Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

“What?”

He looked over at her. She frowned and hugged herself. He reached over and turned up the heater.

Her question filled the silence between them. He watched the streetlights flicker by, separating the moments of darkness. Light, dark, light, dark, light…. Not for the first time he wished he wasn’t driving.

He repeated himself. “I’m looking for magic.”

“Well what do you mean? What magic?” Despite her shivering, she had to know.

They were returning from a group coaching session, the first one he’d ever attended. They had done several group exercises, all designed to help everyone figure out exactly what they wanted out of life. The session had been illuminating, particularly for him. He’d been so restless for such a long time, not knowing why. The coaching exercises had helped.

“I’m not sure I can put it into words,” he began.

“Try.”

He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, staring out at the salt-stained roads, thinking.

“Ever have one of those moments when there’s sudden brightness? You can be looking at a light display in a busy downtown section. Or you notice the way the sun hits a particular tree in the spring…..You get this feeling, this sense of a world beyond this world, one where anything’s possible. There’s a mountain of treasure, a kind of…..” He thought hard. “Kind of like a never-ending orgasm, just out of reach.”

She snorted abruptly. “WHAT?”

They both laughed.

“I don’t know” he grinned. “I’m having a hard time trying to explain this…”

“Yeah, no kidding.”

“I’m pretty sure that when we were kids, we had a sense of wonder about the world, and about all of the possibilities. Long before we got taught about responsibilities, and our duty to the systems of employment, payments, mortgages, cars, gifts and taxes.”

“As we got older, and we took on all these burdens, that wonder got snuffed out. We forgot what it meant to explore.”

She stared straight ahead. He could tell she was processing.

He waited, silent.

After a while she looked back at him. “So tell me, what do you see when you envision this magic? As an adult, I mean.”

“I-”

“Wait. Is this what you were talking about tonight? California? Being around creative people?”

He smiled. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s part of it. I mean, I know I can get there and do everything I talked about: writing, performing improv comedy and maybe acting. But I know there are people who do that, who don’t connect to the magic. That’s the risk, I guess.”

She shook her head. “I don’t get you. I thought you wanted these things….”

“Oh I do, I do. And I’m going after them. No doubt about it. I just don’t want to fool myself into thinking any of it’s going to bring that elusive magic.”

He was grateful for the mostly empty street. It really was a beautiful night, despite the cold and the wind. The streetlights played over the road in a way that hinted at the sparkling existence of the magic for which he longed.

He had always had a love affair with light. As a kid, he recalled having a plastic game figure that lit up with a soft red glow. He remembered being mesmerized by it, as he played out on the street with it, in the twilight of a summer evening.

Later, he recalled taking his first trip to Toronto from Oshawa, and marvelling at the city skyline, with the thousands of building lights all creating their unique dance. Each one was so different, and each seemed to invite him.

“I’m not sure there’s a single point where I’ll say ‘this is it’. I think this magic requires me to keep moving, keep exploring.” He was onto something, he was sure of it.

“I need to keep creating. Keep experiencing. Whether it’s writing, or acting, or playing piano or whatever it is….I won’t be able to stop. I can’t stop. When I stop, I’m pretty sure the magic will be hidden again.”

She nodded.

“I know how cliché it sounds…”

“Don’t” she said. “Don’t apologize for this. For any of it.” She hesitated. “I mean, I can’t pretend to understand everything you said, but I get that it’s important to you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I haven’t heard you talk like this for a while. It’s definitely a good thing, this whatever it is you’re after. Not sure I’d call it magic but….it’s definitely something. How long have you been thinking about it?”

He scratched his head. Sighed. “For a long long time.” He eased the car to the stoplight. “I think it’s why I haven’t been able to feel settled in my apartment. Or for that matter, my job.”

The light turned green. He gave it some gas. “What’s worse, I could feel myself starting to stagnate. It was starting to feel like hell. Like a living hell.”

“Yeah, I noticed you weren’t laughing as much. You seemed so serious all the time. Even when we went to comedy shows, you sat there just watching the stage, like you were lost in thought.”

He nodded.

“So what changed?”

“Well for one thing, I think I’ve recaptured some momentum. I’m signing up for improv comedy classes again. Just need to get my foot back in the door again, hang around creative types.”

He smiled, mostly to himself. “And then there was the coaching thing tonight. It really helped open my eyes. I was in danger of forgetting so much.”

He didn’t mention that he didn’t think he was out of danger, just yet. It’s one thing to talk about it, but he knew he had to act or would it all go away again.

He would get old. He would lose out to complacency, comfort, and rot.

No way. No fucking way. No.

Blue-City-Skyline-At-Night

The movie Trumbo is a dramatization of the events in the life of a screenwriter named Dalton Trumbo.

trumbo

The man was also famous for being an activist and (here’s where the closed fist meets the face) a Communist.

I don’t know if it was by design or merely coincidence, but this film came out at the most appropriate time ever.

The fight he fought, back in the 40s and 50s, is echoed today. Some of the arguments used against him back then are in force today.

It’s the old “you’re either for me (and my opinions) or against me.” People seem to gravitate to the extremes of the political spectrum, without giving much to nuance, if they bother to consider it at all.

Trumbo fought for the right to have an opinion. That’s it, that’s all. Whether his opinion on Communism was viable or not (I believe it’s not) was immaterial. He wanted to have a voice, have a belief, and not have people castigate him for that belief.

Despite his protest, he was lumped in with all Communists of that time and put on a blacklist. The powers back then sought to keep him from making a living in Hollywood, in his chosen profession. They were so very afraid his intent was to infect the minds of the movie-goer by using stories to persuade Americans of the good of Communism.

They had no proof of this, and they couldn’t point to any one of his many many accomplishments until that time as evidence of this supposed “plan”of his.

Yet they didn’t believe they needed proof. All they needed to know was whether he was a Communist or not. The perfect example of “painting with a wide brush.”

It reminds me vividly of a guy who attended my high school. I knew his father to be a card-carrying political activist and Communist. I remember that both he and his father were ostracized by pretty much everyone. We all knew about his Communist dealings, and we all despised him for it (the son bearing the stigma of his father, of course).

It never occurred to me back then that these were people, and that there was no evidence they were hurting anyone.

If the sentiment was that strong in MY childhood, how much more strong would it have been back right after World War II?

We don’t have to guess, do we? The House Un-American Activities Committee – the group that created the infamous blacklist – went to great pains to underline how avowed Communists, as well as friends and family of Communists, were out to destroy the American way of life.

The parallels to today are painful. If you’re a follower of Obama, you’re probably an unthinking parasite on society. Someone deserving of scorn and ridicule.

On the other hand, if you’re a Republican, or a declared Christian, you’re likely a war-monger who lacks a heart. Someone without compassion who probably resembles Donald Trump.

There’s just no room for reason or honest debate. There’s little room for discussion, or for being so open to evidence and logical persuasion that one can change one’s mind.

Instead, we’re setting up camp on our prized dogmas, secure in our beliefs. Everyone outside the camp is the enemy. Instead of seeking to persuade anyone, we look to find evidence to support our already entrenched positions, to the delight and captive applause of the grinning choir.

I used to love computer technology.  Ended up with a dream job working with computers for a living.

One year at Thanksgiving, my boss called her staff into her office (it was a small gang), and we had a Thanksgiving meeting.  She asked each of us to talk about what we were thankful for.  Two of the girls rolled their eyes.

I said “I’m thankful for my job”.  One of the girls barely stifled a snicker as they grinned at each other.

“I’m serious.  You don’t know the kind of hellish job I came from.  For the first time in my working life it’s a treat to get up in the morning.  I actually look forward to coming to work.”

The point was lost.  These girls had it great, and didn’t appear to know it.

It wasn’t the computers so much, I now realize.  It was the fact that I’d found something interesting that made me curious.  This job was all of that.  I got to be the lone computer guy for the office (among other things).  I managed a consultant and soaked in all of the knowledge that I could.

I think maybe it was the shiny buttons and lights that attracted me.  Press a button and something happens.  Press another combination and something else happens.  I loved exploring that world.

shiny

Eventually I moved out of that job and into another one, again involving computers – only more so.  Once again I had an excellent boss, who believed in letting his people stretch the limits of their understanding.  He encouraged us to work with servers.  At first, we spent time learning about them.  Then they became our responsibility.  We spent many long nights in the server room trying to figure out why one or the other server wasn’t working.  Long nights talking long distance with the server manufacturers, jointly troubleshooting problems.  While we had lots of frustration, it was coupled with bouts of joking and laughter.

There was the time that four of us were stuck in a tiny room, working on a server.  There was a guy about my age, and a vendor rep around the same age, a younger woman, and then of course me.

The vendor guy said “I don’t know.  This isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.  Do you know anyone who specializes in this server type?

My older colleague said “Oh I know.  I’ll give Dave a call.  He works with these all the time.  He’ll know just what to do.”  He got his cell out.

“Can I speak with Dave?”

While waiting, the vendor blurted “Dave’s not here”.

Three of us burst out laughing.  The poor younger girl looked confused.  Never had I seen such a clear barrier between one generation and the next.  Someone should make it a rule that as part of their education everyone gets exposed to the material of “The Beatles”, “Cheech and Chong” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”.  Make it mandatory.  I guarantee you very few would complain – those are all classics.

For the past number of years, the number of new and innovative applied computer technologies has diminished, as have the opportunities for late night struggles with workmates.  This all mirrors my level of engagement and interest.  If there’s nothing new, there’s little to be curious about.  No new shiny lights and buttons.

Getting up in the morning has become more of a chore than a joy.  In fact, over the past couple of years, there’s been a new interest to take its place during my off-work hours, a new shiny bauble.

Writing – something I used to do as a hobby – has become something a little more.  I now write freelance critiques of a couple of TV shows.  The challenge is to make them interesting and readable. To have an opinion and to articulate it in such a way as to invite comment and conversation.  Luckily, the shows themselves are so well-written that they provoke emotions in our readers.  This helps.

Seems a little ironic that the one subject that bores me is being used to indulge another passion.  The computer, far from being a fascinating innovation, is now serving as a tool to enable the expressing of my ideas in writing.

There are a ton of questions I’ve yet to answer, and a bunch I’ve yet to ask or figure out.  Like, what’s next?  Where can I take this writing thing?  I mean, beyond the obvious (e.g. a novel).  If I’m to escape the “golden shackles” of computer-related employment, how do I leverage this love of writing?

(That’s an open question, by the way.  Any of your ideas would be gratefully received.)

The bottom line is that Dave is most certainly here.  Keep knocking.  He’ll get there eventually.

A friend of mine just posted this cartoon on her Facebook wall:

Funwithwords

So I responded that we should not forget the other replacements for “said”.  Like “go”, for example.  I illustrated my point with the following:

————————

Jim goes “so I buried the dead hooker, like you asked”.

And Pete’s like “hold up. Not near the petunias!  Dude, I *just* planted those things.”

And Jim’s all “nah, bro. She’s, like, interred and stuff, in your neighbour’s yard.”

And Pete goes “righteous!”

————————

A walk in the mall or a ride on the subway allows you to hear many conversations like the above (minus the dead hooker of course).  Proving, I think, that today’s vernacular has taken a kind of colourful turn.  Would you agree? I’m not at all convinced it’s a bad thing.  My belief is that a word or the usage of a word becomes evident and valid when one person says it, and his listener understands it.   Webster would likely grunt and do his best to turn over in his grave at that notion; however, he would hardly be in a position to object openly.  Therefore my point remains unchallenged.

Contrast the above conversation to this:

————————

James encountered Peter on his morning tour of the neighbourhood. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, James raised an unpleasant topic. “Peter” he said “I have taken care of that matter we discussed yesterday.”

Peter furrowed his brows in confusion. “I’m at a loss as to the meaning of what you just referenced. What matter?”

James replied “oh you know – I have dealt with the recently deceased ‘working girl’ who suffered the misfortune of having a heart attack while in your employ.”

Peter sighed. “In what manner did you – ahem – take care of her?”

James smiled. “Well, I simply dug a shallow hole and planted her in it.”

Peter gasped in surprise. “Oh dear Lord. You didn’t bury her near the petunias did you?”

Scratching his head, James replied “are you truly concerned about your flowers, and not the recently deceased? I am frankly surprised at your glaring coldness, my friend. Are you perhaps an untested psychopath? Do you feel the need to study others’ emotions, so as to mimic them as best you can?”

Peter laughed. “By no means. It’s just that those petunias were chosen by my wife. If they died before their time, I envision my poor wife attempting to dig them up, only to encounter some part of a dead woman’s hand or leg at their roots.”

James sighed with relief. “Worry no more, my good man. I have interred her remains in the garden of your neighbour.”

Peter smiled. “Indeed you are a prince among friends.”

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Given the subject  – a deceased prostitute – I would find the above conversation as colourful and as entertaining as the first, albeit for a different reason.

I think this is one of the reasons I love the English language so much.  There are so many different ways to arrive at the same meaning, each method providing a nuance and shade of meaning that differs from the other.

Peer review time:  what are your thoughts on the above?  Are you disgusted by the slaughtering of the English verbal language or are you amused by it, as I am?  Be honest: has some of it crept into your lexicon?

ADHD Drugs.  Tried them.  Worked as advertised but also had some interesting side effects.  I’m not sure I can ever get used to the second head that grew out of my shoulders, but whatever….

I think I went a little nuts when the doctor sat me down, showed me a chart and announced that his findings of my symptoms were almost off of the charts.   “Here’s where normal people are” he said (or words to that effect) as he pointed to a line across a graph.   Then he pointed to a line near the top of the page that went from left to right in a kind of a zigzag pattern “and here’s where you are.”   I was more than pleased; I was ecstatic.

squirrel-dog

There are so many more symptoms to ADHD than just the propensity toward distraction.  Many of us – especially ones with a more severe case of ADHD – become debilitated throughout our lives.  A great many can’t hold a job, a marriage or maintain our health.  Many of us have addiction problems.  I don’t mean just drugs; I mean anything under the sun: sexual addictions, problems with booze, problems with almost anything.  And so many of us hop from one addiction to another.  My dad was an alcoholic, so I was fortunate enough (long before the diagnosis) to recognize that I may have inherited his fascination with booze.  So although I enjoy wine, I was smart enough to occasionally go through dry periods “just to make sure”.   Then I realized that I was beginning to enjoy pot too much (this was years ago, officer), so I stopped taking any of that for a while.  There were a number of other ones – I won’t bother to list them here.

Many of us become adrenaline junkies, often taking horrible chances with our lives while looking for that “high”.   Scratch the skin of a person who gets into way too many car accidents and you may find a person with ADHD.

Socially, we are often just a bunch of misfits.  I never realized it until my daughter and I started comparing notes.  “Dad” she would say “I feel guilty about getting so bored with conversations sometimes”.  I would reply “I KNOW, RIGHT?  It’s like they’re all ‘blah blah my vacation blah blah” and I’m like ‘what time is it? Oh I’ve got to go'”.

Sometimes I even blogged about it.   Like the blog I posted about a guy who was into some of the same types of books I was interested in – only in a kind of steroidal way:  it was all he could talk about, and it bored me to tears.   I eventually realized that the problem wasn’t him, it was me.  (“Sure it was” I hear you say.  “That’s so cliché, man”.  And okay – so it is.  Happens to be true).  Normal people – however “normal” is defined – can carry on linear conversations that have beginning, middle and conclusion points.   I realized that wasn’t the case with me or my daughter:  our conversations were more like exploring birds, hopping from tree branch to tree branch, never landing on the same one twice.   A bouquet of non sequiturs, if you will.   We eventually realized that we were annoying others who wanted to get in on the conversation but felt they couldn’t.   “Can you not stay on the point???” they’d exclaim, exasperated.   “What point?” would be our innocent response.

Our conversations often frustrated ourselves as well, but only for brief moments.  It kind of went like this:  “um, what was I talking about?”  “I dunno” *shrug*   Whatever it was seemed important; it was a point I was trying to get to, only I was too excited by the process of the conversation and so, as usual, the conversational car left the track and flipped end over end into a field of much more interesting thoughts.  Crash and burn.

“Were you aware that there’s an eclipse of the moon tonight?”

“Oh really?  I’d love to see that.  I can’t stay up late though, I have a test in the morning.”

“Well maybe you don’t have to stay up to watch it.  Maybe you could….”

“Oh my God Dad.  I remember the last time I saw the Northern Lights.  They were so beautiful…”

“Was that when you were on that camping trip?”

“With Pete?”

“How is Pete?”

“He’s married now and he’s running his own shoe store.”

(Then I’d think: shoes, running, Nike, “just do it”)

“Hey I’m going to finish the next chapter of my book tonight.”

“Really?  That’s so good, Dad.”

(And she would think “books, Kindle, Amazon”)

“Do you know that Amazon delivers to Canada?”

(And I would think “old news, news, newspaper, columnists, Conrad Black)

“I knew that.  Hey have you ever read any of Conrad Black’s stuff?  The man’s a wordsmith!”

(And she would think “wordsmith, clowns, elephants, circus”)

“No I never have.   That reminds me: Cirque du Soleil is coming to town.  I’ve got tickets!”

And on it would go.  You can just picture other “normal” people saying “okay – just what the FUCK are you guys talking about?”

We’d both look at each other and smile.

I think even my writing gets affected and infected by this type of meandering.  For example: I meant to tell you about my foray into the ADHD drug world.

So the first one was a long-term drug that you have to take every day.  It’s supposed to get into your bloodstream as a constant presence and affect what’s called “executive function” – whereby you retain the ability to not only focus, but keep all of the balls in the air at the same time.  Most people aren’t aware of it: they put their current thought on a shelf – NOT FORGOTTEN, just placed aside for a moment – while they deal with a more pressing thought.  Then when they’re done, they go back to the shelf, bring down the thought and work with it again.  With ADHD folk it’s more like we hoof that thought into the outer stratosphere, completely forgotten and rarely ever seen again.  It’s not deliberate; it’s just the way our minds tend to work and process.   This drug was designed to help patients gain a measure of control.

I have no idea whether it worked or not; I didn’t stay on it long enough.  Just a week.  Just long enough to notice that I was having a very hard time trying to pee (among other things).  It was horrible.  I got worried that maybe my body was going through an unwanted change, until I got onto the net and started reading about the side effects.   So I dropped that drug like it was a flaming bag of dog poop – and I felt better almost immediately.

I went back to the doc who prescribed another ADHD medication that he promised wouldn’t mess me up so badly.  The side effects were minimal and as long as my blood pressure remained under control there wouldn’t be any problem.  I went on it for a few weeks and didn’t notice any change in my ADHD symptoms so went back to him.  He increased the dosage.  I tried it for a few more weeks; still no change.  I went back – and this can get boring so let me just say it took a few more visits until we got the dosage right.   And then, presto!  The required effects kicked in.

I was able to focus; I was able to complete projects; I was able to go places and not leave my iPhone or iPad sitting somewhere for someone to pick up and adopt as their own.  (Can’t tell you how many times I’d done that before).

There were other noticeable effects too.   I started boring the hell out of myself.  Anything I wrote was tedious and long – and complete.   I hated my writing.  My creativity took a noticeable hit.  I figured it was worth the price of being able to be just a little bit linear in thinking again.

Then one day I started having pains in my chest.  Severe pains.  I went to a walk-in clinic and the doctor said my blood pressure was through the roof.  She ordered an EKG (my heart was fine), and then prescribed some nitro.  I quickly realized the culprit:  the high doses of the ADHD drug was affecting my blood pressure.

So I went off it.  Completely.  Cold-turkey.

My blood pressure’s back to normal, and my creativity is back.

In talking with a good friend of mine who is also an MD, we seemed to agree that maybe, just maybe, people are designed to be different from each other, and maybe there’s no real need to alter our behaviour (or as we called it, get into “social engineering”).

I only know I’m enjoying the crap out of life right now, and it’s doubtful that I’ll ever seek help for my ADHD again.  (Never say never though).

Final note:  I hear you saying “dude, your creativity can’t be all that great.  You rarely write a new blog.”   You would be correct:  my blogs are too few and far between and I’m planning to change that.   But – and this is a huge thing – I’m still writing.  I’ve been employed for a few months as a critic for the popular site TVFanatic.com – and I write a weekly review of two shows:  Criminal Minds and NCIS.   Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to interview two of the Criminal Minds stars too:  Matthew Gray Gubler (who plays Dr. Reid) and Joe Mantegna (who plays Agent Rossi).   If you want to check it out – no pressure! – you’ll find the reviews at Criminal Minds and NCIS.  (My name on there is Douglas Wolfe.)

In the meantime, maybe I’ll just keep playing at life and forget about the ADHD meds.  Frankly I’m having too much fun without them.

“You need to pay more attention to your Chi.”

I heard those words while sitting in a diner in Tofino, B.C. today. Seemed to resonate soundly, fitting completely with the laid back young atmosphere of this rainy little resort town.

Tofino is a beautiful anomaly. It hardly rarely gets any warmer than 15 degrees during the summer (59 Fahrenheit) or cooler than 8 degrees (43 Fahrenheit) during the day in winter. Since it exists in a rain forest, the predominant weather is….rain. Lots and lots of rain. The cheerful residents wander around town in rain boots and rain coats. You can spot the city folk (raising hand) by the fact that they’re sporting umbrellas.

Yet, for all of that, the place consists of people in their 20’s. They’re attracted to this place. I asked my host why that was.

He said “like attracts like. There are young people here, and that attracts more of the same.”

Seeing my half-accepting nod, he continued. “Plus, there aren’t that many full time jobs here. They’re all seasonal. So it’s rare that families choose to settle here.”

He thought some more. “And they really like the great surfing here too.”

This completed a picture. Yesterday, at the same little diner, I shared a table with a long-time middle-aged resident who mentioned he just bought another property.

“Must be hard getting decent tenants” I offered, drawing upon my extensive knowledge of landlord-tenant dynamics from my home in Toronto.

He sipped his coffee. Nodded. “Yeah, they only seem to want to rent for a short time. There’s a constant turnover of residents.”

The air around this town is thick with the ambience of one word: wellness. The people are fit, alive and above all, friendly. Torontonians are generally left a little pole-axed by the redolent joy of this place. There is no rushing, about anything. You don’t meet anyone while walking and not at least nod at them. What normally would be a five minute trip to the grocery store in the big city turns out to be a fifteen minute joyful experience in Tofino: residents just love to talk and meet new people. Before you walk out with your milk and bread, you’ll know a heck of a lot more about those who work in the store: where they came from, how long they’ve been there, and how cool the surfing is.

There is a surfeit of massage practitioners. Most of them offer a range of therapies including aromatherapy and Reiki. And lots of advice on how to live a healthier lifestyle. There are no fast food places here. It’s all very very healthy. If you don’t feel like visiting one of the little restaurants, you can always purchase some organic foods to bring back to wherever you’re staying.

All of the gorgeous little (and big) resorts outside of town are connected by two things: a small highway for the cars, and a paved walkway for pedestrians and cyclists. Both see lots of use. Certainly the latter is a dog walker’s paradise. All of this is surrounded by greenery, trees.

Bears and cougars have been sighted here from time to time, too. My host mentioned that one time, his guests were pretty much confined to their suite for a while because there was a mother bear and her cub hanging out, just outside their door.

On my last visit to this town, I was playing a board game with my hosts when I spotted movement outside their plate glass dining room window. I looked closer. It was a big lumbering bear, calmly making his way from the front yard to the back yard. My eyes must have been bugging out, because my host laughed. He was used to it, whereas the only dangerous wildlife this Toronto boy had ever encountered before was a slightly gassy beggar asking for change on a dim street corner.

You don’t lock your doors in this town. There’s no point. Everyone knows everyone. It’s just that kind of place. (Plus, bears and cougars don’t have opposable thumbs. So it’s all good.)

Yesterday, we took a long walk down to the ocean and saw this:

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In spite of all of this beauty, there are a few things I miss.

A decent internet connection.
My PVR. (Yeah, I’m addicted to my TV. Sue me.)
The night life of the big city.
A movie theatre on every corner. (Well not quite on every corner. Enough of them though).
Transit. Being able to get from A-B relatively quickly.
Sunshine. That’s a big one.

When I get back to Toronto, there is one major aspect of Tofino that I know I’ll miss.

The amazing and endearing friendliness. You can’t smile and wave at someone in Toronto without them scrambling to press the 911 speed dial on their iPhones.

(This blog is lovingly dedicated with thanks to my hosts: Miche and Angie. The latter is my daughter. The former is not my daughter.) :)

How much electronic pain must be suffered at the delighted hands of masochistic fairy muses, who flit about teasing the writer with half-formed ideas?   All day long this one has been continually dive-bombed by brilliant sparkling thoughts, only to see them fade away as soon as the mental hand reaches out to grasp.

At the heart of the exercise is the certainty that such grasping is not in vain.  The hope stretches beyond wishing, to the point of clarity:  gems are meant to be mined, not left in the walls of rock, forever ignored, forgotten.

The analogy searches beyond the immediate:  while the gem is the goal, it goes beyond just writing, or just ideas.  The gem reflects the natural light of value, inherent in those lights who have perceived it.  The woman whose flashing eyes reveal far more spirit turmoil and joy than most in her company.  Hidden to most, she is accessible to the seeker who somehow just can’t stop perceiving.   Like the ephemeral muse, her quick quirks of dangerous laughter upsets the apple cart of decency and “the norm”.  The writer understands and yet knows that he doesn’t get it all.   His self-awareness understands the depths of his own ignorance, and the intrigue tickles his mental taste buds.  A flavour, filling the mouth with ambiguous fire.

It’s not often this happens – this departure from every day mundane musings, and when it does, it’s certainly welcome.  I was reading “Jitterbug Perfume” (once again, probably for the tenth time, but who knows – and more importantly who’s counting?), when a new pre-ordered book slipped into the e-bookshelf of my iPad Kindle application.   The dangerous world of espionage had always intrigued me, and so I flipped over from “Jitterbug” to read the first chapter.   In normal mundane times, I would start such a book but wouldn’t stop until it was finished.  My appetite for reading has always been like that:  voracious and hungry, and unable to stop until full.  I’ve missed meetings and have been late for doctors’ appointments because of it.  There’s no shame there, really.  I revel in the fact that brilliant ideas, written painstakingly by good authors are so greatly appreciated on this side of the internet.

Yet, this time, I only made it to the first couple of paragraphs before the compulsion to jump back to “Jitterbug” irritated me mercilessly.  I knew why, too.   Robbins’ writing – at least in this work – does not lend itself to distraction.   Literary vortexes are like that.   This one is anyway.  It tends to consume concentration, with the promise of reward.  His dark maelström of lightening beneath bitter clouds floods the consciousness with meaning and soulish rapture.  It instigates and enables so many epiphanic ideas and thoughts.   I suppose it’s why I read the book so many times.   There’s an old commercial about the snack food “Bits and Bites” – where the cartoon narrator reaches into a box and pulls out some content while saying “something different in every handful”.   “Jitterbug Perfume” is just like that, with every reading.

It’s an unceasing drill sergeant too, demanding, obstinate and blunt.   The bright thoughts demand action and reaction, and doesn’t seem to know what “tolerate” means.  I suppose the contrast becomes too apparent:   the world “Machine” wants everyone to take a seat and settle down.  We are cajoled and advised to be content, to watch our favourite TV programs, to eat our fatty foods and be quiet.  To be precise:  the Machine would rather we shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and don’t stir up any shit.

Following that advise is what gets you old.  It’s an intricate preparation for disease and death.  Many of us are cool with that, and plan accordingly.   When we question that direction, and ask why it is, the only response is “well it’s complicated”.   Truth-speak for “not only wouldn’t you understand – we don’t want you to get it.”

The Machine keeps stepping on my chi, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough of it.  The best defence is a good offence, and the best offence is to be offensive.  Challenging my own direction is scary and a little invigorating.  It pleases me to be displeasing to conventional wisdom.

One has to suppose that the grown adult’s self-imposed rut comes from a lifetime of digging and creating a nest.  Even the most creative of us gets used to the idea of comfort wherever we can find it, or create it.  Stability is the goal, and at least for me, stagnation is the result.  So there’s a trade-off isn’t there?   If you want security, be prepared to be bored.   If you want excitement, know that your life won’t be all that stable, and it certainly won’t be predictable.

Deep in historical awareness – the same awareness that exists within our DNA – is the exhilarating knowledge that steps into uncertainty and risk have their own reward.  Joy, excitement, and even a measure of a type of security.  It knows that the plush fruit of its acts will shine attractively to those who don’t yet have it.

Ever wonder about the state of the economy and where it will all end?  I have.   Some things seem certain:  those who invest themselves in artistic directions always have willing buyers.  People who – like me for so long in my life – have become art voyeurs, the Hansel and Gretel of life’s forest, excited by the new trail, but lulled to a certain undignified grave.

The choice becomes simple.  On one hand, we can concentrate on consuming (and become consumed), and on the other we can concentrate on creating, bringing new life and enlarging our perceived horizon, constantly growing and finding room for more growth.

Voyeur or voyager.

He dug his hands deeper in his pockets.   It was getting to that ridiculous time of the year, and just like the last time this particular month nodded at him, he grumbled about it.  Inwardly, to himself, of course because there were so many others who looked forward to the holiday season.  And the snow.  And the cold.  And skiing.  And eggnog.

Frowning, he trudged on, neck bent in a vain attempt to reduce exposure to the north wind.   It didn’t matter though.  The capricious breeze danced and teased him, sneaking up against him, in brittle busses at his ear lobes and at the back of his neck.  Even one of his ankles got in on the action.   This was a slutty draft, willing to get busy with any and all comers, turning white skin to red.  A city bus would have been a good idea, he thought.  Or a taxi.  A taxi would have gotten him there by now.

And like that his fickle mind switched gears.  It couldn’t b helped.  A bluesy electric guitar solo had begun to warble in his mind and a grin escaped before he could catch it.  The warmth of the bar, the laughter of friends, and soothing wine all glowed in his memory and his footsteps picked up in anticipation.  The distance didn’t exactly fly by, but it seemed to glide a little easier at least.  Not for the first time he acknowledged that if he suddenly lost all of his senses and became immobile, he knew he’d be okay.  He would have his music, deep in his soul, to keep him entertained and alive.

Soon enough (though not soon enough) he saw the glowing sign of the bar.  A different draft greeted him as soon as opened the huge wooden door and stepped inside.  A woodsy rich warmth enveloped in before he could get his coat off.  Inwardly, he sighed.

Looking around, he realized none of his friends were there yet.  He was early.   There was a set of four thick velour-covered armchairs that were mostly empty, waiting to make him comfortable.  The only occupied chair contained a gentle-faced bearded man, who was reading a newspaper.   He noted that the guy’s stomach overflowed the arms of the chair, precariously pushing the boundaries of his heavily stained white shirt.

After sitting down, he heard a voice.  It was the Beard.

“Excuse me.”

He looked at him.

The Beard’s voice was gentle.  “Hope you don’t mind.  I’m waiting for my students to join me.”

He stood up.  “Oh sorry.  I should have asked.”

The Beard smiled.  “No problem.  I’m using a wheelchair, and they’re …..”  His voice was lost.  Either that or in his haste to find another spot for him and his friends, he had stopped paying much attention to whatever The Beard was saying.

“No problem. I’ll just sit over here.”

“Sorry about disturbing you.”

Disturbing.  That was an odd choice of word.   “No problem” he said again, nodding.

Just as he was sitting down to a table, his friends arrived, laughing and joking.  “Over here!” he said, and they made their way over.

The discussion was just as bright as he anticipated.  Except of course for their cheerful thoughts about the coming winter.  With the exception of one wayward remark “you know – I frigging HATE winter.  So shut up about it already” he mostly kept his opinion to himself.  They would only laugh anyway.   Saying more about it would be redundant.

The wine and beer flowed, and the laughter got a little raucous.   The owner of the place enjoyed a variety of music, which provided a pleasant backdrop to their conversations.  This, he knew, was what set this place against others.  Here, you could talk and expect to be heard.

As the night wore on, he looked over and noticed that The Beards’ students hadn’t joined him.

As he came back from one of his many bathroom visits, The Beard said something to him.

He turned back and looked at him.  “Sorry?”

“I wonder if you could do me a huge favour?” he asked.

“Sure.”

The Beard’s hand dove into his deep pants pocket, and after a lot of grunting and shifting, he eventually wrestled out a tangle of keys.

“Would you mind going out to my white SUV – just outside the door –  and getting me my asthma inhaler?  It’s in the glove compartment.  I’d do it myself but I’m in a wheelchair…”

He glanced around and couldn’t for the life of him see the wheelchair.  The Beard was large enough to need one though so he let it go.

The Beard continued.  “And I’ll pay you for your troubles.”

He shook his head.  “No problem.  And no need to pay me.”   He took the keys.   “The white SUV, right?”

The Beard smiled.  “Right.   Oh, and you’ll have to go in the driver’s door, because the passenger side is broken.”

He took the keys and went out to the parking lot.  He saw the SUV immediately.   As soon as he opened the door,  a soul-destroying fragrance assaulted him.  His ever-lingering entomophobia raised its ugly head.  The presence of this stink must warrant a party of bugs, he just knew it.   Of course, the glove compartment was nowhere within reaching distance, so he knew he’d have to climb into the driver’s seat.  The stinky, probably bug-filled driver’s seat.

Right away he noticed the piles of newspapers, and all of the unopened packages of meat.  There was a lot of them, all with their store stickers still attached.  He wondered how old they were.  Hopefully The Beard had just purchased them.  If not, this could be the source of the horrendous stench.  It could just as easily be body odour though.  Or bugs.  Millions of bugs.

After finally locating the inhaler, he couldn’t get out of the SUV fast enough.  His skin rebelled as if trying to crawl off of his frame.  He knew his first job after the bar was to jump in the shower.  Maybe his clothes needed to be burned.  He wasn’t sure yet.

As he handed the inhaler to him, The Beard said “oh, thank you.  I’ll pay you.  How much do you want?”

Why was this guy talking about paying him?  Where did that come from?   “No, it’s OK. No pay required.”  He gave The Beard a sick smile.

The Beard smiled back.  “Thanks.   Oh, and would you do me one more favour?”

He looked at him.

“Would you ask the waitress for a pen?  I’m going to do a crossword.”

That was easy.  “OK.  Sure.”

He got the pen and gave it to him.

The Beard said “thanks.  And would you mind asking the waitress to…”

He interrupted him.  “Sorry – I have to get going.”

“Oh” The Beard said.  “Well ok.  Thanks again.”

“No problem.”

His friends were curious.   Jim said “what was that about?”

“Oh nothing.  Guy just needed something from his SUV.”

He didn’t’ mention the stench, or the packages of meat and the newspapers.   He was still trying to process it all.   Something was seriously amiss with this guy.  Evidently he had money, and a big appetite.  And maybe a hoarding problem.  He didn’t know whether to pity him or continue to just be horrified, as he was just then.

“Listen guys.  I have to cut the night short.  It’s been fun.  Catch you later, OK?”

Peter nodded.  “See you later.  You driving?”

“No.  I’ll catch a bus.”

He left, puzzled and anxious to get home to that hot shower.

Release

Posted: June 24, 2011 in humor, Life, living, writing
Tags: , , , ,

The capricious breeze sauntered carelessly through his stubborn hair, pushing this way and that until the dogged gel that was holding everything together finally sighed, shrugged its shoulders and gave up.  Whereupon, the follicle company, mimicking the primordial warrior dance of the galaxies, began its mad performance.

The hair’s owner, oblivious to the upper level drama, scanned the street carefully, as he watched for a car with a lighted roof extension;  a kind of hands up “here I am!” indicator of a vehicle that would serve to transport anyone almost anywhere, for the right price.

Eventually, a taxi appeared and the tight-lipped guy with the day-old facial stubble raised his hand urgently, eyes flashing a message to stop; and so, duly warned, stop it did.

“Take me to 25 Blaker Drive please”.

The driver, who was sporting a ridiculous porno moustache nodded, as he reached forward and started the meter.

The moustache twitched a little bit; a hairy snake trying to rouse from slumber.   “So.  All done for the day?”

The passenger looked down at his black leather knapsack.  This was no ordinary taxi passenger.  This was a man who deduced things, and did so quickly.  He realized that the cabbie had leapt to a quick conclusion.  There was the knapsack.  Ergo, his passenger was coming home.  It was a little presumptuous, he thought.  He could have easily been wrong.   Maybe he was heading out somewhere.  Maybe he was on his way to a coffee shop, there to write the greatest Canadian novel ever.

But wait.  No, this cabbie obviously was aware of the city.  He knew 25 Blaker Drive was nowhere near a coffee shop.  Further, he likely realized it was an apartment building.  Apartments generally serve the purpose of providing homes for people.  Except for those who use them to grow drugs.  Maybe the knapsack was used to transport drugs, he thought to himself.   But no, the cabbie had likely seen many drugstore afficionados in his day, and so he knew his passenger looked nothing like any of them.

Ergo, the cabbie had guessed correctly and knew his passenger was heading home.

All of this passed through the passenger’s mind in less than 2/10 of a second.  Finally, in grudging acknowledgement of the cabbie’s deductive reasoning, he rewarded him.

He sighed, looked out the window and mumbled “yup”.

Below the hairy snake there suddenly appeared a satisfied smile.  “Well now you have the weekend at least.  Got some big plans for the next few days?”

The passenger shrugged.  “It’s kind of a long weekend for me.  A ten-day weekend actually.”

The moustache twitched, and the yawning maw beneath it opened long enough to suck in a breath before expelling its next particle of thought.   But the passenger preempted it with “and no, I have no real plans.”

With the that, the maw snapped shut.   Other forces were now at work, diligently determining yet another course of discourse.   Wheels within wheels turned and jerked, mixing just the right combination of reasoning and query.

Small talk was no easy endeavour.

Eventually, the only thing it could arrive at came forward.   “Really?  No plans?”   It was a pathetic attempt.  The cabbie, along with his moustache and maw knew this.  All three of them shivered in unified embarrassment, while waiting patiently for the contemptuous reply.

The reply came, but left contempt at the curb.  Contempt would have to find another cab to sit in.  This one was going to have two riders, and no baggage.

“Well I’m glad you asked, actually.”

The moustache began to move upward, just a bit, while the maw clamped down fiercely, determined not to display its sudden joy.

The passenger continued.  “I’m just really happy we’re going to have warm weather, because I want to walk as much as possible.  I’ll play each day by ear, and see what happens.  I might go away, but right now I’m not going to plan for anything in particular.”

The maw opened, which surprised the moustache and the cabbie both, who were not expecting it.  “So is this your only holiday for the year?”

The passenger shook his head.  “No, I have a few more weeks coming to me.  Not sure when I’m going to use them.”

The maw opened again.  It was obviously on a roll.  The moustache and cabbie both decided to sit back and just watch.  “Maybe you’ll use them at the end of the year.  Maybe at Christmas”.  This wasn’t a question, so much as a statement of fact.   One that was rewarded with a nod.

“Yes, I think I want to head out west during the winter.”

The maw was silent, so the moustache churned and rolled over, thinking.  The cabbie cleared his throat, the maw took notice and the moustache went along for the ride.

“Out west?  Oh that’s good.  How far out west?”

“Vancouver Island.  I have some family out there.”

The maw had gotten its second wind.  Before the moustache knew what was happening, it creaked open yet again.  “Are you married?”

The passenger looked at his watch, and then glanced out the window.  They were still a long way from his apartment.  There was time.

“No, divorced.”

The maw barged forward, determined to see this thing to its end.  “I hear you my friend.  I’m still married, but things are not going well.  I’m hoping we’ll end it soon.”   The moustache had no idea whether this was a good thing to admit or not.  The cabbie was sure it wasn’t.

The passenger, oblivious to the conflicted emotions of the cabbie, found himself in ignorant agreement with the moustache.  He felt his face starting to glow.  “Yeah, well.  I wish you good luck with that.”

The maw knew no embarrassment or sense of appropriateness. Moustache and cabbie both were horrified and helpless before the wave of thought.   “Well, for the past seven years I’ve wanted out.  They say seven is the number for release.’

“Um”  said the passenger.

“Oh yes.  I’m really hopeful that we will have The Talk soon.  I’ve had quite enough.  We both have, actually.  Every time either of us opens our mouths, the other rolls their eyes, and I say to myself ‘here we go’.   Was it like that for you, before the end?”

The passenger’s eyes looked up and to the right, pulling down some dusty irritated memories.  Memories who just wanted to be left alone.

“Yes, it was.  I ended up working later than I had to….”

The maw jumped open quickly.  “Yes, yes!  I know exactly what you mean.  So that you don’t have to face another argument when going home.  So you put off the conflict as long as you can.”

The passenger sighed.   “Yes, that’s it exactly.”

“Oh, I hear you my friend.”

The cab turned into the driveway, having arrived at last.

The passenger opened his wallet and took out a twenty, deciding then and there to overtip the cabbie.   Perhaps it was because of an unconscious sympathy.  Or maybe it was because he had enjoyed the scintillating conversation.  Quite possibly it was because he recognized a kindred spirit; he saw himself in the cabbie, only a few years earlier, while still in a tremendous state of despair.

The passenger twisted his mental arm behind his back and finally gave up the truth to himself:  he just wanted to get out of the cab as quickly as possible.

As he stepped out of the door, the moustache turned itself up in a grin, dragging the maw with it.   “Remember:   seven is the number of release!”

The passenger was certain that today, the number was twenty.

Sneaky Bastards

Posted: May 15, 2011 in ADHD, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s funny:  when you take pride in being unique, there are little things that poke you in the back to prove you are not.  That you’re just another variation on a common theme.

Like words, for example.  I like words a lot, even though I find myself sometimes frustrated at the dearth of just the *right* words required to make a point, or to paint a picture.  In writing my book, I’ve taken inspiration from my favourite author, Tom Robbins, who can paint vast majestic vistas with a paucity of Just The Right Words (if you’ve read Jitterbug Perfume you’ll know what I mean).

I like words so much that I pretty much inhale books.  Give me a good book one day and I’ll hand it back to you the next.  Boring words, like those found in manuals, or in a long treatise will only serve to pinch out the flame of whatever desire I had for the object being discussed.  I can rarely finish those.

I get bored way too easily for my own good.  (Yes, that is part of the ADD curse/blessing, in case you were wondering)

It wasn’t all that surprising to discover the appeal of Twitter.  Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, which is ideal because there’s no chance to get bored.  You have time to read (or post) one thought only.  This is good exercise for writers because you have to find creative ways to make your point with as few words as possible.  The bane of every writer, believe it or not, is too many words.  “In order to” is an example of a poor choice.  I took out the garbage in order to make the place smell better would make an editor get out his red pen.  So you turn it around, creatively, to make a more compelling point without losing the essence of what you said:

The kitchen’s ambience caused my eyes to water, and my nose to run.  Not in joy or sickness but in abject horror.  The wallpaper frowned and threatened to peel.  The laughing nemesis was that rotten carton of milk that my darling mate (She Who Must Be Forgiven Everything Just Because)  had deposited into the bin.  My stomach took a hairball hint from the cat, and began its dark dance, up against my oesophagus.   Chest heaving, I grabbed the bag.  There was no time to search for a twist-tie – I just took it and ran down the hall to my symbiotic saviour – the garbage chute, with its sticky handle, crusted with god-knows-what.  Opening it quickly, I vomited the hellish bag of death down its dark gullet.

So, OK – more words were used but at least we eliminated the dreaded “in order to”, didn’t we?

Lately, through my tweets, I’ve discovered a worrisome thing:  it appears that some common expressions have found their way into my lexicon.  Some are obvious, and therefore easy to spot, while others are elusive and subtle.  “Apparently” – is a word used as a comic device in many tweets, usually expressed after making an outrageous comment.  After commenting on that guy’s shoes, I suddenly realized I left my testicles in my other coat pocket.  Apparently.

It’s ok when used one or two times, but when everyone on Twitter starts using it, it gets old fast.

(It gets old fast, is another example of a too-often used phrase.  Time to retire it.)

Another sneaky word is “totally”.  A recent tweet from yours truly, based upon an event at work:

Hot Jamaican babe microwaves some oatmeal.

Me: “are you putting some brown sugar on that?”

*awkward silence*

Then we totally made out.


Once again, “totally” is being used as an expression of emphasis, like a question mark.  In using it, I unconsciously followed the pack instead of going for a unique stance.

Time to declare war on these little bastards.  We must remain vigilant.

That is all.

(Damn.  Another one)

Ever since getting into show business (going to commercial auditions, getting up on stage to do comedy improv work), I’ve been told to brace myself because the only popular roles for men are characters who are idiots and clowns.

The stereotypical dad, personified by people like Elliot Gould, who played Monica and Ross’  socially clueless father on “Friends”, was all I could expect to shoot for.  Grown men were people to be laughed at, not taken seriously.  If you tried to inject any kind of realism into an adult male character, you’d turn viewers off.

I bought it.  I mean the evidence was right there, wasn’t it?  Even some of the fathers on the hit show “Skins” were over-the-top dofuses.  (Doofi?)  Dads who clearly didn’t know how to communicate with their kids.  Men who couldn’t possibly understand women.  Men like Al Bundy on the show “Married with Children” – who preferred to watch TV with one hand down their pants.  They were fodder for righteous and vivacious women, who took to rolling their eyes anytime the household clown had something to say.

It goes on still.  Take a look at any commercial out there where a father or husband is involved.  Generally, his IQ is in the double digits only.  Everyone else is smarter, more socially aware.   Everyone except male adults know that you should ask for directions if you’re lost.  What’s more, this little stereotype has become so popular, real life people still think it’s true.

So it was with joy that I stumbled upon a little show called “Californication”.

I don’t believe David Duchovny purposely set out to destroy the adult male stereotype, because that would have been disingenuous.  The opposite of altruistic.  No, he merely wanted to tell the story of a man who realized a little late that he was in love with his long time girlfriend, Karen.  The character – Hank Moody – has plenty of faults.  He is portrayed as a “lost child” – someone who didn’t quite grow up.   But the man knows himself.  If anything, he appreciates other people – mostly women – far more than he should, to the point where he finds it next to impossible to say “no” to them.  He has a good heart, and it shows.  While other “lost children” go around using women for their own gratification, he paints a solid line, separating himself from them.  “This far, and no farther”.  He refuses to hit on women who’ve said “no”.  If he has a disagreement with them, he won’t allow them to walk home alone.  He’ll make sure the girl gets home safely.   He helps them not because he wants to bed them too.  He helps them because he can’t help himself.

In one scene, he was talking to a woman who had been turfed by her boyfriend after the guy met another woman.  She clearly wasn’t over him, and Hank realized that her self-esteem had taken a blow.  So he tried to counter that as best he could.   To her horror, the ex showed up at the restaurant where she and Hank were having dinner, new girlfriend in tow.  Hank saw an opportunity.  He put his napkin down and walked over to the ex-boyfriend’s table, and went into gay flame mode.  He told him that he was telling all of his sexual partners to checked out for an STD, and that he should do so quickly as well.  The new girlfriend looked at her boyfriend in disbelief.  The boyfriend was speechless, not knowing where to begin.  The whole scene was a thing of beauty.  Here, let me show you:

It’s his love for women that creates conflict with Karen, with whom he’s had a child – a daughter who he loves dearly.  Karen still loves him but recognizes his many faults.  As does his daughter.

As you can probably guess – it’s a show I highly recommend.  And even though it’s probably easy to follow mid-stream, I’d recommend starting off with season #1 and going through the episodes in order.  Word of warning:  I’m not certain there are any boundaries here.  The show is highly sexual.  The lack of boundaries is in part what makes it so hilarious.   Picture Charlie – Hank’s agent – testifying in court on Hank’s behalf as a character witness.  He’s being questioned by Hank’s lawyer, and he blurts out a confession about the time he asked Hank to provide the third wheel in a threesome.  Hank buries his head in his hands, and the lawyer’s jaw drops as she tries to figure out a way to get him to shut the hell up.   Charlie is oblivious…….

You know what?  The written word just isn’t good enough here.  Check the scene out for yourself.   It’s so worth the minute and a half.  Trust me on this.

The popularity of this show – and shows like “Modern Family” – have proven the point.  Grown adult men can be portrayed as characters who are other than stereotypical buffoons.

Even in comedies.

 

Last night the inner child came out to play.  I was thinking about that seemingly ridiculous saying “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”.   Of course it doesn’t sound so ridiculous when you’re suffering from an illness and you think “if I had a million dollars right now I’d still be miserable and wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.”   So, in a sense, the saying is somewhat valid.  Let’s just say it’s one of the prerequisites for everything else.

Still, the kid wanted to play.  And so I tried to post something to my Facebook page which was too long, so I had to truncate it.  The following is what I wanted to post.  Abe replied with an addition, and then I added some more.  Feel free to add your own.

You have everything, if you have your health.

And $15 million dollars.

And a beautiful spouse.  With a big house.

And a wine cellar.

And a speed boat.

No, a schooner.

Wait. No. A luxury yacht.

That’s it.  If you have these things, then you have everything.

Wait.  No.  A rocking bod.  If you have these things, and a six-pack, then you have–

And an infinity pool.  Behind the big house.

Big houses.  An infinity pool behind all six…sixteen of your big houses, which are all around the world.

That’s it.  If you have all these things, and your health, then you have…..

And an island.  If you have all these things, and an island where you can paraglide.

Then you have everything.

(And maybe some grapes, fed to you by your beautiful spouse)

…..wait…I’m not finished….

And a mountain named after you…
…with a castle on it
…that you live in
…when you feel like it

‎…and the castle has a winding staircase….
….and a fireman pole that you can slide down when you don’t feel like walking…..
….and there’s a pride of lion cubs, for playing with, and for taking care of the rats…..
…and a freshwater moat all around that doubles as yet another swimming area….and trees with lights that shine down, with built in speakers that plays the best music……
….and this is all located in a place down south where there’s never any winter……
..then you have everything

Slight

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Life, writing
Tags: , , , ,

He sat at a table in the bar, a glass of white wine in his right hand, nothing particular on his mind.

The door opened, and a draft of icy air wafted through the place, pushing the warmth on tip-toes into the far reaches of the corners.  Two men followed, grating laughter blatting forth, the result of a pre-emptive drinking exercise.  He could hardly blame them.  The prices at this establishment were just a few dollars shy of obscene.

Both of the women sat at the bar, elbow-deep in excited story-telling.  The blonde glanced over at the newcomers, then quickly back at her friend.   It was too late:  one of the men, the bald one with the overhanging paunch, caught her looking.  A self-assured smile broke out, and he nudged his friend.  Nodded at them.

“Nah.  Leave them alone.  Let’s just get a spot”.  The taller one with the long dark hair started heading toward a table.

“Dude, I’m telling you – she wants me.”  He grinned again and began to make his way to the bar.  The taller one sighed and followed his friend.

The observer sat completely still.  Waiting.

“Hey ladies.  What’s happening?”   The bald guy smiled at them.

The women ignored him, continuing their now-brittle discussion.

The bald guy frowned.  Looked back at his friend.

“Hey.   You don’t have to be so rude” he said.

The dark-haired woman turned slightly in her seat.  Half looked at him.  “Sorry.  We’re not interested.”  Turned back to her friend.

The observer’s eyes glittered.  Anticipating.

“I didn’t ask if you were interested, did I?” said the bald guy, a little louder.  “I’m just making conversation.”

Nothing.

“You know what?  You’re both a couple of bitches”.  The man’s face was now pink.

The tall guy grabbed his arm.  “C’mon Jerry.  Let’s go sit down.”

Jerry shook his hand off.  “No man.  I don’t think there’s any need for this.  I don’t take shit from bitches.  Ever.  It isn’t right.”

The observer sat back, watching.  He could feel the saliva gathering in the back of his mouth.  His arm and leg muscles tensed.   His vision narrowed.

The man’s voice got even louder.  “But I guess bitches gotta be bitches.”  His face turned ugly with rage.  “Right, bitches?”

The bartender walked up.  “Sir, I think you’re going to have to leave.”

Jerry glared at him, fuming.  “Oh I’ll leave.  Just as soon as I get an apology from these bitches.”  Turned back to the women.   “How about it, bitches?  Hey?”

The women had stopped talking.  They weren’t looking at him.  They just sat there, rigid.

The friend spoke.  “Jerry, come on.  Let’s go.  There’s another bar down the street.”

Jerry whipped around.  Glared at his friend.  “Pete, fuck off.”  Turned back to the women.  “I asked you bitches for a fucking apology.  What’s it going to be?”

The observer stood up, scraping his chair loudly on the floor.  All of them looked at him.

He slowly sauntered to the bar, empty wine glass in his hand.  Stood between Jerry and the woman.  “I’d like another glass of wine, please.”

“Hey asshole.  You’re in my way.  We were talking.”

The observer put his hands down to his sides.  Turned and stared at the bald man.  Said nothing.

Jerry looked at him.  Huffy and upset.

The observer felt the growl, deep in his chest.  Clamped down on it.  Continued to stare at the bald man.   Every muscle was pulsing.  Ready.

A few seconds elapsed, as they stared at each other.  The bartender backed away.  Reached into his pocket.  Probably to get his cell phone.  Jerry’s eyes began to dart back and forth.  Confused.  He dropped his glance.

The observer looked at his friend.  Nodded.  The friend gave a slight nod back.

“C’mon Jerry.  Let’s go.”

Face entirely red, Jerry shrugged.  Both of them turned away.

The observer watched them leave the bar.  Felt his muscles and face relax.  He could feel his heart slowing down.

The bartender gave the observer his glass of wine.   “This one’s on the house.”

The observer nodded.   Grabbed the wine.  Turned back to go to his table.   The dark haired woman touched his arm.

“Thank you.”

The observer turned.  Smiled.  “I didn’t do anything.”

 

There is something a little satisfying about meeting a group of people who have something in common with you.  I realized the joy of that when I attended an ADD support group recently.

Having been formerly diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder a few weeks ago, I’ve made up my mind to do something about it.  Contrary to popular belief, the answer is *not* drugs.  Or rather not *just* drugs.  No, the psychiatrist who gave me the diagnosis said “wolf, you need to get to the point where you have more control over your impulses and focus.”

He grabbed a pen and pretended he was writing something.  “Basically, when you do anything at all, you’ll want to be in the moment.  When you pick up the pen like this, you’ll want to be aware of how it feels in your hand.  What part of your fingers are touching it?  Is it rough or smooth?  And when you put it to the paper, you’ll want to be aware of the pressure your hand has to exert to write anything at all.”

I nodded, even as I acknowledged that, with the exception of the rent cheque each month, I NEVER write anything.  And that got me thinking about what day it was and whether the rent was due soon.

The doc brought me back on track.  “So…you won’t be able to do that right out of the gate.  So you’ll need meds initially to get you to that point.  But, the goal is to come to the place where you won’t need the meds anymore.”

I nodded.  This sounded just about, oh I don’t know, pretty much perfect to me.

“You told me you long suspected you had ADD.  What have you done about it so far?”

I looked at him.  “Well, I’ve attended a couple of workshops and….”  I thought for a moment.  “Oh yes!  I joined a support group.”

“You did?  What is it?”

“It’s a group that meets at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health every couple of weeks.”

“Oh yes.  I’m aware of that group.  Good.  Keep going.  And see your family doctor for the meds.”

With that, I thanked him and left.

The other night I met with the support group, and a few of us “newbies” split off into a separate group, where we were encouraged to tell our stories.   When it got around to me, I had so many different things to say, and I wanted to say them all at once, that I got stuck.

“Sorry – there’s about a million thoughts going on right now.”

They all nodded knowingly.  Every last one of them.  They knew.   They knew exactly what it was all about.

Awesome.

Earlier, we had discussed Executive Function – that process in everyone’s brain that allows you to consider several things, categorize them, and put them on various shelves in your mind, so that you can pick them up at will and work with each one individually, until completion.   The classic ADDer doesn’t have a fully functioning system.  We take all of those things and we want to process them all at the same time.   Executive function allows you to start and stop actions, anticipate stuff and adapt to changing situations.   The lack of it can really mess you up.

Here’s the thing:  when you grow up in this state, you have no idea anything’s wrong.  You watch other people complete projects fairly easily, and you think that maybe you’re just not smart enough (because you know you’re *lousy* at doing projects).  I used to truly truly HATE it when the teacher assigned projects to us.

Then, later on you realize that you really do “get” a lot of concepts, and often you’re leaps and bounds beyond others.  So you know you’re not stupid.  So you conclude maybe you’re just too lazy.  Input from others (teachers, parents, friends) seems to confirm this self-analysis.

You discover you have a penchant for seeing “the big picture” in any situation.  You realize that you’re well suited to managing conflicts, mostly because you can simultaneously see various viewpoints at once.  You understand how they got there – and you understand almost instantaneously.  Seems like a wonderful trait to have.  And by God you’ll accept that one, since you’re such a miserable failure at other things.

You often do hilarious things too.  Like turning on the tap to fill up the sink so you can do the dishes, then sitting down at the computer to work on something, only to realize twenty minutes later (if you’re lucky) that you left the tap running.  This unfortunate circumstance is confirmed as you walked out into the hallway, straight into a mini-lake.

Or you come home from buying groceries, some of which are frozen foods.   You put them down to get the key out of the door.  You realize there’s a program on TV that you wanted to see, so you put the keys down and go turn the TV on.  Then you remember an email that you wanted to send, so you go into your office and bang it out.   Then something else, then something else and then it’s time for bed so you brush your teeth and hit the sack.

The next morning you come out the kitchen and you see the now-smelly “frozen food” that you left out the day before.

This is my life, folks.

There are a lot of positives about the ADD life:  there’s an incredible creativity that comes with the “gift”.  A lot of actors and comedians get into the entertainment business because of this knack they have.  I’ve done improv comedy and I have to tell you:  that was one of the highlights of my adult existence.  It takes you back to the time when you were a kid, and anything was possible.  “What if I was an old man, with a young trophy wife who wanted me dead?  Or what if I was a pimp, with a stripper girlfriend and a four year old child?”

You get to play all these parts (the stripper/pimp thing was played out in real life on a crowded bus one day, to an unsuspecting audience.), and you have so much FUN.

The downside:  you take on projects and never complete them.  Not without some prompting.  Also – you can barely stand linear conversations.  You get so *bored*.  So easily bored.  It’s one reason I hate telephones.

There’s one personal project I’ve had on the back burner for quite some time.  There’s a book I want to write.  I have several concepts that I really want to share in it.  When I say “quite some time” – we’re talking a few years here.  And I’ve started it several times.  Each time I got distracted and lost momentum.

A good friend of mine mentioned a once a year event, called NaNoWriMo.  That’s a kind of awkward acronym for “National Novel Writing Month”.  It’s a trans-continental event that takes place mostly on the net.  The shared goal of writers everywhere is this:  we have to write 50,000 words in thirty days.  Entirely do-able – and this is evident by the fact that so many writers manage to do it every year.  It’s been in existence for I think twelve years, and each year there’s an exponentially larger list of participants.

The other night I attended the local Toronto NaNoWriMo kick-off party.  We had a ball!   There’s going to be an all-night event where some of the participants get together at a large house, specifically to write as much as possible during the night.  I frankly can’t wait for that one.

There’s another event, where we get on the subway at one end of the system, and we ride it for as long as possible, just writing away.

This is the aspiring writer’s ADD dream:  to have input and a goad to get this particular goal accomplished.

I am *so* grateful to my friend Katy for having introduced this to me.   She’s done NaNoWriMo herself, with great success.

I will too.  Part of the method for getting this done involves making myself accountable to others.  Telling as many people as possible about it.  Potential embarrassment is a killer motivator.

So….this begins tomorrow.  November 1.

You likely won’t see much of me during the month.   I get emails when you leave comments on my blog though.

So here’s the deal:  if you’re so inclined, please drop me a comment here at the bottom of this blog, now and then.  Ask me how I’m doing.

I promise to answer.  And I will tell you the truth.

Oh man.  This is going to be good.

Google Mail has this thing now.  If you write an email complaining about your boss, only you end up sending it to him, instead of to your buddy (let’s pretty they’re both named Tristan), you’ve got 30 seconds in which to claw it back.   It’s pretty cool.  If you’re quick enough that is.  (I’m not).  And the best thing is that he would never need to know you sent it.

WordPress allows you to do the same thing, with blogs.  Say you’re totally pissed off and you just have to write about it.  So you do.   And then, after having posted it, you decide that in complaining publicly you’ve just broken your own cardinal rule, which is that you’re not allowed to whine.  Well then, you can just go back and either put the blog back in “draft” mode until you can think of a better way to handle it, or you can just delete it.

It’s pretty cool, really.

Except…..well the moment you publish the damned thing, an email goes out to all of your subscribers, gleefully announcing that the whiny bitch blog is up, and they should come read it.

Only they click on the link, only to get a 404 error.  (That’s the error that says “oops.  You probably spelt the URL wrong.  At any rate you’ve come to the wrong place.  Now go away.”)

This is what happened last night.

I wrote a blog called “When Is It OK To Say It’s ‘Hammertime?'”.   Then, after reading it again, I discovered it had no redeeming value.  So I took it down.  I mean, the subject of that regrettable blog still has me pissed off, but I’ll deal with it.

This is a rare experience.   Usually, if I’m unsure about a blog, I’ll post it to the draft folder and no one gets notified that it’s there, or pending.  I rarely claw back blogs like that.

Which is to say “I’m sorry”.  I know that many of you got notified about a new blog, and you came here expecting to read something entertaining, only to run into the 404 wall.

It probably won’t happen again.

Wide Awake Wolf

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Life, writing
Tags: , , ,

insomnia.jpg

Here it is, 4:36 a.m. and I can’t sleep.  What better time to try and write a blog, huh?  (Yes, I know the clock in the picture says 1:22.  I can live with it, and frankly, it was the only clock picture I could find.)

It’s that time of the morning when nothing is on TV and you can’t decide whether you’re disgruntled, or want to thank God, because you know if a good movie was on, you’d plunk yourself right down and watch it.  And then when it was done, you’d realize that DAMN – you’re really sleepy now.  Only…it’s time to get up.

I love sleeping.  I truly appreciate waking up and realizing that, despite how tired I feel, I’ve actually spent eight hours looking at my eyelids.

I think when you’re younger, you can plop down and sleep just about anywhere.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a cot, or the floor or the back seat of a car.

Later on though — *everything* freaking you keeps you awake.  So you shop carefully for a bed.  But not just any bed — it’s gotta be the best one.  Maybe it has to have numbers for sleep settings.  Maybe it has to be adjustable.  With a remote control.

And then there’s the pillow to think about.  Hypoallergenic?  Don’t know if that matters.  Should you visit a chiropractor and get his or her advice?  You know they sell pillows at their offices too, right?   And what about feathers? Down?  What’s going to work?   And how much do you spend?  Is any price too high for a good night’s sleep?

And you watch the news and your radar goes into overdrive the minute you hear the hated phrase “bed bug”.  Apparently New York City and Chicago and Detroit are the worst places for bed bugs right about now.  As is the south end of Toronto, below Bloor St.   So you make up your mind you’re NOT going to visit or live in any of these places.   (Detroit?  No biggy — there were never any plans to go there anyway.  But New York??  Damn that’s disappointing).  And so you educate yourself as well on what to look for when you’re scouting out a new place to live.  And you take away some advice as well about what to do when checking into a hotel.  You learn that you should unpack *nothing* until you’ve checked out the bed, lifted the sheets up.

And with all of this on your mind, you’re supposed to get back to sleep?  Ha!

But you try anyway.

You lie down.  Get yourself nice and comfy, with the pillow just *so* beneath your neck and head.

And then you try a trick:  you pretend like there’s someone in the room that you don’t want to talk to.  You know they want to talk, but you want them to think you’re asleep. So you breathe heavily, as if you’re asleep already.  Nine times out of ten, this pretend sleep results in real sleep.   It’s the tenth time out of ten — today in fact — when it doesn’t work.

So you try another trick.  You imagine you’re getting on a steep escalator going down, down, down with no end in sight.  Sometimes this works too.

But not today.

Today, you just lie there. And  your mind starts talking to you.

“What about that project at work.  Do you think Jill will be in today?  What will you say to her to get her to agree on your point of view regarding Windows 7?”

“Shaddup”

“OK”

“So what about that girl you like?  Are you going to call her today?  Maybe you should call her.  Maybe you shouldn’t wait another day.”

“Look it’s 4:49 in the friggin morning!  Even if I decide to call her, I’m not going to friggin call her now!  Now SHADDUP”

“OK”

“Hey, I’m hungry.  Want to eat?”

“Shit”

So then, despite all advice you’ve been given, about looking at anything too bright when you’re trying to sleep, you get up, turn the computer on, and start surfing the net.

And then you remember that you bought a cool new Mac application to let you blog without having to go to the web.  So you hunt around for it (because you’ve forgotten the name of it) and then you find it:  MarsEdit.  And you fire it up.

And then you write a blog.  Like this one.

If you have any home remedies for curing insomnia, I’m all ears.  Eyes.

Whatever.

Hey gang!

I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I didn’t do my due diligence to the blogging community by forgetting to point out some great writers here.  (I’m not sure if that last sentence had enough negatives in it.  Hopefully you know what I mean. ) 

Anyway – most of you know each other and most of you will see your blogs sitting right there to the right, in the Blogroll section   ===>  

You’re there because I enjoy reading you, and because I don’t like having to hunt around for bookmarks in my multiple browsers. 

You’re also there because you are more than worthy of my admiration, and because I really want others to read you as well.  You should feel good about yourself, now. 

Can I get an A——MEN!

Having said that, there are at least three new additions to my blog-trophy collections.

First, there’s the AcidWoods blog, written by my friend from MySpace, who is known as Art Carcass (*1).  He creates some wonderful photography blogs, and provides some thought-provoking and well, just generally provocative blogs.   Lucky for us, we get to see some of the world around us, through his highly artistic vision.  Frankly, I think we’re the better for it.

Go, Pop. Go! is a blog written by a father.  Anyone who has been a father (or a child of one) can appreciate his humorous(*2)  take on life.

The Whatever Factor is a blog written by someone who is known as “izziedarling”.  (I’d love to name my next baby that, should I be so lucky as to warrant the temporary or permanent use of a wife.   Can you imagine?  “Meet my daughter, izziedarling”  “What?”  “izziedarling”  “Why are you calling me ‘darling’?  We hardly know each other.  I’m Mr. Cooper to you, jackass”)   ANYWAY….her writing is personable and compelling.  She draws you in.  Check out her blog about a couple of doggie playthings.  That’s the one that hooked me.

The Idiot Speaketh , written by a guy who calls himself the Idiot, but is also known as “redriverpak” (someday when I know him better and can ask him this without abrogating some sort of unwritten more, thus condemning me to a social hell of my own making (God help us all), I’m going to ask him what that name means) has some hilarious blogs up, mostly about his family life.  He is no stranger to exaggeration, and thereby manages to pull the mundane into the ridiculous.   I’m all about the ridiculous, firmly believing (against most medical analysis) that it probably keeps those of us who live on the edge from going completely insane.  Unless “insane with laughter” is a problem for anyone.

Finally, I just added Old and in the Way to the blogroll today.   Like redriverpak (you know, the more I write that name, the more I like it.  It fairly flows off of the fingers.  I stare at my navel too much.  I’m also into non sequiturs.  I’m on a horse), this guy – named Sank (and I guess he got there without first saying “hey there’s a hole in my ship, do you think I should worry?” or “hey, the water level’s pretty deep here.  Maybe we should start bailing?” – but went right straight to “sank”) talks about family life, through the lens of a *very* twisted father.  Read his blog today about his adventures with toilets, if you don’t believe me.

There.  I’ve done my duty for today.

Now I get to go to bloggers’ heaven.

(Do they drink wine there?  Do they have iPads?  I have to have my iPad.  It won’t be heaven without it.)

(Um, have I blasphemed already?  And it’s not even Sunday yet)

—————————————————————————————————————

(*1 – some names aren’t real.  Even if I know the real names, I won’t publish them.  It’s not for me to do so.  Also, it’s not my job.  I like saying “it’s not my job”, because it’s far easier than volunteering to do something.  I hate volunteering. I also hate work.  Work sucks.  Work is for Other People.  People Who – unlike me – actually care.  So there, Alphonsus.  Your name is safe with me.)

(Shit)

(*2 – Yeah, I know you’re not used to seeing “humorous” spelt that way.  You’re probably also not used to seeing the past tense of “spell” spelt as “spelt”  [Gee, wasn’t that last sentence fun?].  Anyway, get used to it.  We use the Queen’s English around here.  We love the Queen.  We love her very much.  So much we’d very much like to spank her.  Spank, Queenie, spank.  Good girl)

**************************************************
News Item:  Russian Spies Prove to Be Amateurs  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10564236.stm
**************************************************

Natasha was livid.

“Boris!  This password isn’t working!  You said COME2ME_MYDARLING was it.  I’ve typed it in five times and it won’t let me in.”

A dumpy-looking man glanced up from his newspaper, pencil mustache twitching in annoyance.   “I told you darlink.  I changed it last night.”

The clock on the wall chimed once, announcing to the occupants that it was now one o’clock.  Having done its duty, it commenced ticking.  Boris turned the page of his newspaper, looking for an ad for cheap divorce lawyers.

“VELL????”

“Vell what, darlink?”

“VAT’S THE PASSWORD?”

He glanced down the page.  Nothing.  Make the next page wou—.

“ARE YOU GOINK TO ANSWER ME?”

“I don’t know, baby.  I wrote it down.”

He never heard it coming.  But he felt it ping off of his head.

“OW!!” he yelled.  “VAT DID YOU DO?”

“Oh don’t be such a baby” she growled.  “I just hit you vit a pencil.”

“VAT FOR?”

“Ty glup” she said.  (“Stupid” for those unfamiliar with Russian)

“Vy you be like that, darlink?”

“Boris – you NEVER write down the password.   You *vant* to spend the rest of your miserable little life in jail?”

“As long as I don’t have to spend it vith you” Boris muttered.

“Vat?”

“Nothing, Natasha.  Darlink.”

She wasn’t through.  “Bad enough you put pictures up on Facebook with our real names.   Or that you break into those offices vithout vearing gloves and you don’t vipe everything down after.   Or that you smoke like a chimney and leave your butts everywhere….”

Boris threw his paper down.  “You tink I’M stupid?  Vat about you, darlink?  Do you remember getting drunk at that party, jumping up on the coffee table and yelling ‘guess vat I do for a livink?’   Den you flirted vith the host – a cop – and asked him all kinds of questions like ‘so vat kind of prison time would I get if I were caught selling nuclear plant floorplans to Russia, hmm?'”

Nastasha waved her hand.  “Pooh.  That was nothink.  You tink he took me serious?  He knew I vas drunk.”

“Darlink you didn’t see the look on his face.  I’m tellink you – you let the cat out of the—you spilled the cat”

She sighed.  “So.  Vere is it?”

“Vere is vat?”

“The PASSWORD you idiot!  You wrote it down – so where is it?”

“I pasted it to the monitor.”

On seeing the yellow post-it on the monitor in full display where anyone could access it, Natasha ground her teeth.  She could feel the vein popping up on her considerable forehead.    She shook her head and quickly typed it in:  “glasnost_R_us”

Right away, she noticed one new message in the inbox.  She clicked on it.

It was from moose_squirrel@spyinc.org

And it read:

———————————–
Dear B&N:

You thought you were safe but let me tell you a tale
While you snooped all around we were watching your mail
Don’t try to run (as I told you before)
It’s too late for that – better answer the door

Love always, R&B
———————————–

She gasped and sat back. 

Just then, the doorbell rang.

New Rider

Posted: July 4, 2010 in writing

The usual suspects had boarded the bus: the elderly woman with her Bible and her big purse and her long dark stockings; the brush cut boy with his skateboard; the gaggle of giggling schoolgirls, all prepped out for the mall; the morose man with the day-old beard and dirty jeans; and the shy teenager girl who got on and sat apart from every one else.

And one other guy – a new rider – got on the bus.

At first, he wasn’t noticed at all. Various riders had their earphones on, and were rocking out to whatever Lady Gaga song had caught their attention. The giggling girls were just where you’d expect them to be: sitting at the back of the bus, whispering and laughing with each other. The old woman was just sitting there, prim as could be, face forward and feet together. The very picture of studious grace, unflappable.

Even though there were plenty of empty seats on the air-conditioned bus, the new guy had elected not to sit at all.

Instead, he stood there, eyes bugged out as he stared at the rest of the passengers.

The old woman noticed him first. Hard not to, really. He was middle-aged at best, yet he sported a younger style: he wore a wife-beater t-shirt, and bright yellow shorts, no socks and tennis shoes. When he scratched his face, she realized he had a tattoo of an anchor on his arm. As he whipped his head around, alternating between watching the road ahead, and checking out the passengers, she saw his blonde mullet doing its level best to keep up with his head. The corners of the old lady’s mouth threatened to break out into a grin, but she kept it firmly in check. She recalled her mother’s words so many years ago. “Eunice, we don’t know why people look the way they do. There’s always a reason, though we may not always know what that is.” She recalled her mother taking a deep drag of her cigarette, and then raising her head before expelling the smoke. “So don’t let me catch you making fun of them.” She paused, then continued. “Maybe you look funny to someone – would you want them laughing at you?”

She surely would not. So she kept her mien as neutral as could be.

She watched as mullet man stared at the passengers, then took a deep breath and roared “I WIN!!!”

She cocked her head to the side, looking at him more closely.

“YOU DON’T DIS ME!” he shouted.

The girls at the back erupted into giggles.

“STOP LAUGHING!! IT’S NOT FUNNY” The man’s face twisted into wrinkles and red red rage.

“I’LL KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T STOP”

The woman watched as the bus driver glanced back. Everyone could feel the bus slowing down.

The mullet man whipped his head back to the driver. “DON’T STOP DRIVING, MAN. I GOT PLACES TO BE.”

“Sir, you’ll—-”

“I SAID DON’T STOP. KEEP GOING.”

“Sir, I–”

“YOU WANNA DIE TOO, MAN?”

The bus went back to normal speed, while the bus driver said nothing.

“I ASKED YOU A QUESTION, MAN!”

“No sir. I don’t want to die.”

“GOOD. ‘CAUSE I WON AND I NEED TO GO CELEBRATE.”

The girls at the back had stopped giggling at this point, and were now staring at the man.

In fact, everyone was staring at him. He had won everyone’s attention.

The old lady had had enough. She stood up and began walking toward him.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, GRANDMA?”

“Young man. I think you’ve scared us enough. Please sit down and be quiet.”

His eyes bugged out even more. “WHAT?”

“You heard me, sir. Sit down and stop scaring everyone.”

“YOU WANNA DIE, OLD HAG?”

She put her frail hand on his arm. “Oh I suppose I’ll die eventually. But not today.”

“SAYS WHO?” – and with that, he raised his other hand into a fist and swung at her.

She ducked and grabbed his pinky finger and twisted it hard. He shrieked in disbelief, as she quickly got into his instep and levered him over her hip and onto the ground. She then stomped on his crotch, and he doubled over in pain.

No one had any idea what she had in her oversized purse. Whatever it was, the passengers all realized it must have been heavy because when she clocked him with it, he passed out cold.

The stunned passengers stared in disbelief as the bus pulled to the side of the road. Shortly, they could hear the sound of the driver calling dispatch and asking for police assistance.

The young skateboarder broke the silence with a grin. “Way to go, lady!!”

Even the morose dirty man smiled. “What made you go up against him like that?”

The old woman frowned. “Well, I suppose it’s like the Good Book says. ‘The Lord helps those who helps themselves.'”

The shy teen cleared her throat. “Excuse me, ma’am, but, um, if you mean the Bible – it doesn’t say that at all.”

The girl looked at the suddenly frowning other passengers. “Well, it doesn’t! People think it does and they all say it, but it’s not in there.”

The old lady sat down with a heavy sigh. “It doesn’t?”

“No ma’am.”

The old lady shrugged. “Well it should.”

Watch yer gramma

Posted: June 20, 2010 in humor, Life, writing

I don’t know why but it tickles the hell out of me when someone gets all ornery and persnickety about something and then fires off all cannons, like so:

Well did another day of hoop jumping.
I know for a fact that Rogers are stupid, have no COMMON cents!
This is no lie. Common cents is not a fact in there line of work.

“Rogers” refers to our local internet/cable/wireless company.  It’s big and it therefore often becomes the righteous target of many customers.  I recently had my own troubles with the company, involving several hours of phone conversation with someone who was desperately trying to help me.   In looking online for comparable stories, I stumbled upon the story belonging to the above-quoted gentleman.

As frustrated as I was, the above outburst of irony made me bust out in a massive grin.  The pinball game of his rage is flashing “tilt”.

You can’t vent your rightful wrath on someone if you don’t at least take the time to make sure you’re being coherent.  I know this, from a few times when I found myself attempting to verbally smite someone with my anger, only to fumble my words.   The resulting chorus of giggles left me undone.

Also, the irony of his second sentence left me howling.   Rogers doesn’t barter in cents.  They do it in dollars, thankyouverymuch.  Lots and lots of dollars.   And there’s nothing a damned bit common about their greed.  Those of us who cheerfully buy their services are complicit in their larcenous billing schemes.   So I guess our ugly customer’s last sentence is technically correct.   Common cents truly is not a factor in their line of work.  (One has to take a deep breath and make the grand leap that he meant “their” and not “there” – unless one is otherwise willing to twist one’s brain into contortions, in order to glean some sense of meaning.)

Oh, and the subject of his rant is singular, not plural.  “Rogers” is the company name, and it’s one company, not two.   Therefore,  “Rogers is (a) stupid (company)” would be better.  Best bet though is: “the people who answer phones at Rogers are stupid”.  Though I would respectfully disagree.  You can’t call someone stupid when you yourself write something at least as visually stupid as you purport your subject to be.

Credibility’s trousers are puddling around his ankles, having lost the belt of thought.

Anyone familiar with the Microsoft Outlook email program at their workplace might be familiar with a feature that allows you to claw back a message sent in error.  Sometimes, it’s done because it went to the wrong group, or because it contains errant information.   Or because it was too emotional, or contained grammatical errors.

Here’s the thing though:  the recipient has the choice of ignoring the clawback request until after he’s read the original message.   The evil sadists in our organization (raising hand) often will opt to read the hapless sender’s original email first.  Just because it’s fun.

It’s always better to proof-read one’s email/post first.   Spell-check utilities are great to use too but, let’s face it – a spell-checker wouldn’t have picked up a damned thing in that quote at the top, would it?  Every misplaced ironic word is spelt correctly.

(Don’t worry, I checked:  “spelt” and “spelled” are both correct, and can be used interchangeably.  That one bugged me for quite a while, until I finally took the time to research it.)

(You’re welcome.)

Simple errors can be forgiven, usually.  Certainly here on WordPress, I don’t go looking for errors.  God knows I’ve made enough of them myself.  I’m a forgiving guy.  Usually.   Except when corporations, newspapers and incensed letter-writers don’t take the time to proof-read their stuff.   If you’re trying to make a hard point, you’ve GOT to take the time to make sure you don’t distract from that point with the hilarious misuse of words.

And now, my reply to him:

“You might want to jump through a few more hoops, junior.  Rogers are not stupid.  The company is uncaring and hapless maybe.   The cents they gather are entirely for themselves, and so therefore aren’t common.   So perhaps you’re right, there.   I’m having trouble parsing how currency equates to a line of work though.  (Your last sentence).  Did you mean to say “their line of work”?  I hope so.  Otherwise I’ll be up all night trying to decipher your meaning.”

No doubt he’ll get all angry at me.   I hope so.  I’d love to read what he has to say this time.

*waiting with breathless grinning anticipation*

Oh wait – this little sketch kind of makes things a bit clearer:

UPDATE #1

He responded:

Royu ewtri , yhte shldn’tou etl peaepl ohw t’nca lleps no eth ten.
Ylno fi yeht aveh a dferunstnading of eht ngelshi langage.
Nda era wide awake.

If you don’t feel like trying to figure it out, the gist of it is:  “you shouldn’t be critical of a person for whom English is not their first language.  Or wasn’t wide awake at the time.”

Uh huh.  Looking for the sympathy factor.

My response:

“That’s cute. It doesn’t matter if English is a first or eightieth language. In fact, none of this matters to me at all, really.  Just stating the facts, dude – if you don’t want to get laughed at, make sure you’re making sense (not cents).

Don’t call anyone “stupid” if you’re not using the right words – it’s way too ironic and people (not just me) are going to just laugh.”