Sunday, February 13, 2011
I decided a bit ago to go back over my writings here over the past two years and was more than a little shocked at what I found. I know that the last two years for me haven't been the easiest I have ever faced, but I had no idea that the bitterness that I was feeling was so obvious in my writings. More than once I found myself saying, "Wow...that was quite snarky!" to something I wrote. I'm fairly sure that there was no coincidence that most of the snarkiest writing came during my long stretch of unemployment when the issues in my personal life were really dragging me down.
In the early days of this version of the blog, I'll freely admit to intentionally going for the low punch occasionally. In this 'shock and awe' world we now live in, the only way to stand out is by making more noise than those around you. Looking at those posts now, from a quite different perspective, I see what they really were...A mean spirited attack born from a time of great frustration with myself and my situations. Even the more recent posts (2010) also had a few daggers (no, not quite the same as Wayne Laravee's) that I'm a bit disappointed about.
I don't want to end up a bitter old man so soon, but it looks like that's what I became, at least for a little while. I know that my life has had more downs than ups lately, but that shouldn't come out as much in my writing. I'm hoping to change all that now. Maybe, just maybe, I can get back to the lighter side of life and it will reflect in my writing. Here's to hoping...
Save water - Shower in pairs!
This is the #1 best way to save that most vital of resources, water. By grabbing a coed, you cut the amount of water you use by a whopping 1/2! The average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute (per USGS estimates), so a ten minute shower uses 25 gallons! Showering together will save you 12.5 gallons per shower! That's a kind of savings that will warm any environmentalists heart! (Thanks go out to Kelly Farris for the assist on this one!)
Save energy - Reduce the temperature and find a cuddle buddy!
All the experts agree that one of the biggest ways that the average person can save energy is by reducing the temperature in your home by just a few degrees and grab a sweater. Well, you can save even more energy by reducing the ambient temperature in your bedroom to just a few degrees above the outside temp in the winter! Then all you need to do is grab that special someone and keep each other warm. Survival experts will tell you that the most efficient way to share warmth is by skin to skin contact. One warm quilt plus two naked bodies equals environmental bliss!
Save landfill space - Use rechargeable batteries!
Ladies (and some guys), by switching to environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries you can reduce the hundreds of thousands of disposable batteries that end up in our landfills from all of your 'toys'. With just a few sets of rechargeables, you can play to your hearts (and every other part) content, confident in the knowledge that you are saving valuable landfill space!
Reduce impact from clothing - go natural
If you ask any person who is doing a lot to reduce their environmental impact one of their favorite ways to reduce their impact is by buying gently used clothing from local thrift stores. Not only does it save everything that goes into making an article of clothing (land used for growing cotton, energy wasted in producing the fabric, energy wasted and pollution from transporting, etc) but many of the thrift shops (like Goodwill) use the money raised from the sale of donated items to support social programs. I say, if you want to really become truly green, you should dispense the need for clothing entirely! In 2009, 9.1 MILLION acres of land in the US alone was used in the planting of cotton (Per the National Cotton Council stats). Imagine how much of that land could be used for other green ideas if it wasn't needed to grow all that cotton!
Can't go clothes free? - Go commando!
Ok, I'll admit, most of us are unwilling to go the au natural route even if all the indecency laws would be stricken from the books (and believe me, I'm no exception). The average household does around 400 loads of laundry in a standard year (per Energy Star estimates). Here's an easy way to see what kind of impact you have. Take all your unmentionables and place them all in the washer (just for scale). now, if say you have one load of undies and you wash them, say every other week, that's 26 loads of laundry per year that you save by just getting rid of the first layer! 26 loads of water and detergent is great savings for both the planet and the wallet!
By following these simple, eco-friendly suggestions, soon even you can be proud to shout, "I'm green and I'm LOVING it!"
Saturday, February 12, 2011
If you saw my post from last weekend, you'll know that the ups and downs in my life have been a little bit out of whack. Well, dear readers, apparently we ain't seen nothing yet. The great cosmic roller coaster that is my life cannot go a few hours without correcting itself. We'll put aside the fact that I had three Mondays this week (believe me, we'll touch on that later) and just concentrate on the end of the week and work from there.
Friday promised to be a, well...if not good, at least a decent day by my recent standards. Yea, I did wake up with the first twinges of a cold, but working in an elementary school now, I'm pretty sure that my life will be an unending series of head colds and other various viruses. What was going to make it good-ish was the fact that I was going to be able to squeeze in about an hour of happiness before work. It was too. That hour was quite nice even if it was way too short. At this point I should have went with my gut...It was telling me to slag off work in favor of more fun. However, as a 'responsible' adult, I trudged to work anyway. How was I rewarded for my devotion to my occupation? That's right...the twinge of a cold hits me full force less than two hours into my shift, effectively taking my feet right out from under me. In retrospect, it wasn't so bad...I've worked through colds before and I did have my phone which allowed me access to some relief, so it wasn't completely unbearable.
So what do I get hit with when I get home? Of course, another bump in the personal road. One more fire in the making that will need to be stamped out before it has a chance to toast me to a delightful shade of charcoal black.
Of course, Monday started off the week with fireworks of it's very own. I came to find out that, due to a rare set of circumstances, my payroll check bounced. Yessiriebob...I get to jump through more hoops than a show dog (one of which is STILL being navigated) just to get the money I earned back and all the fees removed. Of course, the bank can't be arsed to process all the fees on the same day...Oh no...that would be to f'ing easy. Let's do one a day for THREE DAYS just to make it more interesting. Oh yea...turning Tuesday and Thursday into Mondays makes my life so much more interesting.
I understand that the world needs balance. The whole system would collapse without it. Honestly though, does the counterbalance have to come SO DAMN FAST?! Can't I enjoy the good for more than an hour or two before the next ton of bricks hits me on the head? One question that has been rolling around my head a lot these past few days is, at what point does constantly picking yourself up turn from noble and courageous to pathetic and foolish?
I'm starting to think that a balanced world doesn't include me being happy. Up until recently, I would have been content to sacrifice a bit of happiness for some stability. Not now though. I have a reason to keep picking myself up and refusing to dust myself off after the brushback pitch. Is it foolish? Maybe. Will I begin to look pathetic? More than likely. The thing is, I got a taste of happiness that I haven't had in quite some time. Once I got it, I had no idea how much I missed it. If I'm going to go down hard, than dammit, I'm going down kicking and screaming...
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Whether they want to believe it or not, most people believe in the concept of Karma. Even if you are not a follower of Buddhism or Hinduism, where Karma is a big influence, you have to admit that if you do good things, good things will happen to you. I'm no different. As you saw if you read my writings over the past months, religion was something that just wasn't a fit for me. Still, I've seen too many times where good people get good things because they did good deeds. I've also seen bad people get what was coming to them for their bad deeds. Yea, bad people get good things and good people get crapped on, but overall, things do equal out.
Which brings me to me. Yes, I've made mistakes in my past, but none have been close to what you would consider evil. Yes, there was one chapter of my life that was quite bad and more than a little immoral, but that is long behind me and will never happen again. Over the past few years, I have tried to do good as much as possible. It was not that I was looking for good return Karma (well, at least most of the time!) I was just trying to do the right thing. Now I'm confused. I can't for the life of me figure out what it was that I did that allowed the current run of good. It's just over and above anything that my manic depressive roller coaster of a life has ever given me before.
As you may have noticed, it's been almost a month since anything was posted here. It's not that there wasn't anything I wanted to write about...I had several ideas and a couple even have drafts that were partially written. The two biggest hurdles were the total lack of desire to write and a bit of a lack of time. The lack of time was partially due to the depression of mine requiring me to sleep a lot more than I had before. Now, suddenly, there's a big boost of energy and motivation. With a little luck (and me not having to rely on my total lack of memory) I can take this and pour it into my book and finally get that finished.
There is only one question I have left to get over. How far do I push this? Good Karma is one thing, but pressing my luck during the good run may just push that old roller coaster into a steep dive. For anyone that knows me, I'm not one to do the smart thing very often! Do I push my luck and go for the gold or do I settle for the bronze? I'd love to take some time to think about it before I make that decision. Unfortunately, there's no way of telling how long this good streak will last. Stay tuned my dear reader...this could get interesting...
Saturday, January 15, 2011
**Update** Unfortunately, this will not come to pass. I have been unable to convince my roomie to allow me to publish his comments online. He is too concerned about his friends and family, which is both understandable and commendable.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Anyway, I still have one major hurdle ahead of me, so I'm by no means out of the woods yet. I can, however, see the clearing ahead. Hopefully the new year will allow me to get on a regular writing schedule so that maybe, just maybe, I can turn this into something more than an intellectual exercise.
I would like to thank my 3 readers for sticking with me. It will be more worth it in the near future. I have some big plans for this. Will it ever materialize like I want? Probably not, but the maybe is getting stronger! My writing time has been divided lately and this has suffered. I've regained focus on my book and a new story began to take shape Sunday. I'm still not sure where that one will take me, but I am excited about the premise. If any of you are fans of White Wolf's games, you may enjoy that one once (if) it gets finished.
Well, this seems rather short...How about a story? Here's another from my collection of flash fiction. There is a bit of a moral to this one, and it's pretty in your face, but I still enjoy the premise. I hope you do too!
"It's still amazing," DeShawn says without looking up from his gloves.
"What's that killer?" Rod, DeShawn's manager, asks from his usual position, leaning against the dressing room door.
"It's amazing that, without fail, this is always the calmest moment. Not after the match, not on the ride home, right now." DeShawn sighs. "I'm actually going to miss this. Right here, right now."
At 41, DeShawn knew that, essentially his career was over. Sure, the big name heavyweights could still fight into their 50's, but he was no big name star. Although the last 20 years were great, he just couldn't get over that hump. Never quite made it.
Everything started out so well too. Golden Gloves championship in his class on his 21st birthday. Under card matches for some of the biggest events of the time. But all that is ancient history. Now, it's merely survival fights in dingy arenas where more often than not the purse isn't enough to cover the travel expenses. DeShawn would have hung up the gloves months ago, except for the phone call.
Six months ago, DeShawn got a call from an old sparring partner who turned into one of the larger promoters in the Deep South. He was putting on a huge card over Thanksgiving weekend, and wanted DeShawn to fight in one of the under card matches. A few years earlier, and it would have been a no-brainer. Now, staring retirement squarely in the face, DeShawn wasn't sure if he had what it took to put on a good match, even if it was for an under card. The persuasiveness of his old buddy and the guaranteed purse eventually won him over.
Now, just a few short minutes from his last ever professional bout, the doubts that DeShawn had all those months ago came flooding back.
"Rod," DeShawn asks with a tear in his eye, "What am I doing here?"
"One last, big payoff killer!" Rod responds in his usual gruff exuberance. "A chance to go out in front of a big crowd instead of in front of a few dozen drunken gamblers!"
"Yea, I suppose," DeShawn replies weakly. "Is it worth it though?"
"Of course you punk!" Rod jests. "Now get out there and beat that mook senseless!"
With a chuckle, DeShawn headed out of the locker room for his last, long walk to the ring. Upon entering the arena, he was overcome by the spectacle. Nobody would confuse the Bartow Arena with Caesar's Palace, but it was a damn sight better than the back of Ernie's Pool Hall in Tulsa, the site of his last bout. Even a half full house was still good for several thousand boxing fans.
Climbing between the ropes, DeShawn is confronted by his opponent for the night, a lean, hungry up and comer 15 years his junior. The last thought DeShawn had before facing off for the last fight of his career was, 'Lord, please let me not get embarrassed out there!'
At first, it seemed to DeShawn that the youngster would make quick work of him. His opponent came at him from the bell with a flurry of punches that DeShawn barely was able to fend off. As the round went on however, DeShawn began to see a few flaws in the youngster's game that could be exploited. Unfortunately, his opponent's age allowed for a torrid pace that DeShawn was unused to.
As the first three minutes came to a close, DeShawn was only able to land a few weak punches. What he lacked in offense however, was made up for in the amount of knowledge he gained about his opponent. With the ringing of the bell for the second round, DeShawn's confidence began to grow. Not only did he think that he was going to have a decent fight, he might actually win!
After three more minutes and a few more weak, tentative attacks, DeShawn began to see his opponent weakening. Apparently this was the youngster's first fight in front of such a large crowd. He had thrown everything he had in the first two rounds. Now it was time to show the rookie what a veteran can do!
Dashing from his corner at the start of the third round, DeShawn began throwing powerful punches with bad intentions. After exhausting himself in the first two rounds, the youngster's defense wasn't as quick and sharp as it should have been. Glancing blows turned quickly into solid, damaging shots. One shot ended in a sickening crunch as DeShawn crushed his opponent's nose. Only feeling slightly guilty, DeShawn continued the onslaught until a solid shot to the youngster's midsection crumpled him like a used beer cup.
Collapsing into a neutral corner, DeShawn watches as the referee slowly counts, quickly becoming aware of his own fatigue. Only after he hears the three chimes from the bell does he realize that he has won. Dropping to his knees, fists thrust triumphantly above his head, DeShawn basks in the polite applause from the crowd.
Striding back to the locker room, head held high, DeShawn finally knew what it was all about. It wasn't about the fame, glory, or money. It was taking pride in a job well done.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
At what age, if any, is it too old to have crushes? Seriously, is there a point that it turns from 'Awww...that's so cute!' to 'EEEEEEWWWWW....creepy!'? Does it make it worse that the person knows it's a crush? Pre-teens and teens by and large don't know the difference, that's what makes it sooooo cute. I get that a 60 year old man crushing on a 21 year old is creepy in the extreme, but what about the gray areas? These are the things that come to my mind as I'm coming off of a caffeine fueled Epiphany...
Ladies...What is the big deal with the 'bad boys'? I'm not talking about the barflies that act all big and bad, I mean the true bad guys. The guys with a rap sheet that goes from Green Bay to Milwaukee. Maybe it's a difference in the sexes, but in reverse, I wouldn't find a gal with multiple felonies and who was just released from prison attractive, no matter what they looked like on the outside. I just don't get it. The incident in the Milwaukee freeway recently brought this one to mind. When given the choice, the gal stayed with the felon. Am I missing something?
As much as it pains me to say it, I have officially gone over the line from huge fan to fanboy. It's not something that I want to admit. I have spent my entire adult life trying desperately to avoid becoming the 'OMGOMGOMGOMG' kind of fan of anything. Yes, I have deep respect and admiration for many different people from all walks of life (writers, musicians, sports players, etc), but it has always been in a respectful way. I came to the realization last night that there is now one person that, if I ever got the chance to meet, would turn me into a blubbering pile of fanboy goo...The conscious part of my brain was a little surprised by the subject of said fanboydom, but the subconscious apparently always knew. Oh well...time to go over to the dark side.
edit: After a bit of a reflection, it has come to my attention that if you look at my electronic presence, you might get a hint at the person who is discussed above...
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Trying desperately to avoid being lulled to sleep by the rhythmic swish swish of the wiper blades, Pamela began to wonder, again, whether this trip shouldn't have been put off until tomorrow. No matter how many times her mom told her that it was just a routine procedure, Pamela had this funny feeling that there was nothing routine about it. So, after only a few minutes thought, she grabbed what she needed and headed off into the rainy, Ohio night.
Approaching Akron with no sign that the rain will let up anytime soon, Pamela decides to pull into the truck stop ahead. "Maybe", she thinks, "I'll get lucky and the diner will still be open and I can get a cup of coffee." Pulling into the well worn parking lot, it appears that Pamela's luck is with her. Although empty, it does indeed look like the diner is still open.
After carefully parking her car as close as she can get to the door, Pamela sprints to the diner door in a vain attempt to avoid most of the rain. Practically diving into the diner, Pamela is greeted by the inviting warmth. "Hey hon!" calls the waitress cheerfully. "Dreadful night isn't it?"
"Tell me about it!" Pamela says breathlessly. "You guys are open, right?"
"Of course!" the waitress replies. "24 hours, even on Christmas! The name's Flo. Grab a spot anywhere you want. I'll grab ya a menu and be over in a sec."
"Thanks!" Pamela calls as she slides into a booth near the register. Looking around, she sees that, while clean and tidy, there isn't much remarkable about the place. Just your typical roadside diner.
"Hear you go dear," Flo says returning with the menu. "Can I get you something to start with?"
"Just a cup of coffee," Pamela replies while trying to shake the last of the rain from her hair.
"Sure thing," Flo calls over her shoulder. "Leaded or unleaded?"
"Leaded!" Pamela chuckles. "Haven't heard that term in quite a while!"
"Well, we are pretty old fashioned here!" Flo says chipperly, returning with the coffee. "What brings you out at this time of night?"
"Just passing through and need a bit of a recharge," Pamela says with a nod of thanks. She explains to Flo about the issues with her mother while giving the menu a once over.
"Oh honey," Flo says empathetically. "Sorry to hear that. I'll get this over to the cook."
As she casually flicks the ticket to the cook who is leaning through the service window, Flo calls to Pamela, "Care to talk about it some?"
Even though the last thing Pamela wants to do is air her problems to a complete stranger, she does that the entire time. The odd thing about it is, since her dad passed away several years ago, Pamela has had such a hard time talking even to her close friends about her feelings. Now, sitting in this little roadside truck stop, talking to someone she has never met before, she finds herself pouring out emotions she never knew she had.
Dabbing up the last bit of egg yolk with the last scrap of toast crust, Pamela turns to Flo and says, "Thanks a lot. I guess I've been meaning to get that off my mind for quite some time."
"Oh, don't you worry dear," Flo replies sweetly. "We don't often get customers this late during the week. Well, except for the long haul guys, and I spend most of the time trying too keep their hands off of me!"
Getting up with a long needed stretch, Pamela says, "How much do I owe you?"
"Never mind dear," Flo says. "It's on me. Like I said, it was nice to have someone to talk to for a bit."
"Really?" Pamela asks incredulously. "No, I got to give you something!"
"No really," Flo insists. "Go see your mom. She needs to see you."
With a wave to the cook and a hug of thanks to Flo, Pamela heads back into the monsoon. As she pulls onto the frontage road, Pamela is startled by the sudden appearance of flashing red and blue lights in her rear view mirror. Slightly annoyed, she pulls over and waits for the officer to approach.
As she rolls down her window to talk, the officer gruffly barks, "Please turn off the car miss!"
Complying quickly, Pamela asks, "What is the problem officer?"
"Can you tell me what you were doing back there?" the officer asks sternly.
"I was just getting something to eat and some coffee. I have a long trip ahead of me!" Pamela says innocently.
"Right," the officer replies sarcastically. "Give me another one!"
"No really!" Pamela pleads. "You can even go back and ask Flo!"
"Flo?" the officer replies, significantly less gruff than he was a few seconds ago.
"Yes!" Pamela almost squeaks. "She's the waitress!"
"Miss," the officer replies gently. "That restaurant has been closed for years. Ever since the fire."
Whipping her head around, Pamela notices that the place where she was just minutes ago has, in fact, been shuttered for years. The faded fire scars are still visible even in the dark. "Wha...Who..." Pamela stutters. "What is happening?"
"I think you better come with me miss," the officer says calmly. "We'll get you a room at the motel."
Following the officer numbly, Pamela wonders, did she imagine the whole thing, or did something else happen out here? Although no answers would come on the short drive to the local motel, Pamela did know one thing. Her life had changed in a way she wouldn't have believed just a few hours ago.
Perhaps I'll share some more in the coming days and weeks. Real life is going to get VERY real for me, so I can't make any guarantees. Anyway, I'm sure you were expecting the Wil story. Sorry dear reader, but whether it's actually a legal issue or not, I don't feel comfortable publishing anything, even digitally, that contains a real person without their blessings. Sorry to disappoint!