2.26.2017

The Return Of The High Plains Thrifter

Yesterday was a pretty damn good day, I must say. Aside from being ball-shriveling cold and snowing just 24 hours after it was in the 70's, it was still a good day.

I basically hopped in a time machine of sorts.

I started the day by hitting the record show. That's right. Colleen's Collectibles Record and memorabilia show. If you're looking for vinyl, CD's, concert DVDs, and rock collectibles in general, this is the place for you.




I can remember going to this record show back when it used to be at Vets. It was HUGE. But that was over twenty years ago.  Ian, Darrin, and I used to go and it would kill a whole Saturday. It's been about 2 years since I've gone. My math could be wrong, but it's been a minute. These days I can last about 2 hours before I just have enough. I had a couple of specific things I was looking for, so I held on a little longer than I usually do. Ran in to a couple of people I knew from Uptown so that was mildly amusing if not a bit awkward while we tried to remember each other's names.  I didn't leave with what I was looking for, but I didn't leave empty handed either. I left with Cohen album ("Songs of Love and Hate"), a Yardbirds album, and 10 12" singles of 80's era tunes.  Not a bad haul.  I skipped the annual tradition of stopping at the shady gyro place up the road (that really smacks of a greek mafia front, if there is such a thing). That's never the same without Ian or Darrin.

The haul:


From the Record Show, I had some time to kill. OK. Actually I probably didn't. The mattress people were supposed to be at my place between 4 and 6 to drop off my new mattress and box springs. I figured I had easily an hour or two of clean up and prep to do before they got there. I got to the record show right when it opened and left about 12.  

Note to self, not everyone is going to be there and setup right at 10. Next time show up at around 12. That way people are set up. I'm sure the dude bringing 20 boxes of records in as I was leaving probably had the Concrete Blonde I was looking for and some Yardbirds under $20. Lesson learned.

I decided to stop at the thrift shops on the way home. There was a chance I could stumble upon an Olympia typewriter. Who knows?

As I was heading to my normal haunt, I saw a sign for a new thrift shop that I hadn't been to before. On a whim, I decided to give it a shot.

I'm SO glad I did.

It was comedy gold.

Allow me to explain.  Sometime in the past this blog used to be called High Plains Thrifter.
I would go in to thrift stores, take pictures, and post them with funny comments. The humor was subjective, but the pictures were hilarious. At least to me.  And yesterday it was like a blast from the past.  The next chunk of this blog will be like a trip back in time. Some of these pix made it up to Instagram and Facebook. And there may at some point be a Facebook Live walk through when I work my way up to it, but for now. The pix.

Apparently before he went in to wrestling, the Rock teamed up with a tent preacher to make an album about molesting the son of a deity:



This book struck me as oddly specific. I looked for "Chicken Soup For the 40-Something Single Dude Who Questions Existence On A Weekly Basis" but didn't see it. I'll check back next week.


Um. I don't really have any words for this. But I think Ernie just phoned it in here. I mean, if Chunky could put it all on the line, certainly Ernie could have stepped up. And seriously, it's like Chunky is staring directly in to our soul.


This one made me sad. It hits a little too close to home. And I'm told that it's actually quite a downer read about the decline of society measured by the decline of bowling alleys. Can't imagine why someone wanted to get rid of it.


Australian Geographic? That's a thing?  This month in Australian Geographic, a list of things in Australia that will kill you. Which is literally everything.  But hey, it looks like Gibbs finally gave up that crime solving career and finished the boat. Or at least wrote a book about it.


 Bullwinkle's lesser known cousin, Flowercrotch.


I'm struggling to figure out why you would need a knick knack in which to store torn pieces of paper.


This makes me sad. This is missing the gun and ping pong balls you shoot at the bear. Without those two things, this is just a scary ass plastic bear that wants to kill you. Which is to say it's like a regular bear, only plastic.


This. Um. This is a planter. So...you have this trippy Hummel wannabe and then you have plants growing from the other side of it. So by the time it's all said and done, you have a doctor smacking a smelly baby ass (note the mask) in the jungle.


This shelf creeped me out. It was like Stepford Wives or something. Like the knick knacks were plotting.


And then there's creepy, evil grandma.  All I could think of was, "My grandma used to make real girl scout cookies from scratch. Eventually the girl scouts got wise and stopped going to her house.  It was ultimately what saved them."


 HA! Coffee. Pansies. I start my day with a mug of steaming hot carrot juice! Said no one. Ever.


 I wonder if I'll get charged extra for the trash in the mug or if that's part of the appeal?


 Xtreme Sport Scent? Isn't that the smell I'm trying to get rid of??


Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.


 I hate when people just throw that whole "Diversity Matters" thing around...like it's some kind of game or something...


 If this didn't smell so much like stale cigarette smoke and middle-aged desperation, it would be in my closet right now.


 RAWR! Le Tigre!


I have a thing for bowler shirts. This one is now in my possession.


As is this.


Curse my tubbiness. I ALMOST bought the leather suede coat as a goal item for my weight loss. If it's still there when I go back, I will.  Oh. Who am I kidding. This beauty is destined to fly off the shelf. Le sigh.


 I almost picked this up as a tribute to my favorite spoonie. But the fact is, it's 100% cotton. And thrift store rule #28 is this. If it's 100% cotton, get it at least one size bigger than you wear because the dipshit that had it before you probably washed it wrong.


It's not often you see a hat paired with the ugly ass sweater. It was my size, but...yeah. No.


 I didn't know how to process this. It was a non-descript practice basketball jersey sewn on to a t-shirt. It was made in Russia. I figured if having Russia on your back is good enough for our prez, it's good enough for me. So...yeah. This one is in my collection.


 Because of course it is.


 While they won't make the world go 'round, it's good to know they get their own section.


 Everyone needs a pug on their pants, right?


These PJ pants seemed to be projecting a message...it's subtle, but I think you can probably pick it up.


I have never understood the concept of buy used underwear. It always seemed...well...odd to me (and that's saying something).


Although, I have to admit. I would have to re-think my stance if these were in my size.


 I'm pretty sure I could rock these. At least for a night.


 Took me a second to realize that the thrift store was not selling sex toys. I was relieved and slightly disappointed.


 So...Seriously. WTF. This has to have been written by a man. You buy pants that tell you that you will LOOK and FEEL Slimmer because they stretch. Really? Because I think you would look like you have stretchy pants on and feel like the shit was too tight. But...eh. I don't know. It just seems like shitty marketing aimed at poor self doubt.


 I.  Um.  Does this kind of marketing work? Since they are new with tags...at a thrift store, I'm guessing not. But...wow.


The thrift store bounty.  I think I got some pretty sweet gear.


All in all, it was a good day. I got home at 2. The mattress people called 2 hours early. So my cleaning window was shot, but I didn't mind. The day still turned out OK.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go check on the laundry. And maybe clean my office today.  
Have a kick ass day my friends!

-ATS



2.22.2017

Peeling Back The Layers

I apologize, dear readers, for my absence of late. I know if you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen the guest post I did for the awesome Violet Patterson. And you know that I'm currently in the middle of writing a piece that's going to be included in an upcoming Urban Fantasy boxset called Midnight Magic.

But that doesn't really help you if you are jonesin' for a piece of ye olde bloggy blog, now, does it? No. No it does not.

I appreciate you sticking with me friends (or people who read me, secretly hoping I'll fall flat on my face with this writing thing...either way, you're reading...so...I kinda win).  I'm not going to totally bore you with what's going on in my life. OK. Maybe just a little.

So...this might come a shock to you, but most people I know who are even a little bit creative aren't really what society considers "normal." I am no exception to this stereo type. I long ago embraced the fact that I was broken. And instead of trying to fix myself, I was going to use my creative outlets-whatever they may be- to try to help other people navigate the waters that threaten to drown all of us non-normals. Writing, video, music, photography, and anything else that helps me tell a story of some sort are the palette I draw from in this endeavor.

Erm...so along with that whole 'broken' thing...eh. Let me back up a bit. Here's a little insight in to the inner sanctum of my brain bucket.

I have social anxiety.  I don't know when it really kicked in. I can hazard a guess. If I had to guess, I would say it was that unseasonably warm winter day in the Waterbeds and Stuff on North Campus. I was back in the section of the store separated by the cheesy beaded curtains, looking at the porno videos and sex toys when I heard the bell above the door jingle. And then I heard the click of a lock. That wasn't normal and I was about to come out, but I paused when I saw some dude pointing a gun at the clerk. I was the only other person in the store. The robber took all of the money from the register and he took the phone off of the wall and bitch slapped the clerk upside the head with it. Telling him that if came out of the store in the next 15 minutes, he would shoot him. He then unlocked the door and ran out. Leaving a dazed clerk and me, about to piss myself, my legs threatening to rebel with the mother of all charley horses from trying make myself as small of a ball in the back corner of the naughty section of the store to avoid getting shot.  The clerk jumped when I walked out. Apparently he had forgotten I was there. This was before cell phones were widely popular.  Land lines were still vogue.  He told me he needed to go to the next shop and use their phone. And he locked me in that fucking store. It felt like forever until he got back. I had to wait and file a police report. I was useless. Gun focus had taken hold, as it does with a majority of eye witnesses to an armed robbery.

Here's the thing, I don't instantly go back to that memory. Hell, it was easily 20 years ago. And I was well-adjusted for quite some time. But that was, if I had to surmise, the day the seed was planted. It took a decade or two to really take hold.

For the past few years it manifests itself as these insane conversations in my head. And, to be fair, sometimes aloud. There has to be ample time for me before an event to go through the reasons why I shouldn't go. Usually it boiled down to the fact that I was invited because the person just felt they needed to be nice to me, but didn't really want me there. This resulted in me waiting to join the local writers group. It caused me to nearly miss the gathering of writers hosted by a friend of mine which led to me also joining the writer's group up North. These three events have been responsible for my writing growing more than it ever has in such a short time.

And yet, it took three months of invitations to get me to go to the first meeting of Creative Minds Columbus. And as for the gathering of writers...the only (and I am NOT exaggerating this), but the only reason I followed through with going was that I had committed to making a dessert. It was the first time I had made this dessert (but I had eaten it at many potlucks).  This dessert led to several marriage proposals that night. I am apparently a dessert husband to several women in the North Central Ohio area. Which..I'm cool with, to be honest.

Point is--I almost didn't go. Looking back on it, I feel much like Will Smith looking for cigars, "Almost put a hex on the whole damn thing."

I dealt with this (still deal with this) for years. This anxiety about being around people in a social setting. Are they judging me? What do they think of me? Am I funny enough? Do I have good enough stories?  There is a long ass list of questions that loop through my head when I have to interact with people out of the constructs of a business. And it's not fun. It really does a number. I start to question feelings, get emotional about situations that are only causing me distress because I'm overthinking the fuck out of them.

So...in talking with a few of my creative friends, I learned that I am not alone. And prior to these conversations, I never really thought of myself has having anxiety issues. I never had panic attacks.  At least not that I knew.

Turns out that overthinking and going down the rabbit hole when you have one of those stray thoughts IS a major component of many anxiety disorders.

I was about to apologize for being too real, but the simple truth is, if you made it this far that's on you-warning or not.

Yeah. Anxiety. Frickin' great!

So, I talked to my doctor on my last gyno visit (I think I covered this somewhere), but anyway...yes. She and I talked and she started me on something classified as an anti-anxiety med. I was adamant that it not be an anti-depressant. I knew after being on them for 20+ years that they sap all of the creative urges from my body.

I've been on them for almost two weeks. And as funny as it sounds, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to write. So I was avoiding sitting down at a keyboard. Which, let's be real, is a phenomenally stupid course of action when I have deadlines for that box set that I'm in.

Some may argue that I still can't write, but fuck those guys. This is the breaking of the seal, as it were. I feel good about the fact that I can still write. The overthinking conversationalists in my head have quieted for the time being, and that's a very good thing.

Being able to engage with people on a social level again is kind of huge. I'm looking forward to it.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some writing to do.

-Peace!
A.T.S.


2.04.2017

Let Love Go To Let Love In

I woke up with a though this morning about love.  I sat down to write it as a poem, but quickly realized that my thoughts on it could not be boiled down in to something poetic. There were poetic elements, to be sure, but this was something deeper. I struggle with using the word epiphany.  I may be overusing that word lately and don't want to diminish its significance, nor to I want to constrict this morning's awakening.

That's what it feels like it was. Like part of me had been asleep and woke up.  This wasn't the blinding white light on the road to Damascus kind of awakening. It was more of a gentle nudge. Like when your dog comes over to your side of the bed and stands there. Then it realizes your eyes aren't open, so it gives you that gentle nudge letting you know it's time to wake up.

I am awake.

I can't promise that, at some point, I won't fall back asleep, but for the moment, I am awake.

All my life I have heard that if you love something (or someone) you have to let it (or them) go.  If the love was meant to be, they'll return.

And that always bothered me.

If I loved someone, shouldn't that be enough? Shouldn't my love be strong enough to keep them? To help them see the love that was there. And to see the love they obviously felt for me (but may just not know it yet because I'm not expressing my love clearly enough)?

The short answer is no.

The dog nudging my face answer that hit me this morning was a little more involved.

The part of the popular treatise on love that always (and still to an extent) bothers me is the "let them go" clause.

In my young (compared to the universe) view of love, I had assumed that to let them go meant that I had to let go of the love I had for them. That I had to let that person go from my life. That I had to stop doing and saying the things to show them that I loved them. That in short, I needed to 'back the fuck off' and let them realize that maybe they did actually love me after all.

My dog nudge moment this morning led me to another place.

A realization of sorts.

The letting go is not of the person. It's not even of the love.

It's of my perception of what the love is.  I have to let go of the box that I'm trying to contain the love in. Romantic love, sexual love/lust, platonic, agape love. Any of it.  All of it.

I have to let that go.

Love cannot be put in to a box.

Love cannot be defined.

Love cannot be given or taken.

Love simply is.

Love is something we experience and we share.

How each of us shows and shares love is completely different. Some use words. Some use actions. Some quietly smile and offer you the last donut that they really wanted, but they love you and know that you want it to.  Some love us in ways that are not and may not ever be readily apparent to us.

Sometimes a persons love for us doesn't match how we show love, so it seems that we are not loved by them.

I realize now that there is no such thing as unrequited love. That's a small, very focused, and quite frankly very selfish view of love. It says, "You're not feeling the same way I feel, so...you must not feel anything for me at all."  It leads to bitterness. And it leads to losing, truly losing someone you love.

And how terrible is that?

Pretty fucking awful.  When you put someone in that box of assuming that they don't care about you at all simply because their words and actions of affection don't match with yours, it's incredibly difficult to rebuild that bridge.  Looking at my life and the people I have loved (and lost) over the years, I see that my immature view of love has led to losing some relationships that at one time meant everything to me. I don't know if there is any going back to that.  Thinking that your love for someone is unrequited is a cancer. This isn't limited to romantic loves. Love is love.  There is love in friendship. There is love in everything. If we are open to seeing what that loves looks like.

I know that some reading this might wonder how in the hell I got hold of some ecstasy so early in the morning, and why I've gone all hippy on you. Wonder away. If this is what taking that drug feels like, I can see the attraction. I'm stone cold sober right now, but am on a high. A love high. And the truth is, I firmly believe that this is the key.

Love is the key.

And I've been looking at it all wrong. For all these years.

The letting go means that I need to let go of what I think love looks like and look at the love that is actually in my life. I need to meet and experience and be thankful for the love that is in my life.

Period.

There are no clauses.

There are no "someday she may love me as much as I love her"s.

None of that is real. That puts love in a container that can never hold it. Ever. And it guarantees that you will never find the love you think you are looking for.

Love can't be found.

Because love is never absent.

Love is never missing.

Love is ever-present.

Right now, as I sit here, I am thinking of all of the people in my life. And there are those that I am especially close to that make my heart sing.  I smile when I think of them.

In this moment, I know that I am loving and I am loved.

There is no condition or label that can be put on that love.

I realized this morning that I have been doing love a disservice by thinking of it as a GPS for my heart. "Hey Siri, launch the Love App and show me where my next romance is..."

I'm not looking for love.

Love is here, in my life. In my friendships. In the hearts of the people that are in my life right now.

And like the dog gently nudging me to wake up, it is waiting for me to rub the sleep from my eyes, get out of bed and come out and play.

Let love be.

-ATS


On Being Intentional About More Words On The Page

I am a writer. Well, scratch that.  Maybe. I love taking pictures.  For a season of my life I loved writing songs and was even in a band...