DUCK, DUCK AND A GOOSE TO YOUR TUCHUS

How soon till I become one of those crotchety old men wearing Five and Dime sandals over black dress socks, loud patterned polyester Sans-A-Belt slacks pulled up to my sagging man boobs and an ill-fitting dingy previously white t-shirt while standing in front of my house loudly coughing out to the neighborhood kids “Git off ma dern grass”?  I ask because sometimes it does not feel that far away.

The other day I got home from work a little late but still wanted to get a lot done before it was completely dark out. I half changed out of most of my work clothes and jumped to it. I was feverishly running around grabbing this, putting that, shoving this, stowing that… quickly knocking stuff off my ‘To Do While My Wife Is Out Of Town’ list.  She was away dealing with some not too pleasant family stuff and I thought it would be a pleasant surprise for her to come home and see some of our half-started projects completed.

Things were getting done and I was feeling productive but daylight and my energy level were both waning. I just can’t do what I used to. The closest I am to a spring chicken these days is when I’m in a KFC drive-thru. My head still thinks I can still continuously fly like Superman but before I’m ready to quit my body often fades to the pace of Tim Conway’s shuffling old man character.

It was the last remnants of dusk when I finally got to the front of the house with the hose in my hand. I stood there debating with myself if there was enough daylight and if I had the energy to grab the spreader and put a coating of Weed and Feed out ahead of the next day’s forecasted rain. Granted, I probably do not need a lot of light to physically push a plastic dorky looking seed spreader but it just seems wise to do this crap when you can actually see what you’re doing. I imagined checking my handiwork the next morning and discovering a mini mountain range of seed on one half of the lawn and three kernels on the other losing a hand to hand combat battle with a nasty goose-grass weed.

A couple of kids walked by as I was deep in the middle of my mental argument. My brain might have been racing but I’m sure all they saw was a doddering doofusy old guy holding a shut off hose standing there staring at the near-night sky like he was trying to remember what he was doing, where he was and what planet he might be on.  That’s when that old man image of myself popped in my head.

Of course, to a bunch of kids I likely looked like that already. Why not? I was just standing there like a frumpy dressed freak-a-doodle. I mean I don’t like to think about it but I’m probably older than their parents. Shoot, I might be older than their grandparents. If my wife was around I probably would have yelled “Git off ma dern grass” just to try and make her laugh, (she wouldn’t have but I still try… its almost expected at this point) but standing out there alone in my own little world I just couldn’t muster it. Maybe it’s too close to home?

Unable to make a decision I called my Wife who recommended I put away my guilt along with the gardening tools and call it a night. I followed her sage advice then let my very anxious dog out to sniff and examine anything that I might have touched in his backyard. We each have our own jobs to do around the house and he takes minding any variation of the smells out there very seriously. That is when I discovered a couple of ducks in the pool.

Luckily my old dachshund is half blind and mostly deaf, otherwise I would have been fishing him out of the cold pool (again).  Just like me, he is an old guy too that has no clue about his diminished abilities. Nor do I think he would have realized that Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were bigger than him until he was nose to bill.  I shoved my confused pup into the house before he barely had a chance to inspect all the work I had done and frantically grabbed my phone to send my wife a picture. Something goofy like that might briefly make her smile amid the unpleasantness of her trip and the wishy washyness of her pestering Husband.

I kind of wished those kids were still on my lawn, because they likely would know better than me how to get a good dim light photograph with my phone. Like a woeful water-fowl paparazzi, I circled around the pool trying all sorts of angles but dusk was looking like midnight in my photos leaving my duck pics looking like blurry smudges of grey on a textured black background.  Using a flash while taking a shot of water was not too effective either creating an image similar to all those lame ‘genuine ghost’ photos from those cheesy supernatural shows.

Before I could get a decent picture, the ducks got annoyed with my attention and loudly flapped to a calmer neighbor’s yard. I was amused by their visit but was glad they did not stay long enough to lay eggs.  Unfortunately, they liked my yard as much as my dog does and I spotted them doing laps the next day. I got a nice photo to send the wife but I needed to find some old-school remedy for keeping them out of my pool. I was worried it was going to be as futile as stopping squirrels from emptying my bird feeder but after a few unsuccessful attempts, a dozen or so floating bouncy beach balls seemed to have done the trick. Which is good because the next idea was to stand out there all day like a demented scarecrow in loud ill-fitting old man clothes yelling “ hey ducks… Git off a ma dern grass”!!

ducks

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RELAX REDUX

This past Saturday morning the Wife and I took an exciting city-wide tour of three different Home Depot garden departments (don’t ask, it will just open a big ole’ can ‘o’ worms).  After weeks of chilly weather, it was Springy enough in our Texas hood to dip our blackish thumbs into green paint and pretended to know something about plants and landscaping. Six hours of backbreaking digging, pruning, climbing, chopping, hacking, soaking and scrubbing later, the front of the house from the street looked… well… almost the exact same. Now parts of the backyard looked, well… kinda tidier.  I mean, we know the improvements, there is just a lot that has to be done to make the new place feel like ours.

Unfortunately, even planting the smallest shrub turned into an arduous arborous task since the previous owners of the house did not remove the thick tangled roots to some long ago removed holly bushes. You want more visual bang for the buck when you do that much work but it’s like when you clean out a closet or alphabetize books on a shelf, it might not be obvious to all but at least you know you did it. I guess the big noticeable change is the rather massive pile of sawed tree branches that will likely live in our back alley annoying all that drive by until the next bulk trash pick-up day.

We assumed Sunday would be calmer as we passed around the Advil before breakfast and wondering aloud how long it would be until we could again stand-up or raise our arms without shooting pains. My wife (our kitchen’s mad scientist) intended on spending the day cooking (experimenting) a Peruvian feast (dishes my wife ate in Peru, not cannibalistically eating an Incan) for some invited friends (victims) that evening. That wave of calmness never came… and still hasn’t.

Daylight savings time stole an hour of our morning and started us off a little behind in tidying the house and prepping the meal. The unplanned trip to Whole Foods slowed us down as did finding a stray dog wandering the neighborhood. Although I’m happy to report we eventually caught the dog and thanks to a photo posted on the Neighborhood lost and found website, Bella was reunited with her worried owner, but not till another hour of the day slipped away.

The delays made things in the kitchen more chaotic but it did not turn downright ugly till an hour or so before dinner was to be ready, when a pipe burst spewing a cascading river onto the kitchen floor rendering our sink as useful as a Tuba Trio at a sleep apnea clinic. Hoping to find a clog, I quickly disconnected every piece of pipe under the sink but my process of elimination only proved that the problem would require a real plumber to deal with some scary issue under and outside the house. Like the kid with his finger in the dam, I temporarily stopped the water from flowing but did not actually fix anything. We sopped up the lake and cleaned up the mess before company arrived but the afternoon really was a hectic rush instead of the originally planned easy fun day of cooking.

Although I could not pronounce a lot of it, dinner was delicious. The only thing not well received were the slices of Chirimoya fruit that were served alongside the appetizer. Although tastier then a Durian fruit, which I have previously described as smelling like a rotting piece of meat shoved in an old shoe that stepped in dog poop and was left in the summer sun by a sulfur factory, everybody agreed it was a kinda funky unflavorful fruit. To avoid any consumption by guilt, my wife chose not to announce that it was the most expensive singular piece of fruit she had ever purchased in her life, actually costing more than most of the main dishes’ ingredients combined.

My wife knows me too well and she could see as the evening turned to night I was internally obsessing about how we would get the giant stack of dishes cleaned. I know the water is the same no matter what faucet it comes out of, but there is an inherent creepiness to cleaning dishes we will eat off of, inches away from a toilet. But it was either the bathroom or the backyard hose, so as soon as our friends left we commenced with the parade of pots, pans, platters and various other dinnerware back and forth across the house for not so relaxing shower and bath that finally ended close to midnight..

Monday mornings are not normally looked at with such optimism but I was hoping the new workweek would bring a wave of calm normalcy to my world. It didn’t. After spending the morning putting out a handful of stressful figurative fires, I slipped out of the office to quietly nibble my power bar for lunch. Only then did I discover it was forgotten at home amid the morning mess of dealing with a waterless kitchen.  Instead I picked up a can of pop to drink but as I pulled out of the parking lot I had to make a quick stop to avoid getting hit and the soda rolled off the seat of my car at just the right angle to puncture and start spewing like a geyser all over the the floor, the dashboard, the seats and me.

The day continued on that same chaotic course culminating with a discovery  that my credit score took a huge ding from a false charge that will takes weeks of stressful phone calls to angrily dispute. I guess I should have expected things to go this way. I mean, I did cause it all to happen. Last Friday night the wife and I went out for dinner and we were commenting how things were really progressing nicely at the new house. We should have known better. It might not be Murphy’s but there has got to be some goofy law that won’t allow that to be said without dooming yourself.

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MY FORTH FOURTH GRADE FANTASY

4th grade edit

Oh my!!  Where do I start things off in the old blog today? After posting a picture like that I could just pack up my keyboard, park my brain and let you all run with it this week. There is just so much damn material floating around in that class photo.

So yes, that is me up there in the top center. I mean, if you got a kid looking that ridiculous you have to make them the focal point of photo, right?  So there I am I am in all my glory, the biggest dorkiest doofus in my early 1970s fourth grade class. Living proof to all those much younger than me that kids really did wear clothes like in old the Brady Bunch reruns. And check out the hair.  I had hair!!  Not as much as Lee Root over there on the top left but it was past my shoulders.

Look at all those fresh faces, old enough to think they understood the world and naive enough to not have a clue of the magnitude of life’s pressures that still awaited them. The photo preserves forever those awkward hormone infused days as we really were just starting the journey to discover ‘who we are’.

Well except for grumpy old Mrs. Hunt over there on the left. Her best was behind her and her bitterness showed daily. She likely had taken over 40 of those pictures and the decades of disruptive non-interested students had sucked out any joy or enthusiasm for her job. I wonder how many of those bright-eyed kids in that picture are currently experiencing the same thing as older adults now?

I have no clue what Mrs. Hunt was like outside of the classroom but to us she was a sour mean woman that spit a little bit when she talked and even more so when she yelled… which was quite frequently.  She disliked me, so I usually got a daily shower of spittle in my face. As is obvious in the photo, I was the biggest and loudest kid in class so if a group of us was acting up, I was the one that stood out. And I was the one she always made an example of.

Things did not start out bad at the beginning of the year; I was just treated like any other obnoxious attention-seeking brat. Till one day David Browning, the kid in the fuchsia tie next to me, threw a wadded-up piece of paper at the back of Mrs. Hunt’s head. The class roared. Mrs. Hunt went ballistic. “Who did it… WHO DID IT!!!” she screamed in a shrill voice that could peel the institutional pale puke colored paint off the dingy classroom walls. David pointed at me and said “Lewww-belllll did it, Lewwwww-belllllll did it”

Mrs. Hunt bolted towards me faster than any of us thought she could move. She stood over my desk and hollered at me till my clothes were practically soaked through with her saliva. I pleaded innocent but refused to throw David under the bus and counter-blame him. Now, it was not because of a guy-code of honor that I did not point my finger at David. When Mrs. Hunt angrily questioned “if I did not throw the paper, just who did?”  I did not say David Browning’s name simply because I was afraid of him.

I was not afraid of him because of the color of his skin but because he could kill me. Quite frankly, I was equally afraid of lots of kids regardless of their race, religion, creed, color, height or weight.  I was simply an oversized winpy wus but at least I was an equal opportunity non-racist wimpy wus.  And might I also add in case you have any doubts about the race thing, Kevin English, the kid in the groovy dark velour jacket standing next to David, was by far my absolute best school friend through 4th, 5th and 6th grade.

I took the blame that day because of fear and paid for it all year. Fear ruled a lot of my behavior in elementary school. By the time that photo was taken I had already become very interested in girls but had absolutely no clue what to do about it. I had zero game and was completely afraid of saying anything to them besides a bad joke.

Look at me up there in the picture. It’s not like I was going to win them over with my looks, hygiene or fashion sense. I would have had to worked it completely on personality and that sure as hell was not going to succeed for Mr. Clueless. I made Urkel look suave.

Most of the other boys were crazy hot for Elyssa Cohen, the black haired girl in the loud print dress right in front of David. She lived over in CO-OP City, a series of apartment buildings that some of the other kids also were from. They drooled and fawned over her the whole bus ride to school, all through class and then all the way back home. She never gave me the time of day, which was okay with me. Let the other guys fight over her; she wasn’t my type.

No my super-secret mega crush was on Stacey Hoffman. That’s her sitting in the front row third from the left in the peach slacks. I never told anyone, certainly not her. But boy did I daydream about Stacey Hoffman.

She was popular but not too popular to seem unobtainable, she was always nice to me but she was nice to everybody and, oh yeah… she developed relatively ample breasts pretty early. As an adult, I know that the attention received from being an early developer can be uncomfortable but in my googley-eyed, pining from a-far, Dork-a-saurus-Rex 4th grade boy brain, that was not an understood concept. Not that she would have had any idea I liked her; I was paralyzed by that irrational fear of saying anything.

When I moved out of New York in 8th grade I lost track of everybody in that class photo. It was not a big loss for me.  A clean slate in Miami helped me. Getting past all my fears did too. But I wonder sometimes what happened to all those kids? Who became successful doctors and lawyers?  Who became the sensitive artists and actors? Who became the factory worker and sewer cleaner? Who fell through the cracks of society overdosing too young on drugs or drink?  Who would still be in my life if I never moved?

The same way I fantasized during Mrs. Hunt’s class about being in situations that Stacy suddenly would discover how amazing I was, years and years later my ever-so slightly better developed brain wonders what became of her. Where is she today, what does she look like, would I have still been attracted to her in her 20s, 30s, 40s, now…?  Has she ever nostalgically looked at the exact same picture and wondered what happened to that obnoxious doofus in the center of the upper row?

Some dreams are better left alone. I think it’s best to leave Stacey in my imagination as that little preteen in loud 1970s polyester clothes. When it comes to this stuff, with today’s FACEBOOK and internet searches, it’s too easy to reach out and be disappointed. I think sometimes it’s best to just to leave reality alone and preserve the fantasy.

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MY POLICEMAN BESTIE AND ME

I had a bad week. I mean,  in perspective it was not like an accidentally trip your boss as he stands up to address the angry board of directors bad or get escorted off a plane in handcuffs because the half-deaf conspiracy theorist next to you misunderstood when you said on the phone “I’m going to show up in Spain” bad or waking up disoriented in an Aleppo park with an ‘ISIS SUCKS… Kiss Me I’m Jewish’ shirt on bad.

No, it was just your run of the mill, things did not go my way, bad week.  It happens and I have certainly had way worse. Like I remember right after college I was crazy miserable, with no job, no relationship and no place of my own to live. My folks moved to a different city so even their house felt foreign. I spent most of my time hoping my 14-year-old rusted-out beater hand-me down car would get me the two hours north to my nearest friend’s house where I frequently crashed on the sofa she and her other broke college roommates had dragged in off the street.

Since I did not have a computer or word processor, one day I drove to the local library to work on my résumé. It was definitely dusk when I got pulled over on the way home because of a headlight not working. I had no money to pay the ticket so I was elated when the cop said he would let me go with a warning. But then he sternly threatened that he will be patrolling that highway all night and if he caught me driving without the light fixed once it was completely dark out, he would stop me again and absolutely give me a ticket.

Not wanting to tempt fate I sheepishly looked out of the window of my junker-mobile and asked how soon will it be too dark to drive with the headlights his way?  He said about two to three minutes. I asked how I would be able to get it fixed that fast? He said that was not his problem. I said I lived twenty minutes away. He said it was not his problem. I said this was the only direct road home. He said that too was not his problem. I asked if he thought I could make it home in time. He said he did not think so and ‘the longer we talked the less chance I was even restarting the car without getting a ticket.’

Never before had someone in my head turned from good guy to mega Costco-sized douche-bag so fast. I stopped at a K-mart that was right off the next exit and parked in the far side of the parking lot where no one would bother me. I walked all the way over to the store and used the last of the cash in my pocket to buy a new bulb.

Being my Father’s son, and quite used to the car breaking down, I had a box full of old tools in the trunk that made the job easier but it was still a pain in the ass to remove the bolts, outer-casing and inner-brace to get to the bulb. Unfortunately, it was not until after I installed the headlamp and put everything back together that I discovered it did not work. I disassembled the whole thing again and walked all the way back to the store, searched for the service desk employee, explained my problem and exchanged it for another bulb.

I installed the second headlight but it also did not work. I than switched it with the one from the passenger side and discovered it was yet another electrical issue like the many others that had recently been cropping up all over the car making it buggier than an August night in the Everglades.  Yet again I walked all the way back across the parking lot to the store a third time, and much to the chagrin of the hard-to-find woman at the service counter, returned the second bulb.

Since my success rate at fixing technical problems in the car were about the same as those of the Hindenburg’s landing crew or the Titanic’s ice berg watchers, I realized I was not going to have a working headlight anytime soon. My life was turning into a bad Jerry Lewis movie with no happy ending in sight.

There was no debating that it was now absolutely positively night out, so to avoid another road side visit with my new favorite policeman bestie, I removed the entire head light unit completely and duct-taped my flashlight into the hole where the bulb should have been. It was not particularly bright, but it was a light.

As I drove home, right on cue the exact same cop pulled me over. He complimented my ingenuity but made it clear I needed to get it fixed properly before he ever saw me again. I did not get a ticket. Ok, maybe he was just a regular-sized douche-bag.

I bring all that up because that was one of the lowest time in my life. Crap-City USA. Weeks of misery where nothing seemed to go my way. I was lost and lonely with no local friends, broken hearted from my last two relationships tanking, no work prospects and not a clue where, when and how to steer my life. A string of weeks of that in comparison made last week feel like an all-expenses paid vacation at Disney.

I try to recall those times when I’m whining about a rough few days. I kinda get mad at myself for playing the ‘woe is me’ card. I have a good little life. Not perfect, not extravagant, not without pain, sadness and difficulty but I feel guilty complaining because so many people have it so much worse than me.

Eventually my Dad pulled some strings and helped me get my first real job. I kept it by working my ass off and constantly proving myself over and over to compensate for the burden of knowing I did not earn it originally on my own merit. That is where I got my work ethic and confidence. That is where I learned if I have a shitty week, I need to kick off my shoes, roll up my pants legs and wade through the mess till I get to something better. I have the control and the ability to move forward. I welcome the new week with open arms and if this one is not to my liking, another chance will surely follow after that.

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WORKING ON THE SKYLARK IN TALLAHASSEE 1984(ISH)

 

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I GOT PICKED TO GO ON THE GOLGAFRINCHAM ARK FLEET SHIP B!

Why does my Keurig coffee maker sound like the Adams Family’s foghorn-ish doorbell after it brews a cup of joe? I find myself saying ‘you rang’ every morning before I take my first sip.

Why is one burner on my stove get dramatically hotter than all the others? My wife and I refer to it as ‘death burner’ because anything briefly unattended on that spot instantly becomes charred black remains.

And while I’m wondering out loud (or in print) about kitchen stuff, I have absolutely no idea how a microwave oven works. It makes no sense that every time I’m zapping leftovers, I shouldn’t be wearing an x-ray style lead apron to prevent it from boiling my brain molecules like they were in a nuclear blender?  I mean, if the only thing protecting my cells from popping like a bag of Orville Redenbacher is that little glass window on the door, why don’t the Japanese build a container out of the same stuff to put on top of that leaking nuclear power plant that has been turning people into sterile green phosphorescent glow-sticks wiggling around like those inflatable tube guys outside used car lots.

Look, I know I’m no brainiac ‘genus’ like Serge Eisenstein, Sir Fig Newton or Stevie Hawk’s Nest, but I don’t think I belong on the Golgafrincham Ark Fleet Ship B with the telephone sanitizers, tired TV producers and management consultants (too obscure?).

I’m realistic though. If the apocalypse hits tomorrow, I’m out of luck. I can’t hunt nor can I spot the difference between poisonous plants and basic berries yet I don’t have gold and canned goods stockpiled. I’m also not that great of a mechanic so I can’t MacGyver up modified tools for security and survival. I’m like a red shirt Star Trek away team member or that oblivious guy stupidly answering the door in the dark creepy house that gets his brains sucked out by a Hannibal Zombie Kruger Camp Counselor before the horror movie opening credits even start.

But none of this stops me from trying. Despite my wife’s apprehensive expression when I reach for the tool box, I actually can fix a lot of things and age has made me wise enough to not try repairs that are way over my head. Like I’ll change an electric switch or outlet but I’m not rewiring the fuse box. I can be shocking enough without 120 extra running through me.

My problem is inexperience and lack of patience causes me to make silly mistakes and since I am not embarrassed to admit to them, they stand out even more. Like when I refinished our bedroom furniture. It took several days of living out of boxes and the cars did not fit in the garage that week, but I carefully stripped off the old varnish, polished, sanded, treated and painted all the outer surfaces.  I  even replaced the drawer-pull hardware and cleanly patched the visible old holes. Everything came out great… except… I only painted the fronts of the drawers so when you open them, the occasional sloppy paint drip line shows.  It’s been over seven years and I never had it in me to go back and finish the part I didn’t even realize I had to do.

So batten down the hatches, hide the children and keep the fire department’s number handy, because this weekend I’m planning on putting on my Mr. Fixit hat again and tackling a few minor projects around the house. I am aware of the golden rule of home repair, however long you initially think the project will take, assume it will actually last three times longer.  So I plan on starting off easy with the kitchen drawer that sticks than almost falls out of its slot due to a busted sliding mechanism.

Now I have never done this particular repair before, so what I think will be easy could spiral into something ugly pretty fast. I have this mental image of the contents of all the kitchen cabinets scattered on every flat surface and me standing in the middle with a charred smoking head looking like Wyle E Coyote after one of his Acme bombs prematurely exploded in his own hands.

The truth is I don’t even know if the broken part is actually even called a ‘sliding mechanism’ but saying that with a confident authority in my voice sure makes it sound like I know what I’m talking about. That’s half the battle, right?  It’s better than saying the slidey thingamabob under the drawer is disconnected from the whoosamawatz and might be completely busticated.

Luckily if this goes bad there are lots of educational fix-it yourself videos on-line and two hardware stores very close by. And if things go really REALLY bad, well…my wife has been dropping hints about wanting to change the cabinet fronts. So at least I have a backup plan.

 

 

at-hublot

DAN LEARNING TO FIX THINGS

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PA-RAID THROUGH THE PAST

 

I don’t love a parade… magazine. Anybody out there old enough to remember Parade, the lame magazine insert shoved in almost every local Sunday paper since World War Two? Parade magazine is the Goofus and Gallant of the news world and is about as hard hitting and newsworthy tough as the old TV Guide Crossword puzzle (Gilligan’s_______ or The ____ Tyler More Show).

Yes, I know Parade has not gone the way of  Life, Crawdaddy, Omni and Look; they still publish the thing weekly. But the reality is you still have to be over a certain age to know that because only older folks continue to read non-digital printed-word physical newspapers. Young people look at them with the same useless curiosity as a butter churn, telephone table or VCR. It’s also become pretty obvious who is still reading the paper by the advertising content which has slowly switched from family products and services to old people stuff like hearing aids, assisted living communities, no exam term life insurance, adult diapers and various innuendo-ed erectile dysfunction miracle stiffy-ness solutions.

For the record, I do get the newspaper delivered, though I like to think of myself as still on the cusp of geezer-dom. Although I’m pretty sure most 17 year-olds would have a vastly different opinion. Try as I might to keep somewhat relevant, I know I’m slowly turning into the modern equivalent of the horned rim glasses, stuffed shirt square, Lawrence Welk lovin’, unhip ‘turn down that racket noise you call music’ grandpas that I dealt with as a kid. I do hold out hope that somehow newspapers will make a retro cool comeback like vinyl records or art-deco vintage jewelry. Then without doing a damn thing I could be considered hip and trendy instead of old man farty.

But why is Parade on my mind? Well I was thinking back to Sunday mornings when I was young, passing around sections of the paper to read with the longest wait consistently being for the funnies. Parade was the near useless time killer you read while waiting for a real part to make its way around to you.

Parade always had a very fluffy cover story devoid of real news, one constantly unfunny comic about an oversized dog named Howard Huge and an inane reader question/answer section inside the front cover that no one really ever believed were sent in by real people. It never seemed possible that a curios man in Sheboygan just happened to coincidentally ask something like ‘if Andy Williams was up to anything new’, the week before his new mellow moods album was coming out. I always thought maybe the names of the question submitters were arbitrarily picked out a phone-book and someday mine would show up or were they just the names of the press agent or promo person working for the star the question pertained to.

I guess I do have a touch of old farty-fogy-ness in me because I feel nostalgic about silly things like Parade. Even though years ago, I made the conscious decision to stop reading it because Parade is to the newspaper what those ‘Housewives Of…’ shows are to television… mindless repetitious dreck.  So even though when the paper arrives it has joined the stack of advertising circulars as ‘direct to the recycle bin’ fodder, it is an odd little connection to my past that I like knowing still exists. I guess it is normal to feel that way. It’s the same as having a sense of loss when a restaurant you frequented as a kid but have not been to in years, closes or when that cool old movie house you never bothered to drive out of the way to, is converted to a Dollar Store.

25 years ago, when I spent a lot of time in Atlanta, I didn’t really understand when my buddy T-Bone would get all high-horse peachy upset that the old Mom and Pop locally owned businesses that populated his up and coming neighborhood were getting bulldozed and replaced with cookie-cutter chain drug stores and indistinguishable fast food joints.

I’d laugh to myself at how riled up he got at what I perceived as progress, but I get it now. It is much more than that.  He mourned the loss of the disappearing unique individualness and hated that Anytown USA was all becoming the same bland corporate identical looking street. I see now that ‘out with the old’ has other ramifications connected to it and cause a disconnect  to the world you are comfortable with.

I understand change is good and healthy but not always the best thing. With a tap on my phone I can get the latest breaking news but holding the newsprint in my hands does more than just give me somewhat current events. It connects me to my past.

But  if I am really being 100% honest with you and myself, there is one more very important thing. Despite the comfort and nostalgia, I know in my most secret heart of hearts that I am so canceling that newspaper subscription the minute they finally add the comics and crossword puzzles currently unavailable on the digital versions of the paper.  And you know what else, I like having that CVS and Walgreens nearby; I never went to most of those old over-priced Mom and Pop places they leveled because they did not cater to my needs. So nar nar, I might have a soft spot for Parade Magazine but I think this might actually mean I’m still ever so slightly not 100% old farty …yet.

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HITTIN’ IT REAL REAL OLD SCHOOL WIT ‘BABY GOT BACK-ACHES’ by SIR WHINES-A-LOT

I should apologize. I spend a lot of time here in the digital pages of my blog whining. Waaaah I’m older, waaaah I’m achey, waaaah my life has traumas, waaaah I have to walk across the room to get the opener before I can drink my bottle of beer… wwwwaaaa waaaah  waaaaah. When did happy-go-lucky Dan get body snatched by Sir Whines A Lot?

The answer… never.

I’ve always been as whiny as a Woody Allen character crashing a Kentucky Klu Klux Klan rally (“the last time I saw this many sheets was at a Macys 5th Ave white sale. We Jews protest differently, instead of burning crosses we keep the anger inside until we have burning ulcers. The only time I saw the Jews in my Brooklyn neighborhood this angry was when Shlomo’s Deli put too much schmaltz in the chopped liver…”)

Any impression of me being a Devil-May-Care Dan has always been an illusion or myth I very poorly tried to propagate. I’m mentally wound tighter than Itzhak Perlman’s sheep gut D string.  Laid-Back Lewbel is a dream that I have never attained as my brain constantly hyper obsesses on every little idiotic nuance of my existence. It is a ton of useless extra stress I burden myself with and I get nothing out of it.

That time-wasting tenseness mixed with my cluelessness of how to balance my ‘life’s too short’ self-indulgent side, my baby boomer drive to be visibly financially secure and good-old traditional Jewish guilt, has puréed my brain cells into the sloppy slurry sloshing around in my skull controlling my every move like the current political comedy show’s impressions of Steve Bannon manipulating a mini President Trump ventriloquist’s dummy. I dream of a mythical ‘carefreedom’ but I am, in fact, a beaten-down slave to my brain’s twisted unnecessary motivations.

In my twenties, I was constantly asked what my life plans were. I always flippantly answered “master the guitar, learn to fluently speak Spanish and the rest I’ll play by ear.” I can recall saying that to my parent’s already retired friends and seeing their ‘looks like your son will be eating dented-can discounted generic cat food three meals a day when he’s our age’ expression.  I was projecting a Millennial spirit before the word even existed but as much as I always dreamed of just bumming around Europe or being a mostly jobless faux-artist bohemian beach bum with a hippie-chick girlfriend and a half dozen commune spirited roommates, my fierce independence and fear of not knowing where my next meal was coming from would never let it happen.

Balancing the Dan I wanted to be and actual Dan, has been a constant life struggle. I know people that have taken buckets of heavy meds or spent decades in intense psycho-sicko-therapy trying to connect those two but I keep waiting to just wake up one day and suddenly be comfortable in my skin.

But recent occurrences have been loud reminders that life is too short to make things even more unnecessarily difficult on myself. Sometimes you do run out of tomorrows if you keep putting things off and worrying about what the world thinks will never advance your dreams.I am jealous of those occasional characters that come into my world who just are who they are with no pretense, filters or cares about what other’s think. Oh, those folks will always end up driving you crazy but I respect the hell out of them.

So can my lifetime of pesty whining and worrying really just be written off as a cry out for the ultimate chill pill? Because if I look backwards things really do not look so bad. It is easy for me to get caught in the trap of focusing on what I don’t have or have not accomplished instead of enjoying all that I have experienced and all that I do have. It’s far easier to complain than to solve.

I might still not know WHAT I want to be when I grow up but I think I am finally learning WHO I want to be. So, it looks like I still have a lot of work to do. Hell, all these years later, I still have not come close to mastering the guitar or fluently speaking Spanish. But I’m working on it. (Pero estoy trabajando en ello blah blah blah)

dan-84

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