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Each and every fallen crumb
As I was sitting again at a stoplight on Randall Road this morning meagerly minding my own matters, I casually looked to my left and noticed a dude in a car beside me having his breakfast. It was an Egg McBiscuit from McDonald’s. Or whatever they call them.
In another era I, too, ate mobile breakfast sandwiches behind the wheel before work so I knew of his quest.
Now then this non-clandestine commuter was also drinking heartily from a Diet Coke. In a plastic bottle, mind you. I don’t know about you guys but that didn’t sit well with me. Not that I have anything against Diet Coke or bottled soda but cola and eggs should never cross paths in my mind. Or in my mouth. Maybe Chef Michael would disagree.
Even more, I questioned the crispness of this soda. “Dear god,” I prayed, “let this man not be guzzling from last night’s cola bottle.”
Anyways. His refreshment is beside the point.
As he was lost in his own world of crumbling biscuit and melted cheeses, as he was navigating the creases of his wax paper with advertising tattoos, I wanted to raise my octopus coffee cup like a chalice to him in like a good morning salute. Let him know that he wasn’t alone in his adventure, alone in the cosmos.
That there was another traveler traveling a similar path on this very day. Watching him feast from my mechanical four-wheeled steed, nary but a few hours from dawn’s first light. To salute him in a way that let him know I approved of him savagely attacking his breakfast quest.
And also that I admired his simultaneous command of the steering wheel, McBiscuit, and the very Diet Coke bottle I so despised.
But I didn’t.
Engaged and supportive readers, I was worried that I would break he and his horse’s stride. Because seriously, this dude was going after each and every fallen crumb from his McBiscuit. I doubt if any escaped. Or if he abandoned any yellow scrap of folded egg as his mouth-scissors cut their way through the biscuit-bites.
So, sadly there were no traffic salutes. No shared stoplight connections.
Alas, our cars are often akin to isolated bubbles of oblivion. And having another driver willingly acknowledge whatever self-pursuit we’re pursing can make us feel uncomfortable in our upholstered seats and fastened buckles. I didn’t want to embarrass him as he was so eagerly and delightfully fueling his body for his next adventure.
When the light changed from halt-red to go-green his travels took him west and mine took me farther north.
Now as I sit eating the couscous I didn't spill yesterday, I wonder to myself if that dude's day could possibly have gotten any better. Any better than those few minutes he had alone. Enjoying his solitary but obviously satisfying, portable goodness.
I hope so.
· Sep 10, 2018 at 1:07 pm
People watching is true entertainment! Thanks!
· Sep 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm
You are most welcome!
· Sep 10, 2018 at 1:07 pm
thats 3 minutes of my life i’ll never get back
· Sep 10, 2018 at 11:37 pm
Were you waiting for the biscuit eater to toss his trash out the window and speed away? I was.
· Sep 11, 2018 at 3:07 am
and then go to a mattress store where the power was out and run into a skunk
· Sep 10, 2018 at 1:32 pm
· Sep 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm
I do what I can while waiting in traffic.
· Sep 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm
· Sep 10, 2018 at 3:18 pm
Your story is way better than the guy I saw picking his nose yesterday. 😂
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:20 pm
The next time he does that just honk your horn. Ain’t nobody need to see that.
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:12 pm
This makes me want to write about what I did one time…I was eating a sandwich, putting on mascara, and driving with one hand. I was young. And I was speeding down route 64…I got pulled over. And my license was expired by one week. Into the clink. My one and only time lol.
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:13 pm
What kind of sandwich?
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm
I believe it was some sort of ham and salami I worked in the deli at the Walts grocery store in Wheaton and they sent me for a deliver to Saint Charles. All the butchers were really good looking (my future husband was there) so I was getting dolled up. LOL….
· Sep 10, 2018 at 10:48 pm
I knew there was a boy in your story somewhere 😊
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:13 pm
Uh oh I better delete that lol
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:20 pm
Gifted writer, you are
· Sep 10, 2018 at 10:50 pm
You I give thanks 🙏
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm
I LOVE this!
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:53 pm
We need to get you some books on tape or an Audible subscription for your travels. 🤔
· Sep 11, 2018 at 9:25 am
I have a hard time with Audible. People going on and on about how they were listening to podcasts with it but then I go and look how to get my podcast listed with them. Did I find anything helpful? No, of course not. I can’t have nice things.
· Sep 10, 2018 at 4:53 pm
This is cool 😂👍
· Sep 10, 2018 at 10:50 pm
Thank you! 😎
· Sep 10, 2018 at 5:04 pm
I once saw a man playing a guitar in his car on 88
· Sep 10, 2018 at 10:50 pm
I hope he was in the backseat 🤭
· Sep 11, 2018 at 8:39 am
no front seat , driving
· Sep 10, 2018 at 5:20 pm
Dr Pepper for me!
· Sep 10, 2018 at 10:49 pm
Dr. Pepper is the only thing I’ll drink at Doughocracy in Geneva.
· Sep 11, 2018 at 12:53 am
How are you at public speaking??
· Sep 11, 2018 at 7:23 am
I do fairly well once I get going. It’s that whole anticipation thing though. Driving to the speaking engagement and all I can think is… what if when they call my name and I’m walking to the head of the class, my left shoe is haphazardly tied and I do the typical impromptu trip/fall but this time I’m not able to roll it into a saving grace, come out on top like champ somersault.
· Sep 11, 2018 at 2:13 pm
Have you ever heard of The Moth?
· Sep 11, 2018 at 2:47 pm
Yep! My girlfriend and I were at their Technology storyslam in Evanston this past June. It’s also one of my favorite podcasts.
· Sep 11, 2018 at 9:40 pm
Yessssss!!!! I so want to enter and make my way to the GrandSlam! You would be great on stage!
· Sep 11, 2018 at 10:19 pm
· Sep 11, 2018 at 7:08 am
Enjoyed your story!
· Sep 12, 2018 at 11:20 am
You had me at ‘crispness’
|Sep 10, 2018|
He might be from Singapore
Guys, don’t go south on Randall Road anywhere near Route 64 in St. Charles. It’s been raining, there’s bumper-to-bumper traffic, and your life will be put on hold.
There’s also a weird cat sitting on the east sidewalk looking at me. I think he might be from Singapore. Or Elburn.
Worst still, the 7-Eleven hung up a handmade “NO LOITERING” sign. It’s in bubble letters, too. I hate bubble lettering. 😢
Because have you seen their sister store on State Street in Geneva? They got multiple tables and multiple chairs and actively encourage loitering. See, this is how you win in the convenience store wars. You don’t drive people away with your shouting and block lettering and other nonsense.
Also, at first I misread the sign to say, “NO LOTTERY” and then I thought, “oh, the sh!t’s gonna h!t the fan now.” People can get angry and pushy in the 7-Eleven when it comes to their lotto tickets. I've seen Aunt Loretta and what happens.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm
I heard there’s a coyote party there but not until later tonight.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 4:46 pm
Or Elburn???? Oh my God…I’m still laughing!!!!🤣🤣🤣
· Sep 5, 2018 at 6:36 pm
Probably elburn. The cats there are very shady.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:25 pm
So the rumors are true.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:27 pm
I can confirm.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 4:47 pm
Is the kitty ok?
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:29 pm
It was a white cat with black patches and the patches look like dents in his hide from a rough, battle scarred life. I assume he ate all the Bigfoots in his 20s, after he got out of the Cat Marines or wherever they serve.
I guess him to be in his 60s now but I still wouldn’t tangle with him. There was an open can of Hormel Chili beside him and since I didn’t see a can opener around, he must’ve opened it with his teeth. Maybe his claws, too. For leverage.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:47 pm
I was born and raised in the birthplace of Hormel. That chili and a can of spam will last forever. Oh and a twinkie
· Sep 5, 2018 at 4:48 pm
The 7/11 on Randall and 64? Who loiterers at a intersection with no foot traffic? You are right. Stay. Away.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:12 pm
· Sep 5, 2018 at 4:51 pm
Party tonight at 8. Picnic tables. 7-11. Geneva!
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:33 pm
Maybe we can get them to make a real sign!
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:03 pm
Gotta love traffic 😖
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Traffic makes me sadder and also angrier than anything else. Well, I can get pretty angry at the Target/Starbucks people who don’t know how to grind beans for a French Press. I get home and open the bag expecting to see coarsely ground beans and instead see a floury brown powder.
THIS IS NOT A GAME.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:37 pm
So what’s really funny is that I was banned a while back from the “What’s Happening in Geneva” Facebook group for posting similar anecdotes. I was also banned from WH in St. Charles, WH in Batavia, etc. etc.
I’m glad I have a blog because you all deserve to know the real stories.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:39 pm
My badge of honor. Banned from Trump Facebook. Oh well. Left what’s happening in st Charles on the basis of meanness and belittling.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 5:56 pm
And. You are funny.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:13 pm
You know it’s better to talked about then never noticed
· Sep 5, 2018 at 6:43 pm
You were banned because your magazine was perceived by Kevin Ketchum to be competition for his local magazines. That’s my guess anyway.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:27 pm
Yeah, I wanted to leave my magazine out of the story and keep the focus on my personal wit and charm.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:02 pm
This is fantastic… I’m still giggling
· Sep 5, 2018 at 8:44 pm
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:13 pm
Best. Post. And Stream. Of. The. Day! 😂😂😂
· Sep 5, 2018 at 8:45 pm
Thank you so much!
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:41 pm
They also don’t like to pay out on scratch offs over 20$
· Sep 5, 2018 at 7:42 pm
That store sucks. Refused to give me lottery tickets because my daughter was with me. Really. WTF. SHE WASNT 21.
|Sep 05, 2018|
Crosswalk of Certain Doom
The scene, of course, is my truck as I’m headed to work.
Driving along Riverside Avenue and following a Toyota Corolla. The speed limit is 35 mph and we’re both sailing along about 40. There’s maybe two or three car lengths between us.
Other cars are around but they’re only slightly involved.
Up ahead is the Prairie Path crosswalk at the intersection close to Moore Avenue. There are two or three people standing with their bikes waiting to cross. Those crosswalks are always a gamble, as you never know what the other drivers will do if people are waiting.
The car in front of me doesn’t change speed and I look over at the Fox River. Not more than a second later I look back at the Corolla I’ve been following and the taillights are lit up. We were still doing about 40 only moments before and then she comes to a complete stop in about three or four seconds. The cars driving in the opposite direction don’t bother.
I stomp my brakes with both feet. My computer bag, my lunch bag, and my trail mix all fly forward and hit the dashboard.
Now then. Let me step up to my soapbox.
- - -
1. People out in groups riding their bikes at morning rush hour are most likely out for recreational rides. Maybe not, but with their racing gear I would tend to think so. So... you can’t bring the whole world to a stop so they can get across the street. They can wait.
If anything, don’t make it a last minute decision. Doing the “right” thing at the “wrong” time will only get us in trouble.
- - -
2. Most of the time people don’t see us or what we’re doing in life. I’m not that important that every other driver is out there thinking, “The King of Geneva is headed to work. I better layout the red carpet and be on my absolute best behavior. Did anybody polish the trumpets to announce his trip?”
While driving earlier in the morning another lady pulled out in front of me. Her windows were covered in morning dew. She hadn’t bothered, at the very least, to roll down her windows so she could see.
I watched her turn right in front of me, moving at a snail’s pace, no wind in her sails. Slow going because she had 2% visibility. I kinda wanted to really lay on the horn because she was obviously in the wrong and a hazard to society.
But I wasn’t in a hurry so whatever. I just saluted her as if she were my superior.
- - -
3. There’s a difference between expressing our feelings and getting even. The former is what I’m doing now. Getting even would’ve been me riding either lady’s ass until my frustration passed. It would’ve been me roaring around like I was a villain in Mad Max, and then cutting them off and thereby teaching them a lesson.
Yes, I did swear like a furloughed drunken admiral at the earlier crosswalk of certain doom.
And I would’ve scolded her if we were face to face, but me revenging behind the wheel isn’t going to prove any points. Nobody’s gonna throw me a parade, nor will it give me any long-term, deep-down validation that I was right. Revenging is gonna give me a list of all the times other people pissed me off. It’s gonna keep me angry until I’m old and dead.
More importantly: it’s okay to be agitated when people step on our toes. Feel that, deal with it, love it. We’ll never get to the point where our only feelings are the ones we want, or to the point when everybody does the “right” thing at the “right” time.
What can happen, though, is for us to learn how to be okay with and also becoming highly skilled sailors at navigating life’s rough waters.
We’ve had heavy thunderstorms, lightning, rain, all of that in the Fox Valley the last week or so. We can’t stop or change nature, it does what it wants.
And it’s our nature to have a full weather system of feelings, too. It’s natural for us to be annoyed with people just the same as it’s natural for us to be sleepy come bedtime.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 1:23 pm
Holy shit you spent some time pulling this together. I hope you did it on your employer’s dime.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 1:24 pm
Giggle. If it helps today I will call you The King of Geneva! I haven’t a trumpet but I can turn my guitar amp up to eleven! ☮️
· Sep 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm
What will you play? Crosstown Traffic by Jimi Hendrix?
· Sep 4, 2018 at 3:00 pm
How about, I can’t drive 55?
· Sep 4, 2018 at 5:46 pm
But isn’t it the law that drivers have to stop at those crosswalks for pedestrians or bikers?
· Sep 4, 2018 at 1:24 pm
I’m sure it is, but at the same time, the point is that if you’re going to stop, don’t make it a split second decision. Like slamming on your brakes in front of a semi, you won’t win every time.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 1:24 pm
I hate that crosswalk of certain doom. Maybe a little bridge should go over it. Or it could be re-routed to coincide with the stop light intersection. I wish I had a pool.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 2:46 pm
My kids and I cross that spot all the time. We don’t wave people to stop or expect it but people are nice enough to do so
· Sep 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm
This made my day! I haven’t driven in 15 years and could rant for hours about how the drivers in this town never stop at the line and constantly block crosswalks! People will literally see me riding down the sidewalk and block the cross walk anyway….
· Sep 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm
A STOP sign is posted on the east and west side of the bike path that crosses Rt 25. That would indicate to me whoever is using the bike path is to stop for oncoming traffic.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 2:49 pm
TLDR; Always stop for bikers and walkers in the crosswalk. Problem solved. Probably…because TLDR
· Sep 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm
Well, that wasn’t really my TLDR but I’ll allow it.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 6:14 pm
I’ll admit to a short attention span, but that was similar to a short novel in social media terms, don’t you agree?
· Sep 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm
I do agree 😊 but my TLDR is more along the lines of “it’s okay to be agitated when people step on our toes.”
· Sep 4, 2018 at 6:33 pm
· Sep 4, 2018 at 4:11 pm
One second of distraction is all it takes. Hell I was reaching for cheeto the other day on a drive through Canada. Next second I had two wheels on the gravel shoulder scaring the piss out of me. Life is fun.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 5:48 pm
I gave my cat a Cheeto once. She ran off with it in her mouth like a stubby little orange cigar.
· Sep 4, 2018 at 5:48 pm
The Cheeto made me do it!
· Sep 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm
Slow down and drive defensive.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 8:04 am
Some one pissed in your Cheerios this morning huh? Also a lot of cyclists commute in “racing gear” and change at work. But the car shouldn’t have locked up the breaks but if you had to slam on yours too it means you were following too close.
· Sep 5, 2018 at 9:27 am
> it means you were following too close
· Sep 6, 2018 at 12:24 pm
I loved your post…you crack me up! #reallifeishilarious
|Sep 04, 2018|
Generous with my humility
When I got to the Eighth Step I was kind of disappointed that they use the word “harmed.” I didn’t like it because I didn’t like the thought of me actually hurting people. We get a taste of peace after working the previous steps and then Step Eight comes crashing in like a bowling ball. Announcing we'd done harm.
And I felt bad. Like I was supposed to.
The other problem I had with Step Eight is that I was pretty timid for much of my life and my drinking. And I felt like others had harmed me just as much, if not more, than I had harmed them. Yeah, I'm sure every alcoholic says that.
Anyways, so then I was thinking about Step Seven, and humbly asking God to remove my defects of character. Selfishness was one of my most glaring defects. Selfish with my time. Selfish with my understanding, selfish with my forgiveness. If you hurt me then I had nothing but intolerance for you.
But if I want to be rid of that selfishness then I need to practice the opposite as they say. For me to do my part in Step Seven I need to be generous in Step Eight.
Generous with my honesty by honestly looking at myself and what I’d done. Generous in my forgiveness for others and what they’d done. Generous with my tolerance. I needed to be generous with my humility. The humility that they call for in Step Seven.
And once I found those things the willingness came easier. The willingness to make amends. To them all.
If I’m generous then becoming willing to forgive others and to ask for forgiveness, to make those amends wasn’t so hard.
· Aug 31, 2018 at 12:50 pm
Very well stated. I was in a cycle of feelings and buried guilt myself. After I made some amends many others became easier and what I received back was mostly positive outcomes. Some people were neutral and others simply had forgotten what I was trying to apologize for.
The living amends I have either chosen to have or simply must carry with me due to absenteeism of the the person/people help me daily also. Keep it rolling Friend. One day, hour or minute at a time. AA will always have our backs.
· Aug 31, 2018 at 2:10 pm
It’s truly a blessing that we can honestly let go of those cyclical feelings and buried guilt with Steps 8 and 9.
|Aug 31, 2018|
No smoking at the entryways, peeps
And then there was that one time a few years back when I was standing at the front door of the work building. It was a cool autumn day and I was enjoying a beautiful cigarette.
Enjoying the smoke, the solitude, and the cars going by.
The side of the building I was on wasn’t the main entrance but it’s the public entrance that everybody sees. All the cars in the world drive-by kind of place. And I stood at that specific door because nobody was ever around.
I’d also use myself as a prop to keep the door open because it’ll lock behind you.
That particular day the owner of the building happened to walk by. He startled me as I was daydreaming about mannequins or telephone poles or something similar. I felt like a busted teenager when our eyes met. Caught skipping class and smoking on school grounds.
Plus, I was obviously violating the 15 feet law. No smoking at the entryways, peeps.
Tom looked at me. Then looked at my cigarette. My heartbeat rose slightly as I prepared for an earful, a scolding. A deserved verbal whipping.
He looked back at me and said, “you need an ashtray here.”
I smiled and said, “probably.”
Then he left.
And that was the day I learned that, even if people are doing something they aren’t supposed to, we can still go above and beyond. That we can not only treat them with dignity and respect, we can also go out of our way to make their lives better.
· Aug 30, 2018 at 10:05 am
Look for the good in people!
· Aug 30, 2018 at 10:55 am
Yep. I try to assume the best in life.
|Aug 30, 2018|
The 5 gallon bottle was empty
Today when I was driving to work I was thinking about the water cooler there. Yesterday morning when I got in the 5 gallon bottle was empty. At one point in my career I would’ve thought, “who do I have to blow to get somebody to change the water?”
Yesterday I didn’t think that at all. I just changed the water bottle so I could fill my glass.
And that, peeps, is how I be happy. Instead of complaining, just doing the next right thing when it’s in front of me is how my soul stays full.
Way back when I cooked in the restaurants it was all young people in the kitchen. The dishwashers were all teenage kids. It wasn’t uncommon for them to slack off or get behind. And then somebody from the cook’s line would go back and say, “who do I have to blow to get some plates?” Yeah, that’s where that all started.
And it was all fun and games, that’s how you were accepted into the tribe. Played in the reindeer games. Because complaining is sociably and professionally acceptable. It’s okay to tell the world that you’re miserable. Many people will even cheer you on when recounting your daily struggles.
But the interesting thing is that there was never any, “you did a great job keeping up today.” Sure, it was a restaurant and nobody really took it as a serious career path but that kind of self-centered mentality of only complaining when other people don’t do their jobs followed me around for decades.
As I’ve said before when I write/post these things, it’s not that I’m trying to give you guys a sermon but it’s more documenting the revelations I’ve had or whatever. When I write them down they stick better in my head.
The key point for me here is that I’ll never be happy having the “who do I have to blow” mentality. Regardless of what anybody else is doing, I’d rather be at *peace. “Who do I have to blow” spills over into other areas. That negativity sticks to my shoe like sandy gum and then I’m tracking that shit into the house.
So I just realized that when I write stuff down it’s easy for me to get creative with the sandy gum when I’m being my pessimistic self. And then when I’m being optimistic I feel like a fruit loop.
Anyway, back on topic. What’s even more interesting about the restaurants is that the guys who I really enjoyed cooking with were the ones who stood apart. They took part in the camaraderies but they were also their best selves regardless of how many dirty plates had stacked up. They didn’t knock people down or flip them shit when it wasn’t necessary. They walked their own path regardless of what the herd was doing.
Those are the kind of people I wanted to stand next to my whole life. In high school and college, at my corporate job, and even when I drag myself out to be sociable today. People like Don and Kris and Jimi. I do my best to be like them in the here and now.
Yeah, there’ll always be slackers and no, I won’t do their job but I do my best to be the kind of person my younger self would want to stand with.
At work I change the water bottle now because the water bottle needs change. But really, it’s not just about getting the job done. It’s actually about taking care of the other humans I share the world with.
And it lets me show off my muscles. 😉
· Aug 30, 2018 at 6:39 pm
I got sum stuff that needs doing over at my house.
· Aug 30, 2018 at 7:37 pm
As long as it’s not more than 50 pounds.
|Aug 29, 2018|
Stop keeping score
What I mean by this is something along the lines of...
Scorekeeping is a way for me to exert control in a situation where I feel like I have none. When I feel helpless, putting marks on the blackboard helps me claim some power.
I will punish you when you hurt me, give you the silent treatment when you don’t pay attention to me. Won’t fold your laundry because you were more interested in your phone at dinner than talking to me.
That kinda bullshit.
Keeping score doesn’t work though. It perpetuates the infinite, dysfunctional loop. It’s sprinkling more salt on my wounds. And theirs. It’s me locking myself in a box with all the things that’ve ever hurt me. It’s me saying that keeping track of what you’ve done wrong is more important than the overall health of our relationship.
If I want to have healthy relationships I need to practice healthy behaviors. Talk to people about what’s bothering me as things come up. And if they don’t take my feelings into consideration, if they aren’t willing to compromise for the greater good then fuck them. We deserve better.
I better compromise, too. Take what people say with an utmost urgency because they’re taking a chance on me. Going out on a limb and showing their own vulnerability.
And please don’t think that I’m some kind of spiritual dynamo here. I’ve kept score my whole life and you know what I got? At the end of the day with that blackboard filled with checkmarks?
I got a list of resentments as long as both arms.
I got a pile of hurt long after they were gone. An index of crimes and criminals. A mental spreadsheet with dates and times going back to the first day when I didn’t feel like I could tell you what was wrong.
One time when I was married to Kathy I unloaded my scorecard on her, spread all her felonies out on the bed for her to see. I can’t imagine how she must’ve felt knowing that the whole time we’d been together I was silently keeping score. When I think back on it now I’m embarrassed. More than that, I’m ashamed. I was a real champ.
Sure, in my early 20s I didn’t know my ass from a hubcap but memories like that are what push me to be a good person in the here-and-now.
Resentments aren’t good company.
And then when a good soul does comes my way I won’t be ready. I’ll start a new scorecard. You’ll have a clean slate but a slate none-the-less.
How about I just erase the blackboard. And throw away the chalk. Retire the standing army. Learn to deal with myself and my feelings. Communicate with those I care about and care about me.
I look back on certain parts of life and think, “boy I really fucked that up” ... but the good news is that for the last few years, I feel like I’ve done my best work. Been my best self and that’s a pretty good feeling. So much more than tallying your scores and balancing the books.
Each day I’m given a fresh chance to be a better person. It’s a new day to give people another chance. If I want power in life, if I want control then that’s where it’ll come from. Being my best self.
|Aug 28, 2018|
On racism, bigotry, and prejudice
n. A person who believes a particular race is superior to others.
n. One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
n. An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.
Just so I'm clear...
A racist hates your race. A bigot hates anyone who doesn't agree with them. And if you're prejudice then you're an ignorant hater.
I'm pretty sure I'm not a racist or bigot. I will admit, however, there've been times when I have been prejudice. Where I've made up my mind on something without reviewing the latest facts and then plunged head first into the pool.
Researching an issue isn't fun. It's so much easier to spout off from the hip with whatever info I already have. Assume that I'm "right" now because I was "right" yesterday.
That's not a good idea for long though. The world changes. It reminds me of this tweet from @MelvinofYork:
Politics evolve. People grow. They remodel their houses.
Life is dynamic, peeps. It's not as stagnant as I often subconsciously assume.
Of all the things I wanted to be as a kid, closed-minded wasn't one of them. As Jimi once said, "there are many other good books out there."
In the here-and-now, shutting the door on a topic because I've made up my mind is bullshit. Do I wanna be an uninformed ass in life or do I wanna give people a chance and make informed decisions?
Even more, do I wanna hold on to my ideas because they’re the only ideas I’ve ever had? Because I don’t wanna take the time to think about the bigger picture?
We're better than that.
Okay, this has been all over the place. But whatever, I do what I want.
· Aug 27, 2018 at 10:30 am
VERY well said!
· Aug 27, 2018 at 10:37 am
· Aug 27, 2018 at 11:36 am
Open minded - maturity
· Aug 27, 2018 at 1:17 pm
Yep, for sure!
jimi hindrance experience
· Aug 27, 2018 at 3:55 pm
THANKIES. Not just cuz you mentioned me, but for the eloquent treatise on intolerance, hate, bigotry. You da man!
· Aug 27, 2018 at 4:39 pm
I don’t know if I was eloquent but thank you! You’re a regular point of reference in my spiritual life. 😊
|Aug 27, 2018|
More than the company of misery
If I’m worried I can be replaced,
If I’m worried I’m not enough,
If I’m worried I’m unwanted,
If I’m worried I’m unlovable,
How about instead of worrying,
People love a warm sun beam
|Aug 25, 2018|
tcr! diaries podcast survey
I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled episodes to announce a listener survey created by yours truly. It’s informal and there won’t be a test later. And I love your feedback!
It’s also quick and should take you less than 30 seconds.
Go now: tcrbang.com/form/podcast_survey/
On with the show.
|Aug 24, 2018|
Ain't nobody told you.
Earlier this month when I was giving my recovery talk at the church in Montgomery, I was sitting at a long table facing everyone. Like I was a teacher at the front of the class or something. It was the first week of August and hot so they had fans blowing. I had to talk louder than normal and that wasn’t easy. I may yammer away on social media and on my blog but in groups of real people I’m not a fan of speaking up or standing out.
One of the things I mentioned when giving my "sermon" was that drinking never really made me feel like I was better than anybody else. That was something I was never after, being better than you. Drinking just brought me up to a level of “normal” that I thought the people around me had. The warm alcohol burn gave me a feeling of “okay” that it seemed like everybody else had. And I didn’t on my own.
When I was a kid everybody was older than me. Everybody was taller than me. I didn’t feel as big as the other humans. Always smaller. Constantly looking up, both emotionally and physically.
In fourth grade when we moved to a new neighborhood with a new school and new people and all that, I felt even smaller. Navigating new waters in life. Riding my bike down to the Des Moines river with my friends. Growing up but still struggling with staying little.
Even now I still find myself looking up to people. When I’m at meetings, when I’m with my peers, and when I’m at home. I don’t always feel on the same level as those souls around me. It’s not that I’m plagued with low self-esteem or whatever but I don’t always feel like I’m playing on the same field as most people. Some people are self-assured by default. That’s not me.
Also, earlier this month I posted a link to AC/DC's Who Made Who video. When I heard the line, “ain’t nobody told you” it was an emotional enlightenment if you will. Where something clicked and I had a moment of self-awareness. As a teenager it put words to a feeling I’d had for I don’t know how long. Yeah, it doesn’t translate exactly to feeling less-than but it did and does describe to me the feeling of being without. Of missing something. Of being in the dark.
The only time I feel “normal” now is when I’m tuned into the cosmic signal. Pick up the divine frequency. Become one with the fan that blows across me while laying on my bed. Let it blow me in the direction I need to go. The search for wholeness is complete when I find and embrace the god within.
When I remember to do that then I come out of that slightly nervous place and a confidence that’s not my own fills most of me. I’m not scared of life and somehow muddle my way through not feeling less-than. People tell me that I’m calm and confident. I say “ha.”
Look around. That dude over there that you’ve thought had his shit going on this whole time? Probably not. When I learned that I wasn’t the only one who wrestles with low self-esteem, that other people around me struggle, not only did that refresh my tolerance for pesky humans, it boosted my own self-worth. I’m not the only one who’s crazy here.
I almost wrote that I can tell when I haven’t plugged in, that I’m acutely aware. But that’s not true. Sometimes it’s hours later that I realize. Emotions can overtake me, blind me to what’s really going on. It’s like a hazy lace a few inches out that warps my perception. And then the ground is shaky and my feet unsure.
The other day I was writing about the spirit painting for me, through me. Sometimes when I talk or write, the words just come flowing out. But when I’m on the topic of self-esteem in the here-and-now I’m tapping into vulnerability and the words are not like water. They’re more like rocks tumbling out. One by one. Falling heavy.
Ain’t nobody told you.
The only thing that makes me whole, makes me calm doesn’t include people, places, or things. It’s remembering that I’m part of the cosmic spirit, that underneath the flesh and bone we’re all nameless, faceless equals. Each a shimmering, glowing brightness and together we light the universe. Fruity, I know but it’s my god concept. Ethereal and throne-less. Heavenly and infinite. People never die in my world, they only let go of their physicality.
In related news, cicadas are a superfamily. That's how I feel about you guys.
Here’s the last thing I wanna say to wrap this up. As you guys know I usually dictate much of what I write to my phone while driving. In my truck I let my mind wander and things bubble up. I wanna write, “the truth is revealed” but that sounds too corny. But saying something out loud, just talking helps the words flow naturally. It gives my thoughts an honest voice since I’m not trying to impress anybody with being cool. Just being true to myself.
Anyway, I was walking down the hall to the work office this morning and still talking to my phone, dictating a sermon. Getting some last minute thoughts down. Usually the office floor is empty when I get in so I was just yammering away. I rounded a corner and almost bumped into a younger guy, right when I was saying “hazy lace.”
Oh good. Lace. In another era that would’ve filled me with embarrassment from head to toe.
But you know what? I don’t give a fuck. I don’t feel shame for being me when I’m walking a spiritual path.
· Aug 22, 2018 at 2:21 pm
How did you learn to understand yourself so well?
· Aug 22, 2018 at 2:46 pm
I learned how by communing with the ancient frogs who live on the slopes of Mt. Giluwe in New Guinea.
· Aug 22, 2018 at 7:59 pm
Seriously though, that’s what the recovery stuff is all about. 😊
· Aug 22, 2018 at 10:15 pm
Here’s to family.
· Aug 23, 2018 at 7:17 am
You got a fresh one!
|Aug 22, 2018|
I only fought with the police once
I only fought with the police once and there was only one of them. And it was 3 in the afternoon. And I was drunk and feisty. And then he tackled my 19 year old self in an alley and one side of my face ended up in some gravel. And then I went to jail with a swollen eye. And got to spend the rest of the evening sobering up.
About 9pm or so and no longer drunk, I decided I would never fight with the police again.
· Aug 22, 2018 at 10:42 am
· Aug 22, 2018 at 12:21 pm
I think so, too. 😊
· Aug 22, 2018 at 8:57 pm
I’m right there with ya dude! 😜
· Aug 22, 2018 at 9:39 pm
My only regret is that I wasn’t wearing a leprechaun outfit.
· Aug 23, 2018 at 6:16 am
· Aug 25, 2018 at 10:20 am
Great decision! At least it only took you one time…
|Aug 22, 2018|
Pull the pin on their grenade
And then there was that one time when I was in high school and in a car wreck. Of course I was drinking so the details are all a blur. I had huge gash on the top of my head after hitting the windshield. I would tend to believe there was enough blood to make people worry.
My friends and I are outside the car and the police are there and it’s all a big commotion. The car’s smashed, there’s broken glass, flashing lights blue and red.
And I’m just there acting like an obnoxious prick. It was one of those times where I felt like I could act like a jerk so I did. Entitlement can come in all forms. I’m still surprised the police didn’t put me in handcuffs.
So then the ambulance came and my friend and I are taken to the hospital. I remember being in an operating room and the staff, doctors, nurses, or whoever are trying to stitch my head up and I’m continuing to act like an asshole. Cussing, swearing, an all out belligerent jerk.
People were just trying to do their job and I was making it 10 times harder than it needed to be. Lashing out at them because they were there and I was drunk.
And why was I so angry? I don’t know. As a teenager I think mostly what I felt was just frustrated. Not really being in touch with my emotions I couldn’t even tell you back then that I was frustrated. It was just what I felt. I needed another cigarette.
Annoyed, discontent, restless, irritable, those are the reasons why I listened to so much angry music in the late 80s and early 90s. It was a conduit, an outlet I could plug in to that helped release just a little bit of that overall emotional cramp. Put on the headphones and have the music so loud I couldn’t hear anything else. Including the very things going on inside that wanted to get out. That would set me free.
Looking back decades later I know why I was so distressed at 17. Because I never dealt with anything. You’ve all heard that before. Garbage bags of hostilities piled up inside from situations I was in that I never allowed myself to feel. Bullies in school, spiteful older brothers, or whatever. Take your pick.
And as everyone knows volcanoes blow when there’s too much pressure. I hate that analogy because everybody uses it but it fits.
Back to the hospital. Frankly I’m surprised that people even work in emergency rooms in the middle of the night because I’m sure I’m not the only drunken asshole they’ve had to fix. People like my mom, my sister, my niece, people like Sara. Nurses who dedicate their lives to caring for souls, toxic and warmongering.
I don’t remember what happened after my head was stitched up. I don’t remember going home or remember the next day. Probably because it’s been so long ago. But what I do remember is that nothing changed in me because of the wreck or because of my behavior that night. I just went back to being my quiet self and throwing fits when I got drunk enough.
What I’m most ashamed of is that night the girl who was sitting on my lap during the crash ended up with a broken neck. And nobody knew it at first because I was out there being my worst self.
After I got sober I saw handfuls of kids when speaking in treatment centers and lockups who were filled with the same kind of rage. Subconsciously waiting for someone or something to pull the pin from their grenade.
And I think that once someone goes too far down the angry path there’s little we can do to snap them out of it. Frustration layered over hurt, the torment, the pain with no where to go, those are too powerful of forces for us as parents and adults to pull them out of.
If only we could touch them with a magic wand like the fairy godmother and Cinderella’s pumpkin and take away their pain.
But we can’t. We can only love them until they can love themselves.
And don’t worry moms and dads. We as parents can only hold the bow and aim for the bulls-eye. Our kids as the arrows will go where the wind blows. Or however that saying goes.
Even after another car wreck and broken nose, countless stitches and staples, too, I somehow turned out all right.
OR DID I? 😉
· Aug 18, 2018 at 1:51 pm
You had critical injuries and you are lucky to be alive! Unless we are talking about two different auto accidents.
· Aug 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm
I was talking about the Nov 1989 accident. I think you’re thinking of the Dec 1990 accident.
· Aug 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm
· Aug 18, 2018 at 3:29 pm
You have turned out just right!
· Aug 22, 2018 at 8:29 am
Never did figure out why the cop returned your driver’s license to your grandmother’s the next day. He took it at the hospital because I said you weren’t able to consent to a blood test (you didn’t even know what month it was). He said that was refusal to take the test, I said whatever.
· Aug 22, 2018 at 12:37 pm
Good thing I had people like you looking out for me when I obviously wasn’t looking out for myself!
|Aug 17, 2018|
The turn signal of my existence
The scene is my truck. I’m driving home after the workday and merge into the left lane.
The car in front of me also merges into the left lane. The almighty nerve.
I shout, “Nice turn signal mother-clucker!! 🤬”
And then I look down and see that I myself also did not use my turn signal.
Who’s the mother-clucker now?
· Aug 15, 2018 at 5:23 pm
jimi hindrance experience
· Aug 15, 2018 at 5:27 pm
Only about once or twice a day for me…now.
· Aug 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm
· Aug 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm
I think I have moments of clarity more in my truck than anywhere else.
· Aug 15, 2018 at 10:07 pm
Those moments usually happen when you least expect it, when you’re not trying to find the clarity
· Aug 16, 2018 at 7:56 am
· Aug 16, 2018 at 1:37 am
|Aug 15, 2018|
When I drive up 7th Avenue
When I drive up 7th Avenue on St. Charles’ east side, headed toward Main Street I see this older guy sitting in his garage. It’s pretty packed in there but he’s got enough room for a lawn chair right up front by the overhead door.
I’ve seen him in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the early evening. Not everyday and not every time but he and his chair are fairly reliable.
Earlier this spring there was about a month when he wasn’t there and I was a little concerned that something had happened. Don’t worry, he showed up on his perch not long after.
He’s always flying solo in his white chair but one time I did see what looked like his daughter and grand kids leaving his house. And there he was, still sitting in the garage, watching them walk to their car.
After I go by I often want to turn around and go back. Stop and talk shop. I want to say that I haven’t had grandparents since I was in my 20s and back then I was too caught up in me to enjoy their company.
I wouldn’t ever really stop though. I’d worry that he would think I was going to take advantage of him or something. He’s kind of a brute, too. From the look of him I would guess that he eats nails and drinks gasoline.
But it'd be kinda cool if we could just hang out. Maybe look at some of his tools. He could tell me stories of when he was in the Navy or something.
He’d probably say I was moron when I tell him my plans to dig an underground bunker in my backyard like I suspicion that dude has on the corner of 7th Street and Prairie Street on the west side.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:27 pm
it’s sad that we don’t approach people more often to hear their story. humans are poor communicators :(
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:37 pm
Maybe if I was out walking and happened to meander by his house and he was also in his chair, then I might go up and say “hi.” Maybe. He might throw his chair at me and tell me to get off his lawn. 😊
· Aug 8, 2018 at 3:54 pm
Just go introduce yourself. I do it all the time. Sometimes they’re cool with it, sometimes they’re not.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:28 pm
He would probably love the company
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:38 pm
My daughter and I go past him several times a week on our walks and he is always friendly and says hello. 😉
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:41 pm
Great post, there are so many branches to where this could lead. He’s obviously got some time so I’d say go ahead it won’t hurt.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:45 pm
I’d say go talk to him. He’d probably like the company. 😊
· Aug 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm
I miss my Grandpa everyday! There are several nursing & assisted living homes in the area. Go one evening or weekend & ask who needs company!
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm
Being kind is a gift to give someone elderly.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm
Do it now before there’s an empty chair
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm
I actually saw this man over the weekend. Perched on the chair by the garage. It was hotter than blazes when I drove by. I bet he has some great stories.
I’ve walked by and said hello and he’s said hello back - I have often thought that we need the right moment or opportunity to engage people but as time goes by I recognize that sometimes we need to just make things happen. You should go with your intuition…
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm
A friend of mine wrote a book (for pre-teen) called ‘Catching Crazy’ and the basis of the story was kinda like this. Spoiler alert, the old man dies. Befriend him
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:22 pm
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm
I say “go for it”! We only have this ONE LIFE to act on our ideas, outreach to others when we feel inspired, and spread joy to others in this world. Just do it…you’ll be happy you did.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:33 pm
You’re a wonderful writer!
· Aug 8, 2018 at 2:17 pm
· Aug 8, 2018 at 1:35 pm
· Aug 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm
I’m kinda surprised that three other people knew the guy I was talking about. Your comments have inspired me to do something. I’ll keep you guys posted if more of this story unfolds.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm
Write the next chapter! He is friendly. (We live across the street.). His daughter is delightful as well. Life is too short not to act on those thoughts. You’ve got nothing to lose and you both have everything to gain!
· Aug 9, 2018 at 6:20 am
Stories always unfold. Life is a pick your own adventure book. Pick the right one.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 3:50 pm
Great writing! Keep us posted!! I would love to hear where the story goes.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 4:25 pm
He might be your long lost relative!
· Aug 8, 2018 at 4:26 pm
Keep a journal of the ol Man in the white chair
· Aug 8, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Well, I made a special trip by his house on my way home from work. His garage door was shut so maybe he’s having a nap. 😴 When I’m retired I’m gonna be napping at least twice a day. Plus, it is 80°F outside and with his house facing west it probably gets pretty hot come around 3 o’clock.
But in other news, for those who’ve commented on my writing, I just wanted to put it out there that I do a printed monthly magazine and a fairly regular podcast. If you’re into those kinda things.
· Aug 8, 2018 at 11:57 pm
I look forward to the monthly magazine! I find myself tearful and I find myself laughing out loud - I highly recommended - not because I’m his mother but because it’s so good!
· Aug 9, 2018 at 12:40 am
Omg have no regrets go meet him. He may need a friend.
· Aug 9, 2018 at 1:27 am
I live in the area now I want to go see if he is outside one day on my way to work. I love this story please keep us posted.
· Aug 9, 2018 at 2:49 am
· Aug 9, 2018 at 7:14 am
Are you grading me here? 😉
|Aug 08, 2018|
When I be my best self
I’ve been working on my magazine pretty much since I got up, trying to get the July issue all done and off to the printer. Sometimes the pages and layouts just spill onto my screen effortlessly. It’ll sound kinda corny but when I do my best creative work it feels like the cosmos is directing me. That whatever I’m doing just comes out all on it’s own.
Same goes with writing or whatever, too. They’re not my words, they come from somewhere else. It’s like being funny. Everybody knows that we’re not funny when we’re trying to be.
So if I force shit, it just never works. I end up frustrated and hating it. I need to let go and let the cosmic river take me where it sees fit.
Anyways, I’d earmarked today to get this latest issue finished. I was plenty social yesterday and Maggie’s with her mom and I got nothing else going on. I just wanted to be alone and channel my expressive side. Plus, I needed to make things a priority now and then or I won’t get them done. And I had early 80s music on and everything. The B-52s.
But the last 4-5 pages weren’t coming together. I was pushing crap around, rearranging content, deleting shit. Forcing my artistic hand and nothing was working.
And then a thought came to me that wasn’t my own. Because I’m selfish and my best ideas are never mine.
I messaged Sara:
We set up plans for a couple of hours later and then, because I got out of me and what I wanted, put someone else before all that, the stars aligned and everything fell into place. Those last pages of the magazine came together with little effort and little time. The universe spirit moved my hands to paint for me.
Okay, that was definitely corny but it’s true. When I be my best self, the best things happen to me. My magazine is more or less done and I get to see a beautiful girl.
And then Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran came on and life was complete.
· Aug 5, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Beautifully written. Love the honesty. ❤️
· Aug 5, 2018 at 4:41 pm
· Aug 5, 2018 at 5:12 pm
You’re welcome :)
· Aug 5, 2018 at 6:06 pm
Sometimes just need to take a little pressure off the creativity part of us which of course is what you did. You might consider dropping in your magazine from monthly to bi-monthly?
· Aug 5, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I’ve thought about it but months are easy to keep track of 😊
· Aug 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm
No, we ate tacos and THEN life was complete. 💃
· Aug 5, 2018 at 8:58 pm
|Aug 05, 2018|
Do you wanna know what will really suck?
It’ll be when you notice that the someone who you’ve spent years of your life with is now gone. You’ve already grieved in the months since they left and now it’s been a few years and then you realize again, for no apparent reason, that they no longer live in the home you once shared.
And you’ll think about all those moments you let slip away when you could’ve held her hand but instead chose to be grumpy because he didn’t do the laundry that one time.
Yeah, that’ll suck. Maybe you’ll want to rewind the clock and postpone that twentieth fishing trip of the summer, but dude you can’t.
Remember that time you got pissy because you saw him looking out of the corner of his eye at a cute girl who walked by? Do you know why he did that? It wasn’t because he didn’t love you, it was because he’s human. And that’s what people do. If someone says they don’t look, they’re lying. So what if she’s checking out some hot guy that has more muscles than you. She chose you and that’s much bigger than any fleeting animal instinct.
Because after you’re done doing all the yard work for the weekend you’ll be looking around and admiring what a good job you did, but no one will be right there to share it with you. That person may have been laid to rest or they might just be on the other side of town but either way they’ll be gone. The neighbors won’t pat you on the back either. They’ll just be glad your dandelion forest has been cut down.
Sure, that might be a lovely castle you built for yourself but being a king or queen living alone is dreadful. And your new clip board won’t mean a fucking thing.
Ask yourself what’s more important. Is it that the dishes are done or that you have someone to hold and love for the rest of your life? There will always be more dishes to do but there won’t always be somebody home.
It’ll be after 5 o’clock on a Saturday night and the only person you’ll have talked to is the Hispanic lady in the drive-through window at McDonald’s. And she’ll barely be able to speak English.
So go ahead and chase your dreams like Edmund did when he first climbed Mount Everest but after you’re done get your ass back to base camp and kiss the woman that kept your dinner warm. If you don’t have someone to share your triumphants with, what’s the point in having them?
And the next time that he’s watching some dumb documentary on the History channel about WWII technology, grab some couch and just be with him. Even if Panzer tanks do have you rolling your eyes. Don’t wait until the moment you walk by an empty couch with the TV off to figure out that you made a mistake and missed your chance for happily ever after.
And all those things you hold dear, that are oh so important, like emptying the cat litter or finishing that video game, they’re all inconsequential when paired against a living, breathing person who loves you.
And, on the off chance, that person is still with you now then hug them dearly.
People need time to grow into their best selves. You do, too. Enjoy the journey together. It’s not one you’ll want to make on your own.
PS- I normally stay away from writing in the “you" perspective but for this story it seemed fitting. Because it’s not all just about me.
|Jul 28, 2018|
In this icecapade parade (or life became balanced)
Wherein fate is for people who have given up, part 3 of 3.
I’m going to jump right in because this story is already long enough in my head. And it’s taken far too long to write. I’ve grown weary of fate and all that it doesn’t have to offer. I’m ready for closure.
So there’s this lady I kinda work with, helping with a project of hers. I get the feeling she got a few dysfunctional nuances about her. Most likely some anger management issues stoked by a little low self-esteem.
My heart goes out to her every now and then, when I see her socially wobbling. My own self-esteem has been a struggle for more of my life than I’d like to admit. So sometimes I want to give her a shoulder to lean on until she can find her balance. Watching people wrestle with and within themselves is heartbreaking.
But. When she turns and looks directly at me inflamed, raises her voice, then all bets are off and I stop caring if she’s a suffering human being. She kinda likes to fight. There’s an overly aggressive drive in her of sorts. One of her nuances. And when we argue it’s paramount that she wins. And that everybody knows she’s right. All along. Even if all evidence and witnesses are saying that she’s wrong.
I’m not interested in being right in the here and now. Or fighting. And she seems to need to do both. But fighting to be right is a fight no one will ever win. Everyone goes away a loser.
I cover up and brace for impact most days. What else am I to do when she comes charging in, other than take a defensive stance, preparing to fend off her oncoming assault? The answer is to pray, of course, to stay plugged into the cosmos so I’m walking a spiritual path before getting into the boxing ring. Pray beforehand for guidance rather than praying afterward for help. Prevent rather than correct kinda thing.
But it’s like, fuck I don’t want to have to do spiritual pushups each and every time prior to seeing this lady. I don’t ask the cosmos for guidance before I hang out with Sara or Maggie. When I’m with them everything just is. There’s no drama or stress. We hold hands out of love. We don’t take jabs at each other because the greater good of our relationship is more overall important than any one person. That’s how you both win.
Okay, so this is the point in the show where things get more specific. Up until now I’ve just been setting the stage for you avid readers.
Over the past few months she started taking a keen interest in my daily well being. Hourly well being as it came to be.
Between 9 and 10 AM she would send me a message and ask me how I was doing. And then I would say something like, “I’m doing good, working on your project.” I always tried to be professional and polite but I’m not going to engage more than superficially with someone whose goal is to be right. Fuck that.
And then she got in the habit of sending me another message, around maybe 11:30 AM. Again, she would ask me how I was doing and I would respond that I was doing good. In my head I would say, “I’m doing just as good as when you asked me an hour ago.”
But wait, peeps! There’s more. She started messaging me in the afternoon, too. I shit you not, this happened almost every workday. Three to four, “How you doing? How’s it going? All good?” type of messages.
It didn’t really even feel like she wanted to know how I was doing. Sometimes it felt like she thought she was being cool, doing finger guns, master of the universe shit. Maybe she didn’t have anything better to do. Maybe it felt good for her to ask caring questions, take an interest in another human being because up until then she never really had.
Humans are complex creatures and our relationships with them can take place on many levels. It’s not always this factor that’s coming into play. Or that factor. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. Sometimes it’s a third factor. Pour in a quart of passive-aggressive and you have a milkshake most people don’t wanna talk to.
I don’t know her ingredients, well her propellant exactly. Why she kept bugging me because I’m sure it was obvious by now that it was getting on my nerves. All of them. Even the baby nerves just born were shouting, “Oh hell no. Not this drivel again.”
It got to the point where I wouldn't even respond to most of her messages. I would answer the first one of the day but then ignore any that came after that. At work I don’t transplant hearts or build rockets but what I do does take brain power. And then every time she would message me it’d interrupt what I was doing, totally break my train of thought.
Think of it like a mechanic under a car with someone routinely coming in the garage asking silly questions. Sooner or later the mechanic is gonna roll out from under the car and say, “I’m fucking working here, you dumbass.”
And I’m a big boy at work. I’ve been doing my job for a long time and if I need help or have questions, I ask. My ego is pretty much non-existent in the workplace. I’ve mostly learned my lessons and what happens when said ego gets too big. I just want to do a good job at work and then go home.
One morning I counted how many times she messaged me how I was doing. Three times that particular day. Before 10 AM. Jesus Christ Almighty. This is when, in this icecapade parade, I quit even acknowledging that she sent any of them.
Where’s my socket wrench? I’m gonna smack somebody upside the head.
And you guys know my go-to for people who get on my nerves. I write them off.
Somewhere in this story I was bitching to Sara about all of this and she said maybe she’s worried, because I was being short with her, and that’s why she kept asking how I was doing. And then I thought, “Good. She should be worried because she’s really pissing me off.”
And yeah, I did write her off a long time ago. It was easy and called for. Totally appropriate as far as I could tell. Monkey throwing poop at you, you best move along. Because they’re gonna keep lobbing their shit.
However, working with someone every day, even remotely, that you’ve written off is an exercise in agony. I don’t like shutting down. I don’t like being cut off from the sunlight and that’s how I feel when I build walls to keep people out. Loving you critters and having you love me is what makes the world go ‘round.
Anyways, there’s all the fruity spiritual stuff and then there’s real life. In any corporate world there’ll be bitches clawing their way to the top. And sometimes scratching you in the face because their childhoods sucked. Because they’ve never dealt with why they have that low self-esteem. Sometimes I get the feeling some people don’t even know that they do. It’s kinda like when the woman on NPR said, “I never knew I had anxiety. I just knew I needed another cigarette.”
I settled into the fact, that this endless stream of comms, and the ring fights to be right are just how it’s going to be with this lady. A spinning airlock door I wasn’t going to get out of until our paths led us far and away from each other. Because people don’t change and my spiritual skills only have so much mileage. My patience for morons is only so high.
And then I’d been thinking about fate way too much this past summer. Because it’s been in the back of my mind and under my skin since forever. Sometimes it feels like I’m doomed. Sometimes it’s easier to just give in and give up to the melancholy than to keep disobeying gravity and fighting fights with people I’ll never win either.
So I prayed and put this big ball of bullshit into the cosmos’ hands.
And then I didn’t feel any better. Nothing changed. The “how you doing” messages kept coming. And we still kept boxing.
I’m not a big fan of how I’ve felt throughout this whole story. Dysfunction was normal for the better part of my life and since I started looking for fruity enlightenment, bad behaviors don’t feel right any more. They feel yucky. I don’t like being at odds with people.
Because I think too much, I was thinking one night that maybe Sara was right. Because she’s way more compassionate than I am. Compassion in her DNA. So maybe that low self-esteem underneath was what was triggering that lady’s barrage of “all good?” messages. It’s obviously what’s behind her need to be right. People who’re okay with themselves don’t need to prove anything to anybody.
So maybe the message lady was anxious by my lack of acknowledgement, by my lack of participation in she and I’s conversations. If someone was all but ignoring me I’d probably be worried that I’d done something that hurt them. And without self-analysis it’s easy to fall into the trap of never looking at what I myself am doing.
The real story here isn’t about the lady though. Or our fights. Or even our messages.
It’s about me.
I kinda sorta believe that we sit in the same grade until we’re ready to move onto the next one. And that can suck when we feel like we’re repeating the same lesson over and over again. It’s pretty easy for me to shut down and run away. Never legitimately learn from whatever assignment is on my desk. But then I never grow. I’m stuck eating the same leaves, day in and day out.
So I needed to do something about and in my dealings with this lady. Just for me. Regardless of what else happened.
Sara also said that the lady and I were caught in a “dysfunctional, infinite loop.” When it becomes all too evident that my self-defeating patterns are running the show, I can’t live with them anymore. Because I don’t like feeling stuck. Knowing that I am stuck. I want to be a bigger person, be a better man than I was a year ago. Be bigger than the guy who was treading water in useless swimming metaphors.
And then I was thinking a thought that wasn’t my own. One of those thoughts that wasn’t my idea, one that doesn’t come to me by default ...
I’d wrote about that topic not long ago but only in reference to people I care about. It had nothing to do with, nor had I any intention of applying that to people I’d written off.
So then the next morning when the first “how you doing” message popped up, I concentrated 100% on the conversation. I stopped multitasking, shut off the headphone music, and even turned away from my desk so as not to be distracted. I didn’t do anything but directly engage in the conversation, focused solely on what she was saying.
It can be difficult for me to do the opposite of what I’m accustomed to doing, even more so when other people are behaving badly. But I did it anyway. I took a step in the right direction and let the god within take me where I needed to go spiritually.
I acted like I cared about her and her feelings. Because she was human. A whole human being. I tried to be as loving and accepting with her as I am with my friends.
At first she seemed a little wary, a little unsure about getting my full participation but within a few minutes she was completely gung-ho to be gabbing. It felt like both of us came out of that spinning airlock. Life became balanced. The wheels were no longer in motion and the runaway train stopped and let us both off.
People want to feel a part of. They want to feel accepted, that they count.
Looking past their shortcomings isn’t always easy but it is possible when I do some real soul searching and look at the world from a cosmic perspective. Get out of the minute details and look at life from afar. Stop using my magnifying glass to scrutinize someone else’s most annoying traits.
When our morning message conversation was over, I felt better and I hope that she left the conversation feeling good about it, too. I think she did as she lightened up on sending as many messages from then on. Maybe my attitude change had a positive impact on her attitude. It doesn’t matter, though, because I felt good about me.
I can talk spiritual truths all day long but when I live the change I want to see in the world I get to stand in the sunlight once again. The loop no longer exists. I can move around in life and not live behind the walls I’m too good at building. Because when I build walls they keep everything out, not just the certain someones I’m not getting along with.
Every now and then I’ll still get more “how you doing” messages than I’d like and I can still get pretty frustrated with her. On my worst days I’ll again flat out ignore her and her bullshit for sure.
On my best days I’m confident in who I am and what I believe and engaging in the fight provides little interest and little value. Confidence is a bonus point from humility. It lets us walk with our heads held high. It lets us move forward because everything we do will be okay no matter what.
And when I do feel like I’m entering that dysfunctional loop, mostly it’s plain as day and that awareness makes it easier to take a step back.
Do I really wanna get in that ring again? Not really.
The cosmos will heal us, teach us when we’re ready and receptive.
At the end of the day do you know what I really hate? Being full of loathing. Look toward the future and assume it’ll be dreadful. “Hate” because when one’s heart has been touched by love, the doom and gloom from yesterday sit in piss unappealing.
Fate is for people who have given up. After living with a predetermined future for this long and having concrete examples to the contrary, I can say that I no longer see it as valid cosmic force. I have plenty of my own real life evidence that says the opposite. Personal experience is always what changes my mind.
And really, I’ve found the future to be mostly irrelevant. We live in this very second and what we do this very moment is all that matters.
That’s where the change takes place. That’s where miracles happen. That’s where we decide how our lives will be today. The cosmic now.
If we do our best work in the here and now then when we look back, our memories will be wonderful.
· Jul 25, 2018 at 4:44 pm
· Jul 25, 2018 at 5:12 pm
I’m assuming that’s a good “wow” 😊
· Jul 25, 2018 at 5:50 pm
· Jul 25, 2018 at 9:11 pm
· Jan 16, 2019 at 11:05 am
Awesome insights my man
· Jan 16, 2019 at 9:06 pm
Thank you! It was a long fought battle that mostly turned out okay in the end. 😊
|Jul 25, 2018|
Treading water (or unfasten your seatbelts)
Wherein fate has limits, part 2 of 3.
Toward the end of my drinking it was like treading water. Never going anywhere, not having any fun, just struggling to do the bare minimum to stay afloat. A soggy, pathetic, emotional mess.
I was well past my reckless youth, going out and getting into trouble, wrecking cars, being thrown in jail. Well past the padded room I chased an orderly out of with a safety pin. It was just me, the liquor, and myself. Paddling in a sea of cold air in a dark, damp basement.
I’m going to mix and match reality and imagination. Analogies and metaphors. Because that’s what you do when you’re me.
So to continue with the useless swimming metaphor, I would watch people up on the beach barbecuing, playing frisbee, soaking up sun rays. My family was there, too.
And there I was, what felt like miles away, growing physically tired of the repetitive stokes. And miserably alone. Really though, everybody was only a few feet away, just up and around the stairs.
A few years ago I used this same metaphor but in that story there was an anchor and a chain weighing me down. In the years since first writing of it I’ve change my mind. That rusty chain implied an external force that had me moored. But that’s not true. It was only me and my inner turmoil that kept me treading water on the futon.
Every now and then my ex-wife would tell me that I needed to come in from the water, be with them up on the beach. Sit with them. But I never listened. I couldn’t hear what she was saying over the water and my splashing. It was all too loud. It was all but impossible to listen. I couldn’t focus when I was drunk. My head sunburnt with hellfire hangovers. My eyes closed after my favorite sunglasses were washed away.
I would often think to myself, this is it. I’m not gonna die from exploding diving tanks in a fiery crash. I’m just going to be stuck here treading water, corroding over the decades. Because I can swim against the tides all I want but there’s no escape from the thrashing whirlpool, the sticky tarpit of fate.
And then maybe one day when I don’t have any strength left I’d just slip away. Lethally injected with alcoholic strychnine. In yet another metaphor. Poor me.
Anyways, one day in between waves (or days depending on your makeup) I’m spying my family up on the beach and then she starts packing up the car. I cried out in panicked silence as my insides unfroze.
“Holy shit she’s really gonna leave. She’s not playing around this time. The trunk is open and she’s actually putting the picnic basket and shit in there.”
And then I freaked. Swam to shore like a true Olympian. Like a flock of sharks were nipping at my toes. Whatever cosmic harpoon that had me tethered to myself had finally been cut.
When I reached the sand and the shore and the safety of solid ground, dear lord, the panic didn’t stop. It multiplied. In color. I hadn’t done the whole sober living thing since 152nd Street. And I sucked at it.
So I ran up and down the beach like my hair was on fire in a full blown, year-plus-long panic attack. Being out of the water and on my feet was messy. My eyes needed to adjust, my fingers needed to dry out. I needed to catch my breath.
And then I got a new futon. Because the old one had been torpedoed to death. With bullshit.
So I guess my point to this story is that when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, we will swim for our lives. Fate be damned.
· Jul 12, 2018 at 2:13 pm
So glad you made the choice to swim
· Jul 12, 2018 at 2:31 pm
· Jul 13, 2018 at 12:39 am
|Jul 12, 2018|
Within a 10 block radius
So this past weekend I pulled into the gas station to get some supplies. It’s the weekend and it’s sunny so the gas station is plum full of cars. I pull up close to the building in an empty spot. It wasn’t an official parking spot but gas stations are free-for-alls when they’re busy. One guy had even parked right in front of entrance to the gas station so whatever.
I go in and get my supplies, wait in line for 10 minutes while Aunt Loretta picks out her Powerball numbers. My favorite thing.
Also, before I say anymore, don’t make this about you. Because it’s not.
I come back out, get in my truck, and am getting ready to leave when a guy, a big dude, tries to squeeze in between my truck and the gas station. Of course he could’ve easily walked around on the other side but no, he chose to squeeze through the narrow corridor between my truck and the station.
There wasn’t even a sidewalk there for crying out loud. Well, there was but nobody could walk on it with the ice machine, firewood, stacks of blue washer fluids taking all the walkway real estate.
So I’m sitting there close enough to literally touch him as he shimmies by. About a foot past my driver side window he starts shaking his head in what I can only assume to be judgmental disbelief that I had the ABSOLUTE NERVE to park where I did.
Shit like that gets on my nerves like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t do well when people judge me for situations they put themselves in to begin with. Like I’m somehow at fault because he couldnt squeeze his 600 pound life through the two foot gap I left.
So then I yell out in all of my spiritual glory, “FUCK YOU” loud enough for anybody within a 10 block radius to hear.
He doesn’t turn around but instead continues toward the gas station door.
And then I realize that wasn’t another of my finest moments.
PS- I want to stress that I see this as something along the lines of me going into the Big and Tall stores and then shaking my head because nothing on the racks is in my size.
|Jul 09, 2018|
You cannot unbutton this jacket
Wherein fate is a miserable state, part 1 of 3.
Rivers want to roll downhill. You can put a dam up and stop their flow but their destination won’t change. They all dump into the sea. And eventually your dam will give out and then you or somebody else will build another dam but yet, still the river flows downhill. With all man’s technological marvel, water is what it is.
That’s abstract and non-personal but also a good pre-game show.
Because then there was that one time we were leaving a neighborhood Christmas party. As I’m walking down the sidewalk with family in tow, I slipped and fell on a patch of ice. I saw it coming like a slow motion horror flick. Time slowed to a near stand still and the whole audience screamed, “don’t go down there!!” But then I kept going toward certain doom anyway and gravity did its thing.
There’s nothing you can do about gravity. It’s the Terminator that can’t be talked to or reasoned with. It will always be there. Pulling you down. Because that’s what it does. Gravity has only one job and it never fails. It never quits.
Even though I tried to be as careful as I could I still went crashing down on the frozen, slippery sidewalk. In front of the everybody. Just as they all knew I would. I felt as if everybody but me expected me to fall. Because I had it coming. It was in my cards.
That’s how I see fate. A piece of shit gravitational, cosmic force and it’s coming for you. It won’t let you down and does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Good luck cheating it. Because you won’t. Nobody can.
Fate’s never been anything good to me. Never thought of fate as having a positive outcome. Maybe that’s my true nature of pessimism shining through regardless of how many pictures of sunsets and flowers I take. Underneath the cosmic candy coating is a thread, not vindictive, but menancing inevitable.
A distant dead end terminal that's only getting closer. And then I’m riding the runaway train. That’s going to derail when it smashes into the concrete wall of fate. And I’m the engineer who can’t do anything but watch in horror. Feel the momentum and the chugging that keeps me off balance as I’m unwillingly whisked away to the last stop.
I can only know that the crash is coming. It’s for certain. It’s just fate. There’s no getting off and there’s no stopping the wheels. They’ve always been in motion. The engine’s supercharged and the brakes are out. Fate’s seatbelts are fastened and I can struggle all I like but too bad, I’m stuck in this seat.
Along the same lines, the calendar says biblical armageddon up ahead, around the bend. And there ain’t shit anybody can do. History’s already been written and the words read rapture. And I’ve never been good with religion. So I’m fucked. I’ve never measured up anyway and according to fate, I never will. It’s already been decided. The scripture’s ink is dry and red. One cannot unwrite or undo fate. There’s no redos and you only get one shot. Plus you didn’t even draw the arrow or take the aim.
Just like time, fate wants to happen. In the sci-fi shows I watch where the characters time travel they generally have this as a central and understood theme: changing the course of history is all for naught. Because even if they do something different, events happen anyway. The end result is still now and will always be the same.
And if possibly, on the off chance, someone does alter the timeline to cheat and beat fate then the cosmos is pissed and things far worse unfold. Nice try. But no.
My interest in time travel, physics, and the like is not because I want to unlock the mysteries of the universe, but because I want to unlock the door, disengage the bolt that holds my fate in place. To feel confident that one day I’ll walk past the ice without falling.
Unfortunately what I feel now is that I can struggle all I want, swim against the tides but there’s no escape from the thrashing whirlpool, the sticky tarpit of fate. I’m stuck with this black and bleak outcome forever. What I want long term is irrelevant. Fate is unavoidable. It’s determined.
Of course when I rewind to the Christmas icecapade it’s true that I’d been alcoholic drinking in the hours before I fell. But how many alcoholics are doomed, feel doomed to their intoxicated fate? I doubt if it’s their idea. No alcoholic ever said, “I’d like to spend my life in isolation and despair, hurt all the people I ever loved and cared about. Give up my sense of humanity and devo to an incoherent mess, too drunk to even wonder what went wrong but burdened with emotional suffering and a liquor that keeps flowing like a feast, a celebration to the gods."
The last six months or so that I was drinking, well that’s just the way it was going to be. That it had to be. And there was zero I could do about it. Chained to a stupor on the futon, watching black-and-white movies where the monsters were just off screen and coming for you. The shot focusing on the terror building in the B-movie bystanders as the monsters off camera were moving closer. And closer. And closer.
Fate’s a death sentence and nobody wants to die. But you have to. Fate is seriously a haunted undertone and undertow my whole life. The current insists without compromise that you will go where it wants you to go. Even if you drown.
Fate’s food coloring that’s stained my soul despite my best efforts to convince myself otherwise.
And karma’s got nothing on fate either because, even if you’re good, you’ll still crash your bike. Because that’s what was meant to happen all along. Because fate overrules destiny. We’re all just peons squeaking protests over in the corner of our garage.
Don’t take this all as my argument in favor of fate. I’m not a big fan of the concept. But this is how I feel when I take an honest look. Since Halloween.
Look at the evidence. How many people have you known that went off on a life tangent that didn’t make any sense? That was horribly self-destructive but then they kept going anyway?
That was just their fate. Sure, people can be stubborn and human in the things they do but self-preservation seems like it’d win out over all else. But it doesn’t. Seems to me that we’re being forcibly led (dragged) by something much bigger. And for a flock of humans that finality isn’t good. And again, they don’t have a say in the matter. They don’t have a choice. Magnetized to choices they don’t wanna make.
But back to Halloween. In the 1978 movie there’s a scene where the main character, Laurie, is day dreaming in high school. Preoccupied with her own thoughts. The teacher is droning on and slowly her voice begins to fade. And then Carpenter’s eerie piano kicks in and Laurie sees the bogeyman outside, standing obvious, behind a car. His time is not now but he wants her to know that it’s coming.
And then Laurie is snapped back to class when the teacher tells her to “answer the question.” Laurie quickly obliges with what seems to be an answer she knew all along, with an answer she had physically witnessed a split second before.
Her teachers agrees.
|Jul 08, 2018|
I eat more when I'm happy
Based on my scientific observations and the data I’ve collected as of late, I’ve found that I eat more when I’m happy. When I’m stressed I don’t want to eat at all.
Now then, please note that I’ve gained 37 pounds over the last two months.
In related news, I don’t know why I wear white. Because then everybody knows what I’ve been eating.
So the interesting part of this story. While I was amusing myself with my formula on the drive to work, a feeling came blurting its way into my scientific stream of thought:
“Now, since this is all over, you can finally have your way.”
I don’t know why that thought came barging in, it just did. Shit bubbles to the surface for no apparent reason. And this time I was like “wow” since it was so far removed from what I’d previously been thinking and I immediately recognized it as residue.
Feel the emotions and let them go. I bet 99% of the time there isn't a reason as to why we have them.
|Jul 02, 2018|
Post mortem, Bourdain
The thing that I had a hard time wrapping my mind around with Anthony Bourdain's suicide is that I kept thinking he was supposed to be above all of that. I wanted not to be surprised but I really was. I felt let down at first regardless of what I said.
I don’t have the kind of heroes or as many of them as I did when I was a teenager but Bourdain may have been the closest thing I had to a celebrity hero as a grown-up.
From the time he was a teenager, through his 20s and 30s, on into his 40s and 50s, and then even in his 60s I admired and respected his different phases and who he ended up as a human being.
With his death I kept thinking annoyed, “you don’t give up.”
When people lose their hope it can sometimes rub off on us. There’s nothing good enough out there to look forward to kinda thing. When the future’s not bright and the struggles of everyday are too much then what’s the point?
I never saw Bourdain as wondering what the point was though. Or running out of hope. But then again I only saw what made it into his TV shows.
Kinda sucks that real-life heroes are only humans, too.
· Jun 25, 2018 at 10:42 am
I loved Bourdain, too, watched him throughout the years, and always thought he had such sad eyes, like he was carrying the weight of the world. After periodically reading he suffered from depression, alcoholism and heroin addiction, this sadness made sense to me. I also read he had relapsed with the heroin and that broke my heart, but I understand when the last vestiges of hope are gone and the pain is so overwhelming, death seems to be the only option for relief. I am so sad he is gone, but will never…as some will say…will never call him a coward or selfish. Imagine the pain he must have suffered to resort to suicide, and feel only loss and sympathy.
· Jun 25, 2018 at 11:15 am
I luv him too!
· Jun 25, 2018 at 11:51 am
He keeps showing up in my dreams but I am not sure what he is there to teach me.
· Jun 25, 2018 at 4:53 pm
Well, my take is that I know you you’re a traveler and I know that you love good food so my guess would be that you’re to write a cookbook.
· Jun 27, 2018 at 12:34 am
Anthony Hopkins made an appearance last night so I am leaning away from cookbook. #truestory #benadryl
· Jun 25, 2018 at 11:56 am
Maybe what we learn is that when we ask someone how they are they they say, “Having a bad day,” or even “so-so,” we need to ask, “What’s going on with you?” or “How can I help?”
· Jun 25, 2018 at 4:44 pm
I felt the same. It’s just so sad.
|Jun 25, 2018|
Unless I'm a celebrity gardener
Not long ago I was reading an article wherein the author said that people aren’t going to care about what you’re doing. Like if I plant a wonderful garden people aren’t going to come from miles around to see it. They won’t throw flowers and shower me with attention.
Unless I’m a celebrity gardener, nobody will care.
How the author believed it did work was like this: if I care about you and your garden then you in turn will care about me and my garden. Of course there’s no black and white rule that you can apply to all people or all situations but I do think there’s a lot to be said for me caring about you and you reciprocating.
All the people that subscribe to my magazine, I’ve established relationships with them. Showed a true interest in them as human beings. And not because I want them to subscribe but because I legitimately care about them and their lives. Because people can smell a rat.
I don’t want to go off on a ratty tangent but I do know that my life is much bigger, much more meaningful when I get to experience another person’s sorrow and happiness. And as a bonus I get to have people care about me and my pursuits. Humans are special. Valuable creatures. If I want to be treated as such then I better do my part.
It’s not always easy to stop and listen to what people are saying when we have plates in the air spinning but what I’ve found is that being there for another’s triumphants becomes so much more fulfilling than experiencing mine own.
Okay, I’d like to think myself all that and a bag of chips but I’m not that spiritual. I don’t fully engage all the time with everyone else’s wins.
However, when I do life is pretty good. Another's joy will lift up my soul and foster my own creativity. My struggles aren’t that impossible and my plates don’t spin nearly as fast.
And if the china falls, whatever.
· Jun 22, 2018 at 9:58 am
You had me until that last line. Replace “whatever” with primal scream and all out panic….and then I’m back in. Lol
· Jun 22, 2018 at 10:18 am
That’s funny. I like to use examples like breaking china because they make me uncomfortable with the thought of them actually happening.
|Jun 22, 2018|
Red faced robot
So I have this thing that I’ve been doing ever since I was a teenager. It’s not a healthy thing and I’ve struggled to let go of it ever since I stopped drinking.
Most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it until after I’ve already done it.
In the last several weeks I realized just how bad the behavior is. How it takes me out of the moment and distracts me from all that I have and all that's truly important.
So I've paying attention in life and seek not to put myself in the situations that prompt my bad behavior in the first place. And I pray for graceful nudges to keep me on the right spiritual path. Me being who I am, it's all too easy for me to wander off on a self-seeking tangent.
And I’m proud to say that I’ve done fairly well at not doing it.
What is it you may be wondering? That is another very good question but it doesn’t matter.
Anyways, what really sparked my attention to this behavior is that I had somebody do the same thing to me recently. After I’d been doing my best not to do it. And it didn’t feel good. It was a real eye-opener of just how bad it can be when you’re on the receiving end. Karma defined if you will.
And then in related news, what the real story is, is when Sara told me that she didn’t believe in karma.
The notion that karma is false hasn't left since. Maybe karma is dogma, a made up law to keep people in line for fear of cosmic reprisal.
And then I thought that Sara's most likely a spiritual revolutionary.
Karma keeps me out of the moment, keeps me waiting for yesterday's falling dominoes to finally catch up and knock me down in the present. It feeds my suspicion and keeps me thinking that I don't deserve nice things. Because of the bad things I've done.
Karma also gives us a reason "why" and typically that's never important. To our internal struggles.
What is important is me being the best me that I can be. In the here and now.
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:14 am
Please tell us what Behavior you are referring to!!
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:17 am
jimi hindrance experience
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:18 am
It doesn’t matter.
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:19 am
Not irrelevant to me, your mother!
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:20 am
Hi Jimi - it matters to me, his mother!
jimi hindrance experience
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:28 am
Ok. We’re both pretty sure it wasn’t anything monstrous. I doubt he’s capable of anything our imaginations can conjure. I’m on your side, Jeanie. :)
· Jun 20, 2018 at 10:31 am
What did you do to those dolls?
· Jun 20, 2018 at 2:13 pm
I bet it’s picking your nose
· Jun 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm
|Jun 20, 2018|
Reich Between the Eyes on the Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus soundtrack
Peeps, the soundtrack for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was released today digitally. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for it just as I have. I’ve only listened to the first five songs but it’ll punch you in the teeth for sure. If you’re into that.
Reich Between the Eyes will be one song I’ll never listen to while driving for sure. I can feel the road rage amplifying already.
The next time I’m angry cleaning I’m just going to throw the latter up on my family room TV and get to it.
And lastly, while I've been waiting for the Wolfenstein and Tomb Raider sequels, I've been playing way too much Fallout 4.
|Jun 19, 2018|
Share the road with bikes?
How about they go the speed limit? Or obey the traffic signals? Or decide if they’re going to be on the street or the sidewalk?
I ride my bike as much as anybody. Okay, that’s not true. I have a bike in my garage and I’ve only ridden a few times this year.
But I’ve seen the guy at Sammy’s Bikes race around town, blow through stop signs, make wild ass turns without warning, weave around cars, all like he’s in a race to win the World Cup.
When I do ride my bike if I’m on the sidewalk then I act like a pedestrian. And if I’m on the street I act like a car. I stop at stop signs even if nobody’s around.
I do my best to follow the laws in either case. Because I believe in the greater good.
Yes, I still protest in my garage but I’m not a big fan of anarchy in the streets. I’m much more interested in communal well-being than getting my rocks off on my 10 speed.
|Jun 14, 2018|
I fucked this up
I set up an auto-renew feature on a client’s website not long ago so members could check a box and have their member account renewed each year. It’s a win-win for the client and the member since neither would need to do anything. The client would collect their membership dues and the member would have uninterrupted access to the site. Hurray!
However. When the first member selected the option their credit card was charged twice. And then of course it happened to the second member.
After each duplicate charge I thoroughly reviewed my code to see what was going wrong and for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. I was even tempted to just disable the feature and not tell anybody. But that wouldn’t be the right thing to do even if it did solve the problem from my end. I ended up telling the website to send me emails anytime anything happened with the auto-renewals.
This morning I got up after only sleeping six or so hours and I saw a handful of emails from the site. Of course the latest member had two charges on their credit card. Again. It’s one thing to screw something up and look like an idiot. It’s something else to look like an idiot and bill a client’s member an extra $125.
When I’m tired I don’t have much patience. I’m easily frustrated and it doesn’t take long for me to give up on life. And maybe yell at the cat because she wants her breakfast.
But often times giving up is exactly what we’re supposed to do. When we can't see the flowers for the leaves.
Let go and stop trying to fix and manage and control things that we’re not suppose to. Let go of the mess we’ve made of things. Being full of imperfection, it’s a given that we’ll screw things up. And it’s totally cool to say “I made a huge mess and I need help cleaning it up.”
So then after I was at my wit’s end and I remembered I need to give up in life, I prayed. I asked the cosmos for help and guidance in fixing a huge problem I created.
After we let go we’re set free. Free to see things how they really are. Clarity won’t come when I’m frustrated and unhinged. It comes when I have a clear mind and a positive outlook. When I’m anchored to a spiritual rock. I need to find harmony inside and out if I want to move forward when I’m stuck.
Society won’t often reward us for admitting defeat or being vulnerable or saying I fucked this up. Especially in the corporate/business world.
But when I am those things regardless of my circumstances or environment, I’m rewarded with tranquility and contentment on the cosmic scale. Sometimes I even get a steel blue striped donut.
Anyways, here’s the email conversation I had with the client after I went to work and spent less than half an hour on finding and fixing the auto renewals bug.
PS- Most people won’t argue with you when you admit you’re wrong or made a mistake. They just want to get on with their life, too.
PS2- After I wrote this I was looking around work for a photo to go with it. And then I went outside for a few minutes because it's sunny and I like sunny. The cosmos gifted me with the perfect image. Serendipity, peeps.
· Jun 13, 2018 at 12:52 pm
Wish I could like this more then once. Well said.
· Jun 13, 2018 at 1:03 pm
· Jun 13, 2018 at 1:43 pm
· Jun 13, 2018 at 2:01 pm
Thanks! At the end of the day I just want to do a good job at work. And have snacks while I’m there.
|Jun 13, 2018|
It forever influences the present
I was talking with one of my friends several months ago and I brought up something that sounded an alarm in her. What I’d just touched on triggered an unhappiness almost like ripping someone’s blanket off on a chilly night when they’re sound asleep.
I don’t know who first used the blanket analogy but I love it so much that it works its way into the things I write.
But anyways, you fuck people up and you won’t be able to take that shit back.
It’s unfortunate that I can’t be my best self with certain people because of the torrid history between us. Even though I can forgive people, there can be so much damage in the past that it forever influences the present. And then also, the future will be permanently stained.
Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, that relationships can “never recover” but both people really have to want it. They have to fill the present with astounding moments and create a backlog that more than rivals the historical damage of the past.
What I’ve seen, more often than not, is that people can never get there. At least not both of them.
And sometimes it seems like you just run out of time.
|Jun 13, 2018|
A frantic game of animal tag
On this morning, the 11th of June I was greeted with a squeaky chipmunk in the basement just as I sat down with my first cup of coffee. It filled my heart with joy as the two H-Ks (hunter killers) and a lone chipmunk played a frantic game of animal tag.
A frenzied game of hide and seek if you will. Where if you lose needly claws hooked to hair trigger tendons pulled by honed muscles will rip into your hide and not too often let go. You'll be lucky and kiss your mother if you narrowly escape with only a minor puncture wound.
Ah yes, the screams of blood filled, animal murder first thing in the morning.
And then as I'm putting the basement things back in order after I've caught and released the chipmunk, I hear Pearl in her litter box taking a shit. All the excitement and exercise must've got her bowels working.
|Jun 11, 2018|
The geese on Riverside
Every time the geese hold up traffic on Riverside for more than five seconds, 50 cars deep pile up in both directions. I just want to punch them in the face. Every last one. The geese and the cars.
Also: don’t wave to people while they’re out with their dog and the dog is taking a poop. It’ll make them uncomfortable. Both the person and the dog.
|Jun 06, 2018|
So then I rewrote parts
One time when I was eight or so I was out in the front yard washing my bike with the hose. I especially liked spraying the pedals and watching them spin out of control. My bikes have been near and dear to me ever since I learned how to ride and I took great pride in washing this one since it was my first main bike.
My oldest brother, who is eight years older, came home during my wash cycle with a carload of his friends. They were all teenagers and way cool in their rock band t-shirts and long hair.
I always wanted to be around them but that never happened much during the Allison Avenue era. I was still playing with my Star Wars guys and they out were out driving around, smoking cigarettes, and whatever. But just having an older brother part of the fight club was good enough to make me feel part of something cool.
While my six foot tall brother was walking up the driveway he said to me and my bike, “you can’t polish a turd.”
I just stood there, unable to retaliate, not even knowing how. Scorn like that is how someone goes from innocently washing their bike to someone who is suspicious by default. Because that’s how you demolish someone.
That brother was often relentless with his taunting and ridicule. Even worse is that he had the real capacity to be charming and loving but then that was always heavily salted with his hellfire and damnation.
He may have just been giving me a hard time as older brothers do. But then again, It was really much more than that. When he was around it was a psychotic war zone. Bombs could drop any minute so I lived on edge during during the times of peace. One minute we’d be laughing it up in front of the tube and then when I wasn’t paying attention he’d snap me with one of them big red rubber bands. I could think up a bunch of horror stories but I don’t want to.
Anyways, time went by as it does and we both grew as people, evolved into more than who we’d always been. We even lived together for a few years in the 90s. Rented a house, being 20 somethings and all, getting on with our lives.
One sunny 90s morning I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom strumming my acoustic while my girlfriend, Kathy, was laying on the bed doing her own thing. And then he came into the bedroom and in one sentence belittled my guitar skills.
I don’t remember exactly what he said because I was instantly pissed. Shaming me in front of my girlfriend had made me so angry I couldn’t even talk. Not to mention that I was a far better guitar player than he was. Of course, he wasn’t really saying that I wasn’t a good musician, he was simply putting me down in order to prop himself up.
And that particular time I don’t think it was simple ribbing, not from his tone and plus it was in front of Kathy. And she was pretty cute. And I wanted to trust him around her but I didn’t. He wasn’t a saint in that arena either.
Pausing and looking back again, trying to see him as a fundamentally good human being, maybe, possibly he was just giving me a hard time. He may have even felt that he took it too far that time based on my reaction. I don’t know.
What I do know is that both of those public shamings are still with me. I remember holding my flattop guitar and holding the garden hose with him looming over me both times, using his words to cut me.
In 2013 Maggie and I saw him for a couple of hours. We were on a weekend getaway and he was living less than an hour from where we were staying. I wanted to put all the past behind us. I wanted Maggie to know the person who I would often share good stories about. And while we were there sitting in the park and Maggie swang he gave me a honorable apology, said that he was never the older brother that he should’ve been. I’ve told that story before.
I hate to be pessimistic but I have a hard time believing people fundamentally change. At the atomic level. I’m not completely sold on this idea but…bad behaviors only seem to go dormant and often will spring back to life on a moment’s notice. I don't trust a dog who is known to bite not to bite it just because it’s gotten older.
We can forgive and forget but abuse stays with us forever. Sticks and stones will break your bones and words can cut you to your soul. Yeah, we can do our best to let it go and move on but sometimes hurt runs too deep and then you’ll be out mowing your yard and shit like this will bubble to the surface. And before you know it you’ll have a manifesto on why you don’t talk to your brother.
But that’s part of the process. If feelings surface unprovoked it means we’re not finished with them yet. I think sometimes people are too eager to forgive and forget, myself included. Sometimes we don’t fully acknowledge our pain and then try to shuffle it out the front door before we’re through with it. That doesn’t work.
Sara and I were discussing this whole topic not long ago. On a recent podcast she listened to the person talked about “leaning into our pain.” Sometimes we have to weather a storm and it takes years before the sky clears and we’re able to stand in the sunshine. The miserable clouds will part if we’re patient and willing, though.
Embrace the demons that haunt us. But always keep in mind the goal is to set them free, not to give them safe harbor for an eternity.
So then in 2015 my brother called and left a vulgar voicemail, swinging his verbal clubs in a way I hadn’t heard for over a decade. Drunk and disorderly and par for the course when he dials your number.
He was saying something along the lines of how my whole life that I hated him because I wasn’t courageous enough to be him. That I’d only fumbled around my whole life and my music was shit.
No, I hated him at times because he was an asshole.
There’re far too many people in my life who I enjoy being around to deal with his shit anymore. One of my sisters told Maggie one time that we choose who are family is. I also believe that we choose who our family is not.
On an iPhone when you block someone’s number their voicemails go into Deleted Messages in case you really do want to listen to them later. Over the next several months he left me several more voicemails but I never listened to any of them. Sometimes I wonder if there was a heartfelt apology in one of them somewhere.
But then again for the most part I don’t care. Apologies mean nothing if you keep being an asshole. If you continue to build a person up and then rip them down like it's normal family behavior, normal social interaction.
I get that as a child he was wounded, scarred and battered. It wasn’t his idea to act like a monster, to punch my friends because he himself was fucked up. But being an asshole as an adult because of what happened when you were a kid is bullshit. I couldn’t imagine talking to my siblings (or anyone else for that matter) the way that my brother talked to me.
While Sara and I were talking about feeling our pain, she said that while being a nurse she learned that everybody has a tragedy, everybody’s got a heartbreaking story.
Pro-tip: don’t give people their own.
And then the final part of this story is that I have to be really careful when writing on this subject because being a writer I want to tell a good story. All of my stories are true for sure, but when I get emotional and angry it’s hard not to exaggerate the torment.
Our memories of what really happened don’t always line up with the truth. We remember painful experiences often much more intensely than they really were. It’s just hard to be factual when people hurt our feelings. Because they hurt our feelings.
Not only do we have those traumatic memories but we also have the hours and days with those memories that can warp how we remember things. It’s not just what happened but also that we live with what happened for the rest of our lives.
So just maybe my brother wasn’t the villain I remember him as. I’m inclined to believe that people generally aren’t. There's only been a handful of times that I've set out to be an asshole. And I don’t want to discount the fact that he was a jerk because most people who know him would say that he was. But then also, I need to be careful that my unintentionally bent imagination doesn’t become my version of the truth with how I remember the things he did.
I’m sure when I was younger I would intentionally bloat my stories so people were on my side, so I could justify feeling hurt. In the here-and-now I sometimes do that as well, but never on purpose because really, at the end of the day I just want to be honest. I don’t want to minimize or maximize. There’s a lot to be said for the truth. And my pain only hurts me. I don’t want to lug agony around anymore. I don’t want it to define who I am. I just want to feel my shit and move on. I got other shit to do.
I took a screenshot of the voicemail transcript he left in 2015. Because that’s what you do when you’re me. While proofreading all of this I went back and looked at the voicemail screenshot just to see how accurate my memory was. The transcription didn’t quite line up with what I wrote that he said. I can remember things happening a certain way but that doesn’t mean they really played out as my memory recalls.
So then I rewrote parts of this to bring it in line with the truth.
|Jun 06, 2018|
One particular night in Wyoming
And then there was that one time in 2006 when my brother and I drove halfway across the country in a U-Haul the size of Montana, pulling the Kia on a trailer. We were on an epic journey, moving from the state of Oregon to the state of Illinois.
One particular night in Wyoming we were ready to call it good for the day, might’ve been around 11:30 pm. My brother insisted we get off on the next exit and look for a hotel. He was ready to get his drink on and that didn’t sound half bad to me either.
We found a “hotel two blocks away” sign and headed in that direction. When we got there I slowed way down to scope out the lodging grounds. The motel was less than desirable. The sign was only a quarter lit, the parking lot crumbling, there were air conditions hanging out of the windows. And one of the room doors was open.
My brother said to me, “Hell son, yer bed probably already warm for ya.”
“Fuuuck no” I said as I eased the gas pedal down and we rolled past whatever Deliverance Inn we’d came across. Last thing I want is for somebody to be watching TV when I get into my hotel room.
PS- I don't remember where we were when I took the photo shown. I think Nebraska. Maybe not. I think I was all done taking pictures by then.
· Jun 5, 2018 at 4:15 pm
Tell the story about the map in Chicago
· Jun 5, 2018 at 7:17 pm
Deliverance Inn. You come up with the best terminogies.
· Jun 6, 2018 at 9:46 am
Thanks! :) That’s pretty much what that hotel was, too.
· Jun 6, 2018 at 8:11 am
And all I can focus on is whether or not it really is Nebraska… I need to know the answer!
· Jun 6, 2018 at 9:47 am
It may have been farther west. Thinking back I was pretty much done taking pictures after the first day or so.
|Jun 05, 2018|
Stop Draggin' My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty
Do you ever wanna say, "fuck this workday" and then turn off your computer and give your nearest co-worker a high-five as you storm out the office door, then slide down the stairwell railing and hop in your car, then drive to Home Goods and get that stainless steel spatula you've had your eye on for the last two months, and then stop at the petshop and pick out a pair of award winning pups?
Then get an email alert on your work phone and throw the piece of shit out the passenger window, frisbee style while driving with your knees, the silverly spatula twinkling in your left hand and the fuzzy doggos under your right arm, all the while Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty's Stop Draggin' My Heart Around is blaring from your car stereo?
I thought so.
"Yeah, you buckle with the weight of the words."
|May 30, 2018|
Speaking of consequences and desperation
Alcoholics can related to this. I’m not sure if others will...
But one of the things that made it so easy for me to continue drinking was that I never had any real consequences. I never was in jail for more than a day or so, the bank never threatened to take my house. My jobs were always more than supportive and somehow I still have all my fingers and toes.
It’s not that I didn’t think about the consequences. I could think about them all day long, but if it were in my head that I was gonna drink, there was simply no stopping me. I didn’t resist at all. There was no debate, no trying to convince myself it was the wrong thing to do. I never tried to talk myself out of it. All of that internal yammering was too painful and willpower is nonexistent when I’m drinking. It was easier to just give in, give up, quit fighting a fight I’d never win.
Even just the “knowing” that I was going to drink gave me instant relief. Like pouring water over an Alka-Seltzer tablet. That immediate, fizzy, bubbly chemical reaction — that’s the uplifting, scientific relief I felt whenever I gave in to alcoholism.
A counselor told me once that I should “play the tape all the way through,” meaning that before I started drinking to stop and think about what would happen from start to finish.
Erm. That’s not how alcoholics do. We don’t have forethought before drinking or willpower when drinking. Consequences are irrelevant. We only see the next drink and never the dominoes falling down afterward.
Seriously, when it comes to drinking my thought process is this: I’m gonna get drunk and I don’t care what happens. My house burns down? Good, now I won’t have to pay the mortgage and will have one less responsibility. That may sound ludicrous but that’s the kind of disconnect I’m talking about here.
Yeah, life could taunt me with blackouts, jails, whatever but none of it mattered once the drink was on or even the decision to drink was made. I was at peace and nothing could touch me.
And then there was that one time I walked into the liquor store door. Like I walked up to and in to the door. And then bounced backward off the glass because it was the exit and it automatically opened for people leaving. I’d like to say that it was a simple mistake but really I was pretty much lit from head to toe.
The whole door wobbled and complained during our encounter. I’d also like to say that I was filled with shame but any embarrassment was muffled by my drunkenness. Because drunkenness is like a wet blanket over the fire, a soggy forcefield that keeps the inferno of reality from being real.
So after solving the automatic door riddle and making it inside, two cashiers and a customer were staring at me with slight alarm. I ignored their stares and made straight for my aisle, as fast as I could while maintaining my composure and balance. Only momentum kept me walking in a semi-straight line.
And then back at the checkout aisle one cashier was still around. He was an older, taller guy wearing concern on his face. Like he wanted to say something, to ask me if I was okay because I obviously wasn’t. I wasn’t fit to be walking let alone driving.
But he didn’t say anything. I’m sure it was because working in a liquor store he’d seen the likes of my kind before and learned the last thing you wanna do is confront an alcoholic when they’re drunk and after more. That’s like poking a bear after his honey.
I don’t remember what I bought from the liquor store that day, only that I made an ass out of myself and was too drunk to know it at the time.
Anyways, see: no consequences. I have a grab bag full of stories just like this where there weren’t any consequences for my actions. Almost always nothing happened other than I got drunk. I was rarely even scolded.
But wait. There were consequences even if I didn’t think about them. Even if alcoholism kept me out of touch with them.
There was the perpetual guilt so harsh that I would cringe, close my eyes, and hang my head. Soaked in regret for the constant humiliation I handed out to my ex-wife and then following it up with gift-wrapped sorries and promises that I’d do better.
I tried to be a good person when I was sober, had all the right morals and so on, but drinking drowned them all. Suffocated every shred of decency. I’d be doing and saying things I would never do sober. After five or so drinks I would be uncontrollably careless. I’m an alcoholic so I’d have twice that and then the real fun would start. I’d say things to people that I didn’t mean, completely smashed, flirting with other women, right in front of my ex-wife. Passing out at a friend’s party at 8pm because my party had started at 8am.
Then I’d wake up plumb full of shame, anxiety through the roof. Should I say something to that dude? Do I owe that girl an apology? Most of the time I wouldn’t say anything at all with the hope that they’d just forget. But you commit enough crimes and people stop forgetting, shit stops blowing over. People start looking at you differently.
And then I’d start drinking all over again as soon as I could and it was like magic. All the guilt and shame would be washed down the drain like dirty bathwater. Alcoholics have mastered tuning out the guilt when we’re turning the drunk dial to 11.
I drank to get drunk from the time I was 15. The last few years I did try really, really hard, though, to keep myself in check, to keep myself from doing stupid shit. But that never happened. I’d stumble around the house, fall into shit, make jokes that weren’t funny. I absolutely hated feeling embarrassed the next morning. All I wanted was to drink, feel that drunken serenity and not make an ass of myself. Lubricated but not falling over if you will.
That’s not something I can do though. My drinking always led me to a black hole I couldn’t pull myself out of.
And there was that piper to be paid.
I read something years ago about civilizations that’s always stuck with me, or it might’ve been on a documentary on TV or whatever.
It was about one of those cities that set up shop at the base of a volcano. And of course the volcano blew its top because that’s what volcanos do. People were running around with their asses on fire and all that shit. But guess what? That’s exactly what the civilization needed, a major catastrophe to make them change. It took a volcano spewing lava all over their whole damn city before they decided to move.
It wasn’t until my ex-wife said that I’d “taken it too far last Christmas” on a Sunday afternoon that I experienced my own desperation, that smashed my cherry, fizzy glass of Alka-Seltzer into a thousand shards. She didn’t say anything more than that but that was enough. She had been on her phone with someone else and I saw a look detachment from her that I’d never seen before. A broken heart set free. She had let go and moved on.
The panic and fear overtook me that afternoon. I was sure that she was going to leave with Maggie, that she had found someone else, that she’d never come back from that day emotionally. The terror was endless, the horrifying possibilities and outcomes laid out before my eyes rattled me to the core. Shook my bones and instilled a fear of rejection in me that I hadn’t felt for a long time.
What I felt in one word was despair.
Tony calls it the “gift of desperation.”
There’s times when we see things off in the distance and they don’t mean much. We don’t pay much attention to them. Because they’re way, way over there. And then there’s other times when things are right in front of us and everything is all too real. We take those times seriously.
There comes a time when we, as alcoholics, know it’s time to stop. We turn a corner and everything changes. The desperation moves us along.
I played dangerous games, took incredible risks and lost. The consequences caught up to me. People went away and then I was sitting on the floor in an empty bedroom a couple of weeks past Valentine’s Day. Sitting with nothing but my own thoughts and cat hair tumbleweeds.
Maybe it’s obvious now that nothing, I mean nothing could plug my jug other than desperation. I’d fritter about and be sober for a day or two, a week here and there. But for longer spells, I really needed to be punched hard in the soul. I needed to wreck my car and not be able to drive away. Well, that never really happened. I always totaled the cars but you get my point.
I had to be filled with desperation from head to toe to fundamentally change, to get to that “soul shift” point. Where I didn’t want to drink any more because the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of change. As it goes.
And then the good news to counter my sad is that if I, as an alcoholic, continued to drink like I did, continued living at the feet of a volcano, when I least expected it the volcano would erupt and my alcohol fantasy land would collapse.
So why did I write all of this since I’m so far removed from it in the here and now? I don’t know. A few paragraphs from this were originally in an email I sent to a friend a few years back and I needed to put it out there to the cosmos. If you’re an alcoholic, struggling with despair, you’re not alone.
There's a way out.
· May 29, 2018 at 3:36 pm
Were you ever drunk in front of me, Travis? If you were, I didn’t know it!
· May 29, 2018 at 3:42 pm
I doubt it. You’d have known. :)
· May 29, 2018 at 4:33 pm
Thank you for sharing this. I just sent it to someone who needs help!
· May 29, 2018 at 4:54 pm
Awesome! I wrote it for the people out there in despair.
· May 29, 2018 at 5:39 pm
Very well stated
· May 29, 2018 at 6:49 pm
· May 29, 2018 at 7:15 pm
“Because drunkenness is like a wet blanket over the fire, a soggy forcefield that keeps the inferno of reality from being real.” Beautifully said. Captures that feeling, that state dead on!
· May 29, 2018 at 8:51 pm
Alcoholics don’t play the tape through by choice. You quit drinking, so at some point you must have actually decided to stop and think before you took a drink. Good choice!!
· May 29, 2018 at 10:08 pm
This is so poignant and true. Bullseye! I found myself in every word. Thank you for sharing
· May 29, 2018 at 10:22 pm
Well put. Thanks.
· May 29, 2018 at 10:59 pm
Very insightful I needed to read that thank you for sharing
· May 29, 2018 at 11:27 pm
You have always been an old soul….even when you were young. You had the fortitude and the gift for seeing the outcome of your life if you remained in the direction you were heading. That gift enabled you to make decisions that prevented years of misery…..you never experienced too many bad things from your drinking……”yet”…..when you quit…. I assure you that if you would have kept using for long enough you would have experienced every one of them. I’ve seen people say I came into Alcoholics Anonymous too early, I didn’t suffer enough before I came in I had to go back out and try it again. The big book talks about going out and try and control drinking, it says if you can do it, then go right ahead, cuz you are not one of us. No, definitely not one of us if you can control you’re drinking. I remember an old saying I heard in Alcoholics Anonymous one time. They said I didn’t stop at Alcoholics Anonymous because it was the prettiest house on the street, I stopped because it was the last house on the street. That hit home with me because I tried everything, to be able to continue to drink, as I wanted to prove that it wasn’t the alcohol I had a problem with it was everybody else who was bothering me. You know there’s another saying in Alcoholics Anonymous. At first I took a drink, and then the drink took a drink, and then the drink took me. That’s how I describe my alcoholism. Thank God we don’t have to live that way anymore, is another great saying from alcoholics anonymous that I use quite often. :-)
· May 30, 2018 at 9:35 am
What Kelly & Vanessa said! Well done my friend.
|May 29, 2018|
Just one can of my favorite soda
I was telling Sara last night about the time I was in a grocery store and they had 12 packs of my favorite soda. Unfortunately I couldn’t buy just one, the man was sticking it to me (and the world) by forcing me to buy all 12.
So I did what any teenage anarchist would do. I ripped opened the box and pulled out just one can of my favorite soda.
Delighted with myself I took le single can of soda up to the checkout aisle and fetched a crisp one dollar bill from my wallet, feeling confident that would more than cover the cost.
However, when the checkout guy in his maroon apron tried to scan the barcode it failed two or three times. He then gave me a puzzled look and asked me where I had found this particular can. I told him that I got it outta a box in the soda aisle.
His bepuzzlement quickly turned to annoyance and he firmly let me know that I couldn’t do that. The cans weren’t marked for individual sale and therefore wouldn’t be in his system.
Avid readers, that was the day I learned the customer is not always right.
|May 22, 2018|
Saturated, colorful clematis
And on this 18th day of May nature said lettuce have more flowers, specifically the saturated, colorful clematis. And the peeps of the world drew in a beautiful breath and embraced the brilliance.
And then on a related note the man said, “If life is fleeting then that is irrelevant. In this minute let life’s focal point be the vibrancy.”
jimi hindrance experience
· May 18, 2018 at 9:45 am
Holy shit, who is the author of that bleat?
· May 18, 2018 at 9:54 am
Alas, the man was me :)
· May 18, 2018 at 9:55 am
Because I like lettuce
jimi hindrance experience
· May 19, 2018 at 12:09 am
That colorful clematis ain’t bad neither
|May 18, 2018|
Route around the struggles
I talk about my dentist now and then because he and his staff are part of my life. And I talk about what’s going on that's had some kind of impact on me. Granted, sometimes I talk about shit that doesn’t have an impact but whatever.
So anyways awhile back my dentist said he wanted me to use a water flosser to get below the gum line. I brush my teeth and use floss picks because that’s what I do but obviously if he said I should use the Waterpik® then what I do is not enough.
Mostly I’m open to other people’s ideas. I’ve learned that I don’t have all the answers so I picked one up on Amazon and then after I got it, I tried it a few times but always ended up making a huge mess. The pick would be spraying all over the mirror, all over the walls. Water would be in my eyes and ears. The cats would be floating by on their inner tubes. I’m not even kidding.
It was like I had a firehose in my mouth and all that turned into too much chaos for me to deal with. Right before bed is when I’ve always brushed my teeth and having a waterpark in my bathroom when I’m winding down the day is not something I have the patience for.
And then of course every time I go to see my dentist he’d ask me if I’d been using the Waterpik and I’d be like, “well kinda sorta, not really.” A couple of times he’d be kind stern and on my case and that never sits well with me. I seem to have an aversion to people bossing me around. If someone tells me to do something then my standard response is “no, I don’t think so.”
And then of course we got cheated in the teeth department. I mean really, sharks get new teeth all the time and here I am stuck with the same teeth I've had since I was 10. That’s bullshit. But sharks are beside the point.
The last time I went to see my dentist we had our typical conversation about the Waterpik and I was fully expecting the hand of judgement to come crashing down. But this time was different. He said that he’d personally just made it part of his routine. He wasn’t telling me something that I needed to do but was instead telling me something he had done for himself.
And I do better when I hear things phrased like that. I admire and respect my dentist so if that’s what he had done, make it part of his routine, then that’s what I wanted to do, too.
I just needed to figure out how. How without my next Amazon purchase being a scuba suit.
Here's the real story: when I became open to the idea of change it quietly occurred to me that I could brush my teeth and use the Waterpik firehose earlier in the day. Instead of right before bed when I’m tired and just want to go to sleep.
So now I brush my teeth, use my Waterpik, gargle with peroxide mix, and all that razzle-dazzle right when I get home from work. Instead of fighting against something that wasn’t working I found a different way that would work. If I'm frustrated then that’s a sign that I need to "pause, pray, and proceed." Take a step back and solve whatever problem by another means. Even with something as simple as all of this.
And then this whole affair became all too easy. It’s part of my daily routine now. Using the Waterpik after work I wasn’t tired and had the patience to figure out how to actually use it without turning my bathroom into a carwash. I still brush my teeth right before bed, too, so now I’m up to brushing 2-3 times a day. I'm practically a dentist myself.
I’m pretty grateful that I can be flexible today. That I can let go of the rigidity of this is how I do things because this is how I’ve always done them. Dogma is bullshit. Even more so when I enforce or inflict it upon myself.
If I want what I've always had then all I need to do is what I’ve always done. But if I want something more maybe I should try something new.
Also, if you need a dentist mine is great. His whole staff is awesome. Well, one of the younger techs is kinda bossy so I don't pay much mind to her.
jimi hindrance experience
· May 17, 2018 at 10:06 am
Dogma is bullshit. May I quote you?
· May 17, 2018 at 11:17 am
Yep. I use your “peace out, death to dogmas” all the time.
· May 17, 2018 at 10:07 am
I got a thumbs up from my hygienist this week so your story really hits home.
· May 17, 2018 at 11:19 am
It’s a good feeling to get a thumbs up from them guys.
jimi hindrance experience
· May 17, 2018 at 10:14 am
This belongs on that other page but:
· May 17, 2018 at 11:17 am
I was looking for a new dentist and btw that little button on the handle of the water pic stops the flow of water til you release it
· May 17, 2018 at 11:20 am
Yep, I learned how to man-handle the water pick. :)
· May 17, 2018 at 1:24 pm
That is a hilarious Priceless name for a business
· May 17, 2018 at 1:40 pm
It’s a keeper
|May 17, 2018|
I haven't recorded any podcasts for a bit but I have every intention of soon, with intention being the keyword.
In the meantime please enjoy a song I recorded some time in the early 2000s.
Alias: graham sexton
|May 08, 2018|
You can't dump that there
For whatever reason the Chicago Tribune left newspapers on my sidewalk for three days in a row. I like that because reading the paper from start to finish broadens my horizons. I come across articles and the like that I wouldn’t have sought out on my own.
Like this particular Dear Abby-ish piece about a couple that was having a fundraiser with the funds coming from a cash bar. Another couple had shown up with their own wine and proceeded to drink out in the yard or something.
So then the columnist’s advice was to just bluntly ask them about it.
The thing I like most about this was the such few words the columnist offered to the person who wrote in. It wasn’t War and Peace, it was two sentences.
“Here’s what you did that upset me. Why did you do that?”
When I have something to say to someone about something they’ve done I can get nervous. And when I get nervous I can talk too much. And talking too much dilutes and pollutes what I’m trying to say. Those extra words make the conversation harder than it needs to be.
Emotionally tip-toeing around the subject can put me on the defensive with an aggressive person. It can give them the upper hand since the spotlight is on me and my nervousness instead of on them for what they did in the first place.
Confrontation isn’t easy for passive people like me. I regularly deal with a guy who’s consistently combative, who’s in it to win. Well, he’s in it to be right. At all costs. Whenever he gets a chance to be “right” he stomps the gas, squeals and smokes his tires, and barrels ahead full throttle. He swerves all over the road with pure emotional adrenaline fueling his words and actions.
I’m not a fan of funny cars so I do my best to diffuse those situations with objective facts. Because I don’t care about being right anymore. I care about having great relationships with people. If I’m wrong, so be it. Me saying that I’m wrong let’s me have those phenomenal relationships. Me saying that I’m right when I’m obviously not only makes us both lose.
But back to my point. Me calling people out has never been my strong suit. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. I want other people to feel safe and I want to feel safe as well.
And then the cosmos goes and puts me in situations that make me uncomfortable, to teach me things I need to learn. And often it seems as if those same lessons come up again and again until I do get comfortable with them.
The good news is that when I need to confront someone, I don’t need to minimize or maximize what they've actually done. I just need to be clear, concise, and direct. Just like the columnist suggested. It made me feel good reading her article, too, to be reminded again that this struggle is real for a lot of people and not just me.
In related news: when I’m done writing what I try to do is go back and take out all the bullshit, all the fluff that gets in the way of what I’m trying to say. Because I over complicate. I want to talk about this and then I want to talk about that and then there’s this other thing that I want to say. Really though, it’s about condensing what I’m trying to say so people understand.
Confrontation is in the same realm. What is it that I need to say? Once I figure that out then all that’s left for me to do is say it.
I tell this Microsoft story now and then because it gave me a little spiritual insight. It changed everything.
One afternoon I overheard a conversation between a sales guy and his boss. The salesman had had a hard conversation with a customer and it frazzled him. He was still upset when replaying the conversation to his boss. The boss said to him plain and simple, “you need to take the emotion out of it.”
Now that’s in the true spirit of detachment. I don’t have to get all emotional about things. I make situations worse when I do. I only need to take a minute to regain my composure. Then simply state the obvious. It doesn’t hurt for me to first say a little prayer either. Tapping into the universe will give me all the strength and courage I need in hard situations.
Moving from someone who’s anxious to someone who’s confident has a lot to do with me just getting fundamentally okay. My past can hold me back in the present so letting go of my garbage from yesterday frees me up to be fully present and able today. It frees me up to confront roaring lions and noisy drag racers.
But still… I’m only human.
So yesterday I got a little cranky with one of my neighbors. There’s a retention pond behind our houses and she’s gotten in the habit of dumping her lawn refuse under one of the retention pond's trees. And then when I look out my back window or am in my backyard, I see a big pile of her yard garbage.
I don’t get how people can be so selfish and it pisses me off to no end when that spills over onto me. What is it with these people? It’s always me, me, me. It’s like the other neighbor and her little barking dog. Why does she let him be outside barking all the time?
Anyway, yesterday the first neighbor and her wheelbarrow of yard bullshit were headed over to the retention pond. It was the first time I’d literally caught her in the act. When she saw me, she and her wheelbarrow did a 180 back toward her yard. I pointed to the spot she’s been dumping and said borderline belligerently, “you can’t dump that there.”
Oops. I came across more aggressive than I would’ve liked. Definitely had some punch in my words. Too many times seeing her trash pile, though, and then I was blurting belligerence before I knew it.
And that’s where I went wrong in yesterday’s confrontation. I shouldn’t let emotion build up until it comes spewing out. Most importantly, I should never be an asshole when confronting someone. I need to “take the emotion out of it” first.
It’s true that sometimes people need to get a little feeling in their scolding. Seems like it motivates them a smidge more when they know what they’ve done has really gotten on someone’s nerves or hurt their feelings. But still, everybody is human and even though some are selfish, most people are walking around as clueless as me.
What I should’ve done (long ago) is simply knocked on her door and said, “Your yard debris belongs in refuse bags and not under that tree. Please don’t dump it there anymore.”
Yeah, that looks good on paper but I don’t know if I’m that spiritually advanced.
Going to someone’s house is a nice idea and all but most likely something I’ll never do. I’m not that guy. I’ll never be able to bench press 200 pounds either because that’s not the kind of personality that I have.
But even if I never get to be the guy who walks up and confronts a neighbor assertively after the fact, just knowing that’s the loving and true way to handle those situations, makes me a bigger person. Just “knowing” even if we’re not capable of always “doing” puts us on the right spiritual path.
And I’ve had above average success confronting people when I just make my point in a loving manner. I’m grateful that the people in my life aren’t jerks, don’t mean to be an asshole anymore than I do.
Believe it or not the majority of people are receptive to hearing that they’ve made a mistake. And then they feel bad just as I do, just as we’re all supposed to when we screw up. Dropping the ball is all part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow and become better people, become more than who we’ve always been.
jimi hindrance experience
· May 6, 2018 at 9:40 am
· May 6, 2018 at 10:20 am
The Force will be with you. Always.
· May 6, 2018 at 3:46 pm
That was really insightful I needed read that
· May 6, 2018 at 4:02 pm
Glad you liked it! It’s been a struggle my whole life
· May 6, 2018 at 6:23 pm
I actually have the same issue myself reading this I thought you were describing my life
|May 05, 2018|
Karma doesn't torture us
While I was sitting with my nicotine withdrawal earlier, I was saying my morning prayers, asking god to take my nicotine addiction away, take all the pain and discomfort. And then I started to get crabby because these withdrawals have been going on for well over a month. Fucking Greg.
And then I kind of scolded myself, “God’s got nothing to do with this.”
My nicotine withdrawal is the consequence of decades of smoking. My smoking. No amount of praying is going to take that physical pain away. Sure, the cosmos can give us everything we need to make it through our struggles but we still have to deal with any bullshit that we've created.
And then I think, “haven’t I suffered with this enough?”
And then I think again, “no, karma is fair and balanced.”
Karma doesn’t torture us. We do.
Sometimes I think that I struggle more than I should, though. I can and do make life harder than it needs to be. I'm just not good at it. I know how to make crazy. Because it's my go to.
And then I was thinking of what Scott Peck wrote in the late 70s:
Nothing else stood out in The Road Less Traveled more to me than that. Not that I’m on the same cosmic level as him but I think it would’ve been more appropriate to say that “life is balanced.” He may have wrote that, too, but I don’t remember.
Sure, life is hard and full of struggles but it’s absolutely magnificent, too.
Just living can be frustrating, disappointing, aggravating but it’s also fulfilling, magical, and surreally spectacular.
So what to do when I’m annoyed with myself and the mess I’ve made? When there’s nothing left for me to do on my end? I stop thinking about me and my horrors and look around to see what else is going on. What’s good happening in the cosmos?
Because even when the sky is gray and the air rainy, the world is beautifully overflowing with sweet Jesus goodness. It’s got flowers and everything.
· May 3, 2018 at 10:38 am
“Fucking Greg” is the new “Thanks Obama.”
· May 3, 2018 at 10:39 am
Yep. I even say it when I’m by myself.
· May 3, 2018 at 11:07 am
· May 3, 2018 at 3:23 pm
It’s got a nice ring to it
· May 3, 2018 at 5:53 pm
· May 3, 2018 at 6:20 pm
Who is Greg you might ask? That is a very good question.
Greg is Norwegian. A simple man with locks of gold and a mustache to match. Muscles toned and tanned to a reddish brown. The women adore him and his fanny pack of Caesar spiced croutons. His wit is quick and his axe is sharp yet his heart is as pure as the Newfoundland snow.
He often can be seen wearing only but knee-high leather boots, the best Corinthian leather generally saved for the gods. His ranch dressing is spicy but palatable, chivey yet smooth.
If you listen closely you might just hear him sing a little ditty about Jack and Diane on a warm summer night. There’ll be a twinkle in his eye and a dab of parmesan on his lip.
· May 3, 2018 at 6:44 pm
Greg sounds like a fine man. Where does he hang out?
· May 3, 2018 at 6:52 pm
Greg may seem like a real cool guy, until you get to know him. He ruins everything. Fucking Greg.
jimi hindrance experience
· May 4, 2018 at 2:28 am
A dab’ll do ya. Do ya real good.
· May 3, 2018 at 10:39 am
Thanks for sharing!!!
· May 3, 2018 at 10:40 am
· May 3, 2018 at 5:54 pm
Nicely said, Travis.
· May 3, 2018 at 5:55 pm
· May 3, 2018 at 6:31 pm
I don’t know if this visual will be an encouragement that you are on the right path, but it showed a pretty clear picture to me.
· May 3, 2018 at 6:31 pm
I can’t watch anymore!!!
· May 3, 2018 at 6:43 pm
Sorry! I hope that didn’t offend you. I had just never seen it presented so clearly before.
On another note, who is missing their healthy lungs???
· May 3, 2018 at 7:09 pm
Nope, no offense taken. It’s just grizzly 😊
· May 3, 2018 at 7:09 pm
It is awful.
jimi hindrance experience
· May 4, 2018 at 2:46 am
He’ll wrip your lungs out Jim!
My exes name is Greg… fucking Greg!
· May 4, 2018 at 1:18 am
We admitted we were powerless over nicotine and that our lives were unmanageable. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Maybe the patch is the pain. God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
· May 4, 2018 at 4:29 pm
It’d be nice if it were that easy for everybody
|May 03, 2018|
The light is green for both sides
This scene is my truck. I’m barreling north on Randall Road and need to turn left at the next intersection. There’s a handful of cars that are also barreling south toward the intersection. Because everybody’s got to get to work.
The light is green for both sides. Timing will be close but the southbound traffic has the downhill advantage. I add a little acceleration to the equation. A little horsepower to even the odds.
The light turns yellow so I slow down and then stop at the red light.
I’m always grateful when the cosmos saves me from myself. 😊
|Apr 30, 2018|
You're still dumb
My podcasts were probably broken for the last few days or so.
To make up for the flub, please enjoy this flashback to the late 90s. I wrote, recorded, played all the instruments, and even sang on this gem.
Alias: graham sexton
|Apr 29, 2018|
Miracles are seen in light
I fall short in life.
That’s not a judgment call or me being hard on myself. It just is. I’m just another guy wandering around aimlessly doing my best…and sometimes doing my least.
Struggling to maintain that non-mistake-making state only makes my life harder. Letting that struggle go gave me so much more free time to enjoy life and the company of my fellow humans.
Well, I guess I never really expected myself to be perfect but I was pretty good at torturing myself when I did screw up. I wouldn’t let that shit go for whatever reason. Constantly feeling bad about myself is all bullshit, though. I make mistakes and then I feel bad about them for the appropriate amount of time and then I move on.
Letting ourselves be human brings our stress levels down. Our bodies will thank us. Our souls will thank us, too, and so will our peeps. People will love being with us when we’re not ruminating over something dumb that happened a week ago.
Okay, so that’s all fine and good. I’ve made peace with all that. Made peace with making mistakes.
But the thing is, if I’m intolerant of another person when they come up short, either every day or once in a blue moon, then I’m just an asshole.
· Apr 27, 2018 at 9:51 am
Again, this hits home….ESPECIALLY the last sentence! Thank you!
· Apr 27, 2018 at 10:21 am
You are most welcome!
jimi hindrance experience
· Apr 28, 2018 at 3:07 am
Thank you Travis. I don’t always comment but I know you don’t take that personal. Love these affirmations. :)
· Apr 28, 2018 at 1:08 pm
Nope, it’s hard for me to take things person these days.
· Apr 28, 2018 at 1:09 pm
Also, SGC wrote the words in the picture. Maybe 13 or 14 years ago.
· May 5, 2018 at 9:53 am
|Apr 27, 2018|
A Key Lime Bomb in one hand
Guys, if you haven't had one of Blue Goose’s Key Lime Bombs then you're missing out. Eating one of those is way better than the time Christie Brinkley kissed me on the cheek. Okay, that’s a lie. That never happened. But my 16 year old self wishes it would have.
Anyways, the moral of the story is that this dessert bomb will literally change your perception of the entire cosmos. Yeah, they will. It’s got a little whip cream swirl with lime zest, it’s got the key lime, it’s got the moist little cake for the foundation, and it’s got toasted coconut. Or maybe they’re nuts. It doesn’t matter. The whole damn thing is delicious. A culinary masterpiece if you will.
The entire affair is exquisite really. You’ll even feel like you’re having an affair and cheating on that chocolate lava cake that once warmed your heart. The Key Lime Bombs are big enough to share with your special someone, too. If you’re into that. If not, just eat one by yourself. I have.
One time I was driving down Riverside while holding a Key Lime Bomb in one hand and steering with the other, the whole while gorging myself. I had whip cream and key lime everywhere. I could barely see. I couldn’t help myself, guys. They’re that good. I couldn’t wait until I got home. Plus, I’d had a hard day at work and wasn’t sharing that time around.
Be quick, though. I rarely see these elusive little critters in Blue Goose’s display case. If they’re sold out, search your soul for some persistence and/or patience.
And be sure to vote Blue Goose as your favorite bakery while you're there. This is not a game.
|Apr 26, 2018|
We, as parents, make mistakes
Maggie had a little scare yesterday. She had gotten off the school bus and was walking the minute walk back to our house down the alley. Some dude was also walking down the alley behind her and that didn’t sit well with her.
I generally get home 15 to 20 minutes after she does and it’s not that big of a deal for her to walk home and spend that time by herself.
Anyways, after I got back to the house we talk about what happened for a little bit, about the dude, and reviewed all the things you can do in a situation when strangers are following you. Be loud, be visible, make noise, make sure the whole world knows what’s up. It’s the same thing that animals do when they’re nervous and it works pretty well for them.
It also sounded like the guy may have just been walking 30 feet or so behind her, just going in the same direction. I’m not trying to minimize the situation but I know for myself when I panic, things aren’t truly what they seem. I got freaked out and freaked myself out several times as a kid when I was in situations very similar to hers. I can still freak myself out now as a grownup.
So anyways, here’s the real story.
Last night when I was saying good night to her I thought of something else to say around the whole stranger-danger topic. I started talking about it and then immediately thought that it probably wasn’t a good idea at bedtime.
I quickly changed the subject and we talked about something else for a few minutes. I was kind of hoping she’d forget about the whole. But people who're more on the nervous side, they don’t forget.
This morning before school I said to her, “Last night I brought the dude up again and then realized that I shouldn’t have considering what time it was. I hope that it wasn’t on your mind as you were going to sleep. What is it?”
She said that it was for a little bit. I then told her I was sorry and that was the wrong thing for me to do, wrong thing for me to say. She nodded a little bit, absorbing what I’d just said. And then we got on with our day.
It’s important for me to be humble, for me to be human, failings and all, as a parent in front of Maggie. It’s okay for our kids to know that we as parents make mistakes. And more importantly, it’s good for them to hear us own it, too. Our kids will model their behavior after ours. Who they become as adults is directly influenced by who we are to them as parents.
And lastly, it’s crucial for me to ask direct questions if I’m worried that I’ve made a mistake. Like I asked Maggie if what I said had kept her up the night before. I could’ve just said that I hoped our bedtime talk wasn’t on her mind too much while she was going to sleep and left it at that. But that’s not good enough. I needed to ask her point blank if it was.
If I wouldn’t have asked her it would’ve left her alone with her feelings. That those uncomfortable feelings were hers to deal with. I wouldn't have taken full responsibility for my part in causing them. And feelings like those need to be talked about, they need to be acknowledged by the person who was indeed at fault.
If I’m not 100% sure if I’ve done something wrong, I need to find out. Because that’s part of owning what I’ve done. I need to take the initiative and shouldn’t wait for somebody to tell me that I've hurt their feelings. Most of the time I’m pretty sure they won’t.
· Apr 25, 2018 at 10:46 am
I’m glad she was aware of her surroundings.
Also, surrounding area police stations will often hold annual free self defense classes. I know St Charles just had 2 in April and Dekalb has them on occasion.
· Apr 25, 2018 at 10:47 am
Correction…i think it was Naperville that just had theirs
· Apr 25, 2018 at 11:14 am
That’s not a bad idea. She was in martial arts a few years back but a basic refresher is always a good idea.
· Apr 25, 2018 at 11:03 am
So happy Maggie is safe! We just had an attempted child abduction yesterday morning at a bus stop…kids were smart and ran, but so terrifying!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 11:16 am
That’s crazy! What the eff is wrong with people?
· Apr 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm
They’re eff’d up!!! Oh…and thank you sooo much for sending me your publications…I thoroughly enjoyed them!!!!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 1:55 pm
You are most welcome!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 11:42 am
Super glad she’s safe. And you are an awesome parent!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 11:47 am
· Apr 25, 2018 at 12:26 pm
Ditto with what Linda said! And Kelly’s idea is a good one. Your advice about being loud and visible is spot on, too!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 1:57 pm
· Apr 25, 2018 at 1:32 pm
A fine job of parenting!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 1:56 pm
Why thank you!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 2:23 pm
You’re welcome and well deserved!
· Apr 25, 2018 at 5:00 pm
· Apr 25, 2018 at 5:50 pm
· Apr 25, 2018 at 8:41 pm
Our girls sound similar. Keep reminding her to trust her gut.
· Apr 25, 2018 at 10:11 pm
You’re a good daddy.
· Apr 26, 2018 at 8:34 am
· Apr 28, 2018 at 1:16 am
Smart girl and she’s lucky to have a Dad she trusts and reaches out to! You done good!!!
· Apr 28, 2018 at 1:04 pm
Thank you!! And I believe she does trust me a little.
|Apr 25, 2018|
A little dog and wild carrots
Let me first say that I’m an animal lover as much as the next Dr. Doolittle. It’s rare that I meet a dog or cat and they don’t end up liking me sooner or later. I think mostly that’s because I don’t care if they like me or not.
However, the neighbor’s dog and myself, we don’t get along. He barks at me from his yard every time I’m outside in my yard. Or when I’m walking to or from my garage. Bark, bark, bark.
Obviously he’s got the short man complex.
I’ve tried making friends with him. I’ve tried explaining to him that I’ve lived here longer than he has and that gives me seniority. And on my very worst days I’ll blow my megaphone at him when he so much as lets out a whimper.
So anyways, a little while ago I was out tending my yard and little Napoleon was in his house so all was right with the world. The neighborhood people were also out walking their dogs up and down the alley as they do. And every time they did I heard him barking from inside his house.
I was thinking to myself how annoyed I get just even hearing him bark every now and then. Can imagine the horror of actually living with him relentlessly barking all the eff’ing time? I thought so.
I could only giggle quietly to myself.
In other news, does anybody know what kind of plant these are?
Some of the taproots are almost as big as carrots. It looks kinda like a dainty fern and it’s soft as a feather. It’s also decided to take over the world. Well, take over my backyard anyway.
Update: they're Queen Anne's Lace. Apparently a couple of summers ago I did, in fact, let them take over the world.
· Apr 20, 2018 at 8:48 pm
Queen Annes lace. They’re bastards.
· Apr 20, 2018 at 8:54 pm
· Apr 20, 2018 at 8:59 pm
They’re excellent for anger management.
· Apr 20, 2018 at 9:30 pm
They look like mandrake from the Harry Potter movies
· Apr 20, 2018 at 10:14 pm
Apparently a couple of summers ago I did, in fact, let the Queen Anne’s Lace aka wild carrots take over the world.
· Apr 21, 2018 at 10:09 am
I don’t have the issue with the Queen Annes Lace, however I do have the issue of the non-stop barking from the neighbor’s dog. It is a small dog that I could quite easily drop kick through the air across the yard and into never never land. ( I would never have such evil thoughts wink wink) Its very frustrating because during the warmer months I spend the majority of my time at home outside working in my backyard. I have done everything from ignoring the animal, attempting to bribe it (I almost got bitten), throwing small sticks to distract it, to messaging the offending neighbor via messenger, Other people in the neighborhood have called the police and reported them. This worked for them because now the dog is no longer allowed in the front yard only the back which is where I hang out. None of these methods work for me and finally one night last week I screamed “SHUT THE FUCK UP” and low and behold the neighbor appeared immediately and brought the offending animal inside. Finally a method that works. I will continue to do this until it doesn’t. Funny thing is she locked the dog in the basement last night where it barked incessantly but at a tolerable level for me. Not so tolerable for her however because I could hear her cussing inside the house. Tee hee motherfucker :) Love you Travy funny how we have similar problems eh :) - AJC
|Apr 21, 2018|
Like I'm going to fall over
I haven’t been writing as much because I’ve been struggling with my nicotine addiction. All sorts of things happen and don’t happen when I try to quit.
Sometimes I’ll spout off something about quitting on social media or whatever but lately I’ve just been keeping my struggles to myself. Because unless somebody was a daily smoker for over 30 years, they don’t really get it. I know people are trying to help but move along. Sometimes we just need to vent.
And then vaping made my addiction even worse because I could do it anywhere at anytime. I would vape at Maggie’s school during her recitals and in team meetings at work, too. I would use my vapor in the dentist’s restroom before I went in to see them.
When I go into withdrawal my ears will ring. Ring to the point that I can hear them in the next room. My head will start to hurt. Like I have a vice slowly squeezing my temples. It’s not a sharp pain but dull and warm and oh so intense. And when it’s really bad I’ll start to get lightheaded. Like I’m going to fall over. Detox always makes my stomach bloated and gurgly regardless of which drug it is. My intestines will fill with witches brew and putrid toxins.
I’ve not been sleeping that great at night which makes it hard for me to concentrate throughout the day. Concentrate on writing or whatever. And then because I’m tired I drink more caffeine. In the early evening when I’m dragging both feet I'll make a couple cups of coffee because I’m missing my old smoking friend. I’ll jump from one drug to another. Trade this addiction for that one. I didn’t realize I was even doing it at first with the coffees because when you’re a drug addict the addiction is sneaky and silent.
I've quit smoking probably 20 times and generally end up smoking again because the physical pain gets to be too much. And I know that if I smoke or vape or whatever all that pain goes away.
And then I stopped this morning and bought a pack cigarettes because the hellfire withdrawal had been kicking my ass for the better part of two days. I’ll do that every now and then, buy a pack, smoke one or two and then throw the unsmoked away.
I never tell anyone when I buy a pack of cigarettes because everybody is always disappointed. Because I’m the poster child for success or something.
It was snowing this morning. In the middle of April. And as I was standing outside the gas station smoking, a guy came up to me and asked for a cigarette. He had to be at least 20 years younger and wasn't wearing a winter coat. He was missing half of his index and middle fingers on one hand. He had a plastic grocery sack full of things he hadn’t bought recently.
He seemed reluctant to ask me for a smoke but he still did because nicotine is a powerful bitch. I gave him three cigarettes and he was more than grateful. I could see the look of relief on his face. I treated him with dignity and respect because all people deserve that no matter where they are in life. No matter what really.
He reminded me of my 19 year old self when I lived in Cedar Rapids with one of my brothers. No job, no money, and desperately needing something to fill my soul. Standing in the morning snowfall regardless of the cold, feeding my addictions however I could.
Somehow I made it out of that era with all my fingers and toes attached. But I easily couldn't have. Somehow I made it out of that life alive and now have my own house, a career, beautiful daughters, a gorgeous girlfriend, and all that.
Somehow I made it over the hump and to the place where I have a choice in life.
Driving away I wish I would’ve given him the whole pack. I wanted to tell him that he could make it out, too. Make it out of whatever place he was in. That life is bigger than where your next cigarette comes from.
But I didn’t think about any of that until I was driving away. Plus, I’m suspicious by default.
Anyways, never underestimate the impact you have on people, especially strangers.
|Apr 18, 2018|
Brushing my teeth while driving
I think what annoys me most about driving on Randall Road is that the speed limit is 45 mph but with the sheer amount of daytime traffic and number of stoplights by the Commons, I never get to actually go 45.
See, if I can just get around these other cars I can enjoy the Road Warrior speeds as posted by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Or whoever makes up the speed limits. But no, I’m stuck not even going half that.
Like when I'm waiting behind the lady in Walgreens on State Street who's fighting with the cashier about which M&M varieties are buy-one, get-one free.
No wait, it’s more like when I turned into the pasta aisle at Super Target on the east side of St. Charles to grab a jar of Newman’s Own Marinara but then there’s this dude and his cart blocking ALL THE SAUCES as he tries to pick out which Bertolli to buy. Just get the Tomato & Basil and let people move on with their lives.
I can see my favorite red sauce. There on the other side of his cart. It’s almost within my grasp but I just can’t quite get to it. But it’s right there. Just a few feet away.
But no, I don’t get to have my non-chunky pasta sauce nor do I get to drive the maximum speed limit on this north-south county highway. Because I can’t have nice things.
And yes, lady driving next to me: I am brushing my teeth while driving. I’m on my way to the dentist.
· Apr 16, 2018 at 7:39 pm
You’re a good brusher! 😉
· Apr 16, 2018 at 7:57 pm
I do my best 😊
· Apr 16, 2018 at 8:09 pm
I do it all the time bro!
· Apr 16, 2018 at 9:14 pm
Haha! Ok good. 😊
|Apr 16, 2018|
It's all really great news
Well over half the conversations I have are all words. Personal and professional. All reading and responding. I want to say there is no voice in them but each author has their own in black and white. It’s still all words though. Nothing verbal. The only emotions are the ones I assign based on how I know the sender.
I try hard to read everything personal I get as really great news. At the very least I try not to assume those words sent to me and meant for me are negative. When I get a text or an email I take the words literally unless I know the other person is joking.
I’ve said most of that before. Playing games complicates life and I want less complication.
Words can be tricky, though. I do my best when I get a suspect message to pause and see the sender as a whole human being. Just take a minute before I get trigger-finger happy with a response. That pause helps defuse any bomb I think I might be holding. Believe it or not I’ve misread and misunderstood words before and then jumped to nasty conclusions and ended up looking like an ass.
My point is that I do my best to imagine the sender sending cheery communications and that in turn keeps me on positive path when I reply.
In somewhat related news, Biz Stone (one of the founders of Twitter) said a few years back that he was “operating under the assumption” that everybody liked him. I enjoyed reading that because for much of my life I assumed that at least half of everyone was out to get me.
Treating people as if they liked me and as if I liked them did wonders for my relationships. Watch someone’s face light up when you tell them that you’re excited to see them.
After I altered my interactions with people, they in turn started treating me with love and respect. They started being excited to see me as well. And I got to let go of pretty much all of my paranoia.
It’s always good for me to remember that “acting as if” can and will fundamentally change who I am. And also that I’m never going to be able to “will” away paranoia and friends. I need to find a positive behavior to practice instead of trying to force myself to give up a negative one.
And so then what started me writing this correspondence to you guys is this other guy I traded work emails with for years. And because I knew he could be a jerk in person I assumed most of what he wrote to be jerky as well. The communications were an exercise in combat. Mental conflicts that were simply exhausting. I ended up dreading each time I got a notification ding.
Now some time has passed and I’ve gotten a little separation and I wonder what our conversations would’ve been like if I just pretended that everything he wrote came from a good place. I’m 99% sure that it didn’t just because I knew how he could be back that, but every now and then I “pontificate” how the dynamics would’ve change if I would’ve simply changed my point of view.
Read and responded to everything he sent like we were working toward the same goal. Maybe even that his words were “really great news.”
If instead of seeing him as hostile, I just saw him as a person who liked me. If instead of reading his words as angry, I read them as happy. Regardless of his intent.
I was hesitant to do that when I had the chance. Even though I think it’s a worthy cause, I also think there’s a damn good chance I’d have just come across as sarcastic or snide.
It’s too late for me to have a better relationship with that guy now but it’s not too late for me to interpret every new email or message I get as simply delightful.
What if I operate under the assumption that all communications I get are good? 🤔
What if I operate under the assumption that all people are good by default? 🤔
Well, let’s not get too crazy here.
|Apr 13, 2018|
Apologies as presents
On a person's special day if I tell the person that I forgot to give or get them a present, it’s like instead of giving them their actual present I'm giving them an “I forgot” instead. Regardless if I actually do give them the present later.
It’s better to not hear anything at all, to be kept wondering, a little mystery perhaps, than to get an “I’m sorry that you weren’t high enough on my list to remember but here’s this apology instead.”
Nobody likes to hear that they were forgotten or feel like they’re an after thought. And when they actually do get their present, it has this uncomfortable bow attached.
So if, on a special day for someone, I forget to “do” what I'm supposed to do, I try to stay away from telling them that I forgot. I’d rather play it cool and “do” what I'm supposed to do as soon as possible.
|Apr 10, 2018|
A peer in the revolution
And then there was that one time when myself and two older friends were drinking and carrying on, using too many drugs, and just driving around out in the country.
And then they decided they wanted to rob a house.
Being younger I went along with their plans because that’s what I usually did. Everybody I knew, everybody that I got high with in the early 90s was older. Sometimes a lot older.
And I went along with them because a- it was generally fun being up to no good and b- I liked that they invited me along. Even if I was always somebody’s little brother.
I wanted in, I wanted to be part of the adventure. I wanted to be part of a revolution but there was none around. Being up to no good was as close as I could get in rural Iowa to being a revolutionary.
The two I was with that particular night were a couple and I was just along for the ride. Sometimes I would end up in the backseat of somebody’s car and that was totally fine by me. Going anywhere, doing anything, getting high and not being me.
When we got to the house, for whatever reason the lady decided to park in the driveway. It didn’t strike me as odd at first since we were out in the middle of nowhere and it was well past midnight. And I was lit.
As we sat there in the dark, they immediately started bickering about how we were going to actually break into the house.
Basement window? Backdoor? Garage?
After we sat there for 10 or 15 minutes the reality of the situation started became all too apparent. There I was manning the backseat of a beatdown car in the driveway of a house we were about to rob while two methheads couldn’t agree on the best way in.
I could see this adventure playing out only one way. And it involved me going to jail. Again. But this time it wouldn’t be for something trivial like public intox.
Playing it cool, I leaned up and put my arms on their bench seat and said, “this is a bad idea.”
They were drug addicts so much more than me, way worse than I ever was. Robbing the house was gonna give them drug money and I certainly didn’t think they’d pay much attention to my meager protest. I was always somebody’s little brother after all.
But in the few moments that followed my B&E objection they changed their mind. A glimmer of reasonable moonlight broke through their teeth grinding addiction. And then she started the car.
And we then left.
As ridiculous as this story is, it’s also one of the few times where I felt like an equal among that group of people. I felt like that my voice not only counted but was it taken seriously and then acted on.
I felt like a peer in the revolution.
|Mar 28, 2018|
Not often with surgical precision
I’m not overly fond of the word, “slice.” I never say slice. Not a slice of pizza or a slice of pie. It’s always a piece.
“Splice” is okay but remove the “p” and it’s out of the question. I never slice anything either. I cut shit. Not often with surgical precision.
This also may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever wrote. Or written. Depending on your grammar.
It’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. That would be when I was holding a lit firecracker, blew it out, and made the mistake of thinking I was good.
These are the kinds of things I think about when I don’t have any real life struggles.
|Mar 23, 2018|
Memories are what make places feel like home
When I was a kid living in a little town in Iowa, our neighborhood, our street, our house they all felt like home to me. I always felt secure, always felt like I belonged. My life was feature complete on that block.
I’m sure it was because that house on Allison Avenue in Ottumwa was the only place I’d ever lived, the only home I’d ever known. That street just a single block long was the center of my whole universe.
A group of us kids would ride our bikes over to Mowery, maybe around McKinley, always down the Johnson ramp, and across Albia Road to Dairy Queen. Sometimes Pamida instead. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, think department store akin to K-mart.
And my mom made dinner every night and when I sat down to eat with her, my dad, and sister nothing was ever missing. The dinner table always felt full.
Since then I’ve lived in more places than I can count. Lived on both coasts and in plenty of places in between. The only time I feel that same sense of home I did as a kid is when Maggie and I are out riding our bikes.
I don’t know what it is about fixed-gears and neighborhood streets but they ring a bicycle bell with my emotions. I’m taken back to Allison, taken back to something much more than simple deja-vu. It sounds corny but it feels as if my spirit transcends space and time and part of me is there on the avenue again.
And yes, I absolutely feel a sense of family when Maggie and I are eating dinner but then again something is always missing. I feel a separation, a loss. I feel incomplete. Because my mom, dad, and sister aren’t there.
On Allison we always ate in the kitchen because we didn’t have a dining room. Maggie and I have a dining room now but we always eat in the kitchen. Because kitchens feel more like home.
I wonder if my mom felt the same way, missing her mom and dad, longing for her brothers when she was making us dinner in Ottumwa. Remembering the times around her kitchen table with her childhood family out on the farm just south of town.
I wonder if I feel like my dad did when he was making dinner for Angie and I. When we were a little bit older and the three of us lived together on Casper.
And I also wonder if Maggie will feel the same after she grows up, when she’s making dinner for her kids. Remember that one year she and I watched every episode of Lost while we ate the dinner I made for us.
“You can’t go home” the book title famously says. I’ve driven down Allison Avenue a few times as an adult, wanting to revisit the old neighborhood and all. I was hoping to feel something each time I went, recapture a little childhood magic but I only felt a distant connection to a fading past. And what's more, I felt out of place. That neighborhood isn’t mine anymore.
My memories from the 70s are so much more powerful than actually being there. Part of me wishes I could go back but I’d have to time travel I suppose.
[...school night interlude, including showers and homework...]
I had a minor revelation after getting my earlier thoughts out in the open and letting them simmer for a bit. I almost always write to process something and what I’ve found tonight is that memories are what make places feel like home.
Maggie learned to ride her bike behind our garage in the alley. We were out there for a couple of hours and she was so close. So close, so many times but it just wasn’t happening. She was wearing down and I wanted her to keep trying. She and I both knew she almost had it. There’ll be a certain electricity when you’re on the verge of becoming more than what you have been. When you’re on the verge of flying to greater heights.
And then she got enough momentum. She let go and trusted her body. She found her balance. And then she was off riding two wheels by herself.
Fixed-gear bike, too. Because they’re bad ass.
|Mar 23, 2018|
Not caring what other people think
I think all that jive about “not caring what other people think” is mostly bullshit.
When I puff out my chest and chant the “I don’t care what they think“ mantra, it feels like I’m just giving myself a free pass to act like an asshole. And really I’m probably doing something I shouldn’t be doing or just did something I shouldn’t have done.
Like that time you all know and love when I went into Jewel at quarter to eight in the morning with bloodshot eyes, looking like I’d only slept for a few hours. Because I had. And then walked up to the checkout lady with 2 pints of beer in my basket, all standoffish. Temperamental and dramatic and inwardly screaming, “Judge me all you want. I don’t give a fuck!”
Yeah, that was just a cover up for the shame I felt for buying beer before the day had even started. It had nothing to do with legitimately not caring about what the lady in Jewel thought.
When the “I don’t give a fuck what they think” comes out of my mouth or I’m all emotionally rambunctious up in my head most likely I’m up to no good. In one way or another. Maybe I haven’t actually done anything yet. Maybe my motives aren’t in the right place or my emotions aren’t pure. Whatever it is something is off.
I’m not trying to sound preachy but whatever. I probably am.
I don’t care what the neighbors think about the pink Christmas lights hanging in my kitchen window year round. However, this example of “not caring” never crossed my mind until I started exploring this apathetic path. If you will. I never thought about what they think let alone bothered to care what they think. I honestly didn’t think about the pink lights because I honestly don’t care.
That’s when “not caring” is not bullshit: when I have zero thought and zero emotional investment.
Truly not worrying about what people think of me and the things I like, that all comes from a place of calm and confidence and not one of bolstered and shouting egos. Not one of loud arrogance.
I do what I want and so long as I’m not stepping on someone else’s toes then I don’t give a fuck. Don’t give a fuck enough to not even think about giving a fuck. If that makes sense.
I do care what people think about me. I care about my family and friends’ opinions because what they think is important. It counts. It matters.
If my friends think I’m being an asshole or if a stranger looks at me like I’m being a jerk, there’s something wrong with what I’m doing. Like if I say something in front of a server at a restaurant and an honest-to-god worried look comes across their face then I have wonder to myself, “Oh. I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I shouldn’t say that again.”
Being a jerk is something I’m never trying to do these days but I’m only human and sometimes I don’t realize I’m being an ass. This is why what other people think is important. I look for guidance from the people that I trust in my life when I’m uncertain.
I look to and count on my peers calling me out because I’m so wrapped up in me most of the time that I have a hard time seeing what’s going on. More importantly what’s going wrong.
If I have something in my teeth I know that somebody will tell me. Man, is hearing that rough, too. Saying it isn’t any fun either. Being either person in that situation can be uncomfortable. And then of course Maggie showed me how to handle all of that. A few weeks ago I told her that something was in her teeth after dinner. She said “thank you” and then went and got a toothpick. That’s the end of the story. And also an excellent example of what “not caring” is really all about.
This might sound self-deprecating but I fucked up a good chunk of my life because I didn’t care what people close to me thought and I just did whatever I wanted. That didn’t work out so well. Hence two divorces.
In the here and now I pay close attention to what people near and dear to me say. When people give me their feedback I do my best to listen and take it seriously. If they say that I’m fucking up then I probably am. And then I do my best to course correct. Because I don’t want to fuck up my life anymore.
Also, and this is important: I look for the good in people and automatically assume that when they give me feedback it’s coming from a good place. I don’t take what my friends say as an attack. Why the hell would my friends attack me? Friends don’t attack.
Opening myself up to criticism, taking that with as much grace and humility as I can muster, and then appreciating the growing bond with that other person is a big part of the meaning of life to me. Friendships will absolutely flourish when I allow myself to be a whole human being in front of my friends. And even more, when my friends see that I took their suggestions, they’ll know that they count to me. They’ll get to be somebody, too. Our friendship will be balanced. Equal parts them and equal parts me.
I don’t know about you guys but I admire and respect the hell out of my friends and family. I care deeply about them and their opinions. I legitimately do care what they think about me.
And the last thing I want to say about this whole “not caring what people think” bullshit is that most people don’t think about me. At all. Because I’m not that important. If I’m out in public chances are other people don’t even see me. And that's not because I'm a ninja.
One more thing. I've never written an “abstract” before.
|Mar 21, 2018|
About those bullfights
Sara and I watched Anthony Bourdain in Spain last night. I wish that watching bullfights didn’t bother me as much as it does but I could never get behind a sport like that. Not that I’m somebody big and influential or whatever but killing an animal so you can be a rockstar is bullshit.
It doesn’t matter if it’s part of the heritage or culture. It’s barbaric and inhumane. I don’t see it any differently than wrestling with a dog or playing with a cat and then breaking their neck.
Bourdain didn’t look like he enjoyed the bull’s death much either. But ya know what, I would’ve canceled the episode if I was him. It’s important to stand up for what’s right or to stand up and say “this is wrong.” Even more so when you have a direct impact on the situation’s outcome.
I love his shows, always have but after the episode we watched last night, I lost some respect for him.
|Mar 18, 2018|
SpongeBob was in my dream last night
Like I was all about SpongeBob. I went into my bedroom to have a nap (which is kind of funny that even in my dreams I’m thinking about taking a nap).
And then when I laid down on my bed it was SpongeBob as far as the eye could see.
I had a keychain, a plushy, all kinds of toys. He was on my bedspread and pillow cases. Everywhere I looked there the little yellow man was.
And that’s all I remember. I must’ve started dreaming about something else.
My point to all of this is that this is the dumbest fucking dream I’ve had my whole life. And this is why you don’t tell people about your dreams. Ever. Unless you found the cure for cancer while you were asleep, nobody will care about your SpongeBob drivel.
I’m sorry if your dreams are important to you. But it can be downright painful for the person listening to you recount every meaningless scene in your latest dream. Especially when it’s first thing in the morning.
It’s borderline abuse really.
|Mar 14, 2018|
Why are these people standing so close to me?
For much of my life I’ve been internally combustible and physically uncomfortable. I felt ill and under and unequipped just being human. Even trying to be human. Too much shit gurgling in my stomach. Never ending mallet beating my heart. Intestines put on backwards and inside out. My thoughts whirling and jerking back and forth by some restless, mechanical bull.
I’m melodramatic, I know.
But when I found drugs and alcohol as a teenager that fixed me, that calmed the bomb and made life tolerable, comfortable. The whole reason why I drank as much and as hard as I did was because drinking brought me relief. And not only that but it took me to a place of adventure, a place I was fond of, a place without restraints. A feeling inside and out that nothing mattered, nothing could touch me, and I just didn’t give a fuck. If it was sunny outside then that was perfect and if it were raining then that was fucking awesome, too.
Of course being alcoholic there always comes a point where the watered down solution becomes a problem in itself. Becomes more of a problem than the anxiety I was trying to do away with.
And then when I did stop drinking the pressures of everyday life were back. More painful than ever. I didn’t have many skills to deal with them and oh boy, did the mechanical bull launch full throttle again. The first year and two I was sober I felt the craziest that I ever had my whole life. Like every nerve in my body was exposed, every sight a cause for alarm.
And every sound twice as loud.
In related news, it feels like there’s been ringing in my ears since I was nine.
Freshly sober my anxiety would have me up at 4:30 in the morning, pounding down the coffees. Other times I’d be up well past midnight, smoking cigarette after cigarette. Day and night making my combustion worse by not sleeping and pumping more toxins into my system.
In the here-and-now, even well into sobriety, when I’m uncomfortable my go-to reaction is to fix how I feel. Reach for cigarettes that aren’t there. Look for something outside of me to soothe the unrest within. Something, anything to take away the worry, the doubt, the paranoia. Unplug the melodramatic bull.
After I got back into 12-step recovery one of the most valuable tools that I learned was the cosmic pause. To take an interlude. To stop. For a moment. To breathe.
And also to learn how to feel my feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones. I’m sure I’ve quoted Tony before when he said, “those that make it are the ones who learn how to be uncomfortable.”
My last divorce was certainly uncomfortable and plenty difficult for everybody involved. Every time I would get a text message from my ex-wife my heart would race and I felt like I was holding a bomb. My hands would shake as I was pummeled with nervous, dizzy emotion. And it would all happen in an instant. Maybe kinda like a panic attack. :)
Then of course I would immediately read/react/reply, and the text messages would explode with overflowing wells of anger. Puke and shit everywhere. It was the same story with my first ex-wife except we’d actually be calling each other all frenzy-like since cell phones weren’t an everyday thing.
And then somewhere along the way the cosmos gave me some insight.
I didn’t have to respond to someone’s messages right away. I didn’t even have to read them right when my phone popped up an alert. Hell, I didn’t have to read them at all if I didn’t want to. Fucking spiritual revelation.
When I get in those kind of tense situations where I’m feeling nervous or unsure I do my best to simply pause. Accept that whatever I’m feeling is how I’m supposed to be feeling at that very moment. And then say a little prayer, sometimes a big one, and ask the cosmos for direction. I breathe out and imagine I’m exhaling the anxiety. Blow it out like the smoke that used to give me so much comfort.
On a side note, imagine taking a drag off a cigarette and then never blowing out the smoke. That choking feeling, that suffocation is how I feel when I only hold on to my emotions and don’t process them.
Anyways, absolutely not doing anything when I’m in a mess is almost always the right thing to do. I’m not good at reacting under pressure. Even more so when there’s barbed history. I usually make the situation worse if I act on that first impulse. I can easily freak out and go some place emotionally I don’t like being. So I pause and ride my emotional, mechanical bull until it powers down. Afterward the feelings subside, if not pass altogether, and then I’m able to make sound decisions with a clear mind.
My solution is always divine. No amount of material things will ever fix me. I need to reconnect with the cosmic spirit if I want peace. By letting the cosmos care for and guide me I don’t have to take on the burden of trying to fix myself, trying to manage my anxiety. Control whatever situation I’m in or even control how I’m feeling. I can just let go and know that the answers will come so long as I allow myself to be a complete human being. With uncomfortable feelings and all.
And back to that “holding a bomb” feeling.
The funny thing is I know now most of that was pretty much all about me. My gears grinding and circuits working overtime. My heart would beat so fast and there I was the one holding the mallet.
I can’t speak for my ex-wives or anybody else but it wouldn’t surprise me if both felt just as nervous as I did when they reached out to me. My behaviors and responses were unpredictable. At best. And divorces are messy, too. Emotions high. Feelings hurt. That in itself is reason enough for anybody to slow way the fuck down.
Most of my messages in the here-and-now are light and nonchalant. I’m overall calm. I don’t feel the mechanical bull winding up and bashing me around when certain people message me. I do my best to stay consistently plugged into the cosmos and walk that spiritual path. When I am and when I do, I’m not as eager to race ahead and react to fear, perceived or not. If I stay ahead of the anxiety game I’m less likely to lose when it’s time to play.
When I’m plugged in nothing can touch me either. I’m on that spiritual journey and get a text message bomb, then it doesn’t matter. I don’t care. Other people can behave badly and I don’t give a fuck. And that feeling of being okay is what I was after the whole time I was drinking. I was trying to get okay. I just made the mistake of using man-made fixes.
Physically uncomfortable and internally combustible. Life doesn’t have to be that way. More importantly, life’s not supposed to be like that.
I needed a better way to live. My solution has been always divine but there were things that I could certainly do.
So when I stopped chugging coffees after 8 pm was when I started closing my eyes and falling asleep come bedtime. When I stopped taking things so damn personal, when I stopped seeing people as threats was when I finally was able to relax and life wasn’t so loud anymore.
When I stopped analyzing and scrutinizing every detail and started trusting in the greater good of my fellow humans was when l started building meaningful, long term relationships.
When I stopped worrying about getting hurt was when I was finally able to love you guys.
When I stopped using quick fixes for the major problems was when I started to heal.
And then when I realized that most of what I thought was important in life was irrelevant, when I finally let everything go was when I was finally set free.
|Mar 14, 2018|
Scowling at the clock
My cat was glaring at me as I was putting on my shoes this morning. I was like “what the fuck are you looking at?“
Yeah, it was early.
And then as I’m walking into the other room I looked back at her and she was still scowling, scowling at something off in the distance.
And then I remembered that life’s not all about me.
When I was telling Maggie my struggles she said, “She was probably scowling at the clock. Nobody likes the clock this early.”
It’s important for me to share these life lessons with Maggie because these are the kinds of things I’ve struggled with my whole life. At her age she’s far ahead of where I was then and I’d like to keep that positive trend going.
Be humble. Share your spiritual revelations with your kids. You’ll probably never get a “thank you” but you’ll see them make the right choices when the time comes, when it counts.
|Mar 13, 2018|
Reassuring our fellow humans
The scene is a parking lot. An elderly woman is walking up ahead of me as I’m driving. She looks fragile, defenseless, and unsure.
She sees my truck and a look of terror comes across her face. While it’s not a monster my Dakota is still 4000 pounds of machine.
I slow way down as I go around her. I wave and give her friendly smile. She looks relieved and waves back.
She’s still smiling in my rearview mirror as I go around a corner and loose sight of her.
Reassuring our fellow humans, even strangers, is one of the best things ever. And it costs nothing.
|Mar 10, 2018|
Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
Peeps, here’s your batman-with-his-fists Friday jam. I know I’ve said this before but I absolutely hated songs like this in another life. Jams like this would come on when I was a teenager or in my 20s and I'd turn that shit off.
I was pretty dumb and pretty snotty when it came to music. But I guess more than that I’d never felt the magic with another person they were singing in their ballads. My gut reaction was then to always condemn their melodies. Fuck them guys like Coldplay.
And then after my first divorce I learned that being alone was my choice. It wasn’t fate or destiny. It was my shitty attitude.
So in the here-and-now I know what they’re talking about. I’ve felt something “just like this” and it changed everything.
If you never have felt a love song then don’t worry. That feeling’s out there. It may be just around the corner. A person you may or may not know is waiting, is looking for you, too.
But first don’t be an all around jerk. Throw away your bullshit and open yourself up to nonfictional fairy tales. There’s a love song with your name on it. Somebody’s holding out for a magical adventure. Just with you.
Make sure you’re ready for them.
And then hold their hand when you run away together.
|Mar 09, 2018|
When others are behaving badly
It’s easy to be of the mindset that how people behave is their business and I shouldn’t let it affect me. But that’s a level of spiritual enlightenment most likely I’ll never reach. Setting such a high bar for myself always makes me feel like I’m coming up short. I shouldn’t go around expecting myself to be more than I actually am, do more than I actually can.
When I try and stop things from bugging me I tend to act/react twice as bad. The situation tends to ratchet up because I’m suppressing natural emotion. Not allowing myself to feel all of god’s given emotions is the never the right thing to do.
Not long ago I was pretty agitated with somebody and I’m sure it showed. But I don’t give a fuck. People throw tantrums and I’ll scoff in their general direction.
I think the real goal in situations like this, when others are behaving badly is to strive for simply not acting badly myself. Morons will always get on my nerves. I’m not immune to another’s stupidity but if I mind my proverbial Ps and Qs all will be right in the cosmos.
In related news... acting tough, walking around with your chest puffed out just makes you look like an asshole.
|Mar 07, 2018|
Moments of belligerence
Friends. Family. Total strangers. I don’t consider himself an arrogant person.
One evening, however, when I was running “who do I have to blow” late, I was pulled over. You may have heard this policeman story before. It was many years ago so don’t get too excited.
Anyways, when the officer walked up to my driver’s side window, I flicked my cigarette down toward his lazily shined shoes. I didn’t consciously do this, had no intention of being jerky, no intention of premeditated arrogance. It just happened.
I got a ticket for “disposing of flammable materials from a vehicle” that day. I never paid it.
We all have moments of belligerence I suppose.
And then there was that one time in high school when I was walking home by myself. A guy I was friends with drove past in his little red VW. I gave him the bird as he went by. Again, I don’t know why I did. It just happened.
When I saw him the next day at school he asked me why I had flipped him off. Feeling somewhat on the spot and held accountable for what I’d done, I told him it was because I was walking and he was not.
He then said to me, “you should’ve asked me for a ride” in a gentle, veritable kinda way. Instead of ratcheting the conversation up with more arrogance, he extended his hand in friendship.
Bill was a legitimately good guy. A better person than I was at the time for sure. We weren’t close friends but I still considered him my friend. And knowing Bill made me want to be somebody like him. Helped me realize that it’s okay to not only ask for what I need but also for what I want, what I’d like. Because friends do things for each other. Just because they’re friends.
Being a jerk by default never did me any favors. Granted in high school I didn’t really know how to do any better but in the here-and-now I’m grateful for those little interactions that helped me learn.
In that brief conversation before class started, Bill taught me that conflicts can be short circuited with friendly compassion.
I regret not getting to know more people in high school. I was too wrapped up in me and my chaos to make that happen. But looking back now as I drive to work, I’m sure there was a whole lot more Breakfast Club there that I didn’t even know about.
|Mar 06, 2018|
Long Crash Cymbal
|Mar 05, 2018|
A tag below my chin
I don’t know how it is that I still put on my shirt backwards. I get one on, something feels uncomfortable, and then I look down and see a tag below my chin.
What the fuck? Am I five?
I pull my arms out and then do the straitjacket maneuver to spin it around proper. Next thing I know I’m on a dolly and Senator Martin is questioning me about her daughter.
This is why I have a hard time even getting out of bed in the morning
Oh, and Senator, just one more thing. Love your suit.
|Mar 02, 2018|
Sunset for Feb 27th, 2018
Everything goes up-and-down I suppose. Sometimes life is bright, sometimes it’s a fireball. Sometime it’s not.
And then also it’s good for me to let things go just as the sun sets. It’ll rise tomorrow and life will bring me something new. Maybe another fireball. Maybe not. Doesn’t matter, it’ll be good.
No, it’ll be better than good. It’ll be fucking fantastic. Because life is fantastic.
As Jimi used to tell me when I was miserable over Kathy way back when, “the best is yet to come.”
|Feb 27, 2018|
And there was that one time way back in high school when my best friend and I would sit in the round-a-bout in the middle of town. When cars would circle by we would wave “HI” at them.
And then when they’d wave back, we’d shout belligerently “NOT YOU.”
Some of you may have heard that story before. It’s one of those things I still feel legitimately bad about. I mean everybody has had somebody wave at them and then after the fact realized that they weren’t the ones actually being waved at.
That’s the worst right? Social embarrassment to the Nth degree. And even worse when this happens with complete strangers.
So these people in their cars would put themselves out there, go out on a limb, take a vulnerable chance, wave back at somebody they don't know, and then my friend and I would crush their hopes and dreams. Like assholes.
Yeah, I’m gonna have to be a better person for the rest of my life to make up for that shit. 😊
|Feb 26, 2018|
Assume the future will be good
Here’s a peek behind the curtain.
Maggie and I are both introverts. We’re most comfortable hanging out alone or with just one or two people. In the winter we isolate even more. It’s cold outside and neither of us are into sledding and all that wintery hoopla. After these past Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays I was worried we’d hibernate on the weekends, just she and I in front of the TV watching Lost. I was worried we’d turn into The Shining twins or something come February.
With all that in mind we made a deal last month that she would have a get-together one weekend and then I would have one another weekend. Step outside of our comfy, familiar boxes because even though we have people over now and then, we don’t do it often. Nor do we have a lot of people over at once. Especially people that have never been over before.
Okay, now wait a second. Inviting new people over? That’s crazy talk. That’s inviting anxiety to come over and play in our heads.
Spiral downward with us for a moment if you will... What if people say no? What if nobody shows up? What if we run out of drinks? What if they don’t have a good time and then spread nasty rumors come Monday? Maggie said to me, “What if someone picks up the cats? What if a boy goes in my room? We’re gonna need rules, dad.”
So really is it worth it to even bother with get-togethers considering this kind disaster potential? With all this mental back and forth? With all the “I’ve never done this before” sinking kinda feelings. There’s so many messy variations and ugly permutations that planning something out of the ordinary can feel overwhelming, to the point where it’s easier just to shut down and not do anything.
But all of that is bullshit. A good way to just stay stuck. To live in the nuclear age of prepackaged TV dinners around ye boob tube. Where our neighbors are just strangers and the only people we know are on social media. I don’t know why it bothers me that I don’t know how tall my Facebook-only friends are. But it does.
Anyways, fear shouldn’t paralyze us from living life to it’s fullest or even doing the simple things that we want to do. If we think too much about how something can work or even if it could work, or if we’d feel awkward or out of place, we just end up in an anxious mind fuck where nothing happens and we never do anything. We miss out.
I tell myself to “stop thinking” all the time because I generally only end up with a list of reasons why not.
At the beginning of this month Maggie and I decided that none of that shit matters. We’d put ourselves out there and let everything else fall into place. Stay out of the doomsday predictions and let the cosmos take care of the rest.
So what if nobody comes? We should focus on the people that do, enjoy their company. They’re the ones that count come 6pm anyway. If we run out of drinks, big deal. The cats will take care of themselves, too.
Who gives a fuck what happens. It’ll be fun. Mark Manson’s “zero fucks given” mantra was about finding the appropriate things to give a fuck about. And I’m excited that you guys are coming over. That’s what I give a fuck about at the moment.
I’ll leave you with the tried and true: make plans but don’t plan the results.
Even better: make plans and assume the future will be good.
Also, if you feel socially awkward in general or even about just coming over, don’t worry much. All of my friends, all the people I invited are good people. Otherwise I wouldn’t be friends with them and they certainly wouldn’t be coming over. There's something about each of them that I admire and respect.
Mix it up, talk to people, see what happens. I can’t entertain all of you at once.
Follow up: here's some photos.
|Feb 24, 2018|
Alarm clock crazy, no thanks
The drug and alcohol treatment center I went to in the early 90s was 12-step based. Their treatment plan was to have patients complete the first five steps in order to graduate. When working Step Two, we spent a good chunk of time making lists of how and why we were insane. Those lists were easy to make but in the here-and-now I kinda think they missed the point.
The point of this step isn’t to review what we’ve done in order to convince ourselves that we have a drug or alcohol problem, that in fact we were insane. Insanity is fairly obvious when you’re ready to stop. I’ve felt insane in my fingertips.
The Second Step is about finding something bigger that we can believe in to “restore us to sanity” with “restore” being the keyword in the latter half of the step. I’m not here to define insanity. That’s looking at the problem and keeps me stuck.
I have plenty of them “and then one time” stories along the lines of… on Christmas Eve when the family and I were all decorating the tree, I would sneak down to the basement every so often and take a big pull off my whiskey bottle. And then before the night was over my ex-wife was saying to me teary-eyed, “are you drunk?”
Crazy, I know it all too well. I’m much more interested in looking for hope now, in reinstalling some sanity now that my jugs are plugged. And pay attention to this: it’s not “will restore” but “could restore.” We have to let that power in.
The good news is that I was sane when I was a little kid. Children are pure, they’re untainted. They aren’t born with judgement or resentment or anxiety. Through a higher power’s help I was able to find my way back to a sound mind, a stable way of living as a grownup. Anxiety free more often than not.
And then there was that one time not long ago when I was having dinner by myself at Denny’s. Looking around the restaurant, there I was the only person flying solo. Eating alone isn’t my favorite thing to do but whatever. I mostly have self-assurance. I generally have peace. I can be by myself in public. I have my phone. I have the whole Internet.
On one of the social medias I saw a picture of my ex-wife. With her boyfriend. And they were smiling at each other. And there I was sitting by myself.
At one point in my career that was a recipe for emotional overload.
But get this: by no choice of my own, I was honestly happy for them. Because I could see they had something going on between them that she and I hadn’t had for a long time. Happy because I always wanted the very best for her and looking at that picture I knew the “very best” wasn’t me. She had found it with someone else.
Because I had closure, because I had walked through that breakup’s phenomenal pain, I could be sincerely happy for them in the here and now. Even though I was alone with my fork and knife, a power greater than me had served me up some sanity.
One time several years ago I woke her up at 6:00 in the morning because I had lost my mind and I needed to tell her that she had played a part in all of that. This alcoholic had gone crazy when he first sobered up. Life was staring me straight in the face like a loaded gun. Waking her up before the sun was even shining was me embracing and exercising insanity in my daily life. Spilling it onto her life.
Moving from that kind of early morning, alarm clock crazy to being truly happy for her at Denny’s, that’s being restored to sanity. And not by my own doing.
How and when does that restoration happen? How does one move from alarm clock crazy to genuine happiness for another?
With failed marriages and sour breakups time is always key factor. I needed some distance, needed some room for my mind to breathe, to detach from the things that were making me crazy. It was hard not to see only darkness when I was living in darkness.
Before I could detach and let go, though, I needed to feel all those feelings. Those scary ones I’d kept locked up in me, down in the basement. I can’t move on from something if I’ve never dealt with it, never processed the madness. Hence moral inventory and amendments.
So the simple and yet hard answer is that we’re restored to sanity by working the steps. It’s really that simple. And go to meetings. And talk with our sponsor, too.
As Jerry said not long ago, “and then the pay off is peace.”
I had peace that night at Denny’s. Peace for me and peace with her.
After I let go, after I came to believe, I found out that that peace was what I had always wanted.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 11:09 am
Have you heard this one? I don’t know if you like Johnny Cash, but I think the lyrics will mean something to you.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 1:42 pm
I’m about 50/50 with my Cash likings but that one was pretty good.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 11:04 pm
I just looked up the origin of the song, and apparently he wrote it in rehab, so I guess that explains why the wording is so similar to step 2. 🤔
· Feb 23, 2018 at 7:17 am
Yep, I got that feeling. Nothing wrong with being heavily inspired though… 😊
· Feb 23, 2018 at 8:08 am
Oh, I didn’t mean to imply there was anything wrong with that. I just never realized what the song was about until yesterday. 😊
· Feb 23, 2018 at 8:47 am
Ah gotcha… I think the “🤔” threw me off.
· Feb 23, 2018 at 9:02 am
Ah, my bad. I meant it like “I am thinking about this new information”. 🙂
· Feb 23, 2018 at 11:40 am
The steps have been engrained in me since maybe 1982 so whenever I see the phrase “came to believe” that’s where my mind automatically goes.
· Feb 23, 2018 at 11:49 am
Ah, see for me it’s all new, so your posts are creating all sorts of new mental connections between existing information and artworks I previously didn’t realize were related. I mean, much like learning anything else new, it gets all connected up with the old stuff and changes how you see it.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 12:03 pm
Thanks for the words. Man, I feel like I needed to hear this. Really powerful. As someone who struggles with life, and working my fourth now. I think I’m starting to get it, or “peak behind the curtain” so to speak.
To me it wasn’t the booze or the substance, it was within me all along.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 2:15 pm
Yep, totally me that was causing my own suffering. :)
· Feb 23, 2018 at 6:42 am
Well, i mean i dont know the context of your situation or you. But I just know how it all relates back to me. I tried to live without a program-AA or otherwise. It didnt do me any favors.
· Feb 23, 2018 at 8:23 am
Yep, I totally get what you’re saying.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 3:51 pm
Oh man this is beautiful written. It oozes serenity and peace. I can literally feel that moment. Thanks for sharing.
· Feb 22, 2018 at 8:24 am
· Feb 22, 2018 at 4:19 pm
Thank you for sharing that, it sounds like you have kept your sobriety strong in the face of adversity! I’ve always taken point with the word insanity in recovery, because I think that it has a connotation of mental disease. I know my actions while drinking could have been considered insane by the standard “Doing the same thing, expecting different results” but when I got to the second step like yourself, I was looking more for inspiration in moving towards a higher power instead of dredging up my insane actions and using them to look outside myself. Maybe that’s just my ego, wanting to avoid looking at my character defects, but I think that is pretty well covered in the fourth step, haha. Thanks again!
· Feb 23, 2018 at 8:29 am
Yep, I think we’re trained to look for the negative. It’s familiar and comfortable. My sponsor used to remind me of the quote that’s along the lines of, “we won’t find the light by endlessly researching the dark.”
· Feb 22, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Damn. I really really really needed this. Damn. Thank you.
As someone just coming out of that dark forest of ruined past relationships, trekking through it and feeling every painful second was worth it. The personal growth I have gained, the insight, was worth it.
It wasn’t fun though, and at certain points I thought I was permanently broken and fucked. I was emotionally insane and obsessive. Living in the past and concocting grandiose plans for the future. It’s still hard sometimes, but giving it all over to my higher power, whatever that may be, has very likely saved my life. My life is not what I ever thought it would be, and not even want I want it to be, but damn I’m grateful I made out of that forest.
· Feb 23, 2018 at 8:24 am
> but damn I’m grateful I made out of that forest
For sure. My recovery isn’t so much all the wonderful things I have now. It’s more about all the horrible things I don’t.
· Feb 23, 2018 at 12:17 am
Thank so much for that. I recently relapsed after some length of recovery & I am just baffled at how much I bypassed in my foundation steps. I was so desperate and broken when I came in, I was convinced that my horror stories are what made me need this program. With very fresh eyes I can see your point here and I really needed to hear it tonight. Thanks
· Feb 23, 2018 at 8:28 am
You are most welcome! Also, I was sober for a couple of years before I found out the hard way I didn’t have a real belief in a higher power. The good news is that after abandoning myself to God and working the steps I’ve been healed and made whole.
|Feb 22, 2018|
Communal cigarette larceny
So one time when I was “quit smoking” I was headed up to see my dentist in Elgin. Don’t ask me for a referral. He’s long since retired and is probably off riding a mule in the Grand Canyon these days.
He actually rode a mule there once. A mule by the name of Travis. I heard that story every time I went to see him.
Anyway, whatever stop smoking aid I was using that day wasn’t working. I had a little panic attack and that quickly turned into full blown, terror frenzy.
I stopped and charged into the nearest gas station, drooling at the mouth, doing sign language, knocking over kids and racks of maps. After I got a pack of cigarettes in my hands, I tore into them like a bear after honey, ripping open a beehive regardless of consequences.
I had one in my mouth before even getting outside the gas station. I lit one up in the cool Autumn air and felt the fabulous serenity now. The world made sense. The radio station tuned in. I was a little light headed but the pleasure sensors were firing on all 12 cylinders.
A few minutes later as the smoking cigarette was winding down, the self-disgust was winding up. That “smoking again” love/hate kinda thing. Shaking my head I stubbed the cigarette out and headed back up toward that mule riding dentist.
Driving along Highway 31 and the smoking guilt got to be too much. I remembered what a client had said to me once.
I stopped at another gas station and threw the pack of 19 cigarettes in the closest garbage can. Then I roared away in the Cube like a bear shot in the neck with a goat tranquilizer.
[...Interlude of tooth song and dance...]
While driving back home the fiery nicotine addiction kicked back in. My body was withdrawing and my mind going berserk. When I get in this spot, frantic desperation will kick my ass every single time.
Yes, of course, I did stop back at that second gas station and did dug the 19 pack back outta the trash. I was literally digging in the garbage can. Of a public place. In broad daylight. In a smoke finding delirium. With my mouth half numb from all the dentistry prodding and poking.
People were looking at me like I was a red-assed baboon, masturbating at the zoo while baring his teeth as a warning.
If you’ve ever committed this act of communal cigarette larceny you’re not alone.
Peeps, that’s the end of this story. Happy Wednesday!
|Feb 21, 2018|
Abe Froman, tater-tot king of Geneva
Just to put this out there...
I'm not preparing some gourmet tator-tot frenzied extravaganza here nor am I Abe Froman, tater-tot king of Geneva. Think of the tator-tots more as party food that will be available, same as Doritos or Hot Tamales.
My plan is to buy 4-5 bags of le tots and a few bottles of ketchup. My plan is not to be man-handling a deep fryer all night like the parking garage attendants man-handled Cameron’s dad’s 1961 Ferrari.
But I do appreciate the calculations!
|Feb 21, 2018|
A get-together this coming Saturday
I’m *thinking* about having a get-together this coming Saturday, February 24th. If you’re reading this you’re invited. It would be a social mixer of sorts with snacks and drinks. No, I’m not making you all dinner. Tater-tots could possibly be available.
It would be kid friendly, too, since Maggie would also be hosting. Also, since you all know me you know that I don’t drink anymore. It’s not that I didn’t like drinking, it was more that I didn’t like to stop drinking. Yes, you could bring a bottle of wine but no boxed wine. You could bring a bottle of your favorite stout but no six-packs. You get idea.
Now hold your horses. This also isn’t some get-together where you tell your friends and then people fill my house like it’s an 80s movie. Kelly LeBrock wouldn’t be showing up the next morning with her science magic to put the furniture back in place. However, I may put on Oingo Boingo. I may also channel John Huges, maybe Ferris Bueller would be on the TV.
Before I go full-tilt with this kinda thing and decide to *actually* do it, is anybody interested?
|Feb 17, 2018|
Ye old anti-climatic climax
There’s an Italian mobster that lives up the street from me. He looks Italian but maybe he’s Greek. I’ve never talked to him but we’ve exchanged waves at the communal mailbox. I have a theory that he’s in the witness protection program although I don’t have proof to back that up. After seeing him mow his lawn I suspect he doesn’t like egg noodles and ketchup.
His daughter is Egyptian. Well, one year for Halloween she was dressed up as a pharaoh so I don’t know if that actually qualifies her as being a true Egyptian.
Anyway, this morning we both left for work at roughly the same time. He followed me out of our neighborhood, down Division Street, up along the Fox River, across the Prairie Street bridge, and then… He turned north on 1st Street toward Blue Goose and I continued west on Prairie.
During our minor caravan I thought for sure he was tailing me. He probably was. Maybe there’s a hit out on me, I don’t know. Maybe he wanted to wait until we were side-by-side and then give me a manila envelope with crop forecasts for orange juice.
But he didn’t.
And that avid readers, is the end of the story.
Ye old anti-climatic climax.
But wait, the real story is that sometimes we can be going down a certain path, have a good feeling that something extraordinary is about to happen. And then the story ends. That lottery ticket ends up in the trash with all the others. We don’t get a leg up on the frozen OJ market and live out our lives on a tropical beach.
Okay fine, I can get sucked into the “what I have is not enough” and more as much as the next Clarence Beeks or that there’s something missing and only if I could get the right hair cut then I’d be truly blessed.
However, to be truly and fundamentally happy in this very moment, we’ll never go wrong with simply appreciating what we have. Plus, we can always take action to make things happen rather than plodding along waiting for the universe to hand us our next winning lottery ticket.
When I do win the cosmic lottery it feels unlike anything else, the clouds have parted and the heavens rain magic down upon me. Flashy, life changing miracles only make me want more of them. They promote the good feeling that there’s something more to life than just “this.” But really, enjoying the simple miracle of what’s right in front of me pays overall higher dividends. It’s sustainable, too, something I can do every day regardless if I’m driving to work or tying my shoes. Granted, driving the same route to work can get more than mundane and maybe that’s why I tend to day dream.
But my point is that it’s not very often our cosmic path takes a life changing turn. Life just continues on as it always has and we’re only left with what we’ve always had. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes our courses don’t need corrected. What we have now is enough.
In related news, on my way to work the only parking lot I see that’s consistently plowed is the liquor store on the corner of Prairie and 14th Street. Your call if that’s fortuity.
jimi hindrance experience
· Feb 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm
I don’t get the Clarence Beeks reference. I googled him and remember the character but I don’t understand his significance.
· Feb 19, 2018 at 1:28 pm
In Trading Places, Clarence was the guy giving the orange crop forecast to Winthorpe and Valentine in the dark parking garage. It was a covert operation of course. His character was also always in it for himself.
· Feb 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm
Okay, referencing Beeks was a bit of a stretch. 😊
|Feb 17, 2018|
Nobody can fuck with you
Remember that one time when you were younger? When nobody could fuck with you?
Because everything had fallen into place. Because all the dots connected. Maybe your best friend was there.
It doesn’t matter who you were with or how or when you got there. But that was it.
That was the moment when you rose above the bullshit and realized you were more than what you had always felt. It was like your soul fucking exploded, that you had a force field around you, and fucking nothing could get through.
That time still exists. Right now. Look around. No matter what, nobody can fuck with you. Not that dude on your right. Or that lady on your left. That lion that’s about to eat you? Fuck him. He can’t do shit to you either.
Because that’s who you are. You’re un-fuckable with. That’s a thing. That’s your thing.
Somebody fuck with you yesterday? Fuck ‘em. It won’t happen again. Because nobody can fuck with you now. Not today, not tomorrow.
From here on out remember that, know that. Feel that. Be that. It’s who you are.
Nobody can fuck with you.
|Feb 12, 2018|
Throwing it on the floor
I hate when I go to throw something away and then just end up throwing it on the floor. I mean, what the hell is this? It’s not like I’m threading the space needle shuttle in the vacuum of outer space.
And then I forgot to put a dryer sheet in with my clothes so when I pulled them from the dryer, they all looked as if they were made from the hide of the great northern yeti.
A now there’s 50 more pound a snow outside.
I’m going back to bed.
· Feb 11, 2018 at 8:49 am
The good news is that while searching for “thread the space shuttle needle” because I think that’s a thing people at NASA but I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, I stumbled on this:
Straight from 1950s Japan, 6 inches when closed!
|Feb 11, 2018|
Mostly it just makes you feel worse
And then there was that one time when one of my brothers called me out of the blue. I hadn’t talked to him in close to three years and we were just catching up, talking about a whole lot of nothing. And then without warning or skipping a beat or barely pausing for a breath, he asked me if, when we all lived together, if I had slept with his girlfriend.
I wasn’t taken completely off guard as I stood in the kitchen with the phone up to my ear. I knew that this day was coming but still, somethings you can never truly prepare for.
I hesitated for a moment and then said “yes” and that I was sorry. Relationships are sacred and I played a part in destroying one of his. I didn’t really want to say anything to him, own that dreadful behavior but I confessed because he deserved an honest answer. He deserved me being accountable to him right then and there. Plus, lying makes me crazy and being honest keeps me sane.
After he heard my confession he kinda acted like it wasn’t a big deal but I could tell that his feelings were hurt. Getting confirmation for something you knew all along was true often doesn’t make you feel any better. Mostly it just makes you feel worse.
You maybe wondering why I hadn’t made my amends to him sooner. I have a fairly simple answer. It had been over 10 years since the three of us had lived together and I had only seen him one time since, maybe in 1999. Just in passing really. There are certain subjects where one needs to wait until the time is right. Carelessly blurting out secrets of this magnitude can be just as reckless and as hurtful as whatever crime has been committed.
And yeah, I could’ve called or written him a letter since we lived in different states but I wanted to talk with him face-to-face. I felt he deserve that, that physical closeness. I wanted him to see the real remorse and regret in my eyes, the pain in my heart for what I had done to him, the pain I had caused. So when he called in 2002 and asked me point blank, I knew it was time.
After I came clean my brother and I’s conversation didn’t last much longer. Hanging up the phone I was filled with sadness, didn’t feel I had his forgiveness. There had only been an admission.
I had admired and looked up to him for much of my life. When we were kids he had never really treated me as an equal. Older brothers generally don’t, but when he had invited me to come live with them I felt that had all changed. Like I was one of his peers. And then I had let him down. Well, more than that. I had broken his heart.
My ex-wife was in the next room and she had heard most of our phone call. She could tell that I was rattled when she came into the kitchen. I told her what the scoop was, what I had done. She was supportive and understanding, said all the things one should say…but I always wondered how much of those few moments had changed her perception of me.
Anyways, another decade and more have passed and I’ve let most of my guilt go. I pray that god heals him in time just as god has healed me as well. I hope he finds his peace but also know he has his own share of demons in the basement to deal with. And most of them have nothing to do with me.
I’ve only talked to him one other time since that particular phone call, sometime in 2011 I think. He called me from a payphone drunk and obnoxious, yelling at people passing him by on the street. I was embarrassed for him. And it’s hard for me to admire him anymore. Even more so when between rants he angrily said to me, “What, are you too good to talk to me anymore?”
I ended that conversation by hanging up on him. Part of being restored to sanity means realizing I don’t have to tolerate abuse from someone in the present just because I hurt them in the past.
Mostly, I do feel as if I have peace with my brother now. I’ve came to terms with my part in all of it. And I did the only thing I could do in a grim situation like that: be direct, honest, and sincere.
And yes, what goes around comes around.
|Feb 10, 2018|
What to do when someone bails the conference call
Question posted to Facebook:
Just got stood up for an 8am conference call. Any suggestions for punishments for the offending party?
I just like to stay on the call even when nobody shows up. I relax, have a nice cup of tea for an hour or so. Enjoy the silence. Wonder what I'm getting for my birthday this summer. Wonder why I still think about my birthday presents at this age. Sometimes I'll even check the expiration date on my Hot Tamales. Have you ever had a stale Hot Tamale? Don't bother with them. They're the worst.
Abandoned conference calls are one of those rare moments in life when you get a freebie. Like when you pull into a parking spot where the previous guy over paid. You have an hour, all expenses paid trip to wherever you wanna go. Nothing can touch you because you’re booked for that time slot. And then when your boss asks “how was the call” you can say, “Pretty low-key. No real action items on my end.”
|Feb 10, 2018|
A cranberry stuck
The scene is my work desk. I'm eating cashew, almond, and cranberry trail mix. One of the cranberries jumped from the cup. I saw it happen but didn't hear the landing. After a mildly-extensive berry-hunt the fruit-trail gone-went cold. I cannot find the little asshole. I fear I may be walking around with a cranberry stuck on my ass for the rest of the day.
I'm gonna power down my computer. Pack up my snacks, shave my head, braid my beard. Leave these snow covered lands and move to Island of Misfit Toys. Live out my days with the rest of the freaks.
|Feb 09, 2018|
Mechanically and electrically perfect
|Feb 05, 2018|
Maggie and I talk bacon
I picked Maggie up from her mom's and on a whim we did a quick, off the cuff podcast in my truck on the way back home.
There's some background noise but that's what happens when you're recording while driving 45 mph. And yes, she was holding the phone and not me. Safety first kids.
Also, neither of us had prepared for this. Spontaneity in all its glory.
|Feb 02, 2018|
Here's what happens when you unfriend someone
This showed up on my timeline just a little bit ago.
So Facebook “noticed” I unfriended somebody. I highly doubt if they just “noticed” anything. They KNOW our every move people. They track and follow said movements even when we’re not on their website or using their apps.
These social media overlords go so far as having shadow accounts of people that don’t have real, actual Facebook accounts. Oh yeah, it’s true. Your dead cousin who died back in 1996? Yep, he’s on Facebook but only FB knows this. Well, Instagram knows, too.
So they both know he was your cousin and that you guys went to Guacamole once for Spring Break. That’s what happens when you upload your contact list to Facebook. Don’t ever do that again.
“Noticed” — ha. They make it sound like Wimpy just noticed a hamburger on Tuesday. Facebook don’t just “notice” shit. They prob predicted I was gonna unfriend Sally days before I even considered it. They got their Machine Learning™ that studies who and how often I unfriend people and then use the algorithms to tie it all back to my dead cousin, Vinny.
Next their post says, “This means that they’ll no longer be able to see…” What am I five? I know what the hell happens when I unfriend someone. That’s why I unfriended them.
And then that last sentence, “Don’t worry, we won’t tell them that you’ve unfriended them.”
I’m surprised they didn’t throw in, “but we could.”
Just like when Luiz coulda ripped Blu's throat out but didn’t…
…but he coulda.
And finally, this team should change their name from “The Facebook Help Team” to the “Facebook Hamburger Helper Team” — at least that’d make more sense.
· Feb 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm
And what’s with those blue rubber gloves with the finger tips cut off?
|Feb 02, 2018|
Communication, off the top of my head
Kidding aside, I mean what I say when I talk and write to people.
I try to be clear when I'm kidding but sometimes they don’t get it. Then I feel bad. Sometimes it’s understood when I’m joking but generally it isn’t with people I don’t know.
I do my best to be honest and direct. When something’s important I try to keep it short and to the point. Getting wordy can and usually does add confusion.
Sometimes I dance around a subject because I’m nervous. Worried about another’s reaction. Hopefully I’ll get there, get at what I’m trying to say.
When it’s obvious the other person is nervous I try to be patient and understanding. I don’t like being in their shoes anymore than they do.
Kidding aside again, I also take what other people say at face value and steer clear of reading more into it than I should. I don’t look for subliminal messages or other clues. I’m not Indiana Jones over here. I try to keep the paranoia on the shelf. It’s better for me not to be polishing my delusions and let them get dusty instead.
However, sometimes I take what somebody said the wrong way and then spend too much time up in my head. Then I act differently, change my behaviors and my attitudes toward them. And then later I find out that I was being just a little bit too neurotic and then feel like an ass.
Sometimes I just don’t like the response I get from people. Sometimes it hurts my feelings. People aren’t always going to shower me with goodwill and compliments. I need to hear both “yes” and “no” to be a complete human being.
More often than not what another is saying is apparent. But maybe not. Sometimes I don’t understand exactly what they mean. Then I ask questions so I can.
Sometimes people expect me to read between the lines. I’m not good at that.
“I was dropping hints!”
Well, okay but I’m dense. It’s too easy to make assumptions and make mistakes. My longstanding, most prominent fiascos have miscommunication swirling around in there somewhere.
This isn’t directed at anyone because that would render pretty much everything I just wrote as false. When I write things like this it’s to help clarify things for me. Set goals, set bars that I want to reach. Outline the plan of who I want to be.
Once I learned that I need to be less of a mind reader and more of a good communicator, my relationships got 100% better. I freed up so much more time to enjoy them rather than trying to win, rather than trying to figure everything out.
jimi hindrance experience
· Feb 3, 2018 at 2:04 pm
Jacob wrestled the demon…
jimi hindrance experience
· Feb 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm
This is a quote from a U2 song but they’re referencing the old testament about a guy who wrestled his demons and ultimately won out over them.
· Feb 4, 2018 at 10:07 am
Thought demons are of the worst variety.
|Feb 02, 2018|
Holidays come once a year
I never really think (or have thought) about anybody else.
Like if I have four hours of no responsibility I will sit and play video games for four hours. I won’t call anybody, I won’t go see anybody. I’ll just do my own thing. And it’s not like that hate people or whatever. I honestly just don’t think about them when I'm full of me.
Sure, when I was a kid, teenager, 20 something I would call people and wander over to their houses because I wanted to see them. But everything was just based around what I wanted to do. It wasn’t up until a few years ago when I started thinking outside of just “my box.” And trust me I still don’t always think outside of me all the time or by default.
Isolating from other people really kicked in when I got married. I would just hang out with my ex-wife and the girls. My life’s dynamic changed from being single and stealing wheelchairs to being a homebody.
But still even being a husband and a dad, most of what I did at home was centered around me and what I wanted to do. Okay, not all of it but if I didn’t have anything to be responsible for I was off doing my own thing or finding something on TV that I wanted to watch.
Here’s a good example.
After the girls were in bed I never said to my ex-wife, “Let’s watch show X because I know you like that one.” Sure, I would watch her shows but the thing is: it was never my idea. I never said to the girls, “let’s go eat at restaurant X because that’s your mom’s favorite place.”
Fine, it would be my idea if it was Mother’s Day but that’s a bunch of shit. It’s the days that aren’t holidays, the days that aren’t special — those are the ones count.
It was even more horrible when I was drinking. “I’m gonna go get donuts for us this morning.” That was really code for “I’m hungover and going to the liquor store. And after I’ve took 2-3 healthy shots just to mute the fires of hell, I’ll bring back a box of random donuts.”
Spiritual? Humble? Me? You’d be humble if you were me, too. If you wanted to make breakfast for your family, because you’d changed, because you realized sitting by yourself in “your box” was kinda lonely — and then nobody was home.
No, I’m not coming down on myself or feeling like I fucked everything up. I’ve came to terms with falling down in life. It’s more like after reading Mark Manson’s article on loss I was doing some self-evaluation. It’s good for me to do spot checks on my behaviors lest I go down to the basement in the morning and then come back up when it’s dark. And didn’t even know the sun had came and went.
Maybe it’s just how men are wired, too. Hunting, gathering, and gaming in the basement while the women are nesting and making dinner for the family. I never made dinner for the family when I was married. Well, I used to make pies every Sunday night but it wasn’t because I was making banana cream for us as a family to enjoy. I was making it because I like pies, like making pies, and like eating said pies.
But seriously though.
Sometimes Maggie’s with her mom for the weekend and I’m home alone and then because I’m real good at thinking, I think about stuff. A lot. And again, not in the self-deprecating kinda way but more in the “here’s my part in a series of blundering events and moving forward I’d rather not repeat ye blunderings.”
And yes, life can still be all about me. It’s my life and I have things I want to do, shows I want to watch, ad nauseam but my takeaway after my last great loss is that other people are what counts. Messaging someone, asking if I can come over just to see them, just to hang out, well that gives me a good feeling that finishing the next level in my video game never did. Because I know I’m doing it for them and not for me. Because I want to. Because fellow humans are sacred.
· Jan 28, 2018 at 9:11 pm
Wow. Great stuff. I guess I’m guilty of the same thing. So the next time a friend who’s interested in seeing a great home that’s having an Open House says he’ll go whenever I am ready cuz he’s been home hibernating (isolating) all day, I’ll get out of myself and my isolating ways, be intune with the moment and join him. You’re exactly right humans are sacred. Namaste my friend!
· Jan 28, 2018 at 9:44 pm
Nah, it’s all good. I totally get the not wanting to do much after work thing. 😊
But we should go the next time they have an open house. And bring your EMF reader thing. There’s got to be something supernatural lurking.
· Jan 29, 2018 at 5:23 pm
Sounds like a great plan!
· Jan 30, 2018 at 3:46 pm
· Jan 30, 2018 at 5:25 pm
Maggie and I would also like to see your instrument collection.
|Jan 28, 2018|
Why I never answer my cell phone
A few years back someone by the name of Floyd inadvertently gave my cell number to his insurance agent. And then that domino’ed into my number getting on every insurance company’s call list.
I’ve tried being nice to them, tried asking them to put me on their DO NOT call list. I’ve tried being mean, tried being funny, tried all sorts of things to get them to just stop. I even told them for a while that Floyd was dead and didn’t need insurance anymore.
But once you get on any kind of insurance call or mailing list, you’re screwed. You might as well throw your phone in a dumpster, shave your head, and go live the monkeys. It won’t matter that you’re not Floyd. They’ll find you and call you from Troy, NY and from Arlington, MA and from La Grange, IL and from even from La Habra, CA.
Same goes for car dealerships. I get about five emails a week asking if I want to renew the manufacturer’s warranty for the Nissan Cube I bought in 2011. They’ll even throw in a free oil change. I don’t even own the Cube anymore. Last sales guy that called me, I told him that Cube was the biggest piece of shit I’d ever owned.
Please note: this is why I never answer my cell phone. Even if the caller ID says that you’re in my contacts, I won’t believe it. One time an incoming call came up with my mom’s number and it turned out to be Jaclyn Smith. Okay, that’s a lie but man, did you guys ever watch her in Charlie's Angels? Never mind, Jaclyn has nothing to do with Floyd.
I looked up Floyd once on my lunch break. I can’t remember his last name but I do remember that he is/was a doctor. Dr. Floyd. Probably watching Netflix and filing out a GEICO car insurance quote and then typo’ed his cell number. That’s the kinda thing that happens when all your appointments get filled for the day and you throw a fit.
I don’t know if Dr. Floyd is still alive or not. He’s dead to me. Him and the insurance he rode in on.
Anyways, below is a script I tend to use if I’m feeling feisty and an unknown caller rings me for Floyd.
Season to taste but use your best southern goofball accent:
If the caller is still with me I continue with:
PS- If I go off on a Charlie's Angels tangent for a few days, this is why.
· Jan 23, 2018 at 3:46 pm
Looks like Floyd is looking to expand his doctoral operations out west 🤔
|Jan 23, 2018|
Grace for others
I would guess there’s been 5-10 relationships I’ve had with people where I've written them off. And I’m not talking about small relationships either. These are like personal relationships that have lasted for years.
And I wrote these people off because I had hurt them or they had hurt me and then it just went back-and-forth like some fucked up game of spiteful volleyball.
Then usually there came a point where I’d had enough, where I was done with it. It didn’t matter if I would see them every day it or not. The relationship was sour as far as I was concerned. Even if they tried to make it better I was like, “Fuck you and your goodwill. That bridge is burnt.”
So there’s somebody in my life now that I’d written off as well. Too many spiked volleyballs and I was tired of getting hit in the face with synthetic leather by some ass who needed to be right at all costs.
Deep down to my toes didn’t care anymore. And I’m sure it was obvious to him. I don’t want to come across as arrogant and say that he was all in the wrong but as far as I’m concerned he was. There’s some dysfunctional humans populating the planet. And plenty of them commit wrong over and over again.
Not long back Sara gave me the seeds of seeing him as a human, faults and all. But I wasn’t there yet. I was holding on to my hurt and frustration because I wasn’t done with it. We were still on opposite sides of the net and I hate sand in my sandals. We can’t force acceptance. It comes on its own. Generally after I’m finished processing and have washed my feet.
So in my interactions with him in the here-and-now I can see that he’s trying to be a better person, get beyond his own shortcomings, his own downfalls and the like. Being who I am, or who I can be, up until this point I was like “good for you” with all the mental sarcasm you can imagine. I’m suspicious by default, been burned^10 by the man holding flowers the day after he smacked you with a switch.
Minor tangent that plays a part in all of this: I’ve been keeping all of my email since 2002. I like history. I like nostalgia. And I’ve had some powerful, healing conversation over that medium.
For whatever reason yesterday I was reading an email Jimi sent me in 2012. It said something along the lines of his missing ingredient had been forgiveness. I’ve written about forgiveness before. It’s no secret that it’s powerful medicine for the sick, salted soul.
I can come across as all holy and spiritual…but make no mistake, I haven’t mastered anything. After learning how intolerant I can be I’m sure the monks would kick me out before nightfall.
Okay, so here’s the real story...
Yesterday, early evening the written-off guy left me a voicemail. I listened to it and immediately went into “I’m not taking time to even knowledge this” mode. Silent, bitter disgust in all its glory.
But then this morning what Jimi had wrote via email was still lingering in my thoughts. It struck a chord this time. Unlike it did back in 2012.
So earlier today, without putting too much thought into it because I think way too much, I sent my antagonist a follow up email. I answered his questions and even made a little joke. On the weekend. When I usually like my alone time to be all about me and my pursuits.
Grace has been gifted to me by the cosmos. Numerous times. I believe it’d be good for me to regift as well.
And now I feel good, feel spiritual, feel burdenless. Like the feeling when you carry six bags of groceries in from the car and finally set them down on the kitchen floor. What a relief not to be lugging all that around any more.
I feel hopeful, feel positive. I don’t feel like anything is missing. In the cosmic sense of things. I feel like I’m doing my part in the bigger picture. If I’m not doing my part then I ain’t shit.
And I hope he feels good, too, after reading my reply email. If people are making a legitimate effort, consistently, if I can see that they are honestly trying to leave their volleyball days behind then they deserve more than simply being held in contempt. Forever.
I can see him as human, faults and all, just as Sara had reminded me I ought to.
It’s easy to do the right thing when the sailing is smooth and the waters are calm. It’s much harder to live up to my spiritual potential when life’s complicated and messy.
It’s harder when you’ve always been at war with machine X.
But it is possible. If I’m willing. If I seek a spiritual path. If I’m open to walking one.
jimi hindrance experience
· Jan 22, 2018 at 1:10 am
I’ve kept most correspsondence since before that. I also read old emails for inspiration and refresher courses.
· Jan 22, 2018 at 8:35 am
Email (besides work) has always been more about personal correspondence akin to the letters I used to write to my peeps in the 80s and 90s. Believe it or not, letters from SGC in Wichita were one of the highlights of going to visit my dad (PGC) after my parents divorced.
|Jan 21, 2018|
Cleaning the stove at 5:17 pm on a Friday
I’ll get to the picture in a minute. The real question is why am I having 2 to 3 bowel movements a day on average? Is it my diet? My posture? My sleep schedule? My collection of fine leather pirate boots?
I’m just kidding. I don’t poop that often. Really, it's none of your business.
But what I’m not kidding about is the phrase “bowel movement.” The next time I hear someone utter those two words together I’m gonna lose it. And then puke.
Nobody should say that ever. You either poop or you take a shit. And which you do depends on the urgency.
I even had to school my dentist on this fact. Well, I didn’t really but I will if the situation ever comes up.
My mom used to say it to me all the time when I was a kid. Because she’s a nurse. And that’s what they do. But it’s 2018 so stop saying that. Everybody.
That phrase is too many syllables for kids anyways. They just wanna take a dump (that works, too) and get back to playing Berserk on Atari. They don’t ever want to know what’s going on inside their bodies — if it’s the bowels or the intestines or any of that other internal plumbing. They got kid stuff to do.
Now then. As to why I tore apart the top of my stove in a cleaning OCD fit on a Friday night after work... I have no idea. I guess that’s what you do when you’re me.
And then in the middle of my scrub frenzy I gotta poop and I’ll be damned if these two horrible words didn’t pop into my head like Satan from the bowels of Hell. So I want to put an end to all of that.
I’m not knocking my mom or the other healthcare professionals. Those are the kind of things that they say. And if they want to continue to say them, they should do it within the confines of their workspace.
Leave us normal people to poop in peace.
jimi hindrance experience
· Jan 26, 2018 at 9:52 am
Since I don’t know when, I have used “powder my nose”. It gets the rednecks right by their knecks and even my die hards will still raise an eyebrow. If I’m especially feelin’ it, I will let fly with a “tinkle” or “potty” just to keep men honest.
· Jan 27, 2018 at 7:31 am
That’s a good one. I don’t think I ever make a formal announcement. One of the ex’s insisted that all affairs of this nature should remain private to the person in charge. The session manager if you will.
|Jan 19, 2018|
I've always been at war with machine X
I can only feel hurt and blame someone else for so long.
And after that time is over I have to either say something or let it go. I don’t have the right to hold onto my hurt for years if I’m not gonna do anything about it. Not doing anything other than hurting, well, it’s not fair to the other person and it’s definitely not fair to me.
Living with that hurt keeps me from being the best me that I can be. That hurt stands in the way of all of my relationships.
There’s a lot to be said for saying something out loud. When things are up in my head I can’t make sense of them. My thoughts are like a whirlpool or tornado. Or both. They’re just going around and around and they don’t make any sense. My emotions are all muddy and I can’t get the clarity to know up from down.
I don’t sit with things very long in the here-and-now because I’ve learned that life lesson. That I’m only going to be hurting myself and most likely innocent bystanders by not speaking up.
Also, I never write something in hopes that someone else will read it. That misses the point of everything I just wrote.
|Jan 17, 2018|
No sirens, no lights, just horsepower
When I was driving to work this morning a sheriff’s car was behind me in the other lane. As we approached the intersection on Randall and 64 the stoplight turned yellow. I slowed down and stopped because I’m sure the sheriff had his eye on me. And of course my license plates are expired.
So then the sheriff gunned his car and blew through the red light. No sirens, no lights, just horsepower. Whether or not he was within his law enforcement privileges to do such isn’t important to what I’m writing here.
What is relevant is that at one time in my life I would’ve thought to myself, “Eff’ing cops.”
But I don’t think that way anymore. There are only policemen. Some are good, some are bad. Just because one guy does something doesn’t mean that I should throw out the whole lot.
Just the same, I don’t think of the “damn Mexicans” anymore. Nor do I think of the “stupid white boys” or the “blood sucking lawyers” or the “strung out crackheads” or the “christian zealots” or even the “soccer moms.”
Taking time to know people from those groups, talking with them, learning about their lives and struggles, wins and loses — all of that — has only made my life better. It’s made me a bigger person, bigger than the small town cracker I was growing up in Iowa.
Okay fine, we can categorize people. There may be some truths in stereotypes. But there’s a difference between that and judging people, condemning a whole race or social group.
I don’t know about you guys but I don’t like being lumped into a group because of what somebody else did or didn’t do. I want to be judged based on who I am and what I do.
At the end of the day we’re all just humans. You’ll find good and bad in any group. I want to look for the good. I’ll never go wrong with seeing people as individuals and making new friends.
|Jan 12, 2018|
Under Maggie's pillow
And then there was that one time maybe six or seven years ago when I ate a Snickers fun-size and hid the wrapper under Maggie’s pillow.
And then at bedtime when we found it and she was horrified of being convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, after she had time to process and I confessed, she thought it was funny.
And she still does. Because I asked her about it earlier tonight before dinner.
“And you tried to frame me!! 😆”
And when I’m thinking about it now while she’s doing her homework, I think that her mom and I must’ve done something right.
And finally... something I heard or read once always keeps me pointed in the right direction: as parents our job is to make memories for our kids.
|Jan 10, 2018|
Speaking of REO Speedwagon
And then there was that one time (yesterday) that I was thinking pretty much everyone I meet and know in the here and now aren’t dicks. It’s a big shift in my perspective.
When I was younger I used to believe that most people were assholes but then as I was thinking more yesterday, I realized my thoughts had changed. For the better. More than likely I just remembered the assholes, too, that they made more of an impression on me. Because they were obnoxious. And I was real good at that whole focusing on the negative instead of the positive thing. Over and over again.
Your 90s heroes, Bush, sang “I’m addicted to bullshit” way back when. I can relate to that. “Addicted” is a pretty strong word but bullshit was what I knew.
Anyways, along the same lines, we find what we’re looking for and having a clearer mind at the moment, I can honestly say that the people I encounter now are decent, caring human beings. Doing their best to make the world a better place. Doing more than they have to in life.
Not that they go full-tilt, Mother Teresa kinda shit, but they do just a little bit more than required. Just a little bump extra. And that’s what makes all the difference in people’s lives. Going full-tilt can burn me out. It’s better if I just do a little bit more, be a litte bit more each day.
In the same song Bush also sang “it’s all the little things that kill.” But wait, the little things can make the world pretty awesome, too.
Another big part to all of this is the people I hang out with. Not too many unsavory types these days. Regardless of what the magnet says, “like” can and also attract “like.”
I’m grateful for my friends, you guys. Just knowing all of you makes me a better person.
And to quote that same song one final time, “bigger you give, bigger you get.”
I wanna be big today and all of you help me get there. Watching you give, inspires me to.
|Jan 04, 2018|
So long as I continue to do it
I'm overly fond of how they worded all of AA's Twelve Steps.Case in point: the 11th Step.
It doesn’t say that we pray in the morning and meditate in the afternoon or whatever. It says that we continued to seek, it doesn’t say when or where or how. The reason they didn’t put it on a schedule is because some people might work the third shift.
It’s really that simple. It’s not up to me to assume that everybody else’s life is just like mine and they need to work the steps just as I do.
Sometimes I kneel when I pray. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes my prayers last five seconds and sometimes they’re extended. Sometimes all my heart and soul are in them. Sometimes I’m just mouthing the words. That’s okay. Because I’m praying.
I never sit Indian style with my hands on my knees and meditate either. That doesn’t work for me. I either end up falling asleep or thinking about something nonsensical. And the point of meditation for me is to quiet my mind. To listen. To not to have all the crazy monkey chatter going on. Just shut it all down and let my thoughts come and go as they please.
The only way that I can do that for long is to have some meaningless, mind-numbing task to do. Maybe I’ll meditate when I’m folding laundry or doing dishes or cutting the grass or just riding my bike.
It doesn’t matter. However I do it is fine so long as I continue to do it. "Continue" and "sought" are the first two keywords in the 11th Step.
Only seeking God’s will when I pray is also important. One of my most often prayers in early recovery was:
“God, I don’t care what happens just help me accept it.”
Prayers for me don’t work. Prayers for God’s will do. They keep me focused. They keep me out of what I want and in what’s really important.
And after I pray I meditate. Sometimes only for a moment, sometimes more. I put myself out there and I need to be open to the cosmos sending something back.
God speaks to us. Directly. It took me a long time to let go of the notion that God is separate from us. That God’s somewhere else, far away. But I don’t believe that God is anymore. I believe that God is here. Right here. Right now. With me, with each of us. In this very room. Or wherever you’re reading this.
Quiet your mind and feel the presence. We’re never alone. Tune out the static. It’s irrelevant. Embrace the peace.
You deserve it.
· Dec 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm
I live mindfully and try to do the next right thing. It keeps me on the right path.
· Dec 30, 2017 at 1:23 pm
Here’s a step 11 worksheet I use every day check it out.
· Dec 31, 2017 at 8:22 am
I like that! With the Big Book quotes, it really helps clarify what I should be seek. :)
· Dec 31, 2017 at 4:26 pm
I use that and it helps me tremendously it’s right out of the big book
· Dec 30, 2017 at 5:44 pm
That’s it! I pray to be made aware of my higher power’s will, not mine. Before it was praying for my will, a new job, to better my situation etc. Now I pray for guidance of his will for me and the power to carry that will out. Because it’s important for us to remember, we aren’t in charge, we tried that and it failed miserably!
· Dec 31, 2017 at 8:20 am
Yep, when I’m in charge I make a mess of my life.
· Dec 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm
awesome - thank you. I especially like the “God is here. Right here. Right now” part.
· Dec 31, 2017 at 10:46 am
What is step 1
· Jan 1, 2018 at 11:17 am
I’m not sure if you’re being serious or not 🤔
· Jan 1, 2018 at 11:23 am
I’m 49 years old and don’t feel much like playing lol , so yes I was serious. I had a nice person send me a link to the book. I am reading the doctors message now. On day 3 ….pretty proud. Trying to find ways to entertain my brain. I usually can’t sleep when I don’t drink, so took something to help last night. Just hoping not to get as emotional as I was yesterday. So far I’m not.
· Jan 3, 2018 at 8:19 pm
You definitely don’t have to say anything. Remember, it’s an anonymous program and “what you hear here, who you see here, let it stay here” (read in every meeting I’ve been to). Do you have a computer? Go to InTheRooms.org and do a video meeting. All you have to have is google chrome (easily downloadable). What about a Big Book? You can read that in the privacy of your own home! Day 6 coming up!
|Dec 30, 2017|
I can be a fruity butterfly
If you're not familiar with AA's Twelve Steps, don't worry none. Just follow along and you'll get the gist.
When I worked Step One I was in horrible, emotional pain. Nightmarish pain that’d wake me up at night. Day in and day out pain unlike anything I’d felt in my life.
And that pain was with me up until after I’d worked my Fifth Step. Then after Step Seven I started to really feel that peace, that everything was gonna be okay. That overwhelming and underlying good feeling that comes from walking a spiritual path.
When I started making my Eighth Step list I wasn’t motivated by pain so much anymore to finish the steps. I was motivated because I wanted something more than what I’d always had in life. I wanted more of the happiness that I’d been given. I was still willing to do whatever it took to stay sober but the willingness came from a different place.
For maybe half of my life I’ve been unhappy. Discontent with how my life was going, what I was doing. Sitting where I do now I know that unhappiness is on me. Sure, I was just doing what I knew how to do but I’d made myself miserable. I wanted something more from life and I knew that making the Eighth Step list and making my Ninth Step amends would help change fundamentally who I was. I’m passive in life and stepping outside of myself, going beyond my limitations was something I knew I could do. And it all started with asking god for help. And being willing, of course.
So when I got home from work today I tried to take a nap but I just couldn’t rest for whatever reason. I went downstairs and the cats were yelling because their food bowl wasn’t full enough. Then the robot vacuum tangled itself up in the Christmas tree skirt and was about to tumble down the stairs.
With not getting a nap and the cats and the vacuum, I was losing my patience. Ugh. Plus, I hadn’t had dinner yet.
So then I’m eating cereal and trying to read my meditation books, snap me out of whatever funk I’m in. I picked up the first one and rolled my eyes. Ya, I know about that. I picked up the second one and was like, “fuck I’ve read all of this before.”
I felt like the disgruntled person that I’d been most of my life. Restless, frustrated, and overall just discontent.
When I picked up the third one it’s about a caterpillar on a leaf. YES. It sounded a straightforward bell, something simple that I could latch onto. A concept without complex thoughts and overly wordy spiritual truths.
So the caterpillar spends much of his life eating the same leaves, day in and day out. But then something happens and it grows into something more, it turns into a butterfly. It can fly wherever it wants, sample the sweet nectar from a whole world of flowers. It’s not limited to the leaves that it’s always had. It’s been graced with a newly found freedom.
It got me thinking that I can eat the same leaves I always have. I can have my same life. I can be constantly frustrated and throwing my hands up in the air. Or I can let go and do something different. Be something different. I can be a fruity butterfly.
I got on my knees afterward and prayed, asked God for help, help me live that better kind of life. That I know about.
After I said my prayers the cats came over, trying to love on me. And then I gave them some love back. Life’s just not about me. When I get outside of myself and do for others, life takes on a new meaning. One that feels full.
Even though I’ve been sober I still need to pray for willingness, still need to pray for help. It’s that old saying that “just because I got sober doesn’t mean I get to stay sober.” Sometimes the dysfunction kicks in and I just want to give up, hide from my responsibilities, and not deal with life.
But really I don’t want that life anymore though. I’m willing to do whatever it takes just like I became willing to make my amends. I want my life to have meaning, to have purpose.
I want it to be big. Cosmically big. Butterfly big.
|Dec 22, 2017|
Sun glows in the mirrors
As I lay here in bed before I get up to make coffee I was enjoying the morning glow.
Sometimes I’ll get just a glimmer of something in life and think, “I want more of that!”
But then I’ll sit around and wait for the universe to give it to me.
And then before I know it the glow is gone and I’m sad that I missed out.
Sure, I’m blessed with many things in life but often times I need to get up and open the curtain if I want to stand in the sunlight.
The sun is coming up, peeps. And it’s shining just for you.
|Dec 16, 2017|
Almost two years have past
Not long after my ex-wife moved out I couldn’t stand to be in the house alone in the morning. Like after Maggie went to school the stillness was unbearable. I couldn’t wait to leave to go to work.
Now that almost two years have past I’m sitting in the family room, just watched Maggie get on the school bus, and physically I’m in the same place but emotionally I’m a 1,000,000 miles away. I’ve made the house my own, got rid of furniture, replaced it with new things, and now I’m okay just being here by myself in the morning.
In fact, I really don’t want to go to work this morning. I’d rather sit and dink around with the Christmas lights than drive my work desk.
Anyways, we make it through the hard times. Let go of what once was and embrace what now is. The pain of the present becomes the fading memories of yesterday.
If we do the right things for the right reasons, when all is said and done we’ll be okay.
|Dec 06, 2017|
I don't consider myself high maintenance
I don’t like anything touching my feet. Except socks. Or other footwear. I don’t even touch my own feet. Unless I have to.
I won’t look at my belly button. It’s on its own as far as I’m concerned.
About 18 months ago I threw away every Q-tip in my house. I won’t even say their name out loud.
At least once a week I think about shaving my eyebrows. But I don’t because I have an office to go to every workday.
Every workday I eat one banana and one apple. Sometimes when I get home I’ll have another apple but never another banana.
I won’t use forks or spoons in any bowls unless they’re made of plastic. Not the flatware but the bowl itself.
I use my bedroom closet for miscellaneous storage and keep all of my clothes in a basement closet. Because that’s where the washer and dryer are.
That’s the shortlist.
What have you got?
|Dec 01, 2017|
Break On Through by The Doors
Peeps, here’s your the-gate-is-straight Friday jam.
Listening to The Doors when I was 9 and 10 opened up my musical world so much more than bands like the Beatles did. Don’t get me wrong, I love yellow submarines as much as the next u-boat commander but I met the darkly cool poet persona in songs like The End and Waiting for the Sun. I became all too familiar with the torture of losing friends, and of longing for closure when I was a teenager.
Hearing Morrison sing, “waiting for you to tell me what went wrong” still resonates with me as much as it did when I was in junior high. I could relate to that so much more than when Lennon and McCartney sang, “I wanna hold your hand.” I never held girls’ hands in school.
Along with the vocals and lyrics in Break on Through, the gritty distorted guitar, the vox continental organ, the bossa nova drums always remind me of driving, accelerating, smashing through whatever it is that keeps me locked up inside myself.
Powerful stuff when you’re a kid.
Anyways, put on some headphones, find your other side. 😊
|Dec 01, 2017|
PechaKucha Night (cont)
In follow up to tonight's earlier PechaKucha Night in Batavia
I was sitting in a room full of people that obviously have the same kind of interests that I do. But I didn’t know anybody. So I did the next rational thing which is to get on my phone, post on Facebook, and visit the event website. For some reason I had it in the back of my mind this was all related to anime or Pokémon or something.
I read more from the FAQ. This Q/A stood out:
So there I was at a live event, reading from the event website that I should put down my phone and socialize.
This is a tricky scenario for me. I don’t do well in groups of people, even more so when I don’t know the humans. It’s part of the story when I relapsed. I want to hang out with other like-minded people but group settings make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Overstimulated. Like I’m in a swimming pool and there’s constant splashing. And too many people talking. And I have water in my ears. And there’s beach balls flying around. And I’m trying to keep myself from drowning. Maybe it’s not exactly like that but it’s close.
Drinking makes social gatherings easier. It lubes the conversations with people I don’t know. It feels like I’m wearing a life jacket when I drink. It takes the edge off. And I have too many edges. Too much shame and too many bullies when I was a kid or something. I doubt if I’ll ever feel confident or at ease in public.
And then also drinking makes me feel normal around other people. Like I fit in then. I’m part of a tribe that I’ve never belonged to. When I relapsed I was in a similar situation, a venue serving alcohol, surrounded by creative people enjoying themselves. And I was out of place. Without social skills. I didn’t know how to swim. And then I got a drink. And then the pool party wasn’t that hard. It wasn’t really a pool party but you get the analogy. And then that one drink last for ten years.
But I wanted to be at tonight’s PechaKucha event, wanted to get to know people in the area other than those in recovery. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter but I also have a magnetic attraction to another set of people, ones who are artistically passionate. Because we’re similar. Same expressive wavelength. The art makers and art lovers. I’ve got something to say creatively, just as they do.
When I read the “get out from behind your screen” line I knew that I was doing it wrong. So I put my phone away and walked over to the greeter who had taken my money when I came in. I asked her how I could get one of the name badges some people were wearing. The lady told me those people were either helping out with the event or presenting that night. I asked her what time would I get to present. Because when I feel awkward I make jokes. She smiled and told me that I needed to fill out a form and maybe I could present at the next event in February. That was good enough.
I then saw Jaime and his wife across the room. He had invited me so I was happy to see him. And he wasn’t with a group of people. I hate when I feel like I’m standing on the perimeter, waiting for my turn to talk. I won’t even bother with that anymore.
Anyways Jaime, his wife, and I had a nice chat about the event and then meditation which was kinda surprising. But cool. Then the presentations got underway.
I left the event a little early to go to a 12 step meeting. I enjoyed myself at PechaKucha, got a dose of artistic socializing but it’s important for me to remember that if I hang around non-alcoholics too much there’s a good chance I’ll start to think that I’m non-alcoholic as well. But I’m not. When I drink at social gatherings I continue drinking afterward at home. On a Thursday night, well past my bedtime. And then when non-alcoholics are having their morning coffee I’m having a morning drink.
So I guess my takeaway for the night is that it’s important for me to get out. Replenish my artistic well. If I sit at home I’ll have nothing to write about, nothing to talk about. Other than my sad songs from yesterday. Well that’s not completely true but you get the point.
And finally social skills are like any other. I won’t be good at them unless I practice. Put myself out there. Go outside. (Albert gasp).
|Dec 01, 2017|
Each and every time I started writing
People always say that the 12 steps are in order for a reason. I guess I never really paid that much attention to that statement until after I was in recovery for a year or so. Looking back on my experience with Step 4 I know there's no way in hell that I would've been able to write a searching and fearless moral inventory if I didn't have a concept of God that I believed in. I just wouldn't have.
Writing them was hard (I’ve done two) and I felt all kinds of feelings with the second one. Anger, shame, guilt, regret. Horror. Felt all the things that drinking kept me from feeling. I had burning resentments and sexual traumas. Had broken friendships and ruined relationships. And more.
I needed to pray for the strength to make it through, pray to that God concept each and every time I started writing. All those feelings I’d kept hidden under blankets and in boxes in the basement came up and out. Like boiling bubbles in a stock pot. I was finally feeling what I should’ve been feeling all along when I was drinking. Being in touch with that hideousness forced me to lean on, rely on that Higher Power. Reaffirm my decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God. Remember that a better way of life lay on the other side.
And I was willing to feel and deal with all my monsters if that meant that I didn't have to drink again. If that meant that I didn't have to be the person that I'd become. Be the person that I hated. That I was. I was willing to work the Fourth Step if it meant that I could be somebody new. Be a sober me.
Back in the Second Step it talks about being restored to sanity. Writing the Fourth Step is part of how and when that restoration happens. It’s part of how my life became manageable again.
This step also gives us the freedom to make our inventory however necessary, with the guidance of a sponsor of course. It doesn't even say that we "wrote" it but only that we "made" it. I pay close attention to the wording of the steps as they are the program, they're how we get and stay sober.
As an aside I got into a minor debate once with someone regarding if everyone should actually "write" their inventory. We need our sponsor's input on how we make it and that doesn't always mean that we write it. Why not? If a person is blind or if a person can't read or write, then they need to do what works best for them to make their inventory.
The most important thing is that we make it. Don't complicate or procrastinate.
I was also relived to find out that we don't need to make a complete inventory but only a "searching and fearless" one. I wrote the best one I could at the time and the Tenth Step allows me to self-analyze and follow up on issues later as needed.
And after I put the pen down (because I wrote mine), I realized that doing my Fourth Step hadn't kill me. It was horrible for sure but I made it through with only a deflated ego. And that was one of the best things that needed to happen to this alcoholic.
I also finally got some real relief. The kind of relief that drinking never gave me. Relief at the spiritual level. All of my secrets were no longer secrets, they were out in the open. At least on paper. After carrying around emotional trauma for so long it felt good when I was done.
So I made an inventory the best I could, took a look at the things that were holding me back, that were standing in the way of me being the best me that I could. And I thank God for the help I was given. Without God, I wouldn’t have been able to write those words.
|Nov 24, 2017|
I really did paint my couch
Well, not all of it.
And of course it didn’t go completely according to plan. Maggie and I were going to be gone all weekend and I had a time window of about 30 minutes on Friday to do my thing. I wanted to do it in that particular window, too, so the cushions could be drying until I got back home on Sunday afternoon.
When I brought them back in yesterday I wasn’t tickled. There’s a certain elation that I like to feel when a project is done and with the pink cushions I felt none. But I was a smidge hopeful they’d grow on me after I got them back on the couch.
But they didn’t.
The paint was still damp, probably because the temperature has been colder, freezing at night, and so on. And the garage doesn’t have any air flow either. No breeze, no circulation. And no sun light. So the cushions went out into the yard where I was hoping they’d de-fumigate in the afternoon sun and fresh air.
After the sun went down I brought them back in. Still not dry after their four hour sun bath. And still fumey. Maggie noted that it look liked somebody was murdered on our couch, that I could’ve just washed them to try and get the stains out. That’s not how I do things though. There’s this emotional drive, this overwhelming urge to put my stamp on all my stuff. I can’t help it.
And what’s more: when I was painting them I was in a hurry, just trying to cover up the stains. Too much function and barely a drop of form. I didn’t have whimsy fun on my mind nor was I creatively expressing myself. I ran out of fabric paint in a matter of minutes so I resorted to using regular pink spray paint. Because I was gonna get them done in my time allowance. I was determined, focused, and intent. Tunneling down a path and there was no changing course.
And they looked like it when all was said and done, too.
But I knew there was something to Maggie’s thought of putting them in the wash. It might tame them a bit. I’m not above listening to another’s feedback and if there’s something there, if it feels right I’ll act on it.
So off the cushion covers came and down to the laundry room we went. Now normally when I’m being artistic and fancy, I pause and ask the cosmos for guidance. I do this because I fuck shit up when I do it on my own. Seriously. Even when it comes painting or sculpting or any kind of building, I need to channel the universe’s energy and the like. And back on Friday I was the boss, rushing through the sofa makeover like I was hosing down prisoners.
Anyways, I Spray ‘n Wash®'ed where the stains were, set the washer to whites, added a splash of bleach to the soap, and then waited for the second round of results.
And I’ll be damned if most of the paint didn’t come out along with all of the stains. The covers were 90% perfect.
“Did the spray paint really come out in the wash?” you ask. Yes, almost all of it really did and I suspect it was because the paint wasn’t completely dry and the fabric itself is like a linen, canvas material and not like a cotton t-shirt. Later when I was talking with Sara, she said that the fabric may have been sprayed with a stain-resister, too. Which makes perfect sense.
I washed them one more time to lighten them a bit more and then they were good to go.
So there ya have it. The couch is as exactly as I want it to look. It’s clean with a hint of color just like Albert’s socks. Maybe a little more subdued that I originally planned but more often than not if I let the cosmos be my guide, things will turn out better than I could’ve ever imagined. Be it relationships or careers or spray painting your couch.
There's still one ink stain from a pen on the left but I can live with that for the time being.
jimi hindrance experience
· Dec 8, 2017 at 3:01 am
Albert’s socks. GOD DAM I SAID GOD DAM! I enjoyed Albert’s socks at least as much as Uma enjoyed the go-juice she hoovered off the bathroom sink.
jimi hindrance experience
· Dec 8, 2017 at 3:03 am
· Dec 9, 2017 at 7:25 am
Uma’s the coolest!
|Nov 20, 2017|
FREE dismantled treadmill
Guys, there’s a dismantled treadmill on East Side Drive, a little north of Dodson Street here in Geneva, Illinois. I’m assuming it’s free since it’s resting comfortably on the curb.
Whenever I see a treadmill or a stationary bike on the side of the road I think about the soul who drug it out there. The man behind the space-saving but typically heavy machine. The one-time motivated spirit who let go of her dreams of in-home exercise. Wanna talk about walks of shame? That’s one right there. Walking back to your house after publicly abandoning the notion of regular workouts and saved gym membership fees.
I’m no stranger to all of this. My rowing machine is downstairs, folded up in my laundry room. Under an old blanket. In a fitness cocoon if you will. My dreams were more along the lines of hallucinations, too. That I could get my stomach back to when I was a mere twenty-something, drinking sodas and eating donuts without a care in the world.
Anyways, now that I think about the trainer contraption I saw only moments ago, I don’t know exactly what kind of phys-ed machine it was. Remember, it was in pieces. But in any event I’m sure it’ll be there all day. I would’ve taken a picture while driving by but that’s a school zone and the crossing guard was already giving me the evil eye.
Plus, I like to stop in at the 7-11 on State Street at least one morning a week.
|Nov 17, 2017|
Potato eyes, to eat or not to eat
Peeps, I may have asked this before and I may not have. Either way I swung I’m going to ask again.
When dealing with potatoes do you cutout their little eyeballs out or do you ignore them and chow down?
I have to scrub them off myself and if they don’t scrub off I carve them out. Furthermore, if said taters are looking even the slightest bit feisty (and I’m feeling a little neurotic myself), I throw them in the microwave and nuke their starchy, tuberous asses with some electromagnetic radiation. Just like Spencer and his candy bar in the 1940s.
Sure, I can look to WikiLeaks for the answer in how digestible the potato eyes are but I like to have real-time answers from you, my peer group. I’m not really interested in what the Clintons do with their’s or that Ralph Nader listens to soft core, country rap while eating his mashes.
Anyways, as a kid I was trained there were somethings you just don’t eat. Like raw cookie dough. Or cake batter. Or potato eyeballs.
So are these still valid concerns in this modern dietary age? I don’t wanna get salamejitus.
Nobody really does.
And yes, I made the video on my iPhone.
|Nov 16, 2017|
Each and every single target
Sometimes I’m driving along, got something on my mind. And then I get the feeling that whatever I'm thinking about, well, I think that I should be worried about it.
And then I start thinking, “why the hell am I not having a panic attack?” Like this is some serious shit Why am I not freaking out? People could figuratively die. Even more than that, what will people think of me if this goes south? This could confirm that I am indeed “not enough.”
And then I think that I shouldn't worry, that everything will be okay and things will work out.
And then I second-guess myself, like maybe I’m being cocky.
And then I think maybe this is just how regular people live. They don’t race to work in a state of terror, needing to make sure whatever is causing them panic, the trembling, is fixed and fine.
It feels kinda nice not to live in a constant hysterical state. Even more so when I’m driving. I’ve had most of my panic attacks in the car. Because there was nothing that I could do. In that moment. I was helpless. Had to sit with my emotions. Feel all the bumpers. There was no escape.
Anyways, I don’t have to live with my heart racing. It’s pretty awesome not to.
And even if life does melt down, I can be okay.
Even if my silvery, steel ball needs to slam each and every target before going down the drain.
jimi hindrance experience
· Dec 8, 2017 at 4:19 am
Gonna get me a little oblivion, baby
|Nov 15, 2017|
Can I spray paint my couch?
Well, I guess there’s nothing that would actually stop me but what are the pros and cons? The ebbs and flows? The ups and downs of such a Jackson Pollock maneuver? Granted he used brushes and had more of a splatter/drip/drop technique with the reds and the blues and the blacks. Also, in his most delightful biographical movie, starring Ed Harris, Pollock did in fact urinate in someone’s fireplace. Which of course I would never do. But still, this isn’t the kind of painting operation your average Home Goods shopper thinks about, let alone strongly considers.
So back to the couch makeover. Before answering, know beforehand I’m not intending to cover the whole couch with spray paint, only accenting the three seat cushions. I was thinking more along the lines of background emphasis, similar to this I'm a Mess t-shirt that I made.
You maybe wondering what kind of fabric the couch has. That is a very good question. It’s a soft linen fabric, white in color. It’s a bit lighter than cream but not a bright white either. It’s lost it’s luster and is kinda drab. I’m not a big fan of drab. I like color. There’s also stains here and there because kids and I’d like to reverse that with some, possibly pink, artistic flare.
Throughout my life adventures I’ve never spray painted such a fabric. Or a couch. Do you think this material is absorbent enough to hold the spray paint? Will the drying time be less than a day? See, I actually do want to use the couch again at some point and don’t want it taking up space as a nonfunctional art piece. I really don’t want to be wearing it.
Also, how long might the cushions smell like paint? I’d rather them not be fuming up the place well into the new year. Thanksgiving is coming up and all and I’d like any and all vapors to have vanished by then. Even though no one‘s coming to my house for Thanksgiving, my cats will be home and I don’t want them high as kitty kites, glossy eyes, silver mouths, that whole bit. I want to avoid them getting hooked on and huffing spray paint, stealing it from the neighbors, and/or whatever the hoodlum alleycats are doing these days. I also don’t want them dead.
You maybe wondering if I’ve inhaled too much paint exhaust as well. I can answer, honestly, that I have not. I simply live alone with my daughter and that affords me the freedom to explore whatever whimsy comes to mind. I have, however, learned throughout my various adventures not to rush into things such as this without first seeking expert upholstery and medical advice beforehand.
· Nov 12, 2017 at 1:09 am
They make a paint specifically for this purpose:
· Nov 12, 2017 at 8:37 am
Perfect! I was ready to use the same paint that I used on your shirt. 🎨 😉
· Nov 12, 2017 at 9:35 am
I haven’t tried it, but I suspect the fabric paint will give a better result for a high-wear area like a couch. You don’t want the paint coming off on people’s clothes. Also it comes in glitter colours, so it’s win-win.
· Nov 12, 2017 at 9:39 am
Ooh. You know what else you could do? Sharpie makes a set of fabric markers. You could illustrate your couch. Just test first, because the ink bleeds a bit on some fabrics.
· Nov 12, 2017 at 11:24 am
Can’t go wrong with “Brite Pink”. Except maybe on a spelling test. 🤔
· Nov 12, 2017 at 5:15 pm
I was kinda thinking about Rainbow Brite when I was checking out.
|Nov 11, 2017|
Doing more, more, more
Back when I was drinking I wasn’t enough. Inside. I wanted something, anything to tell me that I was. And one of those things I wanted, probably the biggest was “more.”
Not just more drinking but more “doing”, too. Constantly feeling on the go, I got this to do and that to do. Doing more, wanting more. More, more, more.
And then when I would actually do something, I never felt like I could commit to it because everything else I had to do was on my mind as well.
Looking back now I can see that underneath all of that “more”, I felt that if I could just get all these things done, then I’d be happy. That you’d be happy with me. I’d feel like that I was enough. That I’d accomplished something with my life. That I’d be a complete person like everybody else. It’s the textbook example of a “human doing” instead of a “human being.” As it were.
What’s more is that when people would ask me to do something, I’d be like “sure, okay” even if I didn’t want to, even if I felt like they were just out for themselves. I’d already be juggling too many balls but hey, what’s one more up in the air? More is good, right?
It’s no wonder I felt overwhelmed for most of my life.
So getting sober, being sober I had to learn how many balls I could actually juggle. I had to learn how and when to say “no.” And learning how to say “no” to myself came a lot easier than learning how to say “no” to other people.
By working the 12 steps, going to meetings, hanging out and talking with other people in recovery and my sponsor, I learned how to live sober. I learned how to be assertive and accept what I can do and what I can’t do.
We learn our lessons, we learn our skills one day at a time, one conversation at a time. We’re not going to master life in an hour. It takes time to absorb new concepts and then practice them in our daily lives. Even more so when you’re like me and have a whole slew of unhealthy behaviors to let go of first.
I can’t say enough for setting boundaries either. There’s plenty of people that also want “more.” And they will try to take their “more” from us, too. And we’ll have to learn how to deal with them if we want to be at peace with ourselves.
Step 10 from Alcoholics Anonymous reminds me to continually look at my inventory, see what’s going on and how I feel. And then Step 11 reminds me that I need to look for God’s will and the power to carry that out.
Similar to before, it’s easier for me to see when my will differs from God’s. But then it’s a little trickier to figure out where someone else’s will and God’s will differ. Like when someone would ask me to do something and then I thought that was God’s will, God wanting me to step up and do whatever.
And sometimes it is. But then also sometimes it isn’t. There’s plenty of people in the world that will take advantage of us, that will try to use and manipulate us. When they ask something of us that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s God‘s will and that we have to do it.
I think that it could be God‘s will that a lesson just came into my life through those people. And that lesson very well could be learning how to and continuing to practice saying “no.”
We were talking about the Serenity Prayer last night in a meeting, accepting the things that we cannot change and so on. Sometimes I have a whole list of things I need to do. Chores and groceries and errands and bills and laundries. Being responsible is something that I can’t really change. So I prioritize, do what I can each day, and let that be good enough. If I’m in a good spiritual place that will come relatively easy.
It’s important to remember there’s more to the Serenity Prayer than just acceptance.
I sometimes forget that. The prayer isn’t about me blindly accepting whatever comes along as God’s will. There’s also the “courage to change the things I can.” And sometimes that’s me telling another person “no.” That I’m not going to cosign their bullshit. As it were. I’m not letting you have any more of my stuff.
Jimi told me once not to do something I didn’t really want to do. Yeah, sometimes I’m being lazy and don’t want to do whatever but there’s also times when I don’t feel comfortable with what someone is asking. In those situations I need to find the wisdom to know the difference between a- if I’m being self-centered and b- if me doing whatever will only end up hurting me.
I find that wisdom by pausing. If someone asks me to do something and I’m not completely on board with it then me saying, “let me get back to you on that” is the best thing that I can do. I don’t work well under the spotlight, I need time to inventory and seek God’s will before I agree to something. And God will show me the path because “god could and would if sought.”
Jimi also reminds me often that we’re entitled to serenity, that it’s our divine right to peace and happiness. If I look at the first three words of the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me”, they support that entitlement.
To wrap this up, I’m not trying to juggle more balls these days. I don’t want that quest. I want inner peace.
Having “more”, doing “more” doesn’t make me feel good or complete. Being right with God, being right with me, and being right with you guys, that does.
· Nov 10, 2017 at 10:45 am
Love this! Thank you for sharing. I was the same, always filling my time with things and stuff. I could never say no. But now I make sure to take time out for me, to process things, check in with God. I’d stepped away from meetings recently, but I’ve realised now how important those and the step work is. Having that space to express yourself, to be able to look at yourself and your behaviour and think where can I do better. Magic!
· Nov 10, 2017 at 2:20 pm
You are most welcome! And thanks for your comments, too. Self-critique is where I seem to fall short the most, but man does it do me wonders.
· Nov 10, 2017 at 6:13 pm
Thank you for this! I’ve always been a “yes” gal, to my own detriment. It’s difficult to differentiate, for me at least, what IS god’s will and what is me playing martyr by pleasing everyone around me. That’s danger zone and leads to resentment and self pity and we all know those are not good places to be. I’m now giving myself permission to do nothing, and by that I mean sitting in bed while eating TWO different types of ice cream and watching Louie. (Friday night rager!) Strength and serenity to all! ☺️
· Nov 11, 2017 at 7:55 am
“permission to do nothing” — love it!
|Nov 10, 2017|
I only saw her rage
Last night I heard an Al-Anon speaker say that she was very angry with her husband while he was drinking. But really she was scared. Scared for a variety of reasons, if he was going to really hurt himself, and so on.
When I was drinking my ex-wife was also very angry. The kind of anger where it felt like I couldn’t do anything right. And I took that very personal because, to me, it just seemed like she was constantly upset with what I was doing and what I wasn’t doing.
It really struck a chord with me, what the speaker said yesterday. Looking back now I can see that my ex-wife was also most likely scared. And frustrated. And hurt. I wish I could’ve seen through to her fear at the time. Seen her hurt instead of her aggravation. Seen her loneliness instead of her judgment.
I feel sad that I only saw her madness and didn’t or couldn’t see what was underneath.
After I’ve moved on and things have passed, it’s easier for me to have an objective look on what was really going on. But in the moment it’s too hard to detach from the then and there, even more so when emotions are high. We've all heard that anger is just a cover up but I only see the rage when it's directed at me.
I started to tear up listening to the speaker because I felt like if I would’ve seen my ex-wife as simply being hurt and scared I would’ve done things differently when we were married.
Instead of reacting defiantly to her anger, I would’ve tried to react lovingly to her pain.
jimi hindrance experience
· Nov 7, 2017 at 12:11 am
i was just thinking about this today. thankies for the share.
· Nov 8, 2017 at 7:22 am
I think I might think about it a little more often. 😊
|Nov 06, 2017|
Mildy Seeking Mannequins
I still need to get a couple mannequins. I think about this often, at least daily. Well, maybe every other day. They’ll provide some kind of ambience, some kind of atmosphere that I need. In my house. Preferably the dining room.
No, there’s nothing sexual or weird going on behind the scenes here. I’m not gonna drill any holes in them or have different outfits based on different seasons. I may, however, throw a scarf around one if it’s chilly outside. Something to keep them looking current and fresh.
Think of them more as art pieces, as sculptures, and less as companions. I’m not J.F. Sebastian over here. They won’t have backstories or names or be scantily dressed.
Having a set has been on my mind ever since I was a kid and had my first run in with a JCPenney mannequin while shopping with my mom. Well, my mom was shopping and I was wandering around aimlessly. Because there’s nothing to do in the women’s section when you’re a 10 year old boy other than to try and get lost in rack after rack of clothes you despise touching and will most certainly never wear.
Daydream of a Roger Moore style spy chase through the ladies tops. Avoid whatever KGB agent that had tracked my location to this particular department store on this particular day.
And then I bumped into a mannequin. Fairly hard but not on purpose for sure. I was looking one way and going another. This was all well before I stopped seeing the world just from my eyes and only ever paid attention to what was right in front of me.
And then the female mannequin all but fell over. Luckily, I was the hero with my 007 reflexes and saved that day, saved the towering figure from the public shame of lying face down on dense carpet made for heavy traffic.
Somehow I twisted its arm around backwards and upside down or something. But with my superior mechanical and fashionable skills, I was able to repose the mannequin into a style, into a position that was fitting for the outfit. Obviously those store designers had little sense for fashion in the first place. Well, I guess I shouldn’t judge too harshly. We were only two miles from rural Iowa and all the farmland they had to offer.
Anyways, I don’t think my life will be complete until I have at least two mannequins. I need a pair minimum. One male and one female. So they can keep each other company. And having just one mannequin would be weird. And having a whole fleet would be bizarre. And not in a good way.
And I can’t buy them online. Having mannequins shipped to your house would definitely be cause for alarm. I need them from like a Sears that’s going out of business or so. But they can’t be scoffed or marred. Seeing the white, chipped plaster (or whatever it is) underneath is just tacky.
· Oct 31, 2017 at 10:20 am
Ironically, Sears Canada is going out of business, but you’d probably have to have them shipped to your house.
· Oct 31, 2017 at 10:42 am
Can you pilfer a few from out back behind your local center?
· Oct 31, 2017 at 10:54 am
I would, but up here in the wilderness we only had a Sears appliance store and it closed a couple of years ago.
· Oct 31, 2017 at 11:50 am
Ah.. Our Sears appliance closed sometime over the summer. I was kinda sad because that’s where I got my washer and dryer.
Richard Warren, what has become of your empire? 😢
|Oct 31, 2017|
Social grace at the ATM drive-through
Please note local residents: ATM drive-throughs are one way. You should not back up for any reason. Think of the ATM lane to be like a waterslide. You should only go down, never up. If you try to swim or climb back up le slide, chances are you’ll destroy the very fabric that holds our universe together. Yes, I’m talking to you lady at the BMO by Blue Goose.
Also, please resist the urge to get out of your car. Or truck. Or whatever you’re in to.
In conclusion: if you like to do your banking on foot and/or while utilizing both the backwards and the forwards of your automobile, just go inside. You’ll get to do both.
You’ll even have the option to enjoy a Dum Dum. Instead of being one. 🍭
|Oct 28, 2017|
More knob twists
I’m in the private, single person work restroom. Somebody tries the door knob. It refuses because I’m not an animal and therefore lock the door.
Again, with the twisting. I scowl at the door. More knob twists. This time as if brute force will unlock the door. I’m annoyed now.
Three seconds pass. The knob twists yet again. I call out forcefully, angrily... “dude, I’m taking a shit.”
I don’t like talking to people in public but sometimes ya got to.
· Oct 29, 2017 at 9:36 am
While dining out last night I happened upon this restroom. Featuring additional seating.
Maybe the knob twister above was expecting he could just come in and wait for his turn.
jimi hindrance experience
· Nov 2, 2017 at 12:36 am
Companionship is losing ground. The naysayers are getting verbal and providing examples.
|Oct 27, 2017|
Super Target has Blue Diamonds
One time my brother ate a whole bag of walnuts. And my mom was furious. She still talks about it to this day even though said feeding happened sometime in the 80s. Apparently the walnuts were a gift to my mom from my grandpa during one of his nation-wide adventures. I think they came from out west but nobody knows for sure since he was known to disappear for weeks on end during his “fishing trips.”
One time grandpa bought a whole everglade forest or something in Florida. On a whim. I had always hoped to see it someday, to see if the elusive feathered-bigfoot-alligator was a real thing. But that never happened because the older I got, the less swamp sounded like fun.
I see I’ve drifted off on a tangent. The above paragraph is neither here nor there to this post. It is not in a fox. It is not in a box. It is not in a boat. It is not in a moat.
Anyways, my mom had planned to make these nutted brownies with the supposedly delicious western walnuts. Alas, she was forced to make brownies sans nuts. And seriously, chances are 92% that if I (or anyone else) ever mention walnuts to her, even in the casualest of conversations, her face will still flush with the fury of a baker betrayed.
Now then… I would like to make restitution on behalf of my walnut-eating brother (and his 80s afro) to my mom and get her a new bag of walnuts. No, I don’t have to do this but I’m sure my mom’s face would also flush if she ever knew about one of the times I [redacted]. Therefore I’ve taken it upon myself to try and fix this little piece of history.
Will it work, beloved and devoted readers?
Well, that’s where you come in: where is the best place to get the best walnuts around town? I’m not looking for the best price, I’m looking for the best nut. Chopped or otherwise. Not ground though. Who the hell can do anything with ground walnuts this late in the season? Certainly not me. And not more than a pound. I’m not stalking up for seed apocalypse here.
Also, be aware: any answers that start with “Super Target has Blue Diamonds” will be publicly mocked.
|Oct 26, 2017|
Amazing blueberry jelly
I hate it when I'm walking down the work hallway and I hear another office door open. Can't I just walk down the hall alone, with peace and quiet?
Now matter how much I try to avoid people, some random body shows up and says, "hello." And then I have to quickly scan the mental rolodex for non-offensive chit-chat. Engage in dialogue that obviously won't last more than 15 seconds.
It's not that I don't like the other office building inhabitants but on a quick stroll to the restroom, there's only so many steps to take. I'd rather walk in silence than blurt out, "How 'bout this weather?" ..or.. "Tomorrow's Friday!"
Of course I could pause and launch into mild outrage about (insert any poetic injustice here) but then I'd feel it socially correct to stop walking. And that in turn would invite the random body into a full blown conversation. The horror. Sure, full blown gabfests are fine but not when I'm on my way to the potty.
Maybe I should write some socially-irregular chit-chats on index cards for future use. Not ones that will have random body think I'm a boob or psycho anything because I do care what people think of me. But more like one or two-liners that will (hopefully) instill an off-balanced curiosity in the random body.
Something like these perhaps:
· Oct 19, 2017 at 1:26 pm
One time I was rinsing my coffee cup and a colleague approached to use the coffee machine. He decided to pass the time by asking me what my favourite band was. I told the truth. He got through the conversation, but I don’t think he ever asked me anything again.
· Oct 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm
That’s awesome! “I’m totally down with Hellhorse!!” 🐴🤘
· Oct 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm
It was something like:
I have to give him credit for hanging in there. He’s 65 and listens to Adele and Glen Campbell, he basically had no clue what I was talking about. Nice guy though :)
|Oct 19, 2017|
There's a gentleman we'll call Gary
So we all know that our phones are a huge part of our lives. We take them pretty much every where. They say that they’re generally the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before going to sleep.
However, I’ve came across a situation where another’s phone usage has me bepuzzled and I wanted to get the worldly consensus. Yes, I realize that virtually all people will be looking at this post on their phones, and yes, that may skew the results but I acknowledge this and will persist.
There’s a gentleman we’ll call Gary. I doubt if the gentleman is actually named Gary but he very well could be. If so, it’s purely coincidental. Also, this man is not your friend or relative named Gary. No, I don’t know your uncle Gary or your boss Gary. Finally, I don’t have any friends that go by Gary. Which is why I chose this name. Well, I actually chose it because after Bruce Wayne retired along came a Batman named Gary of all things. I was rather disappointed that the writers chose “Gary” because it does not compare to the power that comes from saying an almighty name such as “Bruce.” Also, if your name is Gary I’m sorry but you cannot be Batman.
Anyways, back to the man I have aliased Gary. I’ll get right to it…
Gary was watching a movie trailer in the public restroom at work a few moments ago. He was hidden within the stall but his phone did indeed bellow with the cellos and sing with the strings and pound with the pianos, and all in such a way that I knew whatever action-packed movie Gary was previewing was gonna be good. I felt a smidge frantic because I hadn’t anything but the movie music to go on. How in the world would I find this movie in Fandango later? Shazam was obviously out of the question.
But once the audible excitement of whatever film Gary was trailering had worn off, I felt disheartened, disenfranchised, disengaged, dis and more dis. Almost like I’d shared a moment with Gary that, not only I shouldn’t have, but also that I didn’t really want to. Sure, I get sucked into movie magic as much as the next Doug…but once I was washing my hands firmly back in reality, I knew beyond a doubt that I don’t want to have any kind of moments with Gary in a public restroom. Ever again.
With public restrooms I think people should get in and get out. And more importantly: let strangers get in and out as well. If you’re going to watch the YouTubes or whatever at least keep your phone on silent so you don’t suck others in. Better still, don’t make any sounds at all. Don’t grunt, gasp, or sigh. If possible, hold your breathe. Remain mysterious. Elusive. Don’t give the other guests any clues as to who you are or what you’re doing. You could very well be Bruce Wayne or Selina Kyle. Use your anonymity to your advantage!
Okay, so I’m not like everybody. I don’t like making noises or chit-chatting with strangers while visiting the communal washrooms. If you do, that’s fine. I won’t judge. To each their own. You got the right to do your business.
So my question…
Since Gary was watching and listening to his phone in the restroom, publicly filling the airwaves with theatrical music for all, would it have been appropriate for me to say, “Sounds pretty good, what movie is that?”
· Oct 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm
You had me at Batman. I am not sure how it is in men’s rooms, I am not a shy person, but I would not ask. It’s almost as if you are in a privacy bubble when you are in a closed stall. I would be able to ask for tissue of course, not that I don’t check first to be certain. If your curiosity is insatiable, the worse that could happen is Gary/Terry/Batman telling you to mind your own beeswax. All this being said if someone tried to make eye contact through the crack in the door, I am not above yelling at them to take a picture, but I digress.
jimi hindrance experience
· Oct 17, 2017 at 7:34 pm
· Oct 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm
This is all great, but my favourite part is that after you’ve said Gary 1000 times it turns out Batman’s name was actually Terry.
I say you could have asked, BUT there’s a good chance it would have led him to engage you in conversation, which you probably wouldn’t enjoy.
· Oct 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm
I know! I spent like an hour yesterday searching for a Batman named “Gary” on Wikipedia.
Subconsciously I was probably thinking that he looked like a Gary though. Manly type that does what he wants. When he wants. Most likely a car salesman.
“You’re going to buy this car or else I’ll throw you in the trunk and then you’ll realize how dumb you are, laying in a trunk, with no car, like a moron.”
In related news… I was practicing reading my podcast last night at the dinner table while Maggie was doing her homework. Every time I said “Gary” her eyes would roll. There came a point when all parties agreed I should read quietly to myself.
· Oct 18, 2017 at 3:24 pm
Funny, the only Gary I know is a tall, thin, 60-ish civil engineer with a ponytail who bikes to work and runs marathons. I also had a high school physics teacher with a small mustache and elbow patches named Geary (pronounced Gary). He erased the chalkboard row by row, walking all the way across like a dot matrix printer. So I guess, we have very different images of “Gary-ism”.
I’m concerned about Maggie having eyestrain after all those Gary’s. Did she eventually have to lay down with a cool wet washcloth over her eyes?
· Oct 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm
BTW, “searching for a Batman named Gary” would make an excellent tagline for SOMETHING.
· Oct 19, 2017 at 7:09 am
“Searching for a Batman named Gary” — I think it’d also make an excellent personal ad on craigslist.org.
· Oct 19, 2017 at 10:41 am
Yes, it would, though I don’t know why a millionaire crimefighter would reply to an ad on Craigslist. You’d likely get a lot more replies from guys sitting in their parents’ basements wearing plastic capes than from genuine Batmen. Batmans?
· Oct 20, 2017 at 12:17 pm
I kinda like “batmen” as it gives them a sense of camaraderie although “batmans” sounds more inline with the DC universe.
· Oct 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm
I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I preferred “batmen” over “batmans”, but I think that’s it.
I’ve also been advised by tism that “batsman” is right out, as it’s a cricket term… the plural of which is “batsmen”. I’m unreasonably annoyed by “batsmen”; it’s like some kind of double plural. Like there should be at least 3 or 4 of them.
· Oct 21, 2017 at 9:04 am
There should definitely be more than two batsmen and definitely more than four batsmens.
· Oct 21, 2017 at 10:40 am
|Oct 17, 2017|
Making perfect plans
|Oct 16, 2017|
3:52 pm on a Sunday afternoon
After Maggie goes to her mom’s for the day I’m always taken back by how quiet it is.
After I get home from the errands and the store and have put away the groceries. Shut off the podcast and brought a load of laundry upstairs.
I noticeably hear nothing while putting clean towels away in the bathroom. No TVs talking down in the family room. No cups filling in the kitchen. No movement on beds in the bedrooms. No dresser handles clinking. Nothing but the sounds I, myself, am making.
The black plywood creeks as I walk into my bedroom. The house is so quiet the only thing I hear when I pause is the clock flipping the minutes.
Not long ago there were four of us and three cats. Now there’s just me and two cats. And my phone.
And the clock.
I’ve gotten used to it. The stillness. The quiet. The sound of nothing but myself. It no longer breaks my heart but I always notice.
After I moved out of my mom’s house, and then later after I moved out of my dad’s… I never really thought about what it was like to be them after I left. I was off flying my own adventures and never really looked back.
I know now though. What it’s like to have an empty house. To eat dinner by myself. To go to bed without kids to herd. Without verbally saying goodnight to anyone.
But it can be okay. The sun will still rise in the morning. We really do adjust and adapt so long as we don’t fight the current of where life is taking us.
So when I was in my mid 20s I would go over to my grandmother Mildred’s house at night sometimes. Just to see what she was up to or more likely because I wanted something. 😉
She was almost always in the kitchen, sitting on a barstool, listening to her local NPR station. It seemed like her radio was always yammering on about the Iowa Democrats or political hoopla, something or another.
I never understood why she just didn’t go sit on her couch. It had to be more comfortable than her barstool. But that’s where she liked to be so more power to her. And she always had something on the stove simmering. Sometimes it smelled really good and sometimes it didn’t.
Anyways... After she passed away and after I got divorced from my first wife I moved in to my grandma’s house. I often would sit in that same kitchen, eating oatmeal with raisins, because I was poor, listening to a little FM. It gave me a connection to her when I felt all alone. It wasn’t easy getting divorced at 26. But that's another story. In my grandma's kitchen I learned just how awesome public radio is.
So now some twenty odd years later when I’m home alone I spend more time in the kitchen than anywhere else. Listening to WBEZ or some podcast if it’s time for a WBEZ pledge drive. The horror of pledge week, let me tell ya.
I never really thought much about the people I left behind, the people that stayed at home but I do now when I’m sitting by myself.
The people that came before me are the ones that helped make me who I am. They’re the ones that taught me that we can be okay without someone in the next room, without someone filling up their water cup.
I guess when enough gray days are strung together I get all reflective.
|Oct 15, 2017|
They deserve it
When I was drinking I would hurt people, because that’s what I did when I was drinking, and then I would feel bad and avoid them. Sometimes go out of my way not to see them. And then when the day came around that I did, I would hang my head in shame and hope that they had forgotten.
My guilt would pile up like garbage. The trash can would be overflowing, shit falling on the floor, and I’d just ignore it. But then I’d walk by the guilty trash pile and step on something and it’d stick to my shoe and I’d be like...
And that’s how I lived.
We talk in 12 step meetings about how the steps change us, make us better people. How they awaken our spirits. And with that I was thinking about Steps 8 and 9 recently and the cool thing about working them is that years later when I have something to do, amends to be made, or whatever I know that there is freedom after I walk through it. After I sweep up and take out my trash I’ll feel better. “Freedom from bondage of self” as it’s written.
The first time I was making my list, preparing to make those amends and so on, I had all kinds of anxiety and fear because I’d never done something like that before. Not something that monumental anyways. I didn’t have much experience with facing not only what I had done but also facing the other person. I didn’t know what was going to happen or how it was all gonna work out. So many unknowns. And unknowns are scary. Plus, I felt bad for what I’d done that led me to the person’s door in the first place.
People in the meetings said it was going to be okay and I knew that it was going to be okay just from earlier step work. But right then it wasn’t okay. Because I hadn’t made them. I was still living with the burden of my trash heap.
So in the here and now, because I went through the whole amends process, became willing, and knocked on people’s doors, I know there’s good stuff on the other side. I can rely on my past experience of taking action. I have that benefit now. The steps not only clear away the “wreckage of the past” but also give us the skills to live a clean life moving forward. Steps 8 and 9 are “training for Step 10” as John recently said.
Walking around with something on my mind, something that I need to do it really bothers me in the here and now. After having a clear conscience and knowing what a blue sky feels like, whenever my conscience isn’t clear it grinds on my emotional gears. It’s like life comes to a halt. It interferes with my relationship with god, with the cosmos, with you guys.
Today, I don’t have to walk around a trash pile. I know what to do. I can reach out to whoever now and be done with it. I won’t have to wonder if someone’s still mad or hurt because I can take responsibility for what I did. I can simply say “I was being an ass. And I’m sorry.“ It can really be that simple.
Then all that burden, all that discord, it goes away. Doing that kinda thing is how come I’m happy today. It’s how I get to live my life fully in the present. Not looking back, not feeling bad, but enjoying everything this very moment has to offer. There’ll be no fucking trash on the floor.
Also, just knowing that a relationship can be repaired or set back on track is a wonderful feeling. Just knowing that it will no longer be an obstacle, that I don’t have to avoid someone or not look them in the eye. Just knowing it’s gonna be okay gives me hope, gives me relief, gives me the motivation to clean it up.
And it will also make the other person’s day just that much better. They can have and share in that same freedom, in that same closure. They deserve it more than I do.
I’ll never forget the look on his face after I said, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” His eyes teared up the same as mine as we shared that moment, as we both let go of a shard of glass that was holding us back. That was keeping us from having the best relationship possible. We shared in that release. I’ll doubt if you’ll find something better than that.
|Oct 13, 2017|
Blade Runner 2049 ticket