Friday, January 29, 2016

Laughing at Lumpy

Today is a birthday of sorts. Well, if you consider birth as the removal of a body part that is unnecessary and unwanted after a certain amount of time. Then, that body part costs you money, time, energy, worry, hair color and lack of sleep. Yeah, it’s a birthday.
            Today is the official date of birth of “Lumpy”. My unwanted son of sorts.
            You see, Lumpy is not a living, breathing human being. Nah, that’d be too easy. Nope, Lumpy is a lump. A one centimeter mass of tissue living inside someone I care about. We don’t know when Lumpy came to being, but we do know he is about as loved and cherished as the perverted, just released from prison, drunken uncle that shows up at Thanksgiving with a meth-addicted hooker with several cesarean scars on display under her too large tube top.
            Yeah, Lumpy is “that guy”.
            Yet in my family, where most people talk about the seriousness of the situation, look up all the crazy medical information on the internet, pour over insane “natural” and holistic healing methods. Nor are we concerning ourselves with endless treatment options. Nope, instead we joke, we laugh, we design obtuse and inane scenarios with each other where “Lumpy” becomes a sentient being but with no arms or legs and has to live inside a bell jar on our mantle and he can only communicate through rolling around on a small touch screen computer that is hooked up to a speaker. He’d say things like “Hello? Anyone there? I don’t’ have any eyes, ears or internal organs? Am I alive? What is my purpose? How the hell am I supposed to eat if I don’t have a mouth or even a digestive system?”
            You know, shit like that. And we try to one up each other. Come up with scenarios where strangers come over for a party and Lumpy starts typing “What is that thumping? I thought I was alone? Who’s there? I just want to be loved? Why won’t anyone love me?”
            Then, when the visitors question us as to where the disembodied voice is coming from we show them the bell jar on the mantle with a little yellow post-it note on it with the name “Lumpy” scrawled across it in purple crayon. Yeah, that’d be cool.
            Then we could pump some EDM and have Lumpy try to rap about all his woes. How miserable and emo he is. Or, he could become some sort of death metal singer. Lumpy and the Tumors! That’d be awesome.
            Okay, okay, I know, I am going overboard here. I can’t help it. It’s the way I’m wired. When I get stressed, when I’m nervous, when I don’t really know how to handle a situation, I make jokes. I laugh. I make light of the situation at hand. Be it a loved one in jeopardy, danger, pain, suffering or distress, I joke. Same with my own health. Same with any issue or problem I come across.
            Call it my base survival instinct. I have to joke, I have to laugh, I need to release the pressure inside me or I’ll explode in rage. Not a good thing.
            I’ve been told that both of these reactions, rage and humor are improper responses to stressful situations. I disagree. I used to rage, but it only made me exhausted and hurt more. With humor at least I laugh and feel better afterwards and no one is hurt. Offended? Yes. Hurt? No. Score one for Skip.
            I don’t exactly know when this survival mechanism kicked in, but I do know that I like it. I enjoy being able to crack jokes and make obscure references at the most inappropriate time. Offend the sensitivities of people who demand I keep quiet and show respect for the situation I’m in or around.
            To them and their ideas of keeping quiet and showing respect in the face of adversity I say “Ha! Yeah, right. Have you met me? I’m about the most impertinent person you could meet. For me to be courteous and respectful I’d actually have to have some sort of idiot. I’m insolent on a good day and discourteous on a bad day. My sarcasm and wit are what keep me from losing my mind and falling into a rabbit hole of general hate for a planet, a solar system, a galaxy and a universe hell bent on killing me and the ones I care about. Don’t believe me? Google things that can kill you in your home town or state. I’ll wait. Or better yet, google where in the solar system can humans survive besides earth. I’ll wait.
            Done? Good. See. Scary stuff. Now you could curl up in a ball of humanity and cry. Or, you could joke and laugh in the face of your imminent death. Because that is what I plan on doing. Sure I’m going to have weak moments of introspection, but my humor, my sarcasm and my wit are tools that keep the nastiness of life at bay. It gives me strength in the face of assured doom. It warms my soul and brings daylight at midnight. It makes me who I am and I’d have it no other way.
            So, ya, today is Lumpy’s birthday, the unwanted, unneeded bastard of flesh that has come into my life illegitimately. But that’s okay. Why? Because I’m hoping the doctors will actually allow me to take home this new addition to my family. I doubt it, but I hope so. Why? Cause it’ll make me laugh every time I look up at the mantle and see it slowly drying out and rotting away. Its birth and eventual death will make me feel as if I actually have some control over my own life.
            Control, we really don’t have any. We live, we survive and we die all on some unseen clock and we never know who the timekeeper really is or where they reside. The only control is over how we react to the life we exist in. We are here, we are present, and we are experiencing history as it occurs. We have a choice in how we handle those experiences. Do we curl up and die? Do we become overwhelmed with stress and shut down? Do we charge into the madness and fray and let loose with furious anger? Or do we step back, take a moment and realize the comical nature that life really is. Do we take into account that none of us will get out of life alive, that our influence is really no influence at all. That when it comes down to it, the only thing we have is the people closes to us, no matter who we are, and that eventually, we all feed the worms and no one will remember us.
            We are here now, let us live now, let us enjoy the good, the bad and the terrible. Let us laugh in the face of danger and strife, not because it is crazy, but because it will make you feel better and give your brain a few moments to assess the situation and allow you to react in a more thoughtful method. Well, after you’ve stopped giggling yourself silly.
            That is what I choose to do. I choose to laugh, I choose to joke, I choose to be inappropriate in the face of proper etiquette. Not because I’m arrogant and believe I know better, but because I don’t want to be the one who fails at life by being so proper that I’m forgotten. After all, do you remember the guy who got drunk at the party and made an ass of themselves? Or do you remember the guy who sat quietly in the corner drinking club soda all night?
            So laugh in the face of danger, in the face of adversity, in the face of strife and in the face of death. I’ve been doing it for years. And I’m going to do it today. So Lumpy, you crack me up, you’re small, insignificant, you can’t see, you can’t breathe and in the future, when you’re dead and gone, the only thing we will have to remember you is the laughter at your expense. Oh, and happy birthday and happy death day too!

            Have a great week.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Jonas Heart

So, this past Tuesday I woke up with a minor irritation in the left side of my chest. I didn’t like it, so I ignored the persistent ache. What else is one supposed to do?
            I went on about my days, working as best as I could and telling myself that I just had a bad case of indigestion. To be truthful, I knew something was wrong, the machinations of my daily routine were limited by the chronic, constant pain that radiated from the center of my chest to under my left arm. Picking things up and putting them down, part of my daily routine, caused me to pause each time the need arose and to derive a new and unique solution to the task at hand.
            By the time Thursday arrived, a day I don’t have to work two jobs, I was glad I would be able to basically sit in my office, work on small motors and mechanics or just sit at my computer and do curatorial work. The day went by pretty smoothly, I listened to some great music on my record player as I went about my duties. The pain, still constant, was not irritated at all. When I got home that night, all I wanted to do was lie on my couch in a semi-comfortable position and try to breathe.
            Oh, did I forget to mention the pain with every breath? Ya, there was that too. If I took a too deep breath my body would be wracked with a series of sharp pains. I found a position, partially sitting up, partially on my side, a blanket to keep me warm and the television clicker in my hand I quickly found myself dozing off into the land of nod.
            Friday marked the arrival of snowstorm Jonas. Everything in my area closed early, I was summoned by my offspring to pick her up from school. I drove there, in pain and against my better judgement. When my child asked to go to a fast food place for lunch, I asked her if it was okay if we went straight home. I didn’t feel good. She accepted this and to home we went.
            By five pm, the pain was worse, my daughter, my wife and my mother all pestered me to the hospital. I did.
            Within thirty minutes of being in the emergency room I had received an EKG a chest x-ray and the privilege of expedited service. It wasn’t long before I was escorted to a small room, hooked up to a bunch of machines, poked, prodded, ultra-sounded and visited by doctors, nurses and several assistants. Eventually, one nurse, I’ll call him “Blondie” came in and administered me a shot of morphine. It took the edge of pain away with a dizzying head rush that shook the foundation of my reality. This feeling only lasted a moment, then my body acclimated to the toxin and allowed it to do the job it had been injected for.
            My pain subsided, but not by much. I still couldn’t get comfortable. The lights in the room were too bright, the painting on the wall, a watercolor of a beach scene, had streaks of paint on it where some type of fluid had been splattered all over it. I tried to not think what fluids had caused the streaks. However, looking up from where I lay I could see where the small, colorful, dried drips had ended their journey on the bottom of the frame. The paint had mixed together when it was wet, and when it dried, they formed round, black spots with a pale blue corona around them. They looked like a dozen little eyeballs staring at me, mocking me in their smug dried fashion. As if they knew my future and I didn’t. Black eyes with blue coronas withholding the knowledge I needed to make it through the night. I flipped off the disembodied eyes in my mind and tried to ignore them. What the hell did they know? They were born in a mass market paint shop where the artists are given only one color to smear across a never ending conveyor of canvases. Yeah, what the hell does a ruined painting know?
            Not long later Blondie comes back in, injects me with another shot, tells me what the drug is and walks away.
            I send my wife and child out for food. I sit in the room and hope for the best. In almost no time I began to feel better. By the time my family came back from getting food, I was sitting up and moving parts of my body did not cause me undue pain. After an hour or two the doc cut me loose and I was on my way home.
            Seven hours had passed.
            I arrived home with a prescription, a note to rest and not exert myself and the so called storm of the year bearing down on us. So I did the only thing I could do. I went to bed and slept for twelve hours.
            Throughout this whole ordeal I tried to be as cordial as I could. I even thought long and hard on whether or not to post what was going on in my life on social media. I eventually decided it couldn’t hurt, so I did. The outpouring of concern, care and interest was overwhelming to me. I thank everyone who reached out and expressed concern and are still expressing concern.

            That is it for now, I hope you all had a good week and that the storm Jonas did not affect you too badly.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hope Resolution

-Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’
            -Alfred Lord Tennyson

            It seems I’ve started a habit of writing two blogs a week. One, strictly personal and will not be posted, the second, for you, my dear readers. This is one of the second blogs.
            It is now two weeks into the new year. Most people have made and broken their resolutions and are scurrying about their lives before the tick of the clock and the drop of a ball. Why? Cause change is hard. Resolutions are hard. Promises are hard. Living in habitual repetition is easy and comforting.
            I have tried over the years to make certain changes in my life. Take on resolutions and adhere to them. Some have been successful, some have not. Yet every year there is one resolution I always make and I try to adhere to. It’s a simple one really. “Be nicer, maintain your temper and try to be a more pleasant person to be around.”
            Now, I don’t always achieve this goal. I don’t always maintain my composure and to be truthful, I can be quite viscous at times. With my words and my actions, also, by nature I am a recluse. I like my alone time. I like not having to deal with people, make conversation and be pleasant to folks who just irritate me to no end.
            So every year I try to overcome these yearnings. It’s not easy. Hell, I don’t even enjoy family gatherings. Most of the time I end up in some secluded back yard, sitting under a tree, smoking a cigar and wondering how I got there and when can I leave.  I don’t care where I am, what I’m doing or who I’m around, I always have these thoughts. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could be like most people and just enjoy the moments of being surrounded by people who I’m related to or want to see me. I wish I had that desire to be as social as they are. But I don’t think no matter how much I wish for it, try and force it, make endless attempts to be there and in the moment… inside me there is an urge to just be alone, at home and not exerting my social graces beyond their limits.
            Yet every year I make the same resolution. I attempt to change my own personal dynamic and become a more social creature. Even though I know I will fail. Fail miserably. I don’t do good with crowds of people. I get nervous and I shut down. Simply because I know that the thoughts raging in my head are not to be spewed forth from my mouth. If I did allow the floodgates of words to open, I’d once again find myself alone because I had offended almost everyone in the room.
            Yet I try. Over and over again. Until, somewhere around July of each year, I finally give up. Six months of being pleasant and stepping out of my own hermit comfort zone reaches its limits and the futility of my resolution has to be faced.
            Although there is hope. With the passing of December into January that hope is reborn and once again I try to step out of my life and into the lives of others, which usually causes great stress in me and anger in the people I attempt to socialize with.
            Hope is a strange thing, it makes our minds warp our reality, it provides us comfort in strife, it calms us when the storms of life rage and give us a sense of control when we are reeling towards the abyss.
            As humans do we do this as a survival instinct. We have to or else we’d most likely go mad with depression. I mean, I have hope for change, as do you, as does your neighbors and , well, most of humanity on this planet and even some that are spending time off planet. It is a condition that makes us be better towards each other. Which is admirable. Because there are lots of creatures in this world, that when the chips are down, just give up. Humans don’t.
            We fight back, we try harder, we wield hope as a catalyst for change.
            Which I suppose is why every year  I have the same resolution.
            Because while I may be a curmudgeon at heart, I hope one day to change.

            Have a great week.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Well, it’s a new year and I’ve started by posting a blog… late. I’d like to say I’ve been too busy to write but that would be a falsehood. I haven’t posted simply because I’ve not been in the mood. There has been too much crap going on in my life and I really didn’t want to post my dirty laundry here. So I won’t.
            To be truthful, this is the second blog I’ve written this year. I’m not going to post the first one, simply because after reading it after I wrote it I realized it sucked. So, that one will just go in the files of non-posted blogs.
            Normally, I review my list of successes and failures over the past 365 revolutions. The one failure that bugs me most is that I was not published this year, however; I will be published twice next year so that is cool.  More on that when we are allowed to broadcast the information to the general public, but, I am excited about both books.
            As far as my other successes, I did my second public reading with a legend in the horror community. A grandfather of the `1980’s horror rejuvenation, he was pleasant, humble and had amazing stories to convey to the lot of us. We sat in a courtyard, basked in sunlight, eating gourmet food, smoking good cigars and a pleasant breeze. Time passed way to quickly for us. By us, I mean the three writers and three close friends. It was almost surreal. Fond memories abound in my mind of that night. It was one of the highest points of my year.
            As for my other failures, well, I didn’t lose my temper this past year. Which is good, however; I did get upset on several occasions and withdrew into myself. This action did not help any of the situations I was in. Eventually, I worked everything out and got myself back to normal. Which is really, all you can ask a person to do, and all you can really expect from yourself, unless you have unrealistic aspirations of yourself and others in your life?
            Getting back to the year, it was not good for me. Matter of fact, 2015 is going to go in my record books as one of the top five worst years in my life. Personally that is. Too much stress, too much negativity and too much… stuff. Stuff that just bogs a person down with trivialities of life that in the end mean nothing, but while experiencing them, they are everything.
            When you find yourself in that dark tunnel of monotony, of drek and sludge of life, and you don’t see a light ahead of you or behind you on your journey, it is hard to focus on happiness and solutions for a way out. In other words, you can’t see the light of the next day because you are stuck in the darkness of your own mind.
            Trust me, I know about being stuck in one’s own mind. I’m mired down in my own mind almost every moment of every day. So much so that on more than one occasion during any given week I have at least two and sometimes three people telling me to “Get out of your head, Skip.”
            I suppose I should heed this advice more often, hell, maybe make a sign and hang it in my office, on my rearview mirror of my car and motorcycle and then post another dozen or so in my house. That way I’ll always be reminded to stop living in the deep recess’s of my gray matter. Yet, as a wise man and brilliant writer said to me this past year “We’re writers, we’re reclusive by nature and verbal communication is not our strength. We live our lives observing everything and then tearing it all apart in our minds to try and figure out the truth of the situation. Then, when that is done, we twist it, turn it, bastardize it and make it more horrific or brilliantly more beautiful than it actually is.  This is what we do, it’s in our DNA, and we are programmed to do this. There aint no way around it or stopping it. Just embrace it and write. Then you’ll finally get some rest and peace.”
            He’s very wise.
            During our conversation this statement made complete sense. After our conversation, I sort of forgot about it. Then, just a few days ago, the quote came crashing back into my life, waking me up from my stupor of introversion and depression, which is no easy task. The fog of self loathing slowly cleared and left me feeling a bit groggy and shameful.
            Once I realized this, I believe I made my first resolution of the New Year, to be truthful, it will most likely be my only resolution of the new year. That resolution… “Stop letting the negativity of life get me down.”
            It doesn’t sound like much, but in reality, to me, it may be one of the hardest things I have to do. Because I let all of life get to me, the ups and the downs. So much so, that I don’t understand how people don’t let life and all of its highs and lows not affect them. So, if you’re like me, or not, I hope that you too have made at least one resolution, one goal, one aspiration not matter how large or small to achieve by the end of the year.
            I now have mine, and, like an idiot, I’ve posted it out here for all to see. So I am sure I will be held accountable.
            What, if any objective have you set your sights on?

            Have a great week.