Monday, November 30, 2009

On Second Thought

As annoyed as I often get with people, the thought never occured to me until today.  A man was in my way and without saying anything directly to him, in fact, without saying anything at all, it seemed blatantly obvious, to me anyway, that I was trying to get by this man.  How could you not notice?  I am not walking from side to side behind you because this is fun for me.  I am moving faster than you, and you need to let me walk by you.  Anyway, the thought never occured to me as I was contemplating removing the contents from my nose and launching them at him with the highest velocity which can be generated from the middle finger or even the index finger depending on ones own personal methods, that on second hand, maybe I shouldn't.  As much as I want to be as far away as possible from this cat, someone loves him with every fiber of their being.  This guy means the world to someone despite that fact that I want him to trip on his untied shoe.  It's funny how the mind works sometimes.  I finally got by the old guy and just gave him a half smile and went along with my day.  As it turns out, it's a lot easier being a nice guy than it is to get all fired up.  Perhaps I should try this more often.  No promises that it will work or that my new found attitude will last, but I will give it a try. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

'Tis The Season

     Because I have signed a contract stating that I would not speak about my place of business in public, I wont tell you what company I work for, but I will give you a snapshot of what a day in the life of a sales manager for a  huge retailer is like. 

     Let me preface this recap by telling you that I have two young daughters, so as you can imagine, the day starts pretty early around here.

     Oh, I guess I should also mention, before I begin, that in order to survive in the fast paced world of big business, you must be able to weed out the worthless information and only process what is crucial to the needs of the business.  All the while keeping a positive attitude and your stage presence at its peak.  Afterall, 'Tis the season.  So, without further ado, I give you, "My Process" with a holiday twist.

    " Hey, can I get a discount on this?  Did you check your email even though you just walked in 2 seconds ago?  Hey John, I need a break. I know you have it, I buy it here all the time! (You're right, I've only worked here 11 fucking years.  Of course you know my inventory better than I do.)  I need your signature on this.  John, I need a break.  Can you help me with this?  I need you to train all of your employees on this immediately, even though it is the day before Thanksgiving and we are getting our asses handed to us.  Did you get those reviews done?  I need you to cut your payroll  even though you lost two of your high dollar employees this week.  I know you just got here but how did you not miraculously know that I have asked for this to get done three times this morning?  Hey John, I need a break.  I'm sorry I was 45 minutes late.  You guys usually call me when I'm late. (This one actually made me laugh, but only after the guy walked away.)  Is this the complaint department?  Just make it happen.  Come see me in the office when you have a minute.  (Shit! Now I need a break.  I think I will go take my break since I've been here for 4 hours.)  John, I need to go on my lunch.  John, you have a phone call on line 1....and line 2.  Do you work here? (No dumbass, I am wearing this name tag because I am the president of this company's fan club and I come in here to fix other people's fuckups just for the sport of it.)  John, I need my last break."

     This is a day in the life.  It is a lot like juggling cats, I would imagine anyway.  This is how it goes almost every day.  This job is not for the squeemish or weak at heart.  This job is never easy, and for some masochistic reason, we come back for more every day.  We thrive on the adrenaline rush.  We live for the challenge.  We will be back on Friday to do it all over again.  Until then, I'm taking my break.





Monday, November 23, 2009

New Chapter

     Through no fault of my own, and without provocation or request, I was surgically inserted into this world in the Autumn of 1973.  As it turns out, I am the son of a Viet Nam veteran father from Omaha, Nebraska and a Danish immigrant mother, who were never meant to be together in the first place, and later, you will understand why this is actually a good thing.

     My friends in the blogosphere, the paragraph above is a rough draft first paragraph of the book I have decided to write titled, Fatherless To Fatherhood.  Don't get me wrong, I've had a stepfather who is the most amazing man I have ever had the privilege to know, but I didn't always recognize that fact and I didn't always give him a fair chance.  For the details of it all, I guess you will have to wait until I get it all down. 

     The book will take you on a journey through a rough beginning, an amazing mother who gave her all to do it on her own, an absent father, and the promise to oneself to not let the cycle repeat itself.

     I am hoping that there are people out there who can relate to this story and how one chooses to deal with their circumstances.  I will post a page here and there for input and constructive criticism and together I think we can make this project amazing. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

6 Days

      My computer died.  It completely died.  I bought a new one, a really nice new one.  Come to find out, I needed a new wireless adapter with my new computer.  This means that I had to be without the internet for 6 days.  During this 6 day period, all I could think of was that I needed to write something on my blog.  What am I going to do?  I have the internet on my phone.  Maybe I can post from my phone.  I wont be able to post pics but my followers will understand.  That's it, I will post from my phone.  It's genius!  What?  I can't post from my phone!  There are people waiting for my post.  I'm not an ego maniac or even close to it, but I know how it is when you are looking forward to reading a post and it doesn't come.  A couple of my favorite bloggers don't post on the weekends and it drives me nuts.

     All I want to do is scribble on my blog.  I have so much to say and there is no internet connection in my house.

     Suddenly my heart bleeds for people like Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, Ansel Adams, old Bill Shakespere, and Ben Franklin.  The Hell they must have endured for all of those years.  Waiting and waiting through sleepless nights and endless days for their internet connection to come up so that they could post on their blogs.  For years they would wait only to meet their own fate before ever having the chance to post their pics, or read comments from their previous day's post.

     6 days I waited until finally, I was back up and running.  Last night, I sat in front of the keyboard and my new enormous monitor only to draw a complete blank.  So much to say, so many thoughts that have built up over the last 6 days, what do I say first?  Nothing.........Nothing at all.  I went to sleep disappointed in myself for not having it all planned out.  Do I talk about the holidays looming on the horizon?  Do I talk about how my lack of any sort of relationship with my father has been poking the back of my mind lately?  Do I talk about and post my friend's pictures which are completely amazing?  So many options, so much anticipation, 6 days of wanting so badly to write only to come up with nothing?  It's all there and I can't put it in any sort of order at the moment.  I guess this post can be considered my, "Hi, I'm back" post,  and tomorrow perhaps I will have it all sorted out. 


Thursday, November 12, 2009

As F8 Would Have It


     I took this photo a couple of years ago at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  This is the type of photo you take that you know you are never going to do anything with but feel obligated to take anyway because, how often are you this close to a lion without being dead?

     And then it happened, yesterday sometime before noon in a Cleveland suburb, this picture was given a purpose.

     A new friend of mine, who happens to be the author of the extremely popular, and one of my absolute favorite blogs f8hasit, decided to publicly praise my extremely unpopular by comparison blog, which caught me completely off guard. You might ask, "Why is this a bad thing, and how does the picture of the big cat tie into the whole situation?"  First, it is not a bad thing at all.  In fact, I am honored that someone of Nancy's writing caliber would take the time to read my blubbering, let alone take it a step further and give me an award for it. Second, the popularity that automatically comes with being associated with Nancy and her blog f8hasit gives you a sense of being on stage and having to perform on a much higher level.  That lion, with its stoic posture and in control  demeanor tells me one of two things.  Either he knows that he is the undisputed king of the jungle, or he too was given recognition by the iconic f8hasit and feels compelled to perform at a much higher level.

     One of the conditions of accepting this award was that I had to write a list of 5 of my current obsessions.  So, here they are in no particular order.

1. I must climb that hill behind my house very soon because it taunts me and seemingly dares me to do it.

2. Writing a weekly column for some small, local fish wrap is something that I really want to do, and figuring out how to make that happen has taken up a lot of space in my mind lately.

3. Camping, (if you call living in a trailer with running water, heat, a toilet, shower and a king size bed camping) with my family is something I love to do and in fact we have at least two trips in the pipeline as we speak.

4. The Canon Rebel T1I camera is something that I have been obsessing on lately, but I can't get the boss to let me get one without a fight.  I choose my battles wisely these days so the Nikon Coolpix will continue to do just fine.

5. Last and most definitely not least, it is football season my friends. Football season is my favorite time of year, so to answer your question Mr. Hank Williams Jr.  Yes sir, I am always ready for some football.

     Thank you very much Nancy.  I hope to be able to keep you and my new found readers entertained for a long time to come.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tit For Tat

OK, so if you read my last post, you know that I just don't really care about a whole lot of incidental BS these days. But this one got me going for sure.  Tonight, John Allen Muhammad was executed in Virginia because of his actions in the high profile case of the DC Sniper.  So the man who killed so many people seemingly just for the sport of it is dead.  Most people would say, "Tit For Tat, justice is served."  While I think that this is just a terrible situation and that his death does not really solve anything, this is not why I bring up the topic tonight, because as I said, I really don't care.

    As  I watched Larry King on CNN cover the story tonight while the execution was being carried out, I was troubled by what one of the victim's family members had to say.  Keep in mind, my family member was not a victim so perhaps I am speaking out of turn but this is what completely blew me away.  After Muhammad was dead, Larry asked the brother of one of the victims how he felt about the whole situation and made note of the fact that Muhammad left behind family, including his own children and how terrible this whole ordeal must be for them as well.  Are you ready?  This is what floored me.  The victim's brother then says that his sister also left behind a family and children because of this senseless act and that he has absolutely no sympathy for Muhammad's family now that he is dead. 

     Whether or not you believe that he deserved to die, whether or not you believe that justice has been served, how could you not have at least an ounce of sympathy for the children who have had to deal with the fact that their father has done something so horrific and that now he is dead?

     I'd like to believe that God would want me to hand my anger up to Him and to try to find at least in some small fashion some peace in my heart after all of the time that has passed since these terrible murders.  Am I completely off track here?  Do I not have the right to speak up until my daughter is dead?  Or my mother?  Or my wife?  Could I find peace if I were in the same situation?  I hope I never have to find out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Are You On Drugs?"

The other night I went to my mom's house after work to collect my birthday card with a monetary gift enclosed (I'm an only child so yes, at 36 I still get birthday gifts from my mom), birthday dinner which consists of a curry gravy with white potatoes and Danish meatballs, and some nice conversation to top it all off.

     I began to explain to my lovely mother as I am going to explain to you now, that I have reached a point in my life where I am decluttering.  There are a lot of things that I just don't care about anymore. "What do you mean you don't care?", she says to me with a bewildered look on her face.  "I don't know how to explain it." I said to her with a smile.  There are things in life that people stress out about that really just don't matter.  About a month ago I was one of those people.  I stressed about work, I stressed about what people think of me, and finally something clicked and I said screw this.  Life is way too short, I am 36 years old and I am going to start living my life in a stress free manner.  At the time that I was trying to explain this to my mother, I couldn't come up with the right words that would make her understand exactly where I was coming from.  So, she says to me half-jokingly and half concerned, "Are you on drugs?"  We had a good laugh about it because she knows damn well that I am not on drugs but that I was obviously stumbling through my new found outlook on life.  I don't have it all figured out and I'm not sure exactly where this is all coming from, but as long as I am having fun I guess I will just roll with it. 

     There are still moments when I have to fight off the old ways of getting annoyed about things and have to remind myself that I DON"T CARE!  Don't get me wrong here, I do care about things, I care about my friends and family, I care about being productive at work, I care about being a good human being and a good father and husband, I just don't care about a lot of the incidentals that clutter up so much of our time.

     To this point of my blog it has been like the ascent of the roller coaster ride.  Now that you are on board and have reached the top and there is no turning back, I guess it's time to really start riding my mind.  Do you have what it takes to raise your hands above your head or are you going to close your eyes and white knuckle the handrail in front of you?  Either way, I don't care, as long as you enjoy the ride, do it however you like.


Friday, November 6, 2009

High On A Hill, It Calls To Me

     In April of 2000, my wife and I jumped on a quick flight from Ontario Airport to the airport in Oakland California to begin our honeymoon.  Honeymoon in Oakland?  The armpit of California? Why would you honeymoon in Oakland?  There is only one correct answer to that question, which is that you would never honeymoon in Oakland California.  As it turns out, you can't just fly from Southern California  straight into San Francisco which happened to be our destination.  I've never been able to figure out the reasoning behind making us fly into Oakland instead of just flying straight into SFO, although I have a theory that it has something to do with the rivalry between So. Cal and Northern California.  They don't want us up there at all, but since they can't stop us from visiting at least they can make us have to go through Oakland first.  That makes me think, maybe I will lobby for a South Central International Airport, not that LAX is any better I guess.  I seem to have wandered off course here but the tone had to be set.

     So, we play the game, we fly into Oakland knowing that a quick taxi jaunt over the Bay Bridge will remedy the situation.  As the taxi circles around to start our journey across the bay, there it is in the distance, "high on a hill, it calls to me" (the lyrics of Tony Bennett, we all know where his heart is).  The most beautiful skyline I have ever seen sprawled out in front of us.  Coit Tower stands guard overlooking the bay, the Transamerica building stands in the center of it all making its point. There's Alcatraz, the stories that place could tell.

     It's not long before we find ourselves at the hotel that we will call home for the next several days.  To the rest of the world, it is the White Swan Inn, to us it is a little slice of Heaven.  This is an old but elegant place with a bit of primitive charm.  The wood floors creek beneath your feet, the elevator is a bit tempermental, but once you get the gate like door closed properly, it gets you where you need to be. 


     There we were, beginning our life as a young new family, and beginning our love affair with the city by the bay.

     Once you get out onto the streets of San Francisco, your brain almost immediately goes into sensory overload.  The sites, the sounds, the smells, some good and some not so good, this isn't a fairy tale so you need to know that not all of the smells are pleasant but they all add to the experience of life in the big city.  The food in this town is just amazing to top it all off.  We love to eat and we love it even more when the food is delicious.  From Joe's Crab Shack, to Neptune's Palace, to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and my personal favorite, The Grand Cafe, you just can't find a bad meal in San Francisco, at least I never did.

     Why do I bring up this topic today, almost 10 years after the fact?  I bring it up because we miss our time there.  We have been talking about maybe going back there sometime soon.  With the holidays on the way and our work schedules being what they are, we will have to wait a little bit longer but posting pictures and talking about it might just hold me over for just a minute or two. 




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What The Hell Am I Doing Here?

     After a long day of trying to make unrealistic corporate dreams come true, I found myself without a topic worth writing about, nor the energy with which to even try to come up with something.

     Then it came to me, not like an epiphany but more in the form of an email from an old friend.  An old friend who is a writer, a real writer with a real writing job and a real writing husband who also has a real writing job.  Anyway, in this email she says that she loves this little blog of mine and at that moment, I thought to myself, or maybe I said it out loud, either way it doesn't matter, "What the Hell am I doing here?"

     I started this blog not ever thinking that anyone would read it even once let alone follow it or comment on whatever rubbish happens to spray out of my head on any given day.  I'll be honest, I did do a little self promoting on FB and by way of a little word of mouth, but even then the thought of people actually reading this never really occurred to me.  Call it stage fright or lack of confidence in my skills.  My wife is the same way.  She is an artist, a good one too, who doesn't like her own work or think that it is as good as it really is.  Is that normal?  Besides, what's the big deal?  I'm not selling a product here.  I didn't serve you a heaping plate of nachos with a long hair in it or anything.  It's just a blog, chill out fat boy!

     In a way it feels like a secret is exposed.  Not a huge life altering, Michael Vick dog fighting ring, Heidi Fleiss prostitution ring, Monica Lewinski Oval Office kind of secret. No, this is more of an I like to stack 8 or 9 cookies with a glass of milk and mow them down when no one else is looking, pick that flake at the edge of my nostril when I think I am  out of the view of other motorists, wear these jeans twice without washing them kind of secret.


     Listen, I'm not sure why you people have decided to read this blog but I do know that I am glad you are here.  So far it's been a lot of fun and I hope at the very least we can all have a few laughs and share some stories.

     For a guy who wasn't sure what the heck was going to happen when I sat in front of the keyboard tonight, I sure did spill a lot of ink didn't I?




Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Covert Operation

     Last night at around 11:57PM under the cover of darkness, I decided to conduct a highly sophisticated and not easily executed covert operation.  I was going to sneak into my 36th birthday hopefully without being noticed and without incident.  Much to my dismay and promptly at 12:00AM, like an angry parent waiting up for a disobedient child to get home long after the previously agreed upon curfew, there it was waiting for me.  There would be no sneaking around, and there would be no getting away with one.  I was caught and the punishment was to be  steep.  Violently, my 35 was taken from me and all that was left in the end was the body of a 36 year old man.  Tattered and torn, I lumbered upstairs and off to bed to sleep off this traumatic event.  I woke up this morning only to realize that the first morning of 36 feels a lot like the last morning of 35.  This might not be so bad, I might actually survive this and come out on the other side smelling like a rose.  An old rose with pedals falling to the soil below perhaps, but fragrant and colorful none the less.  Today, I will spend the day with my family at Disneyland.  It's "The Place" (that's what we call it), the place where we can go as a family to get away from the ho hum and where everything is perfect.  Today, I will use "The Place" as neutral territory, a safe and familiar place to be to get acquainted with my new 36 and hopefully we can come to an understanding that is beneficial to us both.  I wont lie, I am a bit skeptical and apprehensive, but willing to give it a try.

       Today's photo is a picture of the smoke created by my birthday cake as seen by the nice folks up at the International Space Station.  Leave it to NASA to be on top of it huh?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Listen

     Here, in my little blog that wishes it could, I tend to do a lot of talking about nothing.  In the real world believe it or not, I am a man of very few words.  I spend a lot of time observing what is going on around me and laughing about it.  Have you ever consciously taken the opportunity to shut up and just listen to what people say when they don't know that others are listening?  There's the know it all, " I told them but they wont listen to me."  The do it all, "I have to do everything around here and the rest of them don't do shit."  This one cracks me up the most because we all think that we do more than everyone else and yet there is still so much to do.  If we all do it all then why the Hell isn't it done?  The badass, "They know not to mess with me because I will go off!"  Yep, you're a 59 year old woman with a bad haircut and an obvious limp.  "They" obviously know when "They" are outmatched.  The road rager (this one is me 100%)  " Dammit, why are you sitting in my blind spot?  Get off the damn phone idiot!  You should know that I want to get over even though my signal isn't on!"  The rich guy's wife, "....................................." she doesn't say anything because she doesn't have to, and how dare you look at her even though she is wearing next to nothing and her fake rack is defying gravity.  Get over yourself Barbie, you're not that big a deal.  The do gooder, "Here, let me give you a hand with that."  Why is this guy so underappreciated and often considered annoying?  Is it just me?

     There are so many different kinds of people, and yet we are all so much alike.  Take a few minutes in the mall or the grocery store or amusement park the next time you think about it and just watch and listen to what is going on around you.  I promise you will have a good laugh and probably something good to write about.