8.13.2017

Shakubuku Part Two: Eclectic Booglaloo

I posted on the book of face recently that I felt out of sorts. The gist of it being I couldn't decide if I was hungry, horny, or on the verge of some existential shift that would lock me in closer to my purpose on this earth in this particular lifetime.

I still felt that after eating. So I know it wasn't the hungry part of the equation.  And I'm always horny, or most always. So I can eliminate that as it's pretty much a constant.

Which leaves the existential shift.

That seems more likely.

And after yesterday, I'm pretty sure that's the case.

I'm going to start by saying that part of me wasn't quite sure what to expect with my outing yesterday.  I know full well that the first part of what I'm about to say could paint me in the light of being a tremendous asshole. To an extent, this is accurate. I'm hoping, though, that the realization I achieved  by the end of the afternoon has some redeem quality.  I mean, it did for me, so there's that.

So here goes.

I spent the day yesterday with my best friend. At least he was my best friend when I was in my teens. In my teens-junior high, high school and in to college, I had a handful of friends that I would have easily considered my best friends. If you were at my second wedding, you saw them standing up with me as I was giving the vows. I couldn't pick one best man. I had three.  The funny thing is, the three men up there with me were my bestest friends and various points in my life. Childhood through teen through adult. And I would have done anything for any of those men.

But time and distance and life happens. Now they are all three still very good friends. We can pick up anywhere we left off and go as if nothing happened in the years in between.

Or so I thought.

One of the three has a chronic illness. As I have been getting to know the amazing Styna Lane who heads the amazing Sick, Tired, and Alone channel on YouTube (which you should totally check out because it's awesome), I realized something very important.

Some of the shit that I've been feeling as I've been trying to process how this friendship has evolved can be boiled down to a simple sentence: It's not about me.

There was a key phrase yesterday that brought it all home for me.

"I can feel my body about to hit the wall, so I need to maximize my time."

I realized at that moment that I had been viewing this thing all wrong. The swift spiritual kick to the forehead happened and suddenly my third eye opened.

I have no fucking clue what he (or any of my chronically awesome friends with chronic illnesses) goes through on a daily basis. I'm obese. I can fix that. I have diabetes. I can control that. I have degenerative disk disorder. OK, on that one, I'm kind of fucked, but I have staved the effects of that temporarily by having two of the discs in my neck replaced.

My hitting a wall amounts to levels of social anxiety.I get to the point where mentally I just can't deal with people anymore. But never is it a case of my body going, "Hey man...you had kind of a good run today, but we're gonna just shut down now, cool? Cool."

So here's the shift from asshole to not as much of an asshole.

My friend has this thing. He's always had it. It's genetic. It's a disease. And it's progressively debilitating. And for years, I didn't know how to deal with it.

I.

Me.

I didn't know how to deal with it.  I would see him through the years (we lost touch about 10 years back and started in the recent years to rebuild those channels of communication), and I could see the changes.

And it was uncomfortable for me. Because, at that point, I was still framing our friendship in the context of what it meant to me, for me. Me, me, me.

Man, such a dick move.

The epic magnitude of the dickishness was revealed when he said the thing about his body hitting the wall.

That was the shift.

I realized that since the day he told me, years ago, I had been framing how I saw him in context of the disease and what it would eventually mean for our friendship. And fuck me was that selfish.

Yesterday I was finally able to separate the two again. I put the thing that he has in a box and set it to the side. That thing is not him. It's a thing he has to deal with and live with, but it's not him.

He's still there. He's still my friend. And yesterday was a flashback to 25 years ago. Minus the Dominoes Pizzas and 2 Liters of Dr. Pepper the night before. But it was a day of hitting campus (or Short North), munching on some seriously delicious grub, and then hitting up shops that I didn't even know existed.

I can remember the first time he showed me Used Kids (the one in the basement). I was enthralled.  And I thought he was the coolest motherfucker ever for knowing about that place.

That happened again yesterday.  Rocket Fizz....Big Fun...On Paper...Flower Child...all these amazing stores that are in my city that I just didn't know about and I've got my own personal tour guide showing me all these amazing things. I could see it was something akin to pride that he was able to show me these cool gems.

And more than that, I have my friend back.

But..he's not really back. Because he never really left. I see that now. I was the one that left. I was the one that jumped ship and said in not so many words, "I don't know how to deal with this anymore. I'm too uncomfortable so I'm gonna just put it over here in the 'used to know' column."

I'm thankful that he reached back out to me.  I needed a second chance to be the friend he needs. I still don't know if I can be. But as my dad says, "We do what we can, Hobbes. We do what we can."


8.10.2017

That Shakubuku That You Do

If you have not yet seen the John Cusack staple, "Grosse Pointe Blank," you need to. I won't even go in to all the reasons why. Or the fact that they shot basically 3 different versions of the film and mixed the best scenes from all three versions for the final version we have.  Just trust me on this-you need to see this movie. And by "need to see this movie" I mean this. If you truly want to understand the way my mind processes some of the existential shit that I throw my way, you need to see this movie (see also "Say Anything," "High Fidelity," and "The Matrix.").

OK.  Just bookmark this page, take about 107 minutes out of your life and see the movie. I'll wait.

Cool. Welcome back.  SEE?!?!? RIGHT??  I know. It's ok. You didn't know, but now you do.

Alright. There's a scene in Grosse Pointe Blank that pretty much mirrors what happened to me 2 nights ago. You see, I was a hit man and I was going back to my high school reunion.

No. Wait. That's not right.

Oh, I was going out for beers with one of my super awesome friends that I had known since high school. THAT was it.

I'm going to pause here and let you know that I drank a lot on Tuesday night. The way it was presented to me was that it would be 'going out for a few beers with Skaggs. It'll be an early night.'

It was not an early night.

If my Irish Math is correct it was 10 or something pints. Which, if you're converting from the metric system (as you do), it wound up being a fuckton of beer. Way more than necessary for a 'few beers/early night' scenario.

Honestly, though, the way the night was going it pretty much had to go the way it did.

I said as much on the recording I made at 1:30AM (AFTER the early night/few beers situation). I talked in to a digital recorder for 30+ minutes after Elijah brought me home because I wasn't really in a state to sit at a keyboard and watch letters pop on to the field of white, but by the same token I didn't want to forget any of the awesomeness either. So, I talked to the recorder (which basically translated to my neighbors as the 'crazy dude in Apartment 2 talking to himself...again!).

So, back to the story.

The title of this post was almost "That's Not Appropriate, Gary" based on how the night started.
And I have to be honest here, I really wasn't sure what the hell was going to happen based on the first Uber ride to kick off the evening.

Rachel texted me and said "Gary. Silver Accord. Three Minutes."  Standing on the corner 2 minutes and 43 seconds later (looking dapper AF, I might add, in my Save Ferris shirt), I see a silver Honda Accord zoom by and turn in the alley PAST my drive.

"Must be Gary," I thought.

It was.

7 minutes later, Gary got it together and came back around. And waited IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET for me to get in to his car. Thankfully it wasn't a Fourth Friday or we'd be talking about Gary in the past tense.  Well, I mean, I guess I kind of am. But you know what I mean. I mean he'd be dead. People don't play on Fourth Friday in Uptown.

So...we're on our way...and I'm giving Gary some alternate routing that will make his life easier.

He's doing the standard chit chat. I'm doing the standard being polite but wishing he'd shut the fuck up. I find out he's retired. He golfs. I'm like his 9th Uber passenger or some shit like that. WAY more than I really EVER need to know about any Uber drive (or so I thought).

And then he drops the bomb mack daddy Fat Boy of all conversation openers.

"So.  Has anyone tried to kill you?"

Um.

I had to pause a beat to make sure I heard the question, correctly. Apparently I did.  But I didn't answer. And Gary just let that question hang in the air like a fart at a funeral.

As I'm giving my nervous chuckle followed by the "well...not that I know of. I mean, not lately. Why do you ask?" I have all sorts of questions going through my head such as:


  • Why the fuck would you think that's a good conversation started with a stranger??
  • Oh my god. Am I going to die in an Uber and become some bullshit cautionary tale that no one will ever read because it will be some HuffPost click bait thing with an overly dramatic headline like "Just When You Thought Uber Safer Than Lyft - You'll Never Guess What Happened!!" ??
  • Gary, please for the love of God say something. I don't want to die in the back of a silver Honda Accord with an empty box of tissues and an Buckeyes hat. That is NOT how I'm supposed to go out.
After an eternity, he continues. Apparently one of his other passengers had a wife who tried to poison him with anti-freeze. Gary is loving telling me this story and I'm still kind of freaking out. Thankfully I'm pretty sure Gary couldn't find my house again.  

The other reason I thought I was going to die in that ride (other than the very basic question which practically implies impending doom), was the fact that Gary did NOT have his cell phone mounted. He was holding it. Which meant he kept looking down.  I really didn't want to die in a silver Accord, but so many things just added up to this being my last Uber ride ever. Probably my last anything ever.

Turns out it wasn't. I made it. But damn...I thought it was touch and go there for a while.

I'm going to spare you the play by play of the evening. There were beers. There were apps. There was Keno (and there were Keno winnings). There was catching up about what was going on in each other lives. There was chatter about a couple of upcoming books I'm working on.  And there were beers.
Lots of beers. I might have said that. And then there were more beers.

As the night wore on, some of the regulars came in and out. And there was a big buff dude at the end of the bar. Looked like The Rock, Jr. No joke. And (I know this is going to sound weird), but he smelled good. My first thought was,  "damn he smells good. I wonder what that fragrance is and if it would smell that good on me (because, you know, chemistry)." 

My second thought was...Son of a bitch. I know him.

So, never being bashful after a few beverages, I asked him. Well. I told him. "You look familiar."  

He said that he got that a lot.  And then he asked me my name. And I told him.  He lost his shit.
And I lost mine because I knew I knew that dude! And I did. Steve Ferrell. In the hizzous. 

There were some crazy conversations as we caught up.  And things fell in to place. 

And in the back of my mind for what was easily the 7th or 8th time that night I thought to myself, "There are no coincidences."  I am not going to go in the depths of the conversations, because it's not my story to tell. But suffice it to say, neither of us were the same dudes we were in high school. 

Somehow we got to talking about how I didn't drink or do any illicit substances in high school. And I recounted the story of my first Senior Football party. I was a freshman, but I was invited because I was the athletic trainer and a couple of the upper classmen took me under their wing. We're at this party and someone offers me a beer. I decline. They offer again. I decline again. The peer pressure starts. Then, Todd Huber puts his arm around my shoulder and looks the dude offering and says, "Skaggs said he didn't want it. Leave him alone."

It was one of those defining moments for me. I don't know if he caught shit for it or not. Hell, I don't know if he even remembers it. But I'll never forget that. 

Steve asked me if I ever told him. I told him I never did. I said, 'that was my moment. I have no idea if it was his or not.'

And Steve said the most profound thing to me..."What if he needs to hear it? To know he made that kind of an impact in another person's life? Life's all about ebb and flow. And sometimes you need that positivity when it's on the ebb."

Blew my mind.

We also shared some similar issues with our cardio-vascular engine.  Other things that were just too wild to be a coincidence. 

And then the night was winding down.   More beers with Rachel and her dude at her place before the Uber was called to pick me up to go home.

A black Suburban pulls up and I'm thinking, "Now, if I'm going to die in any kind of vehicle, it's definitely going to be a black Suburban."

Elijah introduced himself.  A box of pens and a Foo Fighters album went in the back seat. I climbed in the front.

As if there were not already enough moments of pure shakubuku this evening, the ride home with Elijah sucker punched me right in my third eye. 

He found out I was a writer (because I told him). His fiancĂ© is a writer.  He's a musician.  He's the #3 Uber Driver in the city. We talked about Gary. He agreed that you should NEVER have a murder conversation as part of an Uber ride.  And then we talked about universal consciousness.

You know, that thing that I'll spend hours talking about with anyone? That thing where I fully believe we are, each of us, the creator experiencing its creation. Yeah. That thing.

I told him that in this lifetime my mission was to be creative. And through that expression of creativity, inspire others to be creative and to find their creative centers (because I fully believe we all have them).

THAT was the 1-2 punch from the universe.  The whole night, the universe was peeling back the curtain and daring me to keep looking.  And by the end of the night I was fully convinced beyond a shadow that this is just a construct. It's a cosmic diorama made with our mom's Naturalizers shoe box and shitty construction paper and a pair of left-handed scissors that we grab by mistake because we're not paying attention.

I am still kind of in a daze. I had to wait a day to make sure that his was a true daze and not just me being hungover.  I mean, I think I am still a little hungover, but it's not from the alcohol.

It's from drinking from the deep chalice of gratitude that the universe has been holding out this whole time for anyone who would stop and drink.

Cheers.

-ATS


7.31.2017

Neither Good Nor Bad

I looked to see how long it had been since I had actually posted something on the blog.
I wasn't expecting to see that it had been over a month.
There's no way I can make that time back up.

The time I should have been writing. Sharing. Getting the crap out of my head.  Because, between you and me, there's a lot of it still up there that's stopping some of the other words from coming out. So...that's a thing that needs to change.

And here we are.

Do I have shit floating around in my head? Yeah. Probably.  But it doesn't appear to be anything earth shattering at this time. I mean it's the normal stuff. Bills, organizing my apartment, wondering how long before our president gets us in to a war. You know, normal shit.

Part of what I like to do when my head gets in this space is go down to the Farm.  Most of you know by now that my family farm in KY is my all-time super special place where I can go to recharge my soul.

And it still is that. Mostly.

The past few times have been a little weird. Not good weird or bad weird, per say. Just weird.

We have a family living in the farm house. And that's cool. They are a great couple. And they are fixing up the house and taking care of the land. It is truly a win-win scenario for all of us.

But because of it, I have to shift my expectations when we go down there. We aren't staying in the house anymore. There's a family there. We are staying in a twenty-eight foot camper that Dad got. It's cool. It's got electricity, running water, and a working toilet. Not to mention it could sleep 3 comfortably-6 if you got cozy with your bunk mates.

So, it's cool. But it's also a little weird.  I guess weird might not be the best word. Perhaps a better word is different. It's different down there now.

Which is why I have to reset my expectations when we go down there.  That is the part that's taking time for me.

We came back a day early. It's fine, it worked out. I have stuff that I need to do in the apartment (like get this desk moved and get my office organized).

This was kind of a ramble, sorry for that.

But,  I'm writing. Which is cool.

And speaking of writing, there is some news on that front.

I just got a second royalty payment from the Midnight Magic box set...so...WooHoo!! It apparently was not a fluke. So--yay me!

Also, it looks like I will be in another set coming out in December. I don't want to give too much away, but it will be another urban fantasy centered around a modern update on the Medusa myth.

I'm looking forward to getting that one out in to the world. I am also working on a cover for Shadow Initiate so that I can release that as a stand alone novella in preparation for the series that will be spawned from that world. So, again, I'm pretty excited about those things!!

There are more neat things on the way. Just gotta get a few more cobwebs cleared up and get back to wording.

Have a great rest of your day, and I promise it won't be so long before my next update.

AT

6.13.2017

Giordano's, A Tale of Family

There are so many amazing little nuggets that happened in the 2 1/2 hours between 6:15 and 8:45 tonight that I'll likely forget something. And then I'll probably owe Ross even more money. Or pizza. Or Beer. Or a Get Out Of Going To IKEA free Card--although he might not go for that last one after hearing Alex talk about their cinnamon rolls. 

Lest you think this is some weird FanFiction about the time Ross and Rachel were on a break and he went to IKEA, let me stop you. It's not. Although...excuse me a moment...*gets pen and jots a few notes down* Right. Where was I?

Ah. Yes. 

My Second Favorite Pizza in the Whole World (so far).

The funny thing is, my two favorite pizza joints in the world (so far) could NOT be more diametrically opposed. Growing up in Westerville, there were a few local mom and pop shops. My favorite was Rofini's. Thin crust with the pepperoni that cooked up in to little upside down dart cups of grease. If you want to get down to brass tacks, it probably wasn't great pizza by any means, but I loved it. It always reminded me of Westerville. Even as an adult. I love Rofini's.

Loved.  It's gone now. Owner's decided to sell after 40 something years (or so it seemed).  I will never forget Rofini's.

But, since it closed up, my number two favorite pizza joint in the whole world (so far) became my Number 1. And it's fitting. They apparently already had the boxes ready for the transition.


Now, I have made no secret of my love for this amazing pizza pie. Hop back in time to a post from March 2016 to get the full Giordano's in my life origin story (http://www.toddskaggswrites.com/2016/03/it-was-twenty-years-ago-today.html).

Regular readers of this blog will know that I don't usually do things in any kind of order on these pages, it really is a stream of random meanderings. Tonight is no exception.

As I was driving home, I came up with a dozen great opening lines, but the line I wrote down at the bar tonight was, "Shit, now I owe Ross money."

I knew this past Sunday as I was heading to brunch that something special was happening. I saw people in red shirts go in to Giordano's. I got excited. We were close enough to lunch that I could've easily had a light breakfast and a heavy lunch. But Tim (probably not his real name) told me that Sunday was a training day only and that the "real" opening would be Tuesday. And by "real" he meant the soft-opening which is where the restaurant gets used to dealing with public types and not just the people on the payroll. Role playing is over and it's game on.

Fine Tuesday. I could wait.

Then Tuesday came. Which, if you're reading this the day I wrote it, is today.

I was leaving work today and thinking, "You know what? Sure. I have tasty leftovers in my fridge, but dammit, Giordano's is opening today."

Giordano's won.

I grabbed the Alphasmart Neo2 and headed out the door. I knew it would take at least an hour from when I ordered my pizza and I figured it would be some great writing time.  Little did I know it would be so much more. 

I got there and walked in and was instantly greeted by the awesome Candice Lee. She had put her order in when they put their name in for a table (which...is a great pro-tip. The pizza takes an hour. Put your order in when you give them your name and you'll be ahead of the game). We talked for a bit and then it was my turn to give my name. 

Shit. What was my name.

PIZZA.

No. That wasn't my name. 

Todd.

My name is Todd.

Oh crap. She asked me how many.  One.

She said would be a 40 minute wait or I could go right to the bar and order and eat there. 

Bar it is.

I bopped back to the car to get my phone, my idea journal, a hard copy of a story I'm working on, and a pen. I knew there probably wouldn't be room for me with the Alphasmart, so I went totally analog.

I quickly glanced the bar.  Wedged between the disinterested whatever the hell they call goth girls when they grow up and a tattooed couple was the dreaded corner stool.  

You know the stool. It's the one stool that always gets shoved in to someone's knee or used as a buffer to keep people from getting in to the bar.

But fuck it man, there was pizza to be had. 

I asked the bald, ginger bearded dude with two full sleeves if the seat was taken. He gestured to the stool as if to say, "clearly it's empty, but Wednesday might have something say about it."

I looked at grown up goth and she nodded indifferently.

Awesome. Wedged in there, the hostess handed me the menu. The bartender came over and asked if I needed a minute.

A beer? Yes I need a beer. I said handing her the menu.

I ordered a Guinness blonde. No doubt influenced by the signs they had for it over the bar. 

Guinness in a bottle? she asked me? 

Um. No. A Blonde. Guinness in a blonde...er...um. Guinness Blonde.

They didn't have it, but they had Goose Island 312 on tap.

Sold.

And I put in my order for food right away. I knew what I wanted.

Garlic Fries and a small, stuffed, pepperoni. Stat.

Stat, of course meaning in about an hour. You can't rush perfection and the bake time is 30 minutes by itself. 

I have a confession. I'm something of an introvert. BUT...in social situations. I often insert myself in to conversations with (I think) hilarious and sarcastic side comments about the common situation I find myself in with complete strangers.

If they give genuine laughter back my way, I keep going. If they give that 'pity smile for the homeless guy' grin to me, I shut down. 

I don't remember the comment that got me in with Alex and Ross....oh...shit. Yes I do.

One of the managers came around canvassing and asking about our experience. And, as often happens, no one assumes I'm actually out alone. 

From there conversations happened. Coincidences and moments of "no freakin' way!!" soon followed. And what I find hilarious is that it was a good hour before we even exchanged names.

I'm gonna sit on a few of the memories, since I'm still basking in them right now (it was really that cool of an evening).

Let me throw some food porn your way, though, during the basking period.

Beer is proof that God loves us, per a one Mister Benjamin Franklin. Goose Island 312 is as much a confirmation of that theory as anything. 



 Started off with an app roasted garlic fries. They are every bit as delicious as you think they would be. And they came out quick. I offered some to Alex and Ross (before I knew their names).


 My pizza. This is a small. They teased me. The brought it ALMOST to me and then the bartender stopped it. I was sad. She said they needed to make sure it was mine. I told her that it looked like mine.


 It was mine.  This is a SMALL. 6 sliced.  I ate the slice you see plated. And one more slice. Yes. 2 slices. Of a SMALL. So dense and amazing.

 

So...my bill was a little higher than I had thought it would be (damn Goose Islands...) BUT...I was there on the first night they were open to the public. With pretty much a restaurant full of people who have been waiting over a year for this place to open. Mainly because we have all been to Giordano's at least once.

Except the lady who came in just before my pizza game out.

She was on her way to buy a bottle of wine, and saw that Giordano's was open. So she came in and came up to the bar, taking the stool previously occupied by grown up goth That's not fair. She wasn't really that goth. But that's the first thing that came to mind. 

Anyway...young miss professional asked for their wine selection and picked something of the white grape variety.

My pizza came out. Remember, it's a small. For just me. And she asked if I had ever had the pizza there before.

Here? Um, no. They just opened 3 hours ago. I had it in Chicago. Pretty much along with the entire restaurant full of people and the 20 outside waiting to get in.  I offered her a slice of heaven (if you know me, you know what a huge gesture this was--offering pizza to a stranger. OK...if you really know me, you know I'm a sucker for a nice smile and so that's no so odd.) But....dude. Pizza.

And she said no.

She was there for a glass of wine.

Even Jane and Todd (another couple we met that night) were stunned. Apparently Jane had gone so far as to already beat me to the punch and offer her a slice of my pizza before I did. You read that right. The bond with Giordano's lovers is so tight that they will go so far as to offer strangers a slice of your pie.

She still politely declined.  

Now...I'm going to level with you. I have a very hard time trusting someone that comes in to a pizza place-ANY PIZZA PLACE-and just gets wine. That shit just didn't make sense.

Sure, she said she was full. Maybe.  Maybe she had some kind of weird pizza intolerance. OR...maybe she was an alien. Which...if that's the case, seriously, rock that shit. I'm wearing a Stan Lee shirt for crapssakes!! If anyone is going to be in to the whole alien thing, it's a geek like me.

But no. She did not fall prey to the sweet deep dished siren and left after one glass of wine. 

Incidentally, she is the reason that I owe Ross.

But that's a story for another time. 

Peace,
-AT

5.27.2017

Living Life Through Transition Lenses

With the exception of a brief stint between ages 14 and 22,  I have worn glasses since I was 5 years old.

Never in that time, have  I worn what are commonly referred to as "Transitions Lenses." These are the types of lenses that automatically transition from a normal sense to a polarized sunglasses-type lens when you go from indoor lighting to outdoor lighting.

I know there is some sciency thing behind it, but my observation on them has been this.

The don't work very well

Invariably what happens is that for a period after coming in from the outside, the lenses are still in 'sunglasses mode.'  Which, other than looking like hungover rock star, really serves to be an annoyance. Maybe not. Maybe I'm projecting how annoyed I would be if that happened to me.   This, coupled with the fact that they are usually priced out of my budget (but that's neither here nor there), ensures that they are something I will most likely never get when I re-up on my glasses every few years.

This weekend kind of feels like I've been handed a pair of transitions lenses, metaphorically and metaphysically speaking.

My uncle has a country place that no one knows about. He said it used to be a Farm, before the motor laws. And on Sundays I elude the eye and hop the turbine freight, to far outside the wire where my white haired uncle wait.

Sorry. When I talk about the Farm, I almost always use the phrase, "My family has a Farm in Kentucky." And when I say that phrase out loud, in my head I hear the opening verse from Rush's "Red Barchetta."  I can't help it. It's something I have done ever since I heard the song because I can see my family farm so clearly when I hear that song.

So...where was I? Oh yes...the Universe slapping on some Transitions Lenses.

I came down the Farm this weekend. It is my first trip down since October. Maybe longer. Point is, too long.

This weekend's trip is what Dad and I call a "down and back." Down one day, back the next. Normally to get the full Farm experience, we stay 2 nights. But I'm going back to Ohio tomorrow.

Only I'm not making the trip with Dad this weekend (he made a solo trip last weekend as I had other commitments).  But it's not a solo trip. My daughter came down with me.  It has been literally years since she made the trip.

My hope in asking her to come with me on these trips (or even with me and Dad) is that she starts to regain that connection to the land and to our heritage and ancestry.

And, I also hope that like me, this becomes a place where her soul can recharge and just experience the nature all around.

Based on the conversation we had this evening and the fact that she is snoring soundly in the next section of the camper, I'd say mission accomplished. Although I'm sure it will take many more trips to be certain. And I'm more than ok with that.

So...here's some of the weirdness. You might notice I mentioned a camper and not the farmhouse.

A little backstory.
After Papaw passed away (almost 20 years ago), my dad and his brother and sister made the determination that Mamaw probably wasn't ok to be out here by herself. It was a lot and without Papaw, the land seemed expansively empty.  She moved close to my aunt and uncle. This left the land and the house standing empty. Enter a friend of the family.  Kenny and his family moved in. The did renovation work on the farmhouse and they took care of the land. All this while Kenny was working and building his own dream house from the ground up.

Fast forward past the bits where Kenny got his house built and his family moved out of the farm house, leaving it to stand empty until Dad and I started coming down here some few years ago. Fast forwarding to the part where Kenny's son is now grown up and looking to start a family.

The farmhouse is perfect for them. He can continue to grow his skills in the construction business while doing some, quite frankly amazing, remodel and renovations to a place that I've known since I was 6 years old.

Ultimately it's a good thing. For everyone. It's the perfect place to raise a family. The land is not getting neglected. The house won't fall in to disrepair. And we get great caretakers who care about this land and this farm as much as Dad and I do.

And as cool as that all is (and it is, trust me), I still feel like my lenses haven't quite fully adjusted to the change.

I'm typing this blog sitting at a table (which converts in to a Twin bed) in a 25ft. pull-behind camper.

It's a nice camper.   It looks exactly like this:

There are 2 twin beds, a bunk, and a full size bed.  There is a stove, oven, 3/4 refrigerator and freezer, bathroom, shower, and storage out the wazoo.

So...this camper is now where Dad and I (and whomever comes out with us) will stay.

It's taking some getting used to, but I have to be honest, it feels more natural than I thought it would.

The place still feels close to my soul. That hasn't changed. This is still the center of who I am. And as my daughter said of it, "for the first time in a long time, I'm not worried about anything. I definitely needed to come down here."

Amen.

I'd have enough on my plate if that were the only transition I was dealing with. But...you know me...as is my nature,  I've opted for a good olde fashioned pile-on.

Another weird transition is the fact that this might actually be the first post EVER of ye olde bloggy-blog that I have posted WHILE STILL AT THE FARM.

Yes. While my cell phone doesn't actually work down here (no worries, I have what I affectionately call my burner phone), there is now wi-fi.

Tapping in to wi-fi seems weird. And I've only done it sporadically since we got here. I mean, after all, I come here to unwind and unplug. Hard to do that if I'm still scrolling through the feed. So...again...I came in and the lenses still haven't shifted yet.

It's all going to take some getting used to. I think it's good change, or ultimately will be so. For now, though, it's just a weird transition.

Peace,
-Todd

5.23.2017

An Adorkable Mess

Hubris is a funny thing. Sometimes in conjunction with audacity. It can be seen as a negative thing, or at least depending on how each are wielded, used negatively.

I don't think that my hubris will piss off Zeus and the others of Olympus enough to merit my own nemesis (or maybe we all have an inherent nemesis in each lifetime anyway, who is to say?). 

But I don't doubt that there was more than a little annoyance. 

You see, I did a thing. 

I did a thing that was a lifelong dream of mine. 

I published a book. 

If you follow me on Facebook, you no doubt saw the numerous links for said book. It's a novella. It's part of a larger box set. Sixteen novellas in all.   Initially for the low, low price of ninety-nine cents (it's now up to $2.99 or free if you have Kindle Unlimited).

So now I'm having a moment. Doubt isn't really the right word. I mean maybe it is.

I'm new. I get it. At least new to having people I don't know read my stuff. At least I hope people I don't know are reading my book.  I suspect I went slightly overboard with the sharing in my excitement.

I have thought of apologizing for that, but I don't want to. At least the part of me that doesn't suffer from social anxiety doesn't want to.  The part that does, that is currently medicated, thinks that maybe I went too far and pushed people away.

I don't know how real or raw this post is actually going to get, to be honest. So...you may want to just turn back now. I hear there's a new super hero movie coming out that should distract you from this stuff...

I over think things. A lot.

And.  Actually. you know what? I'm not going there.

I'm going to push this out there on the blog. If you read it cool. If not, also cool.

I don't want to go down the rabbit hole right now of how easily it is for me to go down the rabbit hole of over thinking and how that fucks with nearly every relationship I've been in (and sabotaged some before they even got started). So. No.

I was also going to talk about being an empath. And being someone who believes in polyamory. Both of which I may still revisit.

But for some reason my head isn't in the right space to do that right now. It was this morning as I was getting ready for work. I should have written it down then (or at the very least grabbed the recorder and capture the conversation I was already having with myself).

So...yeah.

On the writing front I'm...well..not blocked. I know what I want to write. I have the ideas. I'm just stalled. I'm not moving and I can't figure out what's stopping me at this point.

Part of it is I really want some feedback on the novella. There are a crapton of reviews on Amazon, but nothing that specifically mentions my piece. I have had a few friends reach out to me directly. And that's very very cool. Don't think me ungrateful. It was great to hear. I guess I'm just looking for that whole published author experience of seeing a review-good or bad (but hopefully good)-out there in the world.  Does is cause there to be some more doubt there about the 'realness'?  I suppose to an extent it does.

Did I mention that I overthink things? It's the hallmark symptom of my social anxiety...disorder? I suppose at this point it's probably a disorder.

Fuck.

I don't know.  My head is swimming a bit. It's like I've had a taste of something amazing and now my brain is trying to edit the memory to make it more in line with all the other shit in my life. And I'm fighting that. I don't want this to be 'normal.' I want it to be special. I want to always remember it as an amazing day. As breaking in to tears when I saw my book on Kindle that was actually placed there by the Kindle store and not side-loaded. The arms of my friend as she hugged me and giggled at how excited I was.

The whole thing...was magic.

And it wasn't a fluke.

Which, of course, I can say...but in order to prove that I have to actually finish the other things I'm working on. And put them out in to the world. Me.  No safety net. Just my words. My stories. And your eyes. All over them.

So that's in then, eh?  Time to write.

I best get to it.

Before I go, though, I want you to know something.

Dreams come true.


Peace out,
-Todd

5.08.2017

Drinking the Kool-Aid Milk

There is a popular idiom regarding 'drinking the Kool-Aid.'  The currently accepted meaning and usage of this is to represent believing with unquestioning acceptance what someone in authority is telling you.  If you 'drink the Kook-Aid' then you follow, almost blindly, whatever is being fed to you.

The reference comes from the Jonestown massacre where followers of cult leader Jim Jones were ushered in to the hereafter upon consumption of cups of Flavor-Aid laced with poison.

I have always had issues with the phrase itself. Partially because it's inaccurate (although "drinking the Flavor-Aid" doesn't really flow off the tongue as easily. I wonder if it was some twisted PR rep at Kool-Aid that subtlely twisted the narrative (but that's the cynic in me).

The second thing that always bothered me is that the phrase has now come to represent merely being a follower. A lemming. If you're going to accuse someone of drinking the Kool-Aid (or Flavor-Aid if you will), then that should mean "HEY! DON'T DO THAT OR YOU WILL DIE!!" At least that's how it should work in my twisted noggin.  Maybe that's why it's always Kool-Aid in the phrase...because it wasn't actually Kool-Aid that was the death delivery system.

Not sure.

What I do know is that I started off this post on a completely different tangent than I had intended.

In looking at my notes, I had written "Drinking the milk vs. Adding More Cereal." And yet, my mind automatically finished the phrase "drinking the..." with the word 'Kool-Aid.' So powerful are idiomatic expressions in our culture.

Now I'm sitting here at lunch trying to rein my brain back in to what I had originally meant in my notes regarding cereal and milk.

Please bear with me for a moment.

OH! I remember. It had to do with how we approach life in general. Now...I just need to remember what each aspect represented.

I think that in life we are faced with situations. These are given to us like a bowl of our favorite breakfast cereal (or in some cases our least favorite).

We have a bevy of choices facing us when eating cereal. Do we eat it slowly or quickly? Do we savor it? Do we hurry through the bowl to get on to something else that we perceive to be more worthwhile than the acerel I really enjoy like Cap'n'Crunch, I will eat as much of that as possible. Sometimes even more than is actually good for me.

I will eat quickly so the cereal doesn't get soggy. Pro-tip, this also uses less milk because the milk has yet to soak in to whatver cereal you're eating (you all know about that milk bloat that most cereal gets when you leave it sit in the milk too long).

I know I should probably take the bowl to the sink at that point, acknowledging that whatever moment I should be enjoying has reached it's natural conclusion and it's time for me to move on.

And sometimes I do. Usually I will drink the milk before putting it in the sink. Although these days I do that less for the simple fact that I don't drink as much milk as I did in the days of my youth.

Sometimes, though, I do something whacky. I get the cereal box.../i and I add more cereal to the bowl!!

Usually this first addition of cereal is not accompanied by additional milk. It's dumped in there, dry. Whatever milk is in there is in there.

If I plan on having a third bowl, though, I will add milk on the second cereal pour.

I know you're asking yourself what this has to do with life. And truthfully I don't know. I don't even know if it really does.

I just noticed somewhere along the way that there are events in my life I want to drag out and others that I want to be over as quickly as possible. I'll either wind up eating 1/2 of that cereal in one sitting because I can't get enough of it. Or I'll eat it as quickly as possible to get through it (sometimes I won't even drink the milk).

I know. I'm not sure where it's going either and maybe I need to re-visit the whole Kool-Aid thing again. At least that train of thought had some teeth.

No matter. I'm almost through with lunch anyway.

I know you can't tell, but I'm actually writing this on the AlphaSmart NEO2. You see, I have a wild hair that at some point I want to get the FreeWrite. It's supposed to be this awesome distraction-free writing tool. It is an AlphaSmart on roid-rage. BUT...it's also $500. And that's a lot of dough to spend on something that I'm not entirely sure I would really use to its full potential. Enter the AlphaSmart. Also a distraction free writing tool that I got for about $40.

So the current plan is to use the AlphaSmart in the situations where I think I would have wanted to use the FreeWrite. And, if I get to the point where I have an extra $500, then maybe I'll know that I can make it work. If I'm only doing blogs on it, that's just not going to work for me.

This is one of those instances where there is a new cereal I'm dying to try, but I have a cupboard full of cereal, a fridge full of milk, and no money to buy anymore cereal at the moment.

So we'll see how this plays out. After all, I certainly have no desire to drink from the cooler of non-carbonated soft drink in that regards.

And with that, I should probably get back to work.

Peace!
-AT

Shakubuku Part Two: Eclectic Booglaloo

I posted on the book of face recently that I felt out of sorts. The gist of it being I couldn't decide if I was hungry, horny, or on the...