The Secret Cremation Society

I gave my mom the title to my Acura.

Then I headed south and gave my niece the title to my truck on her 17th birthday.

I sold my 328 to Carmax.

I figured I'd take the Z4 out to the west coast "one more time" and then sell it when I got out there.

It's almost like it knew: It died on me out in Needles, California. 

I had it hauled off by some company in Nevada and took a flight out of Las Vegas.

While that was going on I had a Sev 2 outage 2 hours to "doors open," and this one stumped both myself and the other escalation engineer. We couldn't reach anybody from Development. I got fucking lucky and figured out the problem, then I wrote a four-liner SQL patch sitting outside in the sun and restarted all the services. We got everything up and running five minutes after "doors open." Hey, do the other two applicants for this position routinely pull shit like this off for the company? At least I had a good cellular connection.

I wasn't planning on visiting the overlook at Lake Mead again. Last time I was there, it was pitch black and it was so silent I could hear the electricity crackling on the overhead wires. That was one of my all-time favorite nights for stargazing and I remembered it fondly.

This time around, there was a lot of light and noise pollution and the reservoir level was so low it looked like the whole damn lake's about to go bone dry soon. It was just another time and place and it wasn't as magical anymore. This seems to happen to me a lot when I re-trace my footsteps today.

This place caught my eye when I went to deposit the check from Carmax. If they were open on weekends, I just might have walked inside and asked if they offered "walk in" service or if I actually had to die first.


When I finally got a flight out of Vegas, my flight attendant was someone from the program. Small world. I waved. He came to my seat and gave me a hug.

He asked me if I needed a ride home.

Yeah that sounds... Really good. I just nodded and tried not to choke or tear up until he wasn't looking.

I wasn't really expecting him to talk to me all that much but he was super sweet to me.

We hit some turbulence at one point and if it had been anyone else on the flight crew that night I just might have asked one of the flight attendants for a goddamned jack and coke.

Update: If you're in the community, it was Spencer. I know you know Spencer. 

Posted at at October 30, 2016 on Sunday, October 30, 2016 by |   | Filed under:

America the Beautiful, the Horrible, the Amazing, the Tragic.

I was minding my own business and swigging my beer on a rooftop deck on W 28th St when I was cornered by the Jersey Twins.

They were both really cute, they had me feeling a little insecure.

We’re talking and getting to know each other.

I’m asked what I do for fun.

I explained that I was roaming around America with a backpack and taking it all in.

I don’t think they believed me.

The one on my left sneered and asked “And how is America? Is it beautiful?”

His friend, who I favored more: “Is it horrible?”

From my left: “Is it amazing?”

His friend: “Is it tragic?”

I didn’t have a good answer for that.

But I was living for how these two bitchy manicured cosmo sipping queens from Jersey were trying to make fun of me ... or flirt with me ... or perhaps both... and in the process had managed to accidentally sum up the human condition from the roof of the NYC Eagle.

They had just made my night!

I thought about the question.

I grinned and simply replied “yes.”

I took my beer over to the edge of the roof and sat down alone wishing that Donald Trump would lose the election, stay in New York City, and build a Great Big Beautiful Wall to keep New Jersey out instead.


Posted at at October 26, 2016 on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by |   | Filed under:

"Home is where the hatred is"

A junkie walking through the twilight
I'm on my way home
I left three days ago, but no one seems to know I'm gone
Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it,
might not be such a bad idea if I never, never went home again

Stand as far away from me as you can and ask me why
hang on to your rosary beads
close your eyes to watch me die
you keep saying, kick it, quit it, kick it, quit it
God, but did you ever try
to turn your sick soul inside out
so that the world, so that the world
can watch you die

Home is where I live inside my white powder dreams
home was once an empty vacuum that's filled now with my silent screams
home is where the needle marks
try to heal my broken heart
and it might not be such a bad idea if I never, if I never went home again
home again
home again
home again
kick it, quit it
kick it, quit it
kick it, quit it
kick it, can't go home again

-- Gil Scott-Heron

Posted at at October 26, 2016 on by |   | Filed under:

When Summer's Gone ...

I didn't take my cellphone out to the lake shore yesterday.

I wandered across the Sydney Marovitz Golf Course and got yelled at by a groundskeeper:

"You don't want to get hit in the head by a golf ball, do ya?"

I stopped in my tracks and hemmed and hawed indecisively about the question for a couple of seconds. I actually had to think about it.

"Yeah. Um. I kind of do right now?"

It was cold outside, the water looked dirty, and my heart sank a little bit for not being completely breathtaken by the majesty of her shore and the city skyline. I daresay I was almost disappointed.

I could barely finish the thought before her waves started crashing into the metal breakers along the shore in front of me.

Before I knew it, the waves were 5.. 10.. 20 feet high, crashing into the breaker and splashing on the concrete steps I sat on.

One wave would hit the surface and roll a good forty feet down the shore in front of me.

It looked like giant white fireworks popping off into the air:




I was sitting fairly far away, but of the waves came down with a hard enough splash to kiss me on the cheek.

I missed her too.

I began to see rainbows in the mist as the waves rose and crashed into the barricade and fell.

I started crying out there because I didn't know if or when I'd see her again.

Posted at at October 25, 2016 on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by |   | Filed under:


-written by Jeremy Gloff
-appears on Midnight Blooming (1996)

People are stupid
That’s why I realize
I gotta blow out of this city
Before it blows my life away
My mother’s a dreamer
I inherit her wings
We’re not satisfied
By the simple things at all
When summer’s gone
I’ll be leaving again.

I think back to when I last cried
In my old house
Where you laid by my side sometimes.
Then I realize every time I go
I abandon everything
That I learn to know again
When summer’s gone
I’ll be leaving again

I know lots of good people
With dead-end jobs
Or dead-end dreams
Or dead-end lives
Sucked into their bottles
Sucked up by TV
Stuck in their living rooms
Where they think they’re going

When summer’s gone
I’ll be leaving again
I’m gonna have to change my state of mind
And leave everyone I value behind
I’m changing
And you’re not changing
And I know you can feel it
Cause I can feel it
I know you can feel it too
Yes I can still feel it…

Posted at at October 16, 2016 on Sunday, October 16, 2016 by |   | Filed under:

100 stories about leaving Chicago

Whenever I look down at the ground racing below me, I'd be well advised to remember that I only got this job in the first place because some recruiter ended up getting my number mixed up with some other candidate and calling me on accident.

I was heading south on the outer drive and Res ("They Say Vision") came up on the radio. Steve used to always play a Robbie Rivera mix of that track and he'd just gone off to prison for dealing again.

I'd just warned him: Dude. You have got to get out of the game because you have a gigantic neon sign over your head that says "Arrest me."

Be he said he's "got this."

He wasn't going to slip up this time. 

It was cold outside but it was sunny and beautiful.

I shook my head and I thought "Thank god you're not on that horrible fucking drug."

I was on US-41, right next to Soldier Field. Where I'm still banned for life. The phone rang. It was a call from Tina.

Tina sounded a little manic. She said she was airjamming a pretend guitar in her office to Metallica's "Master of Puppets" while she looked for a Puppet Master.

I was ostensibly leaving for Texas on vacation that morning, but I had despaired at the thought of returning and I honestly had half a mind not to. I wasn't sure but I had some time to think about it and perhaps begrudgingly make the right choice to turn those wheels back north towards February, the looming cloud of my boss's halotosis, and an alarm clock set for 5:15am.

I wasn't actively looking for another job. I didn't even have a resume posted anywhere. But I had a feeling that I was about to say adios to the doublemint twins and the stock exchange after all.

"Well, I'm really beginner to intermediate with that and I only learned it under duress. I was kind of forced to learn it so how about a Puppet Slave instead?"

"That's closer than I've gotten all day!"

Before that phone call was over, she was like OK fuck that other guy, we're submitting you instead.

"All this time I've spent looking for a Puppet Master, and I should have been looking for a Puppet Slave..."

Posted at at October 13, 2016 on Thursday, October 13, 2016 by |   | Filed under: