Re: Food Day
For those who do not know, I have been working for Blue Cross and Blue Shield for a little over a year now. Being that health insurance is our game, approximately every other day or so we will get the "Healthy Workplace" newsletter or memos from the Wellness Committee or one of a thousand other ways they have of promoting a healthy lifestyle for their employees.
Keeping this in mind, also consider the fact that today --to show their appreciation-- the company hosted a "tailgate party" themed buffet in the new basement lunchroom. The menu consisted of buffalo wings dripping with sauce, hot dogs with every topping imaginable, a veritable smorgasborg of chips and dip, and enough varieties of cookies, brownies, and desserts to send a diabetic into sugar shock just be looking at them. To begin with, I had to question the wisdom of encouring a bunch of people who spend all day typing to munch on super-saturated wings between calls. I also couldn't help but wonder if the Wellness Comittee were locked away in some janitor's closet while this orgy of sugar and spicy spilled out in the halls and stair wells. Or perhaps they were huddled in an office, plotting their counter-offensive to this blatant act of agression.
As I was shoveling the chili and melted nacho cheese from football shaped crock pots onto my mound of tortilla chips, realization began to dawn upon me. Many a morning has passed with the cheerful phrase "Donuts In the Conference Room" scrawled across the whiteboard. We also get massive amounts of pizza ordered by management on a semi-reular basis. But the moment of clarity, the grand ephiphany, came when thinking back to the Health and Wellness Fair on employee appreciaton day. The Wellness Committee had a table set up at the bottom of the stairs where you could stop by and get a bag to put all your paperwork from the various vendors in. However, when they gave you the bag they also generously threw in a couple handfuls of Tootsie Rolls for good measure.
And that's when I realized that the Wellness Committee is a sham, a ruse, an Orwellien wet dream brought to life in this corporate post-1984 society of mouse-pushers. Having come to that great conclusion, I also realized that Freedom is Slavery, two plus two really can equal five, and that I could display that extra brownie proudly atop my mountain of BBQ chips instead of trying to hide it shamefully within its caverns.
I used to be a Writer
I used to be a writer and not too bad of one, if I do say so myself. But it has been years since I have actually seriously written anything. Farrell likes to joke that I am the only writer she knows of who struggles to get published and then quits once it finally happens. Not that it was a conscious decision, though. Sometimes I wonder if I simply did so many drugs that the uber-creative portion of my mind was burned away. If somewhere between all the weed and acid and alcohol, that beautiful little ember simply winked out of existence. I can still occasionally string together words that I like the sound of, but I can no longer go to that place where I watch the story develop on the page or screen without really knowing where it is going. It was a lot like automatic writing or watching a movie that was comprised of letters and words. I was part spectator, part director... and that was the true magick for me. That was the appeal and the draw. I miss it.
Who the Hell Am I Anyway?
When I was at the dojo the other night, there was a guy there who I had not met yet. Apparently, he has had some problems with one of his knees and also a hernia, so he has been out for a while. While taking a water break, introductions were made:
"This is Greg . . . I don't think you've met him yet"
Extending the glad hand, I stepped forward and replied, in all sincerity and honesty, "Nice to meet you, Greg . . . . I'm Sam. Uh, I mean Todd"
It's pretty bad when you can't remember your own name. Farrell thinks I've probably started a rumor circulating that I am involved in the witness protection program, but I think it may be closer to the truth that I am in the Witless Protection Program.
Happy Garden Adventure
After work yesterday, Farrell and I stopped at Happy Garden to place an order for some Chinese takeout. Happy Garden is basically the first (or last, depending on which way you are approaching it) store in an L shaped shopping plaza on the southside. As we were going through the parking lot, Farrell asked if I thought it would be ok if she just parked in front of the store since there were no signs warning of fire lanes and such. After a small discussion, we came to the conclussion that parking in front would be ok since I would just be running in, placing our order, getting a cold drink to go, and then returning to the car.
Once I was inside, I realized that I was not willing to pay the price they were wanting for a 12 ounce can of cola and would just have Farrell drive me up to the cheap machines at the other side of the plaza while we were waiting for our food to be prepared.
Leaving the store, I opened the door of our monstrosity and got in. For some reason, the first thing I noticed was a copy of Maxim in the floorbaord that had a picture of Hillary Duff on the cover. I did not remember seeing the magazine in the floorboard but Farrell had been telling me how she had to pick up Devin from school because he was sick and Devin had been wanting a magazine of some sort just a day or so before, so the thought crossed my mind that maybe she had picked up it somewhere for him and I had simply not noticed before. The entire time all of this was going on in my head, I was prattling on and on about how outrageous the price of drinks were in there and that I wasn't going to pay that much for a can of Coke.
At this point, I looked away from the magazine and over at Farrell . . . only to see that my wife had been replaced by a forty-something woman with curly hair whose eyes were almost perfectly round with shock. Her mouth was open and she kept trying to say something but words would not come out. For a fraction of a second, I felt like I had slipped through some gash in the fabric of reality and plopped down in the upholstered seat of an alternate reality. Then I realized what had happened.
I blurted out some sort of hurried apology, threw open the door, and escaped. I scanned the parking lot quickly and noticed our Monstrosity parked in one of the parking spaces across from the Happy Garden . . . not directly in front of the doors where this other Monstrosity had pulled in to take the spot that Farrell had left vacant during the three minutes it took me to place the order.
Farrell, of course found this hysterical and laughed so hard that she was literally crying and pounding the steering wheel with her fists. I, personally, was just happy to get out of the situation without suffering a face full of mace or a swift kick to the head.
For Once the Cosmos Didn't Laugh
It seems that almost anytime there is any type of astronomical event that I really want to see, the cosmos conspires against me in some sort of cruel joke. I have missed lunar eclipses, countless meteor showers, and many other events because the night sky is always too cloudy.
However, for once atmospheric conditions were in my favor. I woke up at 6:15 this morning (which is super early for me . . . especially on a Sunday), bundled up in the warmest clothes I could find, grabbed a hot cup of coffee, and headed out with Moe to the cemetery near our house. I went to the cemetery because you get a really great view of the sky from just about anywhere . . . if I would have stayed close to the house, there would have been countless obstructions to my line of sight.
Anyhow, once me and my trusty canine companion reached our destination it didn't take long to find what I was looking for. It was made easier by the fact that it was pretty close to the horizon in the east-southeast. Since the horizon was already becoming tinged with the glow of the immanent sunrise, stars weren't visible until much higher in the sky where it was still nice and dark. Planets, however, were an entirely different story.
And there, shining in the pre-dawn sky, they were: Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars all nestled close together as if huddling for warmth on this below-freezing Sunday morning. If I closed one eye, straightened my arm, and gave the universe a thumb's up, all three of them could by obscured from view by my little 'ole digit. However, each one of them is actually hundreds of millions of miles apart from the others . . . which really makes you realize how vast space is and how tiny an individual human and his little dog are in the grand scheme of things.
I stood out there for around 40 minutes looking at these three planets and thinking about the universe and my place in it. It may seem like quite a bit of time to just be looking at the sky but these three planets will not be this close to one another again until 2053. And if I am lucky enough to live that long, I would like to think that I will be standing in the dark somewhere, cussing the cloudy overcast sky, and remembering when I last viewed the planetary neighbors in the days of my youth.
Weekend with my Brother
Over the weekend we drove to my mom's house to have a blow-out bash for my little brother, who is leaving for boot camp today, and a great time was had by all. There were musician's galore and the back porch had been turned into a make-shift stage for them to perform. We heard cover songs of Avenge Sevenfold, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and even a growl metal rendition of Ice Ice Baby, during which my little bro stripped down to his skivvies, streaked across the yard, and then proceeded to dance around the stage in a very lewd and hysterical manner. Following this was a performance by Casey's friend Dwayne. However, Dwayne was in his full Elvis regalia and could only be referred to as "Dwelvis" as he proceeded to croon through CC Rider, Suspicious Minds, and a bevy of other Elvis tunes. After that was a break for hot dogs from the grill and marshmallows over the bonfire. Later, my step dad got up on the stage and dedicated the next song to Casey and everyone joined in for a sing along of Simple Man. We ended up staying up the entire night, feeding wood to the bonfire, talking, and making memories.
Those who know me well enough know that I have a very scientific mind. It is hard for me to believe that there is some benevolent being out there somewhere, looking over us, guarding and guiding us through the steps of our lives. It just sounds like such a fairy tale to me, a way that frightened and distraught minds find comfort and peace in something other than themselves. A way to explain away everything in life that is unexplainable. However, I found myself wishing that there was something, someone, out there whom I could implore to keep my little brother safe as he starts off on this newest adventure. I wanted so badly to be able to plead for divine intervention on his behalf.
But in the end, I have to rely on my little bro, his training, and his own good sense. Keep your head down, don't take unnecessary chances, and come back in one piece. I love you, Casey.
First Publication in 15 Years
I just wanted to post real quickly that my short story "Breeder" has been published in the December edition of Macabre Cadaver and is under consideration for possible inclusion in the upcoming print anthology to be released by Stark Raven Press. It's good to be writing again :)