Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bill Collectors and Tuesdays....

Now there's a job that I would love to stand in line for, an automated call center pumping out deadbeats like myself, to call and dun me for a $38.00 medical bill that was supposed to go through insurance, but for some reason never did. I know, that someday, that $38.00 bill is going to come back and haunt me, and I am pretty sure that I will be required to write a check, and make "Ted" happy, and they will stop calling me. I have actually made it a pretty entertaining event when they call. I mean, you actually should ask how their day is going, and if they have plans for the holidays, I do everything possible to keep them on the phone as long as possible, inevitably just to let them down at the end of the call. Kind of like a tease at a nightclub - get them all hot and bothered, then tell them I have a terminal disease, and that they should call the doctor that treated me incorrectly to get the $38.00. Some of you might say that it is horrible - but really, I have counted no less than 114 calls from these folks about $38.00. How many people must they be calling to actually make money on $38.00? I have come up with a myriad of excuses when they call...and typically you know when they call because they use those funky masked numbers that mysteriously have my area code on it, but it changes every single time...

It got a little boring to tell them I was dead, so I came up with more creative ways, let me list a few to the typical question that comes up (Mr. Bennett when do you think you will be able to help yourself by paying this bill, we can take a payment right now over the phone....)

1. "Well, you see, every since I fell off the truck and got my balance all discombobulated, I cannot seem to remember things real good. I got the money and all, and I could pay it, but I cannot find my wallet. Can you hang on for a minute and I will go get my wallet?" (Then put the phone on speaker, mute it, and set it next to you and see how long it takes for them to hang up).

2. Graduating from the "He died" - I have moved on to other things. Just last week, I told them I was in mourning over the death of the greatest musician that ever lived, and was holding vigil until the Jackson 4 did a come back tour with a remake. They did mention that they would have to put a mark on my credit report, I told them to make sure that it was due to religious reasons.

3. Talking about odd medical conditions always seems to occupy a little bit of my time - I have gone so far to explain to them that a hotel ice maker can rip off a testicle if you use it incorrectly. (I know that makes no fucking sense, but for $38.00 where else can you get that kind of response).

4. I pick up the phone book, go the lawyer section, and refer them to a counselor. Note, I do not say my counselor, I say a counselor. I don't mention bankruptcy, I don't mention lawsuit, I tell them that they should talk to a lawyer. I am about one.eighth of the way through the A's. Sorry to all of the receptionists and paralegals out there who may have gotten random phone calls.

5. One of my favorites is still the repeat every word they say, but just in a different way - so they say "Can I speak with G Bennett" - I reply with "Hmmm, can you speak with G Bennett" - their reply "Is this G Bennett" - my reply - "IS THIS G Bennett" - you do that for about three minutes, they get sick of the call, and they just hang up.

6. The Pay by the minute phone - this is a pretty good one - ask for a credit on your bill so that you can afford to add more minutes to your phone, because if your wife sees that you used up all of your minutes you are going to have to go back to counseling because the last time you did that you were screwing the neighbor lady. (Notice the lack of punctuation in that sentence, you actually have to say that sentence without punctuation, in a very tense and nervous way).

7. Start saying "I dispute you". Say it several times. It does not stop them from calling, but the response you typically get is pretty interestng - all the way from, "We can send you a record of service" (I dispute you) to "Our records indicate that you were seen on XX/XX/XXXX" (I dispute you) - I have had a collections caller on the phone for seventeen minutes disputing him to the point the actual word started to make no sense to me.

8. Alot of folks have old credit cards laying around, and since I have closed several accounts, I like to run the bill collectors through about six different card numbers that have not existed since 1998. They give up after usually three different numbers, but I actually was able to get one guy to run each account - twice. Now that may sound like a waste of time to you, but to me, it beats the shit out of watching the real housewives of whatever town bitch at each other.

9. Tell them you are broke. Tell them that you got turned down for food stamps, you are eating scraps out of the dumpster behind the grocery store, but you refuse to declare bankruptcy, and when you find enough pennies in the gas station parking lot, and then enough postage to mail them, that you are going to send the payment. I have only tried this once, and the poor girl actually made me feel bad for making her feel so bad.

10. Finally, use words like the convexity theory and time value of money and discounted cash flows - and then end it with, "I am going to beat that bitch again. I told them to take care of this shit and here I am having to take care of it. You hire domestic help who can barely speak a lick of fucking english, you pay them cash to make a few phone calls, and this is the bullshit you get. They are fired. I mean fired. I will make sure they will work for no one else at the club again. Worthless piece of shit. Let me see if I can get them to call you back." Entertainment.

So, you ask, why not just pay the $38.00. Because. It is a mistake. I could pay the $38.00 but then I would have to go to the movies and spend $60.00 to laugh. I take my credit rating about as seriously as I take my physical fitness - in other words, every once in a while, I am really really good for a week or so, and try to keep up with everything and make sure everything is paid off - and occassionally I worry about, but much like that gym membership, that usually lasts for about six months, and I worry about other things - (and in both cases, it is usually eating).

Now some women find forty year old men who are irresponsible terribly unattractive - but what's not to love - I have two homes, a car, a job, and occassionally, have a little bit of cash that I use to pay back the folks I have borrowed money from. I have a $2,400 per month child support payment, but that does not stop me from having generic pop tarts in the pantry, or splurging on good beer every once in a while - really, at this point in my life, I am pretty much worth more dead than I am alive, and of course, no one wants to die, but hell, when you look at what the insurance company did pay for the service, and then look at what they are calling you about - it almost seems a wee bit ridiculous. I am sure, that sometime today, I will get another call, and I am sure that they are going to describe the dire consequences I will suffer, and I am sure that I am the reason that the US economy sucks ass (I did pay more taxes than Boeing last year, and probably this year as well) - but $38.00?

That's a Tuesday type of conversation - sitting down, looking at the list of bills, realizing I need to pack, clean the house, take three conference calls, go to the doctor to have a finger shoved up my ass, and breaking the routine with a $38.00 collections call.

Tuesday. All day.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Left Turns...

The plane is slowing down somewhere over Kansas - that must mean that somewhere about 37,000 feet in the middle of nowhere, there are a few cows undisturbed in their feedlots, a few farmers emptying out their dryers from the summer, and the last of the rainstorms coming through before it gets cold enough to make popsicles on the farm house porch - when you look out the window this far up at those isolated places (yes, I hate to admit this, but most of Kansas is isolated) - it gets fun to wonder what part of American Gothic is taking place - whether Grandpa is using the pitchfork and the daughter is just wondering when she can get the fuck out of Kansas. I am sure that still happens more often than not - instead now, it is American MethLab, and Grandpa is hopped up on Budweiser and drugs from the VA, and the daughter is wondering when Billy is going to fix the truck so they can drive into KCK (Kansas City, Kansas) and get away from the corn rows...not quite the same place - unless of course you are the Duggar family - they seem to have preserved some simplicity in their lives, hell, they even have a blog - their blog offers very little consolation to me, but apparently, based on the comments - there sure are a gaggle of folks who want to know how much they make for parading their clean cut army around television handling chores such as cleaning out the RV shitter, or watching the boys enter into courtship...(what the hell is courtship anyway - it seems a bit midevil to me, but I suppose if that is the rules in the Duggar family, then those are the rules that you follow...)

I did learn this week that the best way for me to not think in a sexual manner is to think of the Duggar family. I don't think it has anything to do with the number of kids - I know at least two folks who have learned how to use birth control, and I don't think it has anything to do with being chaste or pure or even clean for my partner, because I know that I can buy soap, and if I feel really dirty, find a counselor or self help group that will smoke lodge my ass into blissful ignorance and meditation. (I think they call that self-actualization - sort of the Stumbling on Happiness book direction of how to make things better without making things worse even though our brains are designed to create enough distance between the bad things)...I am guessing the worst things you can do at the Duggar house consist of lying, sleeping through church, saying God without saying a prayer or Amen after it - you know the stuff that gets folks throwed into purgatory and shit....

Anyway - try it sometime, when you find yourself completely turned on by some internet smut - think of the Duggars. That will totally work. If it does, let me know, I am sure I can find a way to bill your insurance for curing your sickness and debauchery. If the thought of them actually gets you off - then please, don't read my blog anymore, I don't think I want to be connected to your sick sick mind.

Left turns - that's what life is a series of (no segue just straight into it) - I was given some advice by some guy I was probably gambling with, or drinking with, or whatever - and he pretty much said - "People, they are good at adapting - they are not good at changing. In fact, most of the time, they just don't change, they just get used to dealing with the new bullshit, and eventually forget about the old bullshit." - Now I am sure that this is not going to make it into the annals of behavioral psychology or team dynamics or sociological interactions of adult workers - but I am pretty sure, that once you get to the bottom of most of the Harvard Business Review Articles and those wonderful networking articles that McKinsey pumps out, that somewhere - this is going to be pretty much the bottom line. Why do I think large ERP systems and mega-mainframes and databases work? I think they work because they completely ignore that people actually give a shit about the weather - and tell you to fill in the blanks. Then, when enough folks are taught how to fill in the blanks in an 80% correct manner, someone in the "data warehouse", goes out and runs a bunch of queries and voila! They have the information on how the business is behaving - not how the organization is behaving, reacting, working. There is no real feedback on where the organization is going - (I would like to visit the data warehouse - and no, I am not that stupid, but if I ever open a bar, I am going to call it the Data Warehouse, just so all of the burned out linear thinking IT programmers have a place to drink large quantities of strong drink...)

You see right now, I am a policy writer. Just a guy who is taking an existing policy, and putting it into another policy and determining what procedures need to be taken out of a policy and moved to a procedure and then flowcharted to make sure that we have pictures so everyone can understand the decision tree and how things are supposed to go. I forgot how to wipe my ass until I looked at the flowchart on the back of the Charmin wrapper - and thank god for that, otherwise I would have choked on the cardboard roll in the center trying to get the freshest paper out of the middle of the roll. So that is my angst about left turns. Everything in life is pretty much a bigger and bigger left turn. Let me go a little further with that, and maybe, it will all start to make sense...

Go stand outside a playground, and watch the little kids spin themselves around in circle after cirle - those tight left turns and spinning until they get dizzy...then go to an amusement park, and watch the ten year olds on the carousel, larger left turns, but left turns none the less, bigger left turns, as you get older - watching the kids run track, then the left turns get larger as you sit on the outer loop stuck in traffic...slower, bigger left turns, but left turns...

So you start the spiral as a kid - tight fast left turns, then as you get a little older the left turns get a little wider...then you end up where you are - a series of larger and larger left turns - granted they do move slower when you start talking about making good money and having a career and having a family - but really - draw a straight line back to the center, and pretty much, you have not changed all too much - you are just alot of years away, have made several spirals outward - and continue to make left turns. I don't know why I am fascinated by that right now - maybe it is the economy, maybe it is the circular nature of having to deal with policy, maybe it is the reality that the farther we get away from a point, the closer we really are - no one really heads straight anywhere - we all get caught up in the dizziness of the left turns - and then, occassionally, we do get the chance to drink half a bottle of eighteen year old scotch, and either slow the spinning down enough to watch the rest of the world spin around us - or we just keep walking in left turns.

I know that is batshit crazy. But hell, I just figure it gave me something to write about for a few hours - other than policy and procedure. My new policy and procedure - keep turning left.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Pinky Blue and Being 40...

Kermit The Frog...gotta love this song. Makes me want to do something. Anything. Something other than listen to this song.

A common theme that runs through all of my blogs is a sense of humor, at least in my mind, a slight sense of humor, tinged with the fact that I think I am becoming more and more human everyday - and less and less adult about things - no really, if you thought I could not fall any deeper into a sense of childishness, I have, in more ways than one...I am trying like hell to keep my composure these days - mostly by ignoring the wantoness to critique myself, and to actually listen to those SparkPeople blog reminders that I get sent via emaill - it is ironic that it has been a month since I posted, well, not that ironic, I have been pretty lazy about writing, I do write a greeting card once a week - but I don't think that is going to strengthen my chances any of becoming a better writer - but the fact that I actually write - well, I suppose that makes me a writer in the slackest sense of the term - I don't particularly like the term "blogger" just as much as I don't like the term "mergers and acquisitions guy" - but I guess they both go hand in hand. I really do wonder how folks like Hemingway and Kerouac and Hunter Thompson, and Burroughs were able to make a living whilst they wrote and created new things on paper - (not so much Burroughs, I think he was set by his adding machine company - I don't really know the history of that one all that much, other than to know that I liked his stark and realistic view on the world)...did they ever have real jobs that kept them occupied or did they just figure out a way to stay cutting edge enough to deal with the era equivalent of Ramen Noodle. Don't know. Probably worth reading about someday. Anyway, I am locked out of my work computer, it appears that I tried to type the password eleven too many times, so that limits my ability to do anymore financially viable work, and now I can let the synapses fire on putting this stuff together. Lucky you!

Pinky Blue - that is the way would describe the sky tonight - I am pretty sure that I am somewhere over Arizona or New Mexico - I can see the canyons down below and the sky runs pink right into the orange of the desert floor, and slowly transitions into a light blue - the sun is setting - so I know it must be around six or seven on the west coast, and I just hope the traffic is caml before I hit the Los Angeles freeways for an hour long (with any luck) drive into the beautiful republican suburb of Claremont - for a stop at the Trader Joe's for a six pack of all natural diet soda and some toasted flax spread....boy I can really ruin a half way decent description - so back to Pinky Blue - I am 100% sure where I learned that term. I am 100% sure who I learned it from. When the sky is that color, the world is a better place - granted the pinky part is pollution, but a slight combination of both is nice - it is calming, soft like the few clouds that are out there, relaxing, and makes the sunset that much better to enjoy. It makes the flight pleasnt as well - sitting at my window seat looking for shapes in the clouds, imagining, not worrying for just a few minutes, actually forced to take a break and just look out the window - it is a nice break. Not quite as nice as sitting on the deck at Rory's in Edmonds having a cold beer watching the sun go down over the Kingston Ferry, but a nice break just the same. I read somewhere that the strongest sense of memory is smell, but I think visually watching something brings deja vu - I can still feel the cold air of the first pinky blue sky, and can smell the salt air off of the Puget Sound - just by looking out of a 12" x 6" airplane window hurling through the air at 500 miles per hour.

I turned 40 a few weeks ago - and ended up in New Orleans with my best friends - and great memories were created, and a few not so great ones - but for the most part, I think I was on pretty good behavior 70% of the time, and only managed to piss off everyone around me once, my girlfriend twice, and only borrow money once. For me, that's pretty damn good. Not great, not anything that I am proud of, but it looks like it could have been worse - I have a photo of me with a plastic penis from a set of beads resting peacefully in my intoxicated mouth - and that about sums up me welcoming forty into my reality - the funny thing is that I don't feel the forty that I hear about all of the time - I know that men are supposed to be great by this time in their lives, and if they have not accomplished anything by now, they probably will not accomplish anything going forward, that your thirties are the time to establish yourself in this world as one of the ones on top, or just the guy who tried really really hard, or who did not try at all - good thing is that I tried really really hard - so if trying is worth anything, then I should get a consolation prize. There is nothing different about being 40 - it is the same as being 39 - I cannot say if it is the same as being 41, have not gone that route yet, but I can say that over time, my outlook has slowly changed - some by necessity, some by reality, some by sheer force of will - I mean I can no longer go out until six am and expect to be at work on time. I can no longer just decide to run a 5K or 10K after two weeks of training without some severe physical consequences. I cannot say "fuck it" and walk off of a job knowing that there is probably a future out there with someone else. I worry about enough money to retire, and not have to live with my children. I guess those are mature thoughts - more mature than I would chalk my average thought pattern over the course of my life to be, but that seems to be the only thing that has really changed. I mean now, I can get Testosterone treatment and use Rogaine, and if necessary, can go in a get one of those miracle lift facelifts that only require five days of healing - and then have that followed up by a rousing microdermabrasion session and a little liposuction. Hell, why should I look 40 when I feel 30? Someone asked me if I had the chance to go it again - what would I redo? Gamble less, save more, drink more, travel more, spend more time with my kids, never start smoking, go to a top twenty B-school. Sure, there are lots of things I would change, but seeing on average that I have about 25 to 41 years left to live, I still have a pretty good chance that I can get that stuff done (knock on wood) - I thought 40 would be this monumental achievement, and really, for those of you about to hit it, or worried about it - don't - the only thing that really happened for me is now I am in a protected class and can claim age discrimination - that's about it. I also can go to the doctor and realistically ask him to stick his finger up my ass to see if I am okay. That's a big thing, some would think a bonus. Really, the changes are more gradual - over the course of the past ten years, things changed really slowly, with exception to the kids, things just kind of stroll along - the body changes, the mind changes, the situation changes, the job changes, the pay changes, but it all happens over the course of the past ten years- not much else to say about turning 40. It happened. Voila. I made it. Am I where I want to be? I am where I am - and I got here by being who I am - that can be good, or mediocre, or just plain bad, but I am here. So that is pretty heavy - done thinking on that one...without further adieu and no segway I introduce to you the top ten things about being 40...

1. People call you sir alot. Not because you deserve it, or have earned it, just because you look fucking old, and that's what they are supposed to do when you look that fucking old.

2. Foods like Activia and Olives magically appear in your icebox. You don't necessarily like that shit, or even want to eat it, but occassionally your body needs active yogurt cultures, or craves nasty olives that have been in your icebox for a year.

3. Your medicine cabinet smells like a giant multivitamin. I have to hold my breath every time I open my medicine cabinet - I swear it is like sticking you nose in a Flintstones Chewable bottle and inhaling - maybe that would be better if you could huff your vitamins instead of taking the "Mens Multipack" - that consists of about 83 pills that are coated with adhesive so you can dry heave and hack like a cat struggling on a furball as you try to choke the damn things down. Of course, you do this right after you get out of the shower, so you will be found dead naked, wet, and with a mouth full of pills.

4. You cannot lift your children anymore. Not that you cannot physically lift them once - you probably can do it once - it is just that the rest of the day will be consumed by rubbing ben-gay and dosing up on flexoril trying to escape the fact that your lower spine was ground into dust in your thirties when you thought marathon running was really cool.

5. You lose the ability to be fashionable. How many 40 year olds do you see wearing those louvered sunglasses - very few - and those that you do see wearing those sunglasses are the ones you ask for extra weed from. I think the most fashionable thing in my wardrobe is my underwear - and that's because Michael Jordan pitches them, everything else just makes me look really white and really old.

6. Stairs in the dark are your enemy. No more night vision - I don't care if you have shoved carrots up your ass, drink a gallon of beta carotene juice a day, and have had cornea implants done just because - you can no longer see for shit in the dark. God forbid you are in the dark, and then someone turns the lights on - they might as well set off a flash grenade as you bounce around screaming expletives - same for the stairs - count the stairs, because you will need to know how many there are - it is a real bitch when you think there are 16 and there are actually 18 - those last two make a large amount of noise as your knees collapse underneath you.

7. You get hairy ears. Yup, It is true. If I were to let my ear and nose hair grow, I could mimic that chupacabra kid and become a professional wrestler or sideshow attraction. It is a cruel joke that is played on us - because you can try like hell to get hair to grow on your head - no dice - you are fucked, and it will grow on your ears and your nose. Sorry. So when your kids ask you why you are shaving your ears and sticking that thing in your nose, tell them because you have bad genes, and that since they dont have either type of hair, they are probably going to look like Uncle Joe who had three inch hair on his back.

8. Forget Dairy. Forget it completely. At 40, a magical switch goes off in your body that says you are way too old to have milk, ice cream, or anything else that may contain traces of milk byproducts. You don't have to listen to me now, but after three days of the shits, massive heartburn, and the desire to eat chalky substances to calm your stomach, you will listen. Yes young Skywalker, you will listen.

9. 9:00 PM bedtimes suddenly become AWESOME!!! - To hell with Jay Leno - you can TiVo that crap - you only watch it for the monologue anyway.

10. Every movie you watched when you were a kid has no applicability or draw for your children. In fact, most of them are classics. Put a ten year old and a 13 year old in front of Goonies - and you prove this point - better yet, try Karate Kid, or The Last Starfighter - and all I hear about are the crappy special effects and the funny hairstyles and the bright clothes people used to wear back then.

Those are my top ten. I think when you turn 50, you snore obnoxiously loud like the guy next to me on the airplane, but I already do that, so that is one less thing to keep on the list - Thanks everyone for making the first 40 what they were - without each of you, I would probaby be less bitter, slightly less cynical, more successful, and much better looking - but hell, I would have died twenty years ago.... Until next time, George

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Room 508 and I...

For those of you who have only seen Omaha in the movie "Up in the Air", or who have ever dreamed of making it over to the World Series of College Baseball, you can always stop by Room 508 in the Doubletree Guest Suites - and chances are, that I may be there - then again, now that everyone knows my secret hideaway in the wonderful Hilton property, I may need to change locations...

I have been staying at this hotel for about eight years now. The exterior is a little tired, the interior has gone through two renovations, and I believe that they change the mattresses every two weeks, because everytime I am here, they seem new - maybe they haul them down to the parking lot and just beat the shit out of them - you know, like you used to see folks doing in the Westerns that they play on late night television - just pounding the hell out of the mattress, then dragging it back through the dusty walkway and threshold to throw down on the artfully and tastefully decorated early Americana furniture (tonight was Antiques Roadshow night on PBS, and I find it fascinating that there are actually furniture periods - my house would be considered "Poorly matched broke divorced guy eclectic roadside gathering period"). Perhaps this is why I feel so comfortable in hotels - they have shower curtains and a shower liner, albeit I don't like the shower liner touching me, it just amazes me that they have both. The chairs, with their cutesy little accent patterns actually match and contrast the carpet and the curtains at the same time! Walk into my house, and on any given day, and you will find the hurricane blinds that I pulled out of some trash bin (I cleaned them and they were the right size) and hung up in my windows - white matches the walls, even if they do a very ineffective job of keeping the Florida sunrise from waking everyone up at the ass crack of dawn. Everything in Room 508 is manageable. The shampoo bottle is manageable. The soap bar is manageable. The water bottles are manageable. All sized down to a convenient hand held single serving use. At home, I deal with the four gallon shampoo bottle from Costco, and have to have my son lug the 800 pack toilet paper up the stairs. Here, it is just room 508, and if I run out, someone from downstairs will bring up a new bottle. Pretty nice.

Room 508 does not get mail. I check my mail every three weeks, whether I really need to or not. Two escrow refund checks sat in my unread mail pile for six months, and both banks called and asked if I planned on cashing them. An automobile insurance refund got hidden somewhere between the penny saver and the invite to the local fundamental church now holding services in the middle school down the road. Numerous bills remain, and if Shirley McClain is right, each is feeling a little shitty about what they did in their past life to get reincarnated as one of George's unopened bills. With any luck, they will get thrown out in short order so they can graduate to the next level and become a bird or some other enlightening creature.

Room 508 can be dark in the middle of the afternoon. They have these sliding glass doors, but they also have these curtains that are heavy enough to be pieces of old carpet - but when you shut them - magically, the room is now the middle of the night, and you trip over shit on your way back to bed. I like that. Unfortunately, I sleep with the curtains open, and figure if anyone is wierd enough to be a peeping tom on a forty year old fat guy, then have at it. For a couple of extra dollars, I would pose (and probably not use that money to pay one of those bills awaiting death sitting on my kitchen counter).

Yes, Room 508 and I have been through some pretty good times together. Folks don't get it when I tell them these stories. I think they believe I am half nuts, half lying, and half drugged - and they are probably half right - but Room 508 has seen me through my kids first day of school, one divorce, three houses, numerous pounds shed and gained, one girlfriend, probably thirty hangovers, two presidents, one nervous issue, and at least six pairs of running shoes. I get to move every six months or so, into a new Room, but Room 508 definitely is first prize in memorable rooms...

Getting back into blogging is like getting back into working out - doing both at the same time is a real bitch. Four years ago, I was doing seven miles every three days along with the sit-up and push-up routine - today, I hit two miles and thirty sit ups and push ups and felt like I had just given birth to a full grown Fat Albert (not that I know what either feels like, I just think that me giving birth to a three hundred pound man would cause both my stomach muscles and leg muscles to spasm uncontrollably, shake, and hurt like they do now). Both writing and exercising require discipline - and as Nell says in the movie "Ta Ney Da Sooooooo" - and I think that means "George has no fucking discipline". I am pretty sure that is what it means, because everytime I Netflix that movie, I tear up at that line, and wonder what my life would be like if I was born a woman and left to fend for myself in the woods of West Virginia. I also wonder what my life would be like if I was born Jodie Foster, but I am pretty sure that besides the fame and the money, most of the other stuff we like is pretty similar...(come on, that is a good joke).

I think the difference between casual exercisers, writers, poker players, whatever and real folks who are good at those things, is that us casual dabblers don't have that need that makes it a necessary thing for them to feel right - for the folks who are good at it - they have to do whatever it is they do to feel good in the head - to make their right brain and left brain get along with each other and to make them tolerable at cocktail parties. I am not quite there yet. Cocktail parties are fun, but I do less and less of those, and I am pretty sure years of abuse and lack of proper training have forced my right brain and left brain into a singular being now known as "the gumball pink thing" - and are in constant struggle to control my reality. (I really hope folks who don't really know me too well don't take this too seriously - I can see it now, I run for public office, and have to explain, among other things, why I affectionately speak of my brain in the third person as "the gumball pink thing").

Your mind wanders when you have a favorite hotel room. I guess that is my point. There is a large amount of wandering when you are actually wandering in a familiar place - don't worry, that did not make much sense to me eight years ago, but now, the lust is gone from the wander - and I just enjoy Room 508.

Let's see what I have to write about tomorrow...


Monday, August 22, 2011

Spirit of Gratitude, and no, I am not dead....

There are few things in life better than getting an email that reads, "Hey, I would really like it if you posted more, but if you are dead, I completely understand" - that is what I get for posting a blog, random folks (I have no idea who this person was, is, or why they would find a blog as obscurely named as Kitchenfloorsandbonemarrowsandwiches.blogspot.com) but none the the less, I can assure you that I am:

1. Not dead. If I am dead, I am surviving in an alternate reality that seems terribly similar to the reality I was living in earlier this year.

2. Have not been interested in posting - well, I have been interested, by my motivation has been about as intense as an 83 year old man's testosterone level, and therefore, I have spent large amounts of my free time eating doritos, watching middle eastern dictatorships collapse, and gaining weight.

3. Am really trying to make myself do the healthy things that I think keep me from being Baker Acted into a padded room in Chattahoochee (Google it). Writing is one of those things, so feel free to shame me into writing by asking me if I am dead whenever I don't throw a post out there for three or four months (I think it has been since June or so)...

Let us continue - when I say things like that I imagine a Finance professor standing in front of the room gleefully explaining the Black and Schoales Pricing Model (pardon my spelling, I can remember the lecture, just not how to spell the model name) and looking out on the masses of the post pubescent college students wondering when this hell when end so they can go and purge the prior night's nickel beer extravaganza and get a few hours of sleep before repeating said behavior. As usual, I digress, but we shall continue...

Gratitude is a hard thing to define. Right now, I am sitting in the Delta Sky Club drinking a diet coke and eating some of those nifty Wasabi peanuts that are mixed in with those really good sesame honey sticks, and off to my left is a way to boisterous southern attorney reaffirming the person on the other end of his cell phone that what they are discussing is strictly confidential and that no one will no about what they are planning - except of course all of the folks sitting in the crown room. Anyway, he keeps repeating how grateful the company that they are apparently suing should be, because the offer they are giving them is one of "christian gratitude" - now I am not real sure what the fuck that means - but I am pretty sure most folks getting sued very rarely end of grateful as their pucker factor hits about twelve, and they need a doctor to squeeze out a fart. The delivery of the speech, I have to admit, was enlightening, and I imagine he could have been selling the folks on the other end a truckload of used dildos and they would have chomped on the opportunity, but the christian gratitude and the grateful thing are what spurred me to sit down and write. For this, you sly bowtie wearing legal beagle, I am grateful. Please stay away from my family, we are full up on snake oil -

What is gratitude - I mean really, we can look it up in the dictionary, and we say we are grateful that the hurricane hit someone else's State, but I often wonder if you are too grateful or not grateful enough, or if there are guidelines that specifically state how grateful you are supposed to be. According to my memory, my ex-mother-in-law had several rules of levels of gratefulness, and I am sure that somewhere in Philadelphia society or on the tennis courts of Florida or the slopes of Vail, there are unspoken rules that you can only learn if you are in that secret bloodline club that gets all of the Presidents elected - but most of that shit gets lost on me, I think they may have tried to let me in as a member of the hired help, but I am pretty sure they gave up after I told them to fuck themselves if they could not take a joke. Think about the things we have. I watch the folks on the news in these countries where wealthy is owning a goat and sharing a shithole shack with just two families, and having a meal a day - and you have to work sixteen hours to get that - and dip into your savings that you established by selling your children into forced labor - and then I think about how grateful we really are. I am no saint, and certainly not 100% sinner, but I do have need to pause, and think about the things I am really grateful for....

There, that was a relaxing pause - now for some simple George Rules on things to do to be more grateful - once again, follow this advice at your own risk, I do not recommend it, and if you want case studies on what not to do - shoot me an email...

1. Always be grateful to your Doctor. My doctor is still trying to get his money from the last procedure (at least the co-pay portion), so I like to think that by me saying,"Doctor, I really appreciate the trouble you are about to go through to take care of me", tempers the 16 months it will take to get the remaining 10% of the bill.

2. Always be grateful to the traffic officer who pulls you over. Remember, there are very few jobs out there that require you to graduate from high school, take eight weeks of training, and then be issued a firearm, a high speed souped up vehicle, and an ego the size of a porn star's cock. Really, just thank them for reminding you how to read a speedometer, thank them for reassuring you that the streets are safer now that one more law abiding citizen is paying another tax for doing eleven miles over the hour, and then thank them for hanging out behind trees and signs in the vicinity lest any bad guys want to hang out behind those same trees and signs. (Seriously, I am appreciative of law enforcement, I just find that the folks giving out speeding tickets are not the ones you find on too many task forces reeling in rapists, murderers, and heroin dealers).

3. Call your local top forty station or Conservative Talk Radio, and thank them for perpetuating shitty music. There are times when there is nothing to do - and the only radio station that is powerful enough for you to recieve plays "Fifty Eminem Songs in Row!" or "All the Boy Bands and Commercial Free Music fit for Radio!" or "America's People Listen to Real Americans Talking about Not Real AMericans" - thank them for stomping over Public Radio and washing out their signal. Thank them for convincing you that being a Republican really does not mean much more than making sure you keep your taxes regressive, your health care expensive, and your military bombing the hell out of some third world oil pumping country. (Folks, I am so conservative that I am LIBERAL - I don't want you in my backyard, I don't want you to have my money, and I don't want you to tell me how to worship - so I pay taxes to keep those folks away from me - even the tax free megachurches...)

4. Call your Student Loan lenders - and thank them for 9% unemployment and the commercialization of state run education. Call them and thank them for flooding schools with students who, because of the wonderful "No Child Left Behind" act, are taught to take standardized tests, and when confronted with a problem without a number 2 pencil and bubble things start to shit themselves. I guess the good news is though that they do work cheap!

5. Be grateful that there are pricks like me in the world. Could you imagine life as we know it without a few haphazard reckless pricks in it? I mean what would a trip be to the local bar if not for the intelligent loafer in the corner espousing beatitudes of life, or if you did not have this distraction for your written by a self-absorbed middle aged fat guy? Albeit, I am not the biggest prick in the world, therefore, I am thankful that I can rest assured that although folks don't always like me, they choose to tolerate me because I am not the biggest swinging dick sucking up the airspace in the room.

I could go on, but you should be grateful that my plane awaits at gate C44 - and I am compelled with Christian Compassion to end my satiric rant on things to be grateful for - in all reality, I am grateful for just about everything that I have and the people that I am surrounded by - they are what makes life as I know it, and without a few good people, and a few challenges, I am afraid that I would probably just spend more of my time drinking generic vodka and surfing internet porn/gambling sites. I have a job, I have a family, I have a house, I have a car, I have a significant other - and most of all, the ticker still works no matter how many times the collections folks call - so for all of that and to all them - thanks, I sincerely cannot imagine my life without each of you, and for your compassion, I am grateful.

Until next time -


Saturday, June 11, 2011

And we were spitting venom...

Not having written in a month does not bode well for my faithful following of nine spammers and four readers - I have been busy, lazy, and wrapped around the axle for the past month - two long four week travel sessions interupted occassionally by the pleasant weekend of sunshine and Cadence or sunshine and the kids - just to rotate the dry cleaning and head back to the airport for another week or three of city jumping. Pastrami sandwiches at The Hat, steaks in Omaha, and flowers in Southern California (picture above) are about the high points. The low points are tough to deal with this time of year - you see the kids and their mom and dads tooling off to Grandma's for the first two weeks of summer, the airports are full of excited smiling children, and of course, I smile at all of them, and enjoy their excitement remotely - hard for me to get very excited about getting on a plane, strapping on a dress shirt, and making sure my loafers are polished to a black or brown shine. Yeah, this post is not going to be one of those uplifting ones that I pride myself in, it is just going to be a post that needs to get out, and hopefully, the rest of June, they will be a little more or a little less - depends on your perspective. Just a note to folks who think this is Holden Caulfieldish or just plain whining - listen, I am in touch with the road enough to know that this life is a choice, I wake up every morning thankful that I have a choice between scrambled eggs or pancakes or both - I get back to the hotel thankful that I don't have to fill the fucking laundry machine with towels and dirty gym clothes. With that being said, even Hemingway got so down with the travel novels that he decided to torch his brain somewhere in Idaho - the road does not make friends, it makes mile markers - in the form of wrinkles and hours. Just a disclaimer - my spitting venom for the piece.

Seeking quiet in the smoking lounge in the A Terminal in Hartsfield is what I want to do right now. It is quiet up there, and hidden behind the Heineken Beer Garden, and an easy walk over to the Delta Crown Room. That is not in the cards for a few more days, but I have been obsessed by that cool room that reaks of cigarette smoke loosely filled with soldiers and business people, it takes away most of all those thoughts you get when you are captured in the conference room, chained to the desk by your need to move further, or sinking in the mattress of your hotel room wondering when you are going to fall asleep. You know, life gets longer in hotel rooms, particularly when you are on night 81 for the year in Hilton properties, and numerous other nights in other places that you don't have traveller club memberships to. Those nights are the longest nights. Generally, between the bottle of red wine, or the bowl of ice cream, there is little peaceful sleep, there is hotel sleep. You know you don't have to make the bed, and that there are convenient and sterile little bottles of shampoo on the bathroom counter. There are clean white towels, and modestly comfortable chairs to assist in staring at the wall. Those designers want to make us comfortable in modern settings, and if it were practical, I would tote my rocking chair and my old brass ashtray every where I went - but I will settle for the quarterly gift baskets they ship out and the little trinkets that I collect along the way.

I slept last night for about two hours on a shag tan carpet, too scared that I might not wake up for the three am wake up call to move it towards the airfield in Omaha (which I am pretty sure, at one point in time, was a cornfield), and spent the rest of the day rushing from airport to car to home to kids to dinner to work to phone to whatever came up next. The only slight reprieve was movie night, a rented version of one of those cutesy animated films - I did get the honor of sitting on the couch with my daughter - drifting in and out of uneasy rest - worrying about just about everything and not really caring enough to do what there was that needed to be done. So, as it is obvious to see, my brain is tied in little knots right now, and my writing is pretty discombobulated and out of sorts. The only thing that I can compare it to is my yellow deep-v t-shirt - a few splatches of barbeque sauce, a stain from my coffee this morning, and too many wrinkles to count.

Right now, in the background, Modest Mouse is trying to convince that it could have, should have been, would have been worse than you ever know - and really, I don't want things to get worse - not that they are bad - they are pretty much self generated problems created by self generated actions followed by self generated stress - but man, I just need to slow the fuck down for a few minutes and think about hitting the treadmill for a few hours.

I spent the day going over my inability to keep myself from binging lights and blaring bells and screaming whistles and crowds of people who are not talking to each other, they are just sitting there staring at the screens of slot machines or watching cards slowly flip from the dealers hands. Each card possesses the hope of something better, but really, there is nothing behind that card that was not out there to be had somewhere else. I went to Deception Pass last weekend, a sunny day of driving in a convertible staring at the mountains, a beautiful young woman next to me to talk with, to watch her hair blow in the breeze. The farmers market with fresh morrell mushrooms and good bread, the afternoon of watching the blue water in the pass swirl and suck and push. That's the answer, but I find it much easier to end up locking myself in a daze of blinking lights and the hope that there is something out there that is easier...last night, that is what I did. I sucked down two bottles of red wine, topped them off with an 1,800 calorie dinner, and then proceeded to piss away my limited financial resources on the off chance that I might make a few bucks - if I could tell you how many times I have been wrong about that one, I would, but I lost count somewhere back in early 2000. I cannot keep track of the number of dreams that I have pumped down slot machines one nickel at a time. The Good Times are Killing Me I guess...and I miss you when you are not around.

The summer is here. The kids are sleeping in their bedrooms, and their Dad is sitting up worrying about things that Dad's worry about. A little more self absorbed than usual, a little less engaged than usual, a little more tired than usual - but that's enough for now. I need two days of washing dishes and full size shampoo bottles and cooking meals. That's what I have ahead of me. Two days of six feet in one house doing things together that are not life changing, but are important.

Until next time...


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Somewhere Over the New Jersey and Writing Good...

I thought it was clever, and probably a good move that they did not use that song in Wizard of Oz, but perhaps Newark was a different place then, and not as dingy cramped as it is today – I just spent three days and two nights in the Hilton Newark Penn Station staring at a giant inflatable rat that proclaimed I would carry home a suitcase full of bedbugs and have massive issues from my visit there. Alas, to this point, I have yet to break out in rashes and hives, and considering the surroundings, the Hilton was a Mecca compared to the rest of the city. I am not quite sure why Newark was chosen – perhaps because it is an easy airport with quick access and close to the big city, perhaps it was convenient, I just don’t know. I like to think it was because of the homeless folks that trolled the walkway between the train station and the hotel looking for a random Midwesterner to pickpocket. Lesson to be learned all around…funny, I have never been infested with bed bugs, never been pick pocketed, and to this point, have been close to homeless, but not quite there. Close is a relative term – I did get evicted from the trailer park in college, and did have to live with the owner of the bar on a couch, or hiding out in my girlfriends room lest her roommates see me (that girlfriend eventually became my wife, then my ex-wife, and just like our relationship started, I ended up hiding out and sleeping on her couch again…) Full circle. The next 1,612 words are so are about nothing in particular – so, if pressed for time, feel free to read the first and last sentence of each paragraph, there will not be a test, and remember, none of us are getting paid for this.

That’s not where I started this piece, but if felt good to get at least that point of reference out there, right now I am buzzing along at 500 miles per hour somewhere close to one of the great lakes – I can see the shoreline out the window, and am on my way to Seattle, via Minneapolis. The flight attendant on this flight is one of those all too attractive flight attendants – she has been quick with a smile, and even laughed at my half hearted attempt at travel humor (something about the snack pack with the non-perishable meat and the vegetable oil spread that she probably has heard innumerable times from innumerable middle aged fat guys like myself) and went about her business tending to the rest of us folks looking to go somewhere fast. It is not often that I actually talk on these flights. I, like most of us business people who jet from there to here, tend to keep to myself. Occasionally, I do get one person who wants to discuss their most recent groin surgery, and why they really should be more careful about not getting a window seat, or their drug addicted relative who just needed an intervention and how they saved them from sure fire death by flying to where ever from some small town in Texas to bring multiple week long doses of biblical wisdom and hugs. Most days though, we are all quiet. It is not a social club – flying that is, it is a get out of town club for those of us that do it a lot – we are done being social by the time we get through the x-ray machine. Its nothing personal, it just is. I think I used to be more social, and certainly after a five hour flight to Seattle, nine drinks, and a chicken or pasta meal served lukewarm, I am a little more social – but for the most part, I just keep my mouth shut, and hope the snack pack does not make me too gassy…

Describing beautiful women is not something that I am well versed at. I know in my stomach when I see someone who is physically beautiful, I know when I speak to someone who is engaging, creative, smart, and mentally attractive. I just don’t get much practice sitting down and talking or writing about their hair and eyes and figure and the way they speak and those sorts of things. It is a weakness, and a point of embarrassment for me to sit down and describe the exact color of brown that her eyes are, or the way her cheeks flush when she smiles or laughs, or the way she arches her back when she stretches in the morning. Some people are really good at comparing eyes to an obscure body of water or some geological formation or one of those colors in the Crayola box that I melted on the radiator right away because Brick or Burnt Sienna didn’t mean shit to me. Spun silk and flax and all kinds of exotic fibers just rush right by me when describing hair and I would never think to liken the stretching to a cat sunning itself in the window. I mean those folks who are able to describe in detail down to the creases in her lips and the jaw line – they are good folks. They practice. I am the impressionistic writer. I say general things – and hope you can paint the rest of the damn picture. If not, stand back, you are looking too close and can only see the dots. I see beautiful (physically beautiful) women everyday. Some of them ruin it by talking, but most of them, I never get close to. That’s the way I like it. I am lucky enough to be close to a woman who is, to me, beyond beautiful – see, that’s not a very good explanation – actually, the first thought that came to my mind is that she is beautiful like clean laundry – you know, the smell of the dryer that fills the house, the warm towel, the soft dry sheets – and hell, now I have everyone thinking that I have some sort of odd washcloth fetish, and randomly apologizing to my girlfriend. But that’s what I think about when I think of describing someone – particularly someone who affects me in that way – I don’t think of the actual physical attribute – but the way it makes me feel – for instance, if I were to tell you that when she looks at me, I feel like I do when I take the first sip of a good glass of Cabernet – the sweet warm feeling in my throat, the comforting slow relaxation, easing shoulders – I think you could fill in the blanks about what you thought she looked like. If I said to you that when we argue, I am confused, sort of like when you turn around and your child is not where they are supposed to be, or you cannot find your wallet, you know that 99% of the time there is going to be a solution, but what if there was no solution this time – I think you could sense what that feeling is like. If I described her walk to you as strong, proud, and graceful as a field of poppies blowing in the wind – you could paint the rest of the picture – if I actually tried to tell you how she walked – holy shit, even she would be insulted by the attempt.

I sent my blog link off to a group called Aspiring Authors on Facebook. It looked like I was the first blog to post there, seeking some guidance, advice, maybe connect with one or two folks who were in the same boat I was in – middle aged, balding, and hopelessly putting words on the paper – I think I got one of the three right – but at least, and thankfully, I did get some guidance on something that I have never been a real stickler for – the grammar and proofing and spelling and you know – the stuff that makes writing work – and I certainly appreciate it. I did come to a conclusion about that stuff – I have the utmost respect for the people who can sit down and see instantly what should be crafted to make things sensible and clear. I don’t do that. In fact, I cannot do that. Somewhere, in my neural network, the wires are crossed between make things right, and make things. In fact, I probably would have a hell of a lot more children – they would just be unruly, undisciplined children, given the opportunity to procreate more than I already have. I am good at making things. I never have been good at making things right. My model aircraft carrier was the only one with a ships propeller on the helicopter and the helicopter propeller moving the ship. See, in my mind, the bigger the propeller, the faster the ship. My Lincoln log houses never had four walls. I always ran out of the right pieces, and besides, three really really big walls are significantly better than four strong walls to keep the imaginary bad guys at bay. My math problems always had an answer – just typically the wrong answer. I was smart enough to get it close enough to partial credit my way through college calculus, geometry, high school math, and I am pretty sure that I still have not memorized the 11’s and 12’s on the multiplication table from third grade.

Let me make this clear – writing is not easy. Writing well and using all of the correct things and stuff – well that’s just plain tough. Those folks at Aspiring Authors (they were complimentary, and it made me feel good) had to have been reaching for their air sick bags when they got a hold to my artistic endeavors. For this, I thank them. I have rarely, if ever, been read by a large audience, let alone a large educated audience. I certainly have never been complimented by anyone in New York City, except for when I held the door for some lady who packed eleven bags for her weekend trip to Times Square. Most of all, I have never had anyone actually take the time to read more than one blog entry, and not only comment, but edit in a non-obtrusive way without changing the feeling of the piece – that’s what my crack head friends call “really good shit” – and not to downplay their help with a crude joke, I certainly appreciate it. I would recommend anyone to join the group – who knows, the great author may be hiding out in cyberspace.

That’s my thanks. I think that is enough thanks, but hell, I am not sure anymore about what is enough gratitude and what crosses the line of patronizing babble infused with sweetened bullshit nuggets. (I like that new phrase and am officially claiming “sweetened bullshit nuggets” as my own platitude and way of describing things that may or may not have a direct correlation to things that someone may or may not mention in the near future – to my knowledge sweetened bullshit nuggets is now officially my intellectual property – and to hell with the next person who steals such a wonderful catch phrase. I want to now be addressed and known as the guy who coined the phrase “I just served up a bowl of sweetened bullshit nuggets, and still got the job “ – I can see the SNL parody commercial now, maybe I should go ahead and hire an attorney).
I threw in the title of the piece just for them – my sense of humor tempering my gratitude – hell, I know it’s supposed to be good writing and writing well, but then again, I should get at least partial credit for trying…

Until next time,
New Jer

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Worthwhile Things....and not so worthwhile things...

That's a worthwhile pursuit above - don't forget to share this link - the readership is actually starting to pick up, hell, before you know it, I may get an offer from an obscure midwest town to do their obituaries twice a month - so keep sharing, and as always, thanks for reading!

Okay, so enough heavy stuff about athiests and all - just had to get that off of my chest. I am not in the business of offending people, or being offended, I prefer to want my pieces, and let you have your pieces, and sometimes we can put all of those pieces together. None the less, I have been bothered by worthwhile things lately - what really is a worthwhile thing - I have been reading too much about philosophers, and was really disturbed to the point of actually obsessing on the definition of worthwhile - if anyone has a definition of what worthwhile is, share it in a concrete sentence - if not, then you are like me, and probably like many other folks, who begin to itemize what really is worthwhile in their day to day routine -

My lifetime has been filled with what I believe are worthwhile things - and I guess to some degree that is all that really matters - I don't see much of an issue simplifying that to a few core items -

1. The kids - they are worthwhile. Where else can I get to tell them why I believe they should or should not do something - and not have to tell them that I tried it both ways, and found the right way is usually the path of least resistance.

2. The relationship - it is worthwhile. It is hard work to stay on the same page - or to get back to the same page - but waking up next to someone you love, or just holding hands is worthwhile.

3. The job - it is worthwhile. Simply put, you have to eat. You might as well do something that you love, or at least something that you are good at, and seek a means to an end. It pays the bills - so there you have it.

Okay - so now I have listed my worthwhile things. Okay, so there are many others, but those represent the core for me - now for what I continually do that I think is probably ot so worthwhile -

George's Top Ten of Less than Worthwhile Pursuits -

1. Hair. Yup, as you guessed, I want to have hair. Not the kind that seems like it wants to grow as you near forty, and only sprouts on your back, your nose, and your ears. I want hair on the top of my head. Truth be known, if the generic rogaine from Costco stops working, then I am heading straight to that place that will make my head look like a newly sown yard. Plug my head full of hair until it looks like a freshly planted cornfield. Then send me a bill.

2. Collections. Every week when I clean my house, I clean around the 30,000 or so baseball cards and memorabilia items that I have. Sure, I have no earthly idea why I collect these things. I have no idea why I don't ebay the whole lot of them, and make space for a dining room table. I just know that I have stack and stacks of sorted, unsorted, opened, unopened, shiny, glossy baseball cards sitting downstairs. Perhaps it is me capturing my lost youth, but it is probably more realistic to think that I am just a little OCD, and baseball cards fit the bill.

3. Romanticism. I like to be romantic. Those of you who know me, probably think this is the wierdest damn thing that has ever come out of my mouth, but I at least like to try. Sure, I am probably going to fart in bed as soon as we get home from the super nice dinner, and I am probably going to throw in the F-bomb in traffic, but I still like to try to be a little romantic from time to time.

4. Reading. I have not gotten any smarter since the eighth grade - but I can assure you that I have read a shitpot of books. My credit card bills can attest to that, and I could neatly summarize all of them into one sentence - "I cannot remember for the life of me what the fucking conclusion was". Still, I like to read, at the time, it seems important to study how cheap calories are in the United States because of processed food, or the history of how the United States took advantage of the folks in territorial islands, but now, if you were to ask me what I thought about it, I would refer back to the sentence above.

5. Saving money. This would be worthwhile if I had any to save, but given that I now officially take home less money than I was taking home five years ago (long story, but taxes are a bitch, and a piece of advice - you can always give more child support - but never agree to give more - just follow the state guidelines, that way you can afford little things, like toothpaste), but saving seems to be futile in its own right. There are too many other things to do, and I figure that by the time I retire, Social Security will be fixed, and only 28% of the population (down from 42%) will be paying taxes.

6. Scheduling. I schedule my time to the nearest minute. I have to. My schedule changes every week. I don't know why I bother. Everyone that I have a relationship with knows that my appointments usually begin at or around or maybe before or perhaps or certainly not before some time in the near future, but if you look at my calendar, it really looks like I know what the fuck I am going to be doing June 3rd at 4:30.

7. Physical fitness. Is this really worthwhile? The more I work out, the faster I reach my deductible on my health insurance. It does my absolutely no good to go to the elliptical for an hour long date five times a week. Why you ask? I am too damn sore to walk down the grocery aisle for beer and Oreos. I see those folks who weigh about thirty seven pounds, and I know for a fact that most of them eat slim fast and condiments (only slim fast and condiments). If I keep working out, my titanium body part collection (neck) is going to expand to my knees, hips, and lower back. None the less, I will pursue having a six pack of abs - and see where that gets me.

8. House Cleaning. I like the house to smell like the laundry aisle in the grocery store. Not that I am obsessive about clean, but I don't like shit on the counters, floors, walls, carpet, or anywhere else for that matter. I like things in order. Then, I like to get things out of order. Compound that with a teenager and a ten year old, and I don't understand why I do these things every Sunday. I have never had company at my house, really don't have too many folks to impress, but I can assure you, it is clean.

9. Gardening. I don't have one in Florida, but I do like to keep Cadence's yard looking nice. In the northwest, gardening is more like putting shit into the ground until it freezes again next week. You rake up evergreen needles, maple tree leaves, and dead things - and then you sit and enjoy a beer. You repeat this weekly, and then once a year, rip all of that old shit out, and put new shit in so that you can repeat that weekly for another year.

10. Writing. I saved the best for last. This is really not a worthwhile way to spend your time. I mean really, I could be surfing the best in internet porn right now, or doing some online gambling, or better yet, trying to balance my checking account - but why would I do that - when I have this.

That's the most of them - there are more - many more, but I have run out of time, I am supposed to be at the pool at noon, and it is 12:58 - so much for that scheduled event....

Until next time,


What not to do when talking to an Athiest....

May 1st - I was hoping to write more in April, but alas, I was distracted by other things - not sleeping being one of them - and red eye flights back from Los Angeles being another one - but at least I will start off the month with a bang.

I suppose I should give the rights to this photo to the AP journalist who took it. There you go, I stole this photo from the web.

So today, they are digging up a dead guy who dressed in robes and calling him a saint - what about the dead cop or the dead soldier who actually contributed to the world as we know it - the more I see any church take action to make someone a saint, the more I am reminded of the number of churches that have had to shut their doors because they covered up sex with children, or decided to throw someone else's holy book into the flames, or better yet, have shown a higher rate of suicide, a lower rate of higher education, and still refuse to admit that man never saddled up a dinosaur and went strolling off into the sunset...really, I am sorry if that offends you, but millions of people spent their weekends watching a prince get married and a pope get dug up - monarchy and monarchy hand in hand - and I question whether either case made our lives a little easier, or just filled the news with more crap.

So Cadence forwards me this link, that was forwarded to her by her nephew or cousin, or some relative that apparently wants to arm the rest of the Christian world against us harmful Athiests who are out to takeover the world (or at least be first in line at all of the rated PG movies, seeing how we don't have to rush home from church on Sundays) - and you know, normally I am not too bothered by this sort of stuff, but this time, it is almost an afront to my somewhat tolerant sensibilities - I don't care where you go to church - I don't care what you place your faith in, in fact, I want you to be content and happy with whatever it is you choose to do - just don't harm me and mine, don't ask my taxes to pay for it, and don't hang out at soldiers funerals with signs that proclaim "God Hates Fags" or decide to get the rest of your inbred congregation together to burn classic rock albums or burn a Koran. Pretty simple shit from my point of view - you see, the reason I am an athiest is because I grew up around Christians - and I can assure you that just because you are in church everytime the doors are open, or you ask for forgiveness every day, or whatever - it does not make you a better person - but that's just my opinion - but I did think it was prudent to share this little list, so just in case you ever have to sit down and discuss your religious beliefs with me whilst we are drinking, please use these five important tips (I quote and paraphrase and digress throughout - so please be prepared)anyway, here it is - in it's entirety with my thoughts posted throughout...

Labeling Atheists
1.Some Christians have labeled atheists as stupid or morally void. Though there may be some atheists who fit these categories (as would many in the general population), atheists are not categorically stupid, degenerates with no morals. Many of them are fine citizens, honest, caring, loving, and patient. For a Christian to start off with such a blanket statement can backfire. First, ask questions. Find out what their presuppositions are.

Okay, so good point. I am stupid and morally void. I am all things at all times - that's the beauty of being an athiest - I can accept that I am human and have two major life events that pretty much sum things up - I was born, and I will die. I would think Christians could agree on that with me, but I am wrong. I am a sinner, born short of some sort of glory, and need to repent. I want a Christian to ask me my presuppositions, and I will tell them that it is wrong to steal the neighbors water, and that taxes are a bitch, and growing old is hell. What more really matters?

2.Ignoring Atheists' Questions 1.If you were standing on a railroad track and a train was heading your way, closing your eyes and ignoring the locomotive will not make it go away. If an atheist asks a question and you ignore it repeatedly, it would be fair for him to conclude you were incapable of answering the objection. Of course, this does not mean you always have to answer everything, because dialogue flows both ways. But, it is important that you face issues. If you don't have an answer, admit it. That's okay. It doesn't mean you are wrong, it means you don't have an answer. Go study, get an answer, and get back to him.

Okay - so standing on a railroad track is probably some sort of penance or something, but I don't get it. Standing on a railroad track will get you killed. Blindly following and claiming faith might get you killed as well. Hell, it may do you some good, but for the most part, it pretty much has proven that it will probably get you killed. Here's an even better part - how do you study to answer an athiest's question - do you go study the bible? What does the bible say that Epicureus or Hemingway or Vonnegurt or other authors have addressed a million times - they all give you hope and a new outlook - they just don't ask for 10% of your paycheck. Go study, and when you find the answer, save it for the next athiest.

3.Stating that Atheism is a religion 1.Atheists will repeatedly tell you that they are not in a religion. A religion is usually defined to include belief in a deity of some sort. Atheism is non-belief in a deity. It isn't necessarily a "belief that there is no God" (though it can be), but is "not believing either way." To label an atheist as a religious person is to put up a roadblock to effective communication. It would be like someone saying to a Christian, "You believe in a mean, tyrannical being who likes to torture people." The Christian would simply roll his eyes and think that the person doesn't know what he's talking about. So, how much effective conversation could there be in either instance? Not much.

I like this point. The reason you don't see churches for Athiests is because we don't hang out in those places. Typically, we are keeping the bars busy while we wait for good Christians to get out of church. Then, we have rituals and dress in finery and spread incense around, eat a few crackers made by child laborers in third world countries, and speak in tongues. I stated it earlier, that most of us don't really care what you believe in, not that we are self-absorbed, but we do respect your ability to believe in whatever you want. Just don't knock on my door at eight thirty on Saturday morning, leave shit posted to my windshield, or ask me to come see a guy hang from a cross as a sign of respect. If you like, you can pray for me, pray for me to hit the Powerball.

4.Stating unsupportable facts 1.No one has all documentation for everything they say. It is not reasonable to require proof from an atheist on everything said. Nevertheless, if you are going to state a fact or two, it is good to have the documentation at the tip of your tongue -- at least occasionally, or have access to it. It adds to your credibility. Of course, you don't have to document everything, but if you have some illustrious fact to use, try and have it documented.

Where do you get these facts from - most athiests get their facts from things called Science Books, or History Books, or Math Books... What holy book is the right holy book - do you go to the teachings of Buddha, do you go to the Torah - or is there some secret society of scientific christian books that actually proves that there are things out there that can prove without a shadow of a doubt that evoloution is wrong, that the King James version was a poorly concieved translation (proven wrong in many cases), and that tomorrow Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the king of kings are going to break bread with me. It is best not to state facts to an athiest - better yet, just invite them to dinner, and avoid the subject all together.

5.Never admitting when you are wrong 1.Pride is a harmful thing. It caused the fall. It ruins marriages. It leads to anger and self-righteousness. It has no place in the Christian's life. Never admitting you are wrong is being prideful. If an atheist, or anyone, proves you wrong in something, be kind and courteous. Admit you made a mistake and go on. Everyone makes mistakes, even atheists. There is nothing wrong with admitting an error. That doesn't mean you are wrong about Christianity any more than being wrong about the color of a boat means boats don't exist. On the other hand, if you never admit when you are wrong, you will not be able to convince anyone of your position when in a discussion. You will simply lose the respect of the one with whom you are debating.

Pride is a harmful thing. Not just because it is un-christianlike. It is just because it will make you come across as a prick. I am proud of my family, their accomplishments, my accomplishments - but not too proud to know that it took a whole hell of alot of human beings pushing, pulling, lifting, and helping to get those people and myself where we are. I don't give that credit to an unseen everpresent being - I give that credit to the people who have made it happen. What's funny is that Pride is bad for Christians, but crank up your television any given day, and flip through the channels, and they damn sure are not afraid to boast of their rewards being reaped ten-fold.

See - this athiest does not want to discuss Christianity with you. I don't want to discuss any religion with you. I want to enjoy your company, ask how your family is doing, know if there is anything I can do to help. That's what I want to know - I don't want the offer of eternal greatness and streets paved with gold - what is gold if it flows like water? I don't want to think of myself being a pawn to a greater good - I have enough of that already - I go to work every day, I pay taxes, I follow the laws - so that is enough for me -

I am happy, for the most part, that folks are able to find some peace and serenity in those places - for me, and for many others, the damage that those places do will never overcome a need to prove what is right and wrong - so that's where I choose to leave it - have yours, I will have mind, and in the end, perhaps they will be digging up the dead guy they buried next to me, and calling him a saint.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Greenberg and Real Authors...

First, let me start by saying thanks to those of you who have followed me and who have shared this blog - the traffic is starting to pick up - so keep sharing it - folks may not find what they are looking for here, but they may find me, and when I become a famous author I will think of you as I sip Pabst Blue Ribbon from a Waterford Crystal glass in a $3,000 smoking jacket in a really really nice double trailer in MacClenny, Florida. By the way, that is my idea of a perfect retirement - enough money to keep beer in the fridge, enough sky miles to keep travel possible, and a home that is paid for - no matter if the home is strapped to the earth by three flimsy alumninum straps. I don't think my ex-wife or current partner agree with this idea - or at least the idea of me spending my golden years floating in a pool in some well maintained trailer park in Nowhere, Florida, but ever since I got evicted from the trailer in Tallahassee, I have had a fond affinity of mobile homes and the folks that live in them. I are one. Keep sharing this out there - maybe they will make a boring reality series about a business man who travels alot, lives in St. Augustine, dates a girl in Washington, has kids in Florida, works outside of Los Angeles, and is based out of Nebraska. Who knows - none the less, thanks for following - I appreciate the marketing and not having to shamelessly self promote this thing any more than I already do.

Okay, so this officially has to be the best part of the movie, aside from the last scene where Ben Stiller is measuring out the wall to hang the artwork from Florence's niece - that perfect mix of anal retentiveness mixed in with an aloof sense of portraying that he does not care - but cannot be happy unless he really does care. You know, the movie is full of overblown characters - but all movies are, Greenberg is the consumate self-absorbed narcissitic prick - but what scares me the most is that he really does paint a picture of the forty something single guy who just does not get the rest of the world around him and does not understand what he is dong to complicate that world even more - pretty heavy shit to start a blog with.

So, sleeplessness again - I am running on about three hours of sleep in the past 48, not too good with adjusting to the East Coast West Coast travel when I get home for three days, and go back West for five, then home for three days. Not sleeping has its benefits, I can see posts on Facebook as soon as they happen, I can catch up a few levels in Zuma Blitz, can read some of 90% off books I bought from Borders (believe it or not, I bought twenty books for $19.00), and stay caught up with work - which lately has not been that easy to do - you always feel like you are being pulled in one direction, and don't have time to follow through with everything - well, if you just don't sleep, then you can get caught up. Cadence called bullshit on my warm milk sleeping remedy, but unfortunately, after a six pack of beer, a squig of Nyquil, and reheated pizza did not work, I had to resort to wives tales - and even the warm milk did not help - so instead I am sitting here writing a blog about a depressing movie that highlights my biggest character flaws and trying to figure out what the hell the rest of the folks on facebook are doing right now. The kids are out of school tomorrow, so I should be good and zombied out by then to be a perfect dad who just says yes. I already know that duck cupcakes are on the agenda, I have finished most of my work for the week, and the house, surprisingly, is clean enough to be presentable to my welcome company for the weekend. We will see how long that last, I already know that the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie crumbs scattered about my bed are going to have to be handled one way or another (to go with the warm milk remedy)...now I am just rambling...

Speaking of rambling - now I know three official authors, two who have published with the big houses - you know, (if you don't then don't worry) those nifty lables that have beautiful artwork departments and pay for publicity tours and help with marketing, and get those books put in the windows of all of the nice bookstores - and don't charge you $9,000 up front - and one who self publishes her books, and gets to keep the majority of the profits that she reaps from her work. I follow their blogs pretty closely and then I link to the blogs that they are linked to, and try to keep up with, and learn from their styles. Most good writers are pretty descriptive, they can make my Starbucks coffee description sound like an AM station that is drifting in and out somewhere along the highway - just scratchy and barely audible - and they really sit down everyday and write something. That's the work behind what they do - I am by far no artist, I am a recreational writer with a desire to be more than that, and hell, the reality is that I just don't want to write everyday, I don't want a shelf full of books about writing, and I don't want to spend three weeks at a retreat on how to do what it is you do better. That way I have an excuse for not getting to where I want to be - Greenberg exemplified. No, those folks that I read, they know what they are doing and work at. I don't know what I am doing, I just know that I finish these 1,000 word essays about every two weeks, drop them on my blog, and voila, there they are in the wonderful world of the web. So becoming a real author is about real work - I have enough of real work right now - so anyone who has any tips to get me the express route - let me know. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that".

Is there anything worse than that feeling that you are really missing something - you know that feeling - a mixture of fear and worry tinged by excitement - it is a hard physical feeling to describe - some folks say that it is like a weight on their chest, me, it is lightheaded fuzz - not really sure how to describe it, other than to say that I feel like something is out there that I am supposed to be doing that I am not a part of - perhaps it is just sleep.

Thanks again folks for following this stuff, until next time...


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Okay, now the Funny Part...

So, I did the whole sentimental bit, and I mean every word that I wrote in that thing - being a dad is alot like being a roll of duct tape - hell, we are not special for any one reason - we don't even get the credit for many things - but in a pinch, we are generally laying around somewhere, and can fix many things when they are broken. That pretty much sums up where we fit in until boys start to grow hair in places other than their heads, and the wives start to realize that their boys love them dearly, but really don't want to spend the morning browsing the walmart cleaning supply aisle.

So, what are the top ten things I have learned about thirteen year olds - who knows, but I will give it a shot, I figure I have a year to learn more, but these are the ones I know now...

1. Showers become the norm. Really really really long showers. I am not quite sure why, but I could venture a guess. My advice to any parent about to broach thirteen with a boy - get one of those water heaters that produces an infinite amount of hot water, make sure to paint the bathroom with some sort of water resistant coating, and remove any electronics lest the steam short out the entire house.

2. Thirteen year olds smell. They do. Going to the soccer practices or soccer matches, and getting near the team afterwards is sort of like driving by the local landfill, or following a hog truck down the highway. We buy them deodorant, we buy them body wash, we encourage them to change their socks. But they still smell.

3. Showers may be long, but convincing them to brush their teeth is more like convincing a vegan that one hot dog will not kill them. My next great invention - a toothbrush that activates the hot water in the shower. That way, their teeth will be really really clean, and the showers will be a hell of alot shorter.

4. Thirteen year olds grow at a pace unmatched by anything in the natural world. The Old Navy sale rack is your friend. Sure your kid may not like wearing the styles that they provide - but rest assured, those shorts you bought on Sunday are going into the local "teen kid" clothing exchange program on Tuesday. (If you have not already done so - start taking bags of clothes to friends houses with similar aged boys - make sure to be friends with a kid who is slightly larger than your own, and you can save a ton of cash by inheriting hand me downs).

5. Thirteen is an unlucky number for several reasons. One of them has to be because it is the most awkward year for a boy. Somewhere, these guys are stuck between liking women's body parts, playing X-Box for innumerable hours, and learning how to properly use grammar in a sentence. What a hell on earth that is.

6. Boys, and I am sure girls, these days are not quite the same as thirteen year old boys back when I was a kid (I swear to never say that again) - between charging his iPOD touch, deciding what sports to play next season, friending folks on facebook, deciding a college path and being pressured to make sure he can follow it, playing some video game with 32 other folks as they mount an insurrection on some god foresaken video game country, keeping up with text messages, and doing homework - holy shit - I am 39 and already am tired from that sentence. We had a stick, matches, and collected bottles for money. Sure, we had Atari, but after thirty minutes with the joystick, your hand would sieze up, and you went back to the stick and matches, or you just dug a hole.

7. Forget chores. Call them "inquisition like tortures" - thirteen year olds come up with more excuses to not make a bed, fold towels, clean kitchens, or vacuum floors than the US came up with reasons for invading Iraq.

8. Did I mention thirteen year olds, particularly in groups, smell?

9. Thirteen year olds know the perfect bed time. They know that they will be awesome shining productive members of society at 6:30 am when you have to tie a rope to their foot, drag their asses out of bed, force feed them a pop tart, and send them down the street to school. Still, they know that cool parents would never make them go to bed before ten.

10. Thirteen year olds are no longer gullable. In fact, they don't believe anything unless they saw it on MTV, Comedy Central, or heard it from Tosh.O. Don't try to convince them that the sky is blue, because it is not. Don't try to reassure them that one "C" on their report card will not prevent them from getting into college, leading them into a life of crime and homelessness, don't try to explain to them that textbooks actually provide the correct way to do math - just keep sending letters to Tosh.O, MTV, and Comedy Central to do a few math problems each show to explain how algebra really works.

That's it. Child rearing from my point of view -

Seriously, I love it. I like not knowing what I am going to get every morning, but knowing that every night, at bedtime, thirteen year olds are still not too old to give their Dad a hug, and to say I love you.

They say that stops at fourteen...

Until next time...


Thirteen Years ago...today

Now not to get all sentimental and stuff, but watching my son today play Monkey in the Middle, or listen to him ask me why I don't think certain religious things have any context in a modern world, or convince me that marriage is a greater escalation of a relationship - hell, that will bring a fast forward moment, and then you have thirteen years of memories to try and shuffle through over the course of an evening.

My favorite three pictures are above - one, I am pretty sure, is Gabe and I sitting in a chair - could be his sister, but I closely relate it to him. I remember sitting with him for hours, letting him fall asleep on my chest, the frustration my wife had in learning how to feed, when to feed, and to feel like a woman again. There were sleepless nights, and several days where the only thing that was really comfortable was going to the parking garage at work and catching an hour of sleep before going back into the basement at the Kansas City Southern and flipping through endless reams of cost sheets and time reports. I can remember him sharing ice cream with dog, and giggling when Comet would get it on his nose, and try to lick it off as much as possible. I guess I was more engaged then, I was still trying to find a way to make it better, the little townhome on some cul de sac in Liberty, Missouri, the long drives back to Jacksonville to see our families, it, compared to now was a much easier time - and as much as you hear parents say that it is difficult (and it is) - the good thing is that you get over that pretty quick - and remember just enough advice to sound useful for other new parents(simethicone is your best friend, toilet locks are really unnecessary unless you really like fumbling to take a leak in the middle of the night and give up and just piss in the sink, kids are pretty flexible, and yes, you will lose sleep, they are just farting when they smile at you). I was happy to be the father of a beautiful Arnold George - I was happy to have the small apartment or the condo, and to be in the midwest. It was good.

The birth was an experience - I had to travel to St. Louis, and Christy was two or three weeks overdue (we tried every wives tale in the book to speed the process up and I am pretty sure Christy could not walk another two miles of hills, drink another sip of raspberry tea, and the other wives tale - well it did little to help as well), and scheduled to go in to be induced - my boss seemed to care little, he said go, and that I could drive back when the time came - I did make it back - after Christy had been on pitocin for about three hours, and I caught the scowl of my mother in law for not being there sooner - the good and bad thing though, was that after another day and a half of pitocin drip, the doctors finally decided to speed up the process - and voila - out popped a slimy alien looking thing that scared the living shit out of me, and my first inclination was to ask for a hose and a bucket to wash the thing off, and try to see something that was less lizard like - but that faded quickly with the first little cry, and the fear as the doctors rushed him off and explained all about meconium or poop in the chute as I later termed it, and we had to spend those first hours without him.

Then the circumcision - what a hellacious thing that is. I am not sure why they do it anymore, and I am not quite sure why we had it done, but I can assure you, if we had to do it at thirty, there would be a hell of alot less of those procedures hapenning...

The sad thing is that I cannot remember too much more about that day - I was excited. Most of all, I was happy, but I remember being scared and ill prepared - but knew that this was it, and that I had to do something.

My next favorite photo - the infamous sippy cup drawer - that, and escaping from any type of enclosure were his favorite things to do. He was always followed by the dog - Comet became his best friend, and Gabe would fall asleep cradled on the dog - and Comet wouldnt move - he woud just lay there, as if he knew that this kid was going to be around for a while, so he might as well get him on the team. Besides, there were plenty of scraps to be had in the form of cookies, biscuits, and those nasty ass melba toast crackers that instantly turn into mush.

The sippy cup drawer. That was bain of our existence. We gave up (as you can see in the photo). The kid had six doting grandparents, more toys than a factory in China, and a huge yard to eat dirt in - but he wanted the sippy cup drawer. There were days when the kitchen was a minefield of blue and yellow and green lids and plastic cups - and that was his biggest thrill in the world. He would stand there, look at us as if to say, "Look you two - we all know these cups are mine, and this drawer, well, let's just agree that hthis is mine too. Now, I am going to throw these cups all over the floor. You are going to enjoy it as much as I am". He was a good baby, an easy kid. Of course, my travel life started shortly thereafter - I started heading to Shreveport twice a month, started going to St. Louis quite a bit - and really, that leads to the last picture -

I missed this day. This was Gabe's first day of school. Christy took this picture of him walking away - a little man off to his first day. I missed that one. You know, the more you look back as a traveller - the more you realize that looking back reminds you of how much you missed. The thought of staying home sometimes is there - what would have happened if I stayed home - what would I have not missed - I am not sure where I worked at the time - and not really sure what company I was with or what my role was - but I am pretty sure that I was not there for that day - and since then, have not been there for a whole lot of other days -

The answer is pretty clear - I was able to coach Gabe's first soccer team as an assistant. I was able to not worry about getting on a plane on Monday morning - there was even a time that I was able to enjoy Sunday afternoons - not worrying about packing or the meeting times on Monday or having to close the books - not having to miss the first day of school and get an update via telephone in some hotel in some city doing something that I cannot remember doing - I am sure that we all know the reasons why we do what we do - we have bills to pay, and things to accomplish, and deadlines to meet, and nicer things to buy, and a bathroom to remodel, and tennis lessons, and gambling trips and etc etc etc into an endless stream of justifications -

Thirteen years old today. Questions about marriage and family and politics and history - it seems as if I was sitting in that chair holding my son for the first time a few days ago - and I turn around and he is smiling at me as he tells me that he is a teenager, and does not really feel all that different, but that he knows it is different.

I don't regret many things in my life. Hell, I type about them here. I do regret missing things with him, and if any encouragement serves its purpose, the past two years of being with him ten to fifteen days a month (yes, this is an improvement) and getting to be a dad who is there and is engaged - then it worked - I still miss things now - but I try not to miss too many - I count on those times as much as he counts on me to be there - and that makes me feel pretty good.

Happy Birthday Gabe -