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              It was a blustery weekend in Muskrat Flats. The wind was conducting a symphony as the poplars bordering the vineyard...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Failure As a Friend ...

The rains have ceased and the winds have stilled, leaving Muskrat Flats in a somewhat soggy and humid state. The sump pumps are idle as they were working overtime to offset the daily influx of afternoon rains brought about by the thunderheads. Dark, billowing, airborne mountains, which worked their way up from the Valley. Being the higher ground, you would think there would be no problem with run off in Muskrat Flats, but not so, not so at all.
Foundations were compromised and the water seeped in. The water seeped in as easily as the insanity can creep back into your life, if you let it.

We were experiencing what I describe as Florida weather. Sunny and clear skies with a little humidity in the morning, followed by afternoon Thunderstorms. Short, vicious micro bursts which took down tree branches and power lines. As the rains and wind crashed into the Flats, radios, televisions and refrigeration units were stilled. The only sound available to me was either from an old acoustic guitar I picked up in the sun shrouded darkness or the dissonant rhythm of the rain, the wind and what ever sounds the electrical flashes provided as they cracked and rumbled across Muskrat Flats.

Eventually the power was restored and the sun re-emerged. One day, it did so in glorious fashion as the rain persisted. There is nothing quite like a sun shower to further extend the wondrous natural panorama as the light and heat of the sun interacts with the water falling to earth.

Sun showers don't happen often in my world. when they do they are spectacular. I remember one fine day in Providence, RI being caught in such a freakish weather event as I walked down Atwells Ave. I was tripping on mushrooms when the sun shower headed into town. It was brief. But it left a double rainbow in its wake and Both the sun and the moon were visible in the summer sky. For the rest of the day I had the best of luck. I couldn't have been luckier had I found two pots of gold.

From the back Porch, I saw a couple of beavers waddling out of the swollen brook further along down the Flats, just past the Odd Fellows' Hall. They seemed determined not to let the banks of that brook return to their normal state as they busied themselves following their instincts.

The lights had come back on but I was not heeding the call of the electronics vying for my attention. I preferred to sit in the aftermath of the storm and soak it in as I strummed the acoustic. I fiddled with various chords until I hit a familiar progression and went with it.

Then the words came, and I began to sing.

"Failure as a Friend, your worn out words which go no further.
Time is at an end, you've got a handful of broken hearts.
It made you feel small, made you feel, Not quite at all,
It made you feel ... not quite at all."

Failure was a song which I listened to extensively. Often, as I left Muskrat Flats and headed to the city, with my good timing girl. We were running hard. We were on a mission. The day had offered enough. Between my physical ailments and another surgery looming on the near horizon coupled with her issues concerning her on again off again, oft incarcerated or institutionalized boyfriend, it was time to say enough is enough. But this time, enough is enough meant it was time to check out for the day. We would get what we needed, get off E, and nod out, watching the "40 year old Virgin" for the 50th time.

I listened to Failure often as the Hard Run ensued, maybe it was because that is how I felt, like a failure. Perhaps, the driving guitar solos gave me the courage to continue with the Hard Run as we once again pulled into the cop spot. I know I went there twice a day, how many other cars did? It was only a matter of time before the Sheriff caught us, trapped behind that apartment block, like the Odd Fellows who would eventually corner their new neighbors, the beavers.

Maybe I listened to that song, over and over because I was convinced Steve had written it about me. I'm sure he wondered where I was, we had hatched some plans and he had given me some assignments and I simply disappeared.

That's what drugs will make you do as you sink into paranoid and senseless thinking. During this time frame I had three sets of locks which I kept handy. It was not unusual behavior for me, after a particularly active day to start spinning paranoid scenarios and obsessing about events which had transpired. The logical solution is to break out the tools at 4 AM and change my locks, just in case that n'er do well that showed up with my girl, earlier, grabbed the spare key off the table, you know, that spare key, which was in my pocket the entire time ...

Failure. I was a failure in the regards that I was unavailable to show up for life. I'm glad I never asked Steve if the song ... was about me. It turns out that a few others had beaten me to it. I could see why they would ask him that having been there myself. Who knows who that song is about, the only two folks I could think of that may have fit that role are the ones who vocalized that query.

I don't feel like a failure today. As life has gotten increasingly less insane, I feel like I am making the difference I had always hoped I would. I find comfort in the simple things such as the beavers engineering their pond, and the wind, rain and thunder providing me with various time signatures and fodder for works such as this.

How much simpler can life be as I sit in Fenway Park trying not to giggle like a five year old as my daughter repeatedly tried to tickle me behind my ear or my knee? I am blessed to be alive to enjoy such events. Living life on life's terms ... It really doesn't get much easier, and certainly can't get much better than it already is. When it does, I will gladly let you know.

As always, you will find me ... Running Hard out of Muskrat Flats


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