I’m not me. Somebody else is.

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I’m not me.  I mean, I am me but somebody else is too.  With nine little numbers and two dashes, they tried to steal me.  I’ve complained about the highs and lows of technology before, so I wont go too deep into that shadowy well of frustration again.  Except to say, wow.  The great and powerful IRS has deemed with their awe inspiring intelligentsia, that some dude sitting in a coffee house in Texas or a trailer park in Oklahoma is in fact yours truly, Alex M. Kimmell. 

Now if I were financially successful, the other “Alex” would be sitting free and easy.  Even after the IRS discovered the error that they themselves made, “Alex” wouldn’t be in much trouble.  I, the real Alex would be held responsible to the IRS for every penny of the money that they mistakenly refunded to “Alex”.  Ah.  ‘Aint it grand?  They screw up, the criminal profits, and I get stuck picking up the tab.  Sounds fair to me.  Right?  Right?

Fortunately my wife was dealing with the IRS on a separate issue and on a fluke they discovered the problem.  Cool thing is, instead of sending this douchebag any money; the amount he is expecting to rain down over him and all the strippers he could afford was credited toward the amount I owe.  So there!  Honestly, how cool would it have been if they never found out and the scumbag had paid off all my debt?  Sweet!  Oh well.

Hey, if anybody knows “Alex”, tell him that he can have my M.S. and my heart condition too.  I don’t need the shaky hands that refuse to cooperate.  Come to think of it, I don’t need the vertigo, headaches, blurred vision, constant tiredness, inability to exert myself, high blood pressure, fragile immune system, diabetes and mumble mouth either.  If “Alex” really wants to be Alex, help a brother out and take it all. 

What a great country we live in.  Right?  Don’t get me wrong I love America.  Especially the parts where the government agencies that collect the funds to run said government are charging extra to the people who cant afford to pay them in the first place, just to make up for their own beurocratic mistakes.  They don’t want to bother the corporations or the churches that lobby to pass all the laws that hurt the poor people in the first place.  That would just be irresponsible governance.  I also love the part where the other agency that collected a percentage of every single paycheck I earned in order to make sure I’m taken care of if for some reason I am disabled and cannot earn another paycheck, declines to allow me access to any of the purse that I myself filled. 

Bitter?  Me? 

Nah.

I’m pissed off.

I’ve played by the rules my whole life.  I voted, paid taxes, speeding tickets and even did jury duty several times.  Once I was on a case for three months.  Three fucking months!  Not even a reach around man. 

Yet I strongly believe in the theory of America and it’s dream experiment for this new type of government.  We love to say that America is of the people, by the people and for the people.  We love to say land of the free.  But is it?  Like the great George Carlin said, “Americans don’t have a choice.  Not in things that really matter.  We’re given the illusion of choice.”  The older I get, the more I agree with him.  Or maybe I’m just turning into a crotchety old fart.      

So now I get to spend hours, weeks, months sorting through paperwork, waiting in lines, going to websites and holding on phone lines with really crappy musak.  All in the needless pursuit of proving that I am indeed Me.  Myself.  I. 

I feel so free I want to puke.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard I try.  Walls stand tall in my path and the strongest, most terrifying machinations wont be able to break through them.   This is when I make myself tricky.  Can’t jump over?  Dig under.  Can’t do that?  Walk the long distance to the edge and go around.  Today I’m heading in that direction.

 I’m working on a new book and trying to finish up the fine details of my previous one to get it ready for publication.  This of course is much, much trickier than I am.  I didn’t expect some of these challenges that inserted themselves into the open spaces between bricks in the wall, but I guess if I did the wall wouldn’t be there in the first place.  

(I just saved this file)

I want to scream at the sky…

“It’s Not Fair!”

or

“Why me?”

or just a plain and simple non-question…

“Fuck!”

Obviously, nobody’s going to answer.  It does feel good to vent sometimes though.  

(I just saved this file)

I have all of my files stored not only on my computer’s main drive, but I have them backed up too.  See, I learned my lesson the hard way in the past.  My old computer crashed with my entire life’s work on it. Erased.  Disappeared into the digital cemetery of dead rom.  Gigabytes of effort no longer accessible.  Music, photographs, movies, recordings, book ideas, chapters, my kids school projects and the extemporaneous detritus of every day life.  Everything was gone.  

I’m surprised you all didn’t hear the streams of profanity shooting out my window and across the stratosphere.

Since then I have accumulated several external drives that I use to store everything.  Duplicate after redundant duplicates.  Whenever I work on a project, I try to save it every few minutes to make sure it’s safely protected from a crash or a power surge or a techno-gremlin hiding inside my little Mac waiting to strike me down.  When I’ve finished working on a particular project for the day, I copy the entire file on to my external hard drives and there it will sit like my own private safety deposit box.

(I just saved this file)

Lately my computer has started freezing.  After an hour or so working, it sticks.  I can’t move my mouse arrow, type or manipulate anything in any way.  I can let it sit in this state for a while hoping (more often in vain than not) that it will unclench itself and let me move on with my work.   Or I can press the button on my power strip and restart everything from scratch holding my breath that I haven’t lost any of my last bit of work.  Either way, it doesn’t matter.  By the time it all gets sorted out, I’ve lost my creative flow.  Writus-interruptus.   

In addition, my computer has decided that it no longer wants to recognize the external hard drives.  I guess that had an argument over who can store my data more securely.  If I still had hair, I’d be bald from pulling it out.   

(I just saved this file)

This all brings to mind a scene from a movie where three men take a ride out to a deserted field in their car and then viciously take baseball bats and crowbars to a copy machine.  Maybe I should start a business that let’s people do that.  I’ll buy a field, tons of outdated computers, copiers and fax machines.  Then I’ll charge frustrated office workers $25 to come in and go ape shit all over the place for fifteen minutes.  It might just be my ticket. 

(I just saved this file

(I just saved this file)

 

it’s a small small small small small small…

ImageIn the late ‘80’s I went to Japan to play jazz with my college big band.  It was amazing.  The mayor of Nagoya took us out to an amazing Chinese restaurant on our first night there.  We were put up in great hotels and played in front of enormous crowds.  Back home our audiences were mostly made up of students taking a Jazz Studies course who had to be there or face a bad grade.  Not the most enthusiastic group.

 One night a few of us snuck out after curfew to check out a bar we heard about with live music.  As soon as we walked through the door, the whole place turned and stared.  They all knew exactly who we were.  The three of us did kind of stand out.  I had long red hair at the time and my friends were one six foot four tall black guy and a blond hair, blue eyed kid about five foot four.   Not the usual clientele in this small city watering hole.

 The band played pretty good, especially the singer.  The beautiful girl sang with a sweet and high soprano.  Creamy, lush tones wrapped themselves through my ears and around my heart.  The owner sat us at a table front and center in the front.  Drinks arrived one after the other sent by patrons trying to show their generosity.  After the first bottle of Saki it became difficult to hold back our laughter.  I felt bad, but listening to “My Funny Valentine” sung phonetically by this young woman who didn’t speak English, no matter how gorgeous her voice was…it got to be too much. 

 Soon the entire club started cheering us on and on to get up on stage.  Since they plied us with more alcohol than any of us were yet used to, we accepted and climbed up to the instruments.  We played a few tunes and had a terrific time.  Despite the Marshall stack blasting in my head and my face to bowl familiarity with the toilet the next morning, it is still a great memory.

 On our day off the bus took us to an ancient Buddhist temple in Kyoto.  Being from America, we don’t truly have any idea of how the rest of the world perceives history.  Our country is only a few hundred years old, so the concept of this temple being here for over a thousand years overwhelmed me. 

 I walked around taking in the beautiful architecture and perfectly manicured gardens.  A few of us stood in line to put prayer tiles on the wall amongst other wishes and dreams that had been there for near a millennia.  I don’t remember what I wrote down, but it was probably something about being famous or getting some girl to dig me.  Hey, I was only seventeen at the time.  Come on!

 I turned around from the wall and standing right behind me in line were two faces that completely disrupted my understanding of coincidence.  It had been close to a decade since the last time we were in the same room together, let alone the same state.  But there they were, my Great Aunt Shirley and Uncle Oscar. 

 They didn’t recognize me from behind because of my long hair and the fact that I was now taller than both of them.  To me, they looked exactly the same.  We screamed and yelled and hugged and kissed.  Everyone took pictures and talked about how small of a world it is.  It turned out they were in Japan for business and happened to be visiting the temple while taking some time for sight seeing.  Never in a million years could we have predicted we would bump into each other at an ancient Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.  But, there we were.  True story.

 After I graduated from college, Aunt Shirley and Uncle Oscar invited me to come visit them in Florida and spend some time with their grandson who happened to be around the same age as me.  It turned out we had a lot in common.  The beach, Disneyworld, golfing…it was a great time.  We told each other we would keep in touch, but life got in the way and we drifted, as people tend to do when they live on the opposite sides of the continent.

 

More than twenty years later…

 

My parents came to visit us a couple of weeks ago.  The plan was that they would spend a week here, go down to New York for a few days to visit my Mother’s cousins and then come back here before they went home.  We spent the latter half of my kid’s spring break with them and after the boys returned to school everything proceeded as planned.  One hiccup though.  While in New York, Dad got sick.

 He started having vision problems in his left eye and spiked a high fever.  The coincidence here is that one of the cousins they were visiting happened to be a doctor.  Not just any doctor mid you, but from what I’ve been told he specializes in ocular neurology.  That means he knows all about the eyes and the brain. 

 Did I mention that this cousin, this doctor happens to be the grandson of Aunt Shirley and Uncle Oscar?  Yup.  He’s the same cousin from that trip to Florida. 

 Yeah.  Wow.  Here we are, more than two decades later and we have another crazy coincidence with the same two families. 

 So the world is very small indeed.  Sometimes it’s small in fun memorable ways.  Sometimes it’s in important, life changing ways.  You never know what the next experience will bring. 

 Sometime soon I’m going to pack up the family and head down to New York.  While we’re there we’ll be sure to spend time with my cousin and thank him for taking such good care of my parents.  I can’t wait to see whom else we may bump into while we’re there.