I wrote this today, which explains how I feel quite well, in fact:

The Lonely Wanderer

The lonely wanderer without a home
Has no one—all he's ever known,
No recollections of the past to guide
That which he seeks is lost, inside.

No comfort will he ever find out there
Amid the frosty, gloomy air;
And should he venture to where he doth dwell
He'll find it hot as any hell.

Though always suffering--his life defined,
His face feigns thoughts of a gentle mind.
Although no one stops, staring straight at him
He feels the burden of his sin.

So while he searches for a brief respite
Outside, he's trapped in endless plight.
The lonely wanderer without a home
Will always be himself: alone.

I work in an office complex in downtown Chicago. It's a collection of three nondescript office towers near the lake, connected with some small plazas. It's a nice place to work, but not particularly exceptional.

As with any downtown area, there are occasional homeless people that wander around, looking for some help from the overly blessed nitwits that work in the area. I'm a rather nice guy, so I try to pitch in where I can, but I limit my graciousness to those that hang around my office plaza, as I have a firm belief in acting locally when dealing with such delicate matters.

One of these people is Crazy Mary. Crazy seems a misnomer because, as far as being homeless goes, she's not all that crazy. On top of this, I'm pretty sure that Mary is not her real name, but that's what the other guys down there call her. She doesn't know my name either, as it has never really come up in conversation before. Instead, she calls me 'Buddy.' Whatever, that's cool.

The business relationship that Crazy Mary and I have hammered out is not the traditional homeless person exchange. For example, one day I forgot my wallet at home, leaving me without any money to purchase lunch. Crazy Mary made me take five dollars from her. I will often give her five of six dollars on a Monday, only to have ten dollars thrust upon me the following Friday. While the money is still flowing in her direction (by quite a margin), it is interesting to receive a crumpled bill from an urban outsdoorman once in a while.

Today, she did the strangest thing of all. Crazy Mary gave me a card for my wedding anniversary.

I ran into her when I stepped out for a cigarette at noontime. After some small talk, she asked me how my anniversary had been. Then she pulls this pink envelope out of her bag a said, with ever increasing volume, "I got this for you two for your anniversary. I tried to write in it, but the pen ran out. Open it when you get home. You'll freak out."

The last thing that I want in life in an envelope from a homeless person that I will "freak out" about when I get home and open it. I put it on my desk and examined the envelope for a minute, trying to determine the freak out factor. Did she stuff if with a little sumphin sumphin? In some lack of logic, did she put money in it? I decided there was no way I was bringing this back to my house without some kind of investigation, and opened the envelope, handling it carefully.

It's a store bought anniversary card. She actually went into a store with whatever money she dug up on the street to buy me an anniversary card. Inside is typeset the usual mushy sentiments, laid out in verse with pink ink. And then, in garish pen strokes, the classic words are written:

"I am not a person who believes in any of this shit, but Happy Anni    anyway, love you guys."

I'm not sure why I'm supposed to freak out about this. Is it that she bought a card, or do I appear so white bread that the vulgarities of her message were enough to send me off. I'll have to ask her on Friday, when she will certainly try and give me back my money.

I want to talk a little bit about vandalism.

I live relatively close to a rather large college campus and during my time in the neighborhood have come to expect a certain amount of vandalism. It usually strikes during football season when the combination of booze, youth, and misspent exuberance on behalf of the Buckeye’s meet up and bad things start to happen. The local authorities are trying to cut the amount of vandalism down this year by enforcing something called the “open container” law that had been on the books for a number of years but cops tended to conveniently “look the other way”. So far, it seems to be working. But another type of vandalism seems to striking with alarming regularity.

The type I’m talking about is directed towards owners of SUV’s. It seems that these people have been targeted by an “environmental group” that thinks it has the right to slash the tires of these vehicles and in doing so, send a message to the SUV owners about their choice of vehicle. So far, about 75 vehicles in the neighborhood that spans a 8-9 block radius have been vandalized.

While I don’t particularly care either way what kind of car a person drives and am privately amazed at the number of urban commando vehicles that dominate the roads of our fair city, I don’t see how slashing the tires of these vehicles advances this groups cause.

First of all, they do such a thorough job in their slashing efforts that the tires are rendered unusable. That means the owners of the SUV must call in a tow trucks. That means more emissions escape into the air. Next, since the tires are now worthless, they are sent off to one of those “tire dumps”. Ever see a picture of one of those? Looks like a mountain of tires dotting the landscape. Not exactly awe inspiring. We’ve all probably seen pictures in the news about what happens when one of these dumps catch on fire. Ah, the smell of burning rubber. Usually the conflagration is so bad that it can’t be put out and the fire department has to let it run its course. Naturally a plume of thick black smoke that can practically be seen from outer space accompanies the fire. I don’t even want to know what pollutants and carcinogens might be released into the atmosphere.

Next, you have the neighborhood effect. For the most part, my neighborhood consists of a nice mix of people. Traditional families and non-traditional families seem to genuinely care about one another. How long do you think they’re gonna stick around if they feel that their property is being threatened? How easy will it be to find a buyer for their homes if the vandalism continues? Next thing you know, houses will be abandoned and fall into disrepair. Is that what these folks want?

Hell, these so-called “environmentalists” seem to harming the exact cause which they purport to support.

I also realize that these people are extremists that make up a small percentage of those who would want to protect the environment. I mean, I’m no over the top environmentalist but I do care about thing such as global warming, clean air, clean water and other assorted things that make life worth living. Unfortunately, as is the case many times over, the actions of a few will, in the minds of some folks, supercede the actions of the many.

One last thing – couldn’t they get their message across by just draining the air out the tires or is that action not “radical” enough? Or maybe ply their trade at the dealerships where they can strike en masse on whole parking lots full of SUV’s? Maybe then the manufacturers will get the message and the little folks won’t have to fork over 400 bucks for a new set of tires.

A second chance for a couple of lifeless Brits

I should have had a rush of blood to the head, but nothing happened. The music left me cold completely. In all songs the singer expressed the same boring tone. Monotone redefined by a couple of lifeless Brits.

One album earlier the good man asked Jesus to put him out of his endless misery. I heard the new record and I thought maybe the redeemer should have complied with the request.

According to M. it wasn't strange, but undeserved on the other hand, that I earmarked the songs as boring. He is knowledgeable on the subject of music, so I accepted his opinion as true. I also accepted his opinion when he said: "You have to hear it a few more times, I think". The last one who stated the sentence that convincingly was Dutch comedian Herman Finkers.

And thus I decided to give the album a second chance. I listened in the car. And another time. And another time. Until God put a smile upon my face. You might understand what a praise that is when I tell you that I'm an atheist to the bones.

The guitars, the piano, the colour, the voice! Fragile songs with drops of introvert emotion trickling delicately. Chris Martin is my new hero.

adolescent lap dances

My best friend teaches the 6th grade at a middle school. Her kids are crazy and I really didn't think they could get any worse at that school until I heard about this yesterday...

She was telling about a tragedy in the 8th grade hall at her school. Dear lord. I hope that you are all ready for this:

It was the attention of all "pimps and pimpettes." Okay. I wonder if these 8th grade children even know what the actual Webster's definition of a "pimp" is. I doubt it. I hope that they don't. I don't know if I did when I was that age.

It was called a "Booty Boppin'" party. What that means I am not sure having not actually attended one myself.

The saddest part about this invitation is that the end said, "Guaranteed lap dances." What? THEY ARE IN THE EIGHTH GRADE! That makes them what, 13? No. No, no. A 13-year-old should not know what a lap dance is. I doubt that I knew what a lap dance was when I was 13. I sure hope I didn't because that just seems sad to me. I didn't even know what an actual lap dance entailed until I watched G-String Divas in college. And then I was like, "Woah! They do that!?!" And then I saw one when I went to a strip club the first time and was astonished once again at the amount of touching involved.

It that what this world is coming to? 13-year-olds having to resort to promising lap dances to gain friends. I hope not. If it is, that really scares me and makes me extremely sad.

I am going to go ahead and risk sounding like my father and just say this: Kids are crazy these days. They really are. Life in the 8th grade hall was so much different when I was there 10 years ago. There were no guns or lap dances or death threats. We would never dream of sending out an actual invitation for a party with "guaranteed lap dances" in fear of someone finding it. And shit, we didn't even know what a lap dance was. And where is this child's parents? I am not one to blame the parents for every little thing that a child does, but this is getting out of hand. If I had been the teacher that found the invite, I would call the parents and let them know what's up man.

When I was a kid I always heard about these parties where kids make-out and go into the closest for a little 7 minutes in heaven session but I never actually went to one and I also never knew of their existence in my own school. I always looked at them in an urban myth sort of way. I also thought they only existed on television to warn kids about the dangers of them so they could have nice little moral lesson at the end (Full House of course).

I just wish that kids these days would just stay kids for a little while longer, you know? What happened to the good ol' days when holding hands was a big deal and if a guy went up your shirt you felt like a slut?

Now they are giving lap dances at parties. Let's just hope they keep their clothes on.

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