11.27.2014

Taking Inventory

The phone this morning wakes me....ringing well before my alarm...
I look over and see the time, reaching for the phone.
"Hello?..."
The conversation is quick and concise.
Feet swing over the side of the bed and shuffle in to the other room to grab the laptop and dial in.
I deliver the information I have. Unsure if it's exactly what they need or not.

Conversation over. Phone disconnected. I close the laptop. Head leaning back against the back of the couch.

There is always a slight annoyance when my sleep is interrupted. Especially on my day off.

Day off.

A day to be with friends and family. To celebrate the things I am thankful for.

Let's look at how that whole thing played out again...the context of being thankful.

The phone this morning wakes me....ringing well before my alarm...
Thankful I am alive another day to fulfill my life's purpose. Thankful my ears can hear the music of the world....

I look over and see the time, reaching for the phone.
Vision has not failed me. Time to rub the sleep from my eyes.

"Hello?..."
While not strong and vibrant when first awakened, I know that a simple clearing of my throat will give me the tone I need to deliver my message of the love of the universe with a voice that will sit comfortably in the ears of all who will listen.

The conversation is quick and concise.
Clarity of thought. Another thing to be thankful for. While there may, in fact, be a kaleidoscope of jumbled amazements floating around in my brainbucket, for the time being, I am able to articulate them. And for that I am thankful.

Feet swing over the side of the bed and shuffle in to the other room to grab the laptop and dial in.
I deliver the information I have. Unsure if it's exactly what they need or not.
Motor skills still present. For the moment my body still serves me as needed.

Today is a day when we all gather with friends and family to voice those things for which we are thankful.

Like most holidays in our society, we have designated a single day to represent the epitome of a sentiment we should feel each and every day of our life. The love of Valentine's Day....the selfless giving and joy of Christmas...the gratitude of Thanksgiving.

Why to we relegate these to one day out of 365 each year? I am firmly convinced that the reasons for the segregation are economic. The holy days of our society are an excuse for great deals on cars and mattresses.

I am working on making a change in myself. To be thankful each day for the joy of being able to love and give selflessly to those in my life.

It is a gradual change. And one in which I am tested on a daily basis. Most notably in commuter traffic.  But I feel that in order to fulfill the purpose for which I was placed in this world at this time, I need to become a master of those things.

Like most universal truths I'm discovering (remembering), the solution is at once both elegant and simple.

Giving Love with Gratitude=Joy

The key to living this out will be to center my life around the things that allow me to live out that simple formula.

Thankful that the Universe allowed me to remember that formula before I spent a lifetime wondering why I was put here.

I would like to think that the reason we get a dedicated day for these holy days is so we can intentionally slow down. So that if we are moving so crazy in the menagerie of this life that are reminded to 'hey....slow down. Chill the fuck out.'

This world is the cover of the book. Each of our stories are being continually written on the pages within. The front cover....spine...back cover...inner dust jacket...those are the illusions of this world. The things that many of us choose to believe splashed right there on the cover.  Meant to have us go down a path...thinking that we know what life is about before we even crack the spine.

Problem is....

You can't judge a book by its cover.

Be thankful that the pages within are blank my friends.

And that you have the pen.

happy writing....happy living.

Thankful for you in my life.

Love always,
Andrew Todd

11.18.2014

Who Am I

It's a little bit funny (this feeling inside?) no...but I was thinking (because that's what you do best, Butch) how quickly things that are completely fucked up become the normal. Not necessarily in general...but in my life. When acceptance of a situation was handed out as a coping mechanism, I think I was given a little extra. True to form, I'm sure I said 'huh...well. I suppose I'm meant to have that much extra of this shit, so ...let's have at it then.'

Maybe acceptance isn't quite the right word. But stuff that should bother me just doesn't. And I don't think that it's that I don't or won't stand up for myself. It's more that I just don't think it's worth getting upset over. I'm (relatively) healthy. I have a (relatively) decent life. I am able to write. You're able to read it. I jam and play music with my friends. And occasionally I have a nice glass of bourbon to wind down the evening.

It really is good.

I'm going to level with you. I'm not really much of a dater. I'm not what the coffee talk ladies would call dating material.  Perhaps its that I've been out of practice for over 13 years. Perhaps it's that I don't so much mind being a home body. The whole thing is just really awkward to me. I don't know what to say. I find it hard to be natural in that construct. Mostly because I find myself trying to tell myself to 'act natural,' which of course, is impossible. If I'm acting, there's no way it's natural. Even if I'm trying to emulate through my acting, what the 'natural' Todd is like.

The real Todd is quiet. I will watch. I will observe. I will smile a lot. I will laugh. I will yearn to have the natural conversations with someone that I see happening around me.

I spend a lot of time in my head. And, while that's great for the writing Todd, it's not so hot for the Todd that has to interact with real live flesh and blood people. I have a deep seeded need to belong. To feel that someone actually wants to be my friend. I know where it comes from. I know when it started, so there's no need to get all Freudian here. It's just a statement. I will find myself telling stories that I think are interesting or neat. Things that happened to me that were kind of crazy awesome or just crazy fucked up. And in my head I'm telling these because I think they are interesting. But really I'm telling them because if I think they're interesting, and you do too, then maybe you'll want to hang out. I have (over-)analyzed these conversations and stories later and thought to myself Holy fuck did I sound like a douche.  

And then...because my mind can't really let go of anything before it takes it in to the alligator death dive, I wonder if people are just being nice to me because they're just genuinely polite. You know that thing where you weigh your friendships and you're all like I've got way more stock in the level of friends than they do. I don't know if they'd list me as a friend at all.

See what I mean?  It's a spiral.
So...if you ask me to do something that doesn't involve eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching Netflix...chances are I'm going to run a mental decathlon of what if's and 'do they really want me to show up's before I even leave the house.

The absolute cruelest irony about this whole thing is that once I actually do get out, I'm usually fine. I have fun. And I can usually just let go, shut off my brain, be in the moment. And then later I think to myself holy shit...that was actually kind of fun. I should go out more often.

And then the cycle has a chance to perpetuate.

Maybe this is normal? I don't know. Maybe our 'instant on' society has a part to play in this. Although, part of me has always had a hard time thinking that people wanted to be friends with me because of me. Look..I know it's fucked up. I get that. I'm not trying to defend it and I'm not saying it just so people can tell me how liked I am. I'm just saying....that there are times when I can't get the fuck out of my own head and see all the amazing people in my life.

And I'm sorry about that. When I hem and haw on making plans...please know that it's not you in the least bit, but it's really me trying to walk through the mine fields in my sub-conscious.

I'm sorry if I'm re-hashing bloggy blogs from days gone by, but this whole 'living alone' thing is really at the surface of my noggin these days.

And I'm pretty sure I know why. The book I'm working on has a central character who basically never leaves his apartment. And while it's not me....there's a lot of me in that character.  Maybe it's a metaphor for our society. We all have these areas that no matter how badly we might want to, we won't leave. Or maybe we don't want to leave them. Maybe we want to be isolated with the illusion now of being in touch.

I don't really know the answer, to be honest. But it sounds like I have a few more chapters to write.

After all, it's cheaper than therapy.

I leave you with a shot I took of a friend's pooch. I always smile when I see a shot of a happy dog.

Have a good rest of your day my friends,
-A.T.

11.15.2014

Effing Entitled

It would appear that I have a habit of not waiting things out long enough.
I worked for a food distributor in the 90's. 6 months after I left, everyone on the team I was on got a $10K bonus.

I ran in to a friend today at Giant Eagle. Her husband was the one that got me the job at a software company in 1998. I stayed there for 14 years before jumping ship and heading to my current position. I found out today that some very lucrative changes happened at the company and everyone there got taken care of.

I had a flash...a millisecond really of.., "What the fuck?!" Before I looked her in the eye and said, "Good. They needed to take care of the people there."  The people that stayed through the shit times busted their ass to build that company. And they damn sure should have been taken care of.

Am I sad I didn't stay?

Fuck no.

If I had stayed, I would have 16+years under my belt. But I didn't like where my position...my team was heading. I couldn't work with the management team they brought in, and ultimately I could no longer, for my sanity, do that job any more. It was no longer a perfect fit.

The job I am in now is an amazing fit for me. And some of the reason I got the job was everything I learned about Customer Service from the other job.

So...while there was a brief second of 'wow...some extra money would be nice,' I know that, for my own sanity, I made the right decision.

Some might say I deserve a piece of that pie.

Why? Because I worked there for so long? Bullshit. I left. I left for my own reasons. If the owner of that company showed up on my doorstep with a check, telling me it was for all the work I did to get them where they are,  I would politely thank him and ask him to leave. I'm not entitled to shit from them. Nor would I take it.

I can see where some might want to call bullshit on me turning away the money.

Money has a tendency to make things easier for some. It doesn't make them better.   I didn't leave that job because I wasn't getting enough money. I didn't leave the job before that one because of the money.  In both instances, I left the job because I no longer felt appreciated.

I work longer hours at my new job. But they appreciate me. The work I do. I know that I'm an integral part in building something pretty fucking fantastic. And that, to me, is worth more anything I would have received had I stayed.

I am not rich. I am one of the 98%. I live paycheck to paycheck. I hope that will change when I get my book(s) published. But if it doesn't, it doesn't. Point is...did I leave too soon?

No.

The Todd that would sit for days and second guess his timing is no longer in the hizzous. That dude is long fucking gone.

I think that's probably why I ran in to Donna today. Not to have the universe rub in my face that I fucked up by leaving, but that I made the right decision. I stayed true to me. What was best for my (relative) sanity. And in the end, it paid off.  The other reason I ran in to Donna, was because I haven't seen her husband, my friend in ....a shit long time. I miss hanging out with them.  A lot has happened to me since I left. I reached out a couple of times, but it just fell flat. And to be honest, I was ok with it at the time because I didn't want to hear about the old place.

I think that's why I haven't stayed in touch with the people that still work there...I don't want to be reminded of how I felt. Of why I left. And ultimately...I don't give a fuck about it anymore. That is a whole different lifetime for me.

I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse that I can walk away from things so easily. And by easily, I mean, it seems like I'm easily walking away from the other person's point of view. Inside I am second guessing the fuck out of everything. It was probably a good two weeks (months) in this new apartment before I finally stopped beating myself up over my marriage failing.  Truth be told, sometimes I still do. But I don't know those people any more. That man..that woman. The two that were married and lived that life for 12 years. I don't really know either one of them anymore.

I didn't really have a point to this. It was just one of those things that I had to get out of my head before it consumed me with doubt and second guessing.

In other news...

We are 15 days in to November. And I haven't done dick for the National Novel Writing Month. I should feel bad, but I don't. I have the novel started. I have the ending. It's the middle fiddly bits that are working themselves out.  I am excited about having Tuesdays off. If I get up and get ready for work, I know my brain is going to do that thing that it does where it floods me with ideas for the book on a week day while I'm working. So...there's that.

That's about all I got for now.

How are things in your world?

-A.T.

11.10.2014

Two Fridays

Working retail this particular time of year is not without its set of challenges. I am fortunate for a couple of reasons. The first being that the company I work for has a strong sense of wok-life balance and they want to make sure that the balance is maintained. It's a blessing to actually work for a company that says it and practices it. The other thing I'm happy about is that I work in the corporate offices. We still have to work around the schedules of the stores, but I've always had little things-like my weekends- and not the funky retail 'weekend in the middle of the week' BS.

Until now.

Because of some changes in scheduling, we are adding people to our Saturday and Sunday shifts. Factoring several things in to the equation, having me as the Sunday person makes the most sense at this time. Sooooooo....yeah.

I thought about it. Eventually I'll be able to have Friday and Saturday off so it will again feel like a wekeend. As it stands, I'll be having Saturdays and Tuesdays off. I won't have a weekend off, per se but I will instead have two Friday nights.

I'm not sure if it will suck or actually be a good thing. For now, I'm focusing on the many positive aspects of it. I'll address any negative aspects sometime down the road.

I have this notion in my head that the mid-week day off will be a good day for writing. I think I will need to make sure it's a day I don't sleep in too much (though some alarm clockles days will have to happen-it's a must). I will also probably at some point switch Tuesday for Thursday so I can go Karaoking on Wednesday nights again.

All in all I think it's going to be OK. Just an odd kind of thing to get used to, I suppose.

Speaking of writing, no. I haven't really done much this year with the NaNoWriMo. By all accounts, I should be 1/3rd in to my novel by now. And maybe I am--in my head. I have the begging and the end written. The middle bits are playing out in my brain...kinda like when we were teens, playing with the cable converter box to try to get some kind of clear picture of something we really shouldn't be watching anyway. I could have described the image that came through the fuzz, but it was probably way off from what was actually being broadcast.

It's like that when I write, too. I know there's something there, but when the image comes through clearly is when I have he best sense of what I'm actually describing.

So..yeah. There we are. I know it's not the most insightful of blog posts. The last couple of weeks has been so nutty that I guess I just needed to see if I could still write.

Or something like that.

Yeah. When I write, sometimes I look like that.

 

Have a great rest of your day my friends!

 

-A.T.

 

11.01.2014

And So Begins...

"Ever have one of those moods where you just want to fuck the shit out of somebody...use and be used...no words...no strings...just fuck the pain away until you're both exhausted?

And so begins the great American novel by A.T. Skaggs, "Two Balls for a Quarter"..."

No. Not really. I know that language like that is a slap in the face to some. And others see it as the current vernacular of our very self-centered society.  The language is meant for one thing. The only thing language is really ever meant for--to convey. It was a thought that popped in to my head as I was cleaning. I thought...how funny would it be to open up Rolling Stone magazine and see a book review that started that way?

I do that sometimes. I carried around an Oscar acceptance speech for a time. When I wrote it, it was an acceptance speech for Best New Screenplay. I gave myself until 45 for that one. So...I have some time left. Although, I'll have to tweak some of the people on the 'thank you' list.

you ever go through something and come up with a pretty decent paragraph and then through some edits, your pretty good paragraph is all alone and completely out of place? The paragraph below is one such paragraph.

In this instance, as I was going through my purging process today. I came up with 3 bags of clothes that I won't be wearing any time soon. And 10 bags of trash and other items that no longer have any bearing in my now current lifetime.

And now we're back in the flow...sorry about that...

The sentiment is simple. Sometimes we...and by we, I mean me, because as you've not doubt noticed, this blog is pretty much all about the shit rattling around in my head...sometimes I have this weird funk that falls on me like that weird early morning fog/mist combo that happens sometimes in the late fall and just takes your breath away.

I don't know where it comes from. But the Dog approach takes over. If you can't eat it or screw it, piss on it and walk away.

Told you it was kind of a funk.

Ten bags of trash, right? I mean, to be clear, it wasn't like those big ass janitor bags, more like the white kitchen trash bags. So, it's probably like 4 regular lawn and leaf bags.

Some of it was old mail...circulars and the like. But some of it was just stuff I don't need. I've been here almost 2 years now (I know, right?!?) and I figure if I haven't used it by now, I probably won't.  It all goes back to that other post about being physically and mentally cluttered.

I don't know if it's the holidays...or the fact that I was over in the old neighborhood this week. I really haven't put my finger on it. At least not in a way that I can manifest.

I honestly think it goes back to feeling alone in a crowd. I have felt like that many times in my life. Felt that if I were to actually say what I thought....verbalize the shit that is rattling around in my brain...people would go from being mildly amused...to passively indifferent..to downright annoyed. It's much easier...it's always been easier to work that in to a story.

If the opening line in today's post comes from me, it's vulgar.  And it would quite likely cause furrows of worry on the brows of those that care about me.  But, if those words...those thoughts come from some character in a story. Some narcissistic junior level manager on her way to the top of a big Madison Avenue ad agency, then those words somehow fit.

What's going to mess with your head, dear reader, as you peruse my fictional side of writing....is just what is completely made up for the sake of the story and what are the true demons that I needed to exorcise.

I don't know very many other writers personally enough to answer this or have discussed it with them, so I don't know if it's like this for them or not. But for me...the answer is simple. ALL of it is stuff that has to be bled out on to the page. When I get in that zone, the writing just happens. When I go back and read it later, I can see bits and pieces of things that might have been on the surface...other things that were buried that I know had to come out.

Ok. This isn't quite working.
I just noticed I typed the word 'meh'...that's the written equivalent of 'um'....a place holder. Something to keep your attention while my brain tries to come up with something more clever to really keep you hooked.

At this point I'm not sure if it's working or not.

Perhaps that's what the funk really is.

I knew that the marriage wasn't working. Eh, the second one, that is. The first one I thought I was actually on the road to fixing when I got blindsided with the 4 page letter. No...the second one had hit a place where I looked at my future and I looked at the person I would be spending it with, and a stranger was looking back at me. I didn't know who she was anymore. And more importantly, I didn't feel like I could share with her who I was becoming....what my hopes and dreams were. When you find yourself saying 'It is what it is...' more than you say 'what the hell IS this?' That complacency rather than the spirit of exploring a lifetime with that person, it's time to re-evaluate what the fuck is going on.

So...yeah. There's that.

Did I mention that most of the clothes I had bagged up today to donate were clothes that were much too small for me....but had once fit me? Yeah. Talk about a mindfuck. Speaking of mindfuck. I have lost count of how many times in a day I find myself looking at something and my head will tilt as I'm looking at it in that way that dogs have of making you think they are actually evaluating what you are saying. And in that moment, I hear the voice of the fictional Morpheus... Do you think that my strength and speed are a result of my muscles...in this place?...You think that's air you're breathing? Hmm.

And in those moments, I am reminded that this is all a thinly veiled illusion. And it makes me sad to think how tightly I have recently been clinging to the rules and paradigms of this world that is but one glimmering facet in the sunlight of a fantastic gem being held by a collective consciousness.

No. I'm not high. Or drunk.

Oddly enough when I am drunk, my flow is less scattershot than the scribbles you've just endured. Provided of course that I'm not so tipsy that the very act of typing induces less than pleasant feelings in my tum tum.

Well done you, by the way. If you've made it this far then it would seem something I've written (either today or at one point) has struck a chord.

That or you're really just wanting to see how far off the rails I've gone today.

Either works for me.

I smell of sweat and faded memories. Excuse me while I head off to the shower.  There may yet be enough time to head to a local brew pub and have a few pints.

Have a wonderful rest of your evening my friends.

Bob often wondered if he was the only one that had these thoughts. She...oh, right, Roberta. But she had gone by Bob since she first learned of the unnerving affect it had on men in this city when they assumed gender.  Gender. The polite way of saying sex. Surely she wasn't the only wounded soul in this city to turn to carnal anesthesia.  She pegged Frank in accounting for a fellow pain-fucker. Perhaps the holiday party would afford her the opportunity to find out. 

"This is some good shit," she thought as she stared at the illuminating numbers transitioning on the elevator panel.

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...