Friday, September 25, 2015

A Little Lighter.

A couple weeks back, I was at a mega-store. Okay, maybe not a mega-store, but it was a super-store. Kroger. They are primarily known for selling groceries. However; in light of this, they also sell clothes, toys, books, health and beauty items and they even have a pharmacy. Which is the reason I was there, to pick up some medicine, so while I was waiting for the medicine to be ready I walked over to the men’s clothing area because, as I stated before, I needed new underwear.
            I found a package of cotton that suited my needs and went to purchase them. I used the self check out aisle. I don’t like to do this, but all the human operated aisles were full of people with loaded baskets and I only had one item. Now, I have a very good reason for not liking self check out. Okay, reasons. Primarily, as part of the cost of any item in the store, there is also factored into said cost the money they need to pay for their cashiers, their managers, their cleaning staff and even the stock boys. When I use self-check-out, I’m not getting paid nor am I getting a discount on the products I’m purchasing. Basically, I’m paying a premium for a product and the company is getting a free employee whom they don’t have to pay taxes on, or medical care on, or social security on, or unemployment taxes on… or any of those many other hidden costs of business. Also, why would I want to work for free?
            Another reason I don’t like these machines is that you will always have problems with them. Either the computer doesn’t scan the item correctly, or it doesn’t recognize the produce you’re trying to weigh, or even the scale where the bags are doesn’t realize you’ve already put the groceries into the bag on the scale. When any of this happens you have to push a button and wait for, oh, lets’ say… ten minutes for a manager to arrive, fix the problem by pushing various touch screen buttons and threaten the computer with destruction by waving an overripe, overlarge eggplant at the little glass box and laser.
            I could go on… but I’m getting lost in thought and I need to stay focused… so when I scanned my five pack of cotton and the cost of thirty eight dollars popped up on screen I immediately pushed the call button for a manage. Why? Because I don’t spend that much money on underwear, neither do you. Hell, I can’t imagine anyone who would.
            When the manager arrived, I expressed my concern about the cost of the item, he shook his head and said something must be wrong. So he paused the computer and asked me to follow him to where the underwear were located. When we arrived at our destination he pointed out a sign that clearly stated that the computer had the correct price. I told him he was nuts and that I would not be paying for the briefs. He offered me a fifteen percent off coupon. I refused, went to the pharmacy, picked up my meds and left.
            That was weeks ago.
            Yesterday I went to a new store, actually an old store to get some groceries and I happened to walk through the men’s section and I stopped at the underwear aisle. I found the same brand with the same amount of product inside it and it was less than half the price of Kroger’s. I shook my head and looked for my size which is when I found a bag that offered seven pair for the price of five. I quickly did the math, two bucks a pair instead of almost five bucks a pair across the street. Yes, the two stores are literally across the street from each other.
            Kroger… thirty eight bucks for five pair of Hanes underwear.
            Wal-Mart… fourteen bucks for seven pair of Hanes underwear.
            What the hell is wrong with this scene? This world? These capitalists and consumers?
            I can’t even remember the last time I walked into a Wal-Mart but I know when the last time I was at Kroger. Not five minutes after I left Wal-Mart. I did this just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind.
            I wasn’t. Kroger still had the same price on the underwear. Also, I don’t think they had sold any to any customers in weeks. Maybe it’s the price, maybe customers just don’t need them or maybe no one really knows they are there. But I do and I make sure that others know as well. Why? Because no one needs to be gouged just for comfort and I can wait until they get their Hanes on me. (I know… bad pun)

Have a great week.

Friday, September 18, 2015


I have very little idea in how to describe what has happened in my world this week. I suppose I could start from Sunday night.
            I received a death threat. In person. On my porch and from a person I did not at first recognize. Eventually, I did recognize him. Plus the fact he left his business card for me to identify and turn over to the cops helped. Yes, I called the cops, filed a report and was given an emergency protection order. I also called a well armed friend, my wife, boss and several others in my life I know and trust to help calm me down and protect me.
            Because of this, I haven’t slept much all week. Also, I like to sleep in dark places, which I have not really been in. Lights across my house have been left on. Inside and out. Not to mention the mandatory purchasing of “No Trespassing” signage, the paranoid traveling to and from work using various non direct routes as well as doubling back on my routes to ensure some crazy fool in a modified Toyota truck isn’t following me has left me all but exhausted.
            Then, of course there has been my work load at both jobs. The never ending deluge of household chores and of course doctor’s visits, offspring needs and life in general has made me one grumpy person. Yet, here I am, still breathing, still working, still living and still staying the course.
            To answer your unasked question. Yes, I have been living in fear all week long. Fear of harm befalling me, my family, my coworkers and my property. A fear I’ve never felt before. After all, how many times have you been face to face with a person who when you look into their eyes you see nothing but hatred, anger, hate and pain. To tell the truth, I feel bad for this man and I hope he gets help. I hope he finds a calm and peaceful place in his life where he can figure out his own world and life.
            I know that sounds strange. Giving well wishes to a person who has threatened you. Hoping that a person who seems to have nothing but evil thoughts can find peace. Wishing a person who has threatened to destroy your family and life a long life, an understanding family and love.
            I suppose… and I don’t want to come off as preachy here, cause I’m not a preacher, but I have to be able to afford grace to this person. I have to be able to let his discretions slough away in the tide of life. Just like Jesus taught the masses. I can’t really remember the exact words, I think it was in Luke where he said “Take heart, your sins are forgiven.” (I know, I know, I could look it up but I’m a little lazy and I don’t have internet on my porch right now. Also, I know when I go to post this, I’ll most likely have forgotten about this line.)
            Now, whether you are a believer or not, those are powerful words. “Take heart, your sins are forgiven.” To me, that is grace. He didn’t say he was going to forget your sins, he said they were forgiven. Which is pretty cool. To me at least it is. So, this is what I’m doing. I’m going to forgive, not forget. Also, I am going to hope and pray he has had time to come to his senses, realize his errors, maybe find some help in alleviating his pain he is going through and live a better life.
            In the bible, I believe, if my memory is correct, Jesus said this to a guy who was paralyzed. The words healed the paralyzed man. Which seems really cool. Just don’t ask Mr. Jefferson, this story is removed from his bible, which is another story altogether.
            I wish I could say that to the man who threatened my life. I wish I could go back in time and say something as cool as that and see if the words could cure the paralyzing anger, hatred, and angst that seems to have paralyzed him. I’m not saying he needs to find God, or Jesus or even religion. What I am saying is he needs to find a way to be healed. Whether it is through modern pharmaceuticals, religion, friends or family, I hope he finds his path.
            Because he was and most likely is still lost, and being lost in this world, mentally, physically, emotionally and mentally can’t be a good time for anyone. I’m not saying he is lost in all those areas, I am saying he acted out irrationally, and in my experience, most irrational acts are performed by people who have become trapped in a wilderness either of their own making or someone elses making. Once in that wilderness, everything becomes a maze and you quickly lose your way. I know this because I’ve lived it. I’ve suffered it and I’ve overcome it.
            This doesn’t mean I am still out of the woods so to speak. I don’t think I will ever be completely un-lost. But I know that harboring ill will towards another person is not a way to live your life.
            Lastly, and this is one of the only thoughts that has allowed me to sleep at night, if anything does now happen to me, my family or property or friends, the first place the law enforcement community will go to is this persons house. Which is sad in a way, yet I can’t help but feel a small sense of security because of it.
            In conclusion; be good to each other, help each other and grant grace even when it is not warranted. Life’s too short to harbor evil feelings whose only purpose is to help you self destruct.

            Have a great week.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Metaphysical Seasoning

The crepe myrtle trees, once with boughs of lush, Kelley green leaves and pink boughs as inviting as carnival cotton candy are starting to change. The leaves, now yellowing, withering and drying in the sun go almost unnoticed with each passing day. The blossoms, once vibrant, soft and a joy for observing and smelling, are now nothing but fodder for the wind. They coat the grass and street with their fading glory, only to trampled underfoot or wheel. If you are fortunate enough to be a passing pedestrian and the wind is just right, your exposed skin and clothes will become coated with the small fragile petals of summer. Their soft caress on your skin will go almost unnoticed, that is until a kind stranger or friend gently plucks the dying bloom from your body.
            Yes, summer is over. Across the continent kids are headed back to school, families are planning Sunday football gatherings, invites for Halloween parties are going out in the mail and email across the nation. The weather is cool and crisp in the morning, our vehicles are covered with dew and few people leave their homes without light weight jackets.
            The days are temperate and many people can be found sitting outside on their lunch break trying to absorb the last vestiges of the nutrients of the sun before the bleakness of winter grips us in her icy clutches. Which brings a whole set of other problems. Yet, for now at least, life is pleasant. Relaxing and enjoyable.
            The onslaught of endless hours of work in closed offices while the bitter northern winds chase away the temperate warmth are weeks away. Yes, it is coming up on my favorite time of the year. Fall.
            No more yard work, no humidity that is so thick it makes breathing a chore, furnace like temperatures are no longer the norm and in general, people seem much nicer, at least to me that is. Sure, I’ll miss being able to sit on my porch some nights, or even being able to ride my motorcycle without heavy gear, but it is a nice change from what we’ve been living under.
            All of this leads me up to this; change. Like the seasons, we too change. We may not know it, but we do. I know I have. Seems to be a theme this past three weeks with me. I’m trying to change. I believe it is working. I feel better about everything in my life right now. And, if I’m truthful with myself, not just you, my dear reader, I would have to say I can’t even remember feeling as good as I have in over five years. Which I can only attribute to a series of small yet key changes. All of which add up to some pretty major changes for someone like me.
            Kind of like the way our seasons work. It is the small, almost imperceptible changes that no on notices until there are no more leaves on the trees, or snow is falling all around them and they are having to grab shovels and brooms to clean off their steps and drive ways. This is what is happening with me. With most people I would think.
            Every day, we make decisions either for the better or worse for our lives and eventually we will find ourselves in a better or worse world of our own making. Some decisions will lead us to a life of comfort, living in a nice home, surrounded by people who care about us, and in some cases, we find ourselves in our own prisons. Be they actual or mental, we find ourselves there.
            That thought brought me to this one, how do we make sure we are making the right decision, following the right path, and choosing what is best for our future?
            We can’t. I mean sure, some things are a no-brainer… should I rob a bank for money or try to get a second or third job? Sure the former is sounds like a quick score, but you will wind up in prison or dead. While the latter will leave you exhausted and distant from the ones you are trying to take care of. However; one can be temporary and lead to a permanent fix for your situation and the other one will leave you sitting in a cramped four by six foot cell eating bologna and cheese sandwiches for the next twenty years.
            So, yeah, some choices are easier than others. But what happens when the lines of right and wrong are blurred, when the subtleties of the situation are so convoluted and you have less than a minute to make a decision? Well, I only have one solution for that… Which is this; if you have a history of making good decisions then you will be almost assuredly correct in your initial reaction. However; if your life is filled with making poor decisions and getting into trouble for those choices, stop, reassess the situation and change your mind. Hopefully that will work.
            I wish it were simpler than that. Also, I wish no one would be faced with tough decisions. Life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to. Much more boring too. I know I don’t like boring, nor do most of the people I know. For the most part, we as humans are flawed individuals. Always making mistakes, falling on our faces, making fools of ourselves and then picking ourselves up, laughing at our own hubris and moving on. Hopefully a bit wiser and definitely a bit more dinged up physically, emotionally and mentally.
            There are no better lessons in life than the ones we teach ourselves at the cost of our own pride, dignity and sanity. The course of our lives are like the seasons, we spend time full of wide eyed wonder, followed by youthful arrogance, then quite suffering for our offspring and finally, hopefully in quiet comfort and nostalgic thought as we observe the new generations enjoying their own seasons.
            Seasons they don’t even realize they are so carelessly meandering through, but seasons we see with our 20/20 hindsight of a lifetime filled with experience. We are only wise because of the lessons we learned from the mistakes we’ve made in our lives and the changes those lessons have wrought onto us.
            So a toast, so to speak, of the new and upcoming season of earth and our lives.

            Have a great week.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Band Aid Relief

An odd thing has been happening to me lately. Okay, not to me, around me. I’ve been noticing certain things. These things are called band aids. They are everywhere.
            On my walk from the parking garage to my work, I see unopened band aids sitting on the sidewalk. I see used ones stuck on parking meters, trees and the street. Heck, I even saw one dangling off an empty coffee cup laying forgotten and crumbled next to a trash can outside a convenience store.
            It’s strange. All week long I’ve seen this elastic and cotton bits of mass manufactured bits of temporary relief that allows our body to heal itself. It’s like the world, the universe, the supreme power is trying to tell me something.
            Is the message “the human body needs help healing”? or “sometimes, small things matter”? or even “people are just disgusting because the discard biological hazardous waste so carelessly”? I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’ve been trying to get my own body healed. For the past twelve days, as of this writing, I’ve given up taking an extreme regimen of pills my doctor has had me on for the past five years. The pain killers, gone, the muscle relaxers, gone, the anti-inflamitories, gone. Basically, a total detox. No mood changers or physical relief unless it’s an over the counter crème or powder.
I stopped taking them cold turkey. I’m doing this in an attempt to force my body into working for itself. To reboot its system and start working for itself again and not rely upon manufactured man-made artificial drugs to cure the faults in my system.
It wasn’t easy.
            As expected, my body revolted. Not from my brain screaming out for the drugs, but from my joints, my bones and my muscles. This manifested itself as excruciating pain. Not the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, but pretty damn bad.
            Those first few days, I was hobbled over, limping, and shuffling like a man not days away from his death bed. I the proverbial troll under the bridge in that old Aesop fable. My family expressed concern and tried to nurse me as best as they could. Yet, even through all that pain, my will and determination were singular. Work through it. Make, no force my body to take care of itself.
            I knew mentally, when I started this, I’d need at least one person to be held accountable to for my actions. So I reached out to not just one, or two but three people. People I know who would answer a text message or phone call from me. They were very supportive and informed me that I should also speak with my doctor. Which I did and is a conversation for later.
            These three people I chose, did not let me down. They were and still are there for me to talk to about my situation. I cherish them for this.
            I also knew I couldn’t keep this quiet and personal. So I told everyone I pretty much came into contact with on a daily basis. A form of accountability. So they would know right after they asked me why I was hobbled over and had a look of pain and suffering stamped across my face. Some thought I was crazy, some thought it was honorable and some didn’t think at all. Yet all, have asked me within the last twelve days how my sobriety was going.
            My answer “Good. I’m doing well.”
            Which is true. This past Monday I actually woke up without any pain whatsoever. No aches in any of my joints. My muscles were relaxed, and pain that scoured my body, gone. I don’t know if this is a permanent condition or even if I will be able to survive the rest of my life without the damnable pills invading my system again.
            Now, I hope you’re not thinking “Oh, hell, Skip has gone off the deep end and he’s going to start preaching and hugging trees and worshipping a tree.”
            No, quite the opposite. This was a personal choice. A choice to try and make my life more manageable and better. Better for myself and my family.
            I made a similar decision years ago when some shrink prescribed mood pills for some emotional shit I was going through. Those pills within a month had basically turned me into a zombie. I had no opinion, I had joy and I took no pleasure in anything. I stopped them and dealt with the issues I was going through myself. I can’t say I healed myself but I did get better and I was forced to put myself in a frame of mind so that I could deal with any future crap that might come down the pike of my life.
            I did what I thought best for myself. Which is what we all should do. What you should do. You have to make choices for yourself and your life and your family for the betterment of your travels on this spaceship we call earth.
            I know I’m in a better place right now. I hope in the future I will continue to get healthy and sounder in mind, body and spirit. I have these same hopes for you, my dear reader. That you will find your own peace through whatever means in your life. Be it through your body performing miracles by healing itself, your mind dealing with unknown trauma or even a small band aid on your finger tip stopping the flow of life force rushing out of your body.
            Have a great week.