Sep 29, 2008

You're 100 Feet Off The Ground

I work 84 hours a week. I have so much time to think.

I want to move to a city.
I want to live a lot of places.
One day I will have traveled the world.

I want my bike to work again. I haven't rode it in a week. I want to start out biking one day and decide not to turn back home.

Working around dangerous equipment or high above the ground (really in any dangerous situation) I can't help but think of the worst case scenario, if only for a second.
I imagine myself getting plowed by a train.
Falling down the elevator shaft.
Leaping 100 ft. to the gravel below.
Losing fingers or limbs. I am terrified of dismemberment. I obsess over it sometimes.

I'm beginning to enjoy my job quite a lot, but thats the way it always starts out.
For me, jobs are a lot like relationships - they're only fun for so long, after that you suffer through them when you know the best thing to do is just walk out.

Nobody challenges me. Ever.

Sometimes I fear I'll be single for life.
Some days I think it would be alright.

I think about my friend in Chicago who in any other situation would be more than my friend. Lucky for us I guess.
I think about her a lot, especially early in the morning. I have to stop thinking about her when I become too aroused.

I think about all my friends and how often I don't see them. I fear we will only become more and more distant.

Sometimes I want to accuse my mother of being too republican or living with too much fear.

I'd like to buy a lot of things with my money but never buy anything. I often feel like I don't need anything.
I spend a lot of time, not a lot of money. To me, time is more valuable than money.
When I'm not spending time I'm sleeping.

I really want a pair of Wrangler jeans and a pair of cowboy boots.

I want to live with less contradictions, myself.

I want to make more things. For me creation is more valuable than consumption.

I never want a fancy vehicle.
I'd like an old truck with a bench seat. Maybe just a moped. maybe just a bicycle. Something I could wrench on in the garage until i've had too much beer.

Someday I want to be a farmer. A poor farmer, with a vintage red and white dump truck and a sense of humor.
I want to wave at every car I pass.
I want some barnyard animals. Any animals will do.

I want to have a wife, or maybe just a really good companion, someone to love regardless the title.
Someone to garden with.
Some one to weld metal with.
Someone who will allow me to put weird sculptures in the yard.
Someone I can record music with in the living room.

I want to have an abundance of musical instruments around the house for my children. I want to show them really good albums. I want to listen to the stereo at the dinner table.
I want to give them unique names.

I never want to win the lottery.

This whole thing seems really selfish. Fortunately for me I could be happy without any of it.

Sep 27, 2008

You Can't Dust A Grain Elevator

Don't even try it. The next day you'll realize, "Shit, I totally fucking wasted my time"






Sep 25, 2008

A Day Begins - A Day Ends

At 6:45pm the Sun hangs low in the western sky of Tolono.
I wear a layer of dirt and appear to have been powdered white from head to foot.
I smell of daylong sweat and thick dust has accumulated on my arm hairs, it looks like a thousand mini dreadlocks.
I stand outside of the North pit alongside, "Junk" as the last semi pulls up with the day’s final load of beans.

Harvest has officially begun - day 1 is in the books and I now know the definition of "a long days work."
There is something that resonates in the air during harvest, you can literally feel it. I've always been able to feel it. There is a sense of seasonal change and a sense of consummation and fruition. It's emotionally charging.
It feels like the saying, "one closed door opens another." That's the best I can explain it.

Junk and I sit together on a concrete stoop for the last ten minutes of our shift and enjoy a cigarette. Neither of us say a word to each other, we just sit facing the polychromatic horizon and experience a mutual respect of silence and reflection.
I think about my level of exhaustion and how it will only become more and more so.
I think about how life has brought me to this point.
I think about absolutely everything.

A revelation of sorts came over at that moment as the surreality of moving back home completely vanished. Memories and familiarities of my town became less distant and less foreign and once again I cherished them.
I could see myself again as a boy, racing my BMX bike through the crossing guards across the railroad tracks to beat an oncoming train.
I remember the path I used to walk home from grade school, today it's the same path I walk home from work.
As a child, the grain elevator served as the colossal structure of my observation, imagination and wonderment, and now I am employed there.
I feel as though a piece of my life has come full circle, as though I've reached some "right of passage".
I can now begin greater things.

While in college, I would make occasional visits home and leave shortly thereafter due to overwhelming depression and feelings of alienation. For a long time I believed those feelings occurred because of returning to such a small and lonely town,
because of people who had moved on or passed away,
because I wanted to be nothing like the people who had stayed.
I now realize those feelings stemmed from my abrupt desertion - the fact that I coldly abandoned the place that made me James Wilcox, all in pursuit of something better. For a long time I thought I was better than Tolono, thus, I set out to find that "something" better. But it's not about that at all. It's only about knowing yourself better, It doesn't matter where you go, you won't find it until you've found yourself. That is the way to empowerment, and that's one thing I sorely lacked for a long time.

I have no shame for where I grew up, in fact now I respect it. Tolono made me great (no arrogance intended)
Tolono gave me life, personality, heart, and most the things I am today.
To completely disregard it would be to disregard a large piece of myself.

One thing remains true at all times - The sun will come up and the sun will go down no matter how you live your life and no matter how long you live.
At the end of the day the next closest thing to "truth" is one's self.
It's very important for us all to understand our individual uniqueness - the idea that there will never be another person quite like ourselves. I believe everyday can be a remarkable one as long as you genuinely welcome it as that person; everything else is just filler, some good and some bad.

This is my home now and for as long or as short as I want it to be and I choose to embrace it whole-heartedly. It is who I am,
The Midwest Kid.

Sep 22, 2008

Dodging Fist Fights at the Townie Bar

Here's the scene:

The moment we walk through the spring-hinged screen door... the conversations, the pool and dart games, the people watching rodeo on the television... everything stops. The only thing that could have made this entrance better is if somebody had bumped the needle on a record player. I say to Tony and Natascha (my posse for the night) - "The first time someone calls me fagot, I'm getting in a fight." In near unison they respond "Do it."

1. It's not a good idea to where (nearly) skin-tight jeans and a small purple t-shirt to the most hillbilly bar in the middle of butt-fucking Illinois.
I was seriously breaking necks in every direction with my apparel (and not in a good way).
It was a situation when you can physically feel stranger's eyes all over your body. Like what it must feel like for a girl to be the only female at a party.
If stares we're punches then I was getting fucking gang stomped!

2. When Natascha said, "It's NOT going to be the most glamorous night of your life" she really meant to say "we're going to a bar where camouflage trucker hats and sleeveless t-shirts may as well be the dress code."
I wanted to try this approach on somebody "oh hey guy's, anybody into NASCAR? Okay, okay... how about John Deer? Anybody into John Deer?"

3. It's karaoke night.. I think to myself "how perfect. I fucking hate karaoke!"

Now here's the reality: (all of the above remains true)

We are all apprehensive and slightly self-conscious about walking into a bar that's the size of a two car garage and fully lit by florescent ceiling light's in a town we've never treaded foot before. We look like Metro-sexual city kid's and I remember my first thought being "None of these people would ever believe that I actually work at a grain elevator."

We drink Budweiser from aluminum cans and shoot warm rail whiskey out of clear plastic cups. [And for the longest time I thought no bar could possibly beat PK's when it came to ordering liquor... sadly defeated, PK's... sadly defeated...] Oh, and one more small detail, everybody is smoking in the bar. "Smoke it but don't promote it" says the bartender as he pours each of us another three fingers worth of old granddad. For the rest of the night we chain smoke like the Polish but use the concealing farmers grip method(so not to promote it.)

The next thing I realize is "I'm fucking drunk" and somebody is calling Natascha's name from over by the Karaoke stage. She raises her hand in the air and does some kind of a drunken gallop over to the "stage" (which is more just like a dark corner). And then there is the opening riff of "Sweet Child of Mine"

By the end of the second verse, people are gathering around the stage, and just in time for the breakdown - "Where do we go now?" "where do we go?" that whole two minute vocal sequence of Axel Rose asking nothing else but "where do we go?" It's actually kind of hilarious. And she totally nails it, spot on. When the song ends the crowd goes fucking nuts!! There are applauds and these loud bellowing "Whoooo!" yells.
Then she goes straight to the bathroom and barfs.

I'm not sure I could prove it, but Gun's N' Roses might have turned a potentially bad night into a really awesome one.

After the bartender shouts "last call!" somebody mentions to us that we can purchase package. "Package?" This actually means that you can buy 12 packs of beer from the bar. So without hesitation we buy some "package" of PBR for $7 Dollars. $7 Dollars!! From a bar. Talk about "takin er' easy." No wonder people say that.

On our way out the door, (open beers in hand) the bartender shout's "Hey. Hey guy's!" we all turn around. he waves and says "see you guy's!"

Stereotypes can cause bad evenings. Don't do it.

Sep 19, 2008


-Yesterday I fell in love with a band like I haven't fallen in love with a band in years
-Today I was only able to listen to commercial country radio for 8 hours at my job

-Yesterday I rode my bike along Michigan Lake at sunset and sat aside the shore with a charming & engaging girl
-Today I rode my bike to the country to blow off steam but blew a tire two miles outside of town

-Yesterday I could have caught a cab
-Today, bitter men in empty Chevy trucks passed right by me and my broke down bike. I would have taken a ride

-Yesterday I ate one of the best chicken pitas I've ever put in my mouth
-Today I ate lunch-meat from Wal-Mart

-Yesterday I drank locally purchased coffee brewed in a french press
-Today I drank watered down Folgers and disguised the bad taste with coffee-mate.

-Yesterday I saw baby twins that will probably become two of the best people to have ever lived
-Today I was surrounded by a multitude of obtuse middle-aged adults who "fucking know it all" but will ultimately let us all down

-Yesterday I felt that people genuinely cared about my personality
-Today I felt like people only cared about themselves

-Yesterday I walked the streets of Uptown and felt perfectly fine
-Today I felt better chances of getting rolled by some hillbilly fucks in a pickup truck

-Yesterday I had a lover
-Today I am barely loved

Sep 14, 2008

Bedtime Story

I've gotten back into the habit of reading before bed
and it feels great.
Besides sex and pills, I've always found literature to offer some of the most soothing sleep possible. So while bedtime remains "lonely" here in the lonesome Midwest, I've got Charles Bukowski to send me off right and rouse my imagination for some fascinating REM (that's the dream stage)
It's a lite read but loaded with debauchery, language and sarcasm (the good stuff)
It adds a bit more adventure to the somewhat humdrum life of Tolono, IL.
It adds a bit of hilarity to my monotonous 6am mornings as I stomp off to work. And it's a constructive dream enhancer.
My co-workers tell me that they only dream about work, I tell them I dream about weird wild shit and they find that fascinating, they almost seem envious. It's strange.

Sep 7, 2008

John McCan't

For (mostly) entertainment purposes I tuned in with a majority of the other suckers in America to watch John McCain deliver his acceptance speech during the republican national convention.
What was clearly a total snoozer right from the start eventually transgressed into a second-class spectacle of overzealous, uninformed, American ignorance and outlined a bleak and distant light for the future hopes of western civilization.
Okay, maybe that's going too far. But what about the republicans, haven't they gone too far? Is four more years really all the higher we can raise the bar? Is that really in our best interest and is McCain really all the republicans could muster up?
Oh but wait a minute, wait a minute, this motherfucker is a maverick, a real Washington outsider. He stands for the little people, for the fucking elevator workers! Didn’t George Bush pull that same generic shit eight years ago? And a Maverick? Seriously? Break me off a piece of that kit-kat bar, dick head.

From The Associated Press:
"Voting with George Bush 90 percent of the time isn't being a maverick, it's being the president's sidekick,"

And if it's not enough that McCain already closely resembles Bush, how about his generous gratitude for him.

From the opening of McCain's Speech:
[I'm grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history. And I'm grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country.]
Honorable service? Let's all take just a moment to review the last eight years shall we. If McCain's perspective of Bush's two terms is a positive one, why should we expect much more from him when he's calling the shots?

For me, the most excitement to come of this over-rated right-wing douche-bag festival was how progressively pissed off I became with McCain's supporters. The raucous crowd inconsiderately caused numerous interruptions during the speech only to chant in unison "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!" "U-S-A!" and other (flag-toting "pride is now in the form of rally chants") faux-patriot bullshit.
On the topic of low standards, the most degrading moment of all happened when the crowd erupted into a rally of "drill, baby, drill" removing every shred of decency from the convention whatsoever. I would have been fucking embarrassed to have been there and they should all be ashamed. McCain attempted to ride on the coat tails of Obama's obvious theme for "change" but the republicans carelessly and shamelessly regressed back to their traditional consumptive thirsts and displayed such little interests in "Change" as they ignorantly "drill, baby, drill[ed]" themselves into a hole of conventional ideals and false pride.

The Wall Street Journal reported this:
[Environmental groups, citing a U.S. Energy Information Administration report, say that drilling won’t solve the country’s energy problems. The study found offshore drilling wouldn’t have much effect on oil and gas production or on prices before 2030.]

It just goes to show America's disgusting addiction for oil. Change isn't about getting what we think we need when we think we need it, but setting higher standards in sights of a better future. For Fuck sake!

From the Associated Press:
"The idea that John McCain represents change in Washington is as laughable as his claim that he'll take on the special interests when some of the biggest corporate lobbyists in America are running his campaign."

Here are a few things I picked out after reviewing John McCain's speech. A few things worth pointing out.

It's heavily latent with themes fighting and war. Many self-priding story's of himself and his past. John McCain claims that he “works for the people” however, a lot of his speech seemed to be about himself.

Commonly used words in his 30 minute speech:
Me - 152 times
My - 63 times
You (americans)- only 61 times
Fight - 25 times
Fought - 9 times
War - 12 times
Peace - only 5 times

“We’ll go at it over the next two months. That’s the nature of these contests”

For McCain politics isn’t much more than a contest? A fucking contest…? That’s what makes this country so great; our president is the winner of a big contest! Yea!!!

“I said I’d rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.” Again with the fucking contests! War is a loss in every thinkable way, asshole. What are you going to do, dowse the American flag with a bottle of champagne after we’ve finally mowed down every Iraqi? (A real victory!)

Yup, war is a game and politics is a contest. It’s fucking sad.

My last thought:
John McCain may possibly read teleprompted speeches with less sincerity than George Bush himself. And the saddest thing about that speech was all of the asshole McCain supporters in St. Paul who were spoon fed large doses of bullshit, ate it up and went fucking car-razzzy over it!! Simply put, the man needed to buff up on his integrity and enthusiasm and the willfully ignorant crowd needed to step the fuck off in attempt to reserve some dignity. They actually booed at the mention of Obama and the Democratic Party. They actually booed! If that was the best from the Republican Party, our country will surely be at its worst.

I think David Cross nailed it when he said, "this should be a bumper sticker... I'm an ignorant motherfucker who just watches network news and I vote."

Sep 3, 2008

Corn & Beans Dammit!

Yep, that's my job. Technically it's called a grain elevator. I will call it my home for the next two months as I will literally spend more time there than my own house.

Here's a quick rundown:

  • It is the largest structure in Tolono and the only one that defines any sort of a sky line.
  • The view from the top is extraordinary. And if you didn't know, the midwest has the best sunsets
  • It's extremely filthy, everyday I eat a dust sandwich (they're not very delicious)
  • Rotten corn smells somewhere in the middle of you're worst BM, throw up (the grade school cafeteria kind) and that black stuff under your toenails after you've let them grow too long.
  • Smoking will kill you (common knowledge) Never light a cigarette within 50 feet of the elevator. Actually don't even think about fire, if you do you'll cause a massive explosion and the people who are still alive will be pissed at you!
  • Most areas of the elevator run on 480 volts. That electrical current is so strong it won't hold on to you, it will toss you and maybe stop your heart in the process.
  • All the mobile equipment are like adult toys - big colorful knobs and joysticks, often luminescent. today I drove an End Loader - pretty rad.
  • There is a saw that has a "munch bit". It chews away at metal little by little kinda like pac-man and scatters little nibble bits all over the floor. I want one.