Thursday, December 30, 2010


With the new year rapidly approaching I'm overwhelmed with laziness. So this is all I'm going to write today. Have a Happy New Year faithful readers!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The World Keeps on Spinning (if only I could get off for a while. I’m dizzy)

I really enjoy looking at The History Channel’s website for “This Day in History”. There’s so much that happened before we got here and selfishly started hogging all time and resources. I also can’t help that I’m something of a history buff and I am constantly amazed at what our ancestors were able to do without some of the modern conveniences we take for granted.

For instance, in 1890 the U.S. Army Calvary massacred nearly 150 Native Americans at the “Battle” of Wounded Knee. It was a shameful moment in American history but important to remember as it was practically the last battle between the Americans and the Natives. It set the course for the next hundred years of American and Native American relations.  I know it was 120 years ago and it seems like ancient history, but it’s just amazing to consider the growing pains this nation endured and the people that suffered along the way.

On this day during the Civil War 1862, General William T. Sherman was trying to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi against the heavily dug in Rebels. He was unsuccessful in his attempt even though he had numerical superiority. He could not get passed the Chickasaw Bluffs. The lessons he learned from that loss later allowed him to re-strategize and ultimately lead far more successful campaigns and suffer far less casualties.  

Even earlier that that, on this day in the year 1170 (can you imagine the year 1170?) Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II of England.  The significance of this event set up some of the power structure between the Church and the Royals of Great Britain for centuries to come. It also shows that corruption in government is certainly nothing new. We’ve just cleaned it up a bit.

It also appears that Ted Danson was born today in 1947. Happy Birthday Ted. We love you on Bored To Death on HBO.  And for some reason, History Channel decided to include Christian Slater’s drunk driving arrest from 1989.

My point is, there’s a vast history behind us and we should do our best to remember that while our work days are hard and maybe life doesn’t seem to have given us a fair shake; at least we’re not Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, Union Soldiers, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or Christian Slater for that matter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mythbusters, Bugs and Belgium

It’s a nice thing to go to bed at a reasonable hour and have some crazy dreams. I had several dreams last night that were epic in scale yet mild in scope. It would seem that most of my dreams are clearly influenced by television. That would explain the Mythbusters appearance. (No, sadly it was not Kari) As you should know, Mythbusters is a great television show on The Discovery Channel.

Like most dreams I have no idea where to start in explaining what was going on. There was a lot of activity, experiments and running, discussions and watching, even a cameo from an ex-girlfriend for a short car ride. I can’t recall where we were going but I must say that she looked very nice.  It was all so hyperkinetic and all over the place all at once yet there were definite slow spots and plot movement. The thing I remember when I woke was, “Mythbusters, Bugs and Belgium”.

I am assuming this because, as I mentioned, there were some experiments going on with Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters. I don’t remember what we were experimenting with or why but it seemed very important at the time. I know that at some point it had something to do with bugs. And I hate bugs. All bugs, every bug on earth I find horribly disgusting, all wearing their skeletons on the outside, scavenging in the dirt and refuse of our lives, drinking our blood and all kinds of horrors. Yuck, I hate bugs. So I was surprised they made it into my dreams. I try not to think about them most of the time. (Oh god there’s one on me now isn’t there?)

I also know we were in Belgium. I’ve never been to Belgium. The phrase I most recall from the dream was, “Never trust a Belgian”. I’ve never even met a Belgian that I’m aware of and why would they be untrustworthy?  I am attributing this thought to something I probably watched on The History Channel about World War II.  (Although I am stumped by the reference. I apologize to any Belgian readers. I’m huge in Belgium.)

Dreams are so fantastic and when I woke up this morning I felt as if I had lived a thousand lives and each of those thousand lives had the adventure of a lifetime. No wonder I am so tired already. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Very Little Time for This...

I took a few days off around the Holidays; just a little time to get my head back squarely on my shoulders. It was lovely to relax and unwind after all the stress and hectic head banging that goes on most work days. I slept without much stressful tossing and turning and felt better than I had in a while.

All that came screeching to a violent halt this morning. What is it with you people? Can’t you sustain verticality for a couple of lousy days?  Doesn’t it make sense when you 80 years old to stay inside during an ice storm? Did I miss something? If the weather is bad, please stay in and if you must go outside for any reason, be careful. Not every lot will be plowed and not every store floor will be dry. Pay attention to your surroundings and stop being a burden to society.

It’s more than just this incredibly ridiculous workload so shortly after a holiday. Some of the corporate higher ups caved to the client’s insane demands and we are now even further crippled to do our jobs effectively.  I don’t understand being hired to do a job but then not allowed to do it. That’s just dumb to me. The majority of the people I work with are college educated or have been in this industry for 30 years or so. It’s amazing that the client thinks we’re all stupid and need to be hand-held for everything we do. That’s also infuriating. I actually have some clue as to what I am doing.

So I have to keep this particular complain-orama brief as I really have a lot of actual work to do. Ah, to get paid to write for a living, now that’s the dream. I hope everyone is having as pleasant a Monday as I.  Let’s try to keep our chins up, so when the mule kicks he won’t break our noses.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Star

Before I get too into today’s thought I want to go back and write a word about yesterday’s blog title, “Mysterious Cuts”. I just want to say that I think that would be a pretty cool band name; or maybe, “Michael and the Mysterious Cuts”.

The Christmas Star. I was reminded of it this morning as I was driving the snowy roads into work. I don’t mean the literal biblical Christmas star that shined above the little baby Jesus’ manger. I mean the star Christmas tree topper my family used for years. It was a groovy looking thing, plastic and quite thin. It had a stained glass quality but was the furthest thing from actual glass. I have no idea where my parents bought it but it drove my sister and me nuts as children.

Every year we had to alternate whose turn it was to place the star on the tree. My mother, I believe, came up with the ingenious solution to sharing the star by placing one of our names in the star’s base; meaning that was the child whose turn it was to put the star on the tree that year.  As children, trying to remember whose turn it was after a whole year was incredibly difficult. So every time the name was pulled out it was either met with complete joy or something a little less than joy.

I was thinking about that exuberance as I drove in this morning. It was the high point of decorating the Christmas tree to be the one to top it off with that cheesy star. Of course the star wasn’t cheesy to us then. It was quite possibly the most precious object known to our little minds. I certainly had no idea what the value of the star was, but I knew what it meant to be the lucky one to place that star on the tree.  There was something important about it, a significance I can no longer comprehend because I’ve gotten too old to remember. I probably won’t remember it until I have children of my own and I see the anticipation on their little faces.

I think at that moment I’ll be transported back to six or seven years old and understand again the magic that is Christmas. I’ll be reminded that it’s more than just gifts or getting people things they want. (Although it’s nice to get people things they like or need). I think I’ll be reminded that putting a star on a tree makes you part of the holiday at a time when you didn’t have your own money or bank statements to worry about.  That cheap plastic star, or angel or Warner Brother’s character that adorns the top of the tree is made of the Christmas spirit and there’s no gift or toy or sweater that will ever take that magic away.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mystery Cut

Saturday night, while at my Cousin’s delightful Christmas party, I mysteriously cut my right index finger. I didn’t even notice until I had reached into my pocket to put out my pack of cigarettes. It’s a very small cut right across the very tip of the finger and it hurt like the Dickens.  I’ve always found that so mysterious. How a small cut, a paper cut, could hurt so bloody much. I’ve had instances where I’ve scratched the entire length of my arm and days have gone by before I go, “Wait a tick, how did I do that?”

I know that the tip of the finger is a pretty sensitive area so that’s likely why it hurt so badly. I’m not an idiot. But it did get me thinking about some of my other “ailments”, like smoking. I wondered if it was a coincidence that I just happened to notice my finger was cut while reaching for my cigarettes. Which got me thinking about my smoking. I’ve been a pretty consistent smoker since 1991. That’s almost 20 years of smoking and I think that might be enough. One little cut hurt so much, imagine what 20 years of smoking looks like, or feels like for that matter.

So I’ve decided to quit smoking in 2011. I quit for three weeks several years ago but started up again pretty quickly. Hopefully this time it’ll stick. It’s not only the health benefits that I’m looking forward to it’s the smell. I can no longer stand the smell in my apartment. It just smells so stale in there and I can’t imagine that being very attractive to anyone, other than other smokers. 

Plus, it’s cold as hell out and I’m really tired of having to go outside to smoke and freezing my fingers off for a short lived nicotine buzz, which hardly lasts more than a few seconds anyway.  I quit smoking at work several years ago and I’ve managed to stick to that, so the next step is at home. Home will be tough because I mostly smoke due to boredom. I’m hoping that quitting smoking will help motivate me to get off my lazy butt and start doing more.

Smoking has always slowed me down and sucked away at any motivation I’ve had. It’s made me late for things and likely has prevented me from getting that high powered executive job. But it’s something that will be very difficult to give up, it’s been the longest love affair in my life (and of course it’s been trying to kill me).   

So come the new year I will stop smoking. I’m not going to say “quit”, because that is defeatist. I will say stop smoking and hopefully I’ll accomplish this goal. I’m also hoping for a new job and new car and a house, but I guess starting small is better.  Unless I will the lottery tonight, then the cigarettes are on me. (All this from a little cut on my finger. Amazing)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jingle Bells

Today is my company’s holiday party; or as we used to call it, The Christmas Party. Apparently we can’t call it that anymore. That’s just inappropriate. I’m not sure to whom though because everyone is Catholic. I take that back, we have one non-practicing Jewish woman in the office. Other than that, we all apparently believe in Christmas and its religious significance.  And yet, we still have to call it the holiday party.  

Holiday parties have always been the stuff of legend in this company. Several years ago a colleague got so drunk in the first hour he spent the rest of the evening sleeping in his car in the parking lot. Another former employee had an incredible time pretending she was a Bond girl and stood on nearly every table she could find. Another young lady couldn’t stop pulling a hooded sweatshirt over another guy’s face; this provided several hours of entertainment.  And yet, I’ve gone home alone every year. That’s probably a good thing, I’m sure.  (cough).

The reality of the Christmas party is something else though. It’s time that could be better spent away from the people you are forced to spend the majority of your day with.   I spend more time with these people than with my own family. I think that’s true for a lot of people. I don’t love these people. I wouldn’t go to their house and spend any time with them. I wouldn’t expect them to come to mine.  It’s such a strange situation. 

Sadly, this year the company has finally decided to limit our alcohol intake. We may or may not have set several records for libations bought on previous occasions. We like our drink for sure. This year we get two drink tickets and then we’re on our own. I think this will lead to a very early end to the Christmas party. Which is okay I suppose. It’s just more time for me to get home, and then go to the corner bar.  Merry Holiday Party to all.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ow bmy Tongueb.

I bite my tongue an awful lot. Not in the literal sense of course (although I’ve been doing that a lot too) but in the sense that I rarely say everything on my mind. I wonder what it would be like to actually blurt out the things that are on my mind. I mean, when I see a very pretty woman, I think, “Wow, what a very pretty woman”, but I don’t say that. I say, “….…….”.  Which is usually not enough to start a rousing conversation.

I have a very severe sense of propriety. I can’t stand rudeness or outright stupidity. But my sense of propriety prevents me from actually saying anything about said rudeness or stupidity.  It’s a vicious circle I suppose. But I wonder what would happen if I did escape this wall of pretentions and just said, “Shut your ignorant hole you rude S.O.B.”? Would I be shunned, beat up or cursed out? Is that the price of speaking one’s mind?

What if I’m wrong too? (I know that rarely happens.) What if I do open my trap and I spew out the first things that come to mind and turn into that rude and stupid cretin I so despise? That would drive me crazy. So many societal rules to follow, ugh!

There are all kinds out there, the ones that are gregarious and quick to light up a room with a charming anecdote and those that drag rain clouds in and rain hate on everything and everybody. It all depends on how much control they have over what comes pouring out of their mouths.  I hope I fall somewhere in the middle. Maybe Upper middle class.

I try to be honest with people though, although sometimes people just want a reflection of their position, some support or encouragement. I ‘m happy to provide that. I feel good doing that. But I wonder, how would they react if I told them, as I am listening, I’m really thinking about how great their legs and butt look in those jeggings and not about their position regarding North Korea?  (Sorry, I just had to use the word Jeggings.) Would I get slapped? I think I would. Especially if I said that to a guy, well, the wrong guy; and maybe not slapped.

I don’t think I tell people I love them enough, or tell them that I think they are fantastic.  I don’t pat people on the back enough or conversely, tell them when they’re pissing me off. I capitulate and cave or stonewall and mule it up.  It’s something I guess I’ll have to work on. In fact, I think it’s something we should all try to work on. Maybe for the New Year I’ll resolve to tell those I love that I do and tell the one’s I don’t to go jump in the lake. (but I’ll at least throw them a life preserver).

I suppose there’s a balance that one should maintain. There are times when speaking out and saying what is in the forefront of the mind is totally appropriate and times when it’s far more prudent to shut your yap.  I guess knowing when those times are defines who we are and our personalities.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Isn't it amazing?

I went to a celebration event last night in honor of a friend of mine who beat cancer. A year ago he was diagnosed with it and now he’s completely destroyed it. I think that’s just amazing. He described some of the medical procedures he had to go through and they sounded truly barbaric. They did save his life however. And as he said, he’s now here drawing breath.

It made me think of some of the other miracles I’ve witnessed. I’ve seen my Uncle beat cancer and several other ailments along the way at a time when those in the medical profession didn’t give him much of a chance. I’ve seen children come back from brink and who are now vibrant with childhood enthusiasm. I’ve seen near misses with car accidents and heard stories of amazing triumph in bleak situations.

I thought about my personal miracles as well. There were times where I just missed an accident or ducked just at the right moment. Is it some sort of cosmic timing or sheer luck? Are miracles wrought upon us by a higher intelligence or is it merely the luck of the draw? Is it a micro-second of two microscopic cells that just happen to be in the right place at the right time that defines our very existence and that decide our mathematical fate?

I don’t know. Who could know a thing like that? All we can do is appreciate the gravity of those miracles and do our best to accept them. So I was glad to be at the celebration last night; sharing with others how really amazing it is to survive something as terrible as cancer.  It was also one of those times that I felt my own mortality creeping in and that I should take better care of myself, although the hedonist in me almost always tries to ruin my plot for self-preservation.

So as I sit here in my cube, marveling at the wonders of the miracles all around us I feel terribly confined and as if my life is lacking any real meaning or adventure.  Then I think that it’s a miracle that I’m here at all and I should be grateful. What a terrible enigma to be wrapped up in; life is precious, but often boring. I am glad I have a sense of humor about it all, otherwise I’m sure I would have taken a hostage long ago and demanded buckets of ice cream and cheesecake and a chopper to take me to Brazil.  

Anyway, I’m very happy my friend is on recovery road and has beaten a disease that so often destroys. I never really had any doubts he wouldn’t beat it. It was in the bag. Now, onto the next miracle; The Great Disappearing Hangover.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The future is then

Technology has been a true blessing for certain. It’s amazing to instantly communicate with anyone anywhere around the globe. It’s wild to download footage of a Chimp urinating in its own mouth, truly magnificent. It’s a testament to our human genius and I’m really proud of it.

Proud of it except when I have to be a part of it, for an hour.  There’s this on-line training and or conference system called WebX. It’s a doodler’s dream since no trainer or other employee can see you scribbling on your note pad. But it is so boring. I was learning today about all kinds of new Medicare legislation that now affects the industry I work in. It seems to me they are making it far more complicated than it should be.  It’s also making me sleepy. 

I appreciate the efforts the company is making to make sure were all on the same page regarding this new legislation and it’ll help Medicare for sure. But again, it’s so boring. So now I will digress from this current train of thought and drift off into something more interesting.

I’m worried about my future love life. Over the last few days I’ve realized how much I miss feeling a deep emotional love for another person. I mean, I love people, friends and family, etc. But I miss that boyfriend/girlfriend love. It’s a curious thing to miss; especially since I seem to turn into an emotional stone at some point in the relationship. (Hear that ladies, emotional stone and yes, I am single).

I’ve been on a few dates here and there, even met a few women that I would like to hang out with again and see more of, but I haven’t felt that “Spark”. That certain something that really makes you want to see that person again and you’d do just about anything to make that happen. I just haven’t felt it. So I’m worried about my future love life. Am I drifting too far into my own realm of singleness? Losing touch with who’s out there?

I am a romantic in a way, I do want the whole, “Eyes meet from across the room and we’re magnetically attracted to each other”, thing. I miss that giddiness that builds up inside every time you look in their eyes as you talk.  I miss that quite a lot.  I wish there was a WebX seminar to help me figure this whole crazy relationship thing out. (Of course I’d probably be doodling through that too)

I’m looking forward to the next relationship. (Of course it does have some mighty big high heels to fill). I hope I’m aware enough to notice when it comes along, sometime in the future.  Will it involve the internet or some future technology? I wouldn’t mind, but I’m not going to a dating web site. I prefer the old fashioned way of meeting people, in person, at a bar. How else is the music supposed to come up?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Americans, please put your pants on.

As I was driving about the city this weekend I noticed a peculiar and unsettling trend. Too many people are walking around in their pajama bottoms. I’m not sure where this trend started but it needs to stop. I can appreciate your search for comfortable garments for the lower half of your body, but flannel pajama pants at the grocery store are not appropriate.

I think this trend started with teenage girls. I only say this because a few years ago I noticed a large number of young girls with their “Juicy” sweatpants tucked into their Uggs Boots. I noted at the time how very strange this new fashion development was but I checked it off as just something teenage girls were doing and it was quite literally none of my concern. But now it’s out of hand.

I saw a man yesterday walking down the street wearing a heavy winter jacket and snow boots. In between the boots and the jacket were green and red Christmas flannel pajama bottoms.  I’m sure he was just out for a quick jaunt, perhaps to brush the snow off his car and thought he’d go unseen. He was wrong of course, how can one miss green and red pants on a guy amongst a sea of white snow? I must be too old fashioned. I’d never be caught dead outside in my pajama bottoms. Even if I have to run across the street to the convenient store, I put jeans on. Going outside in pajamas, simply isn’t done.

I was driving to my mother’s house yesterday when I saw another middle aged woman hurrying across the street. It was a very cold day yesterday and the wind was howling through the street. This woman was bundled in her tan coat, Knock-off Uggs and pink and light green flannel pajama bottoms. No wonder she was in a hurry, her legs must have been freezing. I shook my head again. Why in the world would you venture out in sleeping pants?  Is it just simple laziness? Are we now so self-indulgent that putting regular pants on to walk down the street is now beneath us? Are we so devoid of other people around us that we just don’t consider how much the rest of us don’t want to see what Great Aunt Tilly bought you for Christmas last year? I wouldn’t dream of it. I doubt anyone would want to see me gallivanting around the boulevards in my martini patterned sleeping pants. I mean, the only time it’s acceptable to be seen in your pajamas outside is if your house in burning down in the middle of the night and you and your family just escaped. Then, wear your pajamas where ever you like.

So America, please, put your pants on. It’s not too hard. One leg at a time.     

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Doughnuts

As much as I despair my job, there’s one bright spot in an otherwise lousy position. Free Doughnuts on Fridays. One of the many perks of being in the insurance industry I suppose. It is truly a delicious start to what will likely be a long and aggravating day.

Doughnuts are just cool. It’s that simple. They have the grand distinction of being so simple yet, otherworldly.  Doughnuts seem to make the morning that much more bearable. It’s is a little sad when the doughnut is gone however, like mine is, now. I miss you doughnut.

I digress; doughnuts have a long history in American and around the world. Almost every culture on the globe has a baked or fried sugary doughnut type of pastry. There’s some dispute as to the origin of the doughnut but they may go back as far as 1803, but again, it’s slightly controversial. Many people have taken some credit for the creation or invention of the doughnut through history but it’s hard to say with any real surety who did what when.  I’m just glad some person decided it was a treat to good to be forgotten.

It’s a funny thing when you miss your chance at a doughnut. I’ve arrived in the break room on occasion too late to get a hold of one of the sweet little guys. It’s a crippling punch in the stomach to miss the doughnuts. It’s like Christmas and your Birthday all wrapped into one day, but nobody got you any presents or even said, “Happy Birthmas”. There’s a child inside of you that pouts and tears start to slightly well up in their eyes. You also feel a little anger. “Who would just TAKE the last doughnut?! That S.O.B.”, and you pound your feet all the way back to your desk.

Now, halfway into this little article, I really miss my doughnut. It was an Old Fashioned with Chocolate frosting. I long for its doughy goodness. Perhaps I should just stop talking about my long gone doughnut and get focused on the tasks at hand today. Like getting more doughnuts. By digging a tunnel across the parking lot, under the viaduct and into the Dunkin Donuts across the way. Maybe. I think that would be an especially valuable use of my time today.

I wonder what I’ll have for lunch.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Thursday

Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? I’m quite sure I’ve seen you. I know you’ve been around. I know it. You’ve been hanging around the water cooler, chatting it up with all the fellas. I know you but I can’t quite place your name or face. I mean, I see you all the time, at least once a week for sure.

Who are you really and what’s your purpose here? Really, I don’t mean to be nosey or pry into your business but what are you doing here? I would appreciate an answer or some clue to your identity. Have you been coming around here long? Do you know me? Have you some greater purpose or goal?

Well, there’s no reason to be rude. If you don’t want to answer me then fine. I mean, it’s up to you I suppose. It’s your life and you can do what you like. It’s not up to me how you decide to behave in polite and proper society. I must say it's slightly inappropriate to remain silent in the matter.

Okay. I’ve had just about enough of you sir. Your silence is deafening and I can no longer tolerate it. I wish you would just go. Please leave your keys on the table and just go. One last thing, as you exit, please send that other fellow in, Friday I think is his name. Thanks.

Some people, sheesh.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On the bright side....

It occurred to me that Chicagoans appear to be optimists. I hear it every year once fall winds down and winter begins to push through with any rigor. “Oooh, I can’t believe how cold it is”, they say. Chicagoans are constantly surprised that it ever gets cold here. It’s as if they choose not to believe it as a possibility, even though it’s cold here eight months out of the year. We love our warm summer months and have a very difficult time accepting the reality of winter. We’d rather believe it won’t get that cold and we’ll be wearing shorts and sitting at the beach in no time.

I enjoy our collective optimism. It says a lot about who we are as Chicagoans. We believe in the impossibility of a short, warm winter even though history has shown us we’re likely in for a long and dreary snowbound hell. I like that about us. We really can’t believe winter has arrived or that snow has started to fall. But we’ll shovel our sidewalks and dream of warmer nights drinking al fresco.

We also seem to think that our sports teams, be they the Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Bears or the Bulls, will eventually win this year, or maybe the next or maybe the year after that. We refuse to give up our optimism about them and continue to root against the tides of history. Every so often we are rewarded for our faith and for a short time we can all revel in whatever championship the team won. Although Chicagoans don’t feel that the “Team” won, it was a collective city effort and we all reap the spoils. We were all part of the team. I think, in some ways, even in defeat we still hold our allegiances close to our hearts and continue to believe that next game or next season we’ll enter the hallowed halls of victory.

We also seem to think that things, in general, will get better. There are a lot of social and economic problems in Chicago; no one would ever deny that. But I do believe we try to take them on the chin and really think that eventually, everything will work out for the betterment of us all. Even if it takes 30 to 40 years to straighten it all out. (We’ll get that Olympics one day, I’m sure of it)

So here’s to us Chicagoans, we know winter will end, we know the Cubs will escape history, we know the city will survive without a Daley at the helm. We have faith in each other to see us through this cold, long winter and make plans for the summer block party of street fest.  Why look....the sun is shining.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

There is nothing more terrifying than a return to the office after a five day break from work; the exception being getting the crap bombed out of you by Japanese Zeros. It certainly puts things in perspective though.

My job is often very trying and mentally exhausting, but it really is nothing compared to what those young men and women went through on December 7, 1941. A woefully unprepared American Navy was surprised by the Japanese and we really had our American asses handed to us. Mind you, we took a powerful and swift revenge in the end, but it was still something to behold.

I’m certainly not trying to liken myself to those men and women that died on Pearl Harbor.  My job, and frankly, my life are certainly nothing like theirs. For instance, I spent the majority of my time off from work half in the bag at my local bar. It was certainly an Irish vacation for sure. It wasn’t very meaningful and there were no grand photographic moments, but I did have some fun here and there. I’m very happy to have spent a lot of that time with the friends and people I’ve come to know.  But it wasn’t exactly the drama filled, action packed vacation we all think about having. Sadly there was no swinging from chandeliers or sunken treasures were discovered.

I found it difficult to get motivated to accomplish even the smallest of tasks, justifying it to myself by saying, “I’m on vacation”. But now, I’ll still have to do some of those things and in less time. Part of me thinks it was very foolish to waste that time and part of me says I shouldn’t be so hard on myself because in the end, I did have some fun. This is why I don’t normally take vacations; I can’t seem to resolve my absence from work and my overt laziness. If I had done something grand, then perhaps I wouldn’t feel like I just wasted that vacation time. But there’s no sense in dwelling on it. It’s come and gone and I’m here in the now of it.

So on this Remembrance Day, I’ll try to stay motivated to accomplish the minor tasks I have and try to stay upbeat about them. It’s certainly not like I’m struggling for my last breath in the belly of the U.S.S., Arizona. God Bless those men and women. I for one, will try to keep them in my thoughts while I deal with the moaning and groaning public; who couldn’t possibly fathom the pain those before them endured, yet persevered.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jesus is his Co-pilot

On my drive into work this morning there was this little blue whatchamacallit vehicle swerving in and out of traffic. It was weaving and changing lanes without turn signals and then was tailgating the cars in front of it. It was basically trying to force its way through the heavy traffic.  Once it got around me was when I saw it.

Emblazoned on the back of this little speedster was a large white Christian Cross. I thought to myself, “How would Jesus drive?” or, “HWJD”.  Being raised a Catholic, I found it a little hard to comprehend the almost bullying nature of the fella trying to force his way through traffic.  But then I remembered the 1500 years of Christian bullying throughout world history and it all made sense.

I’m not saying I’m anti-Catholic or anti any religion for that matter. I think it’s important to have faith and believe in the possibility of something greater than ourselves out (waving hands in front of myself) there. But I don’t like it when people use religion to justify poor behavior or as a crutch. I think Religion is a tool and like all tools it must be used properly to get the best results.

As this guy was speeding and weaving through traffic I wondered if he knew he would be all right because God was on his side, guiding his hands as he narrowly missed smashing into a car in the right lane. I wondered if his faith was so strong that he actually turned the responsibility of driving over to Jesus and tempted the Devil. I wondered as he passed cars on the shoulder if he was saying the Hail Mary or was passing out blessings to the cars he passed. I wondered if when he got to his destination he dropped to his knees and gave a very public thanks to his Lord and Savior. I doubt it. When something good happens, we did it. When something bad happens we ask, “Where was God then?”
I love that old phrase that goes, God always answers your prayers, sometimes he says, “No”.

I spoke with a woman once who assured me that God would guide me to an answer that would, of course, benefit her financially. I tried to explain to the woman that God, as much as I dig Him, would not be making the decision regarding her claim, but I would.  She had a very hard time believing this was the case and she was sure God would direct me to give her money. In the end, I did not give her money. Not because she was sure God would deliver her a large cash settlement, but because the facts did not support her claims and religion was completely unrelated to the incident. She was only using her beliefs to shore up her own misguided greed. That made me feel pretty dirty for sure.

I appreciate those that have a healthy faith and don’t use religion as a crutch. I know the things religion teaches are guidelines to lead a good and respectable life. I know they help us understand morality and what’s good and evil in the world, but I wouldn’t turn over my car to the hands of God in the hopes he’ll get me to work on time. That’s just irresponsible and frankly, Jesus wouldn’t drive your shitbox of a car. That’s not his style.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Long Weekend, I miss you already

There’s nothing like a long weekend to help you feel relaxed and back on top. It’s such a wonderful thing to sleep late and hang out late and really just take care of your own business and not have to worry about anyone else or their problems; until that Monday after a long weekend.

I had a really nice long Thanksgiving and pre-birthday weekend. I was happy to spend my time with a lot of family and friends and really enjoyed myself. It wasn’t until 9:00 PM last night that I started to slowly realize the long weekend was coming to an end.

There’s nothing as demoralizing or soul crippling as that Monday morning after a long and lovely weekend. The amount of work that has been shoved on our faces for this Monday is astounding and I’m really in shock at people’s inability to sustain verticality in the world.

Can’t you people not fall down, and if you do, would you please take some responsibility for your own mistakes? It’s really just depressing to see this many new incidents from the long weekend. It’s just stunning how much there is. I’m just frozen with amazement and anger.

Anger because I just can’t understand why or how so many people in the contiguous United States can find the time to fall down in a store. Do people really just not look where they are going? Is everyone just staring up as they roam around the globe? I just don’t understand it so it makes me angry.

Listen up people, watch where you are going and if you trip and fall; it’s your own fault for not paying attention to your surroundings. Take some responsibility and toughen up.  You’re ruining my peaceful and calm state of mind.   

On the bright side however, I only have to work 2 days this week so I guess I might just have to suck it up and deal. At least I haven’t fallen down.  I do wonder if straight-jackets come in different colors now or if they are all just that clinical, sterile white?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the most Norman Rockwell of American Holidays. It’s been engraved in our souls to see Grandpa and Grandma standing over a long dining room table that has been delicately decorated with various autumn themed wreaths and cornucopias. Grandma and Grandpa smile in their embrace as they look down the table and see their successive generations gorging themselves on turkey, potatoes, cranberries, squash, beans, yams, and the occasional piece of pie. There is a warmth that fills the heart and head when you think of this happy scene and you just can’t help but feel profoundly bored to death.

I kid, I kid. Thanksgiving is a great holiday because there’s no gift giving or buying involved, just a crap load of cooking. I’m a male member of my family so my cooking is limited to staying the hell out of the kitchen. I know I can only be a hindrance to the magic that is taking place in there. Although, the majority of my family is Irish so I’m not sure what kitchen magic I’m referring to. I suppose there’d have to be a Leprechaun in the kitchen, crapping out golden turkey’s for there to be actual magic in there.

I do enjoy Thanksgiving however. I do like sitting around the table for a little while listening and talking with family and friends. It’s a nice way to get back to the things that matter, like family. Most of us rush through our lives, trying to take care of every little detail, that we just don’t have the opportunity to sit across from each other and watch each other chew.

The thing that I don’t like too much about Thanksgiving however is the threat of that classic family argument. Ah, nothing truly says the Holidays like pent up frustration about something that happened 25 years ago rearing its ugly head after that fifth glass of red wine.  Is it really Thanksgiving without some family member bursting into tears and doing that awful cry-talking thing? I should say not.

We have a lot of things to be thankful for this year and we’d be decent Americans if we really remembered just how moderately good we have it. There are too many Americans out there that will be having a tough time being thankful for anything this year. It’s important that we try to remember them as we stuff our faces and figure out which football team to half-ass root for. (I’m considering the Lions)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Return

Several thoughts included.

There’s nothing like coming back to work after a three day weekend and discovering that you now need a Sherpa to get into your cubical. I figured I’d set up a base camp and then attack the summit tomorrow. Illukiwit, my Sherpa guide thinks that’s foolish and we should press on all day. I’ve fired Illukiwit by pushing him off the mountain of paperwork. As far as I understand, Sherpas always land on their feet (obliterating the bones in their legs.)

It’s also fun to get to your voicemails. I’m very clear on my outgoing message that I won’t be in the office for a day, but that doesn’t stop people leaving me the “Call me back immediately”, messages. I just wish people would listen and relax. I’ll get back to you eventually. I’m pretty good about returning phone calls, even if I have nothing to say. I’ll call you back and just breathe at you.

Secondly, I must discuss Tailgaters. There is something very sad about those pushy S.O.B.’s. I just don’t understand where they want me to go. I can only drive as fast as the car in front of me and if he’s hitting his brakes then there is just nothing I can do. So I will give you dirty looks in the mirror and try to threaten you with my frowning eyebrows.  Just take it easy man, we all want to get somewhere and if we work together, we’ll all make it.

These are the same people that honk at you in the drive-thru. All you want is a few more napkins and extra sauce so you kindly ask the fast food jockey, but the jerk behind you thinks this is an outrage and starts pounding on the horn. My goodness, what gave your stomach priority over everyone else’s?

Thirdly, there’s relationship stuff. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about their relationships this weekend. It makes me miss my old relationship a bit. I learned so much about myself and how to express myself from my ex and I owe her a debt. (Of course she’ll never speak to me again because she has to move on with her life and she rightly should.) But I really appreciate everything she showed me and I’ve glad to have some perspective on it.

No matter how much perspective I have however, all I can say is that every relationship is unique and they will either work out or not.  It’s just having the courage to know the difference and make that hard choice. Sometimes pride gets in the way and we can’t let a bad thing go. We’ve worked so hard at it and to give up now seems like a waste. But it isn’t, we come away having learned something and are better prepared the next time something wonderful comes along. (Unless you’re me.)

Fourth, this is a short work week for most of us and I’m sure there’s an incredible amount of anticipation for the break. I know I’m excited to get down with Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I ain’t no God Damn Son of a bitch

I love punk music.  I really do. Nothing gets my blood pumping better than good old fashioned kick ass punk rock. Especially on a Friday morning when the last thing in the world you want to do is drag your tired butt out of bed and go to stupid work.

I was talking last night at the bar and I remembered that many years ago one of my best friends would surprise me with a punk rock song left on my work voicemail. So when I would get to work and start checking my messages, in the middle of the voicemails would be some awesome kick-ass music. It was just the thing to get in your head and help you get through the day.

So I sent my old friend a text message last night and said that I thought it’d be cool if he could find the time to call my current work voicemail and maybe, if he was so inclined, leave an old middle finger waving, anti-establishment punk song for me. He is a good friend and he delivered.  I was happy to get to work and find my little red light flashing on my phone showing I had a new voicemail. (I had four actually – it seems people on the West Coast don’t understand what Central Standard Time is.)

So now I have a good song in my head and I’m nearly ready to say, “Fuck No”, to just about everything.  People have a hard time believing I like punk music. I’m pretty clean cut these days and I certainly don’t go stomping around in waffle makers or anything. I just don’t like anything, and that’s punk enough for me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rambo - First Coffee

You know it’s going to be a particularly brutal day when you don’t get to have your first cup of coffee until 10:16 am. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment for trying to work hard I suppose.  Of course it’s also a joy to finally make it back to the coffee area at work and find a cold swallow of coffee left in the pot and that the Coffee Slobs have struck again.

Who are those mysterious people that refuse to acknowledge the mountains of sugar they’ve dumped on the counter top? Why is there a single piece of plastic wrap just lying out? Why are all the coffee stirrers scattered on the counter, did the box explode? Truly a mystery for the ages.

But I digress, the reason I didn’t have a chance to get a cup of coffee until 10:16 AM is because of you. Not you specifically but, the general you, the General Public, the evil, greedy, self serving general public. I hate you. I’m in a business wherein it seems to be perfectly acceptable for people to refuse to accept any responsibility for their own mistakes. I’m constantly amazed by the sense of self entitlement people have created for themselves. People seem to have developed a, “money for nothing”, attitude and its wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.    Most of us have to earn our money, no one just gives it to us because we think we’re owed it "just because".

Without getting too specific, I am in the insurance industry and I deal with claims on a commercial/retail level. I deal with people who alleged they slipped, tripped or fell in or around a certain retail giant. Be it on a clear dry floor or a clean and flawless sidewalk, people find a way to fall and not accept any responsibility for it. They say, “Well, it happened in your store so you need to give me money”. Our common response is, “Well, what did the store do to cause the accident?” and the usual response is, “I don’t know, but it happened in your store so, you need to compensate me”.       No. We don’t.

 People who refuse to read the labels of their own prescription medication and then discover days after they’ve been taking something that it’s not their name on the bottle. We ask, “Did you read the label when you picked up the prescription?”, and they often respond, “No, but it shouldn’t happen”. I agree, that shouldn’t happen, but it still doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility to check the label before you start taking any medication.

Nothing in this world is perfect and accidents will happen. The world is not made of Nerf and yes, concrete is very hard.  But just tripping on a well maintained and yellow painted curb and landing on your face is not my fault. It’s yours and you should accept responsibility for not lifting your feet or watching where you are going. It’s as if the old adage, “Look before you leap”, has been erased from the American mind.

All they want is someone else to accept responsibility and reward them for having an accident, which was their fault in the first place. That’s why I didn’t get a coffee first thing. I had to talk to you, the general public, on the phone all morning and listen to you moan. Now, go clean the coffee room and try not to hurt yourself.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Games Jackson Played

Here is part of a short story I was working on. I'm not feeling all that topical this morning so....enjoy?

The Games Jackson played

Jackson’s games were only limited by the boundaries of his imagination; if not literally by the boundaries of his parent’s modest size country property. His afternoons were spent dashing about the fields and in between the hedgerows the next door neighbor, Mrs. Dufont, had somehow transplanted from her estate in France after the war. Jackson mostly traipsed across this landscape alone, climbing trees and wading out in the small stream that trickled out along the southern edge of the property. He could lose himself in fantasy and adventure till the fireflies came out. He was happy to have these adventures alone but every once in a while he had to play with the only other child in the area named Willie Snopes.

Willie was kind of a weird jerk. He wasn’t mean but he was callus.  Jackson couldn’t really blame him however. Willie’s dad ran off with some burlesque dancer when Willie was only seven and his mother had taken up with several notoriously crude and rude local men over the years. The last live in boyfriend was an iron worker who never seemed to be at work with iron. He was some kind of Polish Irish German mix of a man, meaning he drank and had one hell of a temper.  Ms. Snopes found something charming under that rough and slovenly fa├žade so he was the man of the house of the moment. He wasn’t outright mean to Willie or anything, but just like Jackson, Willie was ignored.  Ms. Snopes wasn’t a bad woman either. She just didn’t really know how to handle herself without a man around. She certainly wasn’t prepared to take care of Willie all on her own. She was only 19 when Willie was born and was barely a woman as it was.

Jackson and Willie did what most boys do when their parents don’t seem to give much of a damn about them. They had imaginary adventures. Jackson was always the leader of the expeditions and adventures while Willie was given the lesser roles and in most cases was indifferent. Jackson was a patient and rather quite child, while Willie couldn’t give a rat’s fart about anything. Jackson had a sneaking suspicion there was something wrong with Willie but at 11 years old, before girls and other complications of life, there’s no way to really tell or judge. Sometimes it’s just the roles you end up playing in the imaginary stories of young boys. Jackson always imagined himself as the poised and heroic leading man, while Willie somehow always was cast as the Sancho Panza or Igor. Sometimes he was the villain.

Most summer days Jackson was content to play in his large yard, spending nearly all day in the sun or sitting in the shade of the large Maple tree. He’d really only ever go in to the house for meals and bedtime. Not that his mother was worried, she was usually on the phone talking to one of her six sisters or gossiping with Claire Donovan about who’s husband did what at the recent Moose Lodge Dinner Banquet. So Jackson was never really underfoot.

He’d sit and read a lot of the time. His favorite book for the longest time was King Solomon’s Mines by Sir H. Rider Haggard. The scope and scale of that adventure through the deepest and darkest landscape of Africa stirred his soul. At night, tucked under the covers his mind would swirl with the breathtaking action and adrenaline fueled excitement. He’d hardly be able to sleep with the anticipation of heading out in the yard and begin his own African expedition. Jackson pretended he was Allan Quatermain and he convinced Willie to be Allan’s friend, Captain Good. Willie of course shied at the name. He thought it wasn’t all the creative, corny in fact. He got a little jealous about it soon after their imaginary adventure began and he started complaining that Allan Quartermain was such a cool name and Captain Good was just lame and why couldn’t they play robots like he wanted. Luckily Willie had to get home for lunch so Jackson was able to continue his adventure without that complaining nag.

Jackson had a lunch of his own to get to but he pretended it was a trap set out by the evil Kukuanas witch, Gagool. He wouldn’t repeat that to his mother. She wouldn’t know what he was talking about anyway. She rarely ever knew what he was doing. He had asked her hundreds of time to please not to toast his bread on his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because it scratches the roof of his mouth, but almost every day, there was a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich waiting for him at the kitchen table.

There was little Jackson could do of course, being the small, replacement child that he was. So he would sit and crunch and choke down the sandwich quietly at the table while his mother sat across from him, talking on the phone, smoking a cigarette. It was sometimes hard to tell who she was talking to, or if there was anyone on the on the line at all. She never seemed to stop talking or give anyone a chance to respond to what she had said. There were family photos of her on the phone, cigarette in hand, a half moon smile on her face.

He didn’t hate his mother, he loved her very much. He didn’t know there could be something not quite right with his mother. He adored her anyway. She tried in her own way to be a mother.

Jackson finished his lunch and put his plate in the sink and went back to the yard to finish the African adventures of Allan Quartermain.

Years later, when Jackson was a teenager and his adventurous spirit had been broken, the most he looked forward to doing in the yard was getting Cindy Callagan to let him touch her breast again. She let him touch it when they were fifteen and two years later he hadn’t seen it again. To him, Cindy’s breasts were just as elusive as and somehow more important than King Solomon’s Mines.

To be continued….?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I want a new Drug

I recently heard of a new illness called Sleep Work Disorder. It is apparently for those individuals that worked third shift jobs for years and years and now cannot adjust to a regular sleep schedule.  I thought to myself that was just crazy. Another made up disease by the pharmaceutical companies to pump out a bunch of new drugs, much like Restless Leg Syndrome. That one makes me laugh.

But it occurred to me that for most of my adult life I have been staying out very late in bars. In years past I might have stayed out passed 2:00 AM at least four nights a week. I started to wonder that perhaps my inability to wake up at a normal morning time might be the result of Sleep Work Disorder. Not because I worked a late shift at some job, but I worked the late shift at too many bars over the years. And by work I mean drink.

I know it sounds pretty crazy but I seem to have all the symptoms of those suffering from Sleep Work Disorder; exhaustion during normal waking hours, restlessness, inability to concentrate, lethargy and sleeplessness at night.  It’s a scary thought that in all those fun years of staying out till 4:00 AM on a Wednesday might have been causing me some serious mental strife years later.  I mean, I wouldn’t dare blame the alcohol. That would just be far too easy. No, it must be something I just heard about and was likely just made up in the last two years. Yes, that has to be it. 

Not only does there seem to be some mental toll this Sleep Work Disorder has caused but there are physical troubles as well. You see, I never sit down at the bar. I will stand at the bar for six hours or more. The only time you’ll see me sitting down is if I am literally too exhausted to stand. I have been standing up at the bar for nearly all my drinking years and now, my back hurts. I know; how in the world could it have come to this? It’s quite clear that all those years of standing have caused my vertebra to compress and cause me some great discomfort.   Clearly it’s not due to my lack of exercise or diet, but obviously from my long stretches of standing.

I wonder if the pharmaceutical companies can come up with a drug to help those of us suffering from long term bar exposure.  I’m sure they could come up with something to help us continue to enjoy the bar experience without all the long term side effects that go along with it. Something like, Drinkitall XM or maybe, Boozalin. Oooh, how about Dionysusian. Yeah, I like Dionysusian. (For those of you that don’t know, Dionysus was the Greek God of Wine and Grapes)

So that’s what I’ll have to do. I’ll have to petition some generous pharmaceutical company to come up with a fake study regarding the long term effects of long nights of standing at a bar and then come up with the fake drug and then I’ll be rich.  Yes, obviously it’s a sound business plan. Now that I think of it, Fred Flintstone might have come up with something similar once. Or was that just a conversation at the bar?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Positive Mental Attitude

I’ve been told that it’s important to have a P.M.A. and that having one will make your job and other stressful life activities much more bearable. Shut up I say. I’m more of a stiff upper lip type anyway. You know, I bottle it all up inside for weeks and weeks and then one day I go on a crabby tear and feel a general malaise toward everything and anything. Like a real middle class American man.

A positive mental attitude was something spoon fed to the worker bees so they wouldn’t get any bright ideas about changing their lives or taking steps to improve the quality of their employment.   It’s a tool of evil corporate stooges to get us lulled into a sense of security and complacency.

“I think this machine is going to tear off my fingers”, said the worker bee.
“Well, look at the bright side, think how much less you’ll have to spend on gloves”, said the corporate stooge.

“At least you have a job, right?” I want to stuff people’s pants full of chicken droppings and make them run a marathon when I hear them say that.  Yes, it’s good to have a job and be a contributing member of society but shut the hell up. Most people I know hate their jobs and no amount of positive thinking will make their jobs any better.

I should step back here however and try to stop being such a complainer. Really, who wants to read about me and my severe blood debt hatred for my job on a constant basis?  That’s just not entertaining at all. I apologize, dear reader.  Monday’s are just so hard to be positive. It’s a long way to five o’clock on Friday and the vastness of the week long desert can be overwhelming. I’m sure your weeklong struggles aren’t any worse or better than mine.  I’m just hoping that lovely woman I met Friday night will call me. (Sigh)

I guess I should try to have a more positive attitude and maybe it’ll corrode my cynicism just enough for me to not feel so lousy and in turn make you feel lousy. It’s tough to do with the mountain of evil (I think it’s called Manure Hill) yet to climb. But if we clap hard enough, maybe Tinkerbelle will come back to life and she’ll sprinkle us with Fairy dust and we can all fly over those mountains and poop on the freshly washed cars of those that held us back.  That’s what fairies do right?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adult Activities

I was prepared to write all about my lovely grown-up dinner last night. It was a lovely evening of excellent food, good wines, good company and OTC cold medicine. It was the sort of thing you always imagined you’d do as an adult. It was quite pleasant and I was stoked to write about it. Until I got to my car this morning.

My poor car has been brutalized by the city. I know it is one of the hazards of owning a car in the city; you do run the risk of the occasional dent and ding but this morning I was really taken aback. My right rear tail-light was completely smashed out, just gouged right out of its housing.  I was appalled. I hoped in vain that some considerate American might leave a note on my windshield apologizing for hitting my vehicle with their insurance information and of course, I was disappointed.  So I was put off from my original thoughts of Adult fun and grown-up responsibility and it was replaced with a grumpy old man sentiment and fist shaking anger, “Damn you darn Teenagers!”

It brings me to a greater point about adults and responsibility, today is Veteran’s Day and it’s important we take some time to remember the very adult decisions we asked a lot of our young men and woman to make in the defense of our country.  Most of those Vets were and are barely out of their 20’s and yet we rely so heavily on them to protect us and defend us in the world. To them we owe a huge debt and I sincerely salute their sacrifice.

I would also leave a note if I hit one of their cars out on the street. I respect them so damn much.

Anyway, there’s no shame in thanking a Vet if you see one on the street or at the airport or cheering on your favorite local sports team. We owe them at least that.* And if you hit their car, or anyone’s car for that matter, be an adult and leave a note. Take responsibility.

*(We also owe our Vets the opportunity to use what they learn in the workforce and make sure they have excellent health care and benefits for the families they often leave behind)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's too hot in here...

It’s very tough to come up with something exciting and creative for this blog while completely whacked out on cold medicine. My ability to concentrate on one thought is greatly diminished by the constant coughing and nose blowing. I certainly didn’t sleep well last night thanks to my fevered dreams of being a poker playing cattle baron who was worried about getting his cattle to round-up and making it to the World Series of Poker’s Final Table; then playing poker for my cattle.

I woke up worried I’d lose my cows and never see them again. Then I slowly realized that I was not a cattle baron, but a lowly worker bee in the corporate hive. I don’t remember if I was relieved or disappointed.   Those cold medicine dreams are certainly something else.

It’s also hard because I have several meetings I have to sit through this morning and there’s nothing as annoying as someone sniffling and sneezing and coughing all through a meeting. I can’t stand it for sure. But now it’ll be me and I’ll have to try and control myself with the added benefit of trying to stay awake and not dream about my lost cows.

I hope I can hold it together long enough to go out for a nice meal tonight. It is unfortunate that part of tonight’s planned activities involves a wine tasting and yet, I can’t taste a thing thanks to this cold. 
“Are you enjoying your glass of monkey stool”, asked the Sommelier.
“Oh, yes, very much so. What year is the monkey?”
“That’s a 2007 Monkey”.
“Lovely”, sniffle.

I’m certainly hoping that my cold runs its course quickly and is nearly gone by the weekend, or at least it’s packing its bags. Nothing ruins a weekend more thoroughly than a cold or flu and with only 52 weekends a year it’s a shame to lose one to illness. Weekends are my time and I’m not too pleased to have to share it with Captain Clogged Nostrils and the Coughing Cougars of Constantinople. I feel robbed somehow or at least short changed.

I wonder what I’ll write about when I’m well again. It is warm in here?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That' snot funny

It happened. I’ve caught my first cold of the season. The first stages of a cold are always the worst. There’s that scratchy, uncomfortable cotton feeling in the throat and the pressure that starts to build around the sinuses that somehow sneaks up on you. I knew it was going to happen, despite all my positive thinking and my attempts to control my body. I really try to use that whole “mind over body” thing and it failed finally and so now I sit, slightly congested and really annoyed.  I’d really rather move into stage two and just get to the coughing and nose blowing. At least there seems like there’s more control there.

It’s a pretty amazing thing what the human body does to defend itself from sickness and infection. It’s a real sacrifice of the good of the many for the good of the one dogma. You’re throat gets scratchy because when a cold virus gets in one of the cells, your body responds by destroying the cell and any other cells around it. As more cells get infected, your body commits mass Hari-Kari and dumps tons of cells, thus making your throat feel raw and dry. But in the process of this mass destruction your body is actually protecting itself.

The same goes with the mucus and congestion in your head. It’s your body’s way of fighting the  illness with an all out assault. It’s an inconvenient system but it works and it all happens without any of our conscious participation.  

I get very grumpy when I get a cold. Well, more grumpy than normal. I am quite typical as a man that way. So I’ll take some cold medication like Dayquil to try and help my body defend itself, however the active ingredients in Dayquil make me extremely loopy. I get kind of a lazy, druggy lethargy and tend to wander off into imaginative flights of bizarre fantasy. So I’m grumpy and trippy all at the same time. I’m Trumpy.

It makes concentration difficult.

What was I saying? Oh, right. Concentration.  So as I was saying, getting a cold sucks. It sucks more when you have to drag your disease ridden body to work and try to function at the level of a fully healthy person. It’s why Americans are so sick all the time because we don’t follow the European model and just stay home when we’re sick. We go to work, sneezing and rubbing our snot all over everything, infecting the rest of the work force. Instead of taking care of ourselves at home, under a nice blanket, bowls of soup and cups of hot tea, we go to work and struggle to make it through the day.

Having a cold puts damper on all the fun that could be have, but maybe it’s a metaphor for the human condition. I mean, we are frail flesh pods who think they are in control of everything, but then, the smallest of organisms, a virus, can knock us off our high horse and remind us just how weak and porous we really are.  Yeah, I said porous.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Week, Old News

So begins another exciting work week and I can hardly contain my enthusiastic rage at the thought of it. There is a serious cruelty to the work week when you hate nearly every second of your job. It’s a job that you just happened to get sucked into because you weren’t doing anything else with your life some 15 years ago. It’s a career now and you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.  Well, maybe Hitler. I’m sure Hitler would have loved doing my job.  Probably would have been promoted already.

People ask me all the time what I’d rather be doing and I always have to tell them that I’d love to write for a living. Then the person I am talking with will inevitably say, well go and do that. I then ask them if they know any Patrons of the Arts that would be willing to pay my health insurance, rent and other expenses while I cranked out the greatest novel of all time. They usually shrug and say no, thus I am forced to sit here at this desk and suffer the fools.

It’s not that I’m bitter, I’m realistic. And realism is annoying. In order to maintain the life I’ve created for myself I must continue to slog through these days of meaningless, Herculean chores. It’s my own fault and I suppose the ability to change it all is in my hands, although wrestling if from the mouth of corporate servitude is not a battle I relish.

I’ve never had a job where I wake up in the morning and I can’t wait to get there. I’ve never known the excitement or pride that goes with a job that means something, that has value and is respected. I get crapped on and yelled at by the lowest rungs of our society and I have to eat it up like ice cream and then ask for more. And every Monday it’s the same old thing. More phone calls and paperwork and typing and adjusting and stacking and shuffling and yelling and apologizing and crappy lunches and mental exhaustion and by Friday, it has all meant nothing. Then after a short weekend spent in a haze of something less than sobriety I have to wake up on Monday and do it all over again. My life is literally flashing before my eyes and I’m too pissed off to watch.  

These complaints are not new. I’m sure there was some Roman grain mill operator that dreamed of a better life for himself; but working at the grain mill was what his family did so he didn’t have a choice and died at the ripe old age of 32 without ever knowing another life. It’s really old news for sure.

So here’s to this week. Let’s get it over with already.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Coffee Slobs

I can’t understand the coffee slobs. I’m sure you’re familiar with them, or if you aren’t, then you are one and you should stop reading now because this will offend you.

Clean up you own mess. Every morning in the office I work I head to our little break room to fetch a nice free cup of Joe. It’s not a fancy coffee or anything, but it does the job it’s supposed to do. And every day there is a mountain of crap on the coffee counter, spilled sugar or powdered creamer or puddles of liquid creamer, sugar packets, water marks and even spilled coffee that no one seems to feel is important enough to clean up.

I shudder to think what the kitchen counter tops of these people’s homes look like. It’s just downright dirty and careless. How did we come so far in this human society to end up with so many coffee slobs? We put a man on the moon for crying out loud yet Sally Sunshine can’t pour a little sugar in her coffee without spilling it all over the damn place.

I can understand a little accidental spill that you weren’t aware of. Accidents do happen and things can go unseen, I can forgive that. But outright sloppiness and carelessness is just intolerable.  Does it cross the coffee slobs mind, “Whoops, just dumped a quart of powdered sugar all over the counter and floor. Oh well, someone will get it I’m sure. Heck, it’s not my job. Oh look, a puppy”?

It makes me crazy to have to clean the counter every morning. And I’m not talking about just brushing it off onto the floor with my hand. I mean I have to get a paper towel, wet it, and wipe the whole counter off and dispose of it properly. Yes, I am that guy and I’m right to judge you. I follow the rules society established regarding communal coffee stations and I can criticize anyone who doesn’t. The law is on my side.

In addition to the coffee slobs there are also those who refuse to make a fresh pot of coffee after having the last cup. I know it’s an impossible task to make more coffee and only the greatest of Gods and the richest Kings of Europe know how to do it. But I think maybe, once in a while, they should give it a try.  Who knows? They might learn something about themselves and have a chin held high feeling of pride that goes with a job well done.

Damn, I need a coffee. And Whiskey.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Are you shopping yet?

Yesterday marked the first Christmas Sale commercial I have seen. Some Best Buy Elves were hocking their 24 customer service on new electronic devices, even on Christmas Day.  I sat there on my couch and stared with embarrassment. How can they be running Christmas commercials already? There’s still seven weeks till Christmas.

It seems Thanksgiving is becoming a forgotten Holiday. And yet, it’s the most purely American of them all. The Autumn Feast that was held in 1621 between the Wampanoag Indians and the Plymouth colonists is regarded as the first Thanksgiving but it wasn’t until 1863 during the Civil War, that President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a National holiday.  He did it in an attempt to heal some of the wounds that the Civil War had opened. Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November in 1939 to hopefully increase retail sales during the Great Depression.

With that said, the commercialization of Holidays is nothing new, but at least they tried to have Thanksgiving. I think more Americans should be aware of the significance of Thanksgiving and try not to gloss over it while rushing out to the mall to pick up the last gizmo or toy for little Johnny because he’s been so good this year, except for that time he tried to burn the playhouse down. It wasn’t his fault all those propellants and oily rags were laying around right when he decided to try smoking for the first time. He’s a good eight year old boy and deserves the best cell phone/transformer/laser pointer money can buy.

I think the instant jump from Halloween to Christmas just shows some disrespect for what it took to even have a holiday like Thanksgiving. There have been countless battles of principal and literal wars and lives lost in order to preserve the things we as Americans should be thankful for.

I also think that, in light of the recent elections, we again try to honor Thanksgiving a little more and remember the tremendous sacrifice our forbearers made to make this country what it is today.  The lives lost and the countless dreams that were forgotten for the betterment of a people and their nation shouldn’t be, bought, wrapped and shoved under a polystyrene Christmas tree. But they should be remembered with thanks and hearty gratitude and I suppose above all, respect.

Although 24 hour tech support is pretty sweet.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Holy Election Results

I’m a big fan of politics. I consider it the true American pastime, far outweighing baseball or football as this country’s national sport. (Sorry NASCAR) It’s in our very nature as Americans to be political. This country was founded as a political experiment and 234 years later the experiment continues. We love our politics almost as much as we love our open roads, tall buildings and snooty moral superiority over indigenous peoples.

This year however, I’m more nervous than I have ever been. I’ve always voted. I don’t think I’ve ever missed an election, for anything. I haven’t even missed a Primary election. The first thing I did when I turned 18 years old was to register to vote. I couldn’t wait to express myself and help control the destiny of this great nation. But after yesterday I feel, for the first time, that my vote didn’t count.

This is a difficult concept to accept. I’m not saying that I’ll stop voting, I’ll continue to vote as it is a privilege to participate in government, but I don’t know what it’ll matter. Yesterday it would seem American’s voted less about what should be done and more about the things they are afraid of.  Six formerly Democratic states went Republican last night, including my beloved Illinois. This allowed the Republican Party to obtain a majority in the House. This sweeping change makes me worried for any possible growth or progress.

Fear is the enemy of progress; be it scientifically or socially. It is fear that has kept America from embracing its destiny as the true beacon of hope and civility for the world. I hope our newly elected representatives do not keep Americans afraid of each other and of the real world. I hope that they strive for compromise in areas, where for far too long, there has been none.

I hope sanity amongst the electorate is the desire. I hope the governing body we’ve elected work together on the serious economic concerns of regular Americans. I do not want to see another upper class tax break or more ridiculous devotion to “trickle down” economics. We’ve seen that just doesn’t work no matter who the majority is. I hope Education and comprehensive healthcare is seriously reviewed with an eye for what would be best for the least of our society.  

In light of this governmental change I still have faith in this republic we hold so dear and I hope reason and accountability rule the days ahead.  I’m optimistic, but I’m still wringing my hands and biting my fingernails.