Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Useless Trivia

All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. It's true.  Now I know fuck all about alcohol, or the alcohol world, but apparently in the alcohol world there are all sorts of rules. Among those rules are what to properly call certain alcohols.

Despite what your bartender, server, alcohol specialist, or friend at a party have told you, Jack Daniels is not a bourbon.  Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey.  It is special, as far as whiskeys go.  It is certainly unique, but it is not a bourbon.

This has something to do with the type of barrel it's aged in. In order for a specific type of whiskey to be called a bourbon, in must be aged in one kind of very specific barrel.  I don't really know all the details, I just know this, there is only, and exactly one kind of barrel that allows a whiskey to be a bourbon.  Jack Daniels is aged in a specific barrel designed to give it its uique flavor, and smoothness that very few other whiskeys have.  However, that barrel is not the kind of barrel used to make bourbon.  Jack Daniels is not a bourbon...although apparently it is incredibly common to believe that it is.

Here's what I know about alcohol. I know that vodka has on me, nearly the identical effect of Nyquil.  I know that rum makes me horny/happy.  Tequila makes me not horny/naked, and everything else makes me "Why the fuck am I drinking this?"

And now thanks to the internet, I know that Jack Daniels is not a bourbon.  This is something that had not once in all my life, crossed my mind until today.  Apparently to somebody out there, this was a very important question that needed to be answered.

The internet is just chalk full of information that nobody will need unless they're on Jeopardy.  We sometimes call this "useless trivia.", and I guess it kind of is.  I will never in my life need to know that Jack Daniels is not a bourbon.  This information will not serve me.  Unless I want to get into a pissing contest with someone who insists that it is.

I don't.

Sometimes we like to use this 'useless trivia' to appear smart.  That's kind of funny.  Smart has very little to do with how much information you have.  It has little to do with how much we know.

Which is good because I don't know much.

I blame it on being an actor.

Now before you jump to wild conclusions about the general stupidity of actors, allow me a moment of elaboration.  First off, I'm only talking about myself.  Most of the people I know are actors.  Not all of course, but a great deal, and quite frankly, I haven't met many who aren't pretty goddamned intelligent.  Most of the actors I know are incredibly well read, educated, free thinking, charming, witty, funny, bright, and typically a helluva lot of fun to be around.

Now me...I'm not really saying I'm smart, stupid, or anything in between.  I'm only saying I don't know much.

I'm educated.  I'm well read.  I've been around a few blocks.

But since I was about 5 years old, I've been training my brain to absorb a ton of information, usually in the form of a script.  I memorize that information.  I study it.  I deconstruct it.  I break it apart, put it back together again, and then regurgitate it for a certain amount of time.

Once that time frame is complete, I then do everything in my power to dump that information.  I don't need it anymore.  I don't need access to it, and so I let it go.  Gone.  Erased.  If I need it again, I have to go back to the beginning, and do it all again.  Usually it will come easier the second time around...but I still have to do it again.

I've been doing this most of my life.  My problem is, that my brain doesn't seem to know the difference between a script, and all the other information I absorb.  Unless I need constant access to the information in my head, my head tends to dump the information.

Within the space of just a few months, I will no longer remember that Jack Daniels is not a bourbon.  Since it's new information, and there's no reason to access that information on a regular basis...pretty soon it will be gone.  Once I hear it again, I may or may not remember that as something I used to know.

This is why I can say I don't know much.

This is also why I don't care.

I don't care.

Useless trivia indeed.

I don't remember so much.  I probably remember less than half the shit I've ever learned.  Right now I'm quite certain that I couldn't solve for x.  I know nothing about lines or angles or sophmore year geometry.  I just...can't.  If I needed to I'm sure I could figure it out.  Dig deep, find answers.  But I don't have the need for the information, so...for's gone.

All the things I don't remember.

I remember my first record player.  I remember my first record to go with it.  A bright green full LP of Peter and the Wolf narrated by David Bowie.

I remember discovering David Bowie.

I remember writing my first love letter to my first crush.

I remember being devistated when she didn't reciprocate.

I remember eating ice cream with my dad.

I remember when I finally learned how to ride a bike.

And tie my shoe.

I remember when I first learned how to cook.  Campbells vegetable soup.  I still love that soup.

I remember my first kiss.
and my first girlfriend.
and my last.

I remember driving the back roads of desolate Wyoming with my grandfather.  All of the secret places he would take me, and teach me about.  I remember him taking me to the cemetary, and him showing me where we would bury him when he died.

I remember when we did.

I remember the secrets of her heart she told me, while lying together in the dark.  I remember promising to never betray those secrets.

I never have.

I remember my wedding day.
My divorce day.
The names of the children we ended up never having.

I remember my cat I had in vegas.  I remember how he was a bastard, and I was a bastard, and we were perfect bastard bachelors together.

I remember being caught breathless, watching a perfect theatrical moment.

I remember being caught breathless the first time we touched.

I remember every breathless moment.  With perfect clarity.

I remember your face, burned into a brain that drops information almost the moment it's received.

But not you.
not you.
not you.

I remember every kiss, and every touch, and every laugh, and every smile, and every quiet exchange with every person I've ever loved.

I remember every cliff I've ever jumped off of, and every mountain I've ever climbed.
Every roller coaster.
Every race.

Every fucking defeat,
and every goddamn triumph.

I am made out of all of the things I can never forget.

And this is why I will never...

give a shit that Jack Daniels is not a bourbon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Once Upon A Dream.

I wasn't even five years old when I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Penny. She always seemed so sad, and I wanted nothing more, than to help her.  To make her happy.  Her laugh was so rare, which made it so much more exciting when I heard it.  I wanted to be the one to make her laugh.

Instead mice did that.  Mice helped her.  Mice rescued her. I mean that was kind of the point.  In fact, it was the title of the film.  The Rescuers. 

Even at such a young age, I knew she was fiction.  I knew she was just a cartoon.

This knowledge did nothing to make the feelings less real.  I had a mad case of Florence Nightingale syndrome.  The fact that Penny was simply a hand drawn representation of someone else's imagination, used to facilitate a bit of Disney storytelling, did nothing to dissuade my own imagination that I could find this girl, enter her reality, and just... be with her.  Make her better.  Make her bigger.

I think some part of me still hold this longing when I watch that movie.  I know I can still easily recall that emotional connect.

The next time I fell in love was on the playground, in first grade.  Her name was... well... I'll call her D.

D had shaggy, short brown hair.  She wore the same brown denim jacket every day, regardless the temperature. She was a tomboy, and she was fearless. 

I loved running as fast as I could.  I'd race my bike down all the dirt roads. I'd climb the highest trees.  I loved high places, and deep water, and thunderstorms, and wild animals, and dirt, and that feeling of adrenaline. I craved adventure.  I thought I was brave.

But D would hang upside down by her knees from the monkey bars.  This was something I'd never imagined.  To do something like that, well, well to do something like that had never even crossed my mind. 

And it took my breath away.

She would just hang there. Then reach up to the bars, grab on, and drop to the ground.  She'd laugh. She'd climb up and do it again.  She'd take the time to teach one of her friends.  She...

She inspired greatness and courage.  I could never tell her.  Mostly because I didn't know those words yet.  I didn't have names for those feelings.  She made me want to be better.  Better at everything.  She made me want to stand out, for no reason beyond that she might notice me.  Might...I dunno... learn my name.

Over the course of the year, I would find, or create reasons to talk to her.  I liked the way she smiled when she talked.  I liked the way she didn't look away. I liked that she had blue eyes, and dark skin.

It was always innocuous.  Small talk.  School talk.  And it never, ever, lasted long enough.  I would think about her when she wasn't there. I would notice when she was absent. I would wonder if she ever noticed when I was. 

I don't know if a six year old kid can feel love, or know what it even is, but I did.  Or maybe I just remember with faulty memory that I did.  Perhaps I've created a broken romance out of tangential orange memories.

All of my memories are orange.

D moved away at the end of the school year.  I never saw her again.

My sophomore year, her cousin who still lived in our tiny town, was killed in an ATV accident.  I didn't attend the funeral.  He and I played football together on the school team, but we were never really friends. Friendly was as far as it got.

A lot of my friends did go however.  The next day, they weren't taking about the service, so much about D.

She was at the funeral.  Of course she would be.  I beat hell out of myself for not putting together that she would be, before the funeral.  I beat hell out of myself again, for thinking that a funeral might be a place to rekindle a friendship that never was.

All my friends would talk about, was how great she looked.  How beautiful she'd become.  The amazing transformation she'd made in the last decade, from shaggy haired tomboy, to sophomore dream queen.

And all I had, all I have...

Memories and imagination.

The only ingredients needed for that devilish brain alchemist to create emotional chaos.

And in that maelstrom she still dances, in a dress I've never seen, and a smile I'll never forget.

And sometimes I still see her hanging, upside down from steel, and I remember that I can also be brave, and I send her my silent gratitude.

And in that chasm spanning then and now, I've walked with love a million times. And a for few glorious moments, someone who loved me too, walked beside me.

Each one teaching me something new.  Something only she could teach. Only she could share. Only she could give.

Always, every goddamn breathtaking time, I learn about being brave.  I learn about letting go.  And I learn how to stand. How to walk.  How to hang upside down with a smile.

And in my reality now, I choose to walk alone. I hold the hands of phantoms. A mix of some memory and some creation.

I lock these creations in a box, left somewhere that I can occasionally pull out, blow the dust off, open the lid, and gaze upon lightly.

I remember the faces of those who created me, as I've in turn created them. I wish them well if they're living, and kiss their ghost if they've gone.

You now, you are my future memory.  You'll be in my box someday.  I'll thank you then.  I thank you now, because without you, I couldn't be me.