Home

Call Me Johnny Fishhook

Leave a comment

fishhook addiction

First encounters … first impressions …

A year or so back at the soup kitchen here in Penticton, I met a new volunteer one morning … we’ll call him Johnny …

Johnny was perhaps 45 years old, good-looking and a soft- but well-spoken fellow.

Normal … whatever that is.

We engaged in light and pleasant conversation throughout the morning of chopping and dicing vegetables and plating out desserts.

It surprised me a bit when he related that he came to the soup kitchen a couple of days each week to have lunch himself.

This didn’t line up with my first impression of him. I tried not to ask too many probing questions.

After the lunch rush of serving the crowds of hungry folks, Johnny asked me if I could drive him by his place on my journey home.

Sure.

As we drove along, we continued to chat amiably. I liked him.

I dropped him off at a local beach-strip motel (off-season rental).

Johnny explained that he stayed at the motel during the quiet season but when the tourists arrived, he would be asked to vacate which meant that he must either find a cheap summer rental somewhere or camp out in the local parks.

I pulled away with a lot of questions… a lot of wonder on my mind.

The following week I read a Letter to the Editor in the Penticton Herald newspaper… I immediately recognized Johnny’s name attached to the bottom of a very eloquent and impressively-reasoned letter about a federal political issue. Wow!

During my next shift at the soup kitchen I asked a friend what she knew about Johnny.

In a hushed voice, she described him as a lovely man who had graduated and worked as a lawyer for some years.

But, at some point, his addictions and episodes of depression got the better of him … he made mistakes … too many, too big mistakes… eventually he was disbarred.

Angel crash.

Anyway, Johnny is a stark reminder to me that many many people of great warmth and intelligence fight demons and don’t always come out on the winning end of their struggles.

Which all brings me to this week and a new song lyric I’ve written…

Guitar music

… the lyric is a reflection of a fellow perhaps a little like Johnny… someone who gets through his days, barely … often with difficulty and pain.

CALL ME JOHNNY FISHHOOK

CHORUS
Call me Johnny Fishhook
though most just call me J
Yeah, I was you upon a time
so I get your stares and looks
you’re the mirror I used to hold
before I caught the hook

Verse 1
I loved my life
you know I made the grade
got the college degree
the first time I got laid
funny, called to the bar
was kinda different in those days

Verse 2
The child I keep inside
didn’t always look this ripe
Tonight I stalk the alleys
in dark and in the light
where I find my friends and worries
varied tones of my own stripe

Verse 3
Mornings then I hack awake
sometimes stiff and cold
to catch the demons attacking
grabbing at my soul
life’s miracle never came to my paradise
so today I sleep with mice

Verse 4
I haven’t lived here all my life
years back I even had a wife
I wonder if cancer might be easy
could those demons be less creepy
that they hold a gentler knife
my tears hold less sacrifice

CHORUS
Call me Johnny Fishhook
though most just call me J
Yeah, I was you upon a time
so I get your stares and looks
you’re the mirror I used to hold
before I caught the hook

addiction hook

Let Them Eat Cake… What Are Your Positive Addictions?

Leave a comment

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette:

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

 

As it turns out, Madame Marie likely never spoke those words, but nevertheless… I would so love to eat cake every meal of every day.

My dream world consists of one food group … SUGAR!

Cinnamon Buns and Black Forest Cake for breakfast.

Key Lime Cheesecake and Matrimonial Square for lunch.

Bakewell Tart and Boston Cream Pie for dinner.

Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut Bar as Evening Snack.

The perfect diet for the perfect day.

Fool! Wake up Larry! That’s not the perfect diet for the perfect (long) life.

I know YOU’RE perfect, but I’m not … there’s an addict… a Sugar Monster inside me (maybe I could sell him to Sesame Street).

Cookie monster.jpg

Damn… we live in a world of honeyed riches for the not-so-rich Mr. Average. This is a thick problem for this not-so-thin Monsieur.

How many types of sugary sweetness are there and why am I so magnetically drawn to each of them?

How many sensuously slinky saccharine seductresses sway and dance before my eyes before my mouth must take them in?

If anyone in this world deserves Type 2 diabetes, it’s me.

I tell myself that if I only exercise like crazy 5, 6, 7 times each week and somehow sweat sufficiently to keep my weight below 200 pounds, then I’m immune from the ravages of modern metabolic syndrome.

Yeah, it’s probably a delusion … a childhood imaginary friend that is invisible, especially to me. Addictions hide out in the open like the glasses we’ve lost on the top of our head.

We all have blinders on don’t we? Somewhere in our lives?

There are harmful addictions galore in this world of fallible humanity. Alcohol, drugs, sex, smoking, gambling… sugar.

We always talk about the harmful addictions. We should talk about harmful addictions and the pain they germinate.

I freely confess to my sugar addiction … but you know … I also confess to a slew of beneficial addictions.

Maybe sometimes… no … often… we need to look at our half-full cup and remind ourselves that despite our failures, our weakness, our fallible selves… we also contain a cornucopia of goodness that doesn’t necessitate a daily or weekly visit to a 12-step meeting.

…….. POSITIVE ADDICTIONS ……..

I hold inside myself the nuggets of addictive behaviour that cause me to lace up running shoes and hit the sweaty streets or gym … I make special meals to celebrate others… I share the education I was so generously afforded with others who weren’t given those same opportunities to learn… I study and practice music so that I can share moments of musical joy with my self and with others … and more.

I know these are addictions because I feel the edgy withdrawal effects when they’re absent from my life.

I feel like a lesser being when a week passes and I haven’t felt my heart rate hit 150. I sense a loss in the world if a family member’s birthday goes by and I haven’t taken the opportunity to carry a candle-laden cake to place in front of them and share in the joy of their life’s passage. Positive addictions.

When we offer our time or energy to anything that makes a day better for ourselves or another, we’ve succeeded.

We’re all boats out on a foggy night … sometimes the best we can do is shine a flashlight on the brilliant parts of ourselves that reflect that light and allow the darkness to remain in the shadows.

My tummy is rumbling … all this optimistic thinking is making me think of … oh yeah … CAKE!!!!

Positive addiction

I Like To Nap… So Sue Me… Positive Addictions.

Leave a comment

nap time.jpg

True story …

I spend a lot more time napping and less time reading the news now than before.

Addiction Confession: I used to be a Globe & Mail’aholic and I still consume too much CNN and Chocolate!

I know that Brett Kavanaugh is huge in the news, but what can I do other than watch the children give each other bloody noses in the government schoolyard? Will my observing make a change? I think not.

I know that Trump thinks that Canada and Justin Trudeau are being nasty and unfair in trade negotiations … SAD… (boo hoo donald… you don’t even deserve to be capitalized a**hole). Will my opinions be the butterfly-wing flapping that miraculously changes the tide of trade? I think not.

I know that drinking lots of lattes will/won’t give me cancer, heart disease, impotence, flatulence, and the inherent ability to speak Italiano. Will quaffing less caffeine improve my quality and quantity of life? I think not.

I know that my Hamilton Tiger Cats football team (BTW, the Tiger Cats were a “question” to a Jeopardy answer this week!) will struggle to win their game against BC this weekend, but will my cheers tip the scale in their favour? OK, on this one I think I can have a positive effect! (Last minute UPDATE: Hamilton 40 – BC 10… I’m right!)

Chocolate and Tiger Cats are addictions that will sizzle along with me as they slide my chilled corpse into the crematorium chamber.

Chocolate and ticats.jpg

Football AND chocolate donut… OMG!!

The point I’m going after this morning – and I think I do have a point – is the old “don’t read/watch the news” … be the one to “create the news“.

News noun vs News verb.

I’ll never write AI code. I’ll never run a successful entrepreneurial company. I’ll never win an Olympic medal. I’ll never cure Ebola or Irritable Bowel Disease.

But that doesn’t mean I, nor you, should despair. Nope.

A human being’s success isn’t always measured in the millions or billions, like McDonalds’ hamburgers. One or two great burgers can be life changing.

A lot of our personal victories can be counted on our fingers and toes. A lot of success needs a telescope or microscope to recognize.

Creating the news can be a small-scale operation like those mini-loans operations in Third World countries that give women opportunities to be courageous and self-sufficient.

Saving … improving… the world can be intimidating. It looks like too big a bite for most of us “non-lions”. It’s like a huge tsunami wave coming at you, perhaps a giant skyscraper tumbling over you, crashing in a monstrous wave.

Disaster.

But step away, go a kilometre or two inland and that terrifying tsunami shrinks into a gentle manageable wave that pushes and tugs at our fragile knees and toes but allows us to stay upright and do the job we want to accomplish … to stand and be counted as making something happen.

To be the news verb and not the news noun.

breaking-news-.jpg

Did I mention naps?

Can naps be labelled an addiction?

People get confused when I say “I need a nap“. They think I’m hip and 21st century-cool saying, “I need an app“. But I’m not cool.

Doesn’t matter. Naps are an important part of my “create the news” plan.

Sleep is my creative bliss time… I often do more productivity-wise with my eyes closed than open.

Sleep and nap time are where the old sub-conscious puts on its big boy pants and goes to work.

The challenges of navigation through difficult music passages, new blog ideas, personality frictions, altered approaches to tutoring… they all hatch on the nap front.

All of the thought and planning personnel needed to make good stuff happen for me is sitting down restlessly, yet patiently waiting… patiently waiting in the inner office of my mind.

They’re sipping lattes, eating donuts and cinnamon buns – where’s the fresh fruit? – and chattering quietly but the meeting hasn’t been called to order yet.

At this point, I stand up and leave the room (nap).

They don’t appreciate me watching over them, so I happily vacate the space and away they go. Suddenly, the buzz in the room takes on a spirited youthful energy and life as the zzzz‘s emanating from me in the outer office increase in intensity.

Twenty minutes or half an hour later, I stir back to the surface, wipe away the sloppy drool at the corner of my mouth, then open the office door.

I rub my eyes as my faithful representative at the adjourned meeting gives me a synopsis and plan based on the group’s deliberations.

Answers and remedies and focussed ideas flow on broad rivers that were filled as I snored. BEAUTY!

It’s a pretty great day when not only can news be a verb in our lives, but so too can the power of napping transform into a verb… ACTION.

The morning is morphing closer to an afternoon and I can feel the zeal and energy slowly drain, like thick syrup, from my head and my fingertips.

I’ve been typing away here for a few hours.

Thanks for joining me in this sunrise to high noon journey.

I can now go forward in my day and make that news verb a reality, but…

… only after I’ve grabbed a quick nap… such a terrible addiction!

nap time.png

 

 

I Have Bagina Envy …

Leave a comment

Boy did we get it wrong. 

Who is this WE I’m talking about?

MEN.

little girl and underwear display

 

All these many Freudian decades we thought that women suffered the slings and arrows of PENIS ENVY. Ha!

It’s difficult for me to say this, but the painful non-patriarchal truth is that I, and most men actually suffer from BAGINA envy (see, it’s so difficult and painful that I can’t even say the real word!) … the Grandest of All Canyons.

OK, it’s probably not envy so much as worship. It’s like the control centre of our universe. We always thought that Captain Kirk (Penis) was at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, but really, all along it was Commander Uhura (Bagina), the Communications Officer.

UhuraTellsFerrisKirk

Yup, the Bagina is in charge…

We can’t help it. We just can’t help it.

It’s not a conscious choice where we men sit ourselves down at the conference table one morning and say, “Today I shall lay myself at the blessed altar of the bagina.” Unh-uh. Some joker of a mind programmer inserted a viral chunk of code in our heads that dictates, “you must have the Bagina, the more the better”.

There’s a ton of science behind it all.

Many have addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, race horses (for betting, not carnal relations) … these are isolated, one-or-two-off dependencies for select individuals. ALL heterosexual men have an addiction to the big V, bar none. Why are porn websites so popular?… yup, worship of the bagina.

But are women as beholden to the phallic member of their male brethren?

By the popularity of BDSM literature like 50 Shades of Grey, you might be tempted to think so. But really I think that women are more attracted to the romance and desire inherent in the stories … a penis just happens to be involved – perhaps this is one more instance where a man is incidental to the true lusty lure.

Women say that men don’t understand them, which is probably true. Of course it works the other way around as well. Just as Men Are From Mars and Women From Venus, women don’t necessarily understand the primal sexual urge that propels the male head(s).

men-and-women-brains

The appeal of visual porn for men and written erotica for women reveals the differences between the needs of the two genders. Men are viscerally turned on by the mere sight of female skin – foreplay be damned – show us a bagina, and we’re 95% of the way to steamy liftoff.

Women say “hold on … talk to me, hold me, tell me I’m desirable, touch me all over, not just on the naughty bits. Let’s make this performance a full-length feature, not just a 30 second commercial break.” 

…………………………..

Women know the formidable power that resides in their nether regions. Men have guns and swords and big bicep muscles for weapons. Women carry an arsenal that’s far different. They wield a softer, furrier form of authority that they carry with them at all times and can never set down or misplace. Men fear, yet yearn for it more than they fear or covet the sword.

…………………………..

To be in possession of a bagina confers automatic membership to an exclusive club, no boys allowed.

It’s a whole secret organization, a club for bagina owners, like the Freemasons or the Knights of Pythias (what the hell is a Knight of Pythias anyway? … is there some connection to urine worship here?)

There are pluses and minuses to Bagina Club membership, but the real bottom line of the clique is that its members secretly rule the world, a sort of  The DaVinci Code.

vagina-club

Men have no Penile Club to belong to where they share genital inside information with their comrades … no “I’ve got penile cramps”… no, “I’m a week late”, no, “is it hot in here, or am I just having a hot flash?”. NOPE, nothin’.

Women share the mystery and glory of their private parts as cooperative partners with other women. They carry spare tampons and pads for those stranded in distress. They nod compassionately and offer Midol to those in cramped discomfort. They visit restrooms (something they call “Powder Rooms”) together.

The closest men come to this clubby sort of atmosphere resides in the urinal line-up where we huddle in straight lines, hand-on-member, looking bored into a cold, tiled wall 6 inches from our nose … sure, 6 inches is really more like 3 inches, but we boys have difficulty determining true length. Talking is frowned upon while urinating because it just feels too intimate to be chatting to another guy when you have a penis in your hand.

Yes, to men, the bagina – and its club – are mysterious. The bagina is, like the Wizard of Oz, hidden behind a lacy curtain and all powerful.

Here are some of the features, tenets, advantages, and disadvantages of belonging to the BAGINA CLUB. I can’t know them all because I don’t have a membership card to the coven of adherents (and obviously never will):

  1. Women have monthly menstruation … until they don’t, then another set of complications arises.
  2. Women have hysterectomies – this is the easy way out of the complications mentioned above.
  3. The bagina doesn’t protrude like a pistol when excited.
  4. Women need options: Birth control pill, the ring, IUD’s, hormone shots, sponges, diaphragms, even female condoms. It’s like a shoe closet for the bagina.
  5. There are whole aisles of product set aside in supermarkets for the care, scent and maintenance of the bagina … no penis aisles. OK, one shelf of condoms, but men don’t really want to use the product, so who is it really for?
  6. There are special spa treatments for the bagina… Brazilian waxing, bikini waxing, sugaring, threading, bidet rinsing.
  7. Sexual performance isn’t complicated … the emergency backup method is a bottle of lube, and if it’s still there in four hours, you don’t have to consult a physician.  You just wash it off.
  8. Cutesy names: Peach Pit – Velvet Office – Temperamental Tunnel –  Garden of Eden –  Pride Lands –  Love Cushion –  Nappy Dugout –  Kitty Kat –  Mystical Fold –  Pandora’s Pink Box – Box Office

So for all the men who have derogatory comments about the one place they are constantly, actively trying to enter, and for all the ladies who are the gatekeepers of such an exclusive location, listen up.

I think we can all agree that women are not going to give up the “pit of power” anytime soon. So let’s shelve the Freudian pretense that women envy and want what we have and accept that girls have a more desirable “Playhouse” than boys.

The consolation? We boys still have control over the power tools  – at least the ones that reside outside the bedroom – the TV remote and the BBQ.

What more could we want?

Yes, you are the king here, and THIS is as good as it gets!

Yes, you are the king here, and THIS is as good as it gets!

How Do You Become A LIST Whore?

Leave a comment

Hello my name is Larry and I’m a List-aholic”

mens-health-march-2014-1

 

Follow me here…

Every day, I check the Huffington Post, or Zite, or Flipboard or The Globe and Mail on my iPad or Kobo and there are lists.

10 WAYS YOU CAN BECOME… 5 REASONS YOU SHOULD… 8 TOP SECRETS OF…

Every time I stand waiting in a supermarket line, I sheepishly – is anyone watching? – glance over the covers of magazines like People and Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health filled with rules and Top 10 lists.

  • 30 Rules For Boyfriends From Two Wise Little Girls (Huffington Post)
  • 17 Things Women Think During Anal Sex (Cosmopolitan)
  • 13 Ways To Prevent Excessive Gas (Huffington Post)
  • 73+ Pivotal Blogging Shortcuts and Tips (Blog Tyrant)
  • We Shit Glitter: The 9 Unsexiest Secrets Of Being A Burlesque Dancer (Sabotage Times)

A lot of it is pure BS, but I can’t pull myself away from the lure of the car crash scenario. I don’t want to be drawn to them, but the curious irresistibility factor suckers me in. “Read me, read me!”

One more list and then another, just one more list will make me a better lover, or athlete, or father, or pickle maker. You name your interest and there’s a list to help you become a better (fill-in-the-blank).

It’s an addiction that I need to feed, and there are idea nutrients spread everywhere like a military carpet bombing. Lists are mind candy – the succinct conduit for delivery of ideas and inspiration.

Honestly, I crave lists and rules like I hunger for creamy sweet chocolate, french fries, and oxygen.

Lists play into my insecurities.

.

It’s no secret to me that the success of all these lists is that people, myself included, are feeling a veiled dissatisfaction with some area(s) of their lives.

At its root lies the question, “What is my life about?

That might sound bad, but it’s really not. Let me explain, OK?

A couple of times over the past year or so, I’ve shown you the picture of actor Sally Field clutching her Oscar “Best Actress” trophy in delirious victory. I love that picture and the honesty that poured out from her throat.

People made fun of old Flying Nun/Momma Gump Sally when she stood on the Oscar stage in 1984 and emotionally declared, “… you like me, right now, you like me!”.

SALLY_FIELD

…of course I like you Sally…

Sally blurted out the hidden but truthfully obvious fact that 95% of the actors, directors, camera operators and the general public in the audience just want to be liked, whether on stage acting, or in the everyday trenches of real life.

We want others to like us and to recognize that we are good at something. And a great way to show us that we are lovable and worthwhile is to give us a gold statuette and clap at us while we stand on a stage basking in glory.

It’s no different than when we were little kids and we badgered our Mommies and Daddies to watch us jump into the swimming pool: “Mommy, watch this… Mooooommmmy, WATCH THIS!”

These needs to be loved and admired within most of us are what lead us to push harder and try to be better at something, which feeds into our sense of self-esteem.

Most of the wonderful advances and improvements in our world and society (yeah, a lot of the bad stuff too) came from those who wanted to be recognized as achieving excellence, and hence, received love and admiration from their peers, friends and family, and the world at large. So what’s wrong with that?

The great innovator Steve Jobs loved to wander back and forth on a stage in his black turtleneck sweater, basking in the glory of the spotlights and hordes of admirers before he would utter those famous words, ” Oh, and one more thing…” , just before making a huge i-whatever product announcement.

That was just a grown man standing by the edge of the kiddie pool, yelling, Mommy, watch this…”.

When I crossed the finish line of an Ironman race many many years ago now, would I have experienced the same joy if there was no one there watching? Of course not.

I craved the adoring gush of the throngs of people and my family acknowledging what a wonderful achievement I had accomplished. Mommy would have approved of me and I would have smiled inside.

Ironman 1990

This is one of MY Sally Field moments …

 

There are very few of us who don’t have underlying insecurities, little voices in our head telling us that we need to be better.

Lists and rules offer up handy – and often, admittedly, too facile – solutions to our insecurities.

But they CAN help to give us tools and innovative ways we hadn’t considered to become new and improved.

CREATIVITY CAN BE FOUND IN A LIST

29-ways-to-stay-creative

I choose to look at lists positively. I’m seeking the bravery to push outside my comfort zone, to subdue my insecurity if you will.

If it takes a list of ideas and suggestions from outside, I’ll happily look at it and decide if my choice to create something new for me – within me – is worthwhile.

Creativity doesn’t always have to be newly invented from within. Epiphanies come in lots of costumes. Let’s make like Bonnie and Clyde, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, like Bernie Madoff, and make off with as many ideas that are offered freely from others as we can.

The choice is ours, steal what looks useful and leave the rest of the dreck behind, like yucky canned peas on a plate of hot, fragrant fish and chips.

Finally, let me offer you one little list I’ve come across. It’s a list for cynics and for those List Haters that I know exist out there who smirk and scowl at us dreamers aka List-Lovers.

FIVE RULES TO REMEMBER IN LIFE

  1. Money cannot buy happiness, but it’s more comfortable to cry in a Range Rover than on a bicycle.
  2. Forgive your enemy, but remember the ass-hole’s name.
  3. If you help someone when they’re in trouble, they will remember you when they’re in trouble again.
  4. Many people are alive only because it’s illegal to shoot them.
  5. Alcohol does not solve any problems, but then neither does milk.