Question: If April flowers bring May showers, what do May flowers bring? Answer: Puritans and misery. Part 1 - May Flower Moon
I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure this is a ghost story. It all started in early May under the, "Flower Moon".
In the still of the night, I awoke from a deep sleep to witness a moonlight so spectacular it hurt my eyes.
Fumbling for my glasses, I found them, dropped them, cursed, then almost stepped on them. I finally got them where they belonged thinking I needed to use the bathroom. I glanced at the digital clock on my desk. 3:33 am. Again. Willow weep for me Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me -Ann Ronell as sung by Billie Holiday
The birds were chirping loudly. I shuffled to the window. I looked up wide-eyed at the sky. There was the moon; big, round and golden like it didn't mind a big electricity bill. As I used the bathroom, I remember thinking that I didn't ever remember a full moon so bright it could light up my apartment.
I washed my hands then splashed warm water on my face. I cracked my neck. I dried my hands and face with a towel. I remember thinking if I didn't get back to sleep the day was going to suck.
Shuffling back into my bedroom I thought to look for my ski hat. I figured I could pull it over my eyes and escape the light under the blanket. Flower Moon was beautiful but so too is sleep. If I could just hide under the blanket perhaps it wasn't too late for sleep to creep up on me.
I have been renting the same sunny shoebox in old Brooklyn for more than 20 years. It's a corner apartment on the second floor of a 19th century walkup. Across the street, diagonally resides a community garden fronted by a very tall and expansive weeping willow tree that won't let me move away. I didn't know it's age until recently. But it's younger than me. Most things are these days.
I shuffled to the corner window to squeeze the blinds tight and that's when I felt grateful, grateful I had decided to use the bathroom first.
There, at the base of the hundred-foot-tall willow, behind the wrought iron fence, illuminated beneath the moon's glow, I witnessed something that froze my blood and tested my aging bladder. Standing beneath the moonlight, I saw, clear as day, a little boy in footed pajamas with a trap door. The little boy was holding a blue stuffed Grover Muppet in one hand and crying.
Trying to get a good look at the boy was like trying to look at something from behind a campfire. There was a shimmering distortion. What I could clearly see was that he was pointing down at the ground in front of his feet with the non-Grover hand. Suddenly, the little boy spun his head up and around looking directly at me. Eye contact occurred and then too, something I can't explain.
First, a truck transporting fuel broke loudly for the red light at the corner. Through the open windows I smelled what seemed like diesel. I grew light-headed. The room spun around. I remember thinking this feeling smelled both nauseating as well as timeless.
I reached down to try and pick up the floor and that's when it hit me in the face. A sharp pain across my cheek like I had been slapped in a 3 Stooges short. I felt icy fingers grab the hair I had not had in over 30 years and jerk my head back. I smelled more diesel. I grabbed the edge of the desk to keep from losing my balance.
Holding on to the desk, I noticed my mind's eye was playing the little boy's face like a movie. The camera panned in. His little boy face filled my consciousness like I was watching from the front row. He was about four or five years old with long dirty blonde hair. His face looked familiar from a dream.
Then, another slapping pain turned my last good cheek. Losing my balance, I fell ass first to the floor.
Out the window, from on my ass, I watched the traffic light turn green. I heard the truck lurch into gear, rev it's engine then drive away. As it rumbled off into the distance my equilibrium returned.
Muttering my life sucked I gently shook my head and felt for damage. Just my non-existent pride. I got myself vertical, yet once again; feeling a distinct twinge of anxiety.
I looked out the window but the little boy was gone. An FDNY ambulance took his place, it's siren jarring me back to reality. I closed the blinds and got under the blanket. I never did really get back to sleep that night. Or ever since. Part II - Unhappily Ever Since Sad as I can be Hear me willow and weep for me... -Billie I keep seeing a little boy under the tree... - me
The first thing I want to say is that I keep waking up for decades at exactly 3:33 am.
It's the exact time my decrepit birth certificate claims I was introduced to this world. Can't say why, but ever since digital clocks became a thing, I'm up more often than not to witness 3:33 am transpire. Never remember it happening before digital.
One of my friends recently told me it was an angel number. I don't know anything about angels. Never met one. But I for sure have met some demons in my day. In fact. you might say I was born of demon mother, and I might not be offended. Back to my birth certificate. I was born and yes, still live in Brooklyn, New York. There were gaps but it's my home.
I moved to this particular apartment building a few months after 9/11. I had moved in with a woman at the tail end of doing a romantic nickel, but that fell apart like Madoff, Abramoff or Fuckoff, and she married another dude a year later. So, there in 2002, I and my faithful golden retriever, Spenser, found ourselves, for the very first time, on our own. And, we liked it.
Like I mentioned, Spenser and I lived diagonal to a community garden that fronts a big and beautiful weeping willow tree. I felt an immediate kinship as my favorite book as a child had been, "The Giving Tree" and that's what she reminded me of; only more beautiful.
There will be more about the tree. Anyway, the tree and I dwell in an old part of south Brooklyn called Park Slope, infamous for being the stomping grounds of a young Al Capone, and, believe it or not, young me.
That was a long time ago. Things have changed a lot since Al and I, were separately roaming the streets of Park Slope, looking for adventure and whatever came our way. I came up in the day when if you cried your mother would give you something to cry about. And, not going to lie, I cried a lot. I don't remember my dad that much.
I remember he was a hippie. I remember he had a big beard and moustache and long hair. I remember his denim jacket was always cold, smelling like weed and cigarettes. I remember he gave me, "The Giving Tree" and taught me how to read it. And then, I remember he was; gone. Just. Gone.
I also remember my mother. I remember her never talking much. I remember her just smelling like hair spray, cigarettes and instant coffee with sour milk. I never was able to drink milk, not even as a child, and to this very day just the sight of a milk carton turns my stomach to acid.
I lived alone with the old lady about half a mile from where I live now. Yeah, in over thirty years I made it a whole thirteen blocks. Like I said, my pride was non-existent these days unless I was sitting on it. Another, weird thing besides waking up at 3:33 am is I have a lot of memory lapses. It has been getting worse the last few years. Especially, since old Spenser had a seizure in my arms back on the 9/11 of '09. He was fifteen and my best friend. I'd always loved dogs. But after losing Spenser, I couldn't quite remember things right all the time.
Sometimes, it was little things. Like did I turn off the stove or lock the front door. Other times, it was deep things, like did the telephone repair man try to do something to me when I was five and left home alone. Like did I pull a kitchen knife on him before he scampered out like a thief in the night; scared he'd be caught by my screams for Batman? Did I remember my mother having strange guests over late at night? Did I remember being locked in my room? I just couldn't remember anymore.
I had taken to obsessively keeping lists. But you can't put ghost-busting on a list, can you? And that was my real problem. Ever since, the May Flower Moon the haunting just kept rinsing and repeating. Eat edibles, Nyquil, and Advil PM and still wake up at 3:33am. Smell diesel. Wave of nausea. Little boy in garden. Little boy crying. Little boy pointing at something. Little boy looking up at me. Little boy. Little boy. Little boy.
By last Friday, I was a mess.
My work is suffering. I am too embarrassed to tell my aunt or besties I see a little boy. They already think I am weird enough and last thing I need is a wellness check.
To remain scientific, I have continued my daytime visits to the garden whenever it is open. Everything seems so lovely in the day. I even brought the new woman I am seeing. She fell in love with the tree at first sight. The flowers are gorgeous. And the roses; so mesmerizing. Even the fish in the koi pond are happy. But at night. Something isn't right. ...Weeping willow tree Weeping sympathy Bend your branches down along the ground and cover me Listen to me plead Hear me willow and weep for me...
My new friend at work I mentioned, who told me about angel numbers, asked me recently if something was bothering me. She told me when we met, she is in the midst of a spiritual awakening.
Part of it includes awakening every morning to read the Tarot cards and commune with who, or what, she calls, "spirit".
I cracked and told her about the little boy under the tree. She didn't bat an eye. She told me spirit wants something from me. I didn't know what to say to that so I just left it alone. I guess I'm afraid what if she's right. And what if I don't like what, "spirit" wants?
Last night was Saturday. I had a dream.
That night I dreamed about a collie I had when I was a very young boy right after my dad split. Her name was Pearl. I had found her on the street on my block and for some inexplicable reason had been allowed to keep her.
Not long after, one hot summer day in Prospect Park, when my mother was going to give me something to cry about, Pearl suddenly ran down the hill she was frolicking on, making a wide sweeping arc that screamed, "ride or die, full throttle, and damn the fucking torpedoes," it's trajectory directly between my mother's legs. Fur overcame flesh just in the nick before I was given something to cry about.
Instead, I laughed.
I laughed so fucking hysterically at the sight of her on the grass, on her ass; smug look gone with the wind; replaced by an expression seething red menace that would have been McCarthy's wet dream.
And, like the little boy at 3:33 am, Pearl's eyes met mine. She seemed to nod her collie head, as if she were acknowledging that, yes, she was the best dog and don't you forget it. I didn't cry much for a while after that till I came home from school and Pearl was gone. Just gone. To some farm I was told. Where she could be happier. So, I guess I did get something to cry about after all.
And then last night I had a dream.
Part III - It weeps for me?
I dreamed of Peter Pan and buried treasure. I dreamed of Stove Stop stuffing and commercials loud enough to drown out a breech birth. I dreamed of Spider-Man letting Uncle Ben's killer go free. I dreamed of being American. I dreamed of Watergate, the fall of the Berlin wall, 9/11 and watching people jump out windows to avoid burning to death out the window of my office.
I dreamed of Iraq and Afghanistan and George Floyd and Covid and never-ending cycles of boom and bust. I dreamed of a golden carrot on what started out as a stick but soon morphed into what I realized was a branch. A long flowing beautiful branch covered in red. A branch that hung low. It swayed along the ground, swayed above my head and there I was.
I was in the garden. Under the tree. I felt drops of warm dew caressing my face. I was about to reach up to caress the tree. My tree. I noticed I was wearing pajamas. Not the black satin jammies I had been wearing for decades but old footie pajamas. They were Star Trek pajamas. With three golden rings on the cuffs and a trap door.
A drop of dew fell in my eye. I wiped it away and looked at my hand. It was red. Red with blood. My Mickey Mouse watch involuntarily color-coordinated with the blood. It appeared to be just after 3:30 am.
Suddenly, a dog appeared. It was Pearl. Then another, it was Spenser. They jammed their snouts into my flannel covered crotch. I pet them both and noticed my tears mixing with the dewy blood drops turning them a soft pink under the moonlight.
"Good boy. Good girl." I said.
"Hi," a voice I recognized but couldn't place said.
I looked around. And there, was, the little boy. And, in his hand was Grover.
"Hi," I heard myself say.
"Who's the dog?" he said.
"That's Pearl. And this is Spenser." I answered.
"I know Pearl, silly. She's my dog," then, "Hi, Spenser."
Spenser left my crotch for the little boy's. They went together like peanut butter and sandwiches.
"Where are your parents?" I heard myself ask.
"Dad left. Mom told me to stay here until she comes back."
"When was that?" I asked.
The little boy shrugged then, "Been a while I guess," and he started to cry. Spenser got agitated and started to whine. I approached. I went to put my hand on the boy's shoulder and he jumped.
"Hey, it's okay." I took my hand back.
He looked up at me. Then he said, "You want to see something?
I said, "Yes."
The little boy fished around in his pajamas and pulled out something, it looked like a piece of rolled up construction paper secured with a red ribbon that matched the bloody dew drops.
He un-scrolled it then solemnly showed it to me.
It appeared to be a child's treasure map. That ended in the garden. Only it wasn't a garden. It said, "JUNK YARD" and there was a big X next to the corner of the rectangle the words were written in. I looked down at him.
"There's no junk yard here, son," I said.
The little boy looked away from Spenser and up at me. Pearl ran to his side. I felt six eyes on me.
"That's what you think," he said
A moment later there was the loud cracking of fireworks being detonated. I awoke in my bed. Fumbling for my glasses, I found them, dropped them, cursed, then almost stepped on them. I finally got them where they belonged thinking I needed to use the bathroom. I glanced at the digital clock on my desk. 3:33 am. Again.
I ran to the window to look out. But, unlike every other time for the past month, the boy was not in residence. He was gone. Just. Gone.
Part IV - The is The End Gone my lovely dreams To weep my tears along the stream Sad as I can be Hear me willow and weep for me
This was fucking ridiculous. I am sane. I am not mad. I'd been reading, "The Giving Tree," too much. Spending too much time alone working from home. Maybe I just needed to get away. Take a trip somewhere.
I realized getting back to sleep was going to be impossible. So, I went into the kitchen and made a pot of tea. No milk.
Back at my desk, my "SHIT. FUCK. DAMN." glass mug of tea firmly in hand, I took a deep breath. There was no point in giving myself a heart attack. Maybe it was just anxiety. Maybe panic attacks. I had dated lots of neurotic women. That could be it. Maybe some Lexapro and I'd be good as new. I decided to check my email.
A woman I used to date from Queens and stayed friends with had sent me a link entitled, "Birth of a community garden." It was video to my garden. Before it was a garden. Over forty years ago. It was a decrepit vacant lot filled with dead cars and refuse and apparently had been a neighborhood drug bazaar. Like I said, things have changed a lot since Al and I were young as springtime.
By the time I moved back you would have never known what things had used to look like. Spray painted signs that read, "NO DRUGS SOLD HERE!
" and the like. Just like the Batman, Dark Knight, the 80s were a time when Urban Renewal was striking back. And before you could say, "corruption at City Hall," there was fecund soil where once had stood God knows what.
It gave me hope that humanity wasn't so bad. Maybe I had just been going through a tough time. Maybe I should quit while I am ahead and get a good night's rest. So, I closed the blinds and went to bed. Why I am never sleeping again
That night I dreamed I was part of the junk yard's saviors. Hauling out decades of festering trash and replacing it with good old Mother Earth. A whole community coming together to commune with nature. I felt myself smile.
All day we hoed the rows. The fecundity of the soil filling my nostrils. There was food and laughter and soon day turned to night. One by one all the gardeners left into the dusk. Soon I stood alone next to a young woman. She held a green army duffle bag. And two shovels.
"You look like a big, strong man. They're going to be planting a weeping willow tree here soon. But first, I wanted to leave the earth a special gift to grow up with the tree. This time I think we should give to the tree. Won't you help me?"
I felt a passing twinge of disgust. I rubbed my upper lip with the back of my hand and thought I smelled the faint smell of diesel. I heard myself say, "Hand me a shovel."
An hour later I had fulfilled the lady's request to deposit the duffel bag deep within the new garden's soil. She lit a cigarette I recognized. She blew some smoke in my face and it smelled like sour milk.
"Ever read a boy and his dog?" she asked.
"This is the opposite," she said. I smelled the diesel again and then remembered no more.
This morning I awoke feeling none too swell. I got my glasses on without dropping them for a change then sort of hobbled to the kitchen area to make some tea. I opened the blinds and there was my weeping willow tree. Swaying gently in the Sunday early June overcast chill.
Implacable. Inscrutable. True to it's nature. The day was gray as a widow's anniversary.
Well, there's always tea, I thought, ever the optimist. And then I dropped my, "SHIT. FUCK. DAMN." mug on my foot, simultaneously battering and scalding it. I let out a yelp.
Then, mouth agape, I smelled the diesel waft in the window by the fire escape. The window, where, leaning against the fire escape's stairs I witnessed something that froze my blood and tested my aging bladder.
I spied two shovels and an empty duffle bag.
I wonder what spirit will have to say about that? Gone my lovely dreams To weep my tears along the stream Sad as I can be Hear me willow and weep for me Willow Weep For Me?
Has anyone else use truffle butter during the searing process if so what are your thoughts?
Sometimes people forget how muffins become hero’s. Although, occasionally humans won’t acknowledge their delicious powers. Bakers unintentionally proliferate synthetic dinosaurs despite muffin wishes. Scones battle fiercely for territory against croissants and crepes. Synthetic dinosaurs recreate natural raptors. According to urban dictionary, muffins defend crepes alongside croissants. Unfortunately bakers create brain dead zombie scones. The scones slaughter thousands of crepes every other month. Vanilla deluxe imported from the moon empowers curing zombies. Muffins can’t deny such flavor. War torn muffins protest by cannibalism. Cannibals devour vanilla to gain power triumphantly. Devastated scone rages futilely for peace. Sacrificial crepes thrown haphazardly, bakers sometimes crush their hopes and remains. Making tasty muffins who only need hope. Butter made dinosaurs ravish the hopeless scones for crepe gods. Although valiant croissants protect cemeteries against archeologists.
Imagine an urban dictionary of housewives. What terms would you submit, what would the definition be, and what would the quote to clarify be?
Might be a long post, we’ll see where this goes. I was first introduced to Madden with Madden 2002, my first Madden that I owned and played was 2004. Between then and now Madden has changed for the absolute WORST. Last night I deleted Madden 23 from my PS5 and snapped the game in two. I have never played a madden that infuriated me as much as this one. Let’s get MUT out of the way.
This was my first AND last time playing that cash garb. Look up pay to play in the dictionary and MUT is front and center. I found myself spend around $200 after I told myself that I would be NMS. Damn near impossible. I spent MONTHS grinding MUT NMS to earn a decent 85 overall just to get beat by someone who bought all the new high OVR players and did one play TDs, or straight bullied my offense. Whatever, the game is the game, but that shit is not for me. Moving on to my bread and butter, what I’ve been playing madden exclusively for ever since franchise mode took a poop, (not gonna go over that, we know it’s HOT GARBAGE) Online Head to Head.
Let me first start off by saying I’m a Chargers fan, and we have one of the SLOWEST teams in Madden overall. That being said, the game rewards speed over everything, whether that’s the overall of the players opposite of one another, or just skill. My top WR Keenan Allen (89 OVR) can never get separation because of his speed (88,) even though their route running is one of the best in madden. I’m talking about high 70s, low 80s OVR sticking with him with low play rec and man/zone ratings. My top CB, JC Jackson which is a 86 OVR with 91 Man Coverage and Decent speed and acc (both 92) gets beat CONSTANTLY by a Devin Duvernay (77 OVR, 94 Speed, 92 ACC, 79 AWR, 78 76 75 short medium and deep route running) or any mid receiver with speed and acc to them. HOW?? I’ve played football so I know about coverages. Madden literally has no type of rhyme or reason to it. Another thing that made me lose it is the amount of drops my WRs/TEs have. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect them to catch 100% of the catches, only the ones that makes sense for sure. But they drop WIDE OPEN BOOTY NAKED PASSES. But my opponent would get rewarded with hiking the ball, immediately lobbing it 50 yards down the field for 70 yards of air time while I’m in prime position to make a INT, for their WR to make the catch because they were already in animation. Shit is just ridiculous.
The final straw for me deleting and destroying madden was this. I was 30 yards from the end zone. I did a play action rolling out to the right and my opponent was in zone defense. Justin Herbert ( 88 medium and deep throw accuracy) was not being pressured at all. I throw to my 6’8 TE Donald Parham who was wide open with no one in his vicinity, my QB feet set for the throw on the right side of the end zone. You wanna guess what happens? I get an inaccurate penalty and he throws it FAR RIGHT INTO THE STANDS. That was the last straw.
I’ve tried Superstar KO mode and it’s so damn hollow. 3 teams, shitty playbooks, can’t say more about it.
Didn’t even bother playing Face of the Franchise, I don’t think it could be better than Longshot in Madden 18 and that’s not saying much so I left it alone.
And I haven’t played franchise mode since like Madden 2006. From the videos I seen and the posts about it here, it’s gone to shit.
Madden 23 is by far the worst one that I have played. I have NEVER destroyed a game disc because I don’t like wasting money, and I’m not easily angered like that. But this game is garbage. If madden 24 is the same I promise I will turn that game back in and won’t play Madden again. We’re paying too much for a half assed product and I’m fed up.