Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Years Eve

December 31, 2016

New Years Eve

It’s almost 10:30 pm here on the east coast. I’ve only been home for twenty minutes. It’s been a long day. I woke up at 5:30 am this morning and an hour later I was at work. When I finished that job, I went to another with nary a break between the two.

I’m tired, I’m sore and all I really want to do is sleep but it is New Years Eve. We are supposed to stay awake and greet the new year. We are supposed to renew our hope in humanity and life in general.
And yet, here I sit, on my porch in fifty degree weather, smoking a good cigar and listening to the idiots in my adopted home town fire off their weapons like a bunch of drunken rednecks stranded in the woods.

I do have company however; Freddie is standing guard at the top of the porch steps. He’s a black cat so it is almost hard to discern his shape against the shadows that seem to be dancing in the wind. Actually, all I can really see is he outline. He’s crouched down and staring out into the blackness of my front yard and street. As if he’s standing guard against any evil that may even think about crossing the threshold of my or most likely, his domain.

He’s quite peculiar and has remained a source of amusement and confusion to me for the past year. Especially now that he seems to be enjoying the warmth of the interior of my home. For how long he will decide to stay here I’ve no idea and when he’s gone I’m sure I’ll miss him, but I won’t miss my feet being bitten in the middle of the night or how he seems to derive much pleasure from trying to suffocate me in the middle of the night by deciding to sleep on my face. No, I don’t think I’d miss that.


The general consensus, if you go by social media that is, that 2016 has been the worst year ever. I can’t disagree. While I was affected by the passing of the multitude of actors, singers and other pop culture icons, that was not the main source of pain for most of us. Well, that is what I believe and since this is my blog, I can say that.

So, are we all in agreement? That 2016 can suck it? Suck it hard? Good.

But, I want to try and twist this around a bit. I want to look at some of the good things that I saw, that I experience and that made me feel good this past year.

I saw new born babies and I got to hold a few of them. That always makes me feel good. And for some reason, when I hold one, I can’t shut up. I end up talking to them for what seems like hours. Much to the bemusement and confusion of people around me. Babies just fill me with joy and hope. They are literally a tabula rasa, they can do and be anything. It’s amazing just being near them.

I got to hang out with some old friends and make new ones. That is always a good thing. Especially when said friends are genuinely happy to see you and be with you.

My relationship with my mom and my sisters has grown. To tell you the truth, if someone in my life today went back in time and told the twenty year old Skip that he would have a great relationship with the women from his past in just a few decades, well, that Skip would have laughed, flipped them the bird and walked away. But today, it’s not like that. That is truly an amazing thing.

Finally, my daughter… that young lady never ceases to amaze me. Her maturity, her generosity, her dedication and even her work ethic are to be lauded. She is not one of these modern teens who thinks everything should be given to her. She believes in hard work. She believes in being rewarded for doing a good job just by getting her paycheck. She has a genuine respect for others even if they don’t show her respect and she fights for what she believes in. (Don’t believe me? Then you’ve never seen her face down the entire school board and give a speech where all the board members changed their minds on a decision they felt was permanent. Yeah, she did that.) 

Lastly, you folks. You, my dear reader, you fill me with a sense of right. That what I’m doing is right. That my seemingly mindless brain droppings have some affect. Also, that occasionally, my published stories are liked as well. You guys make me feel like this year wasn’t as bad as all others seem to say it was.

Honorable mention… My crew in reading. By this, I mean not just Ron, Craig, Jezzy and Gregg, but also Slim and Mark and Clara, you guys amazed me by how much work, effort and shear gall, helped us all put on what I think was a great local experience of horror fiction. Yes, I know I’m the Donnie Downer of the group, the one who is never satisfied and a perfectionist in all the details, yet somehow, you all see past it and keep me on track to help put on a really cool event.

Okay, enough of this last blog of 2016… onward to 2017 where all our hopes, dreams and wishes are still fresh and can come true.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Absence and Pride

It’s been two weeks since my last blog. Not because I was sworn to radio silence but because my laptop decided it did not want to work. Because of this and the fact I don’t have the money to purchase a new one or even get the one I have repaired, I am trying to learn a new system with a computer whose logo is a fruit and not a flag.

So there is a learning curve. Not a steep one but one none the less. So, in truth, I’ve no idea what I’m doing with this word cruncher program. I wish I did. I miss the old word cruncher. It actually fixed mistakes I made as I was making them and it let me know how awful my writing was. This one, not so much.
So, enough excuses, on to the business.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful and remarkable holiday season and that you are all looking forward to the end of 2016 as much as I am. To say that this year has been a kick in the pants is an understatement. 

Truth be told, I’ve hated this year since even before it started.

Each day from January 1st, until now has been an effort in futility. For every three steps I’ve managed to take forward, I’ve ended up being pushed back four steps by life. Whether it’s car problems, work problems, life problems… well, you get the idea. Everything seems to just get in the way.

Then, on the rare occasion, when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and everything seems to be going well, you know, those moments when you think everything looking up… life just comes along and kicks you right in the nether regions.

And that is what 2016 has been to me and almost everyone I know.

So, enough talk about the beast of the year. Onward…
My daughter had a great Christmas. A well deserved and hard earned Christmas. A Christmas that is going to be one of the few in her life that she will remember and I’m proud to be able to say that I was one of a handful of people who were able to make it all possible.

She broke down and cried on more than several occasions and she was humble enough to acknowledge the sacrifices people made to make her wishes come true. So much so, she called and thanked everyone involved.

A very proud moment indeed.

I hope you all get to experience pride in your offspring now or in the future. Seeing the growth, responsibility and maturity come to fruition after many years of hard work. Not just the physical work, but also the mental and emotional work that go into raising a family.

Fights with spouses over conflicting ideas over what is best for the child or in some cases, children; whose final decisions have outcomes you will rarely see. Simply because as parents, we are rarely around when our children show the results of the efforts we put forth in their lives.

I count my daughter as my biggest blessing. As one of the, no, she is the greatest accomplishment of my life. I believe she always will be.

This is my Christmas wish for you, my dear reader, that your child, your children will make you as proud of them as I am proud of my daughter.

Have a great week.

Friday, December 9, 2016


“You’re very interesting.” The reporter said to me and followed up with “I’d like to interview you around Thanksgiving or in early December if that’s okay.”
            I shrugged and said “I’m not really that interesting, I’m just a normal guy.”
            “Well, you have a very interesting story and I’d like to do a piece on you for the paper.”
            I looked over to where my wife was sitting, she was only a few feet away and there was a very odd grin on her face. The kind of grin I rarely see. One that said “Ha, I’ve been telling you for years and you’ve been hiding for years. I’m right, you’re wrong and no everyone will know.”
            I hung my head shook it a bit and agreed to the reporter’s request. My main thought, hope, dream was that between May and December the reporter would forget about me. After all there were seven months between meeting her and when she wanted to interview me. So the way I figured it, she’d completely forget about me between then and now.
            So imagine my surprise when I got an email from this lady two weeks ago following up on our conversation from May. Her inquiry was professional, polite and sincere. I responded back that my schedule was pretty full and the only time I’d be available on a Saturday morning. She agreed and asked if my wife could be there and that she was bringing a photographer.
            I wanted to say no.
            I should have said no. But I didn’t.
            I agreed and when I got home, I told my wife. Both her and my daughter smiled and laughed at me. They knew my level of comfortability with this sort of thing. Then, they chided me, teased me and basically played upon my fears and nervousness. All in good fun and I took it as such.
            Now, on the eve of the interview, I find myself running hundreds of questions through my head and then trying to answer them. Maybe I’ll blow the interview, maybe I’ll be struck down with a case of laryngitis. Hopefully, I’ll catch the flu and end up in the hospital and be unable to answer any questions.
            However; and this is an addendum to the email exchange and what I’m writing now.
            You see, not two days after I agreed to the interview I was standing on the second floor of the Winter Wonderland set up talking to the woman in charge of public relations for the museums and she commented that there should be an expose done on the exhibits crew and the museum and all the work that goes into setting up the exhibit. I agreed.
            As the conversation progressed I let slip that I was about to be interviewed by the newspaper. She got really excited and wanted to know why I hadn’t told anyone. I shrugged and said that I didn’t think it was that important. She then informed me that I was supposed to inform my supervisor, her and the director of the museums. When I asked why, she told me that the City Manager wants to know about any press that deals with city employees.
            My blood went cold and I could feel myself getting light headed. Why? Simple, while I’m proud of what I do and I love my job more than any other job I’ve ever had, I just don’t really like being in the spotlight too much. I’m afraid I’ll say something stupid, or I’ll revert back to my sailor talk or maybe even fall back into my Midwestern lilt. Basically, I’m afraid I’ll come off looking like a total idiot.
            Or, maybe that someone out in the great big world will find out what I do and then they’ll want to take my job from me. That really would suck.
            Now I should say that everyone in my life feels I’ll do well. I’ll come out looking like some great guy. They support this, they can’t wait for the article to be published. They say all will be fine and that this is a good thing.
            I don’t know. I’m skeptical. I’ve seen articles in the paper where the information that is conveyed is not so positive. Where the person or people who are the subject of the article comes out arrogant, smug and sometimes, even a bit despicable.
            I don’t want that. So, I suppose it’s up to me. After all, I’m the one who has to answer the questions. I’m the one responsible for what comes out of my mouth. I’m the one in charge of my own truth.
            And I’m afraid that my own truth is an ugly, mean, cruel and even disgusting truth.
            I’m told it’s not.
            I guess I’ll find out in a few weeks.
            Wish me luck.

            Have a great week.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Zen of a Rock

I am a rock in the stream of life. The water passes over me and onto me and tries to permeate my hardened exterior. Only I don’t give into it. Sure over time small fissures will be created by the onslaught of the never ending barrage, for the most part though, I am unmoved.
            Occasionally a fish will jump out of the water and I will stare at it in amazement. The beauty of the sunlight glistening off its scales. The majesty of the gleaming streams of colors that fill the air around it. I wonder how long it can last outside of its natural habitat. Then as quickly as it arrived, it disappears once again into the place where it truly belongs. And I feel a void in my existence.
            Now and again a turtle will crawl on my sun baked top and lay there and take a nap. It warms itself in the glow of the sun and absorbs the heat I am exuding. The relationship between us is one of mutual benefit. I get some company for a while and the turtle warms its cold blooded body in order to move onward with its life. When it is finally warm or when it gets hungry or curious, it moves on and I am again left alone to enjoy the peace and tranquility of my own existence. And another void forms.
            However; on the bad days, not the stormy days in life where a deluge precipitation pelts me from above or the freezing wind, ice and snow try to tear me apart, but the days when birds land on me and try to claim me for their own. They do battle as if I’m some sort of commodity to be bartered and traded for. They make me feel less than what I know I am. Like my existence is only useful if it is being used by them for the advancement of their lives. Days like that are awful. They sit on me, screeching and yelling in a cacophony of sound. As if the louder they become the more important they are. They hope that the largest and loudest gets claiming rights to sit on me and observe the world from my vantage point. Never do they realize that the largest part of me is buried under the stream. I just shake my granite head in frustration of their ignorance and try to ignore them. Which is about the time they start shitting on me. And then they leave. The good thing about when they leave. There is no void I feel
            I am alone again. Waiting for a turtle or fish to come by and make my passage through the present as enjoyable as it once was.
            This is my Zen. This is why I’m the rock in the stream of time.

            Have a great week.