6.30.2014

Unfinished Rooms

I have been in this apartment over a year. Sixteen Months, give or take. And for all appearances, my life has moved on. Job is going very well. Daughter is growing up in to an amazing young woman. I found a place Uptown that feels like home. I'm hanging out with friends.

Life is good.  Right?

Well...sure. Mostly. I mean a part of me is resisting.  I have a 2 bedroom apartment. The second bedroom was originally the creative area (my desk and studio stuff was in there). I had a wild hare to move my treadmill and exercise bike in there and move the desk out to the other room. It all made sense in my head.

Only that room really isn't still unpacked. I mean now it's in that transition of one purposed room to another purposed room. So that doesn't quite count. But before that even, it wasn't unpacked. Not completely.

And I'm not sure what that's about. If it's even about anything. Am I waiting for something drastic to happen? Or am I anxious about settling in to this life. This 'new' Todd that's not so new anymore?

There's not really a good answer for that.   There's still too much clutter here.

I took too much of the past with me when I left the old life behind. I see that now. I have a 3-Day weekend coming up.  I haven't decided from where or even if I'm going to watch the fireworks yet. But beyond that, this weekend is going to be more purging.  I have simple needs these days. I need my music (vinyl, etc) and means of creating music.  I need my cameras. And I need my writing or means by which to write.

What I'm not sure I need anymore are the 1000+ lyrics/poems I wrote in the 90's. Looking through some of them, they were very therapeutic at the time, but they may need to just be burned at this point. Who knows?

I just know there's a lot of shit still in boxes that either needs to be unboxed and shown the light of day or tossed in to the dumpster.

Some days I want to chuck it all and just start again. Start simple. Stay simple. I look around and there's very little I want to leave as a legacy. My stories perhaps. Other than that, most of this is just stuff. And to be honest, with the exception of the vinyl, in 20 years, way better stuff is going to exist anyway and this stuff will be all antiquey. Musty with the odor of misspent nostalgia.

Now me, I happen to like nostalgia.

Hence an apartment full of too much shit.

See how we got back here? Yeah. Odd, I know.

I need to go do some more writing now.

Peace out.

-A.T.

6.29.2014

Stormy Weather and Lightning Balls

I was talking to a friend of mine last week and she told me 'People miss you on, Facebook, dude.'

I told her I wasn't sure when I'd be back...if I'd be back.  To which she said "Take your time, or do your thing and keep it off. Whatever is good for your soul."

And that was one of the coolest things anyone has ever said to me.

Whatever is good for your soul. That's really what's it's all about, isn't it? I left facebook once before. Left it in May. Came back to it in August.

Again this year, it was May or so when I left.  I don't see a reason to go back. I don't know. I have spent large portions of my life feeling alone in a crowd. Very few people, I think, get me. I don't know if that's their fault, or my fault, or even something to consider a fault. It's pretty much just the way I feel. I have felt that way most of my life.  Maybe it's a defense mechanism. Like the blackouts.

Not drug or alcohol induced blackouts or anything like that (although I have a few of those too), but good old fashioned gaps in my memory.

The most recent one that keeps popping up is of a company picnic my parents talk about. Sorry mom and dad...I smile when you tell the story, but as I live and breathe, I really can't remember much about the day at all. I remember being in the canoe. I remember it tipping over. I remember the lunch boxes floating. But mostly that day exists for me as though I'm looking at it through several layers of grey gauze. I see large shapes and moving objects, but the entire day never quite shifts in to that crystal clear focus. Hopefully that will change.

I find that much of my life, as I look back, is like that. I don't really know what it means. I remember almost none of the childhood I see in pictures at my parents house. Bits and pieces here and there.

I am somewhat envious of people who can recount with staggering detail their entire life's story. I am not one of those people.

Maybe that's why I write. Or maybe, that's what happened to the memories. The imagination was so strong and the urge to write so great that it put all of my actual memories in little boxes and tucked them in to the unused corners of my brain.

Dunno. I may never know.  Maybe I'm already advanced in years and hooked up to a hospital bed somewhere. Buxom young nurses doting around commenting about how they are so lucky to be taking care of the comatose famous author. Wife crying by the bedside. Grandchildren coming in dutifully once a week to talk to the vegetable that used to be something.

I mean, how do you know? What the hell is reality anyway?

Life can change in an instant.

It changed for an off-duty firefighter last night. A friend of mine had come over from Dayton to go to the Crew game with me. He scored us tickets. I was standing in line to get my scarf and he was getting us $9 beers and it started to rain.

I thought ahead and had packed a couple of ponchos in my purse (as the security guard at the gate called it while he looked through it) and as soon as I paid for my scarf, I gave Ed his poncho.

It wasn't but 10 minutes later that all hell broke loose and the skies opened up. Dumping rain down in buckets.

Lightning caused a delay of game.  And with each strike, additional time was added. Then I saw the firetruck and squad going through the parking lot. I figured someone had slipped on the metal stairs or had some kind of shock.

At 10 minutes after 9, they called the game. Canceled. I got home about 10 and delved in to some Fireball and bad movies on Netflix.

It wasn't until later I learned that someone was struck by lightning and that was what I saw the squad for.

Crazy. Things change in an instant. I was almost struck by lightning. Twice. Close enough to have all of the hair on my body stand on end and to smell the ozone as it struck. It wasn't something I'll soon forget (even though it happened 15 years ago). I say that now, but given my proclivity for memory issues, there's a good chance I'll only remember it after reading it in my blog years hence.

I had some brilliantly insightful post all planned out last night before I went to bed.

I really need to write that shit down when I think of it. I wonder how many stories have vanished out in to the universe because I convinced myself that I would have no problem remembering them when I next sat down to write.

Rookie mistake.

Alright--with that I'm going to bed. It's been kind of a weird weekend.

Peace
-A.T.

6.28.2014

Mean Girls

For the last friggin' time. No. I have not seen Mean Girls. I understand that it's a fan favorite to quote. But I haven't seen it and have no friggin' idea what you're talking about. By now the movie is what...10 years old?

OK. That would have been me yesterday. But, as I was partaking of adult beverages in a home setting...aka my home....and one of my neighbors found out I hadn't seen it...the situation has been rectified.

You call yourself a film guy? You can quote every Tarantino movie, but you haven't seen Mean Girls? I mean, you just got done saying Tina Fey was hot, how could you have not seen this movie??

To be fair...Mean Girls isn't in the same ballpark...but they had me dead to rights on the Tina Fey thing. She is, at the moment, my one celebrity freebie. Oh...what...like you never played that game when you were married or in a relationship. You had one celebrity freebie that if it ever happened, you'd get a pass to be with that person for a night of ecstasy. Tina Fey happens to be mine. It used to be Jennifer Love-Hewitt, but now it's Tina Fey.

Anyway...where were we? OH yeah. Mean Girls. No, I told my neighbor, I hadn't seen it. They got a flash drive and disappeared. 10 minutes later, they had the movie on USB. I plugged it in to the TV and voila...90min later, I can now say I've watched Mean Girls.

It was a good movie. Well written. Insightful. Funny. I really did enjoy it. I'm not ready to start quoting it yet, but it was good.

The window of the Green Faerie seems to have also passed (yes, I had some Absinthe tonight). Perhaps I'll give it another shot tomorrow after the Crew game. We'll see.

I'm past the creative phase now and in to the creatively thinking of ways to head to bed.

So I'm gonna go do that.

Peach hodsoi....

um...no. I don't know what that is either.

Peace
-A.T.

6.26.2014

Driving Through Rainbows

I have said it before and I will quite likely say it many times hence--driving in commuter traffic is my enlightenment litmus test. Seriously. There's always something that gets under my skin. And then...usually, by the time I get to work or home, I'm done. It's that actual drive that's annoying in some tiny way.

People that the journey is more important than the destination. If the journey happens to be during rush hour, then I'm calling bullshit. In that instance, I'll take the destination.

This really hit home for me last week when I was covering night shifts at work (I think that was last week).  As I was going to work and coming home, it wasn't during the normal 'rush hour' times.

And I didn't hate the commute.

Not that I hate it other days. It just didn't bug me.

The flip side of that is the simple fact that I now know that I can be happy during my commute to and from work.

It's a lot of positive attitudinal shifting to take in right now. Especially since I was heading to bed 10 minutes ago. But I didn't want to forget about the rainbow.

The drive home last night sucked. Torrential downpours. Walls of water coming straight down kind of suck. And then there's this one section and the clouds break and the sun is coming through.

In the mist of the car in front of me, I see a little rainbow ball. And then I see it.  The full-on rainbow.

And I'm heading straight for it.

If you look at the pic you can see a car full on in the rainbow. About 45 seconds after this pic was snapped, my car was the one in the rainbow.

It was a drive of epiphanies. I was thinking...hey...there's a pot of gold at the rainbow....my car is gold...treasure. There's a treasure at the end of the rainbow....I'm a treasure. 

The simple nature of this hit me between the eyes.  I'm not going to say all of my self doubt is completely gone, but it's a lot less than it used to be.

Mostly because I was fortunate enough to be driving through a rainbow.

Life is weird like that sometimes.

And now it's time to sleep.  See you in Dreamland my friends!!

Peace out!
-A.T.

6.23.2014

Monday Morning Randomness

I'm not going to lie. There are times I miss the voyeuristic tendencies of Facebook. I don't feel the overwhelming urge to go back, but I certainly do understand the attraction. Overall, I think I'm still better off in the long run.  One thing I know, I could have too easily been sucked in this past week in the wee hours of the morning. So I was thankful I wasn't on it.

-*-

Went out to Brewstirs this past weekend. I was exhausted from the week and it was only supposed to be for a couple of beers. Turned in to a few more than than (and then a couple hours following, drinking water and sobering up--no way I was driving home hammered). So...at one point we order pizza. I call Classics (Which was my go to every week when I was living over there and went to BrewStirs every weekend). The following is how the call went down (Classics/Me)

Classics Pizza on Sunbury, is this pickup or delivery?

Delivery, please.

To BrewStirs?

Uh...yes.

Is this Todd, at the bar?

Ummmmm.....yes? How did you know?

That's how we have you in the system. What can we get for you?



I then proceeded to order a 16"pizza (always order enough to share). The total with delivery was $14. Yeah. Pays to have treated their delivery drivers so well for all those years. Never underestimate kindness.

Kindness is magic.

-*-


6.18.2014

Days Go By

I have to be honest...I'm hard pressed to tell you what day it is right now. I just woke up.

I've been working nights this week. And the way nights work at our company is that you come in at about 8 in the evening and you're there until 830 the following morning. The Night Operator is responsible for doing all of the nightly processing that crunches the numbers for the day's sales and gets all of the reporting generated for the company. So, even though you've crossed midnight and you're technically in to the next day, you are still of that mindset that it's the same day that you came in.

You come in on Sunday at 830 PM....and when you leave to go home Monday morning, your Sunday just ended.

It's nothing revolutionary. It's how most nightly processing at most 24/7 shops goes.

I've been doing it this week since Sunday night and I've got 3 more nights to go.

Here's the funny thing. I can tell that by the end of this 6 day stint, my body will be adjusted to it. And that's messing with my head at the moment.

I have to stop now and think which day it is. It's nutty.   Tonight I don't go in until later. It's actually a split night shift. The details of why we're doing it that way would bore you and quite frankly don't make for a very good story.

Point is...in my head it's like 'going in to work at noon.'  That's the weird thing. It's like my entire world just shifted by 12 hours. The numbers on the clock of when I go to sleep, when I wake up, when I got to work...eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner are the same. The only thing that has shifted is the AM vs. PM.

I have a quarter quilt that someone in my family made (likely meant to be the runner at the foot of the bed) that fits over my bedroom window quite nicely and turns day in to night. So that's pretty cool.

I dunno. It's weird.

Could I do it forever? No. I don't have the temperament to do the position full time.  I feel way too fucking disconnected with the rest of the world. My friends and family still text. Only now I see those messages when I wake up in the 'morning' (their evening). So I have less conversations with people than I used to.

I mean, I say that I couldn't do it. But I suppose if I had to, I could. It's funny what we adapt to.

Speaking of adapt. I got a text from my daughter today. Apparently she ran in to my ex when she was out and about with her cousin. And coincidentally I saw some update on LinkedIn from the ex.

Both of which made me chuckle in the 'I really don't give two shits' kind of way. I then removed the ex from LinkedIn. I can't really see any point in my future where either of us is going to be asking the other for a professional reference. "Why yes, he is a whiz at Customer Support, but is an asshat when it comes to rinsing his dishes off and putting them in the dishwasher. And don't even get me started about the yard work..."  Yeah. Not gonna happen.

Linked in is trying so hard to be Facebook, it's ridiculous. I'm waiting for Facebook to buy them out and rebrand it to Facebook Business Edition.  Wait for it. It will happen.

I'm rambling because, well, it's the first time in the last week or so that I've felt somewhat motivated enough to dust off the cerebral cobwebs. I apologize to the 4 of you that normally read this for not being here. But as I think you've gathered, my life's been on its ear for the last week or so.

The book is kind of on hold right now too. I expect to pick it back up this weekend when I'm on a somewhat normal schedule again. Don't worry--it's not going to go away. I've already seen many unwritten chapters of it play out in the movie in my mind. And it's kept my interest. Which is a good thing. If it doesn't keep my interest as I'm watching it play out, there's no reason to write it. After all, why would I write a book I didn't even want to read?

OK. I know I have more to say, but I need to take a break and eat some breakfast and listen to the thunderstorm.  When I get a wrap around porch, this will be the kind of weather that I sit on the porch in and strum my guitar as the storm rages on.

Speaking of guitars, I finally stepped in to my dream.

Back when I was a freshman in college, I used to go to the little music store in Greencastle, Indiana. I don't remember its name or even if it is still there. But they had a guitar I would play every time. It was an Alvarez Yairi. And it was beautiful. The tone was amazing. To me, the Alvarez guitars always just had that pure warm tone that a well-crafted acoustic is supposed to have. It just sounds right...you know what I mean? I vowed, 25 years ago, that I would one day own my very own Alvarez Yairi. It became my dream acoustic (still is).

Things fell in to place recently and I was in the position to get a new acoustic. The Ibanez Acoustic/Electric I had just wasn't cutting it (sounded way too tinny).

I was about to get a Fender from my local music shop and on a whim headed over to Guitar Center. They also had the Fender for about 30% less. And they took my Ibanez in for trade.  As I was about to pull the trigger, I looked up. And saw it.

An Alvarez.  It was $50 more than the Fender, but with my trade in, that wasn't an issue. And it was acoustic-electric.  I asked the sales dude to get it down for me so I could play it. I looked around the room and it was the only Alvarez they had.

From the first strum, I was hooked. The pickups were secondary to me...if it sounded like shit plugged in, I didn't care (I could mic it if nothing else). But when I plugged it in, it was just that next level of awesomeness.


Forty-five minutes later, I was the proud owner of a new Alvarez Artist Series Dreadnought.  To be fair, it's not my Yairi (which I will still one day own), but it's beautiful and has an incredible sound. It's just a joy to play. I know that sounds weird, but it really is a dream to play. 



And it's right at home with the other guitars (I mean, you want them to fit in when you bring them home, right?).



Yeah...I'm a sucker for the tobacco sunburst finish--it's my favorite finish on a guitar. All of my guitars (with the exception of the bass) have that finish.

So...yeah. There's that.

Anyway, off to breakfast.

Have an awesomesauce day...er..night...er..whatever my friends!!!

-A.T.

6.12.2014

Incentive

Personal incentives are a funny thing. I've started the book (to be fair, it's actually started writing itself at this point). It'll be bumpy. But I have the beginning and I have the last few paragraphs.

I'm not going to get all J.K. Rowling with it and lock those bits in a safe somewhere. Although I can easily see that this may be more than one book and the ending I've penned would indeed be the end of the story of our two anti-heroes whether it were one novel or 5. But I'm getting WAYYYYYYY ahead of myself on that.

I just need to write.

But I also need to de-clutter my life.  So last night I gave myself an incentive--I'd work on the back bedroom (soon to be my exercise room) for a little while and then do some writing.

Clearly my brain wasn't in the mood to write last night. I spent nearly 4 hours in that room (still didn't finish). My initial assessment of it being an all-day project still stands. I took out 4 bags of shit to the dumpster and still have a room that looks like FEMA needs to come visit.

It'll be fixed up this weekend. And then the iTapt (iTod+Apartment=iTapt) will be fully functional and fully my own.

And then my home will be free of the mental clutter that nags at me when I sit down to write.

Oh sure, the other distractions will still be there. Thoughts of what I need to do for work will still sneak in, but for the most part when I sit down to write I shouldn't be going through my mental checklist of stuff that still needs to be done around the house.

Speaking of work. It's been a crazy week. I'm on installs this week so I've been up at 430 for the last three days. It's not my favorite thing, but there is something a little heady about knowing that what you're doing is making a difference for the whole company.

Making a difference is kind of a huge deal. I mean, the ability to affect someone's life (even if it is only their work life) in a positive way is huge.

It's probably too early for me to wax philosophical--but that tends to happen when I read Wayne Dyer books (speaking of, you should read his latest I Can See Clearly Now, it's the shit!!).

Alright. I need to drag my ass off to the shower to get ready for work.

If I don't talk to you later (the plan is to sneak some writing in at lunch today), then have an awesomesauce day my friends!!

Peace Out
-A.T.

6.11.2014

And So It Goes

I started writing last night. Or rather, the book inside started writing itself. I had finally seen enough of the book play out as a movie in my head that I needed to capture it somehow.

I posted a rough sketch of the beginning of the book here yesterday (last night) and this morning on the way in to work, I came up with the ending. I furiously typed out the 4 or 5 paragraph conclusion to the story.

Now all that's left is to come up with the bits in between. I like the story. I like the way it pans out in my brain as I'm watching the movie in my head.

See, I don't actually 'create' a story. Any story or fictional thing I write starts as a movie in my head. When it gets to the point that I don't want to stop watching that movie, I start to write. Documenting the movie as it plays out. Some parts of the movie I see often...those are easy to put to paper. Others happen when I least expect them (usually when I'm away from the manuscript file). Those I have to work harder to keep. Playing those scenes over and over in my mind.

And then one day I look down and through the haze of stream-of-consciousness bullshit and there's a story staring back at me.

I can't explain my 'process' much beyond that.

And this piece is no different. It feels like rambling as I'm writing it. But that seems to work for me somehow.

We'll see how it goes. I didn't get too much in to it at lunch because once I get lost in a piece, I have a hard time shifting focus. Best to leave that for tonight after work.

Speaking of work, I need to get back to it.

Have an awesome sauce day!!

-A.T.

6.10.2014

Bumpy Beginnings

“What the shit is this?”
I barely had time to duck before the thick bunch of paper came whizzing past my head.
“Jesus Christ Bob!” I shouted.
“That, my friend, was NOT Jesus Christ,” Bob said smugly as he got up to get another Strongbow from the fridge.
“It’s my book.” I looked at the flurry of paper around my desk, “or rather, it was my book. You destroyed it.”

From behind the open refrigerator door I heard, “First edits, Skaggs. I did you a fucking favor. Your book was shit.”

And that was pretty much the moment I knew Bob was a complete dick. Well, no. Actually that’s not true. I’ve known for quite some time. But that was the first time I’d really seen his crassness turned toward me. You really have no idea how much fun it is to be staring at that bullshit aimed at someone else. A couple of cold ones..a nice pizza or hot wings...and Bob’s douchiness turned on the dickwad du jour.

Or as I liked to call it, Friday and Saturday nights.

“So what the fuck is wrong with is, Siskel?”

“Siskel was a movie critic for some paper in Chicago. That thing sure as shit wasn’t a movie. Dude, it was barely a book if I’m being honest.”

“Yeah, why not be honest? This sugar coating thing sure as fuck isn’t working out for you.”

“Simmer down, Hemingway. It’s not a bad premise. Other than the fact that it’s over done as shit. Your delivery isn’t bad.”

He plopped down on the couch and reached for a Sudoku book. One of many scattered through our tiny Uptown apartment. I headed over to my desk and started picking up the pieces of my bruised ego that had been so carelessly tossed about by my ‘friend.’

“I spent a lot of time on this, dick.” I muttered under my breath.

Without even looking up I heard Bob say, “then fix it. And make it worth a shit.”

I guess I wasn’t as good at that under the breath thing as I thought.

I guess this is probably the part in the movie where the main character stops to give some back story or insight. Either through poignant voice over or flashbacks to some childhood actor that looks something like them--or at the very least someone you imagine could have grown up to play the actor that you’re supposed to care about (otherwise, why the hell did you just give up $20 and 2 hours of your life?).

Bob’s wrong about one thing. This is a movie. Since I was a kid, I’ve imagined my life as a movie. Only it’s a movie where not everyone in the movie actually knew it was a movie. If that premise sounds familiar...it’s because they made a movie about it. Actually they made a couple of movies about that. And several books from what I recall.

This isn’t quite like that. I know my life is a movie. Or at the very least, more than just the three dimensions that occupy the worlds of most people.

I have never been like most people. From an early age, I’ve known that I see things slightly off kilter from most.  Unique, as my mom would say.

“See?! Dude it’s shit like that. The monologue to the reader. You can’t be doing shit like that. It’s so Joy Luck Club.”

“Dammit Bob! What the fu--Did you just say Joy Luck Club? Seriously? You went all Amy Tan on me? From Hemingway to Amy Tan. How many of those ciders have you had anyway. And just how the fuck did you get inside my head?”

“I’m not inside your head dumbass. I’m in your manuscript. The one you’re writing right now. You need some kind of alter-ego plot device to bounce your philosophical ramblings off of. Some kind of contrast so people buy in to this whole ‘you know the secret of the universe’ torch you’ve been carrying.”

I stared at Bob dumbfounded.  I have only been speechless four times in my life. This moment made five. I sat the jumbled heap of papers on my desk and went to the fridge. It was Miller time. And if it wasn’t, it was about to be.

“How did you do that anyway?”

“Wasn’t hard. You’ve known ever since you read ‘Sophie’s World’ that the concept of a book within a book where the reader is the unwitting author and passive observer rolled in to one was a brilliant play. And the perfect headgame for someone like you who thinks they are smarter than most.”

“I am.”

“And yet, here we are. Budding author with his plot device---you haven’t had a roommate since college, you twat. And the reader, we can’t forget about them.”

“I haven’t forgotten about them.”

“No?” the can crumpled as he set it on the coffee table and walked in to the kitchenette to stock back up. “You haven’t forgotten about the readers? Good. Then I don’t have to remind you that talking heads are only interesting in a movie. You can’t have two people in a 2 bedroom apartment for your whole fucking book.”

“Why not?” I really wasn’t being a dick this time (although he had pissed me off). I had mapped out most of the message of the book and conversation seemed like the best plan. I wasn’t anxious to resort ot the bullshit of spending four pages extolling the virtues of well...whatever one bullshits about when they’re trying to make someone see their point.

“Dude. Talking head movies barely work in the movies. Period. You have to really like the actors. And lets face it, Sunshine. There ain’t but a handful that even know you write on a somewhat regular basis to begin with. You just don’t have that kind of star draw my friend.”

And again, my suspicions were confirmed.

Bob was a dick.

“Unless one of them is a vampire with homo-erotic tendencies. Then you’ve got New York Times Bestseller shit right there.”

“Alright Bob. Jesus, I get it. I’ll start working on the re-write in the morning.”

“Bullshit. You’re already working on them in your head. All it’s going to take is one slightly longer commute or a few extra minutes on the crapper and you’ll have mapped out where this book is going.”

“Bob. Are you ok? I mean, compliments. That must have been painful.” How did my beer empty so fast? I smiled at Bob as I got up to get another cold one. It was like I had eyes in the back up my head, I ducked a crumpled cider can. It fell with a sticky thud on the cheap linoleum floor.

“Dude. Why couldn’t you at least pen me in with some better aim?” Bob seemed genuinely irked.

“Because it’s my book. And if you’re a tool with great aim then you just remind me too much of the juice-heads from high school. And I don’t need my book causing undue flashbacks.

“Fine. Can you at least make me a total ladies’ man?”

“We’ll see,” I said as noncommittally as I could muster.

And with that, a plot device was born.

-*-

6.09.2014

No Mas

Ugh. So I'm thoroughly convinced, based on the new menu selections being offered by Taco Bell that they have finally employed ex- or current hippies (or rather, habitual cannibis users) on their R&D staff. How else to you get a taco made with 3 different flavors of Dorito taco shells...a mini Crunchwrap 'slider' and a Quesarito (Burrito wrapped up in a cheese quesadilla)?

There really is no other explanation (in my humble opinion).

And that's not a bad thing. The choices are...well..innovative from the sense that they've taken something relatively 'standard' and gone off-book with it.

My last Taco Bell (hereafter to be known as 'TB' in this post) experience (other than last week) was last year. It had been months prior and I tried one of their little wrappetizer things. It didn't end well. The lads at work had been extolling the awesomeness of the Crunchwrap Sliders for months. So I tried a couple last week. Expecting the worst in the colonic region. I had the requisite gas, but nothing else (least nothing like last year when I swore off TB forever...until the next time).

So, armed with false confidence, I tried again today. I had to try a Quesarito. No. No I didn't have to. But...kinda I did.

And now I'm feeling it. I think the bullet I dodged Friday may be coming at me full on Gene Simmons Runaway style. We shall see.

In any event, I've had my TB quota for the year, I think. I guess the good news is...if this does go the way I think it will, at least I will have saved money on a high-colonic....and it's a cheap way for a cleanse. O_o

By the way...the Quesarito was pretty awesome. But at nearly 700 calories, it's nothing that can go on regular rotation.

The other thing I've noticed lately, since I've been (mostly) eating healthier (and mostly by healthier I mean, less fast food...things that aren't highly processed and the like),anyway...since I've been eating less processed foods, less sugar, less enriched flour--I can tell in a very palpable way when I consume foods that are higher in sugar or more processed. My body reacts like a 'what the hell was that?!?' kind of vibe.

And when that happens, I feel bad for putting it through that, just for some momentary tastiness passing the lips. It's funny--the foods I normally make taste really good, without the body-freak-out aspect. Makes me think that we tend to take too many chemical shortcuts in the interest of making a buck.

So...yeah...hoping I'm wrong, but making a run for the border actually was one of those few 'truth in advertising' moments :-)

 

Enjoy the rest of your day, my friends.

 

Peace Out

-A.T.

6.08.2014

Prepare For the Worst

There's a train of thought that maintains that you should prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

To which I just have to call bullshit.

I think being aware of possible outcomes is useful, but preparing for them, at least for me, is a friggin' nightmare. For one simple reason...to prepare for the worst, I tend to obsess over the worst. And our brains, no matter how smart they might be, don't always know that it's a thought exercise.  So, the stress....the reactions....the thoughts, feelings, and emotions cause very real legitimate reactions as though the worst was, in fact, happening.

When you think about it...it can be a pretty dumb thing to do.

Case in point, my former neighbors had a graduation party. A few weeks ago (maybe a month), they told me that my ex wife had also RSVP'd to show at this shing ding. So...me being...well me... started running through all the scenarios of what would happen....what she would say...what I would say. Would we be civil...would it be weird. All that shit played out in my head as though it were real.

And it sucked.

Here's the kicker....she didn't even show up.

Am I disappointed that I wasted all those witty comebacks on a thought exercise? No. Not really. My body didn't know the difference. The cortisol in my system was still chugging around. I was in a weird headspace all day leading up to it. And then when nothing happened....when she didn't even walk across the street...it was...I dunno....messed up.

It's like a bottle rocket. The packaging shows these massive explosions....the wick always sparks in an intense manner...then the FWOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!!!!! as it takes off in to the sky....and then bloop a pop.  It's not even as loud as you snapping your fingers.

It's this huge buildup to nothing.

I've determined that some people in my life are like that now. There's still some weirdness in my head towards these people. And the interactions that I've imagined are a thousand times worse that how it will actually go when I do  see them again. It's the bottle-rockets all over again.

Typically ex's are bottle rockets. Ex wife(s)....Ex Bosses....Ex Friends. People with whom I have taken umbrage at some point in my life. With whom the sense of closure was very much non-existent or the buroop of the bottle rocket. I don't know why that is. Maybe things need to fit nicely in to little boxes in my head. I'm not really sure.

Nor does it really matter. At 42 it's probably a good time to give less of a fuck about what people think of me. But that's the game of this world, isn't it? None of that should matter but we're conditioned our whole lives to buy in to external validation.

I would love to say I'm done with it, but it still seeps in. I go to the Blog admin page and see the number of page views daily. I guess I have to see which of my sappy random meanderings touched a nerve or which one I just wrote for me.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I write them all for me. It's cheaper than therapy.

Besides, it leaves more money to go get some bottle rockets.

-A.T.

6.05.2014

Sometimes You Just Need a Malt

Had a crazy day at work. Came home. Felt good to be home. It was just a great evening. Had a homemade pizza...some multigrain chips and salsa.

Practiced guitar for about an hour or so and decided that I really wanted a malt.

I know the difference between want and need. I don't need a malt. Almost no one on the planet needs a malt. Unless there is some weird organ devouring disease somewhere that can only be staved off by a deliciously creamy malted frozen dairy beverage, malts are squarely ensconced in the nice to have bucket.

But I wanted one. So I slipped on my shoes and drove down to the DQ. I was in my lounge shorts (you may or may not call them pajama bottoms), so I decided a drive to the Dairy Queen was a little less conspicuous than a walk to Graeter's. Although, the walk would have done better by me, I'm sure.

In any event...there's a car in front of me that pulls in, but doesn't order. And the whole time, I'm just getting more douchey in my attitude toward this car. And they get to the window...and they hand a piece of paper to the clerk.

I'm guessing at this point that they are deaf.

And I feel like the asshole of assholes for just being douchey in my head to them for absolutely no reason whatsoever. My life is not so fucking important that the extra 2 minutes I was inconvenienced is going to make any difference at all. And that's what's even funnier. I wasn't even inconvenienced--they took the same amount of time as if they had ordered in the proper manner!!

So...yeah. I'm thinking...wow. I have bought in to the whole instant gratification of society, haven't I? I had to burn fossil fuels because I couldn't be bothered to change in to pants and walk to the ice cream shop.

And then I get pissy not because the car in front of me is slow..but because they're doing it wrong. WTF?!?

So I did something I've never done. I got up to pay for my order and said 'And I'm paying for the car behind me, too.'

I hear about people doing it. I've never had it happen to me. And I've never done it for someone else. It was weirdly liberating and freeing. The negative cloud that had settled over me floated away.

I didn't wait to see the look on their face. I just drove off.

That's really the beauty of it. Not knowing how it affected them. If it made their day. If they were annoyed because they had already counted out the exact change. You don't know.

And it doesn't matter.

Because in my mind, I made them smile.

Now I'm thinking though about the car in front of me. And how I wish I had been in front of them.

In any event. I have my malt.

Life is good.


-A.T.

6.03.2014

Re-evaluating

My head is all over the place tonight.

Seriously...it's the kind of evening where at my last job I would have taken a mental health day.
Only this time I can't.

A) Because I really do like my job and feel that I'm making a difference there.

and

B) Because I need to be there tomorrow to cover another team member who has the day off.

And that's really one of the things that has me swimming. My team is short staffed. I'm not going to air any dirty laundry about work here, but it's weighing on my mind with this job more than any other for the simple reason that I care about this job more. This company really takes care of its people. I know that may be somewhat naive. And that eventually decisions come down to dollars, but for now, it still feels like they care--so I'm rolling with that.

So..yeah...funny thing is, I haven't really called in sick as a mental health day with this job. I've told my boss that I need to take a day or two off to decompress. I've always made sure there was coverage and that I wasn't leaving anyone in a lurch.

Big difference when there's something you care about, huh?  Easier to put the time and effort in to making it work.

In another lifetime, I would have left a card on the kitchen table...maybe a gift bag on the pillow today. It's funny. I think last year I texted her for her birthday. I guess part of me felt like I still needed to talk to her until the divorce was final.

That life seems foreign to me now. And these days I rarely if ever think of her. It's like a death in the family I supposed. Only...I don't really mourn her, if that makes any sense. More like the part of me that died when that relationship did.

Told you I was all over the place today.

I blame the Dr. Pepper and the Fireball. Although that's not really it.  It's just convenient to have a liquid scapegoat.

I was working on some tune-age for Futon Ninjas tonight at the picnic table. I took a pic, but it's instant. So I'll have to show you when we hang out.  It was going well until the mosquitoes decided to join in. I didn't quite play until my fingers bled, but it sure felt that way. Oh, don't worry. It's a natural process. It's the only way to build the callouses up. It's all good.

A couple of the neighbors came out when I was playing and it was cool. I think we have a cool crew. Fairly subdued, it seems. I'm waiting for shit to cut loose this summer (as I know it will). It's gonna be a good time.

I took a couple of cloud pictures on the instant using my sunglasses over the lens. It was actually pretty crazy. I got this weird contrast with some intense sunbeams (but not so intense that they blew out the negative).  I'm gonna have fun experimenting this summer with that bad boy. I think right now the plan is to get some film for it with every paycheck. Just budget that in like groceries or a bill.

And why not? It makes me ridiculously happy.

And at 42, I fucking deserve some happiness.

Heh. No...I don't.

No one deserves happiness. Because happiness is not a thing.  You can't buy or sell or give or receive happiness.

Happiness is a being.

You must be happy.

Period.

It's a choice. A choice to lead with love. A choice to see love and beauty and the light in all things. Even the darkness. In the darkness there may not be light for you to see. But there is hope. You must hold on to the hope. And in many cases, that hope will be brighter in that darkness than a thousand suns.

We are luminous beings of light.

And I'm about to go all Carlos Castaneda on you. For that I do blame the alcohol. It has lowered inhibitions. Generally when that happens, I will tell you exactly what I think.

Much to the consternation of those around me.

I just noticed that either Firefox or my MacBook spell-checked Castaneda. My guess is Firefox since I just switched to that browser. Presumably it's one of the only ones without some kind of 'gather all of your online footprint in to a neat little file somewhere' agenda.

And I'm good with that.

I need a trip down to The Farm.

Very soon.

The Farm is my center.
My Papaw's farm was always my safe place.

And my dad's papaw's farm was his safe place. But it not there anymore.  I can't tell you how sad that makes me. And it's not just the loss of land that has been in my family for nearly 200 years. It's the loss of my dad's safe place. It breaks my heart every time we go down there. Because I know it breaks his heart (one of the joys of being empathic, I suppose).

I made a movie about it back in 2009.

Here it is, if you want to see it.

video

I think it's somewhere along the order of 25 minutes or so. It's basically a goodbye letter from me and my Dad to the farm.

It chokes me up every time I watch it.  Not sure it has the same effect on others.

Alright. I need to go in to work early tomorrow. So...that means I need to wrap this isht up and get my melancholy arse to bed.

Oh...don't worry about me. I'm a writer...a poet...a storyteller. I tend to feel things deeper than most.

I have to.

Otherwise, how could I possibly hope to have someone else feel that emotion in a story I write?

At least that's the story I'm going with for now.

Have a wonderful evening my friends (or, for those of you that are viewing this blog sometime from now--here's hoping your day is an awesomesauce one).

It's funny...speaking of oddly-times segues....My 'readership' if you will, has gone down when I stopped tooling around on Facebook. And yet, I feel like the people who stuck around are actually the ones who 'get' me. Ya know?

And it will be interesting how these posts will flood with comments when I become a NY Times BestSelling author and someone stumbles upon these early posts and discovers that 'hey--he's not a rock star. He's just a dude'...don't be just a dude, Lloyd Dobbler.

She gave me a pen.

-A.T.


6.02.2014

Change In The Weather

According to my phone, it's going to start raining in about 30 minutes. Or there's at least a 70% chance that it will. Which...these days pretty much means it will.

I don't quite smell the rain in the air, but the wind is shifting. My guess is that it will be closer to 11:30 or midnight. And that's fine by me. I'm sitting in my big boy chair on what passes for my patio. It's not really covered. But I'm outside. In the air. And that feeling....that wonderful feeling of openness is really what it's all about to me. It reminds me of being on the front porch down at the farm and just letting my mind go where it wanted to while my fingers kept up.

All I have to say is...thank goodness for typing class in High School. Since I was about 18, I've been able to touch type. And I haven't looked back. And I have to say that's one thing I'm thankful for. My fingers can, for the most part, keep up with the thoughts that I want to put down.

And to me, that's cool.

My sleep was interrupted last night. 2nd night in a row. It was about 3:30 both times. There is some history to that time. The Russians call it the hour of the wolf. And, if I'm not mistake, it's also considered the witching hour-that hour when the film between our world and the universe at large is at it thinnest.

I talk about going to my Dreamland workshop often. Or at least I used to on Facebook. Sometimes, I wonder what it is I bring back. This morning, all day, I couldn't shake the thought that somewhere, the stories I write--the ones I can see the most clearly in my mind as I'm watching a movie, are actually coming to pass somewhere in the universe. Or one of the universes, anyway.

I think part of it is coming from watching Alphas. I'd consider it a B or C level series from SyFy. Pretty good, basically as friend called it 'X-Men Lite.' But it focuses on people who have evolved past what is considered 'normal' for humans.

Normal. That thought always cracked me up.

I've never been normal. At least not in my mind. There has always been an aspect of me that has always caused people to wonder about me...if even for just a little bit. And that's OK. Truly it is.

I don't know how to describe it. But it feels like...I don't know...like I'm just kind of on loan here--if that makes any sense (I'm not sure it makes any sense to me). What I mean is...that even though I'm here...playing by the 'rules' of this world, I'm not really here.

It's not that I think I'm better than other people. In fact...I think it's quite the opposite. I think that everyone is better than they actually realize. That they are so much more than they can even see.

There are times when I am overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of people.

And then there's the morning commute.

The morning commute is my reminder that sometimes I am mired a little too much in to this world. You see...I still get pissed off by the morning commute.

And that's how I know I haven't transcended yet. Sometimes I can live in the now. Not for very long. But for pockets of time...short pockets of time, I can be so flooded by every sense--all of them experiencing the moment right now that time stops.

Only it doesn't stop. It just stops looking like time. It's like if you roll up a piece of paper and draw a straight line around the roll...and that's your life. Like the ring of a tree. And you make a ring for each person in your life. Right next to yours.  And then you open up that paper and lay it flat. Which mark is yours? Which mark is someone else's? And what happened to the straight lines?  In my mind, that's what time is actually like.

Even that is a simplistic version of it. For some reason, my thoughts of it aren't matching up with the words just yet. Maybe it's not time yet. 

When it is, I know the words will be there.

It's funny how things bloom when and where you least expect them.

I mean...one day you could be taking out the trash and boom...there's a rose bush.

The rain is early.

I felt a drop.

It's only 10:55.

Time to go in. It's unfortunate. Writing outside felt freer. More of a conduit with the elements, I suppose. I don't know that I want to take my laptop everywhere, but I can definitely see taking the iPad with keyboard. It's not that I'm tied to tech. I just type faster than I write with pen and paper. But trust me...there are times I still do so, if only to slow down a bit.

You know..that whole living in the moment thing.

I 'm feeling particularly rambly tonight. I'm not sure what it is, other than the sense of urgency is gnawing at me a bit. Not quite on the surface, but just below. It's that feeling that too many people are living lives they were never meant to live, and you have to be an example to them that it's not too late to follow your dream.

At least that's what it would be, if there were actually words to quantify the feeling.

Perhaps, too, I'm still buzzed from the PVC cement that maintenance used earlier to fix the plumbing from the washers downstairs. 

Who knows.

No, that's not a question. Who does know. The question is who is who?

And with that, I draw this to a close. I feel that continue in the current vein will give the admissions council all the cause they need to put me in the rubber room with crayons and nothing sharp.

What? Like I'm the only one who has ever wondered if I'm crazy.

You ever look around your life and think that maybe something horrible happened and you've been living in a coma? Like your whole life is a construct created by your brain to keep you alive?

I know that it's been done in a movie. Or at least I feel that it has. Or if it hasn't, it should be.

Which begs the question...do people come up with those plots because they are a reflection of what's really happening or because somewhere down the road, we are being primed for that inevitable future.

Ok...I'm really signing off now.

And if anyone's keeping track..I prefer the old-school Crayola's. With Perriwinkle and Burnt Sienna, thank you very much.

See you in Dreamland. I'll be the one with the kick ass coloring books!

-A.T.

6.01.2014

The Life We Chose

Happiness is a funny thing.
Some people think that stuff will make you happy...or bring happiness. Others think that it will be money. Or the perfect job. Or the perfect wife. Or the perfect life.

But life isn't perfect. Not even by a long shot.

Except that it is.

Life is perfect in its imperfections.

Meaning that nothing is ever going to go 100% smoothly. And its not supposed to.

What is happening now, has happened, will happen. Is all as it is.

I'm not saying that it's meant to be. Because that implies some force guiding it.

Life is a series of infinite choices and results all being played out simultaneously...

Time is the illusion. Time exists so that the brain can actually process the choice and result of the particular thread we are following in the tapestry this time.

 I firmly believe that each of us plays out the entire spectrum. There is a universe at this moment where I was the high school football star who now sells insurance because I blew out my knee in the big college game before I had a chance to turn pro.

There's a universe where I am a successful neurosurgeon.  An astronaut. A rock star. Famous director. Even more famous actor. Fireman. Police Detective. War hero.

Did you ever wonder how children can imagine those roles...those make believe lives so easily?? How when you ask a child what it wants to be when it grows up, they have a multitude of answers and can tell you with almost prophetic precision how that's going to all play out.

Did you ever stop to figure out how they can do that? It is a gift, to be sure. They are closer to the universal consciousness as children than most of us are now. I say most, because there are a few among us who haven't transcended (yet) , or have and have decided to come back to help us all along in this plane of existence.

That child may or may not have a great imagination, but they for sure can see how that life has already played out (again, because the 'passage of time' is a mental construct--like a universal game of Sudoku--only on a much grander scale. In other words, they are seeing those other infinite choices. All at once. And as they go through life, they set things in motion for their lives to be one of those 'imaginary' lives they saw.

It's all actually quite brilliant. And flawless. Not perfect, but imperfect. And perfect in its imperfection.

I'm pretty sure this life is the one where I'm a successful writer...New York Times Bestselling Author...or something.

Time to get to it.
-A.T. 

Band Practice

JDR came over today and we jammed. Now...I'm not going to lie. I know he's an encyclopedia when it comes to jamming. Classic Rock...Alternarock...Country...whatevs. He plays it.

I threw on the 'T-Bone' ring and assumed my rock persona (T-Bone Skagglerock) and we got the equipment all plugged in and tuned and ready to go.

I think David (JDR as I sometimes call him in my head) was thinking that I might not be up to snuff. And to be fair...I'm not up to his level of playing. But what I lacked in skill and rote memory from years of playing, I made up for in heart.

And it was a good 4 hour jam session.

There were shots. And beers. And learning songs. And playing songs I knew.

And it was friggin' awesome (I'm sorry Jack...I really needed to use the f-bomb there, because it was that fucking good of a session).

In a nutshell, the afternoon looked like this:

I didn't exclusively do vocals. In fact, I actually played the slash for a good chunk of the day when we realized that it fit my fingers better than the Firebird (I was really digging the Firebird..but I'm a Les Paul guy...always have been...tried to play a Fender...hated it. I have to have that thick neck).

And it hit me. Well, it really hit both of us. It wasn't just a jam session. In this little afternoon...we formed a band. I mean, we'd talked about it before in the wee hours of inebriation, but things took a turn for the awesome today when we actually figured out that
  • We want to rock
  • We want to rock in such a way so as to have fun rocking
  • We want friends and family to have fun with us as we rock in such a way so as to have fun rocking
and thus, today, The Futon Ninjas was born.  We have a singer lined up (if he'll have us...well, me)...and a lead on a drummer. And JDR and I will likely switch off duties between base and guitbox.

So...yeah...off to practice.

Rock on!
-A.T. 

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...