22 November, 2009

Reposting...Story of a Life Snippets 9-12

"Show me Fate…and I will show you how to change the rules."
Sometimes people already know this little trick. Other times, I find myself breaking out the torches to light the way. Regardless of the situation, it amazes me at times what people accept without trying to fight and change the game.

"What am I doing wrong that guys will not stick around? Am I fated to never to be with someone?"
The words vary, but the import remains the same: The person feels like they are doomed to never be with someone. Countless times I encounter someone who feels this way, and it always turns into a head banging against wall episode.
One of my dear friends who lives quite a distance from me said something similar to me after her relationship to Michael came crashing to a halt. I talked to her extensively about the whole situation. I could sense that it had her broken up badly.
In a fit of absolute irony I said, "Dear, I understand and I know you are very hurt. Pining and the like will not help though. You are a good person, an attractive girl and one Hell of a find for any guy. Have faith dear, you will not be alone."
The last sentence elicted a laugh from my friend. She could not believe that I, an Atheist, could lecture her on faith. Laughing as well, I told her that faith meant more than just the religious variety. Becoming suddenly thoughtful on the topic, she agreed
In the end, all worked out. In the darkest of moments, her prince (Since she was always such a bloody princess.) strode into view and swept her up.

"I am not as emotionally strong as I appear."
Depending on how well the person knows me, convincing someone of this fact may require a lecture, diagrams or the oratory powers of a professional speaker. For all appearences, I am very strong. It is a cover for the fact that I am not always strong when it comes down to it.

Years and years ago, I found myself sitting outside of my house on a summer day. I was in my early teens at this moment, and depressed. At this date in history I can not remember what had caused it.
There I sat, just watching the world go by. My thoughts raced by, scarcely allowing me to even fathom what I was thinking. I felt lost and defeated, wondering where I had gone wrong. Feeling overwhelmed, I slumped in my chair.
Suddenly, my friend Jon appeared in my vision range. Sitting on his bike, his arrival startled me somewhat. I looked at him as if he was insane, for riding his bike from his house to mine was no short distance, and an uphill battle on part of the trip.
We got to talking and soon enough he realised I was not in the best of moods. I explained to him how I felt and that I could not fathom a way out. We talked for a bit, steering the conversation to other topics and the like.
Just before Jon was to continue his bike trek, I began to laugh. Puzzled by my out burst, he asked me what happened. I reminded him of something I say about Life:
"Even when at your darkest, you never know what will trigger you to snap out of it."
Sharing a laugh, Jon then took his leave. I stood for a moment, a ghost of a smile on my face.
Defying the calculator, the number of times I have had this happen or seen it happen is staggering. It is truly insane how ordered Life looks, but in Truth turns to Chaos and Insanity.

Blinking rapidly, I frowned. Logic was to no avail on this. I could see a pattern, but the pattern developed into nothing. I felt frustrated, seriously so. Walking about, I attempted to empty my thoughts. In the moment I found myself, I could ill afford clouded judgement. Well, more clouded than the norm.
An incalcuable number of moments passed away. Scanning my surroundings for time number 80 provided no fresh clues. I felt my unease return, followed by a sense that I needed to get moving.
Pacing, I attempted again to find logic in all this. Changing gears and appraoches, the search continued.

"Regrets are sometimes the worst of things to have. They may just haunt you."
So many times, in so many places, with more than just myself as the example, has this proven true. Regrets is a thing that is unavoidable in this Life. Sometimes though, regret can quite easily drive you stark, staring mad.

Standing outside the theatre, I enjoyed my cigarette. Amused greatly, I was watching the adventure that was parking cars. The location provided some parking, yet we of the technical crew for the performance found it easier to direct traffic for the shows. For the previous several performance nights, I had froze to near death helping to park; for the moment I was allowing myself to watch.
The sound of the voice calling my name made me freeze a moment. I seriously contemplated jumping the rail and running. When I turned, my eyes gave the confirmation. Laura, the last girl to bother dating me, stood before me.
I was cold and somewhat mean and I admitt to it. I had not heard from nor seen her in well over a year. Exchanging a few words, she took leave of me. After I had a chance to cool off, I realised what a bastard I had been.
Learning, again, every action has a consequence, a decision sprang from this regret. That decision would set the realist and romantic sides of me at odds.
Never again, in all my lives, for however long I lived would I attempt dating.

"I would like to think that I have made a difference to people in places along this Life."
Never in the market for praise, rewards or the like, I have freely given advice and what ever other assistance I can. I always hope that I have made a difference. I believe I do, even if the signs seeming never manifest themselves.

I went through a full day working on problems at every turn. I lost count of the number of problems I advised and talked with. At the end I found myself alone with a friend.
She said, upon my recounting of the days events, "What makes you think that you made any difference to any of those people. Or anyone ever for that matter?"
Surprise flashed across my face, At the time, this was the first that I had been asked this. Several moments passed before inspiration rode a freight train through me. Smiling, I turned to my friend.
"I have no choice, I have to believe. If I do not, then never again will I be able to do anything for anyone."
Shaking her head, conversation turned to other matters.

Realisation dawned, right before the freight train of it arrived. Everything to this moment represented the Past. All this time, the Past paraded before me.
A strange sensation surfaced. In the not so distant past, an event occurred causing me to feel as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
I frowned at this thought surfacing. What of the Future?

"You have to fight for better in your Life."
Fighting through Life is a thing I am well versed in. The list includes fighting people, stupidity, the insane and inane to just plain trying to make reason dawn. Sometimes a small push does wonders. Other times require an air strike.

I found myself talking to a young friend in the not so distant past. She was, predictably, having boy troubles. A common occurrence I remembered well enough from years past.
Her trouble centered around one guy she found herself smitten with. He however did not return the sentiment. In point of fact, he seemed inclined to drag her along, 'promising' her that he would get with her when the girl that he decided to prusue failed.
Ahh, the silliness of youth, not to menition old age. Certain things in this thing called Life never change.
So my young friend began telling me about another guy she was interested in. Things seemed to be progressing, but she was still carrying a torch for the previous boy. I found myself rolling my eyes.
In the end I wound up telling her that she deserved better. Much better. After some hemming and hawing, she did agree with me and the conversation moved on to other things.
Like I have told so many, sometimes you have to just fight. As I say, there is a Time to die, a Time to fight, a Time to turn around, walk away and wait for a better day and a Time to do nothing.

"We are each other's audience, just working on a stage, approaching the unreal."
The above is a paraphrase of part of the song Limelight by Rush, my favourite musical group. I find it to be apt in every extreme. Everyone has a part to play. The issue: What is my part in all this?

In an amusing twist on Good and Evil, Luke and I wound up playing the devil and god one night. In our travels he was offering to buy people's souls for whatever he had on hand. As a good 80% of people he offered things to accepted, I quickly found myself attempting to prevent them from accepting. I soon realised that I was failing in this department.
Switching tactics, I managed to get people their souls back from Luke. It was an odd scene to say the least. In the end, the devil(Luke) collected more souls than I could save. After that adventure I learned that parts could be played to almost anything.
The trick lay in choosing the correct one to play.

Musing and thought crashed to a halt. The last two memories played still contained the Past, yet there was an undertone of Future to them both. I frowned, realising I was still far from knowing where I was going.
Acknowledging that I am not as right as I appear, I begin to wonder.

Is there something to all this?

“Sometimes saying 'No' is the hardest thing to do in this Life.”
A shoot word, with only one real meaning. Therefore 'No' should be among the easiest of things to say. When young I thought that was the case. As I have gotten older, the opposite has become painfully obvious.

Listening to a friend, I shook my head in sadness. She had managed to get herself into a serious spot of bother. She lived far away from me (Florida), so the best I could do was to give whatever advice I could.
She explained to me the full details of what was going on. I listened and thought at a mile a minute. I stopped in my tracks suddenly as a memory of a previous conversation broke the surface.
“Samantha my dear, did you not tell me that this guy was the one you always wanted to be with?”
She responded with a simple yes. I frowned on my end of the phone a moment, before asking the following:
“So why don't you just tell him that this isn't working.”
Her explanation of this guy being her kryptonite, didn't sit well with me. I just couldn't understand why she couldn't tell him no. It would not be until much later that I learned that saying no was not such an easy thing.
Simple as the word 'No' is, some things just can not be denied. Emotion being tops on the list.

“Why don't you ever react to anything? Are you that emotionless?”
The truth of it is that I rarely react to anything at all. Mostly this causes people who know me not to pass the wrong judgment. Cold, heartless, uncaring number as but a few of the descriptions used on me in those cases. My lack of reaction comes from a different source. I blame it on Sherlock Holmes from when I was a kid.

My girlfriend at the time Danielle, her friend Danielle, myself and the other Danielle's boyfriend Scoot were having a good old time. Hanging out at Scott's trailer, we just laughed and talked our way through a summer evening.
Scott answered the phone in the middle of this. When he turned from hanging up, I saw instantly that trouble had called. He informed us that the people who had beaten him and his roommate up several days previous called to say they were coming over again.
The scene: Scott's trailer. The people: Scott, completely shocked and worried. His Danielle, running around like crazy, also at a loss. My Danielle, in tears and frozen. Myself, calmly issuing orders and getting people moving.
At one point, my Danielle looks at me as I am taking a cig from her pack. She says to me past the tears, “Aren't you scared?'
My reply as I light the cig is a simple one. “I do not have time to be scared. Now please get your stuff.”

The last memory caused my eyes to pop open. It seemed an odd thought to have flow through in the middle of all this. Why would an example of my lack of fear be brought to light, when I find myself in a situation that is making me reconsider the notion of being afraid.
I found my mind springing into action suddenly. Maybe, just maybe, something, some where is attempting to communicate something to me.

Reposting...Story of a Life Snippets 5-8

"I can't tell you how to find happiness. You can only find it if you try and don't lose faith."
I have given plenty of advice in my silly and checkered career. I've always tried to make sure it was plain and sensible. I'll never go down in history as someone great, but hey I did my part in the small corner of the Universe I could get to…

Sitting across from my friend Steve, I wait in silence. He has finished going over a bombshell while we were in a popular Pittsburgh eating establishment.(Yes, the one with those cookies.) His marriage is coming apart in a hurry. I frown in sympathy, as there is little I can say or do at this point.
"So, "he asks me in a flat tone, "do you think this is worth trying to save?"
I shake my head and light a cigarette. After a moment I look him in the eye. Steeling myself, I tell him the following:
"I can't answer that Steve. I can give advice and listen and all that. It is truly up to you though to decide."
Steve and I talked for quite some time. I'd like to think I helped in some fashion. Many a hard choice awaited him as he told me that him and his wife were going to try to make things work out. I can only hope that somehow he finds that elusive thing known as happiness.

The memories stop flowing suddenly, leaving a philosophical void. A cold thought strikes me as I am left in the darkness.
Am I finally alone?
I stop and stare at the stars about me, searching for an answer. I search a good while, with no answer forthcoming. A shudder passes through me, as I realise this just may very well signal the end.
I begin pacing, turning over the whole that is my Life. I can see it all.
Everything that was. Everthing that is. Everything that is yet to happen, yet could.
Minus any warning, I felt another memory surface. Taken aback by this episode, I let it flow unbidden.

"What do you think happens when you die? Where will I tell the kids you went?"
That little poser came to me out of the blue many years ago. I knew a couple with three (3) kids courtesy of an ex-girlfriend of mine. They were a nice couple, with deep set religious convictions. At the least we were able to discuss religion without getting nasty. Atheism is a rough thing since people like to think you are lost or going to Hell.
We were talking about things at random, and Becca asked me that one. As I never had that asked of me before I had to think a moment before the answer came.
"It is not going to matter over much. But you can tell them that I am on the last great adventure."

"There always are countless choices in Life…the trick is picking the right ones"
This little bit of advice sees much mileage. It is one of the more true statements ever I think. We all have choices to make afterall.

Lauren finishes telling me the latest chapter in the Joe and her saga. Seems that Joe is being very wishy washy on giving her a key to his apartment. In April he said he would do such, yet it is July and still no key.
In classic fashion, Lauren looks and says, "Goose, what should I do?"
Sighing, I review everything I know about this. After a moment, I look at her and ask her, "what do you want to do about it?"
Telling me some interesting things that are not fit for print, she finally says, "I love him but he is being so very frustrating. I practically live there as it is, so why is this so difficult?"
I wound up telling her to keep talking to him, not to lose her cool and the like. Communication is a key to many things, especially when someone is being gotten at by their parents. Her plan of wearing him down about said subject also sounded good.
In the end, all worked out. Lauren got her key, and to this day still says Joe is an idiot. Their relationship grows still, even with the bumps and the like along the way.

"What ever made you decide it is your job to help others?"
Shifting through the sands of Time, the answer to this poser disappeared. I have nary a clue as to why or when I started. The concept drives me though, so I stopped questioning the why and the when.

Kristen looked at me expectantly. The eighth grade, such an amusing time. Older than my years, I often found myself giving all kinds of advice. In this case, it was about a boy.
I am uncertain what I told Kristen that day. Whatever words I spoke, they produced an amusing reaction. Sans any hint of her doing it, I found myself on the receiving end of a hug. Surprised is a good term. I am just glad no one took a picture, as my facial expression surely was priceless.
Over the years, I found more and more people to talk to. I remember so many times along the journey, between friends and just random encounters. I find it silly though, not being able to remember the first time I tried to help someone.

Inhaling deeply, I assess where I find myself. Something has seriously changed in this Life, for me to find myself remembering everything. I just wish I knew why.
Sighing, I feel a chill form in me. The feeling of being alone takes hold, followed by the feeling of being useless. A chilling thought comes to mind.
Am I, in no uncertain terms, far beyond the reach of my usefulness to others in this Life?
The mere thought staggered me, almost a physical blow. I searched around me frantically for a moment, before logic kicked me in the back of the head.
Giving myself a moment, I applied myself to the problem at hand.
What has brought me here?

"How can you be so certain of your own Future? You don't know that you will wind up alone."
Unfortunately, myself know I do very well, yes. Of the many things I am in this Life, stubborn and true to myself stand out. Despite the fact that less and less people seek me for advice and the like, I feel that I am not done trying to help. I am a cosmic sort of person, constantly free of strings. I know all to well that I will be responsible for my own Future.


Sitting in the college radio station, I spotted the grad assistant for the TV studio come in. She had some question which I answered for her in short order. We got to talking about random things, as I knew her and worked with her in said studio.
After a bit, she told me about a guy she was having trouble deciding what she felt and what he was thinking. She had not seen him in a while, which just added to the chaos of it all. Catching a break in her out pouring of words, I started telling her a few hard won lessons I had learned.
To illustrate my point, I cast about for something as a visual aid. Snatching up my fake Mardi Gras beads I looked at her and began jumbling them about.
"Kristen, you have grown to, "I spoke, making as convincing looking imitation of the chaos in her head with those beads as I could, "accustomed to craziness of the situation. Step back and look at it all over again."
Kristen thought what I said through. She smiled and thanked me, then was off. Smiling as well, I felt that I had done something right, that I had made the Future a little easier to write for her.
Turning, I desperately tried remembering what I had been up to…

"John, you are an angel."
I always turn as red as the lobster in the boiling pot at that one. I am not a divine power, nor am I religious by any stretch of the imagination. Simply, I am someone who tries to help, to listen, to do whatever. Nothing special nor famous, just me, attempting to do right.


My poor friend Cyndi, telling me the latest in her saga. Yet another goofball decided to take interest in her. During this conversation I learned a good deal of things. One of the multitude of things learned: Somehow she was a freak magnet.
I listened carefully to her. Conversing first online at a BBS system run by Chas, who introduced us, the both of us had just recently met in person. Pondering away, I jumped in at a given moment.
"This will all change when you get to college my dear. Of this I am certain."
Naturally, she disagreed with that sudden statement. I stood to on the statement, no matter what agrument she presented. In the end the topic shifted and we continued on as before.
Years later, I reminded her of the fact. We both had a good laugh about me making a prediction and it coming true. Cyndi did turn the table on me, reminding me that hope existed for me as well. I laughed…

Smiling at the last batch of memories, the cold and fear disappear a moment. Clearing my head to think, I stare off into space around me.
Just today I had gotten into an email match with a friend. She bluntly informed me that I was being both stubborn and stupid about my stand in this Life. A quote about being a young soul, not knowing what I am and being so afraid of change leap to mind as well.
In short she called me out for my thoughts and my inflexibility. Perhaps, just perhaps a key could be located to why I found myself in this place.
Forcing the pace, I jumped started my memories….waiting

"Compromise is a weak stand and I do not like it."
Words are just words some of the time. Other times, words having meaning, a force, a sense of place. In this case, words form a concrete statement of my Life. In the ultimate irony, the number of times compromise featured in my advice…well that number defies calculation.

Listening, a good friend explained her financial woes. Seems that her ex left her and drained her bank account, right before Christmas. There would be no Santa for her little boy, as her next pay check would not be issued til the week after.
After a moment's silence, I was in like a shot with a solution simply saying, "How much money do you need?"
Naturally a figure of $150 dollars was provided. I thought a moment before saying to her, "I happen to have the money. Let me get it to you."
My friend fought me tooth, nail plus a few broken bones. Standing firm, I managed to wear her into submission. Amazing thing and occassionally useful, my intense stubborness.
I informed her that under no circumstances was I accepting repayment. She tried and tried, to no avail. I freely decided to give a gift for the holiday season, end of the discussion.
After the fact I found myself explaining the fact of gift giving. She offered several different takes on a repayment. Each time, I had to break it to her that I would violate the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct I operate under. Should I violate either or both, seriously bad things would occur.
Tempted as I was by the one offer, (I am male after all) I did not compromise my stand.

"Where is it written that guys and girls can not just be friends?"
A bane of my existence, modern Life. The perceptions I stumble across in large segments of people astound and underwhelm me. Too many times I find people seeing only in black and white, not the full 16.8 million colours of Life. Little wonder I go about fuxing perceptions for people.

Vacation, a wonderful time to get away from the entire insanity of one's Life. In this case, the location a new one, Mamoth Caves Kentucky. A fun getaway with a friend, ending in a wedding.
Before heading off to the wedding in Kingsport, TN, my friend and I broke camp. Her idea and a good saving of money, camping out in the Mamoth Caves park. Megan and I each had our very own tents to snore away in.
The day promised warm, really warm temperatures. Running off fairly quickly, the shower my destination and perhaps a swift kick to wake up. I left Megan to the fun task of taking down the tents. Simply stated, she could get down both in the time I might get one down.
Returning and feeling slightly human, I assisted with the breaking of camp. In my haste of getting things stuff in my car, I barely noticed a lady from another camp talking to Megan. She was gone fairly quickly, so I hardly registered the occurrence.
Megan informed me later of her conversation with the lady. Apparently, she thanked Megan and I for showing her teenage daughter guys and girls could be friends without anything happening between them. Stunned for a moment, I suffered a rare speechless moment. Thankfully, sans Megan, no other witness to my speechlessness exists.
As a corolary, a dear friend of mine and myself finds ourselves constantly telling people, no, we have never, are not and not going to ever date or be in a relationship. Each time I find myself still throughly amazed people think that, with no other reason than 'guys and girls can't just be friends'. Silly in a way, the general accepted princple that some never see past…

Puzzled as the memory ended, I attempted switching logical thinking in. The subject matter on the last two memories simply felt odd. Why, I wondered, would those two appear in my stream of thought?
Once again I felt the thrill of a challenge. Perhaps the elusive answer to this was in here somewhere. Logically, no other possibility existed, despite the total illogic of this fine situation.

I cast my eyes about me once again. Looking for a long time, I moved off to my left. Perhaps something in a different direction

Reposting...Story of a Life Snippets 1-4

(This story has been posted on both MySpace and Facebook over the last couple of years. It is a (mostly) departure from my usual science fiction fare of writing. It involves the story of my Life, told in snippets from the countless adventures of it. I have added to it over the years. I am reposting it here with all my other writing, and going to add to it.)

I had always said I wanted a bit of peace and quiet. I just never figured I would actually get it.
Walking about my surroundings for an hour only made me tired. I stopped for a moment to rest my weary feet. As I did, I decided to take this in stride and let my mind wander off. Flowing freely, memories began to go through my mind.

"John, one of these days a girl is going to sweep you off your feet and make your head spin so fast that you will just fall. Hard."
I always snicker when I hear that statement. If I acquired five pounds sterling every time I heard that statement, why I'd be rich. In Britain at least.

"So if you go out of your way to talk more, then you should be able to resolve things easier," I say to my latest find.
"I know, " she says to me. A typical line from people I talk to. The one that usually makes me roll my eyes.
"Megan, I know is not going to cut it. You have to do." Never let it be said that I do not have a gift for being blunt.
My latest find in need of help is an old friend. To say she has a problem is an understatement. Majour failure of communication might be a closer guess. I personally think a stay in a funny farm might clear it up.
She looks at me and pouts a moment. I smile and sigh in the same breath. Stealing myself, I use a word that I classify as a curse word.
"If you truly are in love," I manage not to choke on the word,"then you need to work at it. Such things are never simply handed out like bloody food samples at the grocery store."
Waiting, I finally am rewarded with seeing light dawn. In and of itself this is an amazing feat as it is daylight out. She smiles in return and nods, then takes off. With luck I shall hear from her that all is well and that everyone lived happily ever after. (At least until the next episode of Tsunami on the Sea of Love.)

"You need to take better care of yourself John. You can't always just worry about others."
Another statement I hear a good deal of. I always nod politely and remind the concerned party that I have plenty of practise at this. I've been doing it for more than half my life and even perfected the skill. Plus it is so much easier to worry about others.

"Simply turn down to the left, go three lights and then you make another right and you should be on the road you want to."
Pittsburgh. Such a friendly and helpful town, even if we tend to speak funny some times. Home to me and the starting point of many adventures.
I smile sheepishly and thank the lady for helping me with my 'unerring sense of direction'. I nod and head on my way, stopping to make a 180 degree turn.
Once underway again I reflect on what I have to do for the day. The list is a long one, involving hockey, editing a video for my business, dealing with a couple of problems for friends and the like. As I drive, I laugh. One of the people I know who would tell me to slow down would probably be beating me senseless. Which, upon reflection, might not be a bad thing, as I'm sure sleep, a drug induced haze or coma would be the end result.
As I reach over for my cigs, I find the directions I had to stop and ask for. Laughing out loud as Rush plays, I settle in my seat. Punching it into overdrive (Yes I drive fast and are a sci-fi fan) I head off to one of those appointments.

Opening my eyes, I found that my surroundings had nary changed a bit. I huffed a sigh, wondering what that meant. Logic told me that perhaps I needed to think harder.
Memory had other plans, however as more memories flowed unbidden.

"Why are you so negative? Can't you ever see anything positive?"
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, and y'all ain't going to believe this shit, I never would've heard those questions. When I first got involved in helping people, I was very optimistic. Sadly, over time I turned cynical and very much the pessimist. Having walked on the Dark side of Life and all that people do tends to do that.

I was looking at a good friend of mine at the time, trying to figure out where I had gone wrong. She was telling me how she had gotten back with her ex boyfriend...for the 4th time! This came after he physically and mentally abused her. For some reason I had thought that I had convinced her to get away from him.
"He swears he's learned and promises me that nothing of the like will happen again." she tells me, avoiding looking at me.
Her, myself and a group of friends are standing in a parking lot of a popular Pittsburgh eating establishment. The one with the cookies in case you are wondering. We'd just gotten done eating when events had turned ugly, as my dear friend had met her ex-now-boyfriend in the parking lot.
"I'm sure he has," I hiss darkly to her," and next I am certain I shall fly!" Never let it be said that I can't come up with some good ones.
She blubbers on to me about this. I finally get mad enough and walk away, fully intending on walking home, about 5 miles away. I get going a bit before two of my friends catch me and force me back to the car.
It takes a few more minutes after that to convince me to get in the car, as I want to go looking for said person to have a 'spirited discussion'. (Draw your own conclusions on that count.)

That night I learned a valuable lesson. How one views thierself goes a long way into what kind of people they will hang out with, be friends with or date. My dear friend (More of a little sister to me than anything else.) had assigned herself a low place in this Life. It was the overriding reason she was staying with the dirtbag.

"What makes you think it is your job to meddle in people's lives?"
I never really did have an answer for this one. Logically, no reason existed for my thinking on this matter. Yet something, some drive, compelled me to try, to do anything I could. Even in the face of trying to retire from it, I'd always wind up back in the thick of something

"Jessica…what is wrong?"
I'd come around the corner in my high school to find a girl I knew crying. Within minutes I knew what was up. I did my level best to help console her and give what advice I could get in.
After a few minutes we parted company, and she was still sobbing a bit, but doing better. I continued walking as before. I know not exactly how much time passed before I realised something.
Not two (2) minutes beforehand I had declared the first of many attempts of retiring from the game of helping people. I know, I was in bloody high school, but I have generally acted older than I am.
I laughed then, and I laughed harder just recently as I attempted to retire once again. I had thought for certain this time that the junket was up. Every sign pointed to it. Yet once again, I found myself to be wrong. I managed to deal with four (4) people's problems before I realised I was 'retired'.
It's amazing the journeys in Life…

I gazed around me. Understanding seemed so far away at this point that I was not sure what to think next. The year, which had been weird to begin with, turned stranger. I just could not fathom how I got to the place I found myself

Perhaps, logic and reason seemed to dictate, the answer lied in the memories flowing from my mind. I closed my eyes, waiting for the next memory or more.

"John, why are you always so hard on yourself?"

A very good question. My very good answer (I think it is) always was, 'Because no one else can be.' Depending on the individual who hears that statement, the response ranges from dirty looks to near beating. I find it true as it drives me to do things and keep trying long after I should've given up.

The disappointment in Paul's voice was plain to me. I had been telling him for a few weeks I was going to make a camera buy for the business. However events had managed to get bigger than my wallet. The final straw was on a Tuesday as I found out the place I wanted to buy from was sold out for a month.
Paul, rightly so, took me to task for being evaisive on the event. He also let me know how this was reducing his confidence in the business. In short he kicked me around for a bit. That kicking did a great deal for me.
Within hours, much to the detriment of my normal job, I'd managed to find not just one, but several quotes, all better than the original I had. I told this to Paul and got a chuckle out of him.
I know that I have a lot of work ahead of me. A lot needs done for the business, and I keep feeling the icy spectre of failure looming over me. I keep feeling like I can't.
And then I pick up and dust off. I can't not try either. Even if I think I suck, am a failure and can't do it.

"You have a rough and mean exterior. You are however just covering up a very nice guy with all that bluster."

I always cringe when someone says words like that. It simply is not true! My normal conversational flow, especially at work, revolves around the following: Death, maiming, beatings to within an inch of your life (with a metric ruler), bombings, shootings and lots of unpleasant things. I threaten all my co-workers and cuss up and down at anyone. What I tell my friends is no better.

"You have 2 hours still to recant what you think of me." I say to Kati, who hardly knows me yet has decided that I am a nice guy.
She looks at me and says," I am not scared of you."
I give her a very dirty look and growl some of my more patented beating threats. Without batting an eye or missing a beat she catches me off guard.
"You are just acting tough and mean. You are actually a nice guy."
I recoil, reset and re-whatever else at warp speed. I knew the girl was preceptive from having a couple of good conversations with her. I twas not prepared for that one.
I started spewing more threats and hissing, growling and rolling of eyes as well. Alas, none of this would do any good to my cause of convincing. I sighed and wondered off, in search of another victim.
I took a quick count as I moved to my desk and gave up. I lost track of the number of people who see through the rough and the mean. Silly isn't it…

Panic and fear both are mostly alien concepts to me. I can count about 20 times where I have been seriously panic stricken or fear rattled in this Life. For all my emotional ups and downs, I somehow manage to maintain a level of galatic calm.
Now, however, I find fear rushing in on me. How did I get to this place? Did I miss something in this life of mine?

"Why don't you ever listen to anyone?"
I will admitt to it, I am a very stubborn man. I am set in my ways longer than some buildings get set in concrete it seems. Yet I do listen to everything I am told.Learning consists of being able to listen, no matter how much you don't want to.

"Ohhhhh! You make me so mad I swear I am going to smack you!"
The scene: My dear friend's apartment. The senario: I've just told her something that she has heard 52,000 flippin' tymes before. And will prolly hear 52,000 tymes more before the end of everything.
I back off a pace or three (3) as she stomps her foot in frustration and clenches her hands. I wait patiently, carefully searching out the best way to run if need be. I know she could kick my ass and don't want to tarnish my rep as not ever receiving a serious whoppin'.
"How do I, " attempting to sound as innocent as possible," make you so mad my dear?"
"You never listen to anything I say, do you?"
"Of course I do. I just-"
"No, "she heads the Indians off at the pass as always, " don't just me. You never listen to word anyone says to you. You always give advice to everyone and expect them to follow it, but never take the advice of me or anyone else."
I shake my head and tell her again that I do listen. I listen to everything that she and anyone has always told me. Which she of course still refuses to believe.

"It is sad to see someone deny themselves a chance at love, at happiness."
This happens to be a new one on me. Seriously, what makes people happy differs greatly. This I have seen in countless sily forms. My other problem with that statement centers around that four letter L word...

Valentine's Day (VD-ay). Such a wonderful time had by many. The theme of love fills the air. The birds sing…clouds dance and…BOOM!
I can feel my skin melting as I show up for work on another VD-ay. I find a couple of those contemptible Valentine's Day cards on my desk. Despite the warnings, people still wish me a happy VD-ay, which I growl at.
Naturally, I find myself explaining the reasoning behind my hatred of VD-ay. You'd think after so many years I would have managed to record the answer. It surely would save me from a strained voice at the least.(Or using up all my syllyables for the day too early.)
A twinge passes over me in the course of doing the usual routine. What if I am wrong? I know that I fear being alone more than Death at this point. I…
A shadow crosses my mind. In a moment all is normal again, as the romantic worrier in me is caged again. Bloody disruptive part of my mind, I really do need to destroy it.

Fear kicked in on me again. Had I truly reached the one moment in my Life I lived in fear of? The day that I realised that I was a dinosaur, that being the ameteur meddler was over?
Forcing calm upon myself, I relaxed. Panic was not going to provide any answers, nor would subcoming to fear itself. Instinctively, knowledge surfaced that a reason existed for where I was and why I was remembering all these epiosdes of my life.
Letting go of everything, I felt another memory preparing to roll. I even laugh lightly, as the way this worked, it almost felt like a movie…

10 November, 2009

Side Step...Taxing the Future

Luke Ravenstahl, the mayor of the city (Financially strapped and in a position where it is under state oversight for its budget disasters.) of Pittsburgh, PA, has concocted a plan to raise roughly $16 million to pump into the underfunded city pension plan.

A tax, as you already surmised.

A tax on what seems to be an untapped resource.

College (Or any other post secondary education.) students, attending classes within city limits, regardless of if they live in the city or not.

Once my jaw recovered from hitting the floor, I decided to do some looking. For the full details I will refer you to the following link from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:


He is looking to levy a one percent tax on all students in any form of post secondary education, including night classes. The onus of collecting and paying it would fall on the institution of higher learning. Under the plan it would only tax tuition, not room and board or other incidentals.

The Post-Gazette did some quick math. They estimated it would be an additional $27 to $403 dollar charge, depending on the type of institution one attends.

Doesn't sound so bad when looked at in that light.

Yet I find myself doing some head shaking. I know the tax amount is low, but it is another thing to be added to the bill of college, or post secondary education. For the schools, it is another added item in a long list of things to deal with.

I know the city is desperate for cash. They wish to get away from having to be watched by the state. Mayor Ravenstahl is looking for a way to help.

What kind of message is he sending to students, post secondary education institutions and the citizens of Pittsburgh in general?

Pittsburgh for years has struggled and laboured mightily to keep the younger crowd here and to bring them here to work, live and play. Companies like Google have brought jobs to the city and kept those all important younger people here, through the help of a prestigious institution such as Carnegie Mellon University.

Taxing the Future seems to be sending the wrong message in my simple opinion. You are however welcome to share your views. Or to call me a ninny. :-)

Side Step...Four days of insanity

I had originally wanted to do some serious writing this weekend. I have a brand new story I am working on that I wanted to do significant work on.

Instead, this is what happened. The reason for telling you all this, it is good for a laugh.

Friday: A day like any other. I woke up at my customary late as usual. I kicked around with my father and what not.

Then came the hockey game. I headed off to it, stopping at Paul's to fill the water bottles for him since he was running late and April (His wife) was not home either. He arrived, and after surviving another assault of the Indy dog, off I went.
Knowing we were facing Team Blue, I knew this was going to be a low scoring defensive battle. We got rolling and away we played. As predicted, the game had a low score, ending in a 1-1 tie. It was a well played game on both teams parts as usual, forcing us into a shoot out.
The shootout turned into the world's longest. No one could score on either Paul (Our team, Lunatic Cafe, goalie) or Tommy (Team Blue's goalie) Both sides worked down through the rosters sending people out. And for the first time in history, I wound up having to take a shot in a shoot out.
I play defense. I haven't scored a goal in years.
And there I was, thinking desperately about what to do. I knew I could not do what Paul and I discussed in the unusual event I should find myself doing this, as the deck condition sucked.
So making it up as I went, I went on my merry way, coming down straight before veering to the left. At the last second, I swung my stick over the ball and made a backhand shot.
Had my aim been better it would have went in. I barely missed though, which made me smile, figuring I would miss by about three miles. I missed seeing Tommy kiss the post. (We did lose the game in the shootout sadly.)

The game featured another casualty: My ass. I managed to lose my footing and land square on my ass. If I hadn't damn near busted my tailbone back in January 1997 (Playing deck hockey, imagine that) I wouldn't make much mention of it. As it was I now found myself in a world of pain. Before you ask, yes I did play the game through. I never said I was bright. :-)

Saturday: I started early, getting up at 9am. I headed out to my brothers house, knowing I was hurt pretty good. The mission for the day, get insulation in his attic. Forward, not, look to, I.
Spending three hours in his attic netted me some blackened clothes, hands, and face from the dust, a brief scare from potential proximity to asbestos, (There was none in the old insulation thankfully.) and more pain to add to the collection. Sadly, we only got half done so the adventure continues.

After eating a capital lunch, I returned to home. Napping, I awoke and got ready to head to Paul and April's house. Paul and I do video production work (www.nevideogroup.com , we do anything practically.) and all the editing gear is in the basement. So after limping myself down the stairs and not getting assaulted by Indy the dog, (He is a very energetic puppy who jumps. He is not trying to eat my hide or use me as a chew toy. I am too fatty. :-) the work got done.

All in all a quiet night and day, leading into...

Sunday: The hockey game at 9am arrived bright and too early as always. Rex, our captain and leader, as well as Mike, my normal defensive partner learned the details of Friday's game. This provided some fun entertainment for all. I did not play all that much during the game, which proved a good thing. We won this one, and away I ran to head home to hose off before work.

Work itself passed uneventfully. Sundays are generally like that, which always counts as a good thing.

Running right out of work, I landed at the board meeting for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. Being a member of the board, I could bore you to death with details. Whilst mean, I would pass out myself recounting the whole thing. I shall leave it at long.

Sitting at home and contemplating bed, my phone rang. Looking at it, I found myself to be surprised by the identity of the caller. Answering, I found a friend in dire distress. I jumped in the old Red Horse Cav (My Chevy Cavalier) and took off to check on my friend. I wound up talking with them til about 2:30am. Glad to of been a help, they went to bed and I went home.

I slept badly, leading into...

Monday: Waking up late, I ran to the store with my father and then came home with a nap on my mind. And nap I did, getting up at 6pm with a plan of things. Things like running to the bank, cleaning up some stuff in the basement dad was bitching about, taking out the trash and heading to work.

Once awake, I received an urgent call. A priority One call that actually was a Two. Marching to the bathroom, I parked to deal with said 'Two'.
It must have been the event of the century. The toilet turned up clogged.
So away I go at it with the plunger. And away, and away, and away.
Still clogged.
An hour of fighting passes.
Still clogged.
Next thing I know, water is coming from under the bloody toilet. This gets dear old dad involved.
Within seconds, his 'old hick powers' have found the cause: A busted bolt holding the toilet down. With screaming and yelling, it is off to the Home Despot we go.
Returning, we fight over how we are going to do this. I learn that the seal on the bottom is going to have to be replaced in this misadventure.
Sparing the gross details, the deed is done. Much yelling and cursing were involved in the making of this one, not to mention power toilet lifting. And off course my ass again hurts. (And no those of you more sick minded than I, it was not the trip to the toilet for the 'event'. The sitting and what not from fixing the mess did the trick.)
The funny part of this: The toilet was still clogged. I laughed and went to work. (It unclogged itself later)

In conclusion, only one thing presents itself.

It started as a pain in the ass and ended there.

You may resume normal Life. The bleach for your brains is in the bottom drawer. :-)

05 November, 2009

Side Step...Off Year Election Madness

Typically I avoid politics like a serious plague. I rather discuss your religion (I am an atheist) than discuss anything political. It usually saves me both syllables for the day, and the potential for serious harm.

However I am going to take a Side Step into it for the moment.

I am trying to figure out why certain people, talking heads and the Flying Jello Circus are making a serious hullabaloo over the fact that in this off year election, the Republicans picked up two governors seats. To some it seems like this is a sign that that Republicans are going to sweep the Democrats out of the House and Senate in 2010. A repeat, some say of the 1994 mid term elections when the same thing happened.

I pondered this in my musings and decided to look into this a bit deeper. And I found a couple of interesting facts.

In the case of New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine was in a very deep hole. His popularity rating was in the neighborhood of 39% by some accounts.

In the case of Virginia, the state is a new swing state after years of being a Republican state.

Also in the case of the New Jersey, we were looking at a deeply Democratic state.

Also in the case of Virginia, the independent voters were out again.

On the surface it looks like something. Both New Jersey, long a Democratic stronghold, and Virgina, a state that swung Democratic in the 2008 Presidential election picked Republicans over Democrats heavily campaigned for by Obama.

Once again, this was an off election year. Can the trading of two governors really mean anything for 2010?

I am uncertain of what to make of it. Reading online, the White House is making nothing of it, just a bump in the road. They certainly could be right.

Reading online also, the Republicans are making a big deal of this, despite losing a chance at a congressional seat in a special election. They say that the people are unhappy. They certainly could be right.

In the end, I think it is far too early to tell, no matter what anyone thinks. But it will be interesting to see if history repeats itself in 2010.

If it does it will make for an interesting 2012, provided the world doesn't end first.