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Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

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An Apology to Central Texas from Ol’ Juniper Jones

16 Jan

by Ol’ Juniper Jones

 

Dear Central Texas Humans,

 

Ol’ Juniper Jones here. First off, let me say that this here letter has been a long time coming. I first pondered on writin’ you folks back in 1958, but I was just a shrub then. Didn’t even have my berries yet. If yer old enough to recollect, you might remember that the rains in ’57 in and around Austin were heavier than a dead preacher. I’m not 134a. Ol' Juniper Jonesrightly sure what that means, but I heard my daddy say it many a time, and he was a wise old tree. Anyhow, if you’ve lived ’round these parts long enough, you know that a soggy, mild fall means that come winter you git great, big clouds of juniper dust—you might know it better as cedar pollen (even though we ain’t cedars, dagnab it). And as I understand it, you human types don’t take too kindly to our reproductive spores. Apparently, what gits our juices a-flowin’ gets yer noses to blowin’. That rhymed, I’ll be dogged.

 

Yep, the rains in ’57 made the pollen count of 1957-58 a real humdinger, but it looks like it ain’t got nothing on this here season. So I decided to take pen in branch and reach out to you humans, seeing as how with regard to my fellow feathery foliage, hiccuppery2014’s been thicker than George W. Bush after three double vodkas. As an elder statesman of the Central Texas Juniperus family tree, I’m here to tell ya outright that I’m plum sorry. I really am. There ain’t no good reason for all the procreative powder all over yer cars and houses and clothes this winter. Sure, it’s been wet recently, but not like ’57 and ’58.

 

Nope, I’ll tell ya what the real dadblame reason is. All these young, oversexed trees of pollen-bearing age have just run amok. Saplings these days wear their tight little bark and throw random spores in the air like it’s a dang California orgy. I just don’t know what it is with the kids nowadays—twerking to Miley Cypress, listening to bad mileycypressinfluences like Amy Pinehouse and Justin Beecher. Some of the things I see the young’uns doing I can’t even understand, like planking, and tweeting, and going treemo. I had to ask my granddaughter, Ashley, about that one. Apparently, the saplings who wear heavy makeup, paint their branches in dark colors and cry and holler a lot are known as treemo. I don’t get it. Hell, everbody’s showin’ off their berries and seed cones like they’re Heather Oaklear or Linda Larchlace or somethin’.

 

Why, in my day, if a male juniper wanted to court a young lady tree, we waited for a nice, quiet evening, put on some respectable music, like Ray Conifer or Birch Bacharach, or Spruce Springsteen even—not this rap trash they listen to today from these no-talent whippersnappers like Shrub Dogg and Spriggie Smalls. Then, after some soft music, if nature took its course, we’d discreetly send a little pollen her way. Not like today, good gosh a mighty. It’s a regular tree for all out there.

 

dontbeatmeSo I reckon you can consider this an apology on behalf of the more mature of us evergreen earthlings. We don’t have nothin’ against you humans, really. Except fer when you beat us with poles and sticks just to watch our spores go a-flyin’. That just ain’t right. Oh, and we do take exception to the whole “cedar fever” thing. We ain’t cedars. We’re junipers. We really hate that.

 

Ol’ Juniper Jones is a 62-year-old member of the juniperus ashei family, otherwise known as the ashe juniper or mountain cedar tree (although you shouldn’t call him a mountain cedar to his face—he really hates that). For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Sours for Albert’s Mom

16 Apr

by Roger White

Day 1

Dr. Keys says I should keep a log about how I feel and react to the medications for the next fortnight, so here goes. You see, my gentle flock, living in Austin, as festive and cool and hipster casual as it may appear, comes with a price. I’m not referring specifically to the Venusian triple-digit summers or the wanna-be Stevie Rays hanging out smelly and rudely insistent on every corner—although that does get tiresome. All of south downtown carries a constant aroma of stale beer and lax hygiene these days.

But no, the harshest penalty for residing deep in the pancreas of Texas, for us of the hypeallergiesrvigilant immune system ilk, is allergies. Cedar fever, hay fever, molds, oak, elm, ash—you name it, we have it in spades. My suffering of late has grown beyond the reach of OTC meds and even my allergist’s happy hypodermic, so with doc’s cautious approval, I signed up for a 10-day medical trial of Lerjistan. Sounds like an outlaw country in the Caucasus region, I know, but it’s apparently the latest wave in histamine blockers and vascular inversion and other medico-technical jargon that I don’t even begin to understand except for the fact that Dr. Keys believes it may ease my slobbering, sneezing symptoms.

Day 3

Scary thing is that this trial involves sequestering myself away in this sanitarium-like dorm for the entire 10 days, while men and women in white antiseptic attire, under the watchful eye of the gangly and bookish Dr. Daniels, take my blood pressure and my blood and walk around smiling a little too sincerely. But heck, I actually get paid for my guinea pig services, so I figure I should relax, take the oblong red pills with my meals and catch up on my Andy Griffith shows.

There are five other men in the facility with me, five others desperate for relief or rent money. Regardless of the motive, we all receive the same regimen, and we’ve all been given the same caveat: though the expected efficacy of Lerjistan is high, initial side effects noted in earlier trials may necessitate tweaking of its chemical recipe. Mental side effects, The Friendly StaffDr. Daniels said. Hence the signing of copious waivers, generous compensation, and the carefully monitored quarantine. Everyone’s friendly and professional, but I keep expecting Nurse Ratched to come around any corner. Symptoms have already begun to ease, but I do feel oddly stimulated. Almost giddy at times.

Day 7

Albert, the guy rooming with me, is an odd duck. Heavy and covered with a permanent sheen of forehead perspiration, he hoards just about everything he gets his hands on: ketchup packets, creamer, sugar, napkins. They’re stashed in his bedside drawer like treasure. He buys packages of cherry sours from the vending machines in the cafeteria and stuffs them in his drawer. He never eats them. He has at least thirty packages of Sourscherry sours. They’re for his mom, he says. She loves them and can’t find them anywhere in town anymore. “Truth is,” Albert said today, “I don’t even have allergies. Lied about it. I need the dough, man. My mom’s kicking me out of the house if I don’t get a job soon.” I asked Albert if he feels strange at all when he takes his pills. “Yeah, a little,” he said. “Like I’m speeding my ass off.”

I have discovered, from information gleaned from four outstanding medical and pharmaceutical web sites, that Lerjistan contains a ketamine alkaloid derivative. Ketamine, in its pure form, produces an out-of-body-like experience and heightened brain wave patterns. Interesting. Allergy symptoms have all but disappeared, and I feel strangely powerful. Alive.

Day 9

Time has ceased, but what is time but a manmade construct? I can explain only by degrees, for only by the most minuscule of degrees is the veil lifted for me. I have immersed myself in the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, and I now know that the astronomers and scientists are mistaken. It is not by winds aloft that this magnificent vortex operates. This awesome spiral, as large as the Earth itself, manifests from below, spawned from a tumultuous whirlpool of the nitrogen-methane sludge that comprises the ocean-like surface of this titan planet. I’ve inspected the moons of Saturn, upon two of which Life thrives, unlike Life at all that meets our egotistical definition. Baby steps only, my friends. But I must start somewhere. The galaxy is rife with puzzle pieces that, in full context, fit in the answersuch spectacular perfection. Then, of course, the Universe itself. Pointless to explore, for it is one of a billion billion such constructs, all connected in a grand Mobius strip of creation that simply leads back to point of origin. To be correct, there is no point of origin – like holding a rubber ball and attempting to divine the beginning. There is no Universe; there are no sprawling oaks outside my window; there is no window. Albert has no cherry sours. Everything and everyone are but specters – thoughts in the great mind of That Which Is All. I don’t use God; it is inadequate. And the word conjures religion, and religion is useless. Crowd control only, means for power, gain, self-serving rationalization. Similarly, there is no death. Death of the human form, absolutely the same as a green leaf plucked from its living branch, merely moves the inhabitant life force on to that Mobius strip, where further experience, greater knowledge, takes us closer to That Which Is All. This that has been revealed to me is preface only. There is a vast store of which I’ve yet to comprehend. The great Truth I glimpse now I can scarcely recount, the enormous majority of which I know I lose when I return to my dormitory room. Unfathomable revelations are brought forth with every journey, yet for reasons beyond my grasp they are veiled from my consciousness. They are placed deep in my soul, as they surely are in everyone and everything, but they are curtained for this time.

Day 10

Whew. Strange dreams I’ve been having. They took us off the pills yesterday, and I feel shaky but back to normal. Dr. Daniels said they’ll likely play around with Lerjistan a bit more before deciding on its general release. Probably wise. Damn, my allergies are coming back. I bought a pack of sours for Albert’s mom, but doc told me he was gone.

“Gone? You don’t mean…”

“Yes. Gone. He checked out early. And swiped our coffee pot, the bastard.”

“Oh.”

So I ate the candy. My head hurts.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

January in Austin S’not What It Ought to Be

14 Jan

by Roger White

 

I hate this time of year. Absolutely despise it. Might even throw in the word “loathe.”

 

It’s not just because half the trees and plants across the landscape are now dead and brown, looking more like bare nerve endings protruding from the ground than blossoming flora. It’s not just because Christmas has come and gone and yet again Merry Xmas to MeSanta did not see fit to deliver my red Carrera 911. And it’s not just because the Dallas Cowboys again found new and innovative ways to underperform their way right out of the playoff picture for another season. 

 

No, the principal reason I hate this time of year is because of the frenetic over-pollinating behavior of the Central Texas area’s most evil living thing—the lovely juniper bush, or Juniperus ashei, as the ancient Latin allergy sufferers called it. As afflictions go, cedar fever ranks somewhere near the bubonic plague or the Devil Dustheartbreak of psoriasis in my book. It’s not even labeled correctly; it should be called juniper fever, but I guess that doesn’t have the right ring to it. I used to wonder why I never really took to gin as a cocktail ingredient—now I suppose I know. Gin’s chief ingredient—juniper juice—is my arch enemy.

 

Every January, like clockwork, 93.7 percent of my days are filled with sneezing, itching, running, snorting, wiping, weeping, draining misery. My eyes mutate into puffy, sightless slits. My nose becomes a fleshy faucet. Until I receive my annual double-shot in the posterior, by which I am pumped full of enough steroids to win at least a couple Tours de France, I have the unhappy choice of either sequestering myself indoors like a hanky-clutching bubble boy or ingesting enough decongestants to tranquilize a sperm whale. Snotty or sleepy—those are my alternatives.

 Stickemup i mean achoo

Yes, when you see me wearing the facial covering primarily used by bird flu victims and bank robbers, you know it’s cedar fever season. I really hate this time of year.

 

The weather guys aren’t much help, either. They seem to take particular delight in pointing out every year how the insidious explosions of lime-colored pollen dust created by these evil evergreens can be seen from space. Every time I hear that snide meteorological tidbit, I wish I was in space, orbiting miles high over the terrible clouds of congestion. Yes, I’d be floating weightless, drinking Tang, and laughing at the zillions of juniper spores, trying vainly to reach me. And I suppose because I’m in space, I’d be an astronaut, which would be really cool. Hey, what’s this button do?

 

Wait, where were we?

 

Oh, yes. Cedar fever. It’s not any fun for those around me, either. The noises I make whilst suffering from this dastardly winter devil have been likened by family, friends, and coworkers to everything from a cow pulling its hoof out of the mud to a garbage disposal attempting to grind up peanut butter. It ain’t pretty.

 

It’s gotten so bad in recent years that I decided to petition the State Legislature for some sort of relief. As of yet, my dutiful lawmakers have failed to respond, so I have now turned to the governor’s office, looking for a proclamation outlawing juniper germination or perhaps the establishment of Planned Pollenhood or something. Unfortunately for me and those of my ilk, our governor is staunch in his right-to-rhinitis views. So I see little hope of a reprieve from the executive branch. Ooh, I said branch. Sniffle.

 

I suppose the only way for me to find shelter from this seasonal snot storm is to my winter homemove away for a couple of months out of the year. So how about this: I’m offering a trade—anyone living in Micronesia, Kaua’i, or the Sandals Resort in Negril, Jamaica, can reside rent-free for the months of January and February in my lovely Austin home if I can live in yours during the same time period. Amenities included, just please feed the dog and the kids.

 

I really, really hate this time of year.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.