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God help me

I don't want to live in a world without ghosts.
I don't want to be where all UFOs are identified,
And all dowsing is wishful thinking.

I can't go on if there are no angels,
If the human soul is a chemical artifact of the selfish gene,
And the dead don't speak.

If I am condemned to luck,
If the Grail is not destiny,
If all prayer is unanswered,

God help me.

I am lost if Hemingway wrote the world,
If there is no brilliant white light at the end,
If your love is the cellular manifestation of procreation.

Are the skeptics truely happier
Or are they the neo-Puritans
Who cannot truck that others are having fun?

If only you'll look you'll see
This world is rife with cartoon dragons who invite smiting,
Birds who teach history

And blue-eyed children who never grow old.

If I cannot see the ghosts
And hear whispers of the trees,
If the lights in the sky are all reflections,
To whom will I say I am talking

When I am wishing my love?


I came west looking for fortune. Found it.
There were two other people with me at the time. Wife and baby girl. Back then I knew their names.

Along the line two other children joined us in California, land of sun and unstable land.

Landslides and opportunity. Willingness everywhere.

Make. Do. Want. Be.

The earth shook and knocked half the water out of the inground pool. I watched it from Acore, Italy. Wife tossed the oldest under the coffee table. Held the youngest in a doorway.

I called as far west as I could get. New York. CNN reporting Oakland in flames. Epicenter in Santa Cruz. Fifty miles to the north, the soil failed and San Francisco was sinking into the bay. The Bay Bridge collapsed. No word from San Jose, just up the road from the center.

May not but could be everyone's dead, my father didn't want to say at AT&T international rates, so he said every word but those, and I figured it out by reading the holes in his sentences. Flew for twelve hours swallowing my heart and hanging over the 747 toilet in dry heaves.

Everybody can start a company. Exit strategy: wealth. Retire at 40. Rich people think everyone is rich. Money, as trivial to come by as health care and college educations.

I went mountain biking on the hills flanking the valley the day we killed the group. Tracked by golden eagles, eyed by feral pigs and coyotes while the Oakland hills burned in the distance. Measuring my savings in seven digit numbers to the left of the dot. Got a wife who deposits the checks. Got kids who play softball. Look at the pics.

Got a Motorola cell phone I bought with the continuously ringing option. E-mail brings the eight-pound laptop to a screeching halt. You can tell I work for Intel by the anonymous death threats I'm racking up as fast as rejection letters from publishing houses. The company-paid bodyguard who follows me home has simply added me to the long list of guys he's keeping alive.

"No problem. Haven't lost anyone yet."

So when Rick died on 101 at 36-years old, it was a burrito-sized bullet aimed right at his coronary arteries, and not a disgruntled former employee. Should have nailed the guys at the Mexican take out for the murder. When Barnes died it was the wind that killed him. Blew his sailboard to Japan, almost. Dave. Heart attack. Tim, Sue, Eric - non-job-related cancer.

I know what we're doing -- but why? Why am I in Tokyo? Excuse me, Osaka Paris Dublin Taipei. We just love visiting Manchester, England. The Old Bell Inn. Drinking real ale, singing with the barkeep till the ghosts come.

Visiting GEC Plessey in the age of Aquarius. Back home let the sunshine in. The sun. The surf. Abalone salad and sunsets over the Pacific. Nineteen ninety something - after a long day at a conference in L.A. I crashed the Skybar with a Sandra Bullock lookalike who spoke French like a native and wanted to fuck me for cocaine. Thirty nine forever. Too old for one-shots but enough celery and treadmill for body double.

"And then my secret weapon," she says to me. "This guy is Bill Gates." is how she introduced me to her connection, who upon noting my shock, offered to sell me a Rolex Daytona for $5000. Cash. Go to the ATM on the corner. No $200 limit there. "Slash is over there in the corner with the girls. Cindy Crawford just took off."

"I shouldn't be here. I have a wife and kids at home. I think."

"You're in the right place. We can do anything. What do you want to do?"

"This ain't me. So ain't me."

Cab driver: "Looks like you're leaving the party too early, brother. Sure you don't want to take that one with us?"

"Damned sure. Back to the Westin before it gets light. I got a breakfast meeting. Gotta get back to earthquakes and softball games. I think gotta wife, deposits the checks. Taipei tomorrow. Seven forty seven, home away from home."

He wishes he could travel like me, up in biz class, top deck. When the stewardesses are all skinny as hell, they keep the cabin heat cranked.

"It's too hot in here."

"I can take care of that, sir. Please go back to your seat."

"Look at me. I'm soaked." Sweat. Mind if I have a heart attack in your restroom? Is it illegal to die in an aircraft lavatory?

"Do you need oxygen?"

No. Salvation. I need God to remember he created me. If this is a heart attack, if I'm dead over the Sakhalin Peninsula, then I'm sorry for wasting this life. If you let me live, I promise I'll go straight to a cardiologist. I'll get a lower-stress job. I'll clean up my act.

Let me be still here. Got kids who play softball and a wife who deposits the checks. Play piano and bike on weekends. Watching them film Gretchen Mol, naked, spread eagle feet in stirrups, F5.6. They call this art on the left coast.

"Hey, last Friday I had to lay off all my friends. Company tanked." Measuring savings in two-digit numbers.

"Why don't you write about California?

"I dunno, nothing happens here. People would rather read about the south pole."

Kids used to play softball, no more checks for the wife to deposit. Cardio guy tells me good news and bad news: I'll be dead by fifty, hands me prescriptions. Good news. Gospel of pharmacy: Xanax. Ambien. Lipitor. Avapro. Diamox. Norvasc.

"Better living through chemistry."

"You take all those pills and none of them make you happy?"

"Better to be alive and miserable than happy and dead."

"What do you really want?"

"I want to pay someone one-hundred fifty bucks an hour and actually have them tell me something. Tell me something I can use. Give me some value for my therapy dollars."

"Ok. You don't want to hear it, but your life is killing you."

"Doc, that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Life is a fatal disease."

"What do you think?"

Sometimes I go to Antarctica, but most of the time I'm here. Once I had kids and a wife. I can't remember where they live. I had a brother, lived around the corner, left the state never wanting to see me again.

My epitaph: he once shook hands with Robin Williams.

"Anyone can start a company, but how many people can shut them down as gracefully as we can?"

"Couldn't we have picked a better time of year?"

"There's a better time?"

"Than Christmas?"

I laid off all my friends the day after the New Year. Now that I've done it three times I remember the words to all the songs.
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I've been all around the world
And I've seen all kinds of girls
It’s the edge of the world
And all of western civilization
The sun may rise in the east
At least it settles in the final location
It’s understood that Hollywood
Sells californication

Closet Geek

I think I'm a closet geek.

I found myself at a Grainger industrial wholesale office not too long ago, and saw a box full of nice logo-emblazoned pocket protectors marked "Please Take One." I played around with them, and almost took one.

Although not the owner of a slide-rule, I still have the HP Scientific calculator I had in college.

Buttons that cause machines to do things. Buttons that light up. Dials. Knobs. All of these things beckon to me.

I know the definition of the word "oscilloscope."

Thousand-page "Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft Excel" = bedside reading.

 Can endure sitting in front of CRT or LCD for hours upon end (and it ain't TV).

Love to take stuff apart.

Named pet "Aibo."

Purchase graph paper instead of note paper for scribbling. (This would be more telling if I bought the logarithmic type of paper.)

Trump: rich, dashing, worldly, married a "babe" and had a babe, has own TV show. Gates: rich, married a babe, is a geek. Gates wins hands down.

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