Crap

Crap: (n) excrement, or used to reference refuse, rubbish, or junk

 I already spent the money.

I know that’s not smart.

But when you’re poor, you have to make arrangements—then hope those plans don’t fall apart.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I had a gig. It was a big gig. At least for me. There was going to be some decent money involved.

I will tell you of a certainty, the only way to ever become an artist is to insist on using your art until it pays for you.

In the meantime, your creditors, your landlord and anyone you find yourself indebted to may question the intelligence of your persistence, and sometimes even dishonor the quality of your talent.

But I felt confident—confident enough to pay my bills before I got the check.

It was a two-day gig, and a conference, where I might be able to make further contacts for other engagements in the future.

On the first night, everything went along just swimmingly. The audience was laughing, clapping, appreciating both song and speech. I was feeling so good that I made a joke. I can’t remember all the details of the setup, but the punchline was, “Get this crap outta here!”

Everyone laughed. I thought I was on safe turf.

But later that night I received a call at my motel, telling me I was being canceled because the audience had children in it, and I had offended everyone by saying “crap.” I was contrite—I disavowed the deeds of my tongue—but it didn’t make any difference.

Move ahead in time.

I don’t know exactly when things changed. I suppose there are some people who still find the word “crap” inappropriate, but it would not be unusual to hear it spoken in the church foyer, and even possibly the pulpit.

Now we are fussing about the word “shit.”

It’s amazing how we can come to agreement on what crap and shit are, while being totally self-righteous on declaring it crap or shit.

I have a meter I run in my mind. It’s very simple.

For instance:

If the Ten Commandments are how God will judge me…

Or:

If you have to be skinny and a perfect weight…

One of the possibilities I consider is:

If you’re not supposed to use any colloquial or profane language…

Crap.

I’m in a shitload of trouble.

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Coast

Coast: (n) the part of the land near the sea; the edge of the land.

It was a Thursday afternoon. (Actually it probably wasn’t a Thursday afternoon, but I needed someplace to start this essay.)

I was twenty years old, had a music group and was gradually starving my way to success. The definition of that process, by the way, is that there may be visible signs of progress in your career, but you’re also about ready to be evicted.

I had spent all of my youth and the beginnings of my adult life living in the midwest and visiting the mid-south. I had no complaints about the region–just felt deprived of the opportunity to go to the coast and see the ocean. Any coast would have been fine, although I did not favor Northern Canada and the Arctic Ocean.

No opportunity came my way to go and view the glorious blue. So finally I just decided to make an opportunity. I scheduled a little coffee-house gig for us in Sarasota, Florida. Matter of fact, I ended up being able to procure three such opportunities on our way down there. This trifecta of bookings was certainly not going to be enough to cover expenses. I didn’t care. I was going to the coast to see the ocean.

Our vehicle was in terrible shape, so on the way there we broke down–once mechanically and twice from bald tires, which finally exhaled all air.

Yet we finally arrived in Sarasota. Breathlessly, with my hand shaking on the steering wheel, I headed off to see the beauty of the ocean, the waves crashing onto the shore.

It was mind-altering, as all new experiences should be. I just sat there with the members of my group, and we stared at it for two hours. I was so excited that I went to a nearby cafe to order some lunch, which considering our budget, consisted of sharing a muffin, a hot dog and a cup of coffee among three people.

All of us were bubbling over with enthusiasm, as we shared with our waitress that we had come all the way from Ohio to Sarasota to see the ocean. Each one of us had a brief testimonial of how much the experience had impacted our life.

The waitress stood and listened patiently, and when we finally fell silent, having completed all of our praise, she quietly deadpanned, “That’s not the ocean. That’s the Gulf of Mexico.”

She walked away, confident of her geography.

I looked at my two comrades. They were just as distressed as I.

Staring out in the distance at the waves, it suddenly seemed meaningless.

Me wept.

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Chuck

Chuck: (informal) another name for Charles

I guess his real name was Charles, but by the time he matriculated in my direction, he was “Chuck.”

He liked music and I played music, and I offered some opportunities to gig–which in the world of the common street musician, translates as
gold.

He had a heart for people, a love for God and a thirst for music.

I liked Chuck.

He was just about the age of my two oldest sons, so they befriended him, started a band together and played a lot of different music–covers and even some of my original tunes.

He was always around, but it was pleasant. There are people who are sometimes around, unpleasantly. Not Chuck. He was helpful, he was kind, but he was burdened by internal demons which seemed unlikely for him to possess, but certainly did possess him.

But he talked about it. He was worried about it. He wanted to be different than he was.

This is the only redeemable part of humanity–when we realize who we are and instead of making excuses for it, we make a plan to improve it.

After a while Chuck floated off, got married and had a beautiful little daughter.

I do see him from time to time. It is amazing how we are able to restore the exact same creative chemistry from when we plodded together for a season.

But I guess friendship never dies–it just sits around, patiently waiting for the day it will once again be uncorked and celebrated.

 

 

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Ann Arbor

dictionary with letter A

Ann Arbor: a city in southeastern Michigan; home of the University of Michigan.

It was a gray, overcast day–a bit of chill in the air, threatening some sort of storm, whether the precipitation would be merely wet or partially frozen.

But I was sweating.

I had literally broken a surface sweat around my temples and under my armpits. I was nineteen years old, and for the first time in my life, I was about to cross the border into Michigan.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but being from Central Ohio and a fan of the Buckeyes since birth, I had not only been infused with a competitive spirit toward the University of Michigan, but had basically been convinced that north of Toledo lay the barbarian horde.

So intense was this training that upon entering the state, a mere forty miles from the seat of hell in Ann Arbor, I not only found fault with the scenery, but in my mind, generated sinister proportions to every ditch and tree.

There were things I knew about Michigan just from the passing conversations of my friends and family:

  1. They were all mean and hated their children.
  2. They wanted to do harm to all Ohio women.
  3. They weren’t really Americans.
  4. They despised God.
  5. And of course, they cheated at football.

My problem was that I was on my way to Ann Arbor to do a gig, and somehow or another, I would have to muster the courage and professionalism to treat them as humans instead of creatures from the Black Lagoon, the source of their power.

What was particularly annoying was that the concert where I performed was very enjoyable, the audience generous, and I walked out with more money than I had made in weeks.

Damn those tricky Wolverines–trying to seduce me with filthy lucre.

But I maintained my loyalty to the great Ohio, and as I retreated back to the safe haven of my home, on those forty miles to the border, I held my breath half the time … so as to make sure that I didn’t inhale the Michigan spirit.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

Agog

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgog: (adj) very eager or curious to hear or see something: e.g. the tourists were all agog to see New York

I told her she did good work.

She replied flatly, “It’s just my job.”

She was my waitress at the restaurant, and she had done exceptional service to us, worthy of praise and a good tip. She just didn’t realize how valuable and rare she was.

As I finish Tour 2013 across this country, may I share with you a recurring reality? Something has died.

The carcass doesn’t stink enough yet for people to be aware, but it won’t be long. We have gone from being a nation which at least occasionally would be “agog” about our lives to being bored individuals who look at everything as “agig.”

We have lost the spontaneity, the humor, the adventure of solving problems and just the sheer joy of surviving a little bit of hassle in order to manufacture a victory which we can proudly initial.

I’m not exactly sure what we want.

  • Movies are bigger and more expensive than ever, but don’t have legs. People just don’t talk about them.
  • Music is over-produced, over-discussed and overwrought, yet does not create the simple stirring caused by a single Dylan guitar.
  • Government is more prevalent, but certainly less proficient..
  • Churches have become transfixed with the notion of “mega,” while simultaneously settling for a “mini” cultural influence.

We saw it coming. For after all, about fifteen or twenty years ago we decided to stop being impressed with anything. We called it “sophisticated.” “Laid-back.” We referred to it as “maturity.” We thought we were extraordinarily cool when we said, “I’ve seen that before.”

So on my part, I have made a conscious effort to avoid looking at anything as “agig,” but instead looking at it as “agog.”

Staying in motel rooms, I have learned to cook with only a microwave oven, making elaborate casseroles and meals. I am impressed with both the results and myself.

I am agog that people are still willing to come out from their homes and experience something new–something they’re not even sure they understand or will appreciate.

If we’re going to arrive at the full fruits of freedom, we must never cease to be in awe of the idea. For the only true way to ever lose your independence is to take it for granted.

And the only way you will ever be devoid of joy … is to stop looking for happy.