398. Sanguine in Sedona

Nothing surprises me anymore. Here I am checking my blog traffic in the lobby of  the hotel in Sedona and “Play that Funky Music Whiteboy” is on the muzak soundtrack. I suppose it all has to do with the cosmic confluence of energies and vortexes that New Age folks in this town blather about. If you want your soul’s aura mapped, hey, no problem. Consider it done. Need your energy balanced?  Boom, level as a bevel. Raki and yoga are also available across a vast spectrum so that you can get your inner chakras aligned with the great Giver Bear’s liver.  Crystals and readings are omnipresent for whatever ails a weary spirit. You can get a quinoa enema with jasmine highlights at bedtime or snort gluten free steel cut oatmeal for breakfast. Okay, I am making some of this up, but it’s like the Grateful Dead’s tour bus blew a tire here and never left. Hipsters, dipsters, whipsters, and post-menopausal slipsters all chug about in their karmic glory.At any moment Vishnu could sit next to you at the organic deli.

“Is anyone sitting here?” says Vish.
“Dude, you should know that one.”
“Sir, I do indeed know all, but I do not vish to be so conceited as you.”
“Okay, sorry. What are you ordering?”
“I love the hot bean curd.”
At the next table…

“So, like, I was in Glastonbury, you know, and it was, like, such energy, you know, and I was buzzing with it in my lower spine. Don’t know what that means, but it was sooo coooool. Better than an iced colonic.  My aura was pulsing. I could feel it moving… you know?”

“Totally. Glastonbury vibes with Stonehenge and other alien sites where crop circles just erupt from the earth mother like pimples on a teenager’s face cuz the earth is going through adolescence. Sedona is so like that, man. All these canyons vibrate with past and future spirits that course through them with the monsoon rains. And it all comes to oneness in the vast random non-uniformity of nature. The Flow is where the power rolls, the current, the frequency, the quirky quarkiness of it all.” Blather, blather said the big guy who needed deodorant a year ago last winter. Arrogantly grandiose, he carried on without taking a breath while his two disciples breathed in every stinky molecule of his wizzdum. I’ve run into folks like this on a few occasions in my life, but they were on their way to psych wards.

The waitress takes their orders. “We’ll share an unsweetened iced colonic with spearmint and lemon in a recyclable paper cup that was not used in experiments on animals.”

“Great choice. We are the world. What’s inside is out, and what’s outside is in.”

Seriously? Even Jerry would hurl at such b.s.


I’m thinking we should never have come to this vegan garden of vectors and vicissitudes, but my wife and daughter were salivating over the menu of organic, gluten free, flavor free offerings from the Vedic beyond, imagining all their special dietary needs would be soothingly and enthusiastically  accommodated. So I drove over there in a psychological headlock, feeling like a virgin on prom night in a frat house. Nothing good was going to come of this adventure. My pessimism was not disappointed. (Is that a triple negative? What ever happened to Heidi the goat herding virgin? She got sick in the low valley as I recall.)

I was also thinking that a cheeseburger would be good, but we were immersed in a meat free/ preservative free/ hormone free / neo- Fascist food zone. I feared that the truly unwashed crowd might turn on me if I dared to suggest anything carnivorous. I ordered the Sedona Burrito. It seemed the least offensive thing on the limited menu. Beans, sprouts, quinoa, kale, and various other death defying ingredients. I washed it down  with a vodka/Pepto Bismal shake. Very proactive but to no avail. Nasty is what nasty does. It was nasty, lemme tell ya.

It was the worst meal I’ve ever paid for, even surpassing old Leroy’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken that I had on a local adventure years before. It’s hard to ruin barbequed chicken, but Leroy met that challenge before he died. And until this excursion to vegan land I thought I’d come to the end of Gastronomical Nightmare Lane. But I was wrong. This vegan burrito tasted like a dirty sock taken off a death row prison inmate and then dragged cell by cell through prison soup de jour until it dripped no more. Laid out on an unadorned white plate, even the flies would not land on this thing. In perfect hindsight I should have just eaten the plate.

My wife and daughter choked down salad somethings. I wondered if this was really a training camp for sadistic chefs and masochistic diners. No one could serve this sort of slop daily and stay in business, unless, unless every other customer were stoned out of his/her brain. Hmmmm, then even dirt would be palatable and full of cosmic vibes. It was my fault for coming here sober with taste buds that were not hobbled by psychedelics. If only I’d known and smoked up a bunch of Hawaiian herbs, I could have been in the vortex with the others instead of standing outside the party separated by plate glass. A stranger in the great ape house.

The next day we were all suffering buyers’ remorse. Immodium was coveted by all. I’ll skip the sensory details.

“Wow, I feel so freed up, unbound from intestinal fortitude but chained to the porcelain bowl.”

“We are never eating crap like that again. And don’t even say ‘I told  you so'”.

“How about ‘So, I told you’?”

“Don’t make it worse with your verbal incontinence.”

“Okay. But you know what I’d like right now?”

“Surprise me.”

“That milky chalk solution you have to drink before an MRI. It gags you and you think you’ll explode if you have one more sip, on top of Johnnie’s new dog food…”

“Shut up!”

Thank God it’s so beautiful.



359. where are you from?

Simple question.  Where do you come from? Everyone has a different answer.  You come from your Momma’s belly, and she… may not be available or even known. Orphans don’t know where they came from, which can cause some primal insecurity. On the other hand, there are folks who are equally insecure because they know exactly where they came from and are ashamed of it. “That drunk woman on the floor of Aisle 9, that’s my mother. She’s pretending to have a seizure now to get the pharmacist to fill her fake OxyContin script.” Or maybe something less dramatic– “That’s my father. He never learned English and just wanders the town all day, lost and dizzy, hopelessly alone, searching for his village in India.” Where we come from is not necessarily where we are going to, though.

Image result for brooklyn movie still picturesMost folks came from a family unit, no matter how dysfunctional or reconstituted.  And that family unit came from somewhere, some place that is tattooed on the family’s consciousness somehow. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of home are wrapped around our brain stems.  This past Saturday a bunch of us went to see the film Brooklyn,  about a young female Irish immigrant named Eilis . Lovely film, never in a rush to tell its story. Superb acting. Every character comes alive and imprints on your heart for better or worse. The original home place is Wexford County, Ireland. Simple and plain and the Dead End of a vibrant life. The destination place is Brooklyn, N.Y.

Our friends met  us in Gettysburg for the evening. They come from New York, Ohio, Charleston, and nearby Newville. “We’re all immigrants”, Sue said later at the Irish pub where we had dinner and a pint. True. Some of us are orphans as well. None of us is from Gettysburg. Now Gary almost went to college there  but was put off by fraternity life. What an odd advertisement for the Greek system… “We make you uncomfortable in our debauched  brotherhood neighborhood…until you conform to OMEGA DELTA OMEGA.” One decision alters everything, you see, because Gary eventually met his lovely bride Suzanne in Charleston. Heck, it’s a love story inside a pinball machine inside a cosmic drama. Then again, so is your life, my Lucky Blog Mates. We all have a home, a story, and a destination.

Place is more than geography, so it is. What we call home is a feeling more than a blue gps pinpoint that blinks on your I-phone map. The main character, Eilis, is sent by her loving older sister to America for a chance to make a life. Why? because her hometown has no prospects of any sort for her.  Big sister Rose sacrifices to make a way for Eilis, who soon replicates home in Brooklyn by living and worshiping with all Irish folks. Funny, quirky Irish women. Though she struggles with homesickness for weeks, she flourishes after falling for Tony, the Italian guy who adores her. And no wonder, she is angelic with her auburn hair, pale blue eyes, and unfreckled milky complexion.  Home is truly where the heart resides, and her heart is given to Tony, the Italian plumber. Until…

Eilis must go home due to a family tragedy, and this is where the weird juju starts to flow. Her historic home has unspoken power over her. Folks start telling her what to do, how to behave, and whom to love. It’s all so familiar and nearly unconscious. The locals possessively nudge her toward a destiny that they have created. Brooklyn, freedom, individuation are all put on pause as guilt-inducing prospects are opened up for her.  Eilis is almost swept away by it all, except that IT is petty, jealous, gossipy, predictable, nosey, and suffocating. She suddenly  remembers why she left the first time and who she is. Eilis sails for Brooklyn again, a much wiser woman. Free from the constraints of small town Irish life.

Image result for compass picturesWhere are you from? The answer changes for lots of us. My folks would answer, “Boston. Cambridge actually. Fenoe Street and Mass. Ave.” I would answer “Virginia Hills, Alexandria, Virginia. Dorset Drive and The Parkway.” But that was over forty years ago. I am still from there, yet I say, “South Central PA, not far from Gettysburg.” And this may change again before I cease to be from anywhere. I’m hoping to say, “I live in Tucson” in the near future. Like Eilis I left a place behind. Must be some wandering Irish gypsy gene. My children too live far away, or should I say too far away? Ironically my oldest lives in Brooklyn, though she is not from there yet.

So, full disclosure, I am 100% Irish, but I am not from Ireland because I have never been there. It is a destination I’d like to visit along with Italy, where my wife’s DNA arose. But for now we are from here, trying not to be self centered and blind to the bigger world around us. And yet, there are deep unconscious tugs on our souls to be somewhere else. This is not our home yet.

Interviewing a candidate for associate pastor of our church years ago, I was the only non-local on the conference call. The senior pastor directed the candidate’s question about the town’s ethos to me. “Tell him, Burrito. You moved here back in 1980, right?”

“Well, buddy, it’s like this. If your grandfather is not buried in a local church graveyard, then you are not from here yet. And you can’t bring your grandfather’s coffin with you and rebury him here. That won’t count.” After a chuckle, our pastor concurred. “That’s about right.”

Where are you from, mate? What’s your story?  Where are you headed?

1. Prequellus

When I started writing this blog four years ago, I intuitively began with #2. I had a hunch that I’d want to come back and begin again, so I left a slot, headspace to expand if you will allow for the analogy. Now I’m editing and tweeking the occasional post, updating with pictures that I did not have originally.  I’m not sure if I can wedge this in the original place. I guess I’ll find out when I publish it. That’s as much of a plan as I had when I started the autobiographical blather I call eccentric self absorption. Currently I’m at post #344. At about three hours per post, I’ve racked up over a thousand hours blogging. Seems impossible, maybe shocking to my faithful three readers who often wonder if I simply typed a post while I slept or showered. I have not done that yet, but I appreciate a good challenge.

Sue B. asked me if I wrote under the influence. Well, how can I answer that?  I do not write or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, though you may not be able to tell by simple observation. I do write under the influence of eccentric urgency to spew out an anecdote or two. Why?  Maybe because I need to balance the overwhelming input I get from listening to clients all day. My brain’s inbox gets too full and I need to drain off some balderdash and baloney.  Here is some educated help…

“Bologna refers to a type of sausage made of finely ground meat that has been cooked and smoked. Baloney is nonsense. It is an early 20th-century American coinage derived from bologna. It may also be influenced by blarney, which in one of its definitions means nonsense or deceptive talk.”

So, for me, the highly emotional verbiage from others is psychological bologna input that I relieve by rendering it into baloney. The same analogy holds true for coffee and beer, but that output would be rude to exclaim. So there it is! I am guilty as charged:  baloney monger in the first degree. “Off with his head!”

Prequels are background stories made up after a certain story becomes popular. After The Godfather 1 & 2, someone figured out that making a pre- Godfather 1 might earn a boatload of money simply by brand association. Usually these obvious money grabs don’t hold up to scrutiny because they are contrived and must not contradict what is already known to the thinking audience. I, however, have no fear of contradiction or obvious contrivance. It’s what I do. My problem is not the prequel; it’s the fact that the rest of what I write has no marketable appeal beyond the inpatient mental health population. Again, Sue B. told me that hubby Mark has trouble following my bunny trails. No duh. I have trouble following my own bunny trails. As George Costanza said, “It’s not you; it’s me.”  It was his famous break up line that was used against him during one break up gone wrong. “I invented the ‘it’s not you; it’s me’ line,” he emphatically insisted. I would reiterate here but I’m already guilty of redundancy.

Shocking: An enormous python (pictured) descended from the ceiling into a family in Guangdong, ChinaYeah, that’s a python coming out of the ceiling.


“For the love of God, say something substantial!!” I want to yell at myself as I muddle around, cleaning my literary navel. Some days are like this– without beginning, middle, or end– and so we just muddle about wondering about time and gravitational pull; tides and whether pythons can live above dropped ceilings. If one did drop out of the ceiling, I’m sure it would be in order to feed on a warm mammal after crushing it/him/her. I mention this because the ceiling at the coffee shop is collapsing ever so slightly. I pointed this out to Andrea in my most proprietary manner. She dutifully took a picture of it with her phone and texted it to higher management. Meanwhile I am watching for monster snakes to slither out and around sleeping customers, slowly compacting their ribcage with each shorter breath.

“Dustin, wake up! A twelve foot python is crushing you to death.”

“Oh, I thought I was dreaming… I was in my ’88 Toyota Corolla and being compacted at the junkyard. Whew! That was really scary. I couldn’t move my arms or legs. It was horrible.”

“Uh, news flash, Buddy. This is not a fire hose wrapped around you. It’s a freakin’ python, snake, leviathan, soul less reptile.”

“Okay. No problem. I know how to deal with these critters.”


“Yeah. My girlfriend says I have dragon breath, so I’m just gonna breathe right in his face. He’ll lose his appetite. Just watch.”

The slimy beast just tightens up and Dustin’s complexion reddens.

“I’m watching. Nothing, man. They are descended from dragons, Dustin. It’s like mom’s home cooking when you breathe on it. Maybe I should call 911.”

“No, I’ll be dead by the time they show up. And there will be all that negative news coverage, you know. ‘Monster Snake devours local Saint’. We don’t want that kind of media hype in our coffee shop.”

“Okay. So what’s Plan B?”

“Try singing Cher songs. One time in the Amazon I was being crushed by an Anaconda, and all I could think of in my last moments were Cher songs. So I sang them and unbelievably the snake went limp and died.”

“Okay, Dustin. Tell me, I’m blank with fear. Name a Cher song.”

“Uh, what did I sing to that Anaconda?  Oh yeah, Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.”

In a husky alto…

“Gypsys, tramps, and thieves
We’d hear it from the people of the town
They’d call us Gypsys, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down”

“It’s working. He’s going slack. Hurry, sing ‘I got you, Babe.


‘They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
I got you babe
I got you babe’
“Oh, look at that. The coward is slithering right back into the ceiling. Couldn’t stand a little Cher. huh? Some dragon descendant you are. You’re a disgrace to your race!”
‘They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that’s so, we don’t have a plot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got
I got you babe
I got you babe’
“Okay, he’s gone now. You can stop.”
 “Not till I finish the bridge. It’s my favorite part.”
‘I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around’
“Seriously, we’re good. Stop it!!”
“What’s the big hurry? You were almost dead a minute ago and now you’re Mr. Crankypants.”
‘Don’t let them say your hair’s too long
‘Cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb’
“Enough!! I appreciate your singing snake intervention, but a thinking man can only stand so much and no more. I will strangle you if you utter another Cher syllable.”
“That’s it!! Argghhh.” Thrash. Wrestle. Strangle. “Oh, no. What have I done? I’ve choked out my only friend, my rescuer…. my. Oh, he’s coming back, say something, Buddy.”
‘I got you babe
I got you babe’
“No. Die you fiend!! I’ll plead self defense and insanity. Joel will understand.”
‘ I…….got…..you.”