Flotsam and Jetsam

The Story Of Kaylee Ane Me

I’m thinking about my “ex-dog,” Kaylee, tonight for some reason and feel compelled to write about our story together. I’ve always loved animals, but never wanted any myself as I didn’t want the expense or the responsibility. Being a freelance actor and musician, I’m gone a lot as well, so not the best home for an animal. Kaylee belonged to my ex when we started dating and so I started spending a lot of time with her, watching her and walking her a lot (Kaylee, that is…not my ex). When we moved in together (all three of us), Kaylee very much became “our” dog. It was never like “Hey, you need to get your dog some more food,” or anything like that. My ex had a regular day job, and so me being a freelancer, could spend a lot more time with Kaylee at home, on walks, for vet appointments, etc. She was a very quirky dog. Not in any bad way. She was a poop diva. Very particular about where she went, and almost always had to poop twice per walk instead of getting it out all in one go which was slightly annoying and used a lot of doggy bags. She was very enthusiastic and loving in her way but not the most affectionate dog you’d ever meet. Never the less she was sweet, good-natured and I loved her immensely (Kaylee that is, though that also applied to my ex).

When my ex and I broke up, it was the first time I’d ever had to deal with losing a pet in the process (as well as a girlfriend, a home and neighborhood I loved, and such that made it feel like many breakups in one). Now once again, my aim here is not to gain sympathy or paint my ex in a bad light. It was complicated and she had to do what she felt was right so there are no villains in this story, to be clear. My ex soon after got a job traveling a lot so, much to her dismay, was not really in a position to keep Kaylee (and neither was I), so Kaylee went to live with my ex’s parents which is actually a great life for Kaylee. She has another dog to be with who she loves, a great climate, attentive humans, a yard, and wonderful scenery. All in all, her life likely got majorly upgraded.

Maybe all this thinking was prompted by the latest Radiolab episode which had a part about dogs and their behaviors and such (specifically whether they can be “racist”) and it made me wonder how much emotion, thinking, and anthropomorphism we put on them and how much is real. Like, I haven’t seen Kaylee in probably 2 years and I wonder if she would remember me and how much she loved me, or if I would just be like any other stranger to her now. Was it simply that I fed, walked and took care of her? Do we imagine these bonds because we want them to be true? I don’t think so. I do think there’s enough evidence throughout history to support these ideas to some degree, but I just wonder if it goes as deep as we want it to. I hope she would remember me. Sometimes I still send her thoughts. I hope her doggie brain still thinks of me sometimes. You’re a good girl, Kaylee. I know you’re happy. I just hope you don’t forget me. I’ll chew on a squeaky stuffed snake in your honor.

My Journey To Atlantis and Beyond

I had an item. The exact details of this item are unimportant, personal, and will not be detailed here. It was a special item to me that I had acquired shortly after my last breakup, over two years ago. It was a totem. A token representing love to me. I have a tendency to anthropomorphize a little too much so this item was alive to me. I spoke to it. Especially when I couldn’t speak to her. It was also a conduit, a connection.

Now, I’m sure many of you at this point are probably thinking that it sounds like something I should have been rid of long ago, but we each have to walk our own path, be true to ourselves and no words will do this item, or my relationship with it, justice. For me, it was a symbol or unconditional, unwavering love, despite any obstacles, storms, logistically unfortunate circumstances. It was a symbol of a promise that I had made. A badge of being a steadfast Love Warrior. I figured I would probably keep it until such time as someone new entered my life, if that is to happen, or else until such time as it felt like it was time to let it go.

A while back, I started using a dice rolling app when I was having a hard time deciding between two things. I would ask the universe which way I should go, and then use the virtual 2 sided “die” to get my answer, choosing to believe that it was universe answering me and not just random digital bits giving me a meaningless random outcome. Over the last two years, I had checked in with this item at least a couple of times to see if it was time to let it go. The last time I remember was just before I left for my six month journey on the cruise ship. When I asked then, it told me that it should come with me, so I brought it. Over the course of my time here (at this point, I’m just about at the halfway point of the 6 month contract), I started to get the feeling that maybe one of the ports of call would be where it would get released.

Yesterday, I stood out on the bow of the ship, held the item in my hand and found myself afraid to ask it the question. In fear that it was time. Part of me laughed at the ridiculousness of all this, but never the less, it was a real feeling. So I told it to show me a “1” if it was time to let it go, or a “2” if I was to keep it around for now. I hesitated tapping the screen, and then willed myself to do it, closing my eyes for just a moment. And there it was on the screen. “1”. Tears filled my eyes. I rushed back to my cabin and cried for a few minutes. Tears that I felt had been just below the surface for quite some time, and yet at least partially surprised me at their appearance. Tears that come back now as I write this. I let the feelings and tears flow until they were done and then made peace with it. I spent lat night, another “Elegant Evening,” walking around the ship with the item in my pocket. Eating, listening to music, just feeling the energy of life and all the people around me.

This morning, after a safety drill, I left the ship with the item. My initial plan was to go to a nearby beach spot behind a hotel and let it go there, but then I remembered that across the water was a popular resort called “Atlantis,” and something about that just called to me. Plus, I liked the fact that it was a bit of a trek. Not much, only a mile or two at most, but still I liked the idea of having a walk and making it feel a little more like a journey and a mission. I walked across the huge Sydney Poitier bridge and as I neared Atlantis is was starting to sprinkle a bit. As I got closer it started raining harder but I would not be deterred. Besides, it’s not like there was anywhere I could really go. I arrived at Atlantis soaking wet. It was impressive. Very cool Atlantean decor. I went inside and wandered around a bit, enjoying some huge indoor aquariums. It very much reminded me of the two posh resorts where I had stayed in Cancun with my ex when we were dating. Unfortunately, I found there was no beach access unless you were a guest so I headed back out. I eventually found out through messaging my band mates and talking to some locals that there was a public beach further down the road in the opposite direction, so I set out that way. Eventually I saw the “Beach Access” signs and followed to a beach (Cabbage Beach, I think).

I was in luck. It was high tide and there were huge, crashing waves. I found a spot a little further down that was less busy where a couple were enjoying playing in the giant waves. They looked about as high as a person not very far out, and were coming way up the beach. I took off my shoes and put my phone, wallet and ID in them, then stuffed my socks in, and wrapped it all up with my NASA shirt, and set the bundle on a beach chair, safe from any incoming waves. I walked just a little way toward the ocean, and each wave would bury my feet up to the ankles in sand, and threaten to pull my legs out from under me. I took the item from my pocket. I had contemplated the ramifications of letting the ocean have it, and determined that I didn’t think it do any harm. Nothing, plastic or harmful. Somehow, this is just what felt right. I thanked the item for its support and comfort over the years, and said it was time to release that energy back into the universe and the largest, most powerful force on the planet, the ocean. I said a lot more to both the item and to the ocean, but those words were just for them. As another huge wave rolled in, I plunged my hands deep into the sand and let the item go. I stood there for a while, with each powerful wave moving lots of sand. I never saw the item go, but I’m fairly positive it would have been carried away powerfully and quickly.

This wasn’t goodbye. This wasn’t a death. This wasn’t grieving or mourning. The item wasn’t her and she wasn’t the item. For better and worse it was too easy to anthropomorphize the item. This wasn’t any admission of defeat or hopelessness. It was simply a step in healing and letting go of the past. Trying to always be more present. This was saying that I trust the universe. Releasing control. Believing that whatever path I am on is always the path I need to be on. This was knowing that even if some crazy timeline brought this woman back into my life in the future, it would be a new beginning and not a continuation of the past. The item was a token of love, but it was also a token of pain and desperation. Too often we hold on to our pain. Swaddle ourselves in it. Weave identities from it. It is a particularly human trait that I’ll never understand. I don’t need the item to be a Love Warrior, or to send wishes of love and happiness to her into the universe. It has no bearing on any connection I may or may not have. Like almost everything in life, I have a choice as to how I view all this. It doesn’t have to “a thing.” It doesn’t have to be painful. It can easily be viewed as positive. A new beginning. Leaving behind pain. Letting go of that which doesn’t serve us. Our perspective is quite often much more in our control than we think. I’ll never forget the item. I’m sure I’ll even miss the item when my ego and pain body starve for food and try to poke the sore places, but its watch is done. As is this step of my spiritual journey. In the end, I walked over severn miles. I hadn’t eaten all day so on my way back, I stopped at Phoenix Chinese food, where I had eaten once before and had some of the best Chinese food I have ever had. As I write this back in my cabin on the ship, I feel like Samwise at the end of Lord of the Rings. Don’t get me wrong, my journey was nothing like his, but it was epic in its own very small way.

“Well, I’m back,” he said.

Home

I have a few private blogs for different purposes. Kind of private journals. I noticed one today that I had forgotten about. I couldn’t remember why I created it. It had one entry. I quite liked what I’d written so I’m putting it here. I’m not sure why I wrote this in a private blog or what else I thought I’d do with this blog.

There are two truths. Both real. Seemingly at odds, yet here they exist within me. Despite whatever troubles my life may have, I am mostly at peace. Grateful for my many gifts, talents and blessings. Overall, my life is pretty damn great. Yet beneath it all, I feel the gargantuan darkness. Lurking in the depths like some legendary, mythic sea monster. I know it’s there. I feel its presence. The way it changes the pressure around me. Almost imperceptible and undetectable ripples from the deepest depths.

I have a genuine joy, happiness, and love of life, yet I often feel like a ghost walking through this world. An empty, hollow husk of a person, tired and weary of this life. Always tired. Wanting to sleep. Maybe not wake up. I compose suicide notes in my head, though I have no intention of any such thing.

I am genuinely fine on my own and can see a bright and wonderful life ahead, yet I can’t seem to shake the loss. I can’t stop the comparisons. The desire for what I’ve tasted but no longer have. I try to be present and non-resistant. I often succeed. And often fail. It’s like I’ve been ejected into an alternate dimension and it’s not a bad dimension, per se, but it’s not right. It’s off-kilter. I don’t belong here.

So I do the only thing I can do. I just keep swimming. I enjoy the sun on my skin and wind across my face. And I try to enjoy the water and make this new dimension my home despite the unsettling presence I can feel somewhere deep below me. And the undying desire deep within my very being for my real home. Where I belong. Or maybe that’s just resistance again and I should just call it my “previous” home.

Or perhaps it would be most accurate to simply say…”her.”

The Magic Of Radio

I can’t remember the last time radio was a part of my life. I got my first vehicle somewhere in the mid-90s and from that point on it was CDs, iPods, iPhones, and podcasts. The last real, strong radio related memories I have are laying in bed on Sunday nights during high school and listening to Dr. Demento from 10 until midnight.

Recently, my friend and band mate, Karl, was espousing the SiriusXM Beatles channel and I was intrigued. I have the capability in my car but have never subscribed since I have more than enough podcasts, audiobooks, music and Spotify to fill all my time. However this Beatles channel sounded cool and I wanted to check it out so eventually, after encountering a mountain of annoyances and technical problems in the research and signing up stages alone (bad form, SiriusXM), I finally managed to sign up for a free 30 day trial of their streaming service.

I found myself lying in bed trying to drift off to sleep to all things Beatles and feeling a little of that magic again. Feeling a connection to the world as these waves streamed in to my bedroom live. I had no control of what played (though there is on-demand content as well if you like) and no idea what would come next. I found it especially appropriate to be reliving this with The Beatles as they often spoke of the influences they heard on the radio that had such a hug impact on them. I felt a kinship knowing that John, Paul, George and Ringo probably spent many a night listening to these magical sounds of rock and roll streaming into their bedrooms.

I’m not sure if I’ll actually subscribe when my trial is over (I also hate the fact that they still use the outdated annoyance model of making customers call if they want to cancel), but the content of The Beatles channel has been cool enough to at least make me consider it.

Sea of Idiocy

Okay people. I try to keep it pretty positive here, but I truly want to know: what do you do when you feel like you’ve lost faith in humanity as a whole?

I’m incredibly lucky in that my personal world or “Bubble” is filled with wonderful, amazing, beautiful people, but I can’t help but feel like my personal sampling is greatly skewed when event after event after event seems to definitively tell me that those amazing people are vastly outnumbered by vast sea of idiocy, or Idiosea, whose tides cannot be stemmed, sandbagged, leveed or otherwise contained. I’m seriously ready to be abducted by aliens.

Impostor Syndrome

I know that “impostor syndrome” is something that most people feel, no matter how successful, loved, etc. I definitely feel it, but interestingly I realized today that I feel it much more acutely as a musician than as an actor. I’m generally pretty comfortable and confident when doing acting or voiceover work (not that I don’t have my moments of insecurity), but with music, it’s different. Especially when dealing with other musicians I respect or admire. I get super nervous and in my head. I wondered what the difference was and I have a theory. I think it’s because acting is far less “quantifiable.” It’s far more amorphous and subjective and hard to measure.

Though music has those qualities as well to some degree, there is a technical aspect to it that can be measured and quantified. How well you play technically and how much knowledge you have. Can you play any scale known to man at inhuman speeds? Not that this is by any means the end all, be all, but just one example of something quantifiable. Did they hear you mess up that note in that solo? I know that it’s ridiculous. I’ve been a musician for over 30 years. It’s one of the ways I actually make a living. The quantity and breadth of my experience is dense and deep. And yet I so often feel like some kind of “amateur” when dealing with other people. Or more accurately, I believe that is what they will think of me. It lines up with one of my core insecurities which is that I don’t have low self esteem at all. I am quite proud and confident of who I am and the gifts I possess, and yet for some reason I always think that no one but me recognizes that. I never assume my own self image will extend to others’ image of me.

We humans are strange. I’m not sure of the point of this post other to let all you fake impostors out there know that you are not alone. Even Paul McCartney admitted to feeling this way until fairly recently. Many of the people you idolize have the exact same feeling, though to us that would seem ridiculous. Just know that the only impostor is the lying voice that tells you you are going to be found out as an impostor.

Heath Vs. The Intradimensional Ninja Roach

I feel something tickle my foot while I’m at my computer desk. I look down and it’s one of those giant “water bugs” that most people call “Cockroaches.” It runs further under my desk up against the wall.

I rush into the kitchen to find something to spray it with. All I can find is 409 All surface cleaner, but I figure that should do the trick. I come back and of course it’s no longer where it was. Crap. It could be anywhere. As luck would have it I quickly spot it near my desk. I start spraying it with 409. It runs under my desk again. I spray it all the way. It’s back against the wall and now amongst my tangle of carious cables back there. I grab a Whataburger drink lid to try and get it out to dispose of it. I swipe at it once…it gets jarred a bit but is still amongst the wires. I swipe at it again and it gets knocked…where? I don’t see it! Anywhere. I get a head lamp and my phone and start taking pictures and videos to try and locate it. It must have gone up under the portion of my desk where my computer sits which is only open from the back.

Shining the light I take a few photos and then several videos. It’s nowhere to be found. I search the wires. All around and under the desk. Nothing. Several times I give up because I’ve looked everywhere. But then I think “It can’t just disappear!” and search again. Nothing. Under the desk is totally clear. It’s like it just disappeared into thin air. I repeat this disbelief and thorough search several more times. Utterly baffled. There’s nowhere it could be. I put the 409 back in the kitchen. Sit down at my desk.

There’s a tickle on the other foot. The motherfucker is still alive and back from the intradimensional portal whence it vanished. Thinking quickly, I grab the empty Whataburger cup and place it in front of him. He seems at least slightly sluggish due to the 409 dousing earlier or possibly from traveling between dimensions or using whatever spells, powers or magical items that allowed it invisibility or planar travel.

It crawls in. I put the lid on. I take it to the bathroom where I flush this double-foot-violating fiend down the toilet. I am the ultimate victor. Were this another time and place, bards would write odes about me.

For the rest of the night, I imagine phantom paranoid tickles on my feet.

RIP Chris Cornell

I first heard of Chris Cornell somewhere around 1990 when Ben Kent, the drummer for N The Rutz, the band I was in, was a HUGE Soundgarden fan. I have since and always will associate Soundgarden with Ben, who is still one of the best drummers I’ve ever played with. I understand the darkness and how life can just seem too hard to continue at times. I’m sorry the darkness won this battle with Chris.

Here’s my tribute to Chris Cornell. This was my favorite song of his, “Can’t Change Me.” I hope he will excuse the sloppiness as I just learned it today and this was the 2nd time I ever played and sang it but it’s about the tribute and not perfectionism (which is hard for me to let go of, even though I know that way lies madness).
#ChrisCornell #RIP

Creatures of the Night…

I’ve always skewed toward a vampiric schedule when left to my own devices. I find it interesting though in that it’s very dichotomous and sometimes I feel ambivalent about the late hours.

On the one hand, part of me feels alive and like there’s so much potential. Most of the world is asleep and it’s almost as if time is frozen in a way. A time to dream, whether you are awake or asleep. There’s not much actual “action” you can take, especially anything involving regular businesses or most people, but you can hope and dream and maybe work on some projects yourself.

But on the other hand, I feel tired and unproductive. Like a child I don’t want to go to sleep, yet part of me does. All potential is frozen in amber. It can feel lonely and foreboding. Sometimes even hostile or threatening. For the most part nothing can be done until tomorrow. No answers or progress will come.

It can feel like so many things all at once. A paradox. Yin-Yang. Will tonight be a friend? An enemy? A lover? An obstacle? Some mix of many elements? It was made for dreamers like me. Not all dreams are good. And without actions, dreams remain ephemeral, ethereal and amorphous. Like grasping at mist.

Artificial Intelligence Christmas Carol

There are many articles such as this one and this one about The University of Toronto using something called “Neural Karaoke” to feed a computer images and then have the computer compose a song from that image. One of the results is this AI composed Christmas Carol.

I immediately knew I had to do a rendition of this wonderful song that some find incredibly creepy. So first I made some simple notation which you can download here to hand out if you want to play and sing this new perennial favorite.

Then I recorded a fully orchestrated version of the song, which can be heard here.

Happy holidays and may they be filled with lots and lots and lots of flowers.