Stockholm Syndrome

Fall 1989 through Spring of 1990, I lived in a the upstairs of an old farmhouse in the frozen north country of Stockholm, N.Y. A little “Hamlet” outside of Potsdam, where three friends and I had found cheap housing for our last year at College. As I blogged about many years ago, this home became a pivot point in my life, when everything around me seemed to be in flux, and I felt at times to be in a free fall. The hub of a spinning wheel of thoughts and emotions as I made the transition from childhood into adulthood. It remains the most harrowing, and strangely romantic year of my life.

Walking into work this morning amidst a late January thaw, I smelled it again and my heart ached. That indescribable scent of a frozen world beginning to melt will always bring me back to Stockholm. I long for the solitude and the pain of those days. Days when the whole world felt like an exposed nerve, so painful and so immediate that the future and the past became meaningless. The only thing that existed was the desolation of the moment. Dish water gray skies, and piles of old snow mixed with mud. The shadows of trees at the edge of the field beckoning me into the woods.

These days stumble on towards a future that I cannot see. Yet I know that somewhere at the end of these wanderings I will return. A different time and place perhaps, but unmistakably Stockholm. Silent hub where I can collapse and watch the world spin around me. The still point that stretches a moment into eternity.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you…

Skiing. Because it’s winter. Suck it El Nino, after a pissy St. Louis type start to the season we finally got some motherfucking snow. So I’ve been skiing pretty much every god damned day, because I have no faith that it’s going to last longer than a week. And by skiing I mean cross country skiing. Because I only go down hills that I am capable of skiing up. I consider this a good rule of thumb for preserving my ACL. Aging sucks.

But I am in better shape at the moment than I have been since… probably June. When you get to 47 you have a decision to make. Exercise, or Scotch. Thankfully, this is not a yes / no question.

So I exercise in the hopes of extending my life long enough to maximize my Scotch enjoyment. Because really, a life without Scotch just isn’t worth living.

In other news I’m looking at property in Thunder Bay. Because God damn climate change. Or maybe just Grand Marais, because I am not sure I could put up with a bunch of Prius driving Canadians all the god damned time.

Oh… Happy New Year!

Now you kids get off of my lawn!

3 words

Language is an amazing thing. A seemingly limitless construct of symbols that can be used to classify and represent the world we discover around us. This was brought home to me the other day outside of a Dunkin’ Donuts in suburban Philadelphia. There, on an advert were three seemingly innocuous words, arranged in a way that I could never have imagined.

Three simple straight forward words, whose individual meanings were solid, and clear, and un ambiguous. But, placed together these words transformed themselves into a concept so new, and revolutionary that my mind was completely blown.

Like a Zen koan, they opened my mind to an entirely new and undiscovered level of consciousness.

Snickerdoodle Croissant Donut.

The world is an amazing place.

A place filled with mystery and wonder.

Also donuts.


I hate El Nino years. Crappy, wet, warm winters that are just depressing as hell. It’s December 14th and it’s pouring rain. If I wanted to live in frigging St. Louis I’d move to frigging St. Louis god-dammit.

Yeah, I know, global warming isn’t going to make it any better either. That’s why I continue to dream about moving further north. Lake Superior maybe, even though it’s raining there too. At least then I could look out at the big water, and watch for ships. But down here on this soggy prairie? Just more waiting, and hoping as my skis gather dust in the corner of the garage.

Baby Jessica

Deep down at the bottom of the well

The world is reduced to a circle of white,

Like a moon in a starless sky

So bright it hurts your eyes

And blinds you to everything

So you stare downward

Into darkness

Into silence

So quiet that not even sad songs can reach you

Just your thoughts which have their own voice

Movement the only thing scarier than sitting still

All Shook Down

The swollen clouds send rain like tears. The drops tap against my window. Forming into rivulets as gravity pulls them relentlessly downward. Hypnotized by the patter, I struggle against sleep. Puddling on the ground, the waters rise, and begin to flow taking my thoughts with them. Streams become creeks, creeks become rivers, rivers flowing onward to an invisible ocean of sorrow. In this gray half-light the line between wake and dreaming blurs. I wonder, are my eyes are open or closed? More importantly, does it even matter?

Sad stories about happy things

Last month, for the first time in more than a year and a half, I visited an airport and went on a trip for my Dark Corporate Overlords. With all the changes going on in my life during the past year I haven’t been complaining about the break from traveling. It’s been a welcomed chance to sort things out and establish a new normal. Yet all things must pass, and eventually work required me to stuff a week’s worth of clothes into a carryon suitcase, and squeeze myself into a germ infested metal tube with 300 other humans for 12 hours of confinement. Ah… the glamour of business travel. I’m sure some company still pays for their employees to fly business class, but I’ve never been lucky enough to work for one. Digressing…

While on the flight I watched the movie “Love and Mercy” about Brian Wilson and his struggles with mental illness, and how he managed to find his way back after decades of struggling with his demons. It reminded me that I had somehow reached age 47 and had still not listened to the album Pet Sounds in its entirety. Sure, I’d heard just about every track from it at one time or another, but one of the great achievements of Pet Sounds was its place in music history as being one of the first complete concept albums. So I made a mental note to pick up a copy when I got back from my trip.

Sitting around bored last Saturday morning, I remembered, and downloaded both Pet Sounds, and his long delayed follow up album, Smile. So began a 7 day long immersion in listening to these two works on endless loop. At home. In the car. At work. Just about every waking moment has either been consumed with listening to these albums, or reading and learning all I could about them. Yeah, when I decide to do something I have a tendency to go a little overboard.

While watching a documentary on the youtube about the completion of the long unfinished album Smile after 37 years I came across a phrase that resonated with me. Someone in the film, I forget who, referred to “Smile” as being “Sad songs about happy things.” Like a stone dropped into a well, this phrase has just echoed around inside of me for the past several days.

Sad songs about happy things…

While I can’t compare my ramblings with the work of a brilliant musician like Brian Wilson, I don’t think that I could have conceived of a better description of this blog. Amended of course, to be “stories” not “songs”. And so it is that I have finally found a new byline for 20 Prospect.

Sad stories about happy things.

It feels good to be back interwebz. I hope you stick around and keep me company as I return to exploring.