So, I believe I have an unhealthy obsession with my dog.
Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. I have all their albums. Even the b-sides but I am usually a “let me pet you a bit and then you go lick something” kind of guy. I know it makes me sound like a mean guy but I just like that space. My aunt has a dog and it is basically an appendage; some extension of your body. He will climb on your shoulders or be on your lap and lick you constantly. You almost want to sit him down and say, “Listen, I just need some space. It’s not you, it’s me.”
Reminds me of an ex-girlfriend, actually.
I feel like I should really be afraid of dogs, too. My cousin and I were chased by two Rottweilers and a Doberman. I remember hearing them bark a few fenced-in yards over and we just laughed it off. No way could they jump three fences to get us. We thought that all the way up until they did. The look in those dog’s eyes as they bound over each fence was a look of hunger for my tiny chocolate flesh!
….and I still dislike Rottweilers. I know Cesar would say, “It’s not the breed, it’s the owner” but I mean the owner wasn’t licking his chops as he looked at me for dinner. Little give and a little take on that one, Mr. Dog Whisperer.
I ran as hard as my 8-year-old legs could pump. My cousin almost got hit by a UPS truck as we took shelter on a random house’s porch. It was one of those instances where, when it’s over, you laugh and say, “That was insane!”
All that said I have become enamored with my mother’s dog, Sofie.
I have talked about how my life lately feels like a tornado tore through it and it was bugging me. I was frustrated and felt alienated from friends. I felt like my own home, my own life was a prison. Harsh but true. That feeling of being stuck in a hole but it is just deep enough for you to not be able to get out. Frustration.
I wrote my last blog a few days ago and came home from the coffee shop. I came in and laid down, facing upward and arms stretched wide. A few moments later I heard tiny footsteps coming my way and then a face that looked like a baby Wookie. She is a Shih Tzu and is fairly tiny. She has brown and white fur and huge glossy brown eyes. She came up and licked my face. Her tail wagged with vigor. It made me happy to be home.
I am a hair shy of 6’7” and my dog is maybe a foot long by 8 inches tall. So, yes, it is hilarious to see us play. I am sure it is embarrassing, but I don’t care. I usually get down on all four and crawl around on the floor. I bark at her and she barks back. We play with her toys but I like to get down on her level.
She is funny because she will sometimes be walking and then sit down and look off into the distance. She looks stoic, regal even. I often wonder what she could be thinking. What could she be thinking that made her stop, sit down and ponder.
“When does wood become wood and not part of a tree. Is a tree made of wood,” she contemplated.
I get so wrapped up in everything that is going the way it’s going; not wrong, just going. Whenever I play in the floor with Sofie, that stuff all kind of fades away. I know I sound like a crazy dog guy but for me that is what it’s about. We play like that and sometimes I lay in the floor and she lays next to me sprawled out, eating a chew bone. We just lay there. She snuggles up close to me and takes a nap and I try not to move, so as not to wake her.
I call her my shadow because everywhere I go she is right behind me. That day I came home I was so frustrated but then Sofie came and said “hi” and then went back to eating her chew bones and that’s when I realized something. This little entity doesn’t give a crap about what I have done or what straits, dire or not, I am in. She is only interested in one thing: being my friend.
I laughed when I said I would write a blog about a dog but when I think about it, this isn’t about Sofie being a cute little fluff ball, which she is.
It is hard for us to let go. Let go of everyday things or those that seethe. We become so worried about life and what others think. We worry about what happens next and we become so caught up.
We forget that life is so much bigger. Life is fun and beautiful and funny. There are so many things that we miss because we don’t want to see it. We, or at least I, can sometimes fall out of love with the many facets of life. It gets hard and turbulent and you want to go into your shell but don’t.
Don’t give up because dogs never do. They live to live. I think we have forgotten what that means.
I don’t mind those days when things go wrong because I come home and I get on the ground, play with some chew toys and live like a dog. Not looking behind me or in front of me. Just being in the moment.
Not a bad life if I do say so myself. Even if it is for only a short while.
So, this may be a part two I think to No Moss. In this blog I always try to analyze all the good things but I know that there is more to me, to everyone, than that deep thoughtful side. I don’t lie to myself; I am not infallible.
The other night my mother and I were hanging out, as per usual with this whole being back home thing. We were talking and I brought up that I wanted to maybe look into acting and writing. She responded honestly but it was not what I wanted to hear. Isn’t that funny how that works? We ask questions and we hope to hear what the other person says somehow validates or mirrors your own way of thinking but when it doesn’t it is devastating.
She told me that it was a dream and that I needed to have a more concrete ground. I laughed, which pretty much angered her to no end, because she used the analogy that writing is like the champagne of life but I needed my “beerwallet” to pay the bills and for my family and things.
“Mom, I am single,” I said.
“Later in life. When you do have a family,” she said.
I get the gist of what she was saying. Writing and acting and producing are things I am really interested in. I plan on sending in a couple of screenplays to festivals in a few months, and a few revisions. I understand that these are not consistent forms of income but I have seen what a job is like when you have income but the job is terrible. I just thank the gods of blogging that when I worked at the call center I was on the ground floor (Dark Humor!).
I listened to what she said but I was more hurt by the fact that I didn’t have my friend there. That person who believed in me unconditionally. I didn’t have support when I needed it. It was like a stab when she said it was a “dream”.
I once dreamed that I was floating over the city. Literally, that’s it. If you remember an old post I did, I wrote about my dream that I went into outer space. Dreams. A dream is something I find unattainable. Everything else is an option. When she called my option a dream, I was offended. I thought about it long and hard that night.
I was laying in bed listening to Toro y Moi and looking up at the darkened ceiling. I couldn’t help but be angry with her. I was livid.
I was pissed off.
I didn’t know why though until I realized it was more than being hurt. It was more internal. It was the one thing that has been my bane since I was a kid: ambition. I have always been ambitious and it seems great but that hunger is insatiable. I wanted to do things that made me struggle. Things I wasn’t very good at and then become great at them. I tried basketball and got good at that. Mainly because I was 6’3″ when I was 12 but anyway. I was terrible at school and now I am getting my master’s degree with an assistantship.
I am not bragging I am just saying that I love the challenge and I love showing myself that it is possible. My mom is my mother and my best friend. I just want her to be proud of what I do in both respects.
This option is a risk, a big one but I need it. I have been writing, whether for newspapers or blogs or broadcast, for 11 years. I feel like I am just finding the tip of the iceberg that is me and my literary voice. It is what makes me happy. I love the fact that you can never be satisfied with your writing because you know it isn’t perfect.
We are all artists on here my friends. We do what others can’t always do. We craft a story in blog form and it is great but we always know that there is more we could say or a better way we could say something that would make it better.
I digress, though. I don’t want to skew into a tangent.
Ambition is a part of me I am not proud of. I don’t step on other’s toes or anything. I only try to be better than me but I know I can always be better. Drop some lbs or edit some stories. Increase your vocabulary. Maybe don’t cuss as much….
Changing, hopefully for the better, but never satisfied.
Content is a dream.
I feel angst in the fact that there is a fork in my road right now. There is this great song called “Closing Time” by Semisonic and in it there is a lyric: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
I feel like in the coming months I have a decision. One I must make without the ambition that clouds my mind so often. I am going to be closing a very large book soon. Friends are moving away and I am moving on. This new beginning has to be the book of my choosing. I could choose the short sweet book of knowing. That path that has no grass. Paved even.
I could choose the long novel. The extremely long novel. Atlas Shrugged long. The novel where there is depth and so much there. So much to experience. There is more to it. That path that has barely been walked is the one I have to choose.
That long novel that begins with the line: “Chris decided….”
I guess we’ll see how that line ends soon.
A GREAT DAY
1 Free day
1 New Favorite Can’t-Get-It-Out-Of-My-Head Song
1-2 Best Friends (Depending on your taste)
1 Pool Hall or local watering hole containing spirits
1/2 Cup of mocha frappucino at a Barnes and Noble Starbucks
Begin by waking up and looking outside at the perfect day. You may be greeted by the snuffles or barks of your Shih Tzu but delight in the sound.
Take a hot shower and put on Pandora radio. Come across a song that sinks into your depths and consumes you, yet it is too embarassing to sing aloud in public.
Wear the summer clothes you have been longing to put on for a day such as this where the sun shines and standing in its’ rays places gentle warmth on your shoulders. Enjoy as it sets in and you forget the long, cold months of winter passed.
Send a text of yourself making a goofy face to your friend(s) and tell them to wake up. Even if you get up early, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be up to enjoy the day as well. (Note: Too early and this may ruin the recipe as they may say expletives and hang up.)
Set a meeting time to pick up your friend(s) and take a drive.
Go to Barnes and Noble and get a mocha frappucino. Sit with your company and talk. Begin making too much noise from laughing and leave the cafe.
Wander the bookstore. At first you look at psuedointellectual books and flip through Kant and contemplate reading Shakespeare. Lose interest and look in the sex and relationships books.
Flip through two (2) books and realize you may have something wrong with you.
You leave with company and feel sick from the sugary mix in your plastic cup and throw it away.
Drive. Listen to the song that has been stuck in your head all day. You try to explain why the song is good but then digress. Your company makes fun of you but after the third listen you all break out into song and laugh at how ridiculous it is.
Go to a park. Walk.
Decide to play a sport outside. Get sweaty and dirty. Possibly hurt yourself (This part of the recipe is kind of up to you!)
Take your company home. You go home and shower. You take an unexpected nap.
Wake up 2-3 hours later and call a friend to go to the Pool Hall or Watering Hole of choice.
Play Pool. Enjoy 3-20 beverages. Feel sick.
Dry heave in the bathroom.
Gather your life.
Call a cab and go downtown.
Dance with your company.
Think about hitting on an attractive person.
Realize it’s a bad idea.
Go back to your company’s dwelling, eat pizza and fall asleep in the front room just as your company places a just-too-small blanket on you.
Stir all ingredients together in 1 free day and enjoy!
(Note: Some may find the day after the recipe is made a bit dissatisfying compared to the day before.)
Sorry I haven’t been on in a while. It’s been kind of a crazy time. Had to move back home to find work slash help out with my mom’s health. It’s really great coming back home, nothing like last time but I think that is because of the circumstances. This time there is a lightness to everything even though I can’t open my wallet indoors as the moths that would fly out would become a nuisance.
I have travelled and lived in multiple places over the past few months and it is hectic but I think it puts things in perspective. You understand that material possessions are relatively useless and it is all about the connections you make. I feel humbled and enlightened but I have gotten so much perspective on things. I understand what I need, what I want, what I have, what I had and what needs to be and all came about by a single picture.
I was fixing up the spare room at my mother’s house, going through box after box of goods that were being stored there. I found old toys of mine and the hula girl I got in Hawaii. I found this great book my mother had special printed for me that is about me time traveling to a land of dinosaurs. I have loved dinosaurs since I can remember and being in a story where I was the main character and they were the back drop. It was a seven-year-old’s dream.
I kept rummaging through these small totems until I found this poster I got a few years ago. It is a black and white poster of James Dean. He looks just past the camera, into the distance of the crowded city streets with that longing dark gaze of his and at the bottom it has his famous quote, “Dream as if you’ll live forever, Live as if you’ll die today.”
This flooded my mind with memories that were long forgotten. I have been so preoccupied with everything that has been going on; my lack of moss as I rolled my stone. I forgot the single thing that defined me for years.
I wanted to act.
No, it wasn’t that simple. I wanted to be bathed in all that had to do with being in the theatre and film industry. I remember the first time I was enamored with an actor was when I was about six and I saw Rebel Without A Cause. I watched the screen as he spewed what seemed like such genuine emotion. Remember the scene at the police station when he screams his eponymous line, “You’re tearing me aparttt!” Me too. I didn’t understand the overall themes of the film, I mean what seven-year-old could, but I recognized that there was more going on there. After that, I fell in love with film and acting. I took acting classes in grade school, I was in a few plays, I even played Ringo in a musical called, “All Around The World”.
I learned as much as I could by watching any movie I could get my hands on. I would walk around quoting Bogey from Casablanca (he is still one of my favorite actors; I could watch “Maltese Falcon” all day).
I put the poster up and it reminded me of how much I love entertaining people. Not just to act a part but to get reactions from the audience. I remember in high school we put on a small production where I only had a small part. Just before the show, someone dropped out and a part was open. It was a really great comedic part and I jumped on it. I did the scene and the crowd of a couple hundred people laughed in unison as I hit my mark. I finished and had to run off stage as they were setting up the next scene but I could still hear the laughter. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face for hours.
Not too long ago I tried my hand at stand up. I brought one of my best friends because, even if only he laughed, someone laughed. The guy just before me bombed so hard. He was telling jokes that didn’t land and began asking the audience what he should tell a joke about.
“Come on guys, give me a topic. Anything. You tell me what to say,” he said in desperation.
“Goodnight,” the house comic said, offering him up a harsh resolution.
That got a laugh.
So, he bowed out and I was next. I was so nervous and the crowd was stiff due to the previous comic. I opened up with this, sorry about the foul language, I actually do have a pretty foul mouth in real life.
I walk up the stairs and to the microphone. Light blind me and they are all I can see as it eclipses the audience.
I improvise, as it is what I feel best doing.
“How many of you guys would have laughed if my big ass would have tripped up the stairs,” I ask to dead air.
“Wow, you guys are a lot nicer than me. I would have laughed my ass off,” I said and the tension broke.
The audience laughed and it was a relief. When you hear laughs where there should be laughs it is almost symphonic. Some sort of sweet calliope. I love it. My set ended and the applause came. My heart raced and I collapsed into a chair with elation.
I loved it but I enjoy being part of an ensemble more than strictly just me.
The poster was finally hung and my memories flooded me and I realized that that was what I wanted. I want to be happy and going through college as I have done has been amazing and I can’t wait to start my master’s in the fall but I know there is more. I want to keep my stone rolling closer towards my dream. In neighboring Illinois, in Chicago, there is a place called Second City. It is where people like Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi called home. I have decided to take classes there next summer and really focus on that. Hone my writing and acting skills. Revel in the forgotten dream.
A rolling stone gathers no moss. That is the old saying and it usually is said with harsh emphasis but I think it is a term that is befitting of life. Let moss take root when my stone is done rolling. That’s a ways off because my dreams and wants and aspirations, those stones still roll.
I sit at my computer and the little bar blinks in front of me. It taunts me because it knows that this is a hard one to write. It’s one of those stories that I hold close to me and have for years because it was when I realized how important it is to know people. Sit down and let them speak.
When I was about fifteen my grandmother was in the hospital. She was always the patient that wanted her own room and wanted everything in its place. She was sick and the nurses and doctors were the help so to speak. It is just the truth. Well, on this occasion she was not given that privilege, as she had a roommate, and was mad about it. One day I went up to visit her.
Hospitals. I hate hospitals. That sterile smell and those hard tile floors. The cream colored walls. The sounds of machines all around you as you walk through the halls. Then there is the idea that everyone is there because they are at their worst. At least on most floors. Granted, I am sure there is nothing but happiness up on the natal units. Although, there is always that one dad….I kid, I kid.
So, I walk with my mother and aunt to visit my grandmother in the hospital. We pass door after door as high pitched beeps and dings ring throughout. We enter my grandmother’s room and she is laying in a bed next to the window. Just inside the door on the left I see a small African American woman laying in bed. She looks at the wall ahead of her aimlessly. She is sitting in an inclined position; she has a white handkerchief on her head and is in white linens. I see her turn her head as we walk past her bed.
I sit at the foot of my grandmother’s bed as she, my mother and my aunt talk about family business for a moment. My grandmother begins to complain about the nurses and I tune her out as I look out the window at the summer’s evening sun.
The conversation goes on and my grandmother asks me a question, I crack a joke and I hear a little, gravely laugh from behind me. The little woman began talking to me specifically. I had been talking about school and she was saying how important education was from the other side of the cloth partition.
My mother pointed towards the woman and mouthed, “Go talk to her.”
I think back to then and how I acted initially. I remember I shook my head “no”. I thought at the time that it would be weird and that I didn’t know this woman. I thought my mom was insane.
“Be nice,” my mother mouths and I ask if I can sit with her. She says, “I’d like that,” and I walk over and sit next to her. We introduce ourselves. I feel such remorse because her name escapes me now and I just remember at the end of the day thinking to myself, “This is important big guy, remember her name”.
So, I sit next to this woman as she continues to talk about how important education is. I look at her but she stares just past me. We talk about what she was doing there, to which she just said she hadn’t been feeling well. I talk about my grandmother and her being there and I tell her about being excited to start driving soon.
She was so small and I could tell that she was not well by the encroaching gauntness on her face but she had such a warm smile and huge eyes. She was a beautiful person altogether. I ask her about her family and she tells me that she has a son and a daughter but she had not seen them in a while.
I asked if they knew she was there. She said yes but they were busy and lived out of state and that they would be there some time next week. I remember how she spoke about them. There was this deep affection for them but she told me of how long it had been since she had seen them.
I begin talking about my little brother and how much of a pain in the butt he was and made her laugh. She had a deep, warm laugh this time and it made me smile. We continued to talk about everything from hospital food to the weather. Then, I can’t remember what I was talking about but she began to nod off.
I trailed off and looked over at my mom as she waved me to come back over. She mouthed, “Let her sleep.”
I was sad that she fell asleep as we had had a great conversation. I stood up and noticed a sign just above her.
No Family Contact, Visually Impaired
and then one on pink paper to the right of that that read:
I went back over and sat down. My mother smiled and patted me on the shoulder as they began talking about something else. I wondered about those signs. I realized she was blind and that’s why she looked past me. I wondered if she knew about the no family contact and what did that mean. Finally, I wondered what “on watch” meant. I thought of all the possibilities but couldn’t figure it out. I realize now it’s more so that I didn’t want to.
An hour or so passes and I am sitting in the chair as my mother, grandmother and aunt talk loudly about another family member that was being a butt-head at the time but I stared out into the darkening blue sky. I get it now that it was perspective that that conversation gave me.
I hear from behind me in her whimsical southern drawl, “Is that young man still there?”
I smile and look up at my mother, who is smiling as well.
“Yep, he’s right here,” she says.
I get up and walk back over to where I was sitting before. We talk a bit and I tell her that I love world war II information. I tell her about documentaries and movies and books and video games that I have played. She smiles at me and tells me this:
I apologize that it isn’t verbatim but this is paraphrased of what she said:
“My husband was in world war II. We met when I was 14 and we had our children a few years later. We got married just before he left. He was a good man and a good father. I miss him very much.”
I ask if he was at Normandy.
“No, you see black folks wasn’t quite like that back then. So, he was on the Arizona down in Pearl Harbor and was a cook. He wrote to me all the time. We wrote back and forth. Then the Japanese bombed it but he survived, thank God. He made it out and came home but he was only home a week and he was hit by a city bus. I do miss him.”
I asked her if she ever remarried but she shook her head “no”. I asked her a couple more questions about it but I could see on her face she didn’t want to talk about it. So, I spoke about how incredible it was that she lived through so much and had been through so much and how I admired her. She smiled and told me that I sounded like a smart young man.
A few minutes later my mother came by and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Ready to go,” my mother asked, “Grandma fell asleep and visiting hours are almost over.”
I stood up and turned to my friend.
“I gotta go but it was great meeting you. I’ll be back in a couple of days though and I’ll visit you again,” I said as I shook her small fragile hand. I still remember her smile. It was ear-to-ear and mine reflected hers.
“That sounds good. It was great talking to you as well. Study hard,” she said and I left.
As we walked to the van in the parking lot, I asked my aunt what that pink sign meant. What did “On Watch” mean.
I will never forget this.
“It means death watch. She must be close to passing away. It’s good that you talked with her though. Some of those patients don’t get to do that,” my aunt said nonchalantly, her years of being a nurse making her words matter-of-fact.
I talked up my new friend and the story of her life the whole way home. I even talked about it to my friends the next day.
It was two days later that my grandma was released, so we went up to get her. I walked in the room and my heart sank. I saw that the curtain had been drawn back against the wall now. The bed was made perfectly and tucked in. The signs were taken down and the monitors didn’t blink or beep and I missed that sound. I asked my aunt if maybe she was just somewhere else. Maybe an x-ray. Just somewhere but my aunt shook her head ‘no’.
“Honey, she passed away yesterday evening. She was gone when I came up to visit during my shift,” my aunt said in a lamenting voice.
Man, I wish I could tell you how hard my heart sank but it’s hard to put into words. i didn’t know her very long but we talked and I connected with her.
I write this story even though this is one of those memories that I like to hold on to. Keep it for myself in a selfish way, i guess. I tell it to you because I hope that other people can see how good and interesting she was, even if she didn’t have anyone there with her. I hope she knew that I was going to keep my promise. I hope I did her an ounce of justice here.
That was just over a decade ago that I met an extraordinary person by chance and I have not had a conversation as deep and meaningful as that since.
I miss my friend and the words we shared.
I dedicate this post to her.
So, I am a liar. In my last post I promised to write about my enlightening weekend home a few weeks ago but I must tell this one first. Now, I usually write about my inner thoughts on happy moments or those that are sad but are poignant. Posts about how understanding what it means to understand what things mean in the moment. This is not one of those posts.
We have all learned about the narrative plot structure and its six components. My favorite is the narrative hook. That point in a story where you go, “Holy Guacamole! I’m in!” I love it.
Well, yesterday, I was enjoying a run as dark clouds rolled in with strong breezes alluding to a beast of a storm looming not too far away. There is a point in my run where my mind clears and I only get a fleeting thought. I let them in and am able to see the big picture of the thought or memory, not just snippets. I usually dwell on a short story or a screenplay I am but yesterday was different. I remembered what I call my “Phobic Hooks”.
We all have events that mold us and shape us. Things that you look back and say, “Yep, that’s why I [ENTER STRANGE IDIOSYNCRASY HERE]“.
In my case, while running, I remembered two severe phobias I have and there genesis. I haven’t thought of them for years because I haven’t had to in years. I haven’t come into contact with them in a while. I remember getting the chills just remembering it! It made my blood pump harder and my legs move faster. I was running away from my own Phobic Hooks that chased me. These are those hooks.
As I said this isn’t like other posts because this one has a gross-out factor of about a level ten slash a “Da Fuq?!” level of seven…still here? Okay…
Those Nasty Invertebrates!
Strangely, these two phobias began at the same house at around the same time. It may have been signs of the apocalypse, I don’t know, you be the judge. I was thirteen and a pretty lazy 13-year-old at that. Like any amazing story, this begins on a dark and stormy night. I was playing Playstation in my room on the Curtis Mathis TV I’d had since I was born. I hear my mother call out from her bedroom that I needed to take the trash out. I did so as I scoffed and paused my game.
I made some remark about why do I have to do everything and she replied, “Oh shut up, it’s next to the garage. It’s not a mile away.”
Well, I hate the dark. Not so much the dark but what lurks in it, watching me (Gee, Chris, paranoid much?).
So, I gather up the trash and exit the back door standing under the tin roof awning. The rain was hitting with such force on the awning that it drowned out any sound. The back light had blown out a few days before and my mother asked me to change it. I did not. I feel like that one act would have saved me a phobia. Just realized that, right now. Damn.
I begin walking in the dark, rainy night down the sidewalk. It’s concrete the whole way to the garage and the garbage can next to it, so naturally I didn’t wear shoes. I stepped sure-footed into the night as cool rain pelted me. Step, hard surface. Step, hard surface. Step, hard surface.
Step and then I put my foot down heavy on the ground when something slimy and wet hits my foot and shoots between my big toe and the one next to it. My immediate reaction was to wriggle my toes vigorously and scream, ” What The Hell!”
I take another few step and same thing, same foot. I scream in anger and frustration. A few more steps and the automatic security light comes on on the garage. Gang, I wish you could have seen what I am sure was pure horror on my face as I saw literally dozens of massive slugs all over the concrete. They were on the white siding of the house, climbing up the door of the garage, crawling across the pavement where I just walked.
I saw two of them with their little, white bellies facing upwards and I screamed and writhed in disgust as I realized those are what shot between my toes. I dodged a few more on the ground and lifted the lid. I shoved the trash in and under the lid there was a massive slug. Then I felt a tickle on my hand and immediately dropped the lid on the ground, where I saw a smaller slug next to where my hand had been. I screamed and ran back inside. I can’t even remember if I locked the door. I just jumped into bed and covered myself up. I eventually fell asleep like that.
I stopped taking the trash out after that as well. My mother still thinks it’s hilarious. I think she is a mean person. This fear causes me to get chills by just thinking about a slug. This was exacerbated by seeing a Fear Factor where they ate slugs and a crappy old movie called “Slugs”. Most would think it lame but it was literally my nightmare. If you have Netflix, check it out. You never know, this could be your next big phobia!
Why I avoid large groups of kittens
You ever just have one of those moments where you think to yourself, “Yep, after that, I am not the same person I was.”?
This is one of those. I will try to not be too graphic.
I had a cat named Mytika. She was a weird one. She always tried to scratch my dog Dash’s wiener. As a 13-year-old I thought it was hilarious but 13-year-old me was an idiot who listened to Crazy Town. So, no judgement, right?
Mytika also refused to stay in the house. She would dart out as soon as the door opened but she usually came back. Then one time she didn’t. Weeks went by and we didn’t see her. We were sad but I believe Dash was relieved. Then, one day, I hear my mom scream from the garage. I freak out and pause my Playstation (It was huge back then, leave it alone guys). I run into the garage and see what the commotion was about. My mother is cupping her hand over her mouth and looking down on our black futon where I would say between ten and twelve tiny, black kittens are huddled around this little white one. She was beautiful but she was born with only one crystal blue eye. It was incredibly disturbing how they were all surrounding her like she was the queen. These, we guessed were Mytika’s offspring that she’d had on our futon.
We made the decision that, because it was spring and decent weather, we would have to bring food out to them. The shelter said they could take them in a couple of weeks but I didn’t understand why not then. So, for a week, I would come home and feed the cats. They were cute but I realized then that I had a cat allergy because my eyes would burn and I would sneeze repeatedly. So, I did it sparingly.
Then, one rainy Saturday afternoon, after my mom, my aunt and me went shopping, my mom went to feed the cats and they had all died on the futon. We were actually going to bring in the white one that day. So, pretty sad.
Ugh, the bad part.
My mom was too affected by it and my aunt said we can’t just leave them here. So, she told my mom to go back inside and she had me grab a shovel and shovel in the dead kittens. I was near tears as each little body made a rustle into the Walmart bag. A few disturbing minutes later and it was done. My aunt wanted me to toss them in the garbage but I decided they needed a good burial. In pouring rain, I dug a deep hole at the back corner of the garage and placed them in it. I said a few words and then covered them up.
For weeks I had the same nightmare. The kittens came back and climbed out of ground meowing at me. They were led by the little white one. They were always coming for me. Somehow, they believed it was my fault.
Now, I see kittens and I just remember the heaviness of the back and the little white one looking at me when it was alive and I literally want to run out of the room crying.
We did throw away the futon mattress and I always wonder if anyone has accidentally found that bag of nightmares in their backyard.
(Did you make it?)
So, I am on the trail, my legs pumping harder than ever as I think about the Phobic Hooks that plague me, as that’s where the phobias began. Then a woman comes from the other side of the trail and holds up her palm to me and we high-five. It surprisingly snaps me out of it and I slow down as my lungs expand, feeling like needles are sticking in them.
I walked back home feeling exhausted but relieved that the hooks were gone.
I may lose a few followers after this messed up post but we have to take a look back. Introspection of the good, the bad and the Da fuq?!
It has been a while since I last wrote. That would be due to the soul sucking job I recently quit. There are few things in this world that can bring me down. People shoving animals with their feet, people who aren’t able to “get” why Howard The Duck should be on the list of greatest films ever and, finally, call centers. A call center, if you don’t know, is where you are seated for eight hours a day and monotonously take call after call. I was in the billing department and everyone I had was just so angry. Irrationally angry.
They would yell and call me expletives about their bill and why they are being charged so much. At first I just tried to keep calm at my desk where the screen to the computer and the whole room really was washed out by large fluorescent lights that hang overhead but it seethes and before I knew it I was having nightmares about the job and being yelled at. My self worth went way down.
There were no windows, so the only thing you could go by was a clock to see what time of day it was. It was all so mechanical. I was a living machine for all intents and purposes and even had a script to follow. I was called every name in the book and my intelligence was insulted because they were having a bad day but on my last day I did come across a funny one. A lady started telling me she wishes she didn’t have such a good moral compass because she would make an excellent criminal.
She told me about how she would wear the “Catwoman” costume and kick criminal butt. Then she said if I told anyone she would show up in my bedroom and “teach me a lesson”. I laughed uncomfortably and she then said, “What would you do if a beautiful woman like me showed up in your bedroom in a Catwoman costume? Pretty sexy, right?” I laughed so hard from it being uncomfortable and awkward. She understood I wasn’t going to answer and laughed about it. What I love most was this woman was in her mid-fifties, had a STRONG North East accent and was about 4’11″ (so she said). We went on to talk about global conspiracies and how she believe people are watching her. I enjoyed every second of that awkward and beautiful call because that was the first real conversation I had had with anyone in weeks. The job just consumed all.
I WAS A MID-TWENTIES, FLESHY ROBOT
So, for days I sat down trying to think about what to write for a post but nothing came to mind. I was depleted creatively and mentally.
I visited home and had an eye opening experience there (my next blog post will be about that. Check back in a day or two for that one!). Yet, I would dread going back there. That looming beast of a building waiting to devour my individuality until I was a voice who only made sales and was only good enough to be yelled at. So, I quit.
Fast forward to now. I was out applying for jobs at myriad stores, which I actually have a great shot at getting . I stopped to grab a bite to eat at this little Chinese restaurant I found that is completely out of the way. I walked in and thought to myself, “If I eat here there is a 73.2% chance that I will get food poisoning….but gas IS 3.67 a gallon…”
I did what any broke, rational gentleman like myself would do: I ordered the General Tso’s Chicken. The food was affordable and given in amazingly large portions on a long plate. I sat down at a tiny, blue booth in the back of the narrow, lime green eatery and dove into the plate. To my left was a long line of rolling, metal racks that held paper towels, napkins, 2 liters of soda and plastic utensils. If it hadn’t been for the booth I was sitting at I would have thought I was eating in a stock room. I am actually not quite sure that I wasn’t.
Two women and a tiny, young girl came in. They sat down at a booth that was just a few feet away from me. I began to do what I have done since I was 19. I don’t always do it but sometimes, when my mind goes idle, I begin to do what I call the “Swimming Pool Effect”.
A long time ago I was at a swimming pool and there were six or seven other people there as well, as it was a public swimming pool. I remember looking around and thinking that we all had our own lives. I had never met any off them before but for one moment in our lifespan, an hour or two out of the thousands we will live, all of our lives collided. They came together for this one event. We are all in the same place living out a story. So, what I would do is look at those people around me and try to come up with some scenario in my head of what they did to get there to that point and what they were going to do after. They became doctors and astronauts, thieves and saints. Maybe they were going to save someone from danger later that day or they had come from a huge fight with their spouse about bills. Maybe they were there to try to forget their stress or try to remember what relaxation was like. I tried to connect dots that led them all down the road where mine did. The road that ended at the swimming pool.
I sit and think about where these two women at the restaurant had been and about where they were going. I imagined that they were going to get the oil changed in their car and then take off out of town. They were running from something, maybe a man, maybe life itself but whatever it was they had to get away from it. They had to take off but before they did they decided to get delicious, likely E-coli riddled Wan Ton soup.
I laughed at the thought of that but then I realized that for the first time in the two months since I started my job, my creativity has come back. I wanted to write again and I was finally able to create fictitious back stories for real life characters. I was finally able to find the me that I unknowingly lost and he was hanging out at the Swimming Pool all along.
What does it mean to be a friend? I mean a true friend. I think friendship may be deeper than an amorous relationship because of the strata beneath it all. That, of course, is debatable but I feel it is true. I realized lately that everything is finite. Everything ends and you have two options: 1. Lament about it, wallow in your pen of despair like a sow or 2. Enjoy that ride until the wheels fall off. I used to do the former and now I choose the latter.
It began last week. The sun had given way to an inky, cold blackness. It had been days since the sun had come out and it was taking its toll on most people around here. Everyone seemed irritable and filled with melancholy. Cabin fever, I suppose. So, I arrive in my parking lot and look up to my apartment and I think, “uh-oh”. I look at my roommates window and see a bright, fluorescent light in the corner of the window and that usually means one thing: Depression.
I go upstairs and burst through his door, as usual because I find it hilarious to ninja scare him on a regular basis, then I see him slowly turn his head to me and I see it in his eyes. A deep sadness that I only recall seeing once on him and that was years ago. I remember asking him what was wrong and he told me simply that he was having work problems. I guess to understand the issue there you have to understand the man. He is a person who holds certificates and degrees. He measures success by admiration and recognition from his peers in his field, this, I believe, creates that incredible motivation he has in his career. Now, those around him have been tearing away at that foundation by claiming incompetence on his part and it is taking its toll. That infinite sadness. When what you know and hold true, a rock to grasp on to, is being attacked by your peers relentlessly, it is discouraging.
I tell him to get happy again, yell it actually because for some reason we find yelling in this place therapeutic and hilarious. I say/ yell, “Your sad light is blinding me by the way!”
“Yeah, you don’t want to look right at it,” he laughs.
Oh, that sad light. It is about eight inches high and has a bulb in it that would blind Superman. He used to tan a lot whenever he got depressed. Not enough where he would look Jersey Shore-esque but enough to hold back the sadness. So, when that stopped working or got too expensive, his mother bought him the “Happy Light”, as it says on the front. It is meant to replicate the effects of the sun which actually does work much like an anti-depressent but only when it’s closer to the earth during spring and summer. I can honestly say I have never seen him jumping on his bed, giggling and his shadow cast on the wall by his “Happy Light”. It’s always him sitting in the quiet with the light on and looking into the deep abyss of his sadness. If you didn’t really know him, you would be severely frightened by the look. Thus, sad light.
So, I try and cheer him up. I go by the motto of my hero Roger Rabbit, “I’ll do anything as long as it’s funny.” This is over a series of days. I would leave to cloud covered skies and come home to faux sun. I tried to make him laugh, which usually worked but his smile would quickly fade and I could hear him sigh long breaths away as he walked outside of my door.
We go out Saturday and celebrate the day everyone is Irish. It’s fun but we overindulge on spirits a bit much. The next day we wake up and I am hungover and my room is a disaster, he is hungover and has a migraine, so we do what a rational individual would do. We get Barbecue. We also rent “All Superheroes Must Die” and watch the first 20 minutes of it, then we ejected it as if it were about to self destruct from being so terrible. We went and got smoothies and joked around. We watched happy movies. The type where there is only a little hiccup of a problem with a happy ending. Things like Blades of Glory, Eurotrip and Grind. Some classics. It was fun and entertaining but still, at the end of the day, I hear him sigh just outside my door.
Sunday I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. The little amounts of sleep I did get just weren’t enough. I ended up waking at about 6:40 am and stayed up until I went to work but I did so reluctantly. Work was a blur of fatigue and melancholy as the temperatures never got above freezing and the sky was overcast and grey. It was the kind of cold that you couldn’t shake even when you went back indoors.
When I get home I feel agitated. I think about writing a blog, no. I think about playing a video game, no. I think about reading, no. I think about watching a movie, no. I stand in the middle of my room and am just shuffling. I am tired but can’t sleep. A great excuse of a Zombie. Nothing would satiate this feeling of impenetrable boredom. My roommate opens up his door and I walk in. He is writing a paper and still has that deep look in his eyes. I walk over to his desk and fumble around the cord until I find the switch and turn on the sad light. I remember looking at it and it was dim.
“So, does this thing look dimmer when you’re sad because I swear it was brighter before,” I say.
“It takes a minute to work,” he says.
He is right. It finally warms up and it is incredibly bright. I sit in the chair with poor posture and we talk for a bit. He tells me about his work problems and I talk about my melancholy. I accuse him of infecting me with his sadness and he says, “A broken man can only take so much…”
It sounds terribly sad but when you are so restless, dark humor becomes incredibly funny.
“Damn thing doesn’t work,” I say.
“You have to use it every day for a week to get the levels right,” he says.
“So this is doing nothing right now,” I ask in an elevated voice and click the sad light off. We eventually go to the movie store and crack jokes as we make fun of movies along the new release wall. I had to look ridiculous. I had my dress shirt untucked, my sweater on top of that, still wearing my tie and then I had house shoes on. I looked glorious, I am sure. I rented “Pitch Perfect” and was talked into donating to a charity by a blue eyed, freckle faced beautiful woman. We get home and, as we walk towards the house, I look up.
“That’s awesome! Look, you can see where the low hanging clouds from today are breaking up and you can see the stars,” I say, head tilted vertically to enjoy the stars.
He cracks a joke about me not being sad anymore and we go upstairs. I go to my room and he takes a shower but for the first time in a long time I don’t hear him sigh.
What does it mean to be a friend? Is it about having a blast or is it more symbiotic. The lows and the highs. That ability to to be completely open with someone without worry of being judged. True, unabashed honesty.
We have known each other almost 12 years and I still wonder when we will run out of stuff to say.
I woke up today and the sun is out in full force and I write this and I know that I still don’t know what it means to be a friend and I am excited that there is still that unknown out there.
Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered -
Savoring the experience of quality time.
Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded.
Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awardees! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.
- What makes a good acceptance speech?
- Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way
- Humor. Keep us entertained and smiling
- Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives
- Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech
- Display the award’s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award
- Wow, This is such an awesome honor! I am stunned that I got this award and was sat among the 14 others who won. To be in the same league as them is an honor. You know, I look back on the very first post I ever had with this blog and I have to laugh. It was about laundry and me doing my laundry and zoning out to it. Then a few weeks later I opened a bottle of soda with ice in it and wrote a blog about how the little things made me happy. I was dumbstruck when so many people saw it and I was freshly pressed because of it. I fear I don’t do that justice but I believe that because of this blog I have grown. It made me open my mind to a new world of possibilities and to viewpoints of others. My followers ( or as I like to call them, my “Gang”) are the coolest people ever and their comments inspire me to no end, as do their blogs! I know I am supposed to pick 15 but I chose 5. I choose these five because they hold true to those lines above and what this award is all about.
THE WINNERS OF THE BEST MOMENT AWARD ARE:
Beenaplantdoctor-This blog is great because it showcases an amazing vulnerability that is truly rare. The writer purges her thoughts in a catharsis that is incredibly honest. Some times about personal triumphs, others about her travels around her city but always about self-knowledge.
Fencing With Ink- This individual is a published author, he has been freshly pressed and he is a nice guy. It has been a pleasure watching his blog grow and transition from crosslenz to “fencing”. His posts are funny, insightful and poignant. I am incredibly jealous of him and you will be as well when you check out his blog.
On The Homefront and Beyond- This is a great blog that has humor and heart an excellent read!
Sweet The Sound- I haven’t had much of a chance to catch up on all of the blogs that I follow and this was a blog that evaded me for a while. So, a while back I began reading and I couldn’t stop. If you go through her back catalog what you get is a music loving free spirit who is easy to relate to. Some posts are as simple as offering advice on a new band but others are deep and complex. You get to know the character of the author and her personal peaks and valleys.
Overexposed + Underdeveloped- This is an ensemble of individuals who post some of the most touching, profound, earnest and funny blogs I have read. I wish that I could write even a little bit as well as these individuals. Amazingly poignant and a delight to read.
Well, that’s it! These are my picks simply because they are the blogs that I love and that embody this award. Kudos to them!
Don’t forget to celebrate with your followers! Tweet your success with hashtag #MomentMatters. Congratulations, winners!
Well, This week has been pretty epic. Just finished my first short story and sending it around to friends to be edited and critiqued. Hopefully I can get that sent off to literary magazines in the coming months. So far I have gotten great responses but there are a lot of really great writers out there so we will just have to see! Fingers crossed, right?
This has always been a dream of mine really. To be a writer. Although I have been published, it has been in a journalistic fashion, not creative writing. I am so happy to have been freshly pressed, if not, I believe I would have never met and been inspired by those individuals who comment on here and share their stories as well. However, I am an individual who enjoys tangibility. I want to one day pick up a literary magazine, open it up to the table of contents and see a title of a story nestled just above my name. It’s something that would be amazing. I would always remember the weight of that magazine, the feel of it, the volume number and date, the photo on the front and every minute detail because it is the casing of an embodied dream.
There is this industry term called Jumping The Shark. Most people are familiar with the saying but I feel like it has such a negative connotation. It’s origins are from an episode of the TV show “Happy Days”. It was an episode where The Fonz puts on skis and literally jumps a ramp over a shark, and I think he even gave a thumbs up and said his signature “Ayyyy” in mid-air but I can’t quite remember. I saw that episode as a kid and to the critics and most television viewers, it signaled the end of the series. That was the episode where people believed the writers had run out of ideas.
I admit it is a ridiculous episode but I like the overall idea of what happened. I took it as my own, really; I used jumping the shark in other terms. I think it is the idea that we have to break the monotony, our own “Hail Mary”. I think of it as a way of living in a state of understanding that the way things are can be changed by doing something amazingly drastic. I won’t be jumping a shark anytime soon but I do break the monotony in life. Those lulls where it can get boring, I try and spice it up. In high school I took a nice long road trip down the entire eastern side of Missouri. It took two days but it was fun. I got in massive amounts of trouble from my mother but I went with my best friend and we still talk about it.
In the fashion of that road trip, I decided to do multiple things to get me here, in this seat, typing this blog. I remember the part in “No Country For Old Men” where Javier Bardem is in the gas station and he gives his creepy diatribe about the coin. How it traveled 22 years to make it right there in front of the man. His life plotted out on either side of the coin. It’s a tense moment but poignant. I only say this because those decisions, no matter how crazy, led to here and now. I took that mall cop job, I went to college and grad school on a whim. I switched to journalism from pre-law because I wanted to write a review of a new album at the time by The Shins.
Now, I put my skis on to jump another shark. Maybe a whole line of them. I am going to teach a 100 level class in the fall and then next summer I will be taking a big leap off of a long ramp. One of my best friends is in the Army and he is being stationed in Japan. I have always wanted to backpack around a country and, while he and I have plans to do so in Europe in a few years, I feel like I needed to do something on my own. That’s why I have decided to go there next summer and backpack around Japan for a week or two. I figure it will be the break between semesters and it will be the perfect time to just breathe. I have gotten my hands on Rosetta Stone and am going to actively learn that language.
Jumping The Shark. Maybe that isn’t the right phrase. I wrote this with an idea but the more I think about it the more I believe maybe I was wrong. Maybe these aren’t about taking leaps to break the monotony. I wonder about this because of that coin in “No Country For Old Men”. It’s about destiny and our grasp on it, isn’t it? I spoke of tangibility with my writing and now I think that’s what these “jumping the shark” moments really are for me. In the show it was a surreal moment that was an attempt to make the show more exciting and it failed. I believe it was because they lost sight of what the show was about and the anchor that held it in place. They lost that tangibility and familiarity of the show’s origins.
I realize now that all of these things have made me a bit closer to me. I push myself into these instances that really test who you are. But what about that coin? It was Bardem who chose the diverting realities on each side of the coin. When the man won, Bardem said that it was his now and not to mix it with the other coins because then it would just be a coin. What about that lifeless coin?
I suppose we are all born with coins. We may give them meaning on each side but we are not at their mercy. We know what we really want when we flip the coin, giving different value to each side, and when it lands, we are either happy or we feel lament. That lament can be an amazing thing because you know you have lost what you truly wanted in that flip of the proverbial coin. So, with each flip, it guides us, guides me. I will be in Japan as of what my coin says today but that is a year from now and, hopefully, many exciting coin flips away.