Friday, February 27, 2015

Inconclusive Results

            Today is the last day of my experiment in working less, resting more and enjoying life in my own fashion. I’ve been relaxed over the past couple of months. So relaxed in fact that I’ve literally felt almost normal. Well, as normal as one can in this day and age.
            Oddly enough, I’m at a loss as to if my experiment was a success or a failure. I’d like to say it was a success but on this last day of my reprieve all the stress, angst, pressure and bleak outlook as to what the upcoming weeks of endless work, sleepless nights and bodily pains have crashed back down upon me with the vengeance of a scorn lover. Meaning, I’m in deep doo-doo.
            I don’t know if I will be able to go back to the way I was, I don’t know if my body can handle the abuse. I hope it can, I hope I won’t buckle under the endless pressure. If my past is any indication of my future, then I won’t… for a while. Hopefully by the time the unseen breaking point draws near I will be in a position to step back once again.
            Which is kind of funny, you see, over the past two weeks, here in the South, we’ve had unprecedented amounts of snow fall which has basically shut down my entire city. Schools have been closed for seven full days. Most businesses were shut down for at least one day each week and adults across the seven cities with children have shown great restraint in not locking their offspring outside just for a few moments of peace and quiet.
            Me and mine went for walks, shoveled snow at our house and our neighbors. We tried to stay busy. We cleaned, laughed and talked. We also watched endless hours of television. At one point in time, they were watching a film about a kid who could travel in time, a talent which he apparently inherited from his father. I wish I could remember the name of the film, but I can’t. Anyhow, at the end of the film, the dad is dying and the son is spending time with him, then he travels back in time to spend more time with his dad. It’s odd, because I don’t have a relationship like that with my father so I was a bit jealous and confused by this sort of action. But I went with it, simply because it is a movie, it’s make believe and I was bored.
            The last conversation the dad and son had the father tells his kid the secret to being happy in life and how to deal with the gift of time travel. Basically he said live each day through to the end. Go through all the stress, strife, anger and disappointment without trying to change anything or anyone. Then, relive the day but this time enjoy the day, the small moments, breathe in the life of all things around you because you already know what is going to happen, you can just live in the moment.
            That is brilliant. Also, I wish I were a time traveler so I could do this. Instead, I end up just living in the initial moment. Taking in all the bad shit, processing the bad shit, and then spewing out more bad shit. Computer geeks call this phenomenon “GIGO” otherwise known as Garbage in, Garbage out. It’s odd, I’ve known this phrase for years yet this is the first time I’ve seen it applied to life and I’m the one who is applying it to my life. Least I’m trying to. All the smart people I know, all the uncertified genius’s, crazy creative folks and plain old common sense savants. None of them in all of our conversations and run ins have ever made a connection between the two. Which is odd but not surprising.
            I guess what I’m saying is this;
            While I’ve enjoyed the break in my hectic life over the past two months, I believe it has come at a cost I’m not really prepared to pay. Not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially as well. I suppose it’s like when you were a kid standing at the edge of a river and you pick up a rock and toss it in the water. You see a huge splash, then the ripples start out large and slowly fade. Or do they, do the ripples disappear in time? Or do they leave behind small shadows of their effect on the fishes lives that make their living in the water.
            That is how I feel. Like I took a rock, threw it into the pond of my life without looking at the damage it may cause and not really giving two cents about the repercussions. Now, looking into the abyss of my near and not so near future, I’m not filled with regret for not doing everything I should have but I am unsure of what to expect from my journey into the next ten months. I wish I did. But I’m not a psychic or a time traveler. I’m just a Polak in a snow bound southern state with debts, worries, problems and concerns.
            In other words, I’m just like you. Only in a different place and time.

            Have a great week.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It Froze Over

            Well, winter has officially come to Virginia. The thermometer is registering in the single digits and there is snow and ice on the ground. Across the area cars, trucks and SUV’s are stuck in ditches due to over steering, understeering and hazardous road conditions. Men, women and kids are holed up in houses and apartments with their heaters set to “Hell”. Just to keep the chill out of their bones.
            The school age kids have had the entire week off and have been doing their best to drive their parents totally insane during these days. Video game and movie distractions have long been set to the side and forgotten. Parents who are ill-equipped to deal with endless hours of attention needing offspring are at their wits end. Personally, I don’t have that issue. My offspring is more than capable of keeping herself amused for hours with youtube and internet fangirl sites of her favorite boy-bands.
            This being said, I’m happy to enjoy an extra day or two at home relaxing. Although shoveling snow, cooking, cleaning, laundry and helping neighbors get their cars unstuck from an icy snow bank is not really relaxing. However, it is a very nice reprieve from the daily routine and ritual of my everyday existence.
            Yet as I sit here, writing in sub-freezing tempuratures I can’t help but think there may be something more important that I’m missing.
            Is it the family time? The down time from work? The daily life of maintaining the world around your comfort zone? I don’t know. What I do know is that I like sitting under a blanket and watching mindless television with people who are close to me. What I like is the fact that I don’t have anywhere to go, no responsibilities and no desire to do anything responsible for anyone in my life other than the people who I know are bound to me outside of the workplace.

            Have a great week.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Horror of Love

            It’s Friday the thirteenth and horror movies abound my viewing habits. It is also the day before Valentines. An odd mixture if you ask me. Blood and gore adorn our insatiable media affliction yet in the stores, red and pink flowers and hearts bombard our senses. Tomorrow, lovers will give each other chocolates and gifts. Then, they will express their undying love to the special someone in their lives.
            Some of these revelations will be accepted, some not. Which in a way is quite fitting considering what today is and what it represents. Seems to me, the Fifteenth of February should be the day dedicated to horror instead of the thirteenth. But, that’s just my opinion. This blog is an odd mix of the two… so enjoy.
            A long time ago, in the mid 1970’s I met a girl. Her name was Laura, she had glowing blonde hair, pale blue eyes that reminded me of the afternoon sky and she always smelled like strawberries. Maybe the smell was her perfume or a type of shampoo, I don’t know. I do know she had bright, shimmering lips. This was due to the fact she loved lip gloss. Heavy doses of it too and every time she pulled that little glass bottle out of her pocket and applied it, I had to struggle to not stare at her. From the first moment I saw her, I was intrigued, mesmerized, lost in her glory… I was twitterpated so to speak. I was also helpless to control these feelings. Hell, I was only nine. What does a nine year old know about these things? Nothing… absolutely nothing.
            When I expressed my longing to my oldest sister she immediately told me I should do something about it. Bring her flowers, chocolate and let he know how I feel. Especially since Valentine’s day was just a few short days away. I told her I didn’t have any money for flowers and chocolate and as far as talking to a girl about feelings… well, that was strictly off the table. Especially since my only real interactions with girls were my sisters and my mother. Also, all the guys I knew had no clue how to talk to girls let alone what to do with one if they ever wanted to be alone with you.
            Once again, my sister came to the rescue. Over the next few days, we made a dozen roses out of egg cartons, pipe cleaners, tissue paper and construction paper. We then made some caramel corn and homemade chocolates. Okay, so she did most of that while I tried to make a card for Laura. After a couple days, we had a mighty nice collection of love and adoration put together. I was happy for the help and the outcome. I was also scared shitless of bringing this load of affection to school where everyone would see it and possibly be the brunt of many cruel jokes by my pals.
            My sister had an answer for that as well. She put everything in a brown paper bag with my name on it and off to school I went. I knew I wouldn’t see Laura until lunch so I kept the bag with me as I traversed from class to class. When lunch time finally came and I made my way nervously into the lunch room. By the time I got there, a fifty foot walk from my classroom that felt like a thousand miles, I was sweating, stumbling and having a hard time recognizing the images of my fellow classmates. I made it. Barely. As soon as I crossed the threshold of the cafeteria and saw Laura sitting at her regular table with all of her friends my fear grew exponentially. But then I focused on her hair and her eyes. I used them like a tractor beam and made my way towards her as fast as I could. In that moment however, I felt as if I were walking through molasses and my legs were filled with lead. It couldn’t have been more than a thirty second trip but it felt like an hour.
            When I got to the table, I stood at the head of it, right next to where Laura was sitting. The table was filled with the most popular and pretty girls in school. Their chatting and laughing stopped as they realized I was invading their space. Laura looked up at me and said “What do you want?”
            I stammered, unable to make out any coherent words and realizing my mute plight I just opened the brown paper bag, reached inside and pulled out the flowers and handed them to her. She looked at them and then at me. The look on her face was one of horror and embarrassment. As if I were handing her a fistful of snakes. She didn’t take them so I set them on the table in front of her tray of food. I then reached in and pulled out the cellophane wrapped candies and popcorn and tried to give them to her. Her arms made no move towards the treats as well. I placed them next to the flowers and quickly fished the home made card out of the bag and tried to hand it to her. I can’t say she shuddered in horror but she pulled away from me and leaned into her friend next to her. I dropped the card tried to talk again and realized I had somehow blown my chance at pre-pubescent love. Which is to say, holding hands with a girl I liked and having someone I like, like me in return.
            I walked away in shame with my chin on my chest and fighting back tears. I felt as if I’d been kicked in the stomach by not one horse but a whole heard of horses.
            The rest of the day, I didn’t talk to anyone. Not my pals, not my teachers and definitely not any girls I saw. The minutes in class passed like hours and when the final bell finally rang I moved as fast as I could to be the first one out of the school doors. I wasn’t successful but I did manage to avoid all my friends. I made my way quickly towards home.
            When I got home there was a stranger sitting on my front porch. It was a girl I’d seen around school a few times and had even played on the same kickball team with. I’d also occasionally run into her in the library, yet I didn’t know her name. When she saw me walking up the yard she stood up, smiled and waved. I gave a half hearted wave back. “Hi Skip.” She said.
            “Uh… Hi….”
            “Karen. My name is Karen.”
            “Hi Karen.”
            “I wanted to tell you that I thought what you did at lunch today was really cool.”
            I just nodded and tried not to look at her.
            “And I wanted to ask you something?”
            I looked at her then down at the ground. As my gaze was traveling towards the bushes under our windows I noticed there was a brown paper bag sitting next to her school books. Poking out of the bag were some brightly colored tissue paper as if it were mocking me.
            I looked back up at Karen, the skin on my neck and cheeks burning with embarrassment. I could also feel tears welling up in my eyes from pain emitting from my recent wound.
            “I wanted to ask if it was okay if I kept your gift. I mean, you really went to a lot of trouble to make all this stuff and I like you and….”
            My pain seemed to fade a bit with her words. Confusion seemed to be taking its place. I looked at her through glistening eyes. Her hair was reddish brown, short and curly, she had freckles on her face, her lips were thin and her body was all angles and edges. Yet there was a look of vulnerability in her pale brown eyes. I felt a smile creeping into the corners of my mouth and a sense of acceptance and relaxation start to spread through me. I nodded.
            “Ya… If you like them you can have them. But, uhm, the card was written for Laura so you may want to throw it away.”
            “I read the card. You write real nice. I just wish someone would write that way about me.”
            “I’m sure someone will someday.”
            “You wanna hang out?”
            I looked at her, she didn’t seem so tense since we started talking and I didn’t feel as bad as I had been. “Sure.” I said and sat down on the porch next to her feeling like I was the richest man in the world.

            Have a great week and Happy Valentine’s Day and Friday the Thirteenth.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Negative Memories

            Have you ever sat in a dimly lit room, curtains drawn against the bright light of day that is trying its damndest to claw its way into the room to reveal all the secrets that may be lurking there? Then, as the golden glow of the light starts to succeed you close your eyes so that darkness may envelope your vision, help quiet your thoughts and even still your soul so that you may just sit there in the moment and try to enjoy living in that moment? Yet when you close your eyes there is no true blackness. Instead portrayed on the internal screens of the inside of your eyelids there is an image in stark grays, blacks and stunning whites. But the image is wrong, completely wrong. Not just in the absence of Gogh like colors but some strange negative image colorization that your brain decided to replace with your normal colorful vision. This image, so disturbing in nature that you quickly open your eyes to make sure what you are seeing with your eyes closed meet what is real. This type of action makes you question your sanity. Sitting in a room quickly opening your eyes after only closing them for thirty seconds. Then, you sit there and question what is real and what is not and those thoughts then drift to the details which you believe your mind is leaving out. Soon, you are down the rabbit hole of what makes up reality and what your brain perceives as reality.
            Yeah, I’ve never done this either.
            If I had, then I’d have to wonder why this isn’t a regular occurrence. Why our brain waits until the light is perfect, when you are trying to stay in a moment. A perfect moment. A moment you don’t want to lose. A moment that is quite perfect and all you want to do is relish in that moment so that in the future, a future where you are old, feeble and your brain has been turned into swiss cheese and there are people with large arms and even larger frowns who are standing in your room getting ready to change your fully loaded and leaking adult diaper. And since your brain has been hijacked by tricks of light and… well… itself, your memory, that joyful and blissful moment you’ve been trying so hard to etch into the marble slates inside the recesses of itself, you lose it.
            You lose it like a wallet, or a watch or that one sock that never makes its way back to your sock drawer from its sojourn to the washing machine and dryer. It’s gone, not permanently, just gone enough so that when you look back upon the memory, it is not quite as perfect as you believe it should be. Or as perfect as you wanted it to be. Nope, it’s tainted not by any impurity of the moment, but by your own brain playing its crazy tricks on itself.
            Where does this leave me? You? Anyone?
            I have no idea. It’s life I suppose.
            You see, somewhere in the vast expanses of our brains there has to be some sort of rubbish bin or recycling bin. Only in my case, it has to be a dumpster the size of Manhattan.  Even at that size, it has to be overflowing into the Hudson River and all I want to do is some major dumpster diving. Root through all my forgotten moments, lost seconds, missing sights, sounds and words I’ve said.
            Sure, other folks remember, but when you or I try and draw forth these moments… nothing but blackness. Which is when your brain really gets creative. See, the brain then decides to form your forgotten memories from the gleaned, over heard stories of others. When your brains finds a conflict or hole in the story, it takes the best and easiest explanation and inserts it into the canon of your life regardless of whether or not it fits. Square peg in a missing hole of your memory. Then, you move on with your life because your brain tells you to and you have no clue this actually just happened.
            So, when you or I find ourselves in a moment where we are trying to hold onto a memory or thought and our brain is playing its slippery slope games with light and shadow in an attempt to distract us like an ADD teen in a video game parlor, I focus. I focus on one particular spot with my eyes wide open. Then I take in all the smells, sounds and slowly write those into my brain so I never lose them again. (Of course this may not actually work. Only time will tell.)
            This is what I have to do. Only because I spend most of my time on auto-pilot. Meaning I just float through my daily life because I have to do specific things at a specified time to ensure I not only get paid but maintain my employment and thus my life. My life has become so routine that I feel at times I’m just a robot or a paid space monkey. I go through my life in a haze and my brain disengages from what it should be paying attention to in an attempt to come up with fancy games and tricks to make me feel as if I’m losing my mind. Or maybe it’s just trying to make my life a bit more interesting.
            Which I guess is my brain trying to tell me to not be more interesting, more involved but to pay more attention. To live in the moments that have become basic recitations of daily activity. Hmm, maybe that is what the negative colors are trying to represent. The mundane and unsalted life I’m leading. Maybe the seasoning is really there and I have to figure out a way to suck the marrow of life from them?

            What do you think they mean? How do you maintain your memories?