Feb 28, 2011

What’s a Bitter Trolley and why am I the conductor?

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the BT underway.

“So what is the Bitter Trolley?” you may be asking. (Then again you may not be asking, but I am going to speak for you in this case as way of introduction to this entry. No hard feelings I hope.)

The Bitter Trolley dates back to 2003, when my life had just taken a severe hit, and then I had the greatest high I’ve known, other than the days my children were born. In Aug. 2003 my ex wife and I split, it was her decision and I tried to keep it from happening, but there was no saving the marriage.

In Oct. of the same year I met someone, and she was, well, in a word, amazing.

She was younger than me, a lot, but one of the wisest, funniest and most amazing people I knew then, now or will know.

I was at her apartment, and she asked a question, and when I gave my reply she looked at me, laughing her amazing laugh and said, “Whoa! Whoa! Back the Bitter Trolley out of the station there!”

I laughed and said something to the effect, “Me? Bitter?”

“Oh hell yes, you bitter!” was her reply.

See, it seems I can be quite acerbic and snarky. But I think that only happens when the situation warrants such measures. This, truthfully, is about every 10 minutes in my world.

So from that day forward if I was in a mood, she would tell me the Bitter Trolley was leaving the station, and that I was the conductor. The time I was with her was really the best time of my life as far as understanding love and being happy and committed to someone. I loved her deeply and truly from my heart and soul.

Then I came home from Iraq on leave, and it ended. The worst 14 days of my life. I returned to Iraq for the rest of my tour, but I will admit, the Bitter Trolley was running in Iraq. I got home from that 15 months and resumed life, rebuilding and trying to make sense of what I thought I knew.

But in those dark days, even after it ended between us (again, not my choice and something that still tears me up to this day) I always thought of her and the Bitter Trolley when I found myself in a bad mood.

Well a few months ago something really odd/funny/bizarre happened. I was on Twitter, hadn’t been on long, and someone started tweeting me – mocking me and asking me some really odd questions. As I tried to figure out who this person was (even after looking at the profile, I still did not know who the mystery person could be) I finally asked.

It was HER.

Five years after I last heard from her, five years of missing her and thinking about her, there she was, contacting me again.

Now maybe you are picturing the run through the field, her dressed in white, me in something slimming so I look good, meeting in the field and embracing, me twirling her around as the love theme form Titanic played.

Uh, no.

See, for five years I’d referred to her as “she who shall remain nameless” and did everything I could (quite unsuccessfully) to not think of her. I was hurt.



And yeah, bitter.

But realizing some things that had happened since we last spoke, I had to make a decision right then and there (RIGHT NOW!) – am I going to ignore her now and forever or was I going to respond and see what she wanted and talk to her?

We wound up tweeting until about 3 a.m. We talked long, and openly, we talked on the phone the next day, we laughed, cried and opened our hearts to all that had happened in the last half decade.

And in the first minutes of our first phone conversation in five years she replied to something I said with, “Wow, the Bitter Trolley is still in service I see!”

I laughed so hard it was amazing.

We not only speak now, but are also good friends again, and I care for her as much as ever, even with the knowledge that we won't spend the rest of our lives together. I accept it, sadly, but I do. Better to have her in my life than not, I am a better person for it.

So I am the Bitter Trolley Conductor because of a very special woman, who will always, no matter what, have a very special place in my heart and soul. I don’t think it gets any better than that.

If you’re still on the Trolley, thanks for reading this installment. Next time I’m gonna talk about the relative merits of superhero bedding, and why some are way more interesting than others. I kid, I kid.

Thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for
your future travels.

Feb 23, 2011

The Bitter Trolley's first run

Welcome aboard the Bitter Trolley, and since I’ve collected your tickets and everyone is comfy, let’s get the BT underway.

Well, here it is my first blog post. I planned to start this adventure by explaining why it’s called the Bitter Trolley Conductor, and giving a kind of sketch as to who I am in the hopes that if anyone is reading this they have an understanding of what makes me tick.

But you know what? I can’t really explain what makes me tick when every day I become less sure of that myself. But that is a whole other entry…

So what am I going to start this great adventure (or is it misadventure?) sharing my opinions and thoughts on? How about starting with the turmoil, uprisings and demonstrations in the Middle East? Actually, lately it is Africa, so I’ll amend to say the Arab nations.
I admit that I was riveted to what was happening in Egypt, I found the Al Jazeera English stream and could not turn it off.

*Standing on soapbox* Oh, and hey, cable companies and DirecTV and Dish…if you can carry some of the video flotsam you do, how about carrying Al Jazeera English? What, not enough channels? Bunk. And if cable companies can pay hundreds of millions to carry Lakers games how about something informative? Or are you just afraid people will see how HORRIBLE CNN, FNC, MSNBC, etc. are at really covering world events? *Getting off soapbox*

Now it is Libya in flames, in some places literally. What the hell does this all mean? The smoke is still in the air in Egypt and now Gaddafi is bombing his own people.
Will we see the rise of more Islamic Republics, like Iran in 1979? (The first time world events had me glued to the TV.)

Or will something in a representative democracy mold emerge, or something like Turkey? It’s all exciting, scary and mind boggling.

I truly believe that freedom is such a powerful thing, that even after decades of oppression, be it political, religious, or a combination of both, the crowd will rise and demand what our Founders called “self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That doesn’t mean I think they need to base their freedom on the U.S. model. I just want them to be free. I have seen too much suffering and horror to not.

So what does it all mean, the outburst of demonstrations and uprisings?

I am not going to act like I know in any way. I’m not like the pundits and talking heads that get on TV and the radio, or write for a paper, and act like they have some deep insight and reading of the minds of others.

But I do wonder about some things and have opinions. (It is a blog after all!) Some of them may upset readers. (LOL Look at my arrogance, thinking anyone is reading this!) I hope if you disagree we can discuss.

Here is one thing I wonder: how much of these uprisings now are influenced by our actions in Iraq? Yeah, people can say we should never have invaded and dethroned one of the worst dictators of the 20th Century, a sentiment I politely disagree with. But that’s based on several tours there and one I feel stronger about every day. But seeing a brutal thug overthrown, and after years of what basically was power struggles decades old (and aided by outside agitators) Iraq has a government elected by the people.

It’s a FAR from perfect government, it has far too much corruption and other issues, but it is still better than a government of rape rooms, secret police and the draining of marsh land as political reprisal that condemns farmers to having nothing.

Maybe the people are seeing that it CAN be done? I am just throwing this out there.

Well, I have bored you enough. I promise it won’t all be political or world events. I will be talking about books I am reading, TV I love, sci fi greatness, how Batman is so superior to Superman it’s not even funny and a host of other world shattering topics. I just hope if you are reading this now you will do so again.

Thanks for riding the Bitter Trolley, and please, remember us for your future travels.