retains his essential papa-ness).  He is one cool dude and we somehow never run out of things to talk about.

This also marked the first time in recent memory that I have stayed at Dad’s for multiple days without my sister also being there.  In this sense it was entirely unique.  The last time I stayed at my dad’s by myself for more than one night was way back when I was still drinking and on-again, off-again living there.  So this was new, and really, really great.  In a lot of ways, it felt like a true homecoming, learning how that house and I interact when I’m a grown-up, and sober, and left all alone with it.  Turns out we get along just fine.  And I sleep magnificently in my old bedroom.  But it’s tough getting used to that shower again.

Hey Rosetta!

I’m gonna really have to shrink down the Hey Rosetta! story, or I’ll be here all day.  So, in summary:

Here are pictures from Paul and I’s show in Asbury Park, NJ.  It was a fantastic time, both Paul-wise (Paul, thanks for helping me see that not all my close friends have to be women!) and band-wise.  Really, one of the more satisfying concert-going experiences I’ve had.

Then, I made an audible call and went to see them by myself twice more over the next three days, in New York City (more on NYC later).  Long story short, I ended up basically knowing the band.  But they started talking to me. I suppose when you are a band that is really famous and successful in Canada, and then you come to the states and are playing bars where most of the people are ignoring you, and there is a short fat guy with gray hair jumping around and screaming your lyrics, when he shows up to your NEXT show in a different state, it is worth taking note.  So as I was taking this picture of the chalk board advertising their show in Brooklyn, a few of the band members were walking out of the bar and saw me and introduced themselves.

Because shows like this entail a lot of waiting around (if you insist, like I do, on front row) in small bars with no “backstage” area for bands, as well as lots of changing-out of gear between bands (not to mention trips to very small bathrooms), the two shows in New York would prove extremely fertile ground for me talking to the band.  This went way beyond my previous “thank you, your music has meant so much to me” that I’ve been able to give other bands.  This was basically a getting-to-know-you situation.  Specifically cellist Romesh Thavanathan, lead guitarist Adam Hogan, and violinist Kinley Dowling spoke quite a bit to me and I was definitely on a first-name basis with them by the end of my second New York show, and I’d had a chance to speak to every member of this six-piece band.  Certainly, this was fairly incredible, but also….in some ways, not as great as you’d think.  Parts of this experience were awkward.  I may blog more about this at some point, just because it was pretty intriguing (ever have your favorite band watch you as they are playing?)  But don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  It was an amazing experience.  Here is a video I took of “Red Song” at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, followed by a few select pictures of the New York shows:

I also managed to snag handwritten setlists off the stage two of the three nights.  Here are scans of the setlists:

So now, for the benefit of probably just myself and maybe Paul, here is some Hey Rosetta! setlist discussion:  on the first setlist shown, Bandages was skipped.  On the second shown (from my thrid concert, Manhattan) ‘Bandages’ and ‘Red Heart’ were swapped in position (as were the two songs where a swap is indicated, ‘Yer Spring’ and ‘Welcome’…and talk about a way to open a show!  “Lions For Scottie” into “Welcome”!)  Here are all three setlists for shows I went to this tour:

Asbury Park, NJ

1.  New Goodbye
2.  Yer Spring
3.  New Glass
4.  Bricks
5.  Another Pilot
6.  There’s an Arc
7.  Seeds
8.  Red Heart

Brooklyn, NY
(reconstructed via this photograph)

1.  New Goodbye
2.  Yer Spring
3.  New Glass
4.  Bricks
5.  Another Pilot
6.  There’s an Arc
7.  Welcome
8.  Red Song
9.  We Made a Pact
10.  Seeds
11.  Red Heart
12. A Thousand Suns*

*’Bandages’ is on the setlist in the 12 spot, but ‘A Thousand Suns’ was played.

Manhattan, NY

1.  Lions For Scottie
2.  Welcome
3.  Yer Spring
4.  New Glass
5.  Yer Fall
6.  There’s an Arc
7.  I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time
8.  Holy Shit
9.  New Sum
10.  Seeds
11.  New Goodbye

Encore:

1.  Bandages
2.  Red Heart

And now, for the record, the sum total of Hey Rosetta! songs I’ve seen, including the two acoustic shows I saw last year:

1.  Red Heart–5 times
2.  Bricks–4 times
3.  I’ve Been Asleep For a Long, Long Time–3 times
4.  Lions for Scottie–3 times
5.  Bandages–3 times
6.  New Goodbye–3 times
7.  Yer Spring–3 times
8.  New Glass–3 times
9.  There’s an Arc–3 times
10.  Seeds–3 times
11.  Seventeen–2 times
12.  Red Song–2 times
13.  We Made a Pact–2 times
14.  Another Pilot–2 times
15.  Welcome–2 times
16.  A Thousand Suns–1 time
17.  Yer Fall–1 time
18.  Holy Shit–1 time
19.  New Sum–1 time

Mom’s/ Sisters

So my mom now lives with my sister, which makes visiting everybody much easier!  It was quite nice to see everybody all at once!  In the same breath, however, I must admit it made me feel as though I did a poor job of paying ample attention to everyone.  When you are seeing a gaggle of loved ones all at once for the first time in a long time, it can be a strain to give equal time.  I think specifically of the nephews, who I love uncontrollably but whom I was not able to give the sort of attention they are accustomed to receiving from me.  When it came down to it, my mom and my sister were the center of my focus (not to mention the antics of Pumpkin Latte).  Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely time!  I guess I’m just feeling some guilt, cause those boys worked up a good amount of anticipation for my arrival and I almost certainly dissapointed.  That being said, the time with Momma and Sis was marvelous. LOTS of laughs, and a new momma/ son tradition: I claim her and I are going to do the Jumble together, and then I end up freaking out over how amazing she is at it, while I add absolutely nothing to the process (she really is amazing at the Jumble).  Also, I “T”d my sister, which always rules.  A brief but incredibly heartwarming time.  Some select pics:

Sister and Pumpkin Latte, as she was taking their picture

Sis, Me, Mom

New York

The New York trip is another thing I shall have to gloss over, or I’ll be writing this blog entry until next week.  I did what I typically do: I drive right into the city, pay a thousand dollars to park, and just walk around.  I usually have very little plan other than one or two fairly simple goals.  This trip’s goals: see sunrise from inside Central Park, and buy a New York Times from a newsstand and read the whole thing from inside a midtown Manhattan Starbucks during the morning commute hours.  I’m not sure why I wanted to do these things, but once the goals were in my mind, I could not seem to let them go.  I accomplished both, and although being in Central Park during sunrise was magical, it was not easy to get any great pictures of the event, due to the vast amount of:

a) Tall trees, and
b) skyscrapers

These things blocked the view of the actual sunrise rather effectively, but feeling the world come alive from within the park was quite joyous.  Here is the best picture I got of the sunrise:

I spent almost two hours in the Starbucks, enjoying my latte and an incredible issue of the NYT.  I suppose for a moment I felt as hip as I’ve always suspected I am.  It was a quality time.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around, taking pictures, eating, even napping briefly in the tranquil section of Central Park known as the Woodlands.  I also visited, for the first time, the Central Park Zoo, which was a lovely treat.  Here is some video I took of the Sea Lions being fed (and putting on a little show) followed by some pictures:

Sunset, Brooklyn

Me in Central Park

Some Things I Learned

1.  8 months is not long enough to forget how to get around (but it IS long enough to cause some occasional navigation confusion)

2.  When you are a single man in your 30s who moves away from everyone he knows and doesn’t visit home for 8 months, a surprising amount of people from all demographics will just straight-up ask you about your sex life.  This is fodder for an entire blog entry at some point that will be in the form of a “rant”.  FYI, nobody need worry about my sex life, mkay?

3.  You may think where you live is boring, but leave it for a little while and then come back; you may just find it’s really cool.

4.  There are really hot ladies everywhere.

5.  Don’t tell people you got fat.  You may think it will make your fatness less awkward, but it makes it moreso.

6.  Things change.  Buildings get knocked down, businesses change their name, streets get re-directed.  Accept these things as a natural course of existence. (reminds me of a Hey Rosetta! song:  “The schools that we went to have all been closed./ And all of my teachers are dead, I suppose.”)

7.  You can walk further than you think you can.

8.  If you move and your sports allegiances change a little bit, you can just kinda keep that to yourself on your first few visits home.

9.  As you leave places you have stayed for just a day or two, remember to gather all your various “chargers”.  We have a lot of chargers in this day and age.

10.  Family and friends really are the best things in the world, even if saying so sounds cheesy and cliche.  Fuck it, it’s true!

I Almost Forgot…

Today is my 8 year sobriety anniversary!  The original purpose of this vacation was for me to have off and see my loved ones leading up to the big day.  (I just have to complete my anniversary tradition of watching “Dark Days” on the anniversary itself)  So…yay me!  But also…yay you!  Thanks everybody for putting up with my horribleness when I was horrible, and then helping me live such a satisfying and fantastic life in my sobriety!  What a treat, to be able to celebrate the week leading up to it in the way I did.  And how neat is it that I almost forgot today was the day???  That must mean life is pretty good.  I love you, everybody!

The blog post where I mention everyone I know who already has an existing “tag” on my blog, so I can tag them again and insert a useful or ridiculous link to them.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by sethdellinger

1.  Oh hi, billhanna.  I see you ‘liked’ goatees on Facebook yesterday.  Our adversarial relationship about facial hair will continue to the grave.  THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

  2.  Anyone who knows Tasha, check out the link, she just got a radical new haircut!  I love it!

3.  I have quite few friends who are talented musicians—one of them is the great Bootney Lee (real name Ryan Straub).  I double-dare you to click on the link and check his music out.

4.  Guess who I’m going to see next month, as the three of us meet up in central New York for a Hey Rosetta! show???  Well that would be none other than my life-long buddies Paul and Davey!  (he’s Chris Davey, but we call him Davey).  This is going to be exceptional as it’s been a few years since we were together, all 3 of us.  And did I mention it’s a Hey Rosetta show???  I still haven’t seen them live–the shows I was supposed to go to awhile back had to be skipped because life is like that.  I am uber pumped for this!

5.  It has been way too long since I tagged my friend Amanda.  I mean that just like it sounds, too. 

6.  You know who rules?  My mom!  She just quit smoking!!! Raise the roof!

7.  I’m still tickled pink about the Doctor Strange drinking glass that Tony Magni gave me as a going away present when I moved to Erie.  Thanks Tony! 

8.  My friend Denise has a very under-appreciated photo blog.  Click to link to check it out!!!  She’s way talented!

9.  The lovely Sarah P. has just had a baby! Huzzah!  She doesn’t have any sort of online presence so I’ve linked to a picture of Big Ben, which is in England, which is where I met her!

10.  My dad is one cool mofo.  What’s my evidence?  Every single day I become more and more like him, and I am most definitely one cool mofo.  Dad, we are some cool dudes!

11.  I tag Ron all  the damn time, I aint saying anything about him!

12.  Big days for my buddy Burke, who has just started going back to school while also remaining a steadfast David Hasselhoff fan.  Kudos, wanker!

13.  I could probably talk about Mary all day, but I’m pretty sure she’d friend-disown me.  She dislikes scrutiny.

14.  My dear, dear friend Michael (that’s a lady named Michael) sent me the most lovely letter in the mail yesterday.  She sure is a freaking great friend!!  It was quite touching, it brought a tear to my eye.  Everyone should have a friend like Michael!

15.  California buddy Kyle is finally off the unemployment and working at a bank!!! Yay Kyle!  Now:  no more excuses for sneaking into movies, you heathen!

16.  My freaking cool-as-shit sister just got a job working at a law firm!  What what!  Dellingers can do anything!!!  Click the link to read her badass blog!

17.  Also in the world of talented musician friends of mine:  Duane, who records under the name DreamlandNoise.  Click the link for just a small sampling of his superb “space funk”.

18.  What to say about my girl Cory? She recently moved back to central PA, like, RIGHT after I left it.  *frown face*  She’s just the shiznit in every way, and is quite a talented artist.  I’ve linked to some of her art but you might not be able to see it if you’re not FB friends with her.  Which would be your loss.

Elliotsburg, Perry County, Pennsylvania

Posted in Memoir with tags , , , , on October 19, 2010 by sethdellinger

OK here’s where we’re going to start:

High above the ground, you see mostly green.  Textbook examples of rolling hills, spotty groves of trees, country-style roads that meander in ways which make no surface sense. The blue Appalachians rise, meekly, like the rolled blanket of a sleeping giant, in the periphery.  Amidst all the green, houses are almost invisible; they are rare, at any rate, in this farm country. Most of the land is divided into grand swaths meant for corn, cows, or waiting for corn or cows.  Outcroppings of non-farm dwellings are grouped into ‘towns’ of 6 or 7 houses, skirting pastureland.  As we descend from our perch in the sky, one such tiny outcroppings of houses comes clearer into view: Elliotsburg.  The town exists on one street, for about half a mile. The handful of dwellings are mostly white, about a hundred years old, and absolutely quaint.  From a hundred yards above the town, you can see that all the inhabitants are blessed with large back yards, usable front lawns, ample loose-stone driveways.  Everyone’s lawn is as green and lush as a newly opened golf course.  Sheds as big as barns, in shoddy, Termited disrepair, dot every-other back yard like fire hydrants in a drought city.

            Descend even further with me now, narrowing our view to this one particular house, whose address I forget, if ever I knew it.  We are looking at, from 50 yards above it, a one-story ranch house—white—with a large, almost one acre backyard.  At the rear of the yard sits a dilapidated barn, brown with age and water-logged.  An exuberant blue spruce dominates the smallish front lawn, and the slow rise of Appalachian foot hills can be seen just beyond the wooden fence which marks the back end of the house’s property.

            Now if we drop even further, you can see some details, which may or may not matter to you.  The red front door (never used; this is one of those ‘side door only’ houses), the wrought-iron hand-rails leading up the four side steps; the peeling paint everywhere, the lush lawn ravaged by dandelions upon close inspection.  Hover by the aluminum white side door as I open it for you.

            Inside, we see a house that is the picture of domestic normalcy.  The side door opens into a medium-sized kitchen, with a double sink, an eggshell dishwasher, bread on the counter.  The fridge is marked by homey magnets and drawings done by a very young child.  The patterned linoleum of the floor is straight out of Good Housekeeping.

            If we float on through the kitchen, we come to the living room, with it’s blue carpet, it’s entertainment center housing a modest-sized television, VCR, and one of the world’s best stereos.  Two not-cheap couches hug the walls, and a never-used recliner perches in an inconvenient corner—another American case of having more stuff than space.  The glass coffee table is unclassy and out-of-place, yet in it’s barbarism, it’s statement within the room is succinct.

            Turning at a right angle, almost going back into the kitchen, we run into two bedrooms.  The master bedroom sports a large, almost luxury bed, a quality, almost-antique highboy (which I would later personally burn on a pile of trash), a small television, a bureau with an oversized mirrors. The only thing interesting to ever happen in this room, methinks, are things I was never privy to.

            The other bedroom—considerably smaller—seems unoccupied.  Blankets lay heaped in a corner, an open package of disposable diapers sits in the center of the room.  It is unfurnished and smells like baby wipes and tobacco.

            One thing that has been very noticeable and out-of-place to you since we entered the building is that a rock band is distinctly playing in the basement of the house.  Not a CD of a rock band, but a real, live one.  On the upper floor here, it is difficult to discern what exactly they are playing, or if they are any good, but the true concussive feeling of actual drums being pounded and a real man singing into a microphone is unmistakable.  We turn from the bedrooms and float back through the kitchen, almost back out the side door, but we stop just before leaving, making a left turn, and we are facing a brown, varnished wooden door.  I will open it for you.

            The rock music now blares into our faces, the fullness of it’s sound raising our blood pressure.  Float with me, will you, down these rickety, wooden basement stairs?

            The basement is dark.  It runs the length of the house but is lit by only one small, practically useless lamp in a faraway corner as well as Christmas lights which are strung up the whole way around the room, all year round.  Tapestries line the walls, as well as occasional egg-crate mattresses, for sound-proofing.  Music equipment takes up the entire center of the room: multiple amps, guitars and guitar stands, a keyboard, a drum kit as well as piecemeal percussion instruments, mic stands, a small mixing board, pedals galore, and stuff I never understood.  Mixed in with these musical items are small ‘artsy’ artifacts, like a lava lamp, a Buddha bust, incense holders.  The basement, now like always, smells distinctly of damp must and incense.

            Four men are playing rock music—not typical rock music, but a dim, almost evil rock music, that meanders frequently from the pre-written songs into extended, intense jams which often sound like a slow ride into Hell.  They are talented men but destined for day jobs.

            Let us briefly turn away from the band, back toward the stairs we just came down.  You will see that, to the left of the stairs in a darkened corner sits an old ratty couch with an all-but-destroyed coffee table in front of it. Let us hover in closer to it.  Ah, yes, there I am.  I am sitting on the couch, smoking a cigarette and drinking gin-and-coke, watching the band with much interest.  My unshaved face looks like gold divots have been pasted haphazardly to it.  I have on that patterned gray flannel; it feels like I wore that for years.  I’m wearing my gray derby hat, too.  Backwards, like I usually did.  This basement is my bedroom, and this couch is my bed.   

            I’ve been living in this band’s practice quarters for quite some time now, as well as accompanying them to local bars, helping carry the equipment, sitting through bands I didn’t give a shit about to watch ‘my’ band play.  And even though watching them practice is, to me, what watching television is like to other people (there is no television or even radio in my basement bedroom), I still eagerly watch them as though a very special private performance were being put on for me.  Sleeping isn’t a problem; I can drink myself to sleep even if a band is playing in my bedroom.

            Oh my.  I remember this moment!  Look, the singer is taking a break to go call his girlfriend, but the band continues jamming.  They’re just in a nice, quiet little groove, the bass throbbing in slow-time, the guitar in a sort of fuzz repeat, the drummer noodling along with the bass line. 

            I had been waiting for months for an opportunity like this.  I wanted to show the band that I was a creative fellow.  See, during their jams, I often made up impromptu lyrics to them in my head which I felt were a bit better than anything the lead singer came up with. It wasn’t that I thought I could be the band’s singer, by any means, but simply a desire to be accepted as a fellow artist.

            Watch me get up from the couch and walk to the lead singer’s microphone.  I stand there for a few brief moments, taking in the music, trying to feel what it is ‘about’.  The three band members don’t notice that I’m standing there yet; the bass and guitar player have their eyes closed, and the drummer is hidden behind his drums.  Then I open my mouth, and in my regular speaking voice I say:

            “You see that tree over there?”  I pause for four measures of the music, then: “I’m gonna chop it down.”

            A quick glance around will reveal that the bass player’s eyes are still closed, but the guitar player is looking at me with a sincere look of disgust.  I walk away from the mic stand slowly, nonchalantly, as though it had just been a minor lark.  But I don’t return to the couch, I walk up the stairs, outside, to walk around the countryside a bit.  I had never been so embarrassed in all my life.

Erie Journal, 5/15

Posted in Erie Journal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2010 by sethdellinger

I know, I know, I can hear what you’re saying, fearless, intrepid readers:  how dare I give you such exhaustive detail of all the activity leading up to the move and then abandon you for DAYS as the event unfolds?  It must have been like the cruelest of television season-ending cliffhangers!  Well, eff you.  Life got in the way of blogging.

(I don’t know why the Erie Journals have a tone of distaste for you, the loyal reader.  I swear, I love you.  It’s just the tone these entries seem to want to take!)

Anyway, as usual, I’m gonna have to skim over some details because just too much has happened since I posted last.  You saw the picture entries of the move itself, and I would like to once again thank Burke, Paul, Liz and Michael for helping me move. Also, thanks go to Mom and Mary for helping me clean, Dad for letting me crash at his house at a very crucial and odd moment for me, Duane for his last minute computer help, and probably somebody else who helped and I’m forgetting and I’m sorry I’m forgetting you.  I truly do have some amazing friends and family!

Long story short, the move was difficult.  It essentially went off as I had planned—and believe it or not, I consider myself something of a good planner—but what I never considered during my planning was that there was very little time for me to sleep, recover, and be sane.  And despite that, I would have made it work if it hadn’t for some godawful reason taken Michael and I eight hours to drive back from Erie after unloading all my stuff into my new apartment.  It was like we drove into some sort of black hole/time warp/weird thing.  I just kept driving that U-Haul, pointing forward and pressing the gas, and it was like nothing was happening…

So anyway, that drive forced me to change my plans a tad, and instead of ending up here in Erie Thursday morning, I rolled in here around 10:30 Thursday night.  So yeah, the plan had to be altered.  Still.  I claim this as a triumph in my life, as I single-handedly planned all of it.  This is not an attempt to be egotistical here folks.  Those that have known me since my teen years will know this is just a monumental achievement!

I’ll tell you what was friggen strange was walking into this apartment in Erie Thursday night.  It was dark.  A thunderstorm had just passed through.  The world was chilly but not cold, and becalmed, and silent with a hint of breeze.  I’d just been here, in this apartment the day before, but that had been in blazing sunlight, with one of my best friends, doing heavy, sweaty work and grunting and counting to three and lifting.  So now I approach the front door for the first time ever in darkness, and I am all alone, and I am not going “home” that night, and it is quiet everywhere as my brand new key jingles in the lock and I open the unfamiliar door and the room is pitch black and all I can smell is fresh paint and the afterscent of rain and I get lucky guessing where the light switch is and the overhead light pops on and there in the midst of all this unfamiliarity is, quite all of a sudden, the entirety of my belongings, sitting in a massive disarray, exactly how Michael and I had left them just a little over 24 hours before.

I know that may sound like a NOT great experience, but that is only because I’ve failed as a narrator.  Yes, it was surreal, and perhaps somber and disquieitng, but also rather thrilling, not like a roller coaster but my own personal fun house—my life as a hall of mirrors.  If, in 24 hours, one’s life can become so utterly different (and yet, so entirely the same), it makes you question just what it is that defines your life.  Oddly, during those first few moments inside the apartment door, it became clear to me that stuff does, in fact, play a role in my identity, but thankfully, just not a very large one. It was a relief to feel the sensation flush through me from head to toe that the truly important element in this equation was me, no matter which TV was sitting in the corner (though I loved the fact that it was my TV).

The first few minutes after entering the apartment were a flurry of activity, marked by one observation and two activities.  The observation was complete silence.  No television, no radio, not even any incoming text messages, and no neighbors making noise of any kind.  In such an unfamliar setting, I really did need something.  And so my first two activities were:  getting the TV hooked up to the DVD player (cable and internet wouldn’t come till the next day) and—actually the very first order of business—getting some blinds up on the two street-facing living room windows.  As I said, it was night time and the windows are facing the residential street and the only light I had to work with at this point was the bright overhead light, so I felt very, very exposed.  I had actually anticipated this and had even brought two cheapy Wal-Mart vinyl mini-blinds up with me right away.  I had never in my life put up a blind of any kind, so less than two minutes after entering the apartment, I was opening and attempting to figure out these blinds.  It is perhaps of note that the apartment is FULL of stuff, so I have very little room to work.  As a reminder, here was how Michael and I left the living room:

The day before, right before Michael and I left, I measured the windows in anticipation of the blinds, and stopped by Wal-Mart immediately before leaving for Erie that afternoon, to buy the blinds.  Well folks, turns out I’m not a champ at measuring.  Luckily, I over-measured, so the blinds I bought were too long by about two inches.  I did not see this as a problem.  Believe it or not, I have a toolbox, and in that toolbox is a saw.  So less than ten minutes after getting there, I’ve got these vinyl mini-blinds sitting on those white Gonella bread boxes you see in the picture above and I am sawing one inch off both sides.  (mind you, I am just sawing the bar across the top, not the actual blinds.  I’m  not a maniac!).  Amazingly, this worked like a charm and I very quickly had privacy, at least from the street side of the apartment (and only when in the living room).

After that it was the TV, and the couch, as my chair were all entirely buried underneath God-knows-what and I was definitely craving a sit-down.  As you can guess by looking at the pic of the living room above, getting the couch to in any reasonable way face a television would require some finagling.  But I managed it very quickly.  I had procured a few movies from the Redbox in Carlisle before leaving for Erie, and I quickly had the new DeNiro flick “Everybody’s Fine” playing, and I was laying on the couch, and I was just gonna watch a few minutes and then get up and start the long, arduous process of getting the apartment in order because after all, I didn’t really have to sleep at any reasonable time and obviously I had no plans in the near future and then…I was sound asleep.  I woke up at 10am the next morning feeling like a million very, very confused bucks.  And then the work began.

As this is a fairly long entry already, I’m going to end here for now so as to not tire you out, Fearless Reader.  Since everything I’m saying is in the past, it’s not really of the essence to tell it all now, so I’ll bring us up to the present day in an entry tomorrow.  Thanks for reading, shitbirds!

Erie Journal, 5/9

Posted in Erie Journal with tags , , , , on May 10, 2010 by sethdellinger

Odd feelings abound.  The apartment gets more and more sparse (and the boxes pile up).  I say more and more goodbyes to people, so many goodbyes I am sick of saying goodbye.  I drive down certain roads for the last time in a long time, realize there’s people I haven’t been able to see, restaurants I haven’t eaten at, hikes not yet taken.

And yet.  And yet things aren’t as sad as they should be.  Perhaps I’m growing cold in my old age.  Or perhaps it’s just that one can only feel these things fully, deeply, intensely so many times in their lives.  I’ve already moved away (when I moved to New Jersey in 2003), and lord knows I’ve moved from apartment to apartment plenty of times.  Perhaps as we go through events like this in life, we build up coping mechanisms for future times, to the point that even wrenching life events can begin to seem rote and ordinary.  My vote is still out on whether this is good or bad.

Or, it could just be the fashion in which this move has happened so far that prevents me from feeling any profound sadness.  It’s been somewhat rushed, filled with long workdays followed by an hour or two of packing.  Then, after only 3 days off work, I’ll be moving (Weds. the 12th).  If, in fact, any great sadness is to beset me, it probably hasn’t had any room to do so yet.

Regardless, this lack of sadness has got me feeling just as strange as actual sadness might make me feel—which is as nonsensical as it sounds.  Things will probably settle into some semblance of emotional correctness after I’m firmly anchored in Erie.

As far as the more practical concerns of the move go, the apartment is now about 85% packed.  Only my DVDs, toiletries and wall art remain, with a few odds and ends I can’t pack yet (like alarm clocks, lamps, trash bags).  BFF Mary has just left, after helping me clean my kitchen, which at this point really shouldn’t need any more work.  Mom is coming over tomorrow (well, technically today at this point) and she is going to help me further, though at this point I’m not sure what we’ll do.  I hate to say it but we might have to clean my bathroom!  Then Tuesday afternoon/evening I’ll be loading up a U-Haul (I have yet to assemble my team of helpers, though…maybe YOU would like to help?), and then Wednesday morning other BFF Michael and I will be actually driving the U-Haul to Erie and unloading it.  We will also be driving said U-haul back home that very day, as I’ll have some last-minute cleaning left to do at the apartment here in Carlisle.  I’ll be sleeping at Dad’s house Wednesday night, cleaning the apartment Thursday and then driving to Erie Thursday and then…um…staying there!  That is the grand plan, at any rate, though I am always open to plans changing.  I am quite flexible.  Not physically, of course, but emotionally I am like a freakin’ gymnast!

Erie Journal, 4/25

Posted in Erie Journal with tags , , , on April 26, 2010 by sethdellinger

Spending, perhaps, the last few hours on this couch in this apartment with my BFF Mary.  Oh, the great times we’ve had in this living room!  Am sad for maybe the first time.  Though I won’t miss her making me watch “Medium” and Cartoon Network.  It’s dawning on me that someday soon, this will actually be someone else’s apartment.  That’s effed up.

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