Posts Tagged ‘Clyde’

How My Family Makes The News


01 Nov

shoelacebooks2

How About Shoelacebooks?

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Date: Mon Nov 1, 1999 12:40:17 PM

...and I don't know how to shake either of their trees for fruit.

I LOVE your natural ability to use analogies. What happened to my natural ability? I've had to struggle at everything I attempted to do. Not complaining, just "statin' the facts" as I see 'em.

But back to your site. You would need a domain name, or at least I'd recommend it. Have you hit on anything you like yet?

I plan to use a company name of: The Scholar's Press. What do you think about that? But as for a domain name, nothing yet. I have used the word "obviously" 3 previous times in this one post. When Steven tells me that something is "obvious", it always sounds SO VERY "smartie pants". I must find another word to use! Now, on to the family news....

Charlie appeared at my house Saturday. He will be moving in with Daddy in the apt. on Clyde and Meri's property in around 7-8 weeks. With Mother moving to Chicago, Dad will move in the apt. and Clyde will be renting his house on Lenora Church Rd to Joel, who works for him. He is selling his Mossey Creek house.

Later dude,

Laurie

Postscript On Skills, Puppy Mills, And Petitioning For Redress of Grievances


17 May

collage

He's Got Skills

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We had decided to launch a web design business. I had shown initiative and a certain level of flair as a designer in these early days of low bandwidth and high expectations. I needed a sales force. The always debonair Steve Taylor was indeed a force of nature, but the looming question was would he find this business partnership something he would take seriously enough to apply some of those "looking good selling ice to Eskimo" skills.

My own brother Clyde, a home and commercial roofing magnate in Atlanta, after six months of prepping me to run a new satellite office he wanted to open in the DC area, went silent, just a few weeks before, and I had sensed something was fishy, and that this "opportunity" was not going to happen for me. Clyde finally answered his phone that morning, and acted as if nothing was supposed to be going on between us although just a few weeks before this was to be a life-changing transition for both of us. Finally, I pressed, only to hear him say to me, wryly, without apology or irony, that he had just bought a boat. Yep, I knew it. Clyde is the type of person who obsesses and is always churning over the details of a new financial strategy, and was doing just that for months on end with me until the tell-tale silence two to three weeks before.

Steve, my closest friend at the time, was also given to similar mystifying behavior. I knew Clyde's to be pure selfishness, down to the last atom in a Heisenberg count like any achievement oriented American businessman because that's what it takes in today's guttersnipe environment. Mr. Taylor however, was apt to opt for degenerative spiraling for what seemed it's own sake, a nasty habit I knew salted my own basket of fries from time to time.

That background bring us to this rather muted exchange between Steve and myself, though the poison of past experiences was bubbling just below the surface tension of events real and imagined, traded calmly via email on Saturday, 17 May 1997.

GT: I know we can do this web design thing with great rewards, but there are things to work out and follow through upon. With the three of us wanting the same thing at the same time, the world doesn't stand a chance denying us. I am ready. BUT IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? (Moody Blues 1971), So your early morning enthusiam about getting together early this afternoon is already waning?

What usually happens is that I’m making a joke from frustration in trying to reach you, a joke you would probably volley in infinite jest if we were face to face or even voice connected, but be assured I’m frightfully aware the problem is mine, and that I need to improve my voice machine skills to a more Stevelike level since I do tend to puzzle you, or rather grizzle you with my sour messages from time to time.
[TaylorS] If I mentioned getting together early this afternoon, that was at a point when I thought that the Help Desk would pull me off Saturday coverage (a previous, months-ago commitment.) As is, I was required to work until at least 5pm today as you hint about games in the park, and suggest we can't brainstorm if I drink.

GT: Whoa! That would be a first. SET dropping by to pow wow without drinking.

[TaylorS]—Point withdrawn.

GT: But I've been needy all afternoon thinking it would be great to have a confidence builder named Steve Taylor in my orbit, but as typical, I seem to be on my own with every personal tragedy always in some queue, while others seek out me as a close ear over and over again. Perhaps you feel I let you down the other day, but I didn't.

[TaylorS]—I don't feel let down. Your work helped solidify a reputation I was already building with a reputable media contact. Maximum respect to you. Every thing you do at Howrey or wherever is your own autonomous call, but not every thing you do is self-edifying, gratifying maybe, edifying no, and that's all I tried to point out.

GT: Sue just called, and rushed in with consoling voice to comfort me in what she knew was an agonizing afternoon after that Clyde bomb. Very sweet of her. She was there this morning. She heard my side of the conversation and she knows Clyde first hand and why I had to finally tell him what I told him.

[TaylorS]—To hell with Clyde.

GT: But I understand, Steve. If you don't want to come by, simply don't. You know, I'm too cynical to beg. Do drop by when you feel it convenient. Blah, blah, blah.

[TaylorS]—My main concern with stopping by is bike time. I would rather not put my [currently] less self in the line of traffic fire for too long.

We all have to eat and blow great wads of money in places we think make us feel manifest, moxy, and maximized carbon-based lifeforms, but I am simply saying, let’s get serious, or else just simply quit this shadowboxing shit. It’s wearing me out, and going nowhere fast, uh slow? And now that the Clyde and Ricky show is floating belly-up, I’m feeling a little, no, a lotta sick inside.
GT: Okay I got that garbage out of the way. Uh, where does that leave me? Oh yeah, standing smack dab in the middle of your maybe. Bottom line? I think we can discuss formulative details if you leave you own neuroses at the back door, and I leave mine there too, and we talk real talk and real turkey without bombast.

[TaylorS]—That could happen.

GT: This Clyde thing is synchronistic fatalism at its most timely. Let us learn from that fiasco, and invent ourselves properly. And another thing. Answering machines (despising my own voice) somewhat intimidate me, as does writing e-mail seems to intimidate not a few others. I know I come off rather sarcastic at times on the box, but I don't really mean to sound that way, nor do I wish to impugn your work habits, especially at the jobplace. What usually happens is that I'm making a joke from frustration in trying to reach you, a joke you would probably volley in infinite jest if we were face to face or even voice connected, but be assured I'm frightfully aware the problem is mine, and that I need to improve my voice machine skills to a more Stevelike level since I do tend to puzzle you, or rather grizzle you with my sour messages from time to time. I apologize for any and all.

[TaylorS]—Thanks for clearing that up. understood.

GT: Okay you just called and it seems we are on for this afternoon. Great! Let's make it mean something. With all this defeat in the air, I feel like shit, real nasty run down my leg and up again shit...

[TaylorS]—We're on.

GT: And I also realize I grow a little short and disrepectful of you at times, and really don't want to continue down that path, but indeed you should start measuring up at the plate, and I think all will be just dandy between. Let it be said you and I are not my brother's brother...

[TaylorS]—Hey, I've certainly started to scorn youthful hubris in early-twenty-somethings, so I can see from where you are coming.

Earlier, this is what I posted to Sue:

What was not mentioned in that note to Peter was, no, I am not expecting SET to stop everything to focus on OUR project. We all have to eat and blow great wads of money in places we think make us feel manifest, moxy, and maximized carbon-based lifeforms, but I am simply saying, let's get serious, or else just simply quit this shadowboxing shit. It's wearing me out, and going nowhere fast, uh slow? And now that the Clyde and Ricky show is floating belly-up, I'm feeling a little, no, a lotta sick inside.

Back In The Seaddle, Home On The Range


27 Dec

basquiat

Basquiat's Year of Clyde's Magazine

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Date: Wed Dec 27, 1995 11:58:05 AM

Space, just got back into DC ourselves after a quick whirl of that peachie keen homestate of Georgia. I was knocked out and loaded after 48 hours of no sleep when I arrived which, of course, immediately led to fights with Sue & my Mother the first hour. Another 12 hours and I was nearly falling down punch drunk (the metaphor, not the liquid) but still staggering around as everybody did the Christmas thing two days early, and all I wanted was a place to crash. Spent some quality time with sister & her family. Her husband's a merchant marine. Oh yeah, you might recall that from my descriptions during last summer's tragedy. Clyde finally has that damned magazine job which lasted three dog nights and nine lives of a cat, and I still don't think it'll ever go to press in its current form because he still thinks he can swashbuckle into a printer and bypass the service bureau niche (of course saving him bucks!) Not a chance, but he has never gained sight of the four-color process and the technology shifts going on in the fieeeeeeld. After I thumbed thru the job with him, we hardly spoke again that trip, although he seemed genuinely thrilled with the layout. Glad that mess is behind me....

Hardworking breadwinner comes home from the office night after night, plops down in front of the television set, and pops open a beer (or pours self a series of wine anesthesizers), and is pretty much dozing cold to any touch or conversation the frustrated homemaker tries to initiate. Years later trouble brews.
Meanwhile, glad to be back home, and web-constructing, ah, my newfound firstlove. Sue and I are walking on eggshells, or rather, she is. I've threatened to leave her if I can't wake her up from her sexual slumber (empty ornery threats). My desires run manifest, but I have sublimated them far too long I say to myself, and figure the time is at hand to force a change. She says she realizes her lack of vitality, and wants to meet me in the garden of bliss, but I can tell this is going to be a long haul. Marriage sucks in this department. Otherwise I'm all for partnerships in rhyme, crime, and drinks with a splash of lime. But the sex broke down for us ages ago. I know I'm no great looker, hardly a provider right now, and nobody worth their salt & saliva will sympathize with me when I try to shift some of that blame onto the beautiful hardworking lady of the house, but isn't there a stereotype that fits in here? Hardworking breadwinner comes home from the office night after night, plops down in front of the television set, and pops open a beer (or pours self a series of wine anesthesizers), and is pretty much dozing cold to any touch or conversation the frustrated homemaker tries to initiate. Years later trouble brews. That's the Sue & Gabriel story, roles reversed, although she's always been a good listener, simply not much of a bed warmer.

His mom and pop married AND divorced each other THREE times, after growing up in the same household as step-brother and sister, my grandpa being ten years the senior of my granny. Eeeek! Just want you to know with whom you've been swapping goofs at baseball games & the Internet, dude.
Oh well, don't mean to whine on your virtual shoulder, but I figured I should clear the air somewhat after those few cryptic remarks I made a couple of weeks ago I guess it's been since we last mailed. Glad you had a pleasant holiday. Mine wasn't all bad. Spent some quality time with another brother in Dalton, just a few miles south of Chattanooga in the Tennessee ridge. He finally seems to have found a hole in the world where he can function more or less obedient to his crazy-eyed whims, a fearless mountainman, hours away from the dark shadows of family competition. The next trial for him will be when he gets his driver's license back. He's already spent over eighteen months in the slammer in two different stints on DUI charges. Chaz is a decent guy, actually very decent, but he's a small guy (5'4" 135 lbs.) wrestling with the dual giants of massive ego and low self-esteem fueled by family resentment and fantasy-driven psychosis. But he seems well-placed right now, and I'm happy for him.

Aside from Clyde (the successful business tycoon) & Laurie Ann (the most well-adjusted sibling among us) however, the rest of us seem to be in a state of perpetual psychological erosion. It's an inherited trait from my mother's side, although one would be hard pressed to deny that my dad's farmbilly background ain't fraught with a special kind of weirdness as well. His mom and pop married AND divorced each other THREE times, after growing up in the same household as step-brother and sister, my grandpa being ten years the senior of my granny. Eeeek! Just want you to know with whom you've been swapping goofs at baseball games & the Internet, dude.

Anywaze, lemme go. Gotta brush my teeth or something.

Fats,

"...free from the Clyde-induced depression of Ninety-five! But swiftly working on a mutated variety, to date unnamed."

Day In Life Of United States Army Recruiter From Corpus Christi


22 Apr

apply

Need Not Apply

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George—you mentioned something over the telephone the other day. You asked me if I have given up drugs. I said yes save my ration of beer, but I was intrigued by your question because I have never belonged to the drug scene in any big way. Especially back when you knew me. I suppose I had smoked some marijuana a dozen or so times by the age 25, but no stretchmarks of the imagination could correctly identify me as a pothead or whatever. I'm much too neurotic, weighted with a healthy fear of the judiciary, of incarceration, of wasted funds coughed up on fines and payoffs to attorneys to chance crossing that line of something illegal on anything close to a regular basis.

Except to someone with a theologically-induced fear of witchcraft like yourself, someone who seems to associate marijuana with demon spirits, of course one illegal or even legal hit is one too many, and I understand but can hardly respect your position. Anti-drug? Yes. Witchcraft, hardly. Peyote and other strange concoctions that are used in primitive rituals, and I've never been near, might crash that category but I simply think your imagination is feeding you the wrong numbers. All manipulation of human change by chemistry should be reconsidered in terms of risk to self, not shifting false alarms put out there in the ether to scare and control. Chemicals are chemicals. The human body is full of them. Yet considering the brevity of our conversation, I was particularly struck by your query as it was the only thing you asked of me.

I remember this exchange very clearly, as it was typical of my inability to relate to you what I assumed you already knew, thinking we were in agreement, and I was merely clarifying, only to have you disagree with me. Another topic we discussed that same day was that of the voice of God as it exists in his chosen vessel.
Being a drinker yourself, you were still reluctant to classify beer a drug, forgiving me that taste, but I do believe most clinical specialists giving speeches on the circuit today would disagree with you. I know my mother would. Apparently the drug issue was something that had been a stumbling block in your initial and ensuing characterization of me, the long hair, lack of occupational focus, inability to merge study of God with normal contemporary responsibility, et al. I really don’t know how to take away those preconceptions from you. Not my task I suppose.

I do recall a minor discussion we had on the subject in a construction trailer on one of Tommy White's jobs. You were quoting or pointing out scripture associating drugs with witchcraft and demonology and I recall suggesting that from all that I was aware of drugs, it seemed that folks likened it to a closeness with God, and I subsumed in fairness to my inexperience with either God or drugs that the drug experience was indeed a counterfeit likeness of the indwelling of the spirit. You quickly disagreed. I think you may have thought I was rationalizing drug use rather than intellectualizing what we had actually been discussing, that is, the nature of the spirit of God in close contact with his chosen vessel. I remember this exchange very clearly, as it was typical of my inability to relate to you what I assumed you already knew, thinking we were in agreement, and I was merely clarifying, only to have you disagree with me. Another topic we discussed that same day was that of the voice of God as it exists in his chosen vessel. I stated that I tended to change my active voice or approach to different people, according to natural impulses, rather than stick to any formula of self-aware oratory. You said that was okay as long as it did not shrink down into hypocrisy. Oh the joy I felt hearing those words! We had agreed on something.

For all the children's sake, we can admit that some of this sounds crudely like fundamental psychology, but remember I was discernibly unread at the time, and was coming to these conclusions on my own at the time, and besides we were talking of Christ's own approaches to life's succés d'estime, not secular, as I was then and am now still foraging for clues conferring the difference. Even now I would love to expand these themes to include current thoughts but will not for the sake of your health. If we are able to strike a chord in each other over the course of a few exchanges, then perhaps we may follow up on some of these things, but for now I am content to reminisce and allow you to detach from my youthful fancies.

Meanwhile I was telling you about the name change operation. After twenty months in Corpus I was ready to return to Georgia. My brother Clyde and I had both landed knee deep in barren financial soil; his roofing company was wobbling on its last legs. Desperate for a positive change of any sort we visited the army recruiter’s office. That desk sergeant confessed he had never seen the likes of us.

The Army thought they had us at boot camp. My brother missed qualifying by a mere five percentile points due to his dropout status, but the sergeant was still dogged by the fact that sitting on his desk that very morning were scores in the low twenties from strapping junior college and high school grads.
Sitting for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, I cut my usual 95 percentile; my brother, the eighth grade dropout roofing contractor scored a 45 percentile. The soldier was giddy with enigmatic enthusiasm (did he get paid on scale based on the scores of his recruits?). Never in fourteen years as a recruiter there in the Corpus Christi office had anyone cut as high as my overall 95, although I had expected nothing less, and hoped for better. I was quite surprized and even more amused at his obstreperous reactions. I'd always found it easy to score at that level of competence in nearly every formal aptitude test I had taken taken (not so the SAT's but mother says I was hungover) since being introduced to them in junior high. Somewhat higher in the physical and social sciences, and somewhat lower in verbal considerations, but overall I was a solid five percenter across the country among my age group.

Sometimes past achievement turned to near nothing comes back to taunt me, now that I have merged a tawdry apathetic tendency to tarry forever with a dedicated urge to transcend even those past primitive glories and to accept nothing less than the voice of God's Own Authority as my role among mortals. This stubborn pride haunts me like the flickering images of a fantastic dream, of beauty and swiftness, of potential and expansiveness, of the great healing writer I was to become, only to have become a farce and a wasteling.

The Army thought they had us at boot camp. My brother missed qualifying by a mere five percentile points due to his dropout status, but the sergeant was still dogged by the fact that sitting on his desk that very morning were scores in the low twenties from strapping junior college and high school grads. And sitting right there flesh to flesh in his office was a 25 year old junior highschool dropout who sailed right past that sorry bunch into respectability, hey, all he needed was a GED and he’d qualify to join the United States Army ranks in full favor and garland.

I however was more feisty and cunning. The army wasn't testing me so much as I was testing the army. After hearing all about what the military had to offer me and my close friend Jesus Christ, I was only interested in the intelligence corps for which my raw 95 score patently qualified me, contingent of course upon my acing one more test to be given qualified intelligence applicants in San Antonio a few weeks later. Working in army intelligence suited my vanity. A bus would take me to San Antonio for the test, all expenses paid, but first I had to complete my application form. This was February, 1982. Facing a battery of questions to be answered honestly and openly, I suddenly became a thorn in the Army’s side. I stumbled over a question. Or rather, the army had refused my answer.

"Have you ever engaged in a homosexual act?"

"Have you ever had sexual relations with someone of the same gender?"

Something like that.

Now George, you may or may not remember me telling you that three of my first five sexual experiences were homosexual in nature, beginning with my abuse at the age fourteen by a man in his forties. As such, I was not at liberty to answer the recruiter’s question according to his and the military code’s specific needs. Neither did I accuse anyone with molestation, not that I was happy to be used this way my men.

"But you only experimented once, can we say?" the recruiter pressed.

"No, I can not respond in that way, either, unless I’m to suggest that only the first time could by nature be experimental, and the other times therefore were ventures of cooperation to be forgotten for the purposes of this enlistment," I replied.

"Well, what do you say?"

"Just what I have said."

"Your application will be rejected. Can’t you lie, and say you just did it once?"

"No I can’t answer that way. Didn’t you just begin these questions with a statement requiring absolute truth? Can you listen to my answer and then write whatever answer you think will work?"

"No, I can’t do that."

Same routine with marijuana. My recruiter, after the first series of questions would say, "Okay, that's it. We're done. I'll get back to you." But I could hear that my brother with his recruiter, a couple of cubicles down, was slightly ahead of me in the process. They were onto the next set of questions. So I would ask, what about x-y-z, prompting my recruiter to say simply, "Oh yeah." He then reached down into his drawer,and pulled out another folder. Down another set of pages we would go. Clyde and his recruiter were zipping along, leading the way, and my recruiter seemed unprepared to stop me from listening into their Q&A. Same routine. "Okay, that's it. We're done. I'll get back to you." This happened about four times. Apparently, worldliness works in mysterious ways. Conspiring with a recruiter in a series of single word responses in the form of an untruth—namely, the word "no" is apparently the shortest, most direct line into the military, or so one might be led to presume. Finally, we were both finished. I was set to catch a bus to San Antonio to take another test to qualify for the Intelligence Corps after ruling out every other Army training post the recruiter had offered.

But I would not risk the lie and was steadfast in my refusal to rework my statement, and subsequently the army "lost" my high school diploma, my first marriage certificate, and whatever other vital papers I entrusted to them while I waited for bussing assignment to San Antonio to take that intelligence test.
So there it was. A day in the life of a United States Army recruiter from Corpus Christi, TX. The US Army and its dashing agents didn’t mind if I lied, lied, and lied again, because down the pike if anything contrary to regulations happened to surface, the enlistee could be charged with false statements to cover their own ass in addition to whatever else the army wanted to sling at you. But recruiters themselves would not circumvent official process and thus open themselves to liability for any misrepresentation of facts. Naîve, even that assessment. Of course any government is quite willing to lie, cheat, and steal if need be, assassinate even, for any project or personnel deemed important enough for the execution of certain drastic "real or imagined" national security measures. But I would not risk the lie and was steadfast in my refusal to rework my statement, and subsequently the army “lost” my high school diploma, my first marriage certificate, and whatever other vital papers I entrusted to them while I waited for bussing assignment to San Antonio to take that intelligence test. I tried to recovered my documents but only met with stonewalling and dispersions about the sincerity of my desire to be considered for enlistment in the United States Army, for God's sake, the Intelligence Corps.

In June, my brother, his family, and I packed off to Atlanta, and the army never signed either of us.

Another snippet of information you shared with me remains vivid. You said, and I forget the context of our chat, that the homosexual underworld has its own esoteric language, and operates from within that language. I believe you mentioned this at our last meeting, when I visited for a week up from Corpus. I seem to remember talking about Tolstoy and Bob Dylan also as we strolled along the jobsite, a future housing complex vacant of structural foundations, grading nearly finished and all underground utilities and paving intact. It was so easy, too easy, for you to point out subtle flaws in their christianity, hurrumph their personal foibles, and of the folly of seeking God outside of the examples catalogued in the bible, but for someone desperately seeking a path in contemporary society, to challenge heartlessly without germane critical analysis every icon brought to breath only served to threaten in my young mind the continuity expressed in the phrase, "Haven’t you heard it said, ‘I am the God of the living.'"

GT

Whatever's Left Of Rounthwaite Gnaws At This Map Of Houston


20 Apr

surveyors

You Said I Was Born To Be A Surveyor

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Thirteen years! In and of itself thirteen years even to my 38 year old mind does not seem like such a long time, but when I am reminded of the numerous changes I have spent on the road a whole lot louder than I was then, and now that some of your own changes have been plugged into the equation, I am smacked with emotion. After several eager dialings over the course of these years to metropolitan Houston directory assistance to confirm that you still maintained a telephone in the area, I finally found the courage to ring you up, facing whatever destiny our two paths had reckoned. Certainly delighted I did, reassured by your innate friendliness, although I must admit. I never expected news of a debilitating cerebral stroke nor the loss of your Christian wife to another man. Unsure of your own willingness to presently discuss with someone of my distance these two very personal issues, I will not press for details, but whatever strikes your fancy within your own comfort levels and timing.

Even as I hastily type out this preamble to what shall certainly evolve into a lengthy dispatch, because my own natural stimulus leaves no stone unturned, no ambiguity unanalyzed, no shadow unembraced, once I discover them hiding under a rock, a leaf, a building, a field of arguments no man has ever built and they came running, particularly after all these years of silence and personal migrations, reconfigurations, makeovers, retooling—I feel my language in this letter will never wholly match in faithfulness my spirit to explain those matters of choice which simply cannot be explained with tiring the reader. Some say I never get to the point. As an old journeyman land surveyor I celebrate the line—the line made of up infinite points, intersecting points, points of curvature, end points, beginning points, random points, topological points, non-existent points, hidden points, blocked points, coordinate points, and error, accumulative error. I take advantage of this knowledge.

Beyond outward appearances, inward cesspools, or the algebra of faith, it is easy to admit that my flesh has never been able to trigger its own comfortable purposes; my pawning gnawing spirit—yearning forcefully toward some sort of systematic success never quite available however carefully transcribed to me in secret languages beyond the scope of others, even my devoted wife’s stunted curiosity—still rages against my body proving an easily recognizable quantum that the body has spent a lifetime stifling the spirit and the spirit a lifetime of trying to void the body.

That is to say, the cult of love, as it instructs and subsequently withers (or puddles) the individual psyche into parasitic perversions symptomatic of or fluid to a basic yet unraveling (diluted) meaning of life, is the story of the self-replicating worm colony feeding upon the cold marbleizing carcass representing the association between love and death gone untold. Mostly.
But this isn’t news in any language. Thousands of years and millions of minds have conspired to convert the eternal rites of passage into a mere truism dried of all meaning. My life I’m afraid has been a testament to the inflexible conflict between passion and indifference, the conflict of the lion and the lamb residing within the same skeletal savannah, of the need to know versus the need to forgive and forget, escaping numbers only to falter along ruinous paths maximizing the storms of an irregular personality marking the forehead with faith while resisting the queues of metaphorical Babylonia which seem to know only what molten men of the hour can teach and respect solely on a statistical curve.

Trajectory failure, one chapter at a time, as only a man of unquenchable thirst can survive is not only an interesting sentence, it does not erect imaginary fences either. The apparent loss of God the Waterbearer is rank speculation and dog tired dogma, the two strong vices which still snarl my flesh, and its façade like immeasurable strands of thread wrapped around a burning man, yet they still engage and tempt me into feeling justified in rejecting what’s leftover of love's devices, the word itself having degenerated into merely another cultural pathos. That is to say, the cult of love, as it instructs and subsequently withers (or puddles) the individual psyche into parasitic perversions symptomatic of or fluid to a basic yet unraveling (diluted) meaning of life, is the story of the self-replicating worm colony feeding upon the cold marbleizing carcass representing the association between love and death gone untold. Mostly.

Leaving on March 11, 1979, the day after my brother’s wedding, I set out to explore the nature of God, myself, and the way, only a few days after you baptized me at my request in that sad moonlit apartment pool in the southwest sector of the city in which we were then living.
These past weeks since hearing your proud cheerful voice exactly as I remember it have been pocked with recurrent memories of our regular theological exchanges. For sixteen years that voice and those words have echoed through my mental and spiritual chambers. It is no exaggeration to say that probably not a month has passed in all those many that you, your family, and the boast of our fellowship did not enter my social milieu like rainclouds over parched clay both to inspire and to challenge my efforts to attain God’s Tender Will. Indeed you have exerted a major influence over my life. I have dozens, perhaps tens of dozens of times, employed the title—My First Post-Parental Mentor—when referring to you in recollection among contemporaries. This admission is not meant to flatter or embarrass you, merely state a relationship.

While appropriate honor is certainly intended, I mention this only to emphasize your timely importance in my life. I was a fledgling 23 in the Texan autumn of 1978, still perky from the jarring experience of marrying and separating from a Jehovah Witness twice my age heavy with three kids, when we first surveyed together under the tricky financial wings of lovable diamond-mouthed Larry Godfrey, two extraordinary surveyors charged with the task of laying out the figure eight track at the City of Houston Police Academy and other site preparation tasks at the airport next property line over.

I lived and worked in Houston precisely three days plus one year. I gave away most of my possessions. Everything in my apartment in fact, save my books, music, and the short change of clothes I could fit into my car. Leaving on March 11, 1979, the day after my brother’s wedding, I set out to explore the nature of God, myself, and the way, only a few days after you baptized me at my request in that sad moonlit apartment pool in the southwest sector of the city in which we were then living—a wide open city still growing by a thousand people a week, a high stakes city still burbling in a the last big Texas oil boom, a sprawling segregated city that claimed to be the nation's fifth largest at that time, a wildcat city of mighty skyscrapers, whipping freeways and mile after mile, neighborhood after neighborhood of busy, treeless parallel and perpendicular lines paved in spectacular unwavering concrete grids, nostalgic signage, barrios, gringos pushing & shoving a 40/40 population wheelhouse, a city which I would only return once more after I left this time in my Blue Devil 305.

Regrettably, little has changed in that regard even now. Studies among the exegeses of Tolstoy, Schweitzer, Pascal, St. Augustine, Van Gogh, Cayce, Goethe, Tillich, Gibran, Pascal, Rousseau, Paine, Durant, and other biblical and ethical commentators filled my head with all too many strange transfixing questions and all too few answers, presaging an addiction to the printed word which still haunts me.
Within three months of packing myself into my car I landed a job as a caretaker on a chicken farm in Nassau County, Florida, just north of Jacksonville. Forty thousand fluttering birds my equal needed to be fed, quenched, and culled, water and feed troughs cleaned, manure and fresh wood chips shoveled, dead birds buried. This period proved to be a sharp lesson in the intentional devaluation of the self. Farming a half acre assortment of vegetables and fruits, I ate sparingly, becoming emaciatingly thin on a diet of little meat, mainly an occasional roasted fowl or catfish caught in the lagoon off Lofton Creek at the back of the cabin where I lived alone and satisfied that I walked with a living savior. Those days were delightful, pure, serene, purposeful, quixotic, flowing, and the night air was lucid for bookworming and practicing in earnest what I had hoped would one day manage to keep me in cottage and applied theory—the writing craft.

Bare minimums were code. A secluded sandbottomed lagoon wrestling with beauty offered itself for skinny dipping and the daily summer bath. Loneliness was sometimes a factor at Lofton Creek, alone as I was, caring for the unflappable birds and tending the fields of manure-fertile raw vegetable goodness I planted. Youthful polarity provided the future with great purpose as I craved to learn the ways of the intellectual, the saint, the poet, the madman whom the world, Jew or Gentile, could not force its indistinguishable patterns onto without the consent of the governed, daring to transcend each and every stone cast upon the pond, walking the walk, talking the talk, bending and bowing to the rays of the constant light within. Ah, such is the reverie of an uncouth youth seeking to belong to himself.

Landlord and his wife, the Earl Wilson's, who lived in their National Register Tabby home ten miles away in town, would occasionally bring out a mess of rockshrimp and a feast of the few would be promptly called. Fellowship, tangency, and the delicate prospering of a solitary man’s vital era ranked among the finest times I have ever achieved and was common to each visit and each conversation we shared, a genteel but unaffected mutual regard very much like our own. Earl Wilson, who later passed away of a heart attack at the tragic age of 55, had in truth and in spirit, become my second personal mentor. The second elder in whom I would be able to listen to or confide in without some sort of spiritual grudge match fostering my intelligence. Of course this is aside from what I would continue to scan heavily from books and other media accounts. My fifteen months at Lofton Creek were a gentle canvas of leisure, painted with a measuring schtick spoiled only by a natural intolerance to any perceived decline or stagnation. Was I not being groomed by the All-Purposeful Lord for great things, greater things than this? Like Elisha, I wanted more.

Soon enough though, an unchecked overwhelming sense of urgency pervaded my serenity. I spent afternoon and evening reading book after book checked out from the library in the town from which I had graduated highschool, six years earlier, the town where the landlord and his wife lived. The urgency of succeeding somewhere somehow sometime soon in a way that matched what I believed where my strong points, kept me at odds with the seclusion of my near perfect pastoral lifestyle. Regrettably, little has changed in that regard even now. Studies among the exegeses of Tolstoy, Schweitzer, Pascal, St. Augustine, Van Gogh, Cayce, Goethe, Tillich, Gibran, Pascal, Rousseau, Paine, Durant, and other biblical and ethical commentators filled my head with all too many strange transfixing questions and all too few answers, presaging an addiction to the printed word which still haunts me.

In short, I feel I am a healthy neurotic, now as I was as a child, a struggling, inept, argumentative teenager, a terrible twentysomething, and so now as a twisting thirtysomething, a solitary seeker of unbiased unprotracted truth and justice of what's happening, righteousness and compassion among those I intersect, guided not by my own sense of self-worth but by a hovering sense of duty, not quite positive everything I effect is going to put a smile on God’s face, but secure in the knowledge that without that healthy dose of doubt, purpose would then be defined as beginning and ending with myself, an absurdly brutal concept to which I’ve never long subscribed.
As a precocious child I devoured books with the vigor other kids ran through mud puddles and sticker bushes, and after surging past the glib yet stagnant years brought on by my earlier experience with a much more constrained thinking—thanks to that sorry excuse of a first marriage, but when I knew you for that year, I had already walked away from all that history, grown past the years of stain in a sense.

I'm not what one might call a naturally happy person, George; not terribly unhappy, but not particularly happy, not in the same way that I would describe you&$151;you George Rounthwaite—that wonderful impish but manly grin, a grin I could hear and could almost see over the telephone that morning you returned my call, a grin that is shaped by the ever resourceful spirit which lives within you. And yet in defense of my own robust spirit, I can never concede that I am unduly deprived of God’s intent in when weathering whatever shades of depression and simple joy I experience. I accept my local joys and those spells of dark seclusion which work to direct my life in ways most citizens, believers and pagan alike, in our culture find less than ambitious to say the least, and dare assert I, speak more to their own faulty judgment than to my own sense of frailty.

In short, I feel I am a healthy neurotic, now as I was as a child, a struggling, inept, argumentative teenager, a terrible twentysomething, and so now as a twisting thirtysomething, a solitary seeker of unbiased unprotracted truth and justice of what's happening, righteousness and compassion among those I intersect, guided not by my own sense of self-worth but by a hovering sense of duty, not quite positive everything I effect is going to put a smile on God’s face, but secure in the knowledge that without that healthy dose of doubt, purpose would then be defined as beginning and ending with myself, an absurdly brutal concept to which I’ve never long subscribed.

Why then all the straining psychobabble first before I begin detailing the struggles, the contours of my individual path? Because unappended details unfortunately are easily cut and quartered into categories of right and wrong out of context without supportive evidence. Because I have no wish to parade facts in front of someone who historically may not approve. And because I am neither here on this earth nor this page to shame anyone who is genuinely unprepared to understand the ways I feel called to manifest—that God in his own good sense may fulfill all the promises to those who have prayed for understanding and ultimate peace according to His previous messengers.

Giving way to nothingness, and following conscience, what could be more feckless and puerile for a "transit & hub" man walking away from a thriving dialed up world where the dollar is king...
Like a grapecoloured sky’s lively first pelt onto a rolling semi’s sideview mirror as load and driver barrel down the highway, I intend to reflect off these words into the surgical eye of the quick and the dead extending the free trade of ideas among other fine washables of life as keen as my powers allow. I am here to push further the envelope of comprehension, emphasize the degrees of perfection and sample the varieties of fruitbearing trees rooted in the heart of this age.

Selling the car was a major decision I actually made rather easily once I decided it was time, that my reasoning was solid. Mr. Rounthwaite, I loved that car, it was my pride. Therefore it had to go. Remember when we drove up to Tulsa from Houston to visit Oral Roberts University a few years earlier? Blew a flat as we were pulling into campus. Act of God, you said. I eventually left the serenity of Lofton Creek and Florida in September, 1980, for hurricane-tattered Corpus Christi to help my brother Clyde—at his request—bolster his fledgling roofing company, and return me to respectability from slacker life I suppose he and his wife might have discussed. My Blue Devil 305 ride rolled on tiger-grip Hercules Honcho tires, Gabriel shocks. Gabriel riser shocks to tell the truth. Took pride in it. Put 96K miles of artery on odometer in thirty-six months that I owned it. Had but five when I picked it off the lot.

It still frequently pops into my dreamlife now, some fourteen years after I sold it to a Jacksonville dealer for next to peanuts. In my dream it’s invariably parked in a public lot somewhere when I discover it, and usually in the perfect shiny blue state it was in when I sold it. But I do recall a recent dream when in route to nowhere in particular I casually stumble upon a burned out shell of blackened steel and crisp memories, and I knew it was my old car, ready for the resurrection and a pure nature. In this dreamlife, I always manage to steal it back successfully, without incident, and drive off into the sunset, so to speak, with no remorse, no concern for its current owner, simply radiant that my inner self has renewed the fecund energy this dazzling dance of road machine represents to my subconscious mind. Obviosuly this dreaming of one’s earliest prized and therefore most pleasureable possessions is not rare. Yet no other figurative symbols of my life except maybe the house I grew up in from the age of six to thirteen recur as often as does that car.

But I had become uncomfortable with financial success at the expense of others even to the point of resisting due payment for my own labors. My common refrain for a period was, “Just pay me what you think it is worth.” Obviously I was opening myself to exploitation, for I was never the slacker, but I could not excuse myself in this war of wages. Finally, after a decade of fighting a losing battle against my own nature to appease the temperament of business, its capitalistic pressures urging my own strong will to succeed (paralleling family and peer considerations)—only recently has it became crystal clear to me that I simply have not been called to embrace the American business routine.
Abandoned to a state of self-denial and chicken farmer ethics however, I felt compelled to junk it off to a dealer as contraband, a shiny nuts and bolts conspiracy illuminating my spiritual depravity, just as I had given away most of my household possessions except for my books and albums, including my finer threads and shoes, when I had left Houston. Giving way to nothingness, and following conscience, what could be more feckless and puerile for a "transit & hub" man walking away from a thriving dialed up world where the dollar is king...

Turning away desirable girlfriends, worldly possessions, and normal occupational ambitions came unnaturally easy to me, but in the spirit of diminishing returns, I carefully worked to steer as best I could from perverting the paradox of faith along the lines of what one might call humble arrogance back over to its converse form—arrogant humility—a decidedly common open trench planted with razorsharpened spikes and mirrors many pretenders seem incapable of dodging in their eagerness to appear to self and others as profiling God’s Own Image of Himself. And so Corpus Christi on the bay would become the next corporeal stage upon which my lifelong collusion with the spirit of man versus beast would manifest its theatre deep into my being.

Fifteen months as a hermit in the backwoods of my beginnings had taken their toll. I was no longer fit to be a businessman. Lasting only four months with my brother, I finally quit his company because of what I considered unsportsmanlike price-gouging practices. Although his rates were very competitive, it just seemed to me that hard times justified hard times for all, not accelerated pricing schedules when business was booming due to a recent storm. We parted friends and have become even closer as the years tear back the youthful packaging to reveal two pensive beings bartering the spectrum of ideas with earnest achievement at opposite poles of brotherly nature. But I had become uncomfortable with financial success at the expense of others even to the point of resisting due payment for my own labors. My common refrain for a period was, “Just pay me what you think it is worth.” Obviously I was opening myself to exploitation, for I was never the slacker, but I could not excuse myself in this war of wages. Finally, after a decade of fighting a losing battle against my own nature to appease the temperament of business, its capitalistic pressures urging my own strong will to succeed (paralleling family and peer considerations)—only recently has it became crystal clear to me that I simply have not been called to embrace the American business routine. That this anticommercial strain of business acumen is not by any means unique to religious zealots, I was aware, and careful to acknowledge prevalent economic bidding as worthy of men’s attention and God’s grace, quite unlike some in the political arena who have always seemed a bit revolting to me.

My brother has since returned to Atlanta, divorced, gone bankrupt, started another company, and remarried. His high profile roofing and remodeling company will gross over $3 million this year. Eighteen or so of his company’s advertising billboards grace Metro Atlanta’s highways. The high ornamental fabric of his lifestyle is in good taste and worthy of a poor man’s envy. My brother Clyde never graduated from junior high.

At sixteen he made a remarkable breakthrough in his life via a popular rehabilitation program, learning to read and speak there, although he still does not read much outside the Wall Street Journal and roofing or contractual specs. He does not truck with religion or the standardized version of God, although he is quite an introspective, let us say, spiritual man. After years of juvenile delinquency he saw the proverbial light, although it certainly took years for the complete transformation, in both the social grooming and personal hygienic senses, as well as for the full juices of his mental capacities to kick into overdrive.

The ensuing fact that he is quite the classical handsome man, while certainly adding to his notorious vanity, does most assuredly favor his strong faculty for self-confidence and secular direction as he makes his way among worldly affairs. Everyone pegged me for the smart brother, the rich brother, the glorious brother, of us six. Christ, said I, was not the one.

GT

S A M P L E X

"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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