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:

Whatever

Cynicism can only exist if there is an absence of ideas, like love.

Thoughts sprint through mind, a number two pencil, onto a green notebook after I lower all four windows and turn off the engine. The air-conditioning cocoon evaporates. Brutal humidity of early September Georgia shows truth. Natural light reflecting off the blue car and white Old Towne Tavern paper cup half-filled with three-hour old sweet tea provides perspective. The line to pick up teenage girls from Lanier High School cheerleading practice is more significant that it seems.

Sugar Hill is as much of a state of mind as it is a place to live. Twitter, Facebook, newssites, talk radio, and this person’s bumper sticker in front of me that reads – “Nobama this time” – and the one behind me that read – “Keep your hands off my goodies, Republicans” make me wonder if moving is a better option.

The little sapphire-eyed blonde in the passenger seat interrupts thoughtful silence.

“Hey Ashley! Hey Lauren! Look daddy, it’s Tay Tay!”

Teenage girls that fill my life with joyous, innocent energy file out of the brick constructed cafeteria that’s connected to the gymnasium where they practice backflips, chants, and clapping in unison. They acknowledge my youngest child with smirks and grins, then their eyes dive back to their iPhones to text their friends. Happiness fills the cab of the car as one daughter excites to see another. My pencil and notebook are shoved under the seat.

I pull out of the parking lot and wind around around orange-coned lanes, then turn left. I arrive sit at a red light next to the large Exxon gas station. Kids that live nearby cross the street and patronize the place so the local supplies of Doritos and vitamin waters can be depleted. In between texts to her friend who is a boy and waves to her buddies across the street, my backseat daughter tells me about her day in one-syllabled words.

Sugar Hill provides, or whatever.

****blogger’s note****

Leeroy is still in the shop. I stole my wife’s computer this morning to write for two prompts – Trifecta Writing’s “absence” http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ and Write On Edge’s “local items/flavor” http://writeonedge.com/

This really happened. Names were changed because I don’t like getting sued by parents of children that are not mine. I live in a town called Sugar Hill with a high school called Lanier, Hook “Em (Long) Horns!.

Today’s song is something i woke up to today. Happiness comes in small does with me so enjoy this smiley post. Yes, I’m an Oasis fanboi and this is one of their early hits. Here’s the Beatles derivative, but a good one, Whatever:

The Way It Is

Blogging is therapy. If you don’t think so or you don’t realize it, then you’re doing it wrong. There is no difference in typing out your words, hitting publish and getting response versus sitting in a comfortable chair in front of someone who doesn’t really know you and talking.

I don’t understand people who write under pseudonyms, have multiple online identities, or play characters on Al Gore’s internets. I’ve done it before. I was wrong and I felt stupid. I don’t blame any of you or have ill feelings. There are people who are abused and write to escape their horror. There are others with judgemental jobs or family members and they type under a shield to experience the freedom they need to survive. Good on all of you.

If My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog is about anything, other than serialized fiction, then it’s about me and my changing perspective as I grow up. Twenty years ago, Wall Street was my favorite movie. I idolized Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas. His speech to Teldar Paper, where he drops “Greed is good”, was something I mimicked and spoke verbatim in exuberance. Now, it makes me ill. I still like the film, but, currently, my favorite line comes from Martin Sheen’s character Carl Fox. When his son, Bud, played by Charlie Sheen, lectures Carl for not being more greedy and savvy about the real, cruel world around them, Carl says this:

“I don’t go to bed with no whore, and I don’t wake up with no whore. That’s how I live with myself. I don’t know how you do it.”

There’s no scandal inside My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. The title is ironic, unless you’re a whore. If you are, then, yeah, my blog can slap you around.

I love writing. It makes me feel alive. I’m more proud that this place is authentic to who I am and what I value, the way it is.

***blogger’s note***

Although personal, the word scandal is used so this is my response, a weak one they’ll think, I’m sure, to my friends at Trifecta Challenge http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/

scan·dal noun \ˈskan-dəl\

3 a: a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it

I’m an unashamed fan of Tesla. Today’s song says a lot about where my head’s at, right now. Here’s The Way It Is. Blow a speaker.

>Shimmer in the Sand

I ran away from home for the first and only time when I was 36 years old. It was Thanksgiving, and I didn’t feel thankful. I felt lost, resigned, and alone.

I packed two bags and wrote a goodbye letter. I left it on the kitchen counter of the house I rented from my family. I was hoping they would come by without calling, find the note, and thus allow me to have an excuse for leaving my life.

Two months earlier, I sat in a courtroom and watched who I was, die. When the judge rendered her verdict, I left that person and wandered aimlessly, disconnected, for weeks.

Thanksgiving came quickly and I accepted an offer from a longtime friend, to meet in Key West and do as Ernest Hemingway did when he resided there; drink.

The day I left, my friend called and said he couldn’t make the trip. The person I left in the courtroom would have unpacked his bags, felt sorry for his loneliness, and sulked until something ridiculous came along to distract him. The purgatoried me got in my car, and drove 13 hours.

I stopped at a gas station near the beach in Miami. While my car took fuel, I walked a hundred yards and stood in the middle of the shore and contemplated staying there or even going back home. I realized what those choices would be a metaphor of, so I kept going.

I made it to the Keys. The motel shanty I chose, for price, was pathetic looking. It was dingy and unkept. The screen door was broken. There was a grill outside on the tiniest patio you could imagine. The beach, though, was 30 feet away.

Two days later, Thanksgiving came. I grilled a steak medium rare, which was apropo for my zombie state. I ate while the waves rolled in and the sound calmed my anxiousness. By my third beer, I decided to walk the 30 feet and try the ocean water, despite the 55 degree temperature. Before I reached the tide, I noticed how warm the beach was, so I removed my shoes and socks. I sat down on the berm, and felt the texture of the tan grains. I had a beer in my left hand and I poured a tiny amount into the ground and then ran the pebbles over the wet spot. The symbolism made me smile for the first time in two months, perhaps much longer; I let go.

A little beer, a good steak, a cool breeze, and some warm sand changed me. I changed myself. I went home the next day and tore up that goodbye letter. I’ve never written another one.

I’ll never forget that Thanksgiving. I became thankful for who I was, and who I am.

*blogger’s note* – This is a writing exercise inspired by blogger friends at Sluiter Nation. The matriarch, Katie, has a writer’s blog, called The Red Dress Club – http://thereddressclub.blogspot.com/ I, nor my current wife, have a red dress, but I do have a sand memory. She asked me to write about it.

Today’s song is special to me. It was playing when and on the day this memory occurred. The “she” in the song is what I call my conscience, my morality, my essence. She spoke to me a lot that day. Here’s one of my favorite songs, Shimmer by Fuel…

Dude Write