HELLO NOW, LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO THEN

My wife and I were floating in the pool’s shallow end having a deep discussion about our little sliver of the universe. We had both gotten very overheated in the blazing Texas summer sun attacking the bricks next to our front door with a hand drill and a small pile of now broken or worn-down masonry bits.

My wife was hoping some attractive easy to read house numbers might not only add to our curb appeal (as they say on those addictive HGTV shows) but also assist the delivery people who keep leaving our packages at random neighbor’s houses. Unfortunately, as every homeowner knows, no project ever goes as smooth as planned, under the estimated budget or as quick as expected. We are also realists and sadly know when everything is finally complete, our deliveries will still likely end up at the wrong doorstep.

Hours into the ‘great number hanging project of 2017’  but long after we realized we would need more bits and possibly another drill, the heavier variations of the ‘should we really have done this’ questions started creeping into our conversations? We were still less than halfway through the project when we took out little pool break. I said “it sounds so trite but its yet another case of if I knew then what I knew now.” Bobbing up and down in the cool water, my wife and I analyzed that line.  She said “the line might be trite but there is a reason everybody says it”.

I leaned my head backwards ears into the water and closed my eyes to the bright sun. My brain took me back to when I was a clueless kid (versus now when I am a slightly less clueless adult). If I knew then what I know now.  I was so dense then, I thought euthanasia was about Chinese teens and misogynistic had to do with giving a good back massage. OK, bad jokes but based on reality.

‘Euthanasia’ was not on one of those spelling lists I had such a hard time with. I can only imagine my Mom’s mnemonic device for that one. I first learned the root of that word when we had to put our beloved family dog down. That’s when I first really learned about death and appreciating life. I’m still no expert but that ‘if I knew then’ line sure rings true. I did not realize until I was much older how good a job my folks did shielding me from the harsh pain of the real world. It was not an insanely idealistic childhood, but I would not trade it. If I knew then how special those days were, how precious the people I grew up around were and how in a flash someone you love can disappear. Now-a-days the  conversations about pulling the plug seem to pop up way more than I would like.

Misogynistic is a little tougher one.  Being more hands on raised by my Mom than Dad in a very open nonprejudicial house (does my Dad calling every waitress he has had since 1945 ‘Girlie’ count?), I always have seen woman as equals to men and certainly have never hated women. But I have always wondered about my behavior with the first girl that ever let me get to second base.  I was oblivious.  After English class she invited me to hang out that evening while she was at a babysitting gig.  At that point when it came to girls, I was still afraid of my own shadow (still am a little bit). That night she was the one that made the first move to kiss and she is the one that guided my hand.

I walked home on from that date (I did not drive yet, not that I recommend driving home on air… aside from what is inside the tires) feeling the same elation as if I had just climbed Everest, won the Superbowl or solved the world hunger. Boob touching is a big deal for a young man.  We know what legs and a butt feel like, we have those, but those female mammalian protuberances are thing of many, many hours of imagination. Many hours.

The next day after the one class we had together she gave me a stuffed frog with the pre-named tag Frumpy. I did nothing. We went out once or twice more during the next few days and that was it. We never really went beyond the occasional hallway hello after that. Those very early teen years are pretty messy for most kids but I still wonder all these years later was I the user or the use-ee? Did I satisfy a need or bruise an ego leaving a very early relationship scar.

Back in the single digit school grades, I did not yet understand the differences between boys and girls perceptions. I still don’t really but at least now I know there is one. Maybe it is a stretch to call young insulated Dan misogynistic; I never really hated girls. Well maybe those two tall intimidating much farther developed megga- rude New Yorky girls in my Queens seventh grade class that mercilessly picked on my naivete about the world. OK, I hated them.

I do regret my behavior in some of of those early relationships. I did not understand myself much less the needs of others. I still make mistakes. I guess in most everything, the trick is understanding, learning and not repeating.

I pulled my head forwards out of the pool water and squinted towards my wife. “You are so right, If I knew then…”

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7th Grade Class Photo.  Dan upper right. The two over developed intimidating girls that, rightfully so, often made fun of me in the center back.

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THNAK YOU

Suddenly I cannot type ‘thank you’ correctly. About a month ago I was sitting at the computer zipping through one of the eight gazillion e-mails I send at work every day and in my haste to type faster my fingers stumbled over each other and spelled ‘thnak you’. As kindly and well-intended as a good ‘thnaking’ might be, it does not really have the same effect as a traditional ‘thanking’.

While performing my usual pre-send proof reading, I saw that familiar angry wiggly red line under ‘thnak’. I hate that line. I imagine if the speaker volume were cranked up that the red line would be taunting me with a “nar nar nar, not so fast doofus”. I’m not fond of it’s cousin, the wiggly blue ‘your grammar is wonky’ line either, but it does not seem as hostile and mean spirited as that red one. Maybe I’m just sensitive about my spelling.

I have never been the best speller in the world. Hell, I have never been in the top 75% of the best spellers in the world. I mean, I have about as much chance of sprouting a unicorn horn and rainbow wings to fly over a rainbow to the lottery office and claim my billion dollar winning prize as I do competitively competing with those twelve year olds correctly spelling “wayzgoose, “heiligenschein” or “marocain” at the National Spelling Bee. I don’t think I could even win a lower-end participation trophy at the National Spelling Cee, Dee Or Zee.

I remember my Mom working so hard to teach me mnemonic devices to help me memorize my elementary school spelling lists. I recall her standing next to me at our old dining room table going “or”, pushing out her chest like a marching parade pitch bass drummer “chest” and pretending to be cheering after a concert “ra”… “or-chest-ra… orchestra”. My memory just works weirdly. I could easily tell you the name of the song, artist and label for every phonograph record everyone in my family owned but a list of a couple of dozen spelling words took hours of labor to make stick.

It never made sense to my teachers that going into sixth grade I had the reading level of a high school senior yet I could not spell basic stuff like the three ‘theres’. I still constantly mix up my ‘whethers. No wonder I only lasted a year as an English major in college. Of course, that was before everyone had a home computer; I guess those now familier red and blue wavy lines would have dramatically improved my essay and term paper grades.

My Wife’s spelling might not be remarkable either but she makes up for it with her zen-ish multi-tasking Flash-like typing skills. She can wail away at a keyboard, fingers moving so fast you can barely see them, while she continuously looks you straight in the eye having a whole separate conversation. Your allowed to have the occasional misspelling when your typing more words-per-minute than I can type words-per-month. Watching her hands fly on a keyboard reminds me of that old 1970s cheesy Six Million Dollar Man show where to show his bionic speed they simply sped up the film so everything moved crazy fast.

So back at my desk, I was wrapping up another e-mail today and I typed yet another ‘thnak you’. That damn ‘N’ was still sneaking in front of the ‘A’. Apparently, my heavily-used right index finger liked cutting off my wimpy left pinky like a well-worn Mac truck barreling around an old low millage original Mini Cooper. Then it happened again and again and again. I can’t seem to stop it.

So yes, suddenly I cannot type ‘thank you’ correctly. ‘Thnaking’ has become an ugly irritating habit like nail biting or knuckle cracking. I am now faced with the daunting task of trying to re-train my brain and I don’t have my Mom standing next to me to assist. My noddley noggin does not like remembering new things. I guess I wasted too much of my memory capacity when I was a kid memorizing the lyrics to the flip-sides of those old 45’s records. I might still know most of the words to the B-side of ‘Shaving Cream’ by Benny Bell, ‘The Girl From Chicago’ or the other side of Paper Lace’s ‘The Night Chicago Died’, ‘Can You Get It When You Want It’, but teaching this old dog’s brain a new trick is not going to be easy.

Maybe I could just start a new ‘thnaking’ trend. If folks these days can ‘fleek’, ‘hundo p’, ‘dis’ and ‘suh’, why can’t I ‘thnak’? So once again thnak you all for reading.

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LIVER FREE OR DIE

Before I was old enough to understand that it’s kinda gross, I fell in love with chopped liver. Now don’t sneer or point fingers. Keep in mind, the Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by fresh delicious fish and the year-round mild climate lends itself to growing fields of bountiful crops yet the locals love SPAM. I guess out there on those isolated islands nobody bothered to tell everyone the stuff was nasty, so they all grew up loving it.  The only difference is the Island I grew up on was inside a goofy Queens New York Jewish household which, believe me, sometimes felt as disconnected from the rest of the world as Niihau.

I have fond memories of being a very little boy helping my Mother make chopped liver. Back then ‘liver’ was just a funny sounding word not associated in my head with awful offal organ meat. It was just stuff Mom made on special occasions. She followed her family recipe, first catching the chicken with her bare hands and a rock outside our prehistoric cave… OK, she’s not that old but it is a good way to test out if she still is reading this every week.

Actually, for months Mom would freeze the livers from any chickens she cooked, then when there was enough she would boil them all in a big pot with onions and stuff for hours. To schmaltz or not to schmaltz is a Shakespearean question for the ages; if I was too young to realize liver was a brown smelly slimy organ, I sure as hell knew nothing about cooking with animal fat.

Our old metal hand crank meat grinder (OK, maybe we are kinda stone-aged, this was pre food processors) did not attach properly to our groovy fabulous fifties metal edged Formica topped kitchen counters. Mom was resourceful though, so she would lay out an array of towels all around the area to catch any flying liver splatter and attached it to the edge of her dresser. She dragged the slightly cooled pot of cooked down liver glop and a gazillion hard boiled eggs across the house to her bedroom turned meat processing plant.

Here is where I got to help. I got to shove the stuff into the top of the grinder and turn the big crank handle. Like it was some twisted Eastern European Yiddish version of a Play-Doh Fun Factory, I had a blast shoving oniony liver blobs and eggs into the top while turning the big crank and watching the dozen or so tan streams of grinded goo shoot out into a faded aqua knock-off Pyrex glass bowl. It was like I was a part of a discolored version of Blue Man Group.

So alright, I did not have a lot a toys… or friends… or hobbies. This was fun for me back in the pre-game console, pre-cell phone, pre-computer era. What can I tell you, I’m easily amused and grinding chopped liver was a wacky diversion. Besides, is hand grinding meat really any worse than playing with the lame toys of my era like jacks, Spirograph and Punch-Mes (dopey weighted four feet tall plastic inflatable balloon like things with a picture of a popular cartoon character on them that when you punched would flop backwards then pop back in place… I had one with Magilla Gorilla on it and like every other kid was bored with it after the second punch).

I’m not sure I liked chopped liver originally because I had fun helping to make it, but no matter the reason, I got hooked on it early. As I grew up, Mom made it less and less frequently. Long after I moved away and started traveling for work, she would still occasionally make for me when I visited. Mom never had to bribe any of us kids with food to get us to come but you have to appreciate a nice perk. Especially since chopped liver is hard to find in a lot of the small corners of the country where I traveled. Sure, every time I visited New York I could get a passable version at almost any grocery store deli counter but in Terre Haute Indiana, Pearland Texas or Ft Oglethorpe Georgia not only does it not exist, it might be dangerous just to ask for it.

Then one time I popped into town and Mom excitedly served me her new healthy faux chopped liver made mostly from nuts. Oh it’s a delightful nut spread if you are desiring a nut spread but her ‘not liver’ chopped liver is… well…not chopped liver. But beggars can’t be picky.

Now I am not saying I want to become the poster child for gout by eating chopped liver every day, but along with its snooty sibling foie gras and its slumming second cousin liverwurst, I do like it as a treat every now and then. And sometimes, when I least expect it and the recipe mix is just right, I can picture myself standing on the towels in my folks old bedroom, turning the big crank and watching the tan strands of yummy goo glop spew into the bowl. Damn, nostalgia can make some odd stuff beautiful.

dorky lil dan

LIVER BOY

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THE POPCORN BALL OF SANITY

The world is a magical mystical place. Really! Yeah, I sometimes bitch and moan like a cane toting complaining curmudgeon-y coot grumbling at a grocery deli counter with no thin setting on their meat slicer. Sure, I whine about my mysterious morning aches, my ever increasing peregrinations to late night urinations or my constant mental head trip of feeling like I am body surfing blindfolded through my middle-age years, but (and it’s a giant ‘butt’ much bigger than any Kardasian could carry) ‘BUT” the truth is  I love life. Mine in particular… but that might just be because I am more familiar with that one. I bet yours is dandy too if you look past the day to day minutia, headaches and traumas we all get bogged down with.

Like everyone else, I carry a busload of baggage and have dealt with serious setbacks, but I enjoy my world. I love my wife and family. I have some wonderful friends. I live in a groovy comfortable house. My brain might sometimes be wonky but it comes through when I need it. My health is relatively good (oh that will jinx it).   Sure, there are lots and lots and lots of things that could be better; not every day is a grand gala party. I don’t get to travel as much as I would like. I live too far away from family and friends. Health issues abound. And my ‘play’ to ‘work’ ratio is way off balance… but my point is even though there is plenty to grouse and grumble about, things really are okey-dokey at the IHOD… International House Of Dan. I still smile most everyday  (then again so do the chronically dim-witted and mentally challenged but I’m trying to be high road uplifty here so I will ignore that).

I know folks that take all sorts of doctor-prescribed (and self-medicating) chemicals to keep them level, even and ‘normal’. I’m just not sure what this ‘normal’ is they are seeking.  Nor do I think any level of pill popping will make me this ‘normal’ thing they speak of. I mean, isn’t everybody a little crazy in their own way?

But if abnormal is actually normal than don’t we all have this backwards? Are we all jumping in a lake to stay dry or drinking a beer to sober up? If abnormal is actually normal, no wonder we are all a bit screwed up (or down).  We are all jiving when we should be juking, which explains a lot. But again, the only brain I know is mine and I must be doing something right because most days I wake up happy. I have to assume even though it sometimes feels like I am living my life in one of Pavlov’s rat mazes, I must be in the slightly saner wing of the societal nut house.

A famous rock singer recently committed suicide. I, like most folks, react with an immediate sense of wasteful loss, then question how somebody with success, fame, talent, money and a loving family can feel a darkness so bleak. I’ve had bad moments, but they pass. The sun rises with a new day’s adventure. The sadness de jour eventually wanes. Sometimes crazy serious overwhelming events knock you to your knees, but today’s insurmountable problems become smaller with each tomorrow.

The other day I really did not want to go work. I was in an ill mood and I knew the ugly stack of headaches awaiting on my desk was only going to sour it worse than sucking on a sack of lemons. Wearing an early morning commute glum glare I pulled up to a traffic light and glanced into the car next to mine.  Suddenly I smiled.

A short small woman was sitting behind the wheel squeezing a giant family sized plastic bottle of yellow mustard onto a hot dog and bun. The mustard bottle was half the size of her head. I imagined if she also had a cow’s leg size catsup condiment container too. She took a big bite and then squirted out another massive yellow blob. She rapidly repeated the squish and chomp process devouring the entire drippy dog in the course of one sloppy red light.

I’d never seen anything like this before and certainly not at 7:15am behind the wheel of a car. Five decades on the planet and just by looking to the right I had another wacky new experience I could talk about. How could I stay in a bad mood? Amusement is everywhere if you just take a moment to look. I’m not saying watching a freaky frankfurter feast will prevent suicide, as a matter of fact, she might some day accidentally kill herself trying to drive while juggling a wiener and a massive messy mustard bottle. But noticing the wacky abnormal ‘normal’ stuff constantly going on around us can sure help make the world a lot more fun. The nasty pile ‘o’ crap was still waiting for me on my desk but it was easier to face in a good mood.

A couple of weekends ago my Wife and I had a stressful 13 hour drive up to Iowa for my nephew’s High School graduation. We hit a torrential rain storm that added stress and several very uncomfortable hours to the drive. Then our quick visit to her Mom’s bank turned long and ugly when the staff could not get their key to a safe deposit box to work. Tired, frustrated and woefully behind schedule we decided why fight it.

We took the slightly longer route on the last leg of the trip and detoured through the town my wife spent her earliest years in. She had not been back there in 30 years,  so we found lots for her to be nostalgic about as we cruised down the tiny town’s familiar but different streets. We smiled and laughed while revisiting her past’s simpler times but what really helped us forget about the miserable night’s travels was when we discovered her home town had a new claim to worldwide fame. It was home to the Guinness Book Of Record’s listing of Worlds Largest Popcorn Ball.  Now if surprisingly finding a little windowed building in the center of your hometown housing the world’s largest popcorn ball does not put you in a good frame of mind, nothing will.

That little extra detour when things were going so wrong, truly made everything seem right again. So the next time you find yourself getting worn down swimming the wrong way up society’s sanity stream, just stop. It might be you that is actually going the wrong direction. And all that work is just making it worse. Let yourself smile. Eat a hot dog with a gallon of mustard for breakfast. Go visit a 9370 lb popcorn ball. Or just look around, you never know where it will be but I bet there is something going on out there that can make you smile.

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CADDYSHACK TO CABIN 2

Since it came up again this week, it bares repeating that I was too good a student to be in Caddyshack. Yeah, the iconic movie Caddyshack with Bill Murry, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield…  I could have been in that. Really. When I was in High School a bunch of kids skipped school for a week to be extras lurking around the background of several scenes. My Mom would never have let me and I was too good a kid to secretly sneak out of school for a full week. Yeah, I was a mega-dork back then too. If I were that age today I would likely be the last kid in the class to know what a Fidget Spinner is (if you don’t know, ask someone under 18)

So as a reminder of what I missed out on, whenever I watch Caddyshack, one of the classic comedy movies of my era, clear as day I can see annoying Jeff Jacobs. He is the obnoxious kid that sat behind me in Spanish class who surreptitiously covered 2 pages of my yearbook with semi offensive doodles of Asians, African Americans and Quaaludes.  Yeah Jeff Jacobs,  who despite the numerous clues and notes we left, never figured out that we were the ones that threw our lunch trash onto the passenger seat of his always unlocked VW Beetle everyday for weeks (why didn’t he just lock the doors?). Yes Jeff Jacobs, who when his car was deservedly covered in shaving cream as revenge by someone he pissed off, was too lazy to wash it off for weeks till the Miami sun turned it into a sort of smeary smelly acid 1960s trippy sort of pattern.

That Jeff Jacobs is right there in the movie, even in the famous synchronized swimming pool scene. Steve Mckittrick is in there too.  So is Rob Morrow, the guy from Northern Exposure and Numbers, who back then was just another one of us dorky theater kids over-acting in school plays. Unfortunately just hanging around talented people does not mean their abilities rub off on you. Rob got much better; I’m still just a loud ham.

Several of the kids I did theater stuff with went on to some fame. One went on to be a screenplay writer, another a sports channel editor, an actor in Doogie Howser MD, a rock singer with numerous albums, a member of a comedy improve troupe and Joe Haj who is the acclaimed artistic director of the famous Guthrie Theater. Yeah, I didn’t do any of those things.

Even my buddy Mike attended the American Academy of Performing Arts. After High School I never pursued any of that stuff. I still enjoy writing. I mean, I have been writing the column you are reading for eleven years. My original college major was English. Based on my wonky grammar, spelling snafus and ever changing tenses, you can see why that ended after a year.

Advertising seemed like a more predictable and profitable way of using my creative energies. Unfortunately, I learned most advertising jobs are not those glamorous fun creative ones like the swinging, smoking, drinking dudes on Mad Men or even Darren’s wacky adventures working for Mr. Tate on Bewitched. Aside from the ad industry’s very few creative titans like David Ogilvy or Jerry Della Femina (who once stood up in a meeting with Toyota executives and humorously(?) suggested the line “from the folks that brought you Pearl Harbor”), most real world advertising jobs are either crunching data numbers, doing repetitious remedial level artwork or selling ads for throw-a-way newspapers and low budget local TV stations. Not wanting turn into a sleazy slick talking sales slut like Herb Tarlek from WKRP, I never really wholeheartedly threw myself into that profession.

But I still like to write. Over the years in my spare time I have worked with friends on various scripts and projects. Some good, some bad but none that have gone anywhere. Last summer I was invited along with a couple of buddies on a trip from L.A. up the coast to beautiful Big Sur. It was a fun weekend, although a significant amount of it was spent with them making fun of my desire to stop and have a drink at every bar we walked by. What can I say, I was thirsty. Mind you there were only three bars in the entire sleepy coast town, but that was not the point. I guess that was better then when they teased me about my new obnoxious local ‘friend’ Lance, who I got stuck playing pool with at one those damn bars I was originally so eager to slip into. Old friends can get away with busting chops.

Hanging out one morning in our little cabin in the woods we hatched the idea for a horror film script. I guess that is not surprising since one has been constantly writing scripts for years and the other has a degree in film making.  I thought of Ed Forrest, the head of the Florida State advertising department when I was there. One day he  walked into the office I shared with another Teacher’s Assistant and he said to my buddy while pointing at me, “you just keep him around to think up all the good weird shit, don’t you?” I took it as a compliment and that is exactly how I felt that morning bouncing around ideas with people more talented than I. That ended up being my favorite part of trip and rare moments like that are when I regret not pursuing a more creative career.

When I got back home my life got too busy with the real world but my buddies finished up the script which is called Cabin 2.  They tried to get me involved but my wife and I were busy having just both changed jobs, both dealing with resettling our parents as well as buying a new house and prepping our old one for sale.

It’s a good script that I can still see some faint traces of my original input in. I’m back in the fold with the guys helping them with some social media stuff so if you want to help make a movie,  we really can use the assistance. Visit the film’s Kickstarter campaign (click the little blue CABIN 2) where the gang is raising money to take the first steps to getting the movie made. Who knows where it might go but it is fun to be doing something creative again.

CABIN 2

Jeff Jacobs ‘creative’ additions to my Yearbook…YEARBOOK

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THE BIG BREAKDOWN

Does it sound funny to say I am waiting for the big breakdown? No, I’m not talking societal collapse, modern politics, zombie apocalypse, Nostradamus, ISIS idiots chipping away at the toes of the Lincoln Memorial or ‘look Maw there done be an army-geddon knockin’ on da dern trailer door go git my 950 JDJ ’. No. I am talking about me. My being. My body. My brain. My moving pieces and parts.

When I first got to college I had no money to my name. I was so short on cash one night my buddy Mike and I found ourselves down in the dorm basement moving the laundry room washers and dryers looking for enough stray quarters to order a late-night pizza. We had to be more creative than the other kids with the munchies who had already raided the better snacks hanging on the low shelves of the hall’s vending machines with a bent wire clothes hanger.

My next year at school I inherited a hand me down beater of an old family car that was fairly dependable until my senior year. At that point, every drive became an adventure because you never knew if it would get you where you were going, or worse, would it get you back. I am by no means a mechanic but I constantly found myself rigging some hose, cable, wire or plug to keep that old rusty Buick Skylark moving.

Whenever they show Florida State University’s picturesque main entrance fountain during football game cutaways, I always flashback to the day I double parked on the circle right next to it while picking up my friend Melanie from her nearby dorm. The car got me there but would not re-start. When I opened the hood and started poking around, small flames started shooting out of the carburetor.

She just sat patiently in the car as I calmly moved in a well-practiced manor putting out the fire with the extinguisher I kept on the floor behind my seat, hitting the engine with some canned ‘Spray Start’ and eventually jiggling and wiggling enough stuff to get it rolling again. She was a trooper for just sitting there and not running for the hills but I assume it was my ‘this happens every day’ demeanor that kept her seated. That truly was my attitude; I was always ready because I was waiting for the breakdown.

Now I find myself again calmly waiting for the breakdown but not to my car. To me. I see my peers all going through stuff. Body parts wearing out and needing replacements: knees, hips, livers, kidneys… decades of goo being scrubbed out cut out of arteries, whole entire sets of misfiring not needed anymore reproductive organs simply removed… gone… you don’t need that stuff anymore. What is going on here?

Diabetes, heart disease, various cancers by the score, strokes…. I have friends my exact age having strokes… STROKES!!! As a kid who the hell worried about strokes? Strokes were for swimming or golfing. I’m suddenly worrying about strokes. You don’t know when the hell a stoke is going to hit. Strokes are like the tornado of human maladies. They come out of nowhere with little warning and devastate your ass.  Your walking to town, smiling away, whistling a happy tune, suddenly stroke. Boom… your down… you’re in therapy for the next two years trying to learn how to walk and whistle all over again or at least figure out how to smile without your lips flapping down to your chin. Strokes suck! And now I worry about strokes. What the hell?

Do I need to start changing things? I still eat bacon whenever I want. Not every day but I do like bacon sometimes. I had some bacon last weekend with eggs. It was good. It’s always good. It’s bacon. Of course, it’s good. I recall my folks eating bacon fairly regularly and then one time I visit them and suddenly no more bacon. My Mom was all casually saying they stopped eating bacon. You don’t just stop eating bacon. Its… well… bacon. Something makes you stop eating bacon. You stop eating bacon because your worried something is going to breakdown. And I am waiting for the big breakdown.

I like coffee. I drink coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. And when I’m not drinking coffee I’m drinking espresso. If there were a decent walk up counter in Dallas, I’d be chugging Cuban coffee too. Again, I remember my parents drinking coffee all the time. Cups with breakfast, cups after dinner, cups with friends. Then one day I stop by and my Mom is a chemist mixing dabs of watered down regular coffee with decaf making just one single breakfast cup for my Dad only. What is going on? Do I need to quit my beloved caffeined to the hilt cups ‘o’ joe? Are my fears alone going to send Starbucks stocks tumbling?

It is inevitable that there will be changes made but are these coming attractions for me or is it the here and now? I feel like I am waiting for the breakdown. Should I be curbing these things. Am I suddenly at some mystical magical age that I need to suddenly stop drinking a beer when I want? Will that help. Or should I just keep doing what I am doing, enjoy my life and deal with it when the  breakdown finally happens?

I skipped my yearly physical last year and was just setting up my appointment for this year. I like sitting in the waiting room checking ‘no’ next to the paperwork’s pages of small printed pre-existing physical conditions. But how much longer will that last? When will the red flags start flying like a China patriotic parade?

Like with that old car of mine, I feel like I am waiting for the big breakdown. But back then I knew one day I would get a good job, get a new car and the worry would end. And it did. Unfortunately, I don’t see light at the end of this tunnel. There is no ‘things getting better’, only the ominous big breakdown.

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NUTSO PI-U

So bear with me today, I am trying to save a buck by not going to a psychologist and instead I’m using my blog for a bit of soap-box self-analysis. You see, I’m nuts. I have no problem admitting it. I’m nuttier then a Jif & Skippy Peanut Butter cake served at the Planter’s factory for Mr. Peanut’s surprise birthday party. And that’s pretty damn nutty.

I do not see this as an issue because frankly, as loopy as I might be, I am no worse then most of the other human’s walking on the planet. Years ago when I realized that its not just me, I started feeling a whole lot better about myself.  The Human collective has more screws loose than a Kia driving on a dirt road. Everybody is bonkers; we just each have our own way of putting the ‘man’ in to ‘maniac’.

If you don’t believe this, just sit in a busy public place for a few hours listening and watching people. You will quickly learn we all are graduates of a demented Ding Dong school. Our heads are all messed up from lugging around more beat-up baggage then a cross-country Greyhound.  Then we drag our unique wonky perspectives, goofy thoughts and strange beliefs to this chaotic party called life, where we somehow try to muddle through it all together as an organized society. Worse yet, while all this is going on we all know in the back of our heads that no matter how we delude ourselves the only real reward at the end of this roller coaster ride is the heavy specter of death.

Granted we might all be a strange bunch but the scariest people of all,  the ones to really watch out for, are the folks that don’t know they are crazy and assume only everyone else is. But I do not mean to sound bleak about our species. The beautiful amazing stupendous thing is despite all this, at heart, most people are nice, kind folks that really just want to share a little happiness.We keep going. We keep trying.  And that is really crazy!

Please do not take all this to mean I’m a depressed lost soul crying for help in from the digital void.  I will eventually make a point here. It’s just before I do I feel the need to pull aside that little rose colored curtain of illusion and expose that wonderful wizard we all want to believe in, as the well-meaning ordinary dude with a groovy green castle that he really is.

A lot of the world we live in we create ourselves and maybe that is a little crazy but that is okay. If that gets you through life with an occasional smile and a sense of purpose, again, that’s a good thing.  I just prefer when folks don’t go forcing their brand of crazy onto me. I have my own already and that is where the headaches normally start.

With that all in mind, I got home from work the other night tired and burned out. My wife and I have recently had a lot of long days where a lot of other’s people have spent a lot of time shoving a lot of their versions of reality onto us. That makes things very draining and last week it seemed to all boil over like an un-watched pot of pasta that messily spews starchy sticky water all over the stove-top before you get a chance to remove it from the heat.

Sometimes the world overwhelms you and all you want to do is shut your brain off to reality. My wife uses the term ‘flop’. Its when you just need to plop down somewhere, block out the real world and ignore the rest of the planet. This allows you to recharge verses explode or basically removes your brain from the heat before it boils over and you spew something you regret.

Within each of our own little created realities everyone has a different way of  brain clearing.  Some folks read a book, take a walk, play an instrument or go for a drive. My wife sprawls on the sofa playing solitaire-like games on her smarty-phone while non-redeeming cable shows, like the ones that have ‘Housewives Of’ in the title, create a somewhat ignored background din.  I think she’s crazy for watching that stuff but that is her brand of flopping not mine.

My version… well.. you will think it is… ummmm… crazy.  My first choice to clear my brain is to take a walk on a beach. Unfortunately there is not really one of  those nearby and strolling next to a lake, pond or puddle just does not have the same effect. So lately when I want to escape from the real world and reset my brain, I play on the computer. Not games, Not social media. Not ESPN or the rest.  These days to decompress I start searching YouTube for old bad music videos and follow the links wherever they take me. One glance at my music collection and you would know that I have always had an ear for the obscure, odd and downright bad, so this is just the logical next extension.

I doubt there are a lot of other folks that would find relaxation in their little self-created universe from this, but let me share with you what  finally pushed me off the heat the other night from my about to boil over mode to my usual smiling Dofus Dan self.

 

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