November 2003

A Million Miles From The Shore...

Alrighty then...

There have been roughly 6 drafts of this months Reprisal.

I find myself in the strange position of feeling the need to say about a million things and not having the vaguest idea of where to start. That makes things more than a little challenging. Throw in the fact that more than a little interesting stuff has happened since I started trying to put down my thoughts for this month, and it makes for something of a challenge.

See I'm in an interesting position. I find myself in the rare position (for me at least) of worrying about how a select few might view me. I find myself having something that I really want, and terrified that I might threaten that by speaking my mind. It's that whole honesty will get you in the end thing. It really will.

But me keeping my mouth shut just wouldn't be me, now would it?

So let's see just how many bridges are feeling flammable tonight, shall we?

Maybe none. Hopefully so. But as it is so often the case, when you lay things out as they are, you end up making enemies. I seem to have a particular penchant for that. So let's lay some of the more interesting cards down, and see how the whole mess plays out.

But before we do that, a happy note needs to be played.

Another Milestone

Just when you think you have a handle on things, you get surprised. Normally that surprise comes in the form of a complete and total collapse of everything you know. Every once in a while though, it plays out for the best. I have come to realize that when it does, it's a rare thing, and something to be savored.

This week, I went and had me a birthday.

Now for those of you that don't know, as a rule my birthdays tend to turn into complete and total debacles.

Don't believe me?

Let me re-hash the last two?

2002 - After a deceptively pleasant evening, I found myself deserted at a dance club (why and how I ended up there is still something of a mystery to me... normally, better judgement should have prevailed, but this time it didn't), and having to call my favorite Polack to come and rescue me. He did. Thank goodness for that. After spending the better part of two hours talking to a bartender who really did wish that I would just leave him the fuck alone, the bar closed and I found myself completely alone. I did get to ride in a convertible (in November mind you, so even that wasn't much of a win), so I suppose that's something. The evening ended with me puking my guts out into my bathtub. That's not a mess that anyone should have to clean up the next morning. Ever.

2001 - House party. Bad idea. The next time someone says to me that I should have 20 people over to a two bedroom apartment (although technically one, the other was a studio for my own needs), I swear to god I will have no problems pulling out the aluminum baseball bat and giving them a staunch lesson in common sense. After getting altogether way to drunk, I sat in my living room while several people got naked, and then watched as several people tried to convince my at the time fiance to strip as well. I managed to play damage control to the point where she only wore a swimsuit, but I maintain that there is a principle to the thing. As I write that, I can't help but think that I should have seem what happened coming. Hindsight. 20/20 and all that.

There are many more stories along those lines, rest assured. I could go back years, but I think that the point has been made.

So I went into this year expecting nothing short of a total debacle.

Well colour me pleasantly surprised.

The night started out simply enough. Dinner at the parents as expected. My Mom made an amazing meal of roast beef and potatoes (as she does), and my parents, my grandparents, and Nikki and I sat down to pleasant conversation and gift openings. My parents gave me a humidifier and 14 bars of soap.

I love the fact that I don't have to make stuff up about my life.

14 bars of soap. No word of a lie.

So then Nikki and I head down to her place so she can change and we can get ourselves together to meet people at the local megaplex to see the Matrix (part three). After we left her place, I should have started to wonder why it was that I was suddenly wearing a blindfold and making impossible lane changes, but I have never really been all that smart.

To make what could easily be a very long story short, I ended up playing a show, completely unexpected.

Now here's what's cool about that...

First of all, the very fact that I would be happiest on my birthday playing a show is not something that most people would understand. I can't tell you how many people approached me and said "Happy Birthday! You get to work!"

Only a handful of people would understand that there is nothing I would rather do. The fact that I happen to be in love with one of them is pretty cool...

What's even cooler is the fact that she would put forth the enormous effort required to put together a show without me even having clue one what was going on. Add to that the sheer number of people that were involved, and one can't help but feel completely overwhelmed.

One can't help but feel like they matter, if only just a little.

In the past year, I have done some pretty ridiculous things. I reformed a band, I started a minor war with a Canadian icon, and I reinvented my entire life. I went from living in a luxury house to living in a garage to living back in my old neighbourhood. I wrote two CD's worth of new material, and I'm actually getting the chance to record some of it (thanks again Mal). I went from being ready to give up on everything to charging back into things ready for whatever comes.

All in a year.

I suppose I should be saving this sort of reminiscing for New Years or the like, but you'll pardon me if I just can't help myself.

I suppose there should be some sort of a moral to this story?

I don't know if there is one. All I know is that I'm one damn lucky nut. I have people that for whatever reason, care about me. I have people that will put a good deal of effort into breaking my birthday tradition of suck. All of this, and I get to play my songs.

What more could anyone ask?

Maybe for the love of someone who amazes them. Maybe for the love of someone who is able to just stop time. Maybe for the love of someone who can inspire and make them want to be the best person they can be. Maybe someone who makes them feel safe.

But I have that too. So Happy Birthday me.

Wave Goodbye...

Let's revisit the old shall we?

I've been here before, so have you. You've been what I'm about to tell you. You've had the same thoughts. You've had the same fears. You know you have, and so do I. We all do. We like to lie to pretend that we aren't as fucked up as the person that we find it so easy to look down on, but lets face facts. We all have our dark days.

Some days just last longer for others...

You all know her, because you have all been her. If you haven't, you will be. You might say that you won't now, but your day will come. You'll find yourself in her place, and you'll hate yourself, because you told yourself you would never let things go that far.

Who is she?

She's the one that is terrified. She's the one that has been so shaken by all the horrors that life is all to willing to deliver to your door free of charge, that all she can do is try to survive. She's the one that goes out looking for it but would never actually admit it out loud. She's the one that is so scared and insecure, that she'll do whatever it takes to feel like she matters to someone, if only for a minute.

But at that point, survival has become such a twisted term that there really is no solace in it anymore.

She's the one who gives herself away, day after day, and night after night just so that she can feel like someone would take what she has to give.

She's the one in the halter top, standing on the edge of the dance floor. Sometimes she'll venture in and give herself to the moment that only alcohol and a good beat can create, but usually, she'll just sit on the sidelines.

She's the one that your man looks at and even though you know you shouldn't worry, you find yourself worrying nonetheless. The funny thing is that the only reason that you worry is because you know what she is capable of, only because you're capable of it yourself.

She's that catch 22 of reckless abandon and complete reservation. She will open her legs, but so rarely open herself.

You know her.

You know that you have looked down on her, and at the same time felt sorry for her. You know that you have tried to raise yourself above her, so that you can feel like that desperation is something that you will never have to feel, even though there is a part of you that already does.

What draws the line? What makes the difference between you and her?

Circumstance?

Maybe that's all that it is. Maybe she got dealt a card that you didn't. Maybe you got dealt a card that she didn't. Maybe someone got off a little luckier than the other.

I don't know. I have tried to. For a long time now.

From watching her, I have learned this...

When you give yourself away, you give yourself away. And there are pieces of yourself that you can give away and never get back.

Of course though...

He does the same thing, for the same reasons, but in a different way...

Always with the bragging. Always with the score card. As if by keeping track of how many times he has bed down with someone that he never really gave a damn about he might make a bigger man of himself. What he will probably never realize is that he never can, and never will.

The rules are different for him. Where she would be called a slut, he is looked at and admired by those around him. It's so easy to look up to him for all of his conquests and never see the fear that drives them.

I can't tell you all of the excuses that I have heard from him. You've heard them as well though, because if you haven't been him, there is a part of you that wishes that you had, or may yet be...

There is a part of you that feels that same need to drag the cavewoman by the hair back to your hole in the wall and have your way with her.

There is a part of you that looks at the pretty girl across the bar and not only wants to take her home, but feels like you have some sort of right to.

Always with the owning of things. Never to be owned. You or her.

Always with the conquest, never examining the possibility that all of these conquests will only lead up to a burning empire with someone playing a fiddle in the background.

He needs to prove. He needs that evidence that he is in fact a man. His anatomy isn't enough. He needs a trail, and the longer the better, of women that he has bested to show to all what a man he is.

Would he ever really admit why?

I doubt it.

He would sit and he would tell you why his way is the best. He would sell you on the methodology of sampling the wares before buying. He would make any excuse (and most of them believable) to hide what really is driving this intense need to lay claim to as many as he can...

Because he is terrified of having anyone lay claim to him. He has been sold the lie of the "what if?"

What could be around the corner? What better things might there be? And he will spend forever wondering and wandering.

You know I'm not lying to you. You know this because you too have looked at the pretty girl that you know you shouldn't. You have spent hours fantasizing about all the other possibilities, even though you know that you have it better than you probably deserve.

But that just isn't enough, is it?

You want the MTV version of more. Maybe you won't act on it like him. Maybe you won't spend the rest of your life chasing after the ghosts of some imagined youth, or the ghosts of what could be. Maybe you will. But when push comes to shove, you know that even if you have never chased it, you have thought it.

The funny part? To me at least?

You don't have to look all that deep to see past the lies that they have tried to sell themselves. You don't have to look all that deep to feel the shame that they feel. You have seen it. The moments of weakness that they allow themselves where they wonder if what they have done is really nothing more than a lie that attempts to justify what they have done, and what they have allowed to be done to them.

And you have had those moments yourself.

It's so easy to look down, isn't it?

It's so easy to take your own weaknesses and place them on someone else who is simply acting out on what you yourself are too afraid to say.

It comes down to a choice. And a simple one at that. Are you better than all of that or are you not? I don't mean are you better than they are, I mean are you better than that.

That is up to no one but you. Are you worth giving away, or are you worth more than that? Are you someone that matters or are you not? Once you make that choice, you make it, or you don't.

People make life out to be far more complex than it actually is.

Me? I'm a fan of simplicity where I can find it. I have been called an anomaly on more than one occasion. The only advice that I can offer him or her is that it's worth being an anomaly now and then. Far more interesting, and infinitely more rewarding.

It's So Easy...

Tonight I watched part of a biography on A&E on Jessica Lynch. That name should ring a bell, but if it doesn't, let me ring it for you.

Jessica Lynch is probably the most famous POW that the good ole US of A has ever produced. She's the supply private who was captured by the Iraqis and then heroically rescued.

Unfortunately for the US, she's also the one who has, in the last couple of days, spoken out against how she was used as a piece of propaganda to encourage the war on Iraq.

Funny that.

Two things struck me as I watched this biography.

First of all, I was amused to no end how A&E (a channel I usually enjoy to no end) chose to run this in light of Ms. Lynch's recent comments.

Second of all. I got more than a little giggle out of the fact that she was rescued on April 1st.

But that might just be me being twisted?

And I can't help but think about all of this and think of November 11th.

I have several relatives who are veterans. The one that effected me the most is sadly gone now.

His name was Tom Spears.

If ever there was a human being who I admire, it was my great great uncle Tom.

He fought in both world wars, on the frontlines. He saw things that I can?t even begin to imagine. We have our Hollywood versions of war and such, but Tom could convey the horrors of war with just a look in his eye.

Tom never fought in a war because the media told him to. Tom never believed in the slaughter of innocent people. Tom was one of the more peaceful men that I have ever had the privilege to meet. I am even more proud to say that he was family. And yet, Tom was a participant in two of the most brutal and ugly wars that our world has ever seen.

Why?

Because he had to be.

Because it was the right thing to do.

I can't help but wonder how Tom would look at the current conflict. I think that he would probably see it as an atrocity. I know I do.

Remembrance Day holds a great deal of meaning to me. Not only because of Tom, not only because of the other members of my family who participated in those wars, but because of the countless men who gave their lives so that we would never see a war brought about by someone who was simply power hungry, and in a desperate need to control the world scene and all of those how play on it.

And it disgusts me to no end that there is a situation in the world today where there is a leader who would spill the blood of innocents and try to justify it.

It disgusts me to no end that I will honor another day of remembrance while there is a leader who would conquer other nations and do it in the name of freedom and liberty and protection against nations that have nothing to do with any attack on those ideals.

May I remind you?

Once upon a time there was a leader who motivated his people by creating a fear that their country was unjustly persecuted. Once upon a time there was a leader who preyed upon the fears of a nation to motivate them to commit horrible crimes against humanity. Once upon a time there was a leader who, for his industrial and military strength, went unchallenged for far too long.

The righteousness of a war is weighed by the blood of the innocent (and you can quote me on that...).

And on that scale, I can say that I will see November 11th pass with a weight on my heart.

Because while I may have been able to learn the ugly lessons of war from a frail old man who passed some time ago, it would seem those that hold the keys to the worlds armories have still a great deal to learn.

As always, you know where to find me...

Nate@natepike.com