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Thursday, January 1, 2015


pat monk

Already I have changed the wall calendar. Last year I waited a couple weeks into January, not for any reason but laziness. I like the Ramon calendar, big numbers, easy to make notes on. The hardware store used to give them out, then had to start charging for them, then quit having them. My bank gives them out now. One way or another, I'm still able to find one. Asked a couple days ago what my annual ritual is for New Year's. all I could think of was changing the calendar. We have the calendar New Year, the astrological New Year, the Chinese New Year, etc. Celebrate them all? Celebrate one? I pick the social New Year, Jan 1, the one the people around me celebrate. I have a hard time with one date as New Year's. It's like taking a ballpoint pen and marking a point on a child's rubber ball, saying this spot marks the beginning. How else would you place the spot but arbitrarily? To find out why January 1 is purportedly the first day of the new year, it would take looking at the history of the calendar we go by. My personal preference would be the astrological new year, the spring equinox, which seems it would be the more universal calendar. The other new year dates are specific to given cultures. Yet, I prefer these calendars. In Greece a long time ago, 1972, I brought home a Greek Orthodox calendar, a whole new way of looking at a year. Almost every day has something to do with a saint. Maybe they are more personal than the universal, have customs that go back multiple centuries, millennia. They need translation from one to the other like languages. I also prefer multiple languages to one. Switzerland prints three languages on their paper money, Italian, German and French. American white people want only English on our money, while the American reality is at least two languages. 

pat monk

I had a party to go to, one I wanted to go to, that didn't work out. I dressed up for a late night out in the cold, went out to start the car, hooked up the GPS, and the door would not latch. I could not close it. I can't go anyplace with an open door. The interior light was on, bitter cold winter night. I took the bulb out of the overhead light. I could not approach the problem with the door latch in the dark and intense cold. I raised the hood and looked with flashlight at what it would take to remove the ground cable from the battery. Naturally, it's a battery with new posts it takes a special tool to work with, a tool I don't have. Another light stays on inside that I can't remove the bulb from. Early in the morning, I'll try to start the motor, to let it charge the battery a little until I can find a way to fix the door. Something like this happens every winter on a bitter cold night. The car is 22 years old. The motor and running parts are perfect. It's the electrical, brake lines, external parts on the engine that are giving out. Every time I replace a part, it's new. I'd rather pay a mechanic to maintain an old car than make payments on a new one. I'd rather my money, energy, go toward a man making a living independently by his knowledge and skill, than pay into corporate police state. I call it living what I believe. I prefer the world of individuals to the corporate hive, the reason I live where I live. All my needs can be fulfilled locally. Friends ask why I don't go to Walmart for something I can get there for less than in Sparta. It's a ten dollar round trip to the nearest Walmart. Add ten dollars to whatever I might want at Walmart, and I'm better off to buy in Sparta. I don't want to go into Walmart anyway. For me, it's a moral issue. Walmart tramples the rights of individuals and regards their employees the same as cattle. I can't support that, even buying no more than socks.

pat monk

New Year's and Christmas, the holiday season, is a social time. It's about mixing with other people, having a spirited time, party time. I'm not one for standing around at a party with drink in hand playing pretend charming. I say, if that's what you gotta do, go for it. I prefer to stay at home most of the time. I can't blow party whistles, put on a pointy little hat and act like I'm almost three. I'm not a reveler. I've never had that kind of physical freedom. Inhibited. My preference is to stay at home and let other people act out the social part. I'm one of the people who call Christmas and New Year's just another day. My friend Jr Maxwell saw it the same. One New Year's Eve we decided to sit at the table with our drams and wait for midnight. By the time 12 rolled around, both our foreheads were touching the table. We had more to drink than usual. Both of us were drunk. Twelve o'clock was the end of our vigil. We could have taken another drink, but it would have put us on the floor. We didn't want to go there. We sat at the table talking for six hours. We came away from it thinking it the best New Year's ever. I don't recall a New Year's party that was more fun than we had at the table talking, laughing, getting freer and looser as time went by, talking stupid and laughing at everything. By twelve, only the force of will kept us awake. We were drinking liquor that was at least 140 proof, delicious liquid candy. Liquor affects different people differently. Both Jr and I were happy drunks making it possible for us to drink together in excess. Instead of getting red-faced and looking for a fight, we dissolved in laughter. Jr was one of the funniest people I've known. He kept me laughing for hours at a time.

pat monk

A day came to mind when Jr was in his frailty, though still had his mind. A friend of his dropped by one afternoon. He had a quart of liquor with blueberries in it he'd kept on a shelf for twenty years. Jr and I were sitting at our ends of the long sofa, each with our own table lamp. Friend drove up and came in the door already pretty far along. He stepped over to the couch, told me to get on over, meaning move to he middle of the couch, he wanted my spot. Ok. He pushed me with his upper arm. I caught a whiff of his aura of alcohol. He told great stories from past experience that kept both Jr and me bent over laughing much of the time. I'd never been this close to him before, and felt some powerful energy radiating from him, powerful energy. My feeling took it for the immense anger he carries. This is somebody that when when the guns come out, you want him on your side. He is comfortable with red-faced men looking for a fight. His face is twisted like a Picasso face from battering. The bones in his hands are so crushed that his outer three knuckles sank back about a half inch from usual. He told me that when a man first goes into prison, he thinks he knows how to fight. First thing he learns is he doesn't know anything about fighting. The liquor was so good that over the course of an hour or more, the three of us drank the whole quart. Friend kept us rolling with laughter telling comic stories. He is a comedian. He likes to make people laugh. Jr and I were a great audience for him. I won't tell about his stories. They are all "inappropriate," racist, fascist. His opinions make Rush Limbaugh sound discreet. I would be asked to leave DCP if I were to retell any of his stories. The real comedy was in the telling more than the stories themselves. I've seen Jr almost fall out of his chair at the table laughing at friend's telling of one of his stories. They weren't necessarily true. That part didn't matter, the same as a number on a calendar ultimately does not matter.

pat monk himself


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