Tag Archives: thoughts

Irrelevant Pre-Christmas Update with No Photos, Three Links, Four Colons and Three Ellipses

11 Dec

I thought I’d get something posted today to prove I wasn’t killed in a natural gas explosion or something.

It’s not that I’ve stopped writing; I’ve just switched to fiction–thousands and thousands of words of . . . fiction. Plus, I  haven’t fallen down the steps or anything funny since summer, which is good in a way, but that stuff’s always fun to write about.

(I also went through a period of deep, dark, redonkulous depression thinking douche-bag Romney had a shot at winning the White House. Phew! I actually voted for Jill Stein, not Obama. Go Green!)

This is some news: we traded in our 2010 (I think) Sonota and our 2009 (I think) Prius for a space-age 2011 Prius. I know it’s bizarre for a two parent family to “get by” with only one car, but I’m committed to driving as little as possible for various reasons. I’ve written about all that before–my “war” on automobiles.

So, yeah, I’m super-pumped about that and the one car is cool-as-hell. Example: pretend the car is locked and the “keys” are in my pocket, or, if I’m naked, they’re lodged between my butt cheeks. I can unlock the door with a swipe of a finger (any finger) on the door handle, start the car, drive a half mile without using a drop of gas, stop, get out, and lock the door, all without touching the keys. The car has no ignition or key holes! It’s almost like putting a small comb and toothbrush in my pocket and having my hair styled and my teeth cleaned without having to do anything. Okay, not quite like that, but . . . sort of.

Other news: we’re remodeling the back of our house–the “family” room. There’s nothing funny about it; it’s a mess right now, but in a couple of weeks come over and experience the magic of new hardwood floors and fresh paint and light fixtures and . . . all that. It’s not nearly as exciting to me as it is to Jennifer.

The kids have the sniffles, the dogs and I need haircuts, the cats are on a new, expensive “limited ingredient” diet, and I’m–as I type!–listening to 80s music on Pandora. It’s a clear, chilly, beautiful day in my world.

Hermey Doesn’t Like to Make Toys

29 Jun

The innocent decision to write a novel has seriously screwed up my week. I can’t write. Creating a 500 word blog post has been like trying to catch a buttered kitten. (Which, by the way, happens to be one of my favorite things in the world to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon.) I actually wrote something the other day about writing a novel that was to be published here, but it sucked too bad. Then the next day some other words sucked. Yesterday … it sucked.

Writing a novel is hard work. I almost had a complete breakdown in the first hour of the planning stage. Then I tried to write a scene. What a mess that was. So I just slid under my desk and sucked my thumb for six hours … like I did in college. No, not really, but it kinda sounds nice. In college, I just pushed through it. I had professors and bad grades to deal with if I didn’t.

Before this silly novel idea, I shut down the virtual t-shirt shop to free up two hours from each day. Now, with more time to create and less to show for it, the pressure to DO is maddening. One can’t create staring at the clock with abusive thoughts (like “Do something idiot!”) flitting about. That’s when I say “Nap time!” But I wake up dejected all the same. At least, that’s what happened yesterday. So I’m forced to chop vegetables or vacuum something filthy to feel better. Anything mindless works, really.

Then if one day turns to two days turns to three days, I begin to think about other, better ways to spend my time, like grad school or sitting in a nice cave somewhere. That little monster on my shoulder yells “Stop writing … FOREVER! You’re wasting your time, jackass.” When it gets that bad the new blog posts dry up and I disappear. I disappear into conformity–working, but not living. Not growing. Shrinking. Suffering.

I have never felt like a conformist. (That’s putting a positive spin on it. Really, I’ve always felt like an outcast, partially from self-esteem issues.) I’ve always connected with Hermey from Rudolph. YOU’LL NEVER FIT IN! But, after 40 goddamn years, I’m beginning to see that as a positive. I look around and see no good reason to fit in. Fitting in is conforming is deadening is boring is television is commuting is shopping is fattening is believing is a perfect waste of time.

Anyhoo, today’s been better. Much better. What I’ve earned: Don’t believe your bad thoughts and shitty moods. It’s all a scam. Sure, it feels real at the time, but …

Say it with me: Tomorrow’s a brand new day.

People Watching (Why You Don’t Want Me Jogging in Your Neighborhood)

22 May

Common question asked while people watching: “Did you see that?”

Have you ever sat in a crowded place and just watched people? Of course you have. I think “people watching” is a common enough activity. I would go so far to call it unavoidable. If you ever go to a department store–a Walmart–you must be doing a little of it. I can do while pushing a cart; I’ll even stop and feign interest in bath mats if I hear something striking coming from an interesting face.

It’s enough time to create a tiny snapshot of people’s lives, no more than prejudices and stereotypes. When I see a mom unabashedly yelling at or spanking her kid, I shudder thinking about how she disciplines at home. I see families that look like they just climbed out of a dumpster and wonder what their house looks like. I see beautiful people and wonder if they live beautiful lives.

An extension of my love for people watching is actually discovering how people spend their time. I would love to grab an interesting-looking person on the street and ask “What are you all about?” Obviously, I don’t mean literally “grab” them–that’s against the law and could get you killed–but just talk to people. Sadly, I’m not one of those people who can approach strange people. Everyone seems so busy. And if I find myself in a conversation started by a stranger, I’m not able to ask such personal questions. Instead of probing, I end up being probed, which is uncomfortable.

Generally, I have to rely on the written word or television for glimpses to the inside. Though I rarely watch them anymore, I’m fascinated with shows about addiction and mental illness. I like Hoarders and Intervention, but the latter scares the crap out of me. A whole section of this addiction show is reserved to remind us that it can happen to anyone. She was such a happy baby. Maybe that’s why reality shows are so popular: our fascination with what’s going on behind the curtains.

When I jog at night by a house with unblocked windows I can’t make myself not look. What’s going on in there? Are these people happy? Miserable? Is there an alcoholic living there? Is someone dying from cancer?

My wife makes sure our shades are drawn at night. I tend to leave them open. What would people see in our house? Maybe me reading or cleaning up after the kids. They would see kids running, jumping, fighting, dancing. In the warm months, they would hear the sounds of kids and dogs–thuds, barking, screams, crying. They might hear music.

That’s boring, common stuff. It’s what you’d expect to see. The juicy stuff isn’t visible from the window. It’s in histories, sad stories untold, hidden feelings, dark thoughts, tense conversations in inner rooms.

I like to think that every house on our block contains a fascinating story, enough to fill a book I’d read. That’s every house on your block too. And your house. And of course mine.

If You’ve Ever Thought “Man, I Wish It Was Legal to Throw a Baby off a Roof”

14 May

Like most people, I’ve tossed my share of babies off roofs, but this is just too much . . . to make a tradition out of it? Come on, that’s just lame. Here’s another video link. If you didn’t click, I’ll summarize. In this particular town in India, parents line up with their kids, aged 3 months to 2 years, to have them tossed from the roof of a temple onto a cloth held by men. They say the practice makes the babies grow stronger.

Here’s a bullet list about random things being tossed from high places:

  • A WatermelonLetterman used to do this. The cool part about using a melon instead of a 3-month-old infant is there’s no chance of ending up with a dead baby when you’re all done. Who likes dead babies? It gives me the willies typing it.
  • A Mattress – Somewhere around 1996, while moving from a crappy 3rd floor apartment in Springfield, IL, I tossed a mattress over the rail of our back porch. The impetus to this irresponsible act was my initial desire to throw a baby from a high place. So really, really loud, I was like “Does anyone have a baby that I can throw from my third floor apartment window? Anyone?” No takers. Second best thing:  mattress.
  • A Penny – I conducted a very scientific study and found that every single one of of y’all believe that a penny dropped from the Empire State Building would go right through a person’s skull, brain, neck, ripping a  cool-as-hell “penny path” right through an body until lodging somewhere in a big toe. If you hadn’t thought it through in such detail, you thought that it could kill a man, in general, somehow. Well, you’re ignorant. Read this. But something aerodynamic, like a pointy baby, thrown from the Empire State building, could do serious damage to a man holding a sheet.
  • Liquid – What do you get when you combine a group of 18 to 24-year-old men, beer, tall buildings, and a baby sitting on the sidewalk? Come on, it’s easy, people. You get young “adults” dumping beer, spitting, and urinating on that baby. And that will be the most hilarious thing in the world. “Oh my God! Stifler just peed on that baby’s head. Duuuuude! That’s was sooooo awesooooome!”
  • Dexter & Kitty – Yes, I wanted to toss two of our pets off a tall building this weekend. Saturday afternoon a crappy mood and a headache forced me to the couch. As soon as my ass hit the cushion, Kitty barfed. So I ended up crawling around on the floor with paper towels, trying to catch the next three barfs. Then Dexter was barking his damn head off outside, so I brought him in. He gulp down a bunch of water, munched on some kibbles, and barfed it all back up on the kitchen floor. Oh my freaking God, animals!

When my girls were tiny and tended to just lie around all day grunting and soiling themselves, I’d go to extremes to make sure they wouldn’t somehow fall from the couch to the floor: A sturdy object keeping them in place . . . pillows and blankets on the floor. And of course I had a back-up object on the couch and back-up cushioning. Oh, and the safety system set up to buzz and auto-dial 911 when they moved too suddenly. Couch to floor: what is that, an 18 inch drop, 24? Yeah, I’m going to hand my baby over to be tossed from a roof of a building and caught with a sheet.

To blindly follow a tradition.

Thinking About my Thoughts About my Shoes (huh?)

17 Jan

I’m writing about shoes today. After I wrote the following and read over it, it dawned on me why I can’t focus. I think too much. Just a glimpse into my head.


I love these shoes. I bought them on sale two years ago at Payless, probably as part of a BOGO (buy one, get one half off). They’re kind of dressy, but they’re not dress shoes; I can slip into them without sitting or bending, but they’re not slippers; and they’re comfortable enough to wear all day, but they’re not hideous looking like my beloved Crocs.

If I could snap my fingers to call forth all my adult-life shoes in a pile here in front of me, I could put them in order from best to worst. This pair would be in the top ten, maybe top five.

I’ve noticed some recent wear though: little white threads poking from the seams, a few more creases on top, worn down tread on the bottom. I found myself wondering how much life is left in them and how I’ll eventually set them free; will I toss them in the trash or drop them off to be re-sold in a Goodwill store?

Last week on a rainy morning as I walked from the car to the bookstore, I felt water on the bottom of my left foot. Sure, the parking lot was wet, but it wasn’t like I was skipping through deep puddles. Immediately I stopped and inspected the area between the upper and lower expecting to see a flaw. It looked fine, but my sock was definitely wet. I thought of a painless cut, leaking blood: wet from the inside out.

Later I was sipping coffee and writing, enjoying a productive stretch without distracting thoughts. But then I remembered the earlier shoe problem, so I put my pen down and looked at the bottom of the shoe. And there it was–plain to see with the shoe bent, not so apparent flat–a crack in the rubber under my forefoot, all the way across. Ah, man!

In that second I felt the death of a favorite possession, grieving. And the end of writing.

Well, there’s no use to trim those little white threads now. They’re finished. I can’t overlook this crack.

My brain automatically calculates if a purchase was a success or a failure. If an item is a bargain, gets much use, and is able to be recycled, that a clear-cut victory. If I over-pay for something, ignore it, and then toss it, well, that’s a bad purchase.

As I sat there, I thought of other good purchases: a ’98 Honda Accord, a sherpa-lined gray hooded sweatshirt, a pair of Wal-mart jeans.

I thought of other “winning” footwear, like my current Saucony running shoes and a pair of brown Skecher boots from the late 90s.

Then: Are they too far gone now for Goodwill? I don’t want to just toss them.

I imagined a man pulling my old shoes from the shelf, sticking his feet in them, thinking: well, they’re a little worn, but I can trim these white threads. They’re worth three bucks for sure. Of course, without me there to warn him, he would overlook the crack.

And then one day, in the rain, this guy might walk outside and feel that cold shock.

What the?

He would inspect the shoe like I did, finally noticing the flaw. Ah, man!

What if he’s elderly? What if that cold wetness startles him? What if he’s crossing a busy street and it causes him to stumble? What if, God forbid, he falls into the path of a speeding car? Holy shit!

If he survives the wet sock incident, I can see him sitting at home, looking at that crack, wondering: should I throw these away or would someone else be able to use them? Heck, I could still wear them, just not when it’s wet out.

I was staring at my shoes when I looked up and saw that the barista was looking at me. Why is that guy staring at his feet? He looked away. I looked away.

And then I left.

Let Squatting Dogs Lie

1 Dec

I’ll get to squatting dogs in a moment.

While walking Dexter this morning, I was struck by the beauty of existence. The whole world was sparkling with–okay, no, not really; nothing, in fact, was beautiful this morning. The truth is, I overslept by ten minutes. I know, ten minutes is nothing, but this week I’m working on this new morning routine that has me sleeping all the way to 6:40. That’s late for me when you consider the past few years where I’ve rolled from bed as early as 4:00.

Getting up at 6:40 gives me enough time to:

  • Walk Dexter
  • Throw together two school lunches
  • Fix my breakfast
  • Eat some of my breakfast
  • Feed Chloe
  • Spend some time with Chloe before seeing her off to the bus stop at 7:25.

So when I stumbled downstairs at 6:50, I felt rushed and discombobulated. Chloe immediately tossed two math questions at me. I mumbled a couple of large numbers then asked Dexter if he could “please not pee on the rug.” Okay, fix the lunches. I reached into the cabinet to grab a couple lidded bowls for grapes and applesauce and found none.

Oh yeah, here’s why: the girls have “adopted” a stray kitten. They take those bowls outside every day to feed and water the little orange thing, but of course they never bring them back in. They stack up and blow around the yard.

Anyway, despite the rough start, we managed.

Okay, I’m finally getting to what I first wanted to write about this morning: dog poop, or how a dog poops.

Dexter’s a male dog. He hikes his leg up to pee. Once in while, though, he raises his leg, pees, and then manuevers his body into a modified poop-stance, but without lowering his pee leg to the ground. So he poops with one leg way up in the air. He does this all the time, three times a week probably. I love it. It entertains me every time.

Do I have the only weirdo male dog that turns a pee into a poo with raised leg? I mean, how many dogs are walking around, pooping, on this planet, millions? I can’t have the only dog who three-leg-poops.

Let me know if you have any insight to add to this pressing matter of national concern.

UPDATE 1 (The Next Day . . . Stray Cat)

The girls first discovered this cat under the wheelbarrow. I found FIVE empty bowls under there last night.

UPDATE 2 (The Next Day . . . More Dog Poo)

Sammie, our older dog, seems to enjoy when I take her along on walks with Dexter. This morning I walked both dogs and I was annoyed at Sammie, because she always divides her poop into to two acts. She poops; I pick it up and tie the poop baggie. But then she’ll walk 40 to 50 feet and poop again, but this time it will be a smaller amount, sometimes the size of a bouncy ball. Still I have to pick it up and tie the poop baggie. This poo and poo routine has become a habit with her.

On the other hand, Dexter doesn’t mess around with a second poop. It’s one and done. “Boom! I’m done,” he probably thinks. Since he’s still relatively new to us, after each poop I still say “Good boy! Good boy!”

The issue–I should go straight to a psychologist for this–is that I feel this slight nagging anger every time Sammie assumes the poop position on a walk. She’s been around for eight years. She deserves respect, right? But since she’s always been a “tie out” dog, I feel like I’m doing her a favor by walking her. And she has the nerve to “double poo” when she could easily do it all at once. Lately it’s been cold and it’s not easy tying those poop bags wearing gloves.

When Dexter squats to poop, I feel like I do when I’m watching a baseball game and my team gets a base hit. It’s not excitement, but a subtle, unspoken “Yes!” Part of that is he’s still a young dog learning that’s it not okay to poop in the house. When he poops I can turn around and go straight home if I want. It’s a tiny victory.

So am I a bad person? Is Sammie evil? Am I completely, bat-shit crazy?

You decide.

Puppy Poop, Baseball, and Blog-Posting-Induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

17 Jul

Whew! My fingers have been pecked down to my little finger bones from all of this writing here. I just might need a break soon. A vacation, ya know?

No, actually, in about one second back in whatever month I last posted, I went from “I must write every day” to “I don’t want to write at all.” I threw myself into work again (like throwing myself into a volcano…they used to do that on Gilligan’s Island). Doing the “t-shirt thing” has been great. I felt dead to it in the winter, but I kind of “re-did” everything and it felt fresh again. Now, in the last two weeks, I’ve been having these thoughts–damn, I feel like writing again and this t-shirt thing kinda sucks.

So on it goes

If I were elected President of the United States, two months in I’d be like “damn, this blows, I think I’d rather clean toilets now.” For now, I might do both or this may be my last post until December. Honestly, I don’t know.

It’s all cool as long as I can also fit in an hour of reading, an hour (or more) of exercise, 8 hours of sleep, a half hour of staring at the wall, two hours of eating/cooking-related activities, an hour of cleaning, and a variable amount of: quality time with the girls, watching baseball, and buying shit on Amazon (UPS is at our house five times a week. No joke.)

Holy Hell, I can’t even remember how to punctuate in and around parentheses. Should the period go outside, or in?

Although I was writing this winter, looking back, I felt pretty miserable most of the time. It was a long, rough winter for me. If I don’t do certain things regularly, I’m a mess. Namely, exercise. Now I’m in a nice jogging frame of mind; I ran 4.2 miles this morning. In fact, as I write my hair is still damp and stuck to my head and I have on my butt-cheek-exposing running shorts (with a wicking liner). I might even be in an extended runner’s high right now. I’m practically delirious  here.

I have also rediscovered the beauty, the joy, the art, of baseball. During a normal baseball season, I’m all amped up in April, amped a little less in May, and by June I’ve watched my last game  until the playoffs in October. This season, because I couldn’t get enough baseball online, I was forced to order Directv so I could get the MLB Network, 24 hours of baseball. Since the Cubs are terrible, I’ve discovered the joy of watching the Cardinals so I can root against them.

Another new development around here: a new dog, a puppy really. I refuse to write good things about him right now because he just went poo ten feet from me and it’s making me gag. I’m going to clean it up now.

Until December…