3.12.2020

The Magic of Imposter Crab Chips

Greetings my friends. As I do so often on these posts where I have been the absentee author, I will start off with an apology. I know that you have many options out there when you are looking for something to fill the 73 seconds at the end of your Outlander binge-fest before Netflix asks you if you are still watching and then silently judges you based on how long it takes you to dust off the cheesy-poof dust before grabbing the remote to answer YES. And you chose my little corner of the web. Thanks for that. I don't know how many of you regularly still read this, but if you do, thanks. I know I don't say it often enough, but I do appreciate you.

If you know me, you know that I packed a whole lot into that seemingly innocuous title up there. Hopefully we'll be able to unpack it all here before I get annoyed that there are actually people now in the lunchroom and try to wrap it up as quickly as possible.

No. I wouldn't do that. OK. I mean, I totally would do that, but since it's been something like 3 years since I've posted anything, I'm going to try to get through some of what's been rattling around in my head.

And man...the shit rattling around in my head...Wow. The past couple months have felt like that weird Fisher-Price toy. You know the one. It's like a ball...on a stick. And there are wheels. And kids push it around...and inside the ball are other tinier balls. And as the toddler toddles, the balls just pop around in like a bloop blop bork bonk bip boop kind of thing as the little agitator causes the balls to plop around.

OK. I am going to be testing my urges to keep writing while someone is listening to TikTok videos on their phone loud enough for the rest of the room.

It's weird. I can be in a coffee shop and there's enough other people there that the people noise becomes like its own ambient sound. But when there are only a few other people in a room that was previously silent...well...yeah.

Anyway...shit floating around in my brain. Theres a lot of it. I'm not really going to unpack much of any of that right now, because, to be honest I don't know that I'm really ready to process any of it right now.

I've been playing Magic the Gathering (sorry for the abrupt segue, but if you've read any of my posts you really should be prepared for the utter randomness that is me at this point). If you don't know what Magic the Gathering is, I won't bore you with the geeky details. Google it. It's a collectible card game. You build decks and "battle" other people who have also built decks. It's just fun. I've really gotten into it. The collecting...the building of the deck. My brain just falls into a happy place when I'm opening packs and looking through cards.


So...yeah...it's fun. There's a new set coming out this week. The new set is called the Mystery Booster. It's going to have cards from 15 different Magic the Gathering sets. I'm really looking forward to drafting. Drafting is where you open a deck...pick a card...pass the rest.. This is done until the contents of 3 packs have been reviewed and passed. And you have something like 45 cards that you have to build a deck from and then...woot!! Time to Battle. I don't really ever win (unless I get the bye, which I totally count as a win, by the way). But it's fun. It's a hobby. And it sort of gets me out of the house. And it's social (demented and sad, but social none the less. Thanks, Bender).

So that's kind of the ongoing fun event that is a slow little current of activity and one of the things I look forward to in my life. 

Hey Todd, how come it's been so long since you've written anything on the bloggy blog or you know, talked about one of the three different books you've promised us by now?

I'm glad you asked. Let me clarify. I'm glad you thought of it enough to remind me about it. But, I'm sorry about the not having written anything in at least three fortnights. We've covered the magic part of the title. And thanks to your question, we're now into the imposter portion of the program. 

If you have friends who are authors or artists of some point,  you will have no doubt heard of them talking about Imposter Syndrome. Whatever your take on it is, I can tell you, it's real. It may not be an official mental illness with a full-blown entry in the DSM-5, but it's every bit as crippling. 

It's not a cry for attention, though it might seem that way from the outside. It is, at its core,


(We pause now, while your intrepid author moved from the TikTok'ing for Everyone Lunch Room and moved into another room that was, for now, empty)

the manifestation of a combination of self-doubt, sometimes low self-worth, and the belief that nobody in the world would possibly give two shits about what I write.  Add that to the fact that one of the only times I truly feel alive is when I'm writing. The other times are not necessarily PG or Family Friendly, and are the topic of an erotic blog I have yet to really fully do much with at this point. So. Yeah. 

You can see where it gets messed up with the shit ping-ponging around in my brain right? Like, I have to write...but at the same time, I feel like I'm complete shit as a writer. Thanks brain. And then any number of external factors or situations can pile on. 

I don't talk about depression much. I've been diagnosed with it in the past. I say in the past because when I was diagnosed with it, I was on anti-depressants. In addition to keeping me at an even keel (so even that at the end it feel like I was a Zombie), the meds also sapped whatever joy I took from writing. So...when I got to the point where I thought my life (and by proxy, me) was stable enough to come off of them, I worked with my Doctor and did just that. The downside was, my wife at the time had never known me off of the meds. So, as I was getting back to what I (and anyone who knew me before I was on the meds) thought was the 'real Todd,' my wife (at the time) was seeing this person manifest in her life that she had never met. As I was getting more in touch with the Todd I had lost, she was getting a stranger. I know that's not the only reason that the marriage ended. But the part of me that wants to take blame for every bad thing that happens to me or people around me, wants to believe that it was a major factor in the divorce. 

So...it's safe to say that when Imposter Syndrome is at its most fierce, I can say with a high degree of certainty that there is also some depression going on as well. It's a lovely little cocktail that has me wondering who the fuck I am and why I am even bothering. I have a good support system though. And I lean on them. Sometimes. Because...being me. I know, surmise, or can see, that they are going through their own shit. I mean. We all have it. We all go through it. It hits some of us harder than others. But when I'm going through it and I know a majority of my support system is too, I just keep it to myself. Or write shitty poems. Because to me, I don't want to bug anyone. Nobody really has time for my shit on top of theirs. Whether or not that's the reality or not, that's the facts that my brain comes up with. 

And then there's the writer brain throwing imposter syndrome into the mix. I was happy and sad to learn that some of my favorite authors also suffer from the imposter syndrome. Happy because it's good to know that I'm not alone (there's a whole series I could pen on alone vs. lonely, but that's for another time). So,  yeah. Happy to not be alone. Sad because this author (many of them) has achieved level of success I aspire to and they still got Imposter Syndrome.

What the actual fuck? I guess being a world famous best-selling author won't  solve all my problems. It's a sobering thought. But, if you don't mind, I'm still going to keep that on the dream list and let you know how it turns out, mmmkay? 

Cool. So. Yeah. 

Good news is...I have a few very close writer friends who helped me talk through what was causing this latest bout of Imposter Syndrome. And I have a plan. I have a goal. I have a mission. And as you can see I am writing again. 

And, in 9 days I will be at a writers' intensive workshop. Where 10 other people are going to critique a piece I submitted. 

I'm terrified. 

BUT.  And I like big buts...

I'm also exhilarated. Not only do I get to go on a road trip with my best friend in the whole world, but I get to work with writers who are going to give me valuable insight into how to make my story and my writing better. 

I hope.

My pits are still a bit sweaty and my palms feel like the outside of a cold can of pop on a hot summer day, but it's going to be good.

And with the imposter syndrome quelled a bit, I can focus a little on what's contributing to the depression and general malaise. lt's cool, though, I don't really need a list of supplements or essential oils or stretches to do. I mean, I probably do, but I'm not in a place where I can receive them constructively without feeling like you are trying to fix me. Because if you are trying to fix me, then I must be something you see as broken. 


See--this is why I can't have nice things. 

But I'm not going to end this on a down note. And this is a moment of growth for me. There was time in my life where I would have finished that sentence with some bit of deprecation along the lines of 'you didn't come here to see me mope about.' And that belittles one of the things this blog does for me. For me, this blog is an outlet. It's a way for me to work shit out. Some of this might help you. Some of it might not. Some of may just be a train wreck and you come with a fresh batch of popcorn to see what love I'm going to lament about this month. All of that is cool. It's honestly none of my business why you come here. 

Here's the happy note I'm going to end one. It's actually 2 pictures. The first is what I consider to be the best potato chip ever. OR at least I did. Until a friend (the same friend who turned me on to the chips in the first pic) sent me the snack in the second pic. 

It's a tough call. Really it's too close to call. 





In any event, I need to get back to work.

I'm so glad you stopped by. I really have missed talking to you. 


-AT 

2.10.2020

Painfully Cathartic



Self-discovery is a painful process. Or at least it can be. Sometimes. Look, all I'm saying is, what you're about to read is me trying to reason some shit out in my head. Some shit that's been rattling around for a while. Weeks. Months. Honestly? Decades. This is some 'A-ha--THAT'S WHY I'M SO FUCKED UP' shit that goes back to my formative years.

It's going to probably be boring to you. Or maybe helpful. Fuck. At this point, anything is possible.

If it helps you get a sense of where this might be going, the original title of this piece was going to be "Why You Should Never Date Me, And Other Lies I Tell Myself"

Yeah. It's that kind of night. Before I dive too deep into this, I will reassure some of you that might ask, yes, I am remembering to take my meds. Thanks for checking.

I have known something about myself for a while now. I just recently admitted it to a couple of people, one of whom I'm very good friends with, you might say best friends with, and one a friend I just recently met. Now, let's be clear about one thing here. As you read this, there will likely be many revelations that have you saying, "Uh...no shit, Todd. We could have told you that."  To which I say--Why the fuck didn't you?!?  Seriously. I could have used this wake-up call about 25 years ago.   Alright, seat-belts fastened? Tray tables and seat backs up and in their full upright positions? Good. Here we go.

I don't know if you know this about me, but I like to have sex. Yeah. I'm a bit of a freak. Don't worry, that's about as detailed as I'm going to get on this fairly open forum. Anyway, I am twice divorced. And I'm not currently dating anyone (we'll unpackage that nugget in a little bit). Couple those two things with that first little gem I left you with and you have an explanation into my recent foray into Tinder.

But Todd...why would you want to use the interwebs to hook up with random strangers when you could just as easily go to a bar and try to pick up someone in person? Good question. Have you met me? For reals? Do I look like the kind of dude who could pick someone up in a bar? Yeah, no. Which leads me to the first big jewel that has my anxiety kicking in as I'm typing.

I'm insecure. Not all the time. Rather, it's probably better to say, sometimes I get flooded with some very lasered beams of insecurity. Not about all things. But in the area of dating/girlfriends/wives, I am. There is something wired in my brain where I don't think I deserve that kind of storybook happy ending (not that kind of happy ending). As much as I can see myself in the When Harry Met Sally kind of role--you know, where the plucky, funny friend is always there and the other friend is like 'omg--he's totally amazing and he loves me and I can't believe I didn't see it before' and it works out in the perfect way it always does in Hollywood, but almost never does in real life. Yeah, sure. It looks good on paper.

But something about how my brain is wired up there in the olde brain bucket tends to lead me to believe that no matter what situation I find myself in, there is the underlying doubt river merrily raging between the two shores of You are totally punching above your class and there's no way she's not going to get sick of you at some point and You don't really believe that you truly deserve this kind of happiness, do you?

So, invariably, I find ways to make sure that I don't ever really truly open up to someone I'm dating. What I'm saying is, dating me is something that I wouldn't wish on anyone at this point. Oh, don't get me wrong, you may not actually see me express either of those two thoughts aloud to you, but they will be there. And somewhere along the way I will make a noble gesture. Something along the lines of saying that it's not really fair of me to hold you back. You could have so much more. There is someone out there that is way better for you than I could ever be. In short, dating me really sucks. And I don't do well with dating someone. I tend to go down the rabbit hole much more if there is a label on whatever the thing is. Let's be clear. It's not a noble gesture. It's bullshit. It's me being chicken shit and disbelieving you when you say there's nobody else you'd rather be with.

And here's the bitch of it..I will say that, and push you away even if, at that point in my life, you are the best thing in my life. Yeah. Fucked up, I know. But I have a lifetime of history to draw these conclusions from. It's a thing. It happens EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME. Somewhere in the dating process the doubt creeps in. I start to wonder why the person is with me. What could I possibly hope to offer them?

This doesn't just happen as I'm dating someone. There are times when this keeps me from actually starting to date, or even approaching the subject of dating. Because...my brain steps in and says, "Dude, that's cool and all, but you know it's only going to be a matter of time before you fuck it up or they wake up and wonder what they ever saw in you in the first place.

Look, I told you this was going down a dark path, shouldn't be a surprise. What's that? I didn't tell you that? Oh...shit. My bad. Yeah, my dude, this path is all covered in shadows-n-shit. Sorry about that.

Combine all the aforementioned doubt and sometimes mythic levels of self-sabotage with the fact that, after two tries at being someone's happily ever after (and the subsequent legal fees that ensued when the party ended), there is no way I really want to get married. Ever again. And not wanting to get married tends to put a damper on things at my age because many of the women in my particular end of the dating pool are looking for their last first kiss (no, that's actually a thing. You can make a drinking game out of it. Add in 'LTR' and you'll be blitzed by the 7th swipe). They want the knight in shining armor to be their soulmate-storybook ending. A lot of people my age or near my age are wanting those long term relationships, or LTR as the kids say, that will eventually lead to marriage.

And that's just not me. I don't really see myself as anyone's knight. My armor is tarnished and banged up, and to be perfectly honest hasn't really fit right since that last big dragon fight. So...there's that.

THOSE things are what led me to Tinder. Because...as I'm sure you all know from your vast interwebs experiences, Tinder is pretty much a place where consenting adults can post a work-friendly pic. If someone else likes your work-friendly pic and the words that may or may not be accompanying it, they swipe a certain direction and then you can match and eventually hookup (in pretty much all senses of that word). So...cool. I like sex. I suck at dating. I'm not looking for a wife or a long-term role as a boyfriend or whatever....so hookups it is. Seemed like a perfect solution.

Only, get this shit. Tinder somehow isn't a hookup site anymore. Somewhere along the way, it grew up. The number of 'not looking for a hookup' or 'if you're only interested in sex swipe left' comments in the profiles has led me to wonder if I'm missing something. In any event, suffice to say, there have been no Tinder hookups since I put my work-friendly pics up on there. Maybe it's because I'm honest from the get go. I figure that's kind of the point. There's a lot of 'don't want drama' and 'don't have time for games' things peppered in there, too, on the profiles I'm reading. Which--cool, me too brah. I don't want drama (see the aforementioned note of having 2 ex-wives). And I don't play those kinds of relationship games anyway. So, I'm upfront. I'm honest.

Because of that, I'm still sleeping with the laundry in my bed because when I roll over it feels like I'm sharing the bed with someone and not the big desert of solitude that it feels like when the clothes are put away. What? Don't judge me. Are you honestly telling me that you haven't left the clean laundry on half of the bed in such a way that it feels like you're asleep in the bed with someone? Oh. No? Just me? Fine, I'll be the weird one. I'm used to wearing that name tag-it's one of the few that fits me really well.

A friend I recently had brunch with asked me, "Why don't you just get one of those full length body pillows?" The answer was simple. Plausible Deniability. Dig this--if I leave my clean laundry on half of the bed, to the world, it just looks like I'm a bit of a slob and don't put my clean clothes away. But if I bought one of those pillows, I would be admitting that I needed that feeling every now and again of waking up next to someone. This hit home. It was one of the reasons, I think, that I rushed into my second marriage AND dragged my feet in ending that same marriage. So, trust when I say, that it's a thing that crossed my mind. But a pillow that broadcasts that to the world? Meh. Also I would have to actually put the clothes away. And we just can't really have either of those things, can we?

Didn't think so.

Oh--not to mention, those things are kind of expensive. So, there'e that added to the stack as well.

All of this is leading me to the place where I am really trying to take things at face value. I'm trying to be more communicative up front about things, and trusting that the other persons in my life will tell me if they have beef with me about anything. Or, I guess, conversely, if they have something good to say, that will come up too.  I'm trying to step around the doubt-bombs as I walk through this minefield...or rather mindfield, riddled with doubt a just enough self-loathing to spice things up a bit.

To recap. Am I alone? No, I know I'm not alone. My friends are amazing. Starting with the one who will readily tell you that she has a dork that lives across the hall all the way to my friends that I only see every 6 months. I know I have an amazing network of friends and I'm very blessed in that way.  But that doesn't mean that I sometimes don't feel lonely. There's a shortage of people in my life with whom I can start the convo with "hey...you like sex. I like sex. Wanna go do the sex?" Or the cuddling on the couch. Or the whatever kind of human touch and interaction releases those funky 'hey you're a human and life is totally OK right now' hormones throughout your system.

Also, while this may seem like the manifesto of someone in the midst of drowning in depression, I can assure you that it is not. I mean, think about it. A manifesto is WAY  more work than I'm willing to put into it right now. Also, I'm not entirely depressed. Sure, there are things I'm trying to work through to get me to where I think I'm supposed to be at this point in my life, but shit man, that's just life in general.

Thirdly, yes. I am currently taking my anti-anxiety meds. Trust me, if I wasn't taking them, there's no way I'd be able to put any of these words on the page without at least a full day of falling down at least a dozen rabbit holes. But no...I am. We're good there. It's the reason I can be so open. Well, that, and I know that only about 5 people are going to probably read this post anyway--so, it's all good.

The lesson I'm trying to live, and believe, and take to heart through all of this is, for fuck's sake, I need to get out of my own way. Getting cock-blocked is one thing, but doing it to myself just flies to a whole new level of ridiculous.

Look, I'm going to level with you here. There's definitely some more shit I need to work through on this, but it's stuff that's going to go in the paper journal. You can check out that journal from your local library in about 75 years. What? Are you telling me that I'm the only one that plans to have lived such an interesting life that my journals will be something that the public clamors for? Really? Fine. I mean...why else am I writing them?

Also, I mean it is almost 2 AM, and after the last two nights of not really sleeping, I need to try to get a few hours in. I've been missing time in Dreamland. Lately, there's be recurring visitors there. It's been giving me more fodder for the timetravel piece I'm still working on.

If you have made it this far, wow, thank you. I'm not sure why you kept reading, but it bodes well for when I publish things that are more intentional and not the ramblings of a lonely-dude with moderate to slightly severe anxiety disorder.

Alright my friends, I'm off to bed.

Peace Out
-AT

1.14.2020

A General Malaise

This post will likely be rushed. I’d apologize, but at this point, the quirkiness is more than likely something you have come to expect from me. 

It’s rushed for a couple of reasons. The first being that I have 28 minutes left of my lunch and feel like at 14 days into the new year and several months since my last post (it seems), this is long overdue.

The second reason it’s rushed is that I’m going to likely just do this in one sitting, no editing, no revising, no gut-checking any emotions or lack thereof that might find their way to this post. Again, I feel like it’s my MO at this point. 

Also, I’m lazy. Let’s be honest. Too many times this past year when push has come to shove and I’ve tried to impose deadlines on projects that I wanted to get done, something shiny has caught my eye and I dove into another, less productive time-suck. 

And that’s why I’m probably swimming in it now. That whole general malaise thing that’s going on. As is the case with just about any malaise (and specifically with a general malaise), I don’t have a good reason for the feelings. They are just kind of there. Like that sweater that was too itchy at first, to be avoided at all cost, it has been worn to the point where it seems comfortable, and I can’t really picture putting it back in the closet in favor for something that actually is comfortable and good for me.

Part of it is the writing. I know that. I know that when I don’t write every day, I hurt. Even these little blips on the blog help block the pain receptors and guide me back to that place where I feel like I’m doing something good with my life. 

And it’s been how long since I’ve put one of these out? Over two months. Sure, you’re right—I’ve guest blogged a few times since then, but in general, my lunchtime bloggy-blog has collected a fine layer of dust. And is giving me the side eye because I don’t take it out on the town and tell it how pretty it is anymore. 

It’s okay baby, I still love you as much as I ever did, and you are fucking gorgeous. 

That’s part of it, sure. I have to say though, I know that’s not all of it. Some of the other contributing factors are probably bordering on the edge of TMI, so I don’t care to dive too deeply into them. Suffice to say it has to do with the mounds of laundry I’ve kept on my bed these past few months. Because you know, there’s that little micro-infinity when you first start to come back from dreamland where you feel a presence in the bed, and it’s the person you were dreaming of and for that split second, the fact that you’re waking up alone feels like the dream, and not the reality. Again, I know some of that’s on me. I don’t do marriage all that well. Hell, to be honest, I’m pretty crap at dating, too. But I am a beast when it comes to snuggling, hanging out on the couch, watching movies, getting silly, and generally just hanging out.  Soooo, yeah. That was a little more of a reveal than I meant to give. Spoiler alert-I’m human. So, there’s that. 

On the plus side...I’m moving away from being on the plus side. Weight has dropped down around the 270’s.  It’s like a Freeway thing going on here. You see in Central Ohio, we have a highway called 315, and then our outer belt is called 270. I was on 315 for the longest time, and now I’m closer to being on 270. I’m not going to try to fool myself into thinking that I’ll ever be on 161 again (because that would make me look worse that Matthew McConaughey in that movie where he literally starved himself before shooting started. But yeah...I’m eating better. The bestie and I did meal prep for the week which has the trifecta of advantages: Controls spending; controls portions; and combats the lazy tendency when trying to decide what to eat to think that somehow spending money on Taco Bell is better than cooking something from the groceries we already spent money on. It’s Win-Win-Win. Plus...the soon to be routine of Sunday Meal Prep with my bestie is fun (takes care of some of that ‘feeling isolated’ thing).

I’m fighting the urge to cuss out the year. After all, it’s barely warmed up. And also,I feel like getting upset with an arbitrary construct just doesn’t do anyone any good and deflects some of the onus for me to own my shit. Although, I’m a little saddened by the passing of Neal Peart. And I’m also salty that people I love and care about seem to be getting mounds of shit dumped on their plate when all they were trying to do was finish the damn chocolate pudding that was 2019. 

And sure, work is busy. The fourth quarter of the year is our company’s busiest. I knew that going into it, but I still have the feeling on some days that I didn’t quite know how insane it was going to be. Still, even with all of that, this job is so much more of a better fit for me than probably any other job I’ve had in my life. Except for that time in High School when I was a DJ in training at a club geared for teens (Anyone remember Flamingo Isle, in Westerville?). Or the time I was a rock star for 6 days in 2008.

I’m not sure it’s going to be a better fit once I add New York Times Bestselling Author to the CV, but that’s not really going to be a problem anytime soon. I mean, in order for that to happen, I need to actually finish the books I’ve started. 

I’m working on that, too. I have a plan. I have a calendar. And I have star stickers. Each 500 words I write gets a star. If I get 50,000 words written in a month, I will celebrate with an evening of hookers and blow. And by hookers and blow, I mean a nice meal at a fancy restaurant.  Based on how I’ve started, January is safe. I might hit enough words to earn a meal at White Castle, but probably won’t earn a suit and tie meal at The Refectory. Maybe February.. We’ll see. At least I have a plan. And this little post that you’re still reading (dear god, are you still reading this?? I’m so sorry. You must be sick of baby Yoda memes if you’re still here) counts. 

I guess that’s one of the lessons that I’ve missed. Well...it’s one of the lessons that took me about thirty-seven or thirty eight years to figure out. And then I’m good for a few months. And then I forget it again for about a year or so. And then I figure it out again. It’s a vicious circle. I’d say cycle, but that implies that it can be broken at some point, and I’m beginning to realize that it can’t. Nor should it. You see, it’s usually when I get to this point of malaise that I figure enough is enough. Oh, I mean, sure, if you want to get picky about it, that point is usually when I run out of Moose Tracks and Coke Zero, but why be so hurtful?  Point is, here’s the lesson. 

Every. Word. Counts.

Yes. Some of the words are garbage. But you cannot edit a blank page. 
Besides, some of the words are not garbage. Some of the words give your best friend, who is easily one of your favorite authors on the planet, word-envy. OK, most don’t, but I’m hanging on to the compliments and motivations where I find them, you do what you need to do.

Oh—yeah. That. The thing about words. For me it’s words. Your mileage may vary. For you it might be every loop and knot in that macrame hanging flower pot you’re making. Or every measure you record on that kicking bass track in your basement. Whatever your thing is, it counts. Every single one of them counts. It is enough just to be doing the thing. 

You are enough.

Hey—Future Todd, when you read this, remember—You Are Enough. 

Have an awesomesauce day my friends!

10.30.2019

Marriage Material??

I had a friend call me today, fuming. I consider myself a good listener on most days. Considering that I was out of town on a work trip and doing absolutely nothing in my hotel room, my listening game was on-point.

She recounted the exchange that sent her off. I will spare you some of the more personal details, but the gist was, at one point, the dude-bro she was talking to flat out told her that she wasn’t marriage material.

Torn between wanting to be a supportive friend and being completely gobsmacked, I felt her frustration. No. That’s not quite right. I didn’t feel the same frustration she felt. I’m approaching what some consider middle age. I’m white. I’m primarily interested in women. Oh, and I have a penis. So...no, I can never truly feel the same frustration she was feeling. Or an anger that comes from the same place her anger came from. No matter how in touch I am witn my feminine side (whatever the fuck that actually means).

Instead, the frustration and anger I was feeling was because this complete waste of space had frustrated and angered my friend. And because he had further taken a big dump on any path of progress men could hope to have in quashing the rampant misogyny in our society.

And the phrase that stuck with me was ‘marriage material.’ Marriage fucking material.
What is marriage material?

I’m not even going to dive into the fustercluck of what a marriage is. (Love is love, leave your gender pronouns out of the definition of marriage).

So is marriage material, then,something on the list of things (both tangible and intangible) needed to make a marriage?

Last I checked, you needed 2 willing people with enough money between them to pay to file legal documents in whatever state they were “getting married” in, and the time to stand before a judge and get the official swearing of said marriage.

That’s it.  At its core, that’s really all of the material you need for a marriage. Two people and a contract.

But that’s not what this ass-clown said.

He said that my friend was not marriage material. SHE was not marriage material.

He was clearly reading a different blueprint for marriage. A person can’t be a document or the time to assert the vows.

So what was the not so subtle dig here?

That my friend was not worthy of a happily ever after? Don’t even get me started on that...because not all marriages lead to HE--at all.

Was he saying that she wasn’t good enough for him?  Bullshit. I’ve never met this dude, but if anything I know my friend is too good for him based on this conversation alone.

What frosts my nards about this kind of exchange is that the issue clearly lies with the dude. There’s some shit he’s got to work through about what he’s looking for in a partner. At its core, with or without the legal document or big fancy church wedding, a marriage is always a partnership. Period.

So, dude’s got some issues.

And he lashes out and puts the shit squarely back onto my friend.

THAT is the dick move.

Men...I’m begging you...pleading with you...kicking your ass in a drinking contest if necessary—whatever it takes to get this message through.

OWN YOUR SHIT.

Seriously. Own it.

If YOU have confusion about something--like how to effectively communicate with someone you are interested in (no matter their gender)...own it. Don’t push that off on someone. If you can’t see yourself in a lifetime partnership with someone and you want to keep it casual (or you want to break it off), then COMMUNICATE and FOLLOW THROUGH.

DO NOT put that shit onto someone else. Nobody has time to shoulder their own shit AND yours. And that goes doubly for most of the women I know. They already have to shoulder enough shit heaped onto them by countless men in their life.

Don’t pile on to that heap.

I can guarantee that there is no woman that deserves to have your insecurities piled on to their own shit in the form of thinly veiled “keeping it real” talk.

And for fuckssakes...if you ignore my previous pleas and pile it on anyway, do NOT call her a crazy bitch when she calls you on your shit. You had that shit coming.

Untitled Blog Post #17

I actually have no idea if this is actually the 17th blog post I have written without a title. It could be. Probably isn’t. Not sure that it matters.

What does matter is that I am actually writing. This is the third blog post I’ve written in as many days. One of them is going to be on my friend’s business site (and I’ll be sure to post the link when it’s up). The other was written as a reaction to a conversation I recently had a with a lady friend of mine (not like that). I let her read it and she said it was OK to post, so that one is forthcoming.

And then there is this. This post. I am sitting in a plane* at whatever thousands of feet planes fly at and I can hear the flight attendant chipping the ice. It’s very disconcerting. POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND.

On the plus side, it is drowning out the kids who are shouting and not understanding why they can’t hear each other (but somehow everyone can hear them).

In the seat next to me is a passenger who has the sniffles. Hopefully not a full on cold. I don’t need one of those. I had some spare fresh tissues and thought they would serve her better than the bathroom sandpaper she was using.

Across the aisle is...I don’t know what. A goddess? Probably not, but she is one of those women who has this kind of joie de vie that just radiates outward and makes her whole persona shine. I don’t know her name. I likely won’t know her name unless she happens to swipe right on me and what are the fucking odds of that happening? Not bloody likely, I can tell you that.  It’s ok, though. She seems to be one of those souls that you’re just supposed to experience and be the better for it. At least for a little while.

I don’t know where that came from, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Ya know? I mean, there is probably a non-creepy way I could have said that I enjoyed the laughs on the flight. The way the flight attendant scolded her for switching seats. The way she casually poo-poo’d it when I told her they sometimes had to redistribute the heavy ones like me when the flight is not quite full. She won’t know all of this. But those are the kind of people that somehow wind up in my book. There will be a character. And maybe she’ll read it and think, “Hey...that happened to me on a flight...I wonder…”

And isn’t that what’s cool about this life we are living? We never really know who we touch in our day to day interactions. She will likely think nothing of this, just another flight. But for me, I’ve just had the indelible image of a character for a book burned into the writing files that live in my head. Those are the gifts that make sitting in a planeful of cholera worth it.

Yes, it’s the time of year when people travel even when they are sick. So there is a call and response of cough, sneeze, cough, sneeze that would make the priest sitting in 27C proud.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to be comforted or worried by the priest being onboard. Faith and spirituality I’m good with, it’s religion that has become the estranged cousin in my life.

But I did have a realization as they were going through the safety demonstration. And I’m almost positive that I’ve posted something about this before. I guess this post is just a reboot, then.


There’s a point in the demonstration where they talk about the oxygen mask dropping from above you. And they say that if you are traveling with someone who needs help that you should put your mask on first, before helping others.

And that kind of hit me.

How many times do we run around in life trying to make sure everyone has their mask on and we wind up passing out because we forgot to put ours on?

Too many damn times. That’s how many.

People, in the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, for fucksakes, put on your damn oxygen mask first.

You are going to be no good to anyone if your own mask isn’t on.

Read that last sentence again. It’s OK, I’ll wait.

On some level, you MUST put yourself first. You have to make yourself a priority if for no other reason than someone in your life is counting on you to help them put their mask on.

And what did Tina the amazing flight attendant (who came back to me with the 2nd half of a can of Coke Zero and a new cup of ice) tell us?  Put your mask on first BEFORE helping others.

It seems such a simple lesson. A lesson that is really just common sense when you think about it. But how many times DAILY do we all fail at this on at least some level?

17.

I’m guessing. Your number may be more, it may be less, but I can bet you that your number is not zero.

Here’s the other thing I learned. And this one is slightly more allegorical, but here goes.

In the (highly unlikely**) event of a water landing, your seat can be used as a floatation device. The takeaway from this is kinda straightforward.

Sometimes you are going to splashdown in the shit. It happens. You’re going to get wet. You’re going to fall right on your bum into the drink. But never fear, your cushion can be used as a floatation device. Meaning, we already have the equipment to float and not sink. Look, I never said I was Brenee Brown here. I’m just a dude sitting on a plane writing a blog. What you takeaway from it is entirely up to you. Much like the whole self-help genre in general. Someone writes a self-help book...but in the end, the self that is reading it is in the one who has to act on the help that is prescribed. I’m not sure where that fits into the whole flight safety demonstration, but I’m sure it’s in there somewhere between the pretzels, Stroop waffle, and Biscoff.

I sure there is more I could say with this. And I know I took some pretty pictures of the flight safety card to go along with the post, but we’re beginning our initial decent, so Tina is going to make me stow my iPad and put my tray table back up.

So, peace out for now.

-AT




















*-People always say they got ‘on the plane,’ but that’s not really accurate, is it? We actually get in the plane. Language is weird.

**-I always get a little nervous how much they emphasize that landing in the water is unlikely. It’s like, Dude...we’re flying into and out of New York, you fuckers are known for landing planes on the Hudson, mmmkay?!


7.31.2019

Where in the What? And Rainbows, too?!

It has been what...wait. That’s not right. Has it really been three months? Three months since I’ve dusted off the keys and put something up here? Holy cow. Three months since I had it in my head that I had something important to say that I was sure that everyone would want to read.

There has been so much that has happened since my last blog post that to try to cram it all in here would not be good. For either of us, if I’m being honest.

So, let’s pretend that I’ve taken notes on some of those amazing things and that some point in the near future, I will be sitting back down at this blog to share some of those incredible experiences with you. Everyone loves a good game of pretend. It will be delightful.

Speaking of pretend, some of you may know from your visits here that I am a writer and author. I currently have two books available on Amazon. And here’s the truly exciting bit—I have a third book on the way. I have targeted the release date as 10/01. I picked the date largely to avoid giving my beta readers and editor a heart attack, but also I really liked the whole binary aspect of it. That makes more sense as you read the book, I think. Which, I hope you all will.

The book is called “The Treachery of Rainbows” and it’s been a long time coming my friends. I completed the first draft for this book as part of the 2016 NaNoWriMo and it was my first real book. The first book that was all mine from start to finish. It was not part of an assignment or anything like that. An idea popped into my brain bucket and away we went.

The process taught me many things about myself as a writer. Writing this book was one of the key pieces of thinking I actually was a writer (some days I still wonder, to be truthful).

I have to admit, I’m nervous, y’all. This is my third book, true. At it’s heart, though, it’s the first book. And sure, the rewrites and revisions happened after the other two, so I have grown as a writer. But I’m still nowhere close to the 10,000 hours that is generally considered to be the magic number to achieve Mastery of a given skill.

The book is currently with a few trusted Alpha/Beta readers and also with the editor. I might have gone out of order on the steps one is supposed to do to bring a book into the world. Although, let’s face it-I was never going to be doing things the ‘normal’ way. I never really have. I don’t see any reason to start now.

It’s also the longest book I’ve written. I’m honestly pretty excited about it. But I’m going to shut up and get out of the way of my own words.

Here is the first chapter of The Treachery of Rainbows.  Please keep in mind that things may change between here and the time it’s published. Please enjoy!

Chapter 1 - Shane
Shane sat on the park bench. At least that’s what it was technically called. Far from being a park, the area was in one of the sanctioned atriums in the city. Unlike the other atriums, this one was built in the heart of the Ministry complex. Shane felt a peach within the solace of this place when he came here. He was alone on most days. Very few of the other Narrators knew about the atrium and normal citizens wouldn’t have access to this sector, even if they were aware of it. Shane was sure none did. Any location search pulled up zero check ins. He was breaking the law by not checking in. However, his position of Narrator afforded him some privileges in regards to the legal system in this sector.
Shane often felt out of sorts with the everyday life. This park with its absence of obvious technology felt more comfortable to him. He remembered his parents talking about the days when comms were called phones and were big clunky boxes and bound by cords to a fixed location and cameras were their own device. And even as they became smaller, they still were a tool. Not something that was vital to survival. Such a notion would make the citizens of this time physically ill. It wasn’t their fault;  most born into this life. The NC’s--Nanocites were administered in the womb. It had proven safer to keep the fetus healthy until a decision was reached by the HR division as to whether that child would be able to contribute to the corporate structure or not. 
Shane was born on the cusp of this great technical blitzkrieg. The nanotech had not yet been introduced in the rural area where his parents spent their sunset years. When a couple reached a certain age, childbirth was considered risky. There was an age beyond that where attempting to carry a child to term was illegal. Shane’s parents were well past that age when they decided to bring him into the world. Shane’s mother would not be deterred. She believed in something bigger than corporate law. She was of a rare breed who believed that the human race was better than the technology it embraced.  Shane made it to his first birthday without tech. That’s when the personnel sweep discovered the unregistered child and Shane became part of the system, registered as a human resource for the corporation nearest to his parents’ home. It was also the year Shane became an orphan. 
A familiar buzz came from the left breast pocket of Shane’s crimson tunic. He waited until it was humming at a fever pitch before pulling the device out and holding it to his ear.
“Dammit Madio, what took you so long? Why didn’t you engage aural nanos?”  The voice on the other end of the call was noticeably annoyed.
“I didn’t want to.” Shane’s reply was calm and unnerved his conversant.
“Where are you?”
“On break.” Shane knew that Central wanted to know where he was, not what he was doing. A smile crossed his face, but ever so slightly. Even the Atrium had surveillance cameras and if they ever did manage to work out where he took his breaks, that minor act of insubordination would most assuredly put him up for retirement from the Ministry and back in the workforce with the rest of the normal citizens. And if that happened, he wouldn’t be of any use to anyone. A quick glance at his  TIF-N confirmed that the privacy net was still on. Even while engaged in communications with Central, they would be unable to ping him. 
“Break’s over. We have a NOD.  Sector 17.”
The smile faded quickly. NOD’s were nothing to smile at. They were the most severe of the adjustments that Shane had to deal with. Each NOD, Naturally Occuring Distraction, could serve to take the citizenry away from their tech. And citizens off of their tech were dangerous.
“What is it, sir?” Shane’s tone was all business, any sarcasm gone. As he was talking, he was looking at the sandwich in his bag, knowing lunch was going to have to wait until he learned more about the NOD he had to deal with. He folded the flap on the bag closed and headed to the door. He stopped short when he heard the next words. 
“A rainbow.”
Shane stopped. A chill crawled up his spine. 
“Sir?”
“You heard me, Madio. A rainbow. At least 4 confirmed sightings. And Enviro Control is at least 15 minutes away from a natural solution.”
“Fifteen minutes is too long. We’ll lose a dozen more citizens by that time. I’ll be there in 2.” And then Shand ran.
“Good luck Agent Madio.”
“Thank you sir.”
Shane hit the main hallway in close to a sprint as he headed toward the pod bay. Others in the hallway knew that if a crimson tunic was sprinting toward the pods, it was nothing good and they made way for Shane. 
The personal comm unit went offline as the transport pod opened. 
“Sector 17. Level Nine Clearance. Authorization Utah-zero-nine.”
“Authorization confirmed.Welcome Agent Madio. Standby for transport.”
Shane pulled the visor over his eyes just as the first sparkle of the particle beams danced on the grid inside the transport pod. Narrators always wore their visors. Shane was the odd man out. He chose to look at the world through his own inferior human eyes every chance he could.  
A ball of light filled the pod. When the light was gone, so was Agent Shane Madio.

The streets were mostly quiet when a faint blue light sparked and filled the pod. When the light faded, Agent Shane Madio was standing in the pod. 
“Sector 17 Destination Reached Successfully, Agent Madio.”
Out of habit, Shane mumbled, “Thank you.”  The AI of the transport pods was not programmed for pleasantries, but just once Shane wanted to hear a nice robotic “you’re welcome.”
Stepping out of the pod, he assessed the situation. Most of the citizens were on the way to or from a corporate post. That’s when Shane spotted them.  What had been originally reported as four had grown to nine. 
Nine citizens had stepped off of the people mover, an act in itself that caused a slight commotion as bodies shifted and exited the moving track. The official designation on his reports would classify these 9 citizens as interlopers. Thankfully the rest of the citizens on the people mover and others in the plaza were following the augmented reality stream coming through their visors. None the wiser.
“I fucking hate rainbows, “ Shane muttered, heading toward the lopers.  Reaching for his comm panel, he started through the standard program, initiating the standard NOD protocol. All of the lopers were in the system. He quickly commandeered their feeds. All location posting, all tagging, and uploading of images was scrambled. The standard status of ‘Heading in to the office’ or some variant thereof was all that their immediate circle would see. 
He then engaged the containment net so that no other passersby would be able to tag or reach the lopers on the off chance they were recognized. 
To a person, Shane saw that they had all lifted their visors and were staring off in the distance, over Shane’s left shoulder. 
He pulled a piece of historical contraband from his bag. A vintage pair of 1985 Ray Ban Wayfarers. And taking off his visor, he put them on before turning to see it.
The rainbow.
Of all of the NODs that Shane and the other Narrators faced, the rainbow was one of the most intense. He had to admit, they were beautiful. There was something about the intensity and beauty that the population responded to.
Rainbows offer a glimpse into the mystery of a natural order most have forgotten. They come into being at the point where a sunny day and a rainy day meet. They easily distract the populous. 
The thing that truly makes the rainbow a threat to the corporations is that the visor cannot filter them out. Almost all of the other NODs can be filtered in the feed, the optics adjusting automatically to reduce citizen exposure. Despite their best efforts, rainbows are one of the few NODs that cannot be filtered. Because of the rods and cones in the human eye and how color is perceived, the visors have to allow those prismatic reactions to come through. Corporations found if someone pays attention long enough, they will realize that they are actually looking at a real rainbow and not an image on their Feed. It was a treacherous loop and corporations relied on the Narrators to keep things in check.
Narrators are infused with nano technology that in the presence of a rainbow will alter how the rods and cones of the eye function, portraying the rainbow much how a dog might see it, in shades of black and grey.  
Shane preferred to use the Ray Bans to accomplish the same feat. He had the nano tech. He just chose to keep it programmed to engage only if his life was in danger. 
It wasn’t. At least not yet. If any more citizens stopped to look at this rainbow, it could be. And fast.
He had reached the crowd of lopers by this time.  Reaching down to his wrist controller, he entered a series of keystrokes.  He stood waiting for the reaction. Looking at the visorless group, he saw a strange look pass over each of their faces.  It was a look of confusion and then severe discomfort. They all doubled over. No one in the area paid attention to the fact that it was happening in unison. And those experiencing the discomfort were in no shape to notice anyone other than themselves. 
Shane stepped up to the group. “Citizens, please put your visors back in place. The sickness will pass once your visors are safely back in position and your connection has been re-established.”
As they put the visors on, Shane could see them shaking off what had hit them. Feeling better most realized they were no longer on the People Mover and got back in position to continue on their way to the office. Looking at the status bar on his comm panel, he could see the connections syncing.
Once Shane was sure they were all back on the Feed, he released the dampening field, flooding their feed with what they had missed for the last 3 minutes. Within seconds, they would be so caught up in the feed, they would think the rainbow was a passing memory or a meme they saw on a friend’s feed. 
Surveying the area, Shane found a hastily scribbled note, obviously left by one of the lopers and dropped when the NTCC wave kicked in.
“Rainbows exist.” Shane put his visor back on and looked again at the paper. It was blank.
“Not today they don’t,” he said and dropped the scrap in his satchel as he headed back to the transport pod.
Before stepping in, he saw the clouds roll in seconds before the first rain fell.
“I don’t know why they always bring the rain to the sunny side.”
The blue light filled the pod. 
When it was gone, so was Shane.




And there it is. Hopefully it was enough to get you interested in reading the rest of it in October. Have an awesomesauce day my friends!

Peace!
-Todd






























5.07.2019

The Kindness of Strangers

This post is going to be a little bit all over the place. If you know me, you are probably used to that by now. If you don't know me, welcome. My name is Todd. I'll be your slightly insecure author and docent on this tour of randomness we call Todd's Mind.

I am going to get a little real, and probably a little raw here today. I would normally be terrified of that. Of exposing myself to the world at large. But in looking at the stats for this blog in the 22weeks or so since I've left Facebook, the reality, I'm exposing myself to about 10 of you. Less if some of you come back and re-read some of the posts. So...yeah. Here goes.

I can count on 1 finger the number of times including today where I have run out of gas. Not talking about pulling into the gas station on vapors, but actually having the car die and coast to a stop because that life-giving dead dinosaur juice was no longer in the tank.

One time.

Today.

It's my own fault. I don't like to admit when I've done something stupid. OK, that's not entirely true. I will admit to it if I can do it in a self-deprecating, yet charming way that somehow endears me more to you. Then I totally will. We can laugh about it. I can tell you that I thought putting flame thrower backpack on bearded dragons would help them become real dragons and how could I have been so stupid. And you'd tell me that no, it's fine because you really didn't like that heirloom sofa and matching doily set all that much anyway and after 500 years of being in the family, it was time for something new. Maybe from IKEA. And we'd laugh, and dodge bearded dragons.

THAT kind of stupid I can roll with.

The kind of stupid where there are built in safeguards (at least 2) and that could have been avoided, I hate admitting to. But I'm going to anyway.

I ran out of gas today. Full on ran out. The car was like 'hey...I'm tired. I'm going to just slow down here and take a little nap, is that cool? No? Oh. Well, I'm doing it anyway. Goodnight.'

And then the engine died. And the car coasted. I was able to steer it to the side of the road. About 1/4 from the gas station that I was heading to anyway.

But Todd, how could this have happened? You're a relatively smart man. What gives?

Glad you asked, italicized plot device.

Because I was stupid and didn't pay attention.

The low fuel light came on last night (the first warning). This meant I was getting low on gas. It probably came on as I was heading to bowling. I, in all likelihood, ignored it-thinking I could get gas in the morning. So I drove to bowling. Yellow warning light. Drove home from bowling. Yellow warning light. I drove to work. Yellow warning light AND estimated miles remaining shifts from a number to the word LO (the second of the two can't miss methods for remining me that it's time for gas.

I think hubris and pride got in the way. I was thinking that there was no way I could run out of gas. I was thinking that I had done the math way better than the computer. In the car. The one specifically designed to tell me how much fuel is left (more on that in a moment).

So I coasted to the side of the road. I called my roommate to let her I know I would be late. I called Roadside assistance. They told me an hour.

Then I see a guy across the street (the 7 lane street) with two kids shouting at me, trying to ascertain why I parked where I did. I was finally able to communicate that I was out of gas. He shouted that he was going to bring me some gas and then walked away with his kids.

Forever and 27 minutes later, he pulled up behind me and pulls a gas can from his trunk. I sheepishly accept his help and mention that this has never happened. He smiles and tells me that it happens to everyone and that I'll probably pay better attention next time. This isn't said in a condescending way and I didn't take it as a dig. It was a conversation filled with kindness and concern, and gratitude. I was grateful he decided to help. He was thankful that it was just me being out of gas, because he could help with that.

I offered to pay him for the gas. He shook my hand and said No, sir. I started choking up, and he said that I can just pay it forward.

Then I got in the car and wiped the tears from my eyes. He put the gas can in the car, waited to make sure I was OK then he and his kids went on their way.

I immediately pulled into the gas station that was less than 1/4 mile away from where my car stopped and filled the tank the rest of the way.

I am quite grateful for the kindness of that stranger today.

Also, I'm a little pissed. At me. And at my car.
And here's why.

First off, I know better. I knew I was close to fumes as I was coming home. I passed 4 gas stations because I wanted to get to the gas station that I knew had the cheaper prices.

Secondly, I made a few extra stops in a vehicle that I knew was running low on fuel (remember, I had 2 different warning indicators to that effect).

 Those first two are reason enough to be at the very least, annoyed with myself. But the third pissy annoyance I blame on the car. Or more specifically, the car manufacturer.

Queue nostalgia music that lets you know that an old fart is about to say something completely self-serving about the way things were back in their day.

So back in my day, when I was first learning to drive, all the way through until, well-this car actually, the fuel gauge on a car was just that. It was a manual/analog, physical indicator (usually a needle dancing somewhere between an E and an F to let you know approximately how much fuel was in your tank.

This was a good system. you can see that needle getting near E every time you get in the car. When you get below E and into the reserve tank, a warning light would come.

It worked. My whole life it worked. I never ran out of gas.

My current car has an electronic dash. The only actual needles are the speedometer and tachometer. The fuel indicator is set up to display the number of miles that I can drive before needing to put more gas in the car.

And that would be fine. If it worked.

It works most of the time. 
The times when it doesn't work, though, are a bit baffling. Firstly, the calculation to display how many miles of fuel are left is fuzzy. By that I mean when I fill up the tank, it will say that I have 300 miles worth of fuel left. I can then drive 15 miles on the highway. The number should go down to 285. It doesn't. It goes to 390 or something like that. So there is no one to one match up.

And then when it hits the damn LO portion, I can't do any calculations at all at that point. I know it's the expectation of the car manufacturer that everyone is going to immediately to the gas station to fill back up. Only life doesn't work that way.

I need there to be a needle. Or a percentage of fuel. And it can't disappear and go to a fuzzy work like LO.

But that's not going to happen. So I need to be better about keeping gas in the tank.

Both in my car, and in my soul.

Fortunately for me, a stranger took time out of his day today to help me with both.

Peace,
-AT

The Magic of Imposter Crab Chips

Greetings my friends. As I do so often on these posts where I have been the absentee author, I will start off with an apology. I know that y...