One Man’s Treasure

I spend a good amount of time walking.  Always have.  I enjoy it so much that I park pretty far from my destinations to give myself a chance to take in extra scenery, not to be confused with someone who does it for health reasons.   It was sticky hot outside, like being wrapped in a dense film of dirt and sweat inside of the world’s largest sauna.  Despite the stifling air conditions, it was beautiful outside and seemed like the other pedestrians agreed, definitely too nice out to stay inside.  The city had a rhythm today (which I may have imagined since my headphones had broken the night before and I was now thrown into a world I hadn’t listened to in so long the sounds were all unfamiliar) and I seemed to have fallen into lock step with it.  Those feelings never last.

It wasn’t anything unusual to see someone dressed in the latest Kanye-inspired burlap sack and an out of season winter jacket with a hand-scrawled cardboard sign offering blessings from God, but he was unusual anyway.  Maybe it was the way he seemed unfazed by the scowling people passing him, or the machinery of the day that carried on without him and had for most likely years.  His sign was modest “anything helps, thank you, God bless.”  His demeanor was even more humble, a simple “hello, how are you?” to each passerby.  Ok, I’m biting…

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Photo from http://irvinggfm.deviantart.com

“I’m doing ok.  I don’t have much money, how much do you need?”
“As much as you can spare without developing buyer’s remorse.”
“Buyer’s remorse?  I’m sorry, you’re selling something?”
“Nope.  Buyer’s remorse over your investment in another human being.”

I emptied my wallet. Forty dollars wasn’t a lot of money, but it was an angle I hadn’t heard before.  Broken down cars, abusive lovers, just a place to crash, beer to drink…I had heard all of these and more but he seemed to have known exactly the path to my cash.

As he thanked me I sat down and started up a conversation.  How did you get here?  Where are you going?  Where is your family?  Where is your home?

He said “I got here by my own hands though it wasn’t planned.  My family is gone, so is my home.”

I asked him to tell me more and he did.  As I listened I analyzed every syllable waiting for the moment that made him different from me.  That moment that explained how he could be destitute and I was still keeping my head above water.  His story meandered through triumph and tragedy, personal victories and shameful mistakes.  When he finished talking and I finished my interrogation I found endless similarities between us, and yet that difference that put him but kept me from this position eluded me.

Maybe there’s no reason it’s him and not me.

Best $40 I’ve ever spent.

A Beginning or An Ending

Anxiety, you cruel mistress.  Always the bearer of false bad news.  Most days claiming a significant portion of my time so that I can convince myself that whatever I want to do isn’t stupid.  That’s a gross oversimplification of the process and feelings but it can be generally equated to that sort of statement.

Decided to start on some things that I’ve wanted to do for awhile but had put off for a variety of reasons.  These are more creative pursuits (which I will explain more about as they take some sort of tangible shape) and that causes me a great deal of anxiety.  There comes a point of working on something for yourself where you look at the project and say “well, if I’m going to do this it’s going to take an incredibly insane amount of time and am I willing to have to have that conversation with friends and loved ones when they ask why I’m not available often…am I willing to do that or should I continue keeping ideas inside my head and do practical things like, I don’t know – eat fast food and watch family television.  ” (Actual example of something I have said in my own mind)

So in short, there are some small goals.  As progress happens I’ll be documenting it here.  If you’re still reading this, thanks.

 

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Nobody beats the ris…

These last two weeks or so have been so overwhelming I’ve been without ability to write.  My mind has been burdened by the struggle of everyday life.  This post was my mind’s desire to write being honored briefly before I seek the rest I must truly need.  I’m drunk enough to write but not drunk enough to want to do so.

Patronatron: The Return

My car has a name.  It’s not something I’ve always done.  Seemed silly.  But then, I’ve never been emotionally attached to a car before…before now.

I didn’t realize how attached I was to this car until several problems all kicked in at once recently and I faced the possibility that the cost of repairing it might outweigh just buckling down and walking to work for awhile while I saved for another car. That’s when all of the memories that went with this car flashed through my mind.  It was like losing a close friend.  This car has traveled from Colorado to Virginia four times and from Baltimore, Maryland to San Diego, California, and a repeat trip from Richmond, Virginia to San Diego, California as well as side trips.  It’s seen mountains and it’s seen plains.  It’s been to the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore.  My car has seen New York City, Jersey City, Reno, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and so many small towns I couldn’t remember them if I wanted to.  I’ve shed tears in this car and I’ve slept in it.  Hell, I’ve even had a gun pulled on me in this car.

Luckily there was at least a temporary solution to my problem with the car, which I will verify is still working tomorrow.  So, Patronatron rests comfortably in it’s usual spot waiting to conquer the miles of highway laid out across this country.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

I use the news app on my phone pretty frequently.  I’m aware this isn’t the best way to gather my information, passively.  Having keywords filtered through a surely limited selection of sources mostly dominated by those with the highest revenue generating content appealing to their key demographics, but, there’s no need to be a complete dick all the time so I browse a few big topics that way.  Satiates my desire for information I didn’t acquire through the old senses.  Because of the nature of business that comes even with the business of spreading information, I do have to scroll through quite a few articles about things I have no interest in but also typically am frustrated is covered as often or at all in major news sources.

I am of course talking about penises.  Or a penis, namely Donald Trump’s questionable member.  Not questionable because someone is really asking the question, but because it had become a subject of conversation on televised debates which are typically used to help people determine a candidate’s qualifications to be a presidential candidate.  This has sat in my head for weeks.  References to his hand size come up occasionally as jokes on late night shows, which The Donald assured us were fine and so was his package.  Besides the level of desire I had for any information regarding Mr. Trump and his hanging appendage being somewhere between accidentally sitting on a cactus and having a raging case of herpes manifest inside my dickhole, I found relief in the knowledge that this is no longer going to be an issue.

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We are at the tail end of a generation that can run for president and not have pictures of themselves basking in the full HD glory of poor lighting and even more poor decision making skills.  This is going to be a good thing though.  Even if someone disregards the inherent value of being able to give a good pull or flick of the bean (depending on genital possession) to the leader of the free world (cause who doesn’t get a little blood flow in the loins when checking out FDR in that classy chair, right?), there’s possibly an even greater value to be gained from all of the forgotten darkened bedroom selfies: there will no longer be a need to hear ridiculous claims that evidence can’t be presented to defend.  I won’t have to be assured that something is tremendous or wonderful without being able to have Google throw me a bone (see what I did there?).

In regards to governance, the flow of information is incredibly important.  Transparency in governing the United States was a important concept to the founding fathers with influential members of that group like Thomas Jefferson saying (in regards to finance): “We might hope to see the finances of the union as clear and intelligible as a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress and every man of any mind in the Union should be able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and consequently to control them.”  These thoughts did not extend just to the cold numbers that represent the movement of wealth and resources but also to the character of the leaders opening and closing the valves on the pipeline these fiscal waters flow through.  You want to know who has their finger on the button.  Probably why John Adams wrote, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right … to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the character and conduct of their rulers.”

If there’s anything we will have in the future, it’s access to what kind of character our rulers have.  The full character.  In all of it’s wrinkled, liver-spotted glory.  It’ll probably even come with a publicly shared tax return.  More importantly, it’ll take the guesswork out of politics and we can choose based on what’s most important: genetically imparted traits that cannot be changed and aren’t affected by things like education, empathy, or understanding.  ‘Murica.

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MTSA: Movie Theater Security Administration

The last time I took the daughter to a movie I forgot to stop at the local dollar-or-less store and buy candy to smuggle inside the pockets of my maybe a little too heavy for the weather hoodie.  This resulted in a payoff to the vendor of overpriced popped corn and liquid buttery sludge that left my wallet lighter than air. As long as I can remember, the prices for concessions at the theater have always been outrageous and it was accepted as the way theaters could make an actual profit because the fees associated with that blockbuster that brought in the customers left only a small percentage of the money made from ticket sales for the theater.  While I have my doubts about that, I wonder why there isn’t more security at the theater checking for food.

POPCORN-POLL-QUESTION-IMAGE

The last time I rode inside a tin can with wings I thought I could sneak through security with an unopened bottle of water in my backpack.  Didn’t work.  The unopened bottle of water got me taken to a separate screening area where every part of my backpack was emptied, searched, and swabbed to ensure it wasn’t coated in some sort of questionable substance.  Seemed to be a bit overkill, but on the plane I had an epiphany.  After I paid for an undersized bag of Chex Mix and a drink I was overcome with the astounding depth of this money making machine.  Airlines, like movie theaters, charge too much for tickets and then charge for bags as well with claims of how profit has to be made but most of the money goes to things like fuel and such…but now the food.  An elaborate security system that makes sure you can’t avoid the prices on their food.  You’re trapped in a box and can’t fulfill basic needs of your body (food and water) without their help – and oh you’re gonna pay for that.  It was genius!!  More and more security as a way to psychologically squeeze your pockets.  Take off your shoes – nope, no food in there.  Belt?  Not made of candy.  Pat down, no pocket canteen, you’re free to board the plane.  This clearly has to be the purpose of these stringent checks, stopping people from packing lunch, because it’s track record on stopping terrorists is so spotless and all, not to mention their 5% success rate at stopping weapons and bombs from being passed through when the Department of Homeland Security decided to conduct a test last year.

LA Mayor Villaraigosa Uses Airport Scanner At LAX
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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Movie theater employees know you’re sneaking in food.  Even though it supposedly hurts their profit to not sell concessions, they turn a blind eye.  I’m sure it stands to reason there’s probably enough people that have a moral quandary  in regards to playing Han Solo with candy into a private business that can sell you food you don’t want at prices you can’t afford, but think of the increase in profits if you stopped it altogether.  Pat downs and security terminals with shoeless people shuffled from entrance to food service counter.  More jobs, more profit…it may not stop terrorism but it does protect capitalism.

 

Death and Texting

As I’ve gotten older, my reliance on text for communication has increased exponentially.  If not in person, I almost never use my voice for communication.  Sometimes the mere act of listening to someone feels inefficient.  Listen, older people talk slowly.  You can have enough context clues to know what’s about to be said, or maybe it’s just the 400th time you’ve heard that story about Aunt Millie losing her teeth that time she blew Uncle Milt on the haunted hayride (which is what we call any hayride now, RIP Uncle Milt – also, that is a killer story).  Sometimes listening to an older person talk slowly you feel as if they’re staving off death by not getting to the punctuation mark.  There’s Death, standing over Grandpa Joe, scythe glistening in the soft amber hues of the incandescent bulb (old people are slow to change even if it means saving pennies on the electric bill and helping the planet), his hooded cape like midnight on a moonless night flows in a wind that wasn’t present before his arrival.  The mere presence of this unearthly entity seems to suck the oxygen out of the room.  Grandpa Joe, sickly and pale, lies motionless with a look of sorrow on his face a mere shell of the man that once wrestled a pheromone-crazed donkey outside of an entertainment venue to impress a beautiful fluffer that assisted with the show.  Death’s dark visage appears to gaze directly through Grandpa Joe as a raspy, but somehow soothing voice calls to Joe for any last words.  And somehow this is the time Joe wants to be a gambler, “I….would….just…..like….to…..” And he dies.   Death ain’t got time for that shit and neither do I.  So I prefer text.

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image from

http://wallpaperus.org/grim-reaper-3744×5616-wallpaper-2269394/

In all seriousness, I text so often with other people that primarily text that we’ve learned to accent all of our communication with symbols to represent missing body language cues or inflection of vocal patterns.  Basically “lol” after everything we say, joke or not, to let the recipient know that we are completely incapable of a statement that doesn’t make us sound like the village idiot.
“Going to work lol”
“just left the gym lol”
“Just butt-banged your mom lol”
etc. etc.
Ok ok, the first two were exaggerations, but the point is the same.  It’s like watching Jimmy Fallon on his early SNL episodes, laughter after every joke told to tell the other person it’s a joke (Note: Jimmy Fallon IS funny – don’t misunderstand).  Really takes the mental aspect out joke telling.  I’m going to consider a career as a stand-up comic where I don’t tell jokes, I just stand up in front of people and laugh until they laugh along.

My grandpa is my older equivalent.  He actually lol’s after things he pronounces verbally.  Yes, he actually laughs after almost every statement even when it’s not a joke.  “Weather has been nice lately” *laughs* “That’s a bright red truck” *laughs* “I went to work today” *laughs* (to be fair, we all usually laugh a little when he says that, my grandpa is a barber and when business is slow you can find him napping in his barber chair – you know, working).

Maybe this new generation isn’t so different after all.  Just a bunch of chuckleheads wandering around laughing at themselves like the little boy that discovers his dingle and can’t keep his hands off of it not matter how hard he beats it, I mean you beat him. (I realize I could have deleted that, it was a joke, dammit.)  Just new incarnations of the same thing.  Life goes on, lol.

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Image from the movie, “Watchmen” (2009)

Ramble ramble, sleep deprivation makes it hard to form these thoughts together in coherent strings.  The whole time I was attempting to transcribe this nonsense all I could think was “in my stupor this morning, did I put on deodorant?”  (Yes, yes I did).