Go Insane

I walk into the kitchen, trying to remember why I should be there. A bowl of cereal with milk disaster is splayed over the linoleum floor.

“Girls!”

All three are upstairs. I turn around and see my golden retriever licking his yawn.

 

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

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This Is Us

Halley’s Comet, the New York Jets winning the Super Bowl and my wife and I having a date night; they’re rare occurrences and after this weekend, the streak’s still on.

Being married with three daughters aged 17, 10, and 9, who are a high school cheerleader, brown belt in judo and trained drummer, and little league softball player, respectively, means complaining about not having alone time with my wife is foolish. There isn’t enough time in a day, much less a week, to share a meal, a drink and are you kidding me, the kind of sexy time you want. But this Saturday we tried.

And it became another ridiculous page in our wonderful but crazy marriage folklore.

Since we’re a blended family, every two weeks, the 10 and 9 year-olds head off to their respective other families. By six in the afternoon on a Friday, we’re supposed to be down to just the teenager, and since she has a friend who is a boy and would rather stick her face in a bathtub of piranha than hang with us on a weekend night, we planned something for Saturday. Friday night was an out-of-town high school football game. Our 9-year-old was with us because she had a softball game the next morning. Our local team got their rear ends handed to them 56-28, everyone passed out on the way home while I drove, woke up the next morning, then watched our little one’s team lose a heartbreaker 18-17. Eventually we passed her off to the other parent.

Freedom! Call the fire trucks, we’re burning this town down with debauchery unseen since the Roman orgies!

Yeah, not really.

My wife was exhausted. After a long work week, she went home and napped while I ran read, wrote and went for a long run. Our teenager, who was supposed to be gone all day with her friend who is a boy, then all night with her girlfriend, sleepover included, kept coming back home for various reasons. So, my wife and I got caught up with the chain around our necks that our DVR had on us, and waited for the next interruption. Finally, it was dinner, and we just didn’t care anymore. Somewhere at a chain restaurant at the local mall, there were overpriced sirloins with our names all over them.

The place was crawling with University of Georgia fans. They were playing LSU. My wife isn’t a sports hater, but she isn’t a fan, either. Plus, she was looking forward to a good meal and a date night, too. I’m not completely unattractive in public. We waited too long to get there. Had we gone a touch earlier, the game would’ve been in the second or third quarter and the fan reaction wouldn’t have been so obnoxious. But we hit a Target before the restaurant, because that’s what middle-aged couples do, and arrived at the eating place in the fourth quarter. While I sipped a beer, and she downed a pina colada, the wait for a table grew to over a half hour, and the fervor of the Georgia fans was out of control. Then, the waitress from Hell.

I waited tables and bartended in college. I know the gig. You are either good at it or you suck. There is no such thing as an average wait staff person. Guess which one we got? The one who should be doing anything else.

I believe in signs. My daughter’s constant returns to the house, the too long trip to Target, the raucous restaurant crowd, the God-awful waitress and then the food came and was overcooked. We should’ve left, went home, and made our own good time. But it just didn’t happen. Parenting instinct took over.

My teenager is a good kid. Correct that. She’s a great kid. But she has terrible luck. For the third time in less than two months, she left our house intending to spend the night elsewhere and something bad happened. Around 8 pm, we arrived home, a touch beaten down and a lot tired. My wife looked at me with tears in her eyes and muttered, “I have a feeling she’s going to need us. We should be good and just wait for the phone to ring.”

So we did.

Around 1am, our daughter called with news that her friend’s family had an emergency and she needed to come home. Due to our state’s curfew for teen drivers, this meant we had to come pick her and her car up.

Halley’s Comet is due sometime in July 2061. The New York Jets are terrible this year and as much as I love them, I don’t envision a Super bowl appearance for at least five years. But I think my wife and I will have another shot at date night. The teenager goes to college in 11 months. For now, we’ll cuddle with each other and the DVR and wait for the phone to ring.

A few years ago, the great Emmylou Harris and almost as great Mark Knopfler did a song about grown ups being grown ups called This Is Us and it was amazing. This tune is my wife and I in a nutshell. If you don’t like it, there’s something wrong with you, or you’re single and you’ll get it someday.

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Please go check out my new baby, the music oriented website, Raised On The Radio, that I’ve tri-adopted with my musical sisters, @JenKehl and Linda aka @elleroywashere http://raisedontheradio.com/

retro casette music player and red headphones

Are you looking for something interesting and music driven to read? I have two for you. My books, The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

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You’re So Vain

I’m so vain, I probably think this post is about me. Middle-age performs dark magic to a person’s psyche, especially someone like me who pays attention to their feelings and deals with an anxiety disorder. There are things you aren’t told about growing older that can bring you to your knees, especially when you’re naked in front of a mirror. Relax, there will be no selfies in the nasty gleam of a pudgy reflection. Even I have some dignity, not much, but some. But when I realized the shirt I wanted to wear to work this morning needed to be ironed, I set up the board, plugged in the appliance and walked upstairs to make sure 2 of my 3 daughters hadn’t fallen back asleep instead of getting ready for school. They weren’t greeted by Iron Man.

“Really? Can you put a shirt on? That’s unnecessary, ” Said the 17-year-old.

“I don’t need to see that. Go put a shirt on, you’re a dad,” dropped the 8-year-old.

They made valid points. Granted, they were probably just joking, seeing as how I require them to wear shirts in my presence, but the paranoia devil that lives on my left shoulder told me that it may be time to re-dedicate myself to the gym because flab and jiggle have replaced fab and wiggle.

I’ll be 43 in September. I have a real job (communications project manager), a side job (writing books and freelance online stuff), 3 kids, and a wife. You mix in cheerleading, judo, drums lessons, school events, birthday parties with cake and ice cream, and the need to drown my demons (not as much as I used to, and I use Diet Dr Pepper more than whiskey) and the calories add up. My teenager eats more than anyone I know and she’s barely over 100 pounds. My thirtysomething wife and I hate/envy/bemoan the player and her yoga pants wearing high metabolism game. I used to be like that. Around the age of 25 all those wings and beer caught up to me and by 30 I was an unhealthy forty pounds overweight mess. I spent my thirties working it off but as my family grew and I started writing again, something had to give. It was my gut.

I’m what the ancient Romans and contemporary French would call “average-looking.” I’m built like a Guinness beer can; short, stout, dark exterior and all of my weight is in my middle. I wish I could blame my lack of Bradley Cooper looks on my family but all of the men, save one cousin who has my build, are six-foot tall manly looking dudes. This is my late grandfather, whom I’m named after (my first name is Thomas, like his), when he hit the Army at age 19 to help win World War II as a scout.

Private Thomas Arlee Bowen

Look at that tall, dark, handsome son of a gun. He looks like Johnny freakin’ Cash. When he got back from Europe he married a woman who looked like Marilyn Monroe. Why don’t I look like that? I mean, I have his sideways grin, love of fishing, and passion for Atlanta Braves baseball, but good grief that’s a heck of a fella.

I’m 5’8″ and I could pass for a pasta-addicted Italian shopkeeper in the old country who was 2-23 as a boxer and had to retire because my face was hamburger.

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I should be more realistic. My wife is beautiful and so are my children. They are very comfortable with their looks. You should see each of them when they’re in sweatpants, first thing in the morning. They’re stunning.

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How did I pull her and get those kids? I can tell you that blackmail and dark robot trickery are awesome. I do appreciate my 9-year-old (the child in the middle) covering up my midsection. I’d just eaten 37 chocolate oatmeal cookies.

I’m only superficial for myself. Looks fade and how someone is on the inside is indeed what’s important. I have a tendency to think all of my friends, family, and blog readers are model-perfect so if you need your ego boosted ask me how you look. But for myself, I’m not a fan of my “stuff”. This may be due to mental illness, middle-age crazy or it might just be that the pressure I put on myself to be the best I can be sometimes kicks my “need to run more” ass.

Priorities fail me sometimes. Writing my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy, available on Amazon/Kindle, smashwords, Good Reads, and paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from my kitchen table  bookpicturesahdddddddddddddddddddddddddkcfb

…I disgress. Oh yeah, writing as much as I do, especially publishing the first book and preparing a second, Italian Radio, out soon, has done wonders for me mentally but wrecked me physically. I’ve gained 20 pounds, killed my sleeping habits, and grown more gray hair than I care to show. Finding that hour and a half three to four times a week to exercise, before the writing kinda sorta took off, has become difficult. I know those beautiful people in that picture love me no matter what, but I need to find a place for my physical before it starts punching my mental until I’m down for the count.

Today’s song belongs to the namesake of my 8-year-old daughter, Carly. Here’s her musical godmother, Carly Simon with Mick Jagger singing backup.

Born To Run

Middle-age affords you a crystal clear looking-glass into your past from which you gain perspective and explanation. When my forty-two-year-old memory stumbles through the hazy maze of marriage, children, anxiety pills and bad stuff I did in my twenties, it occasionally bumps into childhood memories that mean something much different now, than they did then.

In 1984, I turned fourteen in September. Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A. was issued to male children on every street and subdivision in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. I was introduced to the Bruce in grade school by my dad and his buddies. The albums Born to Run and Darkness On the Edge Of Town were played in my modest ranch home in the woods. I didn’t worship at the altar of the Boss, but I dug his hard-working style, immediate guitar playing, and songs about getting the hell out-of-town when the opportunity allowed. remembered reading a Rolling Stone magazine story about Springsteen where he was almost kicked out of school for being weird. He was an outcast, posing as one of the boys to get along til his guitar showed him a new world. I related to all of this. He wasn’t my hero, Joe Strummer was, but I got Bruce.

In 1984, Born in the U.S.A. was released in June, on the last day of school. I bought the cassette at the local Turtles record store, the only place in town to buy decent music, and hoped it would be more upbeat than The River and Nebraska, the downer albums that were a little over my teenage head. Dancing in the Dark, a forgettable pop song that featured a short-haired, pre-Family Ties and pre-Friends Courtney Cox dancing with an embarrassed looking Springsteen was playing on MTV. But I knew the time. The Boss had to get on the hot music channel so maybe that was the song that got girls to listen and the rest of the album would rule. It didn’t. It sucked. But I was the only person I knew who thought and like I’ve been prone my entire life, I let it be known. The ostracization that followed was predictable and I deserved it, regardless of how time has shown me to be very very right.

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I didn’t get invited to many parties when I was fourteen. I still donned braces. I looked like a ten-year-old chipmunk with the presence of a mortician. I used whatever wit, not yet sharpened, to get by. Not liking one of the biggest records of the year, in a small-town where Prince’s Purple Rain and Madonna’s Like a Virgin were by a “little weirdo” and a “whore” while working class superhero Bruce was kicking ass on the charts made me even more disliked. At the time, I thought it was a personality flaw of mine. Why did I always seem to be contrarian to the group-think? Why couldn’t I just go along to get along?

I have a hard time with social media and blogging sometimes. I don’t “get” the really popular sites and people. I’ll often read posts and tweets by friends I think that are brilliant and they have a fraction of the hits and followers that people called “Internet superstars”. It worries me. Am I the problem? Should I moderate my taste and style?

Earlier today I took a break from reviewing my novel manuscript and went for a long run. I found YouTube on my phone and listened to Born To Run. For some reason that I was only attest to that looking-glass thing I wrote above, I played Glory Days, the lone song off Born on the U.S.A I can stomach. Through the prism of maturity and the decent lyrics about a middle-age guy coming to grips with the bad decisions he and his friends made when they were young, I realized that being contrarian, different, and flat out weird is just who I am. I still think Born in the U.S.A. is lightweight and by far, the Boss’ worst artistic decision of his Hall of Fame career. I’m a Born to Run kind of Bruce fan. While there’s no danger of me hopping on my suicide machine, I’m without a doubt a tramp. And tramps like me, baby, we’re born to run.

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*****blogger’s note****

I reached out to the Twitter and the Book o Face.  https://www.facebook.com/#!/lance.burson/posts/10152552265405024?comment_id=482828318&notif_t=feed_comment There are so many friends on different sides of different fences concerning Bruce. The best comments came from Facebooks, Leah aka @smalltownleah dropped “Springsteen sucks, the end”. Kevin detailed his visit to two concerts. Earl gave me some Jersey history, which is nice. While Kath aka @katstheory delivered sharp analysis “I can’t say worst. After Nebraska, it was like coming out of the darkness.It was fun, it made for great outdoor shows. Before Nebraska was The River, which was a double album of  while not totally dark, more on the dark side. While USA & My Hometown gave it  something important to say, the rest of the album was basically an easy listen. While I don’t think his next Tunnel of Love was given enough credit…lyrically there are some brilliant things on it. I’ve written about that. Then once you get to The Rising, he hits it full force.” I also think I talked Andra into listening to the Boss’ 70s records.

Here’s Born To Run:

My Generation

Thirty-five years ago I heard The Who’s rock anthem, My Generation, for the first time. It was 1977.  I just finished the first grade. The line, “I hope I die before I get old”, made me laugh so hard I shot Nestle Quik chocolate milk through my nose. The singer, Roger Daltrey, was 32 at the time and I remember thinking, “he’s old!”. Earlier today, at age 41,  I heard My Generation. When that line blared through my car speakers, I laughed so hard I spilled my diet dr. pepper and pulled a muscle in my back.

Accepting middle-age is a new situation for me. When I turned 40 almost two years ago, I handled it poorly. I made life for my wife and kids awkward and difficult. As a kid, people who in their forties seemed ancient.

I’m young for my age. While I’m carrying fifteen pounds I’d like not to with gray in my beard, and pains in places that I didn’t even know could hurt, I don’t look like dudes I knew who were 41 when I was younger. I have eight tattoos. My CD collection is more impressive than my teenage daughter’s, and I’ve adapted to the life of internet and social media with aplomb. I believe I’m more open-minded and self-aware than my parents.

Holding on to youthfulness is a foolish dream. In about ten days I’ll take a family vacation to Disney in Florida. I’m already dreading the long lines, sweltering weather, high prices, and what my back and feet will feel like when the sun goes down on each day. These are things a young man doesn’t care about.

The biggest issue I have with aging is how difficult it is it to maintain myself, physically. Going to the gym is a chore, a necessary evil, that is consistently shirked in lieu of father and husband duties. Roger Daltrey, wherever you are, I hope I don’t die so I can appreciate old.

****blogger’s note****

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

I went personal for Trifecta Writing Challenge’s “New” word prompt – http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ and thus why I only wrote 333 words of my middle-age lot.

Here’s The Who, when they were young, on The Smothers Brothers Show. Crank it, before you get old.

Don’t Change

I don’t know about those of you reading this blog post, but now is the greatest time of my life. I’m not rich. I’m not famous. Most of my free time is spent going to cheerleading or judo events for my kids. The dog’s barking to come inside. One of the kittens has a chronic back problem that causes her to whine in pain. I think she just tipped over the beer I opened. Yet, I’m happier now than I’ve been in my 41 years.

As I try to find my artistic voice in the novel I’ve written and need to be editing and organizing for my writer friends to critique for the inevitable rewrite, something penned or penciled by a dead rock star has said everything I want to tell you in this blog post.

“I’m standing here on the ground
The sky above won’t fall down
See no evil in all direction
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark
For too long

Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me

I found a love I had lost
It was gone for too long
Hear no evil in all directions
Execution of bitterness
Message received loud and clear

Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me

I’m standing here on the ground
The sky above won’t fall down
See no evil in all directions
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark for too long

Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me”

Thirty years ago, Michael Hutchence and his bandmates in the Australian rock band INXS wrote that song about a relationship gone bad. Sometime in the middle of the night in November 1997, Michael Hutchence would be found dead after hanging himself, some say accidently, in a Sydney Ritz Carlton hotel room. He was only 37 years old. Michael was born on this date, January 22nd in 1960. He would’ve been 52.

I was a huge fan of Hutchence. I argued with anyone who’d listen, that he was one of the 5 greatest frontmen in the history of recorded music. He looked like a rock star, lived like a rock star, and enjoyed being a rock star. When I heard of his death I listened to Don’t Change dozens of times in a row. After a while, I realized, although he was only 22 years old when it was released, the song was also about being content with yourself and the people in your life.

Today, I did something that I normally don’t do. I went to a movie, Haywire, (good, not great. Gina Carano’s debut is a good one but the movie is a turn off your brain experience) on a whim. I was good to myself. I was slightly irresponsible (we’re low on money around my house) and I enjoyed every minute.

As I drove home a short time ago from my daughter’s 16th birthday party, Don’t Change came on the radio. I turned it up and sang as loud as my weak pitched, tired voice would allow. I felt content. I had resolution of happiness. I wouldn’t change a thing in my life.

I’m about to hit publish and return to my mistress, the novel. With Bobina and the girls spending the night out, I have a quiet place, no bedtime, and plenty of beer. I need to understand that anything happens with this book and the rest of my life is like the icing on my oldest daughter’s birthday cake.

Here’s INXS and the late great Michael Hutchence. Play it really friggin loud, and find your love that you had lost. Rest in Peace Michael, you are so very missed. Don’t Change….