Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
 LL Cool J “I’m Bad”
 Yazz & The Plastic Population “The Only Way Is Up”
 Stevie Wonder “Higher Ground”
Where would we be without hopes and dreams? Without them, we are little more than empty vessels just going through the motions. Life has a tendency to move at breakneck speed and, often, said hopes and dreams fall by the wayside. We’ve all been there, stuck in a dead-end job, with each day resembling the last, and not a damn thing set to change for the forseeable. It can be a thankless task and the worst thing is that, while we plough 40+ hours into making ends meet, it leaves precious little time to focus on where we really wish to be. I know as much as I was trapped for years in a cycle like this, gradually losing my identity, and becoming just another one of the drones. It took a bout of work-related stress and a doctor’s note to provide me the necessary time to start working on myself and, when this happened, I wasn’t about to let the chance go begging. I started writing, primarily just to remind me that I still could, as it had been something that I was once passionate about and never fully explored. Life happened, I joined the rat race, and twenty-years later I was still treading water.
My situation was extreme and I wouldn’t recommend such a brutal awakening to anyone as I have never felt so alone and scared as I did when my life capitulated before my very eyes. However, there is beauty in the breakdown apparently and those words have gone on to mean rather a lot to me over the past three years. Suddenly I began to let my words flow and, within no time, realized that all the hopes and dreams I possessed as a wide-eyed child were still very much applicable. Moreover, I couldn’t have done what I have since had it not been for life beating me up a little on occasion and stealing my lunch money. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, so long as you treat it the right way. Bitterness is a thankless emotion and, while it recognizes what is behind you, it robs you blind of anything on your path. Demons exist and they tend to hang out in the vicinity of painful memories. So it is best to meet and greet these emotionally crippling ghouls, acknowledge that they’ll always be present, and banish them to the sidelines. Don’t take your eyes off them for a picosecond as they are a cantankerous bunch and will rear their ugly heads the very moment your back is turned. But don’t waste your time on the back foot.
As for hopes and dreams, well the most critical thing is to remember that the sky need not be the limit. Sounds clichéd I know, but ultimately the only person that can convince you that something isn’t obtainable is you. Traditionally, fear of failure is the cause for realistic expectation as we have a tendency to protect our assets, rather than take to the roulette wheel and place our bets. If we don’t try, then we don’t fail right? Surely that is better than placing ourselves in a position of vulnerability as we’re not sure what another knock back would do for our self-confidence. Best just play it safe then and continue to tread water as there is comfort in inevitability and far less in tripping over our own boot laces the moment we attempt to stray from the path. Poppycock, I wouldn’t be sat here now if it weren’t for a few significant leaps of faith and upholding my belief in something that once seemed entirely improbable. I knew I could string a few words together but, with over seven billion people on the planet, where could I realistically expect to figure in the pecking order?
However, my angle was different from many as I had reached a place in my life where honesty was no longer an issue. Should I possess scars, then I would reveal them. If an opportunity presented itself for a dash of soul-searching, then I’d grasp it with open hands. And if I earned something new about myself in the process, then I would share that with my readership, as it may just relate to their own tuition. Of course, this would need to be an all-encompassing endeavor as, should my integrity become compromised for a split-second, then every word I had ever scribed would become meaningless and hollow. I was all in with my pair of black 2’s and, when the flop revealed a similar pair of the red variety, suddenly my chip stack wasn’t looking so pitiful. I took that leap, plummeted towards the foot of my chasm like Hans Gruber with club foot and, wouldn’t you know it, the landing didn’t shatter every bone in my exoskeleton as I had feared. Instead, an ocean of hands cradled me and returned me to terra firma unscathed. Moreover, they patched me up good. Reinforced me if you will.
Suddenly I was akin to RoboCop. Granted, my new chrome penis wasn’t quite as fun to polish, but I was kind of digging on being impervious to shrapnel. With these fresh tools at my disposal, the streets would become safe again and folk could begin to rest easy at night. However, while Murphy wasn’t delivered to the assembly line with the cleanest bill of health, he was afforded the opportunity to hold onto his cerebellum and that made the transition with him. I opted to bring my soul along for the ride just to ensure that I didn’t misplace my previous identity. And I continued to plunder it at every available opportunity. When it needed to rest up, I headed down to the shooting range and fired off some rounds just to make best of the gifts I had been provided. But the soul was where it was really at. It would be all too easy considering myself infallible and, before I knew it, I’d be tossed on the scrap heap as RoboCop V.002 comes with built-in subwoofers and a hip-mounted 7-Up dispenser. But nobody could get their filthy paws on my soul as even I haven’t the vaguest clue where that resides.
It’s true you know, when I take five and read back what I have just spent the last two hours conjuring, there is nobody more surprised than yours truly. A common response would be “where the fuck and bollocks did that shit come from?” and I love being the last to know of my ability. I may never fully understand my aptitude for creation and there is nothing more consoling than befuddlement in such a scenario. Who wants to have it all figured out? The moment that seems to be the case, we get sloppy as it’s just human nature. I’d rather take the magical mystery tour and see where that leads instead. That said, while I cannot put my finger on what grinds the gears so to speak, I know more than sufficient to pay any higher learning forward to the Grueheads. The rest is up to each individual. They either take it on board or leave it be and I’m happy to leave that ball in their court. Mental frailty led me to water and, mercifully, there just happened to be a river of grue nearby. I quenched myself accordingly and did so of my own accord entirely. Then, while washing my smalls in this deep red estuary, I discovered many other pools in and around my vicinity.
Plural it was then and, while I’d never claim to be an expert in streams, I’m fairly assured they all lead some place. The penny dropped right there as it turned out that we were all interconnected. Souls may be bashful in the extreme, but they are also more social than given credit for. While I’m frantically scribing away with Crimson Quill in one hand and flashlight in the other, said soul is playing backgammon with seven of its closest associates while sipping Merlot from a flute and I’m not speaking of a glass with a stem either. It can do this shit on auto-pilot and this affords plenty of down-time to shoot the shit and forge some connections. The militia was then inaugurated and global domination was now within my grasp. Time to grab the cat like Roger and stroke that pussy ’til it purred right? That’s what Blofeld did after all. Hold on just a cotton-picking picosecond. Unless I’m misguided, I believe that Bond came out trumps in this particular skirmish.
Perhaps global domination was a touch strong. After all, the moment you press that red button, you’re the new poster boy for inherent evil and some awfully congenial English chap is putting his Martinis on your bar tab. Moreover, he’s sleeping with your girls. Suddenly that cradled kitten isn’t looking like such a centerfold. If you asked me whether I would rather store my junk inside the rusted tail pipe of Garfield’s hot niece Geretta or the warm loins of Maryam D’Abo, then I’d be out of my throne before you could ask “what’s your pleasure?” It simply had to be good, my purpose isn’t to endorse a royal rumble or anything of suchlike nefarious nature, it is to care and share, as saccharine as that may sound. It’s no secret that good and evil cannot ever hope to flourish without one another and, considering my fondness for horror, that was the malevolence side of things sewn up. My soul took full responsibility for Samaritan duties, leaving both heart and mind to sink in the swim and make small talk with the algae.
Now algae is generally considered the lowest of the low and, geographically speaking, I make that assumption spot-on. However, bottom-feeder as it may be, it still knows how to lay on an extravagant banquet. Without frontline algae dishing out the finger foods, minnows would go hungry and, before you know it, fretful salmon are leaping ashore, even though they haven’t the faintest idea how to survive on mainland. I’m often on the seabed, chatting up the urchins, and there are few places I would rather be to be honest. Now let me just make this abundantly clear, y’all ain’t urchins. That’s not what I’m driving at here. Hell, I don’t know who the urchins are and neither does my soul wish me to gain such intelligence. I guess what I’m saying is that, three years back, I was little more than friendly algae, flailing hopelessly in an attempt at being nibbled upon. Now I’m a salmon and, while the urge to become airborne is often irresistible, I know where I belong and aren’t about to get ideas above my station.
Now my hopes and dreams are no longer pie-in-the-sky and, each time I reach a beacon, the first thing I do is to set my next marker. In a sense, it’s just like climbing a ladder and dodging any slippery snakes on your ascension. With each rung facilitated, the water becomes clearer and the next step is thus highlighted. Who cares if somebody tells you you’re pissing in the wind. Should that be true, then they just got their trousers soaked while whispering these acidic nothings into your ear. Now who’s the chump? A world without hope is a sorry one indeed and slumber without dreams is just eight-a-day wasted. I’m not expected to bound to the summit in one lengthy stride as all the overlooked rungs would scream bloody murder. Moreover, I won’t appreciate the journey as humanity has a habit of playing etch-a-sketch on your recollection once both nostrils are flared for fortitude. Baby steps it is then as algae are the distant cousins of sperms and look where they end up. Before you know it, they’re all grown up, horribly moody, and listening to Korn in their boudoirs whilst pulling the wings off flies. Bless ’em.
I have fond recollections of my time as algae as it made me what I am today – a toddler. I’m under no illusion that I still have a lot to learn and will gladly take every last schooling, as long as that swollen bosom keeps coughing up the lactose. I hope and I dream because I still can, and there are no changes of heart forecast to hinder this endeavor, not while there is breath in my lungs. Right now, it appears the ideal time to fill you in on my current aspirations. They’re really not that exhilarating and may seem disappointing after all this build-up but remember they’re just a rung in the ladder. My hope is that this piece of work resonates with my readership and helps to brighten their outlook in some way. As for dreams, I pray that any algae peruse it and realize that feeding is breeding. That would please me more than anything, the knowledge that my words can and do make a difference. Again with the cliché right? What a vapid tool I am. Fuck it, cliché ain’t so bad, it’s just overexposed is all. Once everyone becomes fearful of coming across trite, it’s fair game again as it wouldn’t have become so commonplace had it not possessed a dash of viability.
Look at me, I’m one big sappy cliché. And do you know what? I wouldn’t change a solitary thing for all the call girls in Chinatown. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that. Tell you what Grueheads, I’ll hold onto these hopes and dreams for the time being and perhaps we can compare notes from time to time. Meanwhile, any cynics can sharpen their knives as I’m RoboCop goddamnit and my armor is impenetrable remember. ED-209 may think he can throw his weight around but let’s see who wins in a race down the staircase shall we?
What’s the matter ED? Did you get up to fast and suffer an ED-rush? Don’t think that sliding to the bottom step on your grill counts as victory either. By the way, what you did back in that boardroom was borderline mean. Guess you feel like quite the big shot riddling that reluctant volunteer with lead don’t you? Anyhoots, how are those hopes and dreams coming along? Not a single one eh? Just the directive. May want to take a look at your mandate as I’m fairly assured you fucked up with the protecting the peace side of things. By the way, how’s that stop-motion working out for you? Me? I’m off to engage in a spot of extracurricular activity with Officer Lewis. Dead ringer for Nancy Allen that one. It is my hope that she uses her handcuffs on me as she rides my chrome nightstick like buckaroo. Dream? That she possesses dual vaginas as one of my perks just happens to be a Swiss army dick and I’ve been gagging to break it out of its cellophane. Who can tell me my goals are unrealistic? Indeed, who can tell anyone of us that? Keep on keeping on Grueheads and I’ll endeavor to act symmetrically. Together, we can cross each hope off our to-do-list, dare to dream, strive to thrive, and reach for every last inch of higher ground.
This article is dedicated to a dear brother who blew me sideways by presenting me with the glorious gift below. It’s a doozy right? Never been a work of art before. I implore you to click the image Grueheads and familiarize yourselves with this True Grue Crusader. A simple thank you here just wouldn’t suffice. Instead, here’s some slightly more complex gratitude for ya.
Ma look at me I’ve got horns don’t cha know
I thought it a migraine had no clue that they’d grow
and check out these wings that R. Kelly was right
though I’m not that convinced that their strong suit is flight
I shall flap them a little not get carried away
why dash for tomorrow when you’ve still got today
besides it is not all that I’ve been bequeathed
as last time I checked I had far less fun teeth
The burn you’re discerning is my passion for learning
as I need some of that just to keep the wheels turning
I like my new look find it rather becoming
it reminds me of why I keep these rivers running
The eyes are the prize as I love me some peepers
and there’s plenty distinguished about these two features
they may appear blank but the opposite’s true
as within them are gushing deep rivers of grue