The energy was flowing through me. I did not feel so tired and defeated anymore. It’s easy to feel that way. But I had perked up after a trip to the supermarket with my little girl and I was buzzing a bit. It was Saturday night, I was going to cook fajitas for the family. But! When I got home I realized I forgot the damn tortillas. Fool!

So I went back out into our new neighborhood on foot to see if I could find a corner store or bodega that sold them nearby. No such luck. But there was little burrito stand, Mission Burrito. I went in and announced I had a strange favor to ask. Could I buy some tortillas? I was making fajitas for the family tonight and forgot to buy them at the store. The man smiled and was gracious. Sure, he says. Big ones? Sure, big ones. Whatever you got. He goes in the back and gets 10 big ones, carefully wraps them in saran wrap and puts them neatly into a plastic bag before presenting them to me on the counter. Wonderful, I say. How much? Eh, he says. Four dollars. Here’s five I say, leaving a Lincoln on the counter and thanking him. You saved me! I say. He smiles and I split.

Walking home, that’s when I saw it: the TORTILLA MOON, full and round, hanging there in the sky. I held my own torillas up to it, and they were the same. I went home and cooked the fajitas and sat at the kitchen table with my wife and drank a beer and chatted about little things. Outside the screen door the quiet night twinkled with tiny city sounds, the distant siren, the sidewalk footsteps, the occasional whoosh of a car passing by.

I have a real problem with pizza.

It’s bad. Going on 20 years now I’ve been hooked on the stuff. I take it anywhere I can, from the dollar-spots to the bougie artisinal slices. I’m a grown man for chrissakes!

Today lunchtime rolled around and I decided to find a place to eat. I stepped outside the building, got myself oriented, and began to head west toward 3rd avenue. About a block or two down, I saw a pizza place. Pizza King, it was called.

At the counter, I surveyed the goods and decided on a mushroom slice. The shrooms were piled on top and covered with melted cheese. I took a bite. I think there might have even been cheese beneath the mushrooms too. A mushroom sandwich on top of a slice of pizza? Indeed, the work of a Pizza King.

Bite #2. A small piece of mushroom topples off the slice, bounces off my thigh, and lands on the floor. No trace of sauce on the pant leg – a minor triumph.

Bite #3. I’m growing more ravenous. I take a big chomp and an unusually large mushroom is left sort of flapping outside of my mouth like a huge tongue. Disgusting. I throw my head back and let it –

Oh god, bite #5. I’m a savage. I’m staring at the slice now. It’s staring at me. You bastard, here I come!

Bite #6 is messy. I chomped straight into the main thicket of mushrooms, square in the center of the slice. Another baby mushroom rolled off, along the countertop and down into the jacket pocket of the guy sitting next to me! I shit you not! He’s got a mushroom in his pocket this guy, and he has no idea. He’s on his phone, chewing, off in another world.

I folded the bitch in half. BOOM, a devastating blow. CHOMP. You’re dead slice. You’re dead. AGAIN! Oh, I pushed the mushrooms that were trying to get out of my mouth back into my face like a rotten pig.

There. I took the last bite of the pizza “proper.” Now all that remained was a crust. I decided to clean him up good with a quick line of nibbling along the edge, like eating an ear of corn or typing on a typewriter.

Now the plate was inhabited only by a crusty carcass and a lone mushroom. They were both sitting on the plate next to one another, conspiring. You fiends!

I ate the last mushroom, little fool. He was cold already, little squid. Now it was just me and the crust. I picked him up. AH-HA! Another mushroom hiding underneath! A bloody stowaway! You little creep. Gone, down the gullet.

Now, to finish things off. I took a dry, awful bite, then another. And another. I popped the final lifeless, worthless piece of crust into my mouth.

Chewing. Chewing. Chewing. Chewing. Chewing. Chewing. Chewing. Chewing.

Swallowing. Swallowing. Swallowing.

There. It is finished.

Sitting in an auto body shop on Mallory Ave.

Here I am sitting in an auto body shop on Mallory Ave. All I wanted was an oil change but I got suckered into the $200 trans fluid extravaganza, naturally. They have a way, these auto guys. Very cunning. I can’t say no! Why? Because I am afraid. They smell me, I know it. Two reasons really: 1) I don’t want to crash and die and 2) I don’t want to buy a new car.

This girl behind the counter, she’s really something. Knows her stuff. Young thing, probably 23 or 24 years old. Some guy comes in grouching about his tires and how bad the shop screwed them up. She lays into him like a drill press! Torrent of know-how, talking lugs and nuts, bolts stripping and whatall might have caused the problem and take a seat please sir, we’ll have someone double check the work. And keep your pants on!

It’s good to get out and do things. Errands, you know? They allow you to save yourself, if only momentarily. Else, you’re liable to sit around and start thinking about your purpose in life or some other silly rubbish. Sends a goddam shudder up my spine. There’s a slam dunk competition on TV. Sponsored by Powerade. A girl just sunk a three. Nothing but net!

Put your life in a picture frame.

Remember that your life is a story. It has a beginning, middle, and end. That’s why humans are drawn to stories. Our lives are finite. When you panic or get frustrated about something, take a step back and just remember it’s part of a bigger book. Whatever scene is in front of you, put a mental picture frame around it, like you’re watching a movie. And you’re a character. The main character, in fact. This works for happy things too, great successes, moments where you feel alive or grateful. They’re just scenes. And if you think of them as scenes, it adds a dash of magic to your life.

Pull the trigger.

After a while, there’s no sense in delaying a decision any longer. The only thing that matters is that you choose a path, and which one you choose doesn’t matter. The fact that you’ve gotten this far and remain at an impasse means you’ve eliminated anything that could be truly disastrous. You’ve left yourself with only good optoins. Now you must choose. But don’t flip a coin. Make the choice with your heart, in a moment when are feeling favorable toward one side or the other. Then just commit and refuse to slip back to ever reconsidering the path you have decided against.

Focus on the job at hand.

Whatever needs to get done now, do it. Invest yourself into it completely. Dive in to each task with all the passion, conviction, and humanity that you would a live performance. There’s the old saying, any job worth doing is worth doing well. Put your mind to the thing. There is joy in work if you can bring yourself to it fully.

Don’t just nod in agreement.

It’s lazy. And often it means that you’re not really listening hard enough. The problem with this is twofold. Not only is it disrespectful to the person speaking to you (and they will notice, trust me), but it’s also a disservice to yourself. Because you wind up just going along with things you don’t really agree with. You forfeit the chance to think for yourself. And often you’ll look back and realize that you’ve agreed to things that are not in your best interest, or undercut your work, or that you don’t truly understand. Better to lock in and engage. Listen hard enough to form a real thought you can articulate with words. Then you can be sure of what you’re agreeing to and why you’re agreeing to it.

Here’s what you gotta do.

Gotta go inside. That’s always where the answers are.

Gotta get smart. That’s how you make dreams a reality.

Gotta stay calm. Nothing’s as important as it seems.

Gotta be honest. About where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there.

Gotta laugh. Everything is funny. Most of all, you’re own life.

Gotta decide. Experience can built or break you. Which will it be?

Gotta stand tall. Keep a song in your pocket that reminds you of who you are.

Gotta produce. It’s much easier to consume but far less… productive.

Gotta pursue. Knock on doors. Call in favors. Create opportunities. Proceed with fire or prepare to get burned.

Gotta remember. Family is everything.

Live every note.

You can’t fake it. You can’t pretend. It doesn’t work. When you’re singing, or writing, or playing you need to live every single note. That’s what gives it its value. There is so much meaningless stuff out there. So much that is glossy and fake. So much that is designed to deceive you.

To avoid contribuing to that noise, mean every word you sing. Every single one. It’s the same as having integrity when you speak to someone else. You have to mean the things you say if you want your work and your contribution to be worth anything to others. Stop simply singing pitches. Live the notes. Like Louis Armstrong said, “If you don’t live it, it wont’ come out your horn.” In this way, you need to become the song. You put everything you have, the whole of your experience as a human being, into it and then it becomes a gift for the audience. It becomes something you are discovering together, like the connection between a writer a reader. In this way, music your music will become a bridge that can connect people.

Don’t get hung up on stealing.

It’s an old tripe. Good artists borrow, great artists steal. But there’s more to it than that. You’re moving into a realm now where there is a passing down of ideas. Lyrical themes, chord structures, melodies, patterns, styles. It’s all part of a grand tradition. Think about the blues. It’s just 3 chords. The same 3 chords. Everybody is playing the same 3 chords from Howlin’ Wolf to BB King To Eric Clapton. What it boils down to is style. How will you personally express those time-weathered ideas? Use them, distort them, rearrange them, mutilate them, or just plain interpret them with your own unique ability and perspective. It’s like Dylan said, the old songs give you the code for everything that’s fair game, and everything that belongs to everyone.