12.05.2018

Digital Detox

Sorry if this is starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but as it's on my mind and as my words are my way of clearing through some thoughts, I don't really see a way around it.

I saw a friend tonight I haven't seen in a good little while. Since at least before the move back in March. It's cool. I got a batch of homemade Christmas cards. Like the batch of homemade cards I got last year and the year before, they will likely sit in a stack in the same place until about February when I will put them in the box with the other unsent cards.

Maybe this year will be different. I say that every year. Maybe this is the year it will be true.

I say that every year, too.

Anyway, in the course of conversation, I let slip that I wasn't on Facebook. Her husband said, "Again?!" and she said, "You'll be back."  Both were said in jest, I know.

Still. It got me thinking.

It's been about a week.  Just one week. There have been a few moments where I have really been tempted, but not because I wanted to see what was going on, but because I was bored and my default action when I was bored was to get on fakebook and scroll until I was not only bored, but I was bored, numb, and generally thinking most people were terrible at humaning.  So, it wasn't that I missed it per se. And I realized that tonight, rather than agree, I just smiled and said, "I don't think I will."

And I was good with that.

It's just kind of a weird headspace to be in right now.

I know I'll be past this stumbling block of obsessiveness, but for now, I'm just working through it.

But on a positive note...the Christmas lights are up outside, so that's a good thing.

And with that I bid you goodnight. Yup. Short and sweet.

Except I'm not short.

And not always sweet.

Have a good rest of your evening.

-AT






12.02.2018

You Stole From The Crippled Kids Jar!?

There's a scene in Office Space  where the efficiency experts, The Bobs, are reading the names of people they are going to fire to Peter and they get to Samir's file. "And this guy...Na-een...Na...Not gonna be working here"

That only comes to mind because it is 2 days after NaNoWriMo is officially over for the year.  For me, it was probably over before it began. I didn't really have a clear plan and didn't really account for well, life, to be honest. As with all things NaNo, there is no one to blame for it but me. And that's OK.

I can't say that I wrote every single day of the month. I didn't. I can't say that I hit fifty-thousand works at the miraculous 11th hour. My logged seven-thousand words clearly indicate that didn't happen.

But, I did have something of a breakthrough this year that I didn't have in years prior. A couple of them, actually.

The first is something I've seen at other points in my life. I need to be around people. Not really to compete against, but to draw inspiration from. The number of actual write-ins I attended this year was less than 3. My word count shows that. There were times I felt fairly isolated this month. I don't put that on anyone but me. I had a calendar of events I could have attended. I had the NaNo calendar of events close by--hell, less than 2 miles, but I didn't. Don't know why. I may dissect that later, next year when it gets closer to NaNo. I may not. Which leads to the second epiphany of sorts.

The only person putting pressure on me to "win" NaNo was...you guessed it. Me. I didn't quite have a breakdown this month, but I had a few near misses that would qualify as mini-anxiety attacks, I'm sure. I was certain that I would be letting this person down or that person would be pissed if I didn't do this thing or that in November. And in the end, I shut down. On my birthday I woke up and decided that I was doing something for me. And I did.

And it was rather liberating, if I'm being honest.

I'm going to pause here. I know that I have some friends who, like me, sometimes internalize and overthink things. I want to be very clear about why I 'failed' (and ultimately won) the whole NaNo thing this month. It had nothing to do with anyone but me. I applied the pressure. The voices I was guided (and/or misled) by were the ones in my head. No one else. Me.

That simple fact is also the reason that I won, if you will.

The ultimate epiphany was that I am traveling this writer's path for me. For the stories I have to tell. For the songs I have to write. For the pictures I have yet to pen. Don't get me wrong, I hope you'll share that with me. And if you like the yarns I'm spinning, awesome. If you don't, that's OK, too.

I think the real goal of NaNo, albeit not explicitly stated anywhere that I've seen, is that participants come away from the month feeling like, thinking like, and believing themselves to be real writers.

And I did. Because I am. I am a writer. I went through the real writer shit of getting so hyperfocused on the minutia of life that I forgot that my shield, my armor, my weapons against the mediocrity of life are the words I put to page. My way to escape this world is to create my own and play around in them for a while.

So, in that sense, NaNo succeeded. And did I win? Yes. And No. It really just depends on who's definition you're using.

If it's OK with you, I'll use mine. Well...I guess if I'm paying attention to my own epiphanies, the fact is, it doesn't matter if it's ok with you or not. I need to do the thing my way.

I didn't quite catch it happening as quickly this time, but I do seem to have something of a chrysalis forming around me. I didn't notice it, but standing outside myself, looking down, I do see that it's there. I'm usually pretty good about identifying and embracing the moments in my life when these kinds of things happen...ok. No, I'm not. Normally I think something feels 'off' and I write some blog posts where I say that I feel like I'm on the verge of something big happening. And if something big happens, I write a 'see how cool that was' post. If it doesn't, I distract you with a post on the futility of trying to compare Chicago to New York style pizzas to one another (seriously, just don't. Nobody wins if you exclude either of these pieces of heaven from your pizza repertoire).


So, here's the prediction. The change that I feel like I'm on the cusp of is the same one that's always been there. The one that is finally me embracing this life and my role in it. The scales finally falling away from my eyes, if you will. Embracing the gifts and the path and the...

Fuck it. Honestly, I have no idea.

I just know I love to write. I need to write.

So I'm going to keep doing that and let's just see where this thing goes.

Peace,
-Todd



So Long, Ass Grape

I am a writer. You can tell by my fancy blog. No, but seriously. I am.  I don't know if I've always been keen on using analogies because I'm a writer or if I'm a writer because I've always been keen on using analogies. I'm not sure which, if either of those, is actually relevant to the rest of this post except for the fact that this post is probably going to be riddled with them. I mean, it's what I do.

Now, if you're sitting there asking yourself what an ass grape is, you're in luck. You'll probably know what it is both literally and figuratively by the end of this post. Now I have to warn you, I am prone to oversharing. My roommate's daughter things that means being too nice, but in my world it means that I'll probably tell you more than you want to really want to know. If you're not keen on knowing the medical procedure associated with removing an ass-grape, you should skip ahead.

So, apparently there are a few types of hemorrhoids (look, I warned you)--one of them is external. I guess at one point, I had one. And when it went away I was left with a skin tag. And without getting too graphic (I know, too late), I'll let you draw your own conclusion why I call it an ass-grape.

Anyway...I got sick of rocking the docked tail look, so Friday I had it taken off. The crew at the Taylor Station Surgical center was amazing.  I can't tell you a time I actually enjoyed going in for a surgical procedure.  Remind me to tell you about it next time you're around. It's kind of a funny story. I've never had anyone ask me to name something they were cutting off before.

*Post-Medical Ass-Grape Removal stuff a.k.a. The Metaphorical and Allegorical Shit Starts Here*

If you skipped ahead, I'm pretty sure you made the right choice. One of the things that the nurse asked, was if I took my little tail home, what would I name it? Someone in the room suggested Quentin. This made everyone laugh and for a good few minutes took my mind off of the fact that there were no less than seven people looking at my bare backside.

I can confirm, though, that I now have sound medical verification that despite what you may have heard from anyone I've ever dated or been married to, my head is no longer up my ass.

Oh...the name I chose for the ass-grape?  And yes, I did get them to commit to at least try to get 'ass-grape' used as the new official medical term (at the very least, I'm sure they all got a good laugh from it for the rest of the day).  But yes, I did come up with a name for it.

Doubt.

You see, as a writer and all-around creative type, naming it Doubt was really the logical choice. I mean, Doubt was constantly riding my ass. And while it didn't always cause physical pain, it was always there as a reminder. And true or not, it was never a far thought from me that no matter what I did to cover it up, sooner or later someone would see. They would see that Doubt was right there. It was a part of me, no matter what. Attached, grown out of me.

No more.

After a couple of very painful, burning shots to numb my buttocks, Doubt was removed with surgical precision. The physical piece is gone. Send off somewhere to be tested to make sure the Doubt wasn't cancerous. Something I've lived with away too long

As weird as it sounds, I felt a sense of relief wash over me once it was gone. Oh, I know there will still be some figurative residual left, but I know now that Doubt has been removed to the best of the surgeon's ability.

The rest is up to me.

And with that, I'm off to bed.

Have a wonderful evening and rest of your weekend my friends.

Peace,
Todd

11.29.2018

The Silence Is Worse

I fully prepared for friends to pepper me with the 'Dude, why did you unfriend me?' line of questioning when I deactivated my bookFace account.

What I did not prepare for was a complete lack of response. Of course, my anxiety disorder manifests itself in such a way that I tend to rabbit-hole, a.k.a. overthink, damn near everything.  The meds help on most days. And to be fair they are probably helping right now, because instead of my mind being curled into a ball onto itself over this, I'm left with a thought of Huh, isn't that interesting. No one gives a shit.

And I'm not super upset, but it would be nice to be missed.

Those are the thoughts that ping pong in my head. But then I remember that the Facebook 'feed/wall/whateverinthefucktheyarecallingitthisweek' algorithm sucks dick and most people don't really notice when people that were part of their online life suddenly drop off.

And that's cool.

It truly is. I told like 5 people that I deactivated my account. One of them congratulated me. Two of them completely understood. And the other two couldn't care less.

It's interesting. I have only twice felt the twinge of wanting to check the feed. I'm taking it as a good sign. The good news is that my roommate has promised to send me anything cool (events or otherwise) that I might miss by not being on there. So I've got that going for me.

Nobody has found the blog since I left. Or at least thought to check it. That I was fully expecting. The post detox-jitters haven't started yet. I know those will take another day or two. Luckily I'm having minor outpatient surgery tomorrow and will be largely recovering this weekend. So I don't plan on having time to think about it. And of course there are projects I need to get working on for Christmas presents, so that will keep my mind off of the Feed.

It's all good and I realize that this post really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of  things. But, I needed to get the words out of my head.

Now back to work.

Peace out!
-Todd

11.28.2018

Saying Goodbye..and Hello

For some time now I have struggled with an addiction. Well, several in all likelihood. But the one I refer to spefically in this post is the  addiction to Facebook, and to some extent all social media. Facebook is by far the worst, at least for me.

Today I said goodbye, well sort of. I actually just deleted my account without so much as a ‘I’m running away from Facebook for a while to clear my head and take back my life’ post. Even though that’s exactly what I’m doing. I took the app and it’s dumb lumpy cousin, Messenger, off of my phone a couple of weeks ago. I still found myself opening up both in the browser on my phone. So, I didn’t actully cut the cord, I just changed my access. Instead of getting my fix at home in the safety of my bedroom, I had to go see that skeevy guy behind the bowling alley that always smells of stale kimchee and fresh cat piss.

After downloading my entire FB life up to now, I deactivated the account with fanfare. I had a couple of moments of weakness where I almost got back online to see if anyone had said anything or had missed me. I’m still waiting for the inevitable Why did you unfriend me? text or email that will invariably come. Or, maybe it won’t. Maybe my worst fears will be realized and my absence in the online realms won’t cause this big gaping hole. Women and children won’t be screaming because there is no more iTod on their newsfeed. In fact, I suspect that it will take most people quite some time to notice, and even longer to care.

And you know what? That’s OK by me. Thing is, I am striving toward a life of more meaningful interactions in the meat-space. With people I care about.

I just recently watched a documentary on minimalism that my roommate recommended. She says that she repeatedly watches it when she feels like she’s getting too caught up in getting stuff. And I have to say that it had an affirming affect on my decision to abandon the book of face. The last line in the whole thing-the whole thing is amazing and you should watch it- but the last line was the key for me. And it was simply this.

Love people. Use things.

That was the kick in the third eye that I needed to hear. And it’s true. It goes along with what I recently heard Cal Newport say in a podcast. The technology in our lives should be used to facilitate real-life interactions with people. And that we should stop counting online interactions as real. Both of these things hit home and gave a little turbo boost to my decision to ditch the big blue F for good (for now).

Will I go back? God I hope not. I mean, I can say that right now, without a compelling reason, a seriously compelling reason, I can see not going back, period. The last time I quit (and did a full-on account delete), the thing that brought me back was the death of a friend. All of the gatherings around his death were being coordinated via the book of face. And so I found myself sucked back in. And from there it was easy to convince myself that I needed to be there. That it was the only way I could stay connected to certain people.

Which, really, is bullshit.

It is certainly the easiest way. It is by no means the only way.

And that’s the reality, isn’t it? The application has made itself so indispensible in everyone’s lives that to try to remember a time before Facebook is actually hard for a lot of people. They have bought into the myth that seeing a blue thumb on something you post or putting a blue thumb on someone else’s post is the same as having an actual interaction with someone.

It isn’t. It isn’t even close. Because first of, people say and post shit on there that they would generally never do or say in real life in front of as many friends as they have online.

I’m not judging you. You do you, as my BFF is wont to say. But I ask that you do the same, dont’ judge me. Don’t preach to me. Don’t try to talk me into coming back. If I do, it will be on my terms. If I don’t, that’s cool too.

And honestly, if you want to talk about it, why don’t you come over? We’ll have some drinks and some laughs.

If you’re not the kind of person I can share a drink and laugh with, chances are we weren’t really friends anyway, regardless of what facebook tells you.

Anyway, with that-I’m tired. And I’m going to bed. It’s the first night in a long time that I haven’t checked my notifications and facebook feed before bed. And tomorrow will be the first morning in a while where I will get up and checking my online shiznit won’t be a thing.

I’m quite looking forward to both.

Have an awesomesauce day my friends!

-Todd



OhshitInearlyforgot!  If you are reading this, thank you. It means that somewhere along the way you bookmarked this blog or made a concious effort to find this little slice of heaven I call my bloggy-blog. Anywhoo, thank you. And again, have an amazing day!

11.25.2018

The Day After The Day After The Day

It’s 3 in the afternoon on a Sunday and I’m sitting in Starbucks.  According the calendar, I’ve just recently had a birthday. My birthday was on the day after Black Friday. Black Friday is one of the busiest days for my company as I work for a national electronics retailer. It is THE day. That makes today the day after the day after the day. 

As I posted already on Facebook, I feel a sense of gratitude and thanks for everyone that took a few moments out of their day to wish me a happy birthday. 

It truly was a happy birthday. I actually started the birthday on Friday, after work. I hit a local retailer for a few records that were released on Black Friday. And I also went to Target and upgraded a particular piece of tech that I had been wanting to update for quite a little while now. The new tech should hopefully last me a few years. 


I spent my birthday kind of just doing my own thing. I went to an antiques show at the Ohio Fairgrounds. I picked up a typewriter and a camera. Then I had lunch with a couple of friends. I came home and veg’d. My roommate and her daughter made me cupcakes and dinner. It was truly wonderful.

And, as much as it made me smile to see all of the people that wished me a happy birthday on social media...the people that sent me a text made me smile even bigger. I was on the book of face for maybe a total of 30 minutes yesterday. And it was a good day. Today I was on even less than that. I was worried that it might be hard to wean myself off, but the truth is, I don’t think it will at all. I think when I get to that point, I’ll just close shit down, turn off the lights and never look back. And that’s OK. 

I wonder, if I don’t post the link to the blog, how many views I’ll get on this post? Good question. 

Let’s try and see. 

Have a wonderful rest of your day, my friends. 

I’m off now. I have to get home and sync my Scrivener projects so I can keep working on them on my iPad when I’m out and about. 

-AT

11.22.2018

Giving Thanks

I started to write a post on Facebook for what I was thankful for today. Then something hit me. I could post it there. You would see it (or you wouldn't, depending on where you ranked in Facebook's "You should see this person's post" algorithm). And then it would just fall off. It might pop back up next year or in 3 years as something I remember. Good Lord, if I'm still sucking on FB's teat in 3 years, please fucking shoot me. 

But here, on my blog, I'm free to stretch out, there are no ads to distract me as I type this. My best friend is sitting on the other end of the couch working on her plot to take over the literary world (and later, the literal world). There's a little white-haired, neurotic furball curled up on the middle cushion. My belly is full, and my soul is sated.

Life is good.  Actually, that's not quite true. Life is neither good nor bad, but I am good.

Today I'm thankful for the fact that I got to see my daughter. She has grown into a wonderful young woman.  And my grandfather. Who, at 95 has some amazing stories of his own.  And my parents. And my brother and his family. It was a day of family. And friends who are family. A day that in years prior, I would have to still dial in and do work to ensure that our stores would be ready to open tomorrow morning (Black Friday is one of our busiest days of the year). But this year, someone on my team took that ball and ran with it and there were only a few minor bumps that needed my intervention.

Otherwise, I got to make my White Castle stuffing and my eclair cake. Both of which were received quite well. I brought home an empty stuffing dish and everyone took home some eclair cake.

I'm sitting here and thinking about my life. And they are good thoughts. They are happy thoughts. Things are falling into place. Well, things have been in place for a while, I'm just finally getting to the point where I recognize and appreciate those things for what they are. And that's a damn fine place to be.

It might be a little early in the game to put my "these are my 2019 goals" cards on the table, but I don't want you to be caught off guard.

I'm going to actively work to minimize my social media footprint. It's not helping my quality of life. And the screen-addiction usually winds up making me more miserable. I am ascribing to the philosophy that the technology in our lives should not replace our interactions with other people, but they should facilitate our real-live (meat space) interactions with people.

I want to have people come over for cocktails. I want to hang out with my other author friends and talk shop, or talk shit, whatever the case may be. I want to have jam sessions with my musician friends. And I want to be in a house filled with Love and Laughter. Real. Live. Laughter. I want to cut down on the number of times I type LOL to you because you're going to be in the same room, at the same gathering and you're going to actually hear my goofy ass laugh. Out Loud. And with any luck, it will be infectious and you'll laugh too.

I am thankful that I am to the point in my life where I'm ok with stepping away from my online presence. And the people in my life who care about me won't feel hurt or abandoned, because they will realize that it's not really about them. It's about me. Reclaiming me.

To that end, there will be a day in the near future where I will not show up on your feed. You may do a search on the social media platform of your choice and I won't be there. And soon I'll just be a name that you sort of recognize, but that you can't really remember that much about me. And that's OK. Because if this thing goes the way I hope it will, you won't be looking for me online. It won't be a post from me on your Facebook feed that makes you smile, but rather a letter or postcard or invitation to a swanky gathering at the Gallifrey Annex in your real-life mailbox. Those things will bring the smiles.

I have tried this before, this 'getting Facebook out of my life' thing. And what invariably happens is, someone will see that I'm not on their feed...or they can't find my page or posts and will think I've unfriended them. I'm then left defending my decision not to use this wonderful tool for keeping people connected (which ironically makes people feel more isolated than ever). That's not going to happen. I've come to realize that when it comes to the things in my life that are for my health and well-being, there are actually very few people that I have to give any kind of explanation to.

What I'm saying is, bookmark this blog (CTRL+D for windows users, CMD+D for mac users), reach out and shoot me your snail mail address. If you want to stay in touch and are worried that I don't have a way to reach you or you reach me, then fix the situation. I'll do the same. But I'm done assuming the intent of others based on what they do or do not post on social media. I am done trying to read minds over the ether. If you're upset with me, tell me. If I'm upset with you, I'll do the same. If I haven't told you, then chances are--we're good.  There's a lot going on in my life and the possibility is high that I'm focused 100% on the shit in my own life and not worried about yours at all.

The beauty is, on this day of giving thanks, I'm thankful for that epiphany. I'm thankful for the realization that it's OK for me to keep doing my thing (you just keep doing your thing man, in my best Strongbad voice).

Sure, I'm thankful for the standard stuff, too. Health. Having a roof over my head. Food in the pantry. Clothes on my back. And a job where I feel I'm appreciated and making a difference. I don't take those lightly. I'm thankful for those things every day I wake up above ground.

I'm also thankful for the hard times in my life that got me to this point. Two divorces. Open-heart surgery when I was 25. Not knowing if my premie daughter would make it past the first 48 hours of her life. These, as much as the good things and people in my life, make up the person you see before you. And you will  see me, because we're gonna hang out soon. For reals.

On that note, I need to get off this thing and get ready for bed. I have to be at work at 6AM tomorrow to make sure all 25 of my stores are ready for Black Friday.

I hope you have a wonderful day. And I hope whatever you face today you remember that you can kick ass and prevail.

Alright, I'll talk to you soon my friends.

-Todd

Digital Detox

Sorry if this is starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but as it's on my mind and as my words are my way of clearing through som...