Fuck New Year's Resolutions.
It's taken me quite some time in my relatively short 43 years on this planet (this time around) to figure out one thing: Resolutions Don't Work.
Now...as with most..ok..everything I've written on these virtual 'pages;' your mileage may vary. Resolutions may work for you. I doubt it, but I've been wrong before. And even if they do work, they're a bad idea from where I'm sitting (which at the moment is on a chocolate colored microfiber love seat while Nick Offerman is streaming on Netflix).
Dude. How can they be bad? Making New Year's Resolutions helps people.
No. It doesn't. As I'm sitting here reflecting on the sometimes glorious, sometimes completely fucked year that was 2014 and looking ahead, I finally figured it out.
New Year's Resolutions are based on Guilt, Frustration, and Regret. I feel bad that I didn't spend enough time with my friends...or my daughter...so I resolve to change that. I'm frustrated that I put weight back on...so I resolve to change that. Yada yada...the list goes on. You get the idea.
Thing is...those feelings might be completely valid. They're your feelings, who the hell am I to say they're wrong? And if careful reflection and introspection leads you to a place where you want to make positive changes, then cool. But don't...DO NOT make a resolution from it*. The resolution is a pie in the sky answer to all the problems. Because the sinister part of the resolution is almost always unsaid aloud, but it's there.
I resolve to exercise regularly in 2015 because there are days where I feel like a fat fuck.
I resolve to spend more time with my friends in 2015 because I feel like they are silently judging me for being so hermit-like.
Again, as indicated by the '*,' your mind may not work like this. Mine does (lucky me). So, because of that, I have to avoid resolutions. Resolutions are the silent reminder that no matter how kick ass things were in the year you just finished, there were still things you aren't happy about.
So instead of focusing on the moment...instead of counting your blessings...instead of looking at all the amazing things that are in our lives, we focus on the things we wish we had..the people we wish we were. And that's just a shitty way to start the year.
To be constantly reminded of that each time you share your resolution is almost a certain recipe for failure. And then what happens when you DO inevitably fail is that you feel even worse....because sticking to your resolutions was suppose to solve the actual problems that the resolution was based off of in the first place.
It's a vicious cycle.
One that I will not be participating in.
There are goals. I have plans for 2015. But they are going to require careful though and preparation. Not some careless scribblings on a napkin used to mop up the leftover pork and kraut drippings.
So as you ring in the passing of another day that just so happens to be the first one on the calendar we all finally settled on, I give you this:
Here's to you, my friends.
Here's to the beauty of living in the moment.
Here's to the long game. Not some reality of who you think you are supposed to be segmented in to blocks of 365 days.
Here's to love and laughter and dancing naked in the rain (although you may want to check both the weather, and the local municipal laws before doing that last one.
Be safe and be merry.
Love to all in the upcoming series of 'nows'.
And it's my blog. Why the hell wouldn't I be honest? Doesn't make much sense, does it? No. It doesn't. But that's neither here nor there at this point.
Point is....erm...OH. Right. Weirdfuckingholidayseason and what-not.
I have a friend who gave me a gift. I have a few, actually. One was a Swatch watch. Vintage. To add to my growing collection (because I like Swatches....and watches in general). To date almost all of my watches have been gifts from friends. It floors me every time. Not only do they know me well enough to know I will love that, they also know which particular watch in the watch universe looks like a Todd-watch. And trust me...there is a mold for that. And my friends nail it. Every single time.
It blows me away. Seriously.
Another friend and reader of my more positive posts and blog gave me this set for Christmas.
These recent activities have led me to uncover 2 truths about myself.
The first is that I collect things that I wanted as a youth, but never really had. At least not to the extent that my friends did (watches, and Swatches being a prime example. Real Rubik's cubes (not the knockoffs) being another). I suspect that's the case with many collectors.
The second...and something more of a painful truth.
I don't accept gifts very well. I mean, I'm not rude about it. But I'm always taken aback. Part of me feels like....I don't know...that I don't deserve it? I know that seems weird. But I feel like...I dunno. I can't quite explain it. I just feel like, when I get a really nice gift that the person giving it to me maybe got it wrong. Like they had two gift bags and I was supposed to get the fruit cake.
I just don't take gifts well, I guess. I think part of it was being with someone who downplayed random 'for no reason' gifts. And so that got me in the habit of thinking those kinds of things weren't really called for. And so when I have them given to me I'm a little taken aback.
The love and thoughtfulness put in to the choosing of the gift always catches me off guard, too.
Maybe this is why I haven't writing for almost 2 weeks. I've felt...um...hell. I don't know what I've felt.
I don't know where this is really going.
Friends. I love them and they love me.
And I'm learning to be OK with that. Because...as I wake up each day...I'm finding that I do, in fact, have something to give.
Here's the simple truth my friends. I'm kind of a pussy and I'm shit with follow through. The book (books? screenplays? poems? ) may or may not every get published. But...that doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, my life's purpose is not to get published (although I'm hoping that's a nice side benefit).
My life's purpose is to be creative. And through that creativity shine a light illuminating a greater force in the universe. And to inspire others to find their own inner creativity.
I'm a mirror, my friends. A moon, if you will. I don't feel that I'm meant to be a source of light. I'm just supposed to reflect that light from the Source. And to show you that you all have that ability.
It's that realization. Along with the surprise attack random acts of kindness from my friends that pretty much throat-punched the Holiday Funk.
And that feels pretty stinkin' good.
Gifts are wrapped. And I'm writing.
All is right with the world.
Have a kick ass night my friends.
And I get that.
I understand fully that I am blessed. If I were to list everything that I count daily as a blessing, I would be high on the list of people you want to throat punch-trust me. But that's not the point. The funk doesn't come about because I forget to count my blessings. It's not a George Bailey Moment where I have to be shown what the lives of others would be if I weren't here.
It's not really any of that.
It's the grey days. It's the apartment that at once seems massive and fatally constricting. It is the fact that it has only been one year since the divorce was finalized (and all of the internal bullshit that floats in my head from that).
So...with all of that, there is a funk. A funk of trying to remember that yes, this was the best thing for me at the time I was going through it.
I don't think I'm special in this regard. I think that many people that have spent time with someone for any length of time be it a marriage or relationship of some sort would feel a sense of loss when that is over.
Please don't confuse this with me missing what I had or any kind of longing. It's not that. It's just that there is now a place that is empty. Whether what was filling it was a good thing or not is irrelevant...the spot is still empty.
And the holidays remind me of this fact. I come home to an empty place. No pets. No kids. No background noise from someone doing something in another room. It's not bad. It just takes some getting used to. And sometimes that's rough.
That's the funk.
It's not necessarily depression. It's adjustment.
So yes...I'm doing fine. Some days I feel I've adjusted better than others. It's a process.
And there you have it.
Now that my server upgrades are done, I'm going to bed.
Sweet dreams my friends. And even sweeter realities when you 'wake up' to find the dream world in this realm.
You. My friends. My family. My co-workers. The random person in the check-out line I used to joke with for no reason other than I was trying to figure out why you were buying a lawn chair, Dr. Pepper, and a box of condoms (said with a British accent) at 2:47 in the morning.
I'm not going to lie and I'm not going to sugar coat it. This shit with my neck is kind of fucking with me. It started a little over a year ago. The diagnosis (after much physical therapy) was that I had arthritis in my neck (between the C5 and C7). And that since, I could not take Ibuprofen, there really wasn't much in the way of any kind of temporary or long term relief I could expect.
A thin veneer of pain enveloped me.
Later, my index fingers started twitching. Resting tremors is what it seemed to be based on my limited medical training. I tried to avoid WebMD (because everything there usually leads you to something fatal or incurable). My quest to figure out what was going on with my digits led me to Parkinson's. Or Menopause. But Parkinson's seemed the more likely candidate (in a fucked up sort of way).
I went back to the doctor. The pain in my neck (no...not a person...the literal pain in my neck) rides at about a steady 4 out of 10 on most days. Not debilitating, but enough to let me know shit ain't right.
I went to see a orthopedic surgeon. He ordered an MRI. I got one of those. I later found out the Cervical MRI is one of the more difficult ones there is. Because really....you try laying there and not swallowing or moving or talking for a series of 8 4-minute stretches while you're wedged in to a torpedo tube. And apparently it only works if someone is backing all around the tube with a sledgehammer in some kind of rave-induced club kid hyper techno.
Yeah...so...the MRI revealed two bulging disks with bone spurs of moderately serious severity. I was told that surgery was the best option, but that I was welcome to try a steroid shot if I didn't want to have surgery right away.
I had the shot. 45 minutes of a needle in my spine. Bent over like an extra in Caligula. And when I was done, the doc (different doc) gave me these words of wisdom....
Because of where this is, I won't do another shot. It's too dangerous.
Oh...and also, apparently because it's the neck, they don't have lidocaine in with the steroid...so I didn't even get the few hours of temporary relief I was promised.
The shot didn't help. Well...maybe it did. It might have reduced the swelling some. The twitches aren't as prevalent and there's only tingling in my fingers sometimes. I'd say the pain is back to where it was about 6 months ago. Which is to say, a constant reminder that something is kind of fucked up with my back.
I'm at the crossroads of 'this sucks' and 'what the fuck do I do next?'
I think I still want to try acupuncture. But I am acutely aware that it will only alleviate the pain. It won't make the bone spurs go away.
Which leads me back to surgery.
I'm not looking forward to surgery. Last time I had major surgery was in 1997. And even though my marriage was on the rocks, there was at least someone there to take care of me.
Yeah. I'm scared.
I'm scared of the surgery. If it works--awesome. But my luck in that area hasn't been stellar.
I'm scared that if I get surgery on my neck, I'm not going to be able to sleep on my back. Which is going to mess with my whole Sleep Apnea CPAP thang.
Most of all....I'm scared of waking up in the middle of the night, in pain and not being able to do anything about it.
I've had it happen. It sucks.
So...I'm sorry. If you find that you have to remind me that you were 'just kidding' ...or that something you said was just to get me to smile.
I'm sorry. I'm in pain-management mode. And I'm finding when I'm in pain management mode, I'm a little more serious than I ever was. And I tend to want to just get things fixed or resolved. Please keep in mind that I'm looking at things through a veil of 'holy shit can my neck please stop hurting for one fricking minute' and it's clouding how I would normally view the world.
It's not me. And I know that.
I just want to stop hurting so I can go back to laughing and loving life again.
Prior to really actively shilling my written wares on the social media du jour, I averaged about 15 readers per post. I'm sure that at least 4 of those were mine as I checked the page and what not. I think one of my recent posts managed to break 50.
It's both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging that at least 50 of my friends took enough time to click a link on my Facebook wall. Maybe they shared it. Maybe they didn't. But the downside of that....the doubt that sits on the sidelines like a fieldgoal kicker waiting to get his big moment in the game....the doubt makes me wonder if I can only get 50 or so people to read this blog which (as some of you may know) is written in much the same voice as my other work, then would I have more than 50 people that would actually buy my book? Leastwise if it was a collection of posts (articles...random meanderings) of this very same blog?
But Todd, you've got to just kick the shit out of that doubt! You're a very good writer--people love reading your work!
That's easy for you to say italicized other voice on my blog (and sometimes in my head--yeah, I don't know how you speak in italics either, but the fucker pulls it off).
Here's the thing. The doubt IS always there....here...wherever.
It's fueled by a lot of things.
One of the things that seems to be urinating petrol on an open flame at the moment is self-image. Growing up I always thought I'd be a philosophy professor (this was after wanting to be an astronaut, rock star, fighter pilot..you get the idea). But when I was asked by the Philosophy chair at OSU to declare my major as Philosophy, it made sense. The main thing a philosopher would do (I thought), would be to write and teach. Made sense. Seemed the perfect fit.
I pictured myself sort of a Doc Brown type...hair unkept, papers flying free from under the arm of my elbow-patched tweed sport coat and jeans as I scurried across the Quad. Well liked by students...respected by my fellow faculty.
Somewhere along the way that image of me, that dream was put up on the shelf.
In 2011, I was pushing 330lbs. I was getting pretty good at telling myself that I loved myself for who I was no matter how fat I was. But the truth was I wasn't very happy at all.
holy jump cut, fatman!
Stay with me here. So...I was fat. I was miserably trying to convince myself and others that things were fine. My body was fine. My health was fine. My marriage was fine. My job was fine.
Everything was fine.
Fine is bullshit.
Everything was not fine.
I wasn't writing (other than trying to be clever in the blog). I wasn't making music (other than some cobbled together cut and paste techno). I wasn't seeing much of a future with the person I had pledged to spend that future with.
In short....I was in a fucking hole. Doubt had kicked that self-image through the uprights and in to the stands and some little shit took it home with them and put it up on a shelf never to be used again.
A friend helped me climb out of the hole. I started my journey toward being healthy. Other friends steadied me as the marriage ended and my gait faltered. I am humbled every time I remember what my friends and family endured while I was in the abyss of doubt. And how they selflessly said 'fuck it. We're here for you no matter what, man.'
So...sometime in the next year, I lost a lot of weight.
Skip ahead, we know this bit already.
Yeah. So...I came to the realization this past weekend that things were starting to look too familiar. I was starting to wallow in the excuses.
Yes. I have a bulging disks (two, if we're getting specific).
Yes, there are bone spurs on the disks.
Yes, apparently they have to operate.
And for MONTHS (maybe even a year now) I have been using that as a reason to put off getting healthy. To put off exercising.
So, I'm trying to get back on to that horse. It's slow, and it's just like riding a bike. A living bike that shits as it walks (I was talking about the horse). But I've done it once.
That's not really the point though. The point of this post (rant, article, toilet-read) is something I found out this past weekend.
I have long said that if I could have any super power in the world, it would be the power to let someone see themselves as I see them. To see the beauty that radiates.
Why is this a super power? If someone is looking at you from a place of love, there is a light that will wreck you. It will shatter any doubt of your worth as a person. It is the ultimate gift you can give someone.
And this past weekend I had several friends, all crowded in a booth at Jimmy V's giving me that gift.
For the first time, I let myself see me as they saw me. The shadow of doubt completely cast away by the light of the love I felt.
And it fucking crushed my soul (and I mean that in the best way possible). I was overwhelmed. I was floored. And I was humbled beyond belief.
You have to have belief in your soul somewhere....even if it's just a seed. But if it IS a seed....having good and true friends to water and nurture that belief during those moments when you may not be strong enough...THAT is what will make you a shining start in this world.
And there are some dark days coming. We all need to shine as brightly as we can.
To Ryan, Katie, and Jenny....you gave me a gift Friday night that I will never forget. Thank you for that.
And to all of you reading this...you have given me another gift. I truly hope you enjoy reading these words as I do letting them spill from my brainbucket to the page.
Insert obligatory eye-catching pic here....
I look over and see the time, reaching for the phone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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?
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?
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?
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.
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!
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.
It does seem like the shot is helping. The pain has lessened...and I was able to get a good pop this morning (which I hadn't been able to do for months it seems)..so, the swelling might be going down.
That, or judging by the increase in finger twitching, it's shifting...it's probably too soon to tell. According to the discharge sheets, it could take up to a week, 7 days, to actually notice a difference.
And lucky me, the doc said it was too risky to try again. If the shots don't work-he recommends surgery. I'm gonna a) try other routes first (i.e. acupuncture) and b) get a second fucking opinion before I go under the knife again. The post-op complications in '97 are still fairly fresh in my mind thankyouverymuch.
Had it not been cold and rainy with the freeways jam packed with inept drivers on my commute home, I would have probably thrown on the lewd mechanic shirt and ventured to at least one of the parties.
Then, to be completely honest...I'm feeling far from social at the moment. Things are...cluttered...at the moment. Both in my head and in my home. When I left home to get married the first time, I had a bedroom's full of stuff (from my parents)...even less, actually, because I wasn't taking all of it. I lived in a small apartment. We moved in to a bigger apartment. I got more stuff. Some years later, the marriage ended. She moved out. I had an apartment full of stuff. Some my daughters...much more of it mine. I moved from the apartment in to a rented house. Bigger than the apartment. I had my daughter's stuff and a lot of my stuff. I got married again. The wife and her son moved in. Some of my stuff got purged (most got moved to the storage shed and the garage). We moved out of that house in to another house that wasn't much bigger strictly speaking in square footage...but it had more room to store stuff. Stuff that had, by that time been accumulated for over 12 years.
We stayed in that house for another 6 years. All the while accumulating more stuff. That marriage ended. And I had a shit ton of stuff. This time I moved out and the ex kept the house (And garage and shed and all the nifty places I had found to house all the 'stuff' I thought I needed. And maybe I did, at the time).
I moved in to an apartment smaller than the first apartment I moved in to with almost 20 years worth of shit that had been gathered since I first moved out of my parents' house in 1993.
I left a lot of stuff behind. It's been over a year and a half by this point...if I didn't bring it, I didn't need it--clearly. Because I damn sure don't miss it.
To put it bluntly...I have 15lbs of shit that I'm trying to cram in to a 5lb. bag. And it ain't working.
Things are...to put it mildly...cluttered. And it is very close to triggering a complete OCD moment in me.
That's one of the real reasons I didn't go out. Because I didn't want to come home to the clutter. So I stayed in. And sat here eating leftover pizza and devised a plan to eliminate the clutter.
It's a simple plan. Any clothes that aren't likely to fit in the next 6 months are getting donated. That will clear up at least 1/2 of my closet and most of my dresser which is now housing XL t-shirts from when I got down to 265lbs (don't worry...I will get back down there. I just know that realistically, it won't be in 6 months).
There will be a great purging of shit that is just shit for shit's sake. Knicknacks. Collectibles with nothing but geek cred. And any of a number of miscellaneous shite. Software disks that are no longer necessary (since I'm on mac now). All tossed or given away.
It's time to declutter. I need to get the extraneous shit out of my life at this point. I need for my home to be minimalistic. Housing the essential tools for my creative outlets...music...reading...writing...photography. Time to pare things way back.
Speaking of...I may be paring my photography gear way down, too. I'm finding as I progress, that I like shooting paid gigs for other people less than I like shooting things that interest me. I'm sure that's why I've taken such a shine to the instant camera phenom that has a firm grip on me.
This post doesn't really serve much entertainment value. It's really more of a declaration to myself to get off my ass and actually do it....not just talk about the great purge of extraneous bullshit of '14.
If it's all the same, I'll focus on the physical clutter first. With any luck, the mental clutter will abate when I have a more calm abode to unwind in.
We shall see.
Have a wonderful weekend. It is now November. The National Novel Writing Month.
Here's raising a pint to writing a book!!
And you'd be right.
I'd apologize for it, but the moroseness has to come out and see the light of day from time to time. Even if it's the pale light of the moon.
I suspect it's because I've been binge watching some Vampire Diaries spin-off on Netflix. Or perhaps it's because that sliver of universal truth that lives in each of us and cries to be re-connected with every other sliver in every other living thing is tweaking just the right creative vein. Or rather the right neuron to let the thoughts float in my head. Leastwise until I exorcise them.
And that, as you may have also correctly deduced, is where this blog comes in.
From time to time it's a place for me to lay my demons to waste. Oh sure...I have the requisite eom-kid paper journals to fall back on for the stuff that's truly too private. But this blog is, for the most part, where I lay things bare and let the carrion eaters of this universe take the scraps that are no longer serving my higher purpose.
That's a funny word. I think about it a lot. My purpose. My mission. The reason I'm in this world. This world. This time. This Now. And I've stumbled upon a couple of truths that I need to commit to the ones and zeroes.
Don't worry about me, my friends. You don't need to fabricate reasons to check on me. It's all good. I'm good. This is my way of cleaning out the wounds. Healing. Moving on. Whatever insight in to the universe I'm currently feeling (or think I'm feeling) will likely be canceled out by a cider-induced slumber. All will be right with the world.
But in this moment. I have figured out what a tortured soul truly is. I used to think that a tortured soul was some poor bastard who failed to follow the Love in this Universe (some of you call that Love "God"...that's not wholly incorrect, although it's not wholly correct either). But by turning their backs on Love, and living from fear and in fear, they become tortured.
But I don't think that's quite right.
I think a tortured soul is one who at some point in their life, gains a glimpse of their higher purpose, their calling....they see it...and they ignore it. Maybe they don't intentionally ignore it. Some purposes can be frightening. Some can be confusing. Some can be so completely at odds with this menagerie we find ourselves in that some have no choice but to turn away. And then there are those who just don't know where to start. They know that they need to move to this purpose...this calling. But the mechanics of trust in the Universe just aren't in place yet.
And so nothing is fulfilling.
That is the soul, in my humble opinion, that is tortured. I do not believe in a biblical hell of the judeo-christian machination. Time may well prove me wrong in that regard. However, I do believe in a hell on earth. And it is populated with tortured souls.
I've been there. I see them sometimes. I see the reflections in the mirror when I deny some of the things in my head that I know I need to move toward.
Yes...sometimes I sit..alone in a crowd. I sit confused as I look at people living their lives. I look around my apartment. The one place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. A home after a long day 'in the real world.' And I don't see me in this place. What I see as I look around are the artifacts of former lives. Things I dug up or acquired to play a role. To match the image of what I thought you expected me to be. What I tried to be for others. The geek. The movie maker. The photographer. The writer. The Musician. The pauper. The plucky, dorky sidekick. The philosopher.
All of those are facets of the true Todd. But no single one of them quite fits me on its own. And so as I see things that litter this tiny apartment, I realize that there are some things that do.
And they are the last thing I see as I close the door. And the first thing I see when I come home again.
But what if we never find our purpose?
Excellent question. You're probably not going to like the answer. But I believe that you either figure out your life's purpose or you don't. No one can tell you what your purpose is...you have to know it. You have to know that it's the one thing that you would still be if everything else you think you are were taken away.
I think we are here to teach...and learn. And then the next life time...we're here to learn....and teach.
It's a dance.
The music was written long before this thing called 'time' became fashionable. And it will be played long after our part in the score has passed and we are regarded by some other beings much the way we regard the 'lesser' species on our planet. Mildly amusing, and as Douglas Adams said, 'mostly harmless.'
Sorry if I worried you for a bit. The cider's kicking in and all is well.
Until the next time I'm awake and dreaming, have a great evening my friends.
-Andrew Todd Skaggs
I get it. We've all been there. Something shitty happens in your life. Say for example, you go in to see the doctor because your wife tells you that she's no longer dealing with your depression and leaving you with the baby if you don't get some help. And in that Dr. visit, doing their routine physical, they find something wrong with your heart. And determine through subsequent tests that you have 6months-tops-to live without heart surgery. Oh. And you're 25.
Certainly that would merit saying 'fuck my life...'
I mean, sure I pulled that example out of my ass, but you get the point. Point is...shitty things happen to all of us.
What frustrates me about the whole "FML" phenom is that it ultimately (in my humble opinion) winds up bringing additional negative energy. Which, in turn, fucks your life up even more.
But to be fair...Life doesn't really care. We are all here to learn something. We are all here to teach something. How we go about those two things are where the whole free will thing comes in. Ultimately it's up to you how to proceed. But sometimes, when I'm tempted to say FML (as I surely would have been in 1997), I instead ask myself, "Am I supposed to learn something from this...or teach something from this?" Ultimately that puts things in a better light for me.
Alright *pushes soapbox aside*...that's enough of that.
A pet project that I might be reviving. You see, I had a doctor once tell me that the reason my wife didn't want to sleep with me was because I was fat. Well, she said 'morbidly obese' (because the medical term sounds so much better). And that if I were her husband, she wouldn't be attracted to me sexually either.
It was rude. Probably a bit over the line as far as bedside manners go. But it got the ball rolling. I lost 50lbs before my wife and I divorced (and another 15 after). And there was no change from then to well before the doctor dropped that bomb on me. Clearly it was not my girth that was the issue in our marriage. But that's a story for another time.
Speaking of the girth. I was going to make a movie called 'Lard Ass' and chronicle my journeys. It was the impetus behind the whole 'nomorefattodd' things that I did for a good bit.
In November 2011, I weighed 330lbs. In the course of the next 18months through exercise, dietary and nutritional changes, and a regimen of vitamins and supplements, I got down to 265lbs. I thought I was fit enough to cross something off my bucket list--the Warrior Dash. So I entered it. And finished it. And got hurt somewhere along the way. But I finished it. By myself. I had friends there, but we never met up. So I crossed the line, hobbling...in agony, but happy and feeling accomplished. Some people I didn't know cheered.
Then I would up straining the muscles in my shoulder and back....and through the course of this found out that I have arthritis in my neck. So....the exercise that I had been doing has fallen to the wayside.
I'm sneaking some of the bad food back in to my dietary rotation. And I've cut back on the vitamins and supplements.
And I'm back up to 315lbs.
Here's the thing that might come as a surprise. I may not look like Hollywood sexy, but I feel sexy as fuck. My esteem is finally being built back up--brick by slow brick. So...when I say I'm resurrecting the whole 'nomorefattodd'/LardAss project, it has nothing to do with my image of myself.
It has to do with the physical limitations. I'm determined to get the weight off and keep it off for the following reasons:
- I want to live to see my daughter have an amazing family of her own.
- I want to fly on a commercial airliner without wondering if this is going to be the time I need the seatbelt extender.
- I want to be able to shop for clothes in normal department stores
- I want to be able to ride roller coasters again
- I want to not have to worry about the weight limit of things
- I want to be able to sit in a plastic chair without worrying if the legs are going to buckle
- I want to sit in a camping chair and not worry about breaking the frame
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