Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the tag “Writing”

Not A Way To Start The Day

 

WHO SAYS THAT NOTHING EVER HAPPENS AT ST. ARBUCKS?

Not me.

Just the other morning as I was trying hard to be a calm, sober, and mature adult, but not having much luck. I was at St. Arbucks slurping my coffee when a young man lurched through the door. He looked to be in his twenties but had a baby face that made him look about fourteen. But there was something “off” about him.

After he came through the door he stopped and took his time looking about the room. He made no move toward the cashier’s station. My first thought was, honestly, that he was considering who he should approach to try to get some “spare change.”

I could not have been more wrong.

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Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters”

Fiction Saturday Returns With – “Family Matters”

Family Matters

Part One

It was 5:25. People were getting off work and heading home. In another fifteen minutes, no more, it was all going to hit the fan. The Pasty-faced redheaded kid checked his watch again, smiled, and shook his head. He patted the small pistol in his pocket. He relaxed in his seat in the burger joint across the street from the busy gas station/mini mart.

Sitting in the bus shelter across the street from the County Hospital Emergency Room a second person, a young woman with short hair and tattoos on both arms cradled a .45 caliber pistol in her lap, underneath a folded copy of today’s newspaper. She was waiting for it to be 5:40. Then all hell would break loose.

On the other side of town, outside of the Mall, another young man sat in his car. His knee was bouncing in nervous anticipation. The shotgun that he used to take duck hunting was on the seat next to him. He looked at his watch. It was two minutes later than it was the last time he checked it.

***

I couldn’t sleep. These days whenever I go to a funeral my own mortality jumps up and slaps my face. It won’t let me sleep or eat anything more than the BRAT Diet. For three days I’m limited to Bananas, Rice, Apple Sauce, and Toast until my stomach settles down.

I’m eating like my Grandmother – if she was still alive. She raised me, but that was a pile of years ago. She passed away when I was 28 and in Afghanistan wasting a year of my life. I didn’t go to her funeral.

Today I was at another funeral. My sixth one this year. I sat there at the funeral home on another hard as a brick folding chair trying to not be there in my head. A guy I knew a little sat down next to me. I needed quiet. He needed to chat.

“Half the people I know are dead,” he said in a failed whisper. I nodded and felt obligated to say something.

“What about the other half?”

“We’re waiting for the test results on them.” He giggled. The jackass giggled in the middle of the eulogy for the guest of honor. I got up and walked out. I was done. When I got to the parking lot I vomited.

It was a few minutes past 2 PM, but I already knew that it was going to be rice and apple sauce for dinner. I thought that maybe a nap might help.

On the way back to my apartment my brain took me on a tour of my life – not all of it – just the parts with death. I’d seen too much of it. I’d caused too much of it and now I could see my own. My Grim Reaper wasn’t dressed in a black robe and carrying a scythe. No, he was dressed like me and had a short barrel .38 five round revolver just like mine.

I made the mistake of telling that to the Department Shrink I was forced to see after a justified shooting. Six months later I’m being taken out to dinner and handed a book on golf. I’ve never played golf in my life.

The nap thing didn’t work. I got out of bed, dressed, and to hell with the thought of rice and apple sauce. I needed something real, some buffalo wings and a beer. The beer mainly. Something for my stomach to really complain about. I figured that “Wings Over The World” – a new joint at the Mall was as good as any other place to self medicate my gut.

It was a little after five o’clock.

***

Halfway through that basket of hot wings my stomach began to fight back. Maybe I did have an ulcer. I couldn’t handle the hot sauce. I got a “to-go” box from the cute young hairy kid who was acting as waiter, cashier, and bus boy. He showed talent for the bus boy part anyway. I’d paid for those wings – I wasn’t going to leave them for the rats to eat. I stuffed some extra napkins in my pocket and headed for the door.

It was 5:40 PM.

The man crossed the street against the light and walked up to the man filling his Toyota’s gas tank. One shot and he dropped the nozzle to the ground. He fell on top of it.

Another shot and the driver who had just pulled up to the pump looked at the end of the gun barrel in his last second on earth.

The man with the gun laughed as he walked into the mini mart and emptied his gun into the two people in line buying soft drinks. And the cashier. Before leaving the shooter looked up at the security camera, smiled, and blew it a kiss.

There were thirteen people looking for help in the Emergency Room waiting area. At 5:40 a young woman walked through the automatic door and walked down the row of chairs firing one shot after another. When her pull of the trigger got only clicks she turned and walked beck out of the opening doors. She tossed the pistol into the row of short hedges lining the ER driveway. Ignoring the screams from inside the building she crossed the street and boarded the bus that had just pulled up to the corner.

Don’t Be A Smarty…Unless You’re A Television

ON THE WHOLE I DON’T MIND GOING SHOPPING. I actually like tooling around the supermarket looking at all the things I don’t want. I have a lower level of “like” when it comes to shopping for clothes. Doing that is just a necessary pain in the tookus.

Even farther down on the Krafty Scale of Shopping is going out looking for things about which I am awash in ignorance.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “Bagpipes And Fractions”

 

Bagpipes And Fractions

Hole1SATURDAY MORNING. THE SUN IS SHINING. The sky is blue and my butt is dragging like a line of tin cans behind the newlywed’s car.

Why? Was I out partying all night? Have I been on a three-day bender and just woke up slumped over my keyboard? Have I just finished my fourth Iron Man Triathlon this week?

No. No. And No in a million years.

No party. No booze. No, because my idea of a Triathlon is Chips, Salsa, and a Burrito. All of that might make me run a bit, but not 26 miles worth.

No, my friends – my rear end is dragging because I am about to hit my biblically allotted three score and ten years and I find the world getting more and more stupid as I get older.

Half the world wants to kill the other Half because they are the other Half and they want thahole3t other Half to be like their Half. They want it both ways. If the other Half won’t be like their Half they figure it is best to kill them so their Half can become the Whole.

Of course, if their Half becomes the Whole it then wouldn’t be long before they would feel it necessary to have another Half to be upset with and they would be off and running again trying to kill “them.’

Got it? Me neither, but it’s a fact – of a sort.

Let’s see.

Two Halves. One Half wants the other Half in a Hole so they can be the Whole until they decide which Half of the remaining Whole needs to be in the Hole with the original other Half.

Using that illogical equation – eventually the Whole would end up in the Hole with all of the other Halves and then they would, no doubt, start Halving again – all in a most Unholy way.

hole2aI think I’ve just given myself a headache.

As for you, the observers, are concerned, it is your chore to determine which Halves are which and which Halves are most likely to end up in a Hole and which will become the Whole – until the next Halving.

Personally, I don’t think either Half is operating with a Whole deck. Each Half has Quarters within it that are pulling them in many different directions. It seems to me that before the main Halves are able to put any other Half into a Hole they face the possibility of being Halved from within themselves.

I see these internal Quarters rendering the Halves less able to dispaHole5tch the other Halves into a Hole. The Quartering of the Halves, and likely Eighths and Sixteenths in time, will lessen the possibilities of any Holing of any Halves. What we will end up with is a collection of highly insane fractions that will have to be content with being nonlethal pains in the butt to everyone in their neighborhood – something similar to living next door to a guy who collects bagpipes.  

Getting to this stasis with bagpipes might take a while and things will be very unpleasant until then, but I don’t see any other way of surviving that is Wholly acceptable.

I say, let the Whole thing commence by all of us sitting down to lunch. I’ll have Half a tuna sandwich and a glass of Whole milk. And an Aspirin.

hole8

Do You Feel Lucky?

OH BOY! GOODIE! GOODIE! It’s that time of year again: the itinerant fireworks peddlers are back in town! Let’s all go out and visit those temporary stores and tents, buy some fireworks, and then kiss our thumbs goodbye.

Every year just like clockwork and the sprouting of poisonous Deathcap Mushrooms these fly-by-night emporiums of explosives and amputations show up in our environment. Striped tents are popping up in Parking Lots across the land.

“Buy 1 – get 15 FREE!”

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Don’t Go Postal On Me

I SAW SOMETHING LAST NIGHT that had me scratching my head. It wasn’t lice so you can get that idea out of your mind right now. No, it was an ad on our E-lectric Telly-vision. There was a commercial advertising the Post Office. An ad for the Post Office? Why would they be advertising?

If I want to send a letter to my aunt Tillie in Temecula where else am I going to go? I suppose that I could take my letter to the UPS Store or Fed Ex, but they would charge me $85 and then I guarantee that they’d lose it or send it to someone in Turkmenistan. My Aunt Tillie doesn’t live in Turkmenistan…any longer. If you ever meet her do NOT mention Turkmenistan to her. The emotional scars are still too fresh, but the pictures are nice.

Anyway…

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Persistence

“BEING A WRITER, WRITING FOR A LIVING, IS ONE LONG PERSISTENCE GAME.

“EVERYONE WANTS YOU TO QUIT. YOU GET KICKED DOWN. YOU COME UP SWINGING. YOU KEEP GOING. EITHER YOU’RE COMMITTED TO IT, OR YOU AREN’T”

This is a quote from a young writer named Kameron Hurley. I have no doubt that this was her response to a question from another writer who was feeling the pangs of lonely frustration. Either that or she was feeling that in her own literary life.

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This Is Not Fiction Saturday…But Starting Next Week…

Starting next Saturday we will begin the serialization of a new Fiction piece.

Next Week: Family Matters

Keep The Dog Out Of The Tub

EVERY DAY I AM INUNDATED with dozens of articles on my computer/phone. They come from all kinds of sources. Some are familiar, but others are completely unknown to me.

There was one last week sitting in my inbox that got my attention. It had the title “Fifty Things That Make Life Worth Living.” That’s not too pretentious now, isn’t it? Fifty things? Are you sure it’s not 52? Or maybe it’s 48 things. Maybe I’m too simple, but I don’t think I need fifty things to make my life worth living. As a matter of fact I’m sure of it.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “What Did You Just Say To Me?”

What Did You Just Say To Me?

pills1 I REALLY CAN’T HELP IT. I’m a bit of a Smart Aleck, Wiseacre, and (Fill in the euphemism of your choice). I know it.

Most days I have it under tight control. Other days – not so tight.

A lifetime of experience and a number of years when I got paid to be a (Fill in the blank) has taught me that if I’m not fully awake, not feeling well, or someone goes “Boo!” and surprises me, my brain and mouth tend to go off on their own to play. When that happens all bets are off and I’m as upset as anybody else at what happens next.

This morning is a perfect example. I apologize in advance and in retrospect.

It was early, I was still a bit groggy, and my back hurt. This is a dangerous combination. It is pills2comparable to taking part in a Pogo Stick Race while carrying a Thermos filled with Nitroglycerine. Cover your ears and keep your head low.

I had just stumbled into St. Arbucks in desperate need of coffee. I was seated in the corner, minding my own business. I had my Morning Blood Pressure Meds spread out on a Kleenex. My iced coffee was at the ready. It was an idyllic scene at 7:30 AM.

A sip of coffee and my Fish Oil was down my gullet. Another sip – another pill.

While I’m focusing on the task at hand an imperfect adult stranger walks up to my table and pills4says, “That’s a lot of pills. Cancer?”

I ask you – is that any way to start a conversation? With me? At 7:30 in the morning? Before I’ve had all of my coffee?

 

Without missing a beat the few brain cells that were awake kicked into Defensive/Offensive Mode. I looked up at her. I smiled. I spoke.

“No, they’re not for cancer. They’re to try to control my unpredictable and violent outbursts that happen when strangers walk up to me in public and ask questions. Do I know you?”

Even her spray-on tan faded.pills5

She backed up and exited the store.

I consider my reply to fall into the category of a “Public Service Announcement.” I hope she heard it clearly and will think twice in the future before acting like such a dummy.

What if I had been taking a buffet of meds for cancer? Is that her business – or anybody’s business for that matter?

What a yutz.

Most people who know me find me to be a gentle, even kittycat-like, with my playful and loving demeanor. I may jump around and make noise on occasion, but I don’t claw at the sofa and I am housebroken. All I ask is – please don’t sneak up on me with dumb questions at 7:30 in the morning. Later in the day I can deal with stuff like that in a more civil manner, but anyone who does it before I’ve had my coffee is pushing their luck.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program – in progress.

pills6

Root Beer Floats On The Road To Tomorrow

 

LOOK AROUND. WHAT CAN YOU SEE? Kids are finishing their classes and… and… Looking for summer jobs!

AAAAIEEEEE!!!!!

The time for the dreaded “Summer Job” has reared its ugly head once again! God, I am glad I don’t have to get involved with that insanity any longer.

My teenage summer jobs were back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and we were paid in shiny stones. Times have changed in many ways, but today’s kids still have to go through the same job searching rigamarole for the same lousy equivalent in today’s currency.

“But it will look so good on your resume!”

No it won’t.

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Who Are These People…Including Me?

I DIDN’T GO TO MY HIGH SCHOOL CLASS REUNION THIS WEEKEND. Will that get me sent to the Principal’s Office?

This reunion was to commemorate 55 years since graduation. I went to the 50th and was appalled by how old they had become. All this reunion would prove is that none of the attendees had died in the interim.

Fifty-five years ago – 1964. When I think about that span of time I shiver. So much has happened – some good, some not so good. There have been some astonishing changes in our lives, and then again – some things have defied change no matter how hard we have labored to change them.

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This Is Not Fiction Saturday…For Now

Change is inevitable.

For those of you who are Writers it is no surprise when you feel overwhelmed and behind schedule on assignments.

That is where I am right now.

Due to circumstances completely within my control I will not be posting any fiction on Saturdays for a few weeks. I have too many things that are calling for my attention and time.

I will resume posting Fiction as soon as I can so don’t give up on me and run away.

Today And The Last 108 Years

YESTERDAY, JUNE 6TH, WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS with both world significance and value as a personal day of importance.

6/6/1944 – The D-Da7y Allied Invasion of Europe during World War Two. It was the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

6/6/1911 –The day my mother was born in Cleveland. Ohio. A date earthshaking immediately for the family living on East 66th Street and reverberating personally 35 years later when I came upon the scene.

I wish that I had known my mother, young Blanche, when she was a child. I’ve heard all the stories about the hardships and of the remarkable blessings that filled her young life.

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Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death”

The Difference Between Jet Lag And Death

Lag 2QUESTION OF THE DAY – What is the difference between Jet Lag and death?

I’m going to have to think about that for a while – as soon as I am able to think again.

(Musical Interlude while brain cells attempt to realign themselves. This could take awhile.)

OK – let’s try to answer the question before the assembly – “What is the difference between JetLag 4 Lag and Death?

It is said about Death that “You can’t take it with you.” The same thing can be said about Jet Lag – in particular if you are flying with United Airlines. You may check two pieces of luggage, but you can’t take them both to your destination. Two bags checked in Dublin with Aer Lingus, the Irish national air carrier, sent to Washington DC along with our bodies. In Washington, however, is where United enters the picture – they get one bag, but for some reason the second bag, that looks just like the first one, mystified them to the point that they left it in the bowels of Dulles Airport while putting the bag number one neatly in the cargo hold of our flight to Indianapolis.

It took us two and a half hours to get through security in Dublin. They even photographed our bags and got them to the correct plane. I suppose that the one hour layover in Washington and the task of taking both bags from one plane to another was too vexing for them. Oh well, after luggage_large_1xfiling the proper missing luggage report with “Untied” Airlines we received an email from them celebrating the fact that they have found our bag – in the bowels of Dulles Airport – and that they will be delivering it to our home today. They are going to have someone drive to Terre Haute (That’s French for, “We don’t need no stinking baggages.”) to deliver our wayward suitcase. And Wall Street wonders why airlines suck as investments.

Still trying to find the differences between Jet Lag and Death.

Well, how do I feel today after 8 hours of flying and a five time zone shift? I feel disembodied. It is as if I am seeing the world from about three inches to my left and nothing seems to fit into the frame.

Never having died I cannot truly compare the two on this aspect. Death is the ultimate in being “disembodied,” of that there can be no doubt. Yet here I am feeling the way I do in addition to the fact that my feet hurt today. I’ve never heard of that being a side effect of Death, but who knows? Not me. Maybe the late Dr. Scholl knows, but he’s not talking.

We arrived home from our trip at about 10 PM. It had already been a 22 hour day. I went to bed. My eyes popped open (something else that rarely happens in Death) at about 5:45 AM and I knew that attempting to roll over and go back to sleep would be futile. So, I did the perfectly normal thing – I got up, dressed, made out a shopping list and went off to the Kroger store. After Lag 3seven weeks there was nothing left in the fridge that anyone wanted to eat.

There I was tooling around Kroger’s at a little past six in the morning detouring around clerks who were trying to stock the shelves. Shopping at that time of day is surreal – or at least it was for me in my altered state. While looking over the “Jams and Jellies” selections I wondered if this was what Purgatory was like – looking for Peach Jam, but finding nothing but Apricot. Eternal browsing and perpetual frustration.

After rereading the above I am beginning to arrive at the rather sketchy conclusion that there just might not be any substantial difference between Jet Lag and Death. Maybe Jet Lag is like a Temporary Death and Death is like a state of Neverending Jet Lag. And behind it all is United Airlines playing Hide and Seek with our luggage. I’m going back to bed.

Lag 1

To Have That Certain Glow

DANGER! DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

Break out the Hazmat suits and I hope you’ve already had kids because…well, you know.

But your complexion is lovely.

Some days the world throws me a curveball and all I want to do is crawl back into bed, assume the fetal position, and turn the electric blanket up to nine.

It takes a lot to make my eyes go “Bugaboo!” but yesterday I was stopped in my tracks by the fine folks from UPS. Who would think such a thing was possible?

My wife, the lovely and perpetually nifty, Dawn, buys her cosmetics online (Ever since our local Macy’s Store went belly up). Her cosmetics line of choice is Clinique. Be advised: When they start spelling things in French you can be sure that they are inflating the prices by about 40%.

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Let’s Dig Up Some Worms

LET ME PREFACE THIS BY SAYING that I am not a Grandfather and unless something of positively biblical proportions happens I never will be.

I’m cool with that.

For many people being a Grandparent is a lifetime goal – even more so than being your plain everyday Parent without the Grand part. I think that, if they could, many of these people would rather skip the Parent part altogether. It doesn’t work that way as far as I can tell.

This morning one of the “Semi-Regular Suspects” was in for coffee earlier than his usual routine would allow. He informed me that he was going out to play golf with some friends and had a 7 AM tee time. To me going out to play golf at 7 AM is a sign of mental illness. But who am I to argue? He’s a grown man…and a Grandfather.

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Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime!

AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED SUMMER STARTED ON SATURDAY. I don’t care what the calendar or a gaggle of astronomers say as they look at the motion of the planets. When we flip that page, either paper or electronic, into June we are there! It is Summertime and I’m going to struggle to keep it there until the snow begins to fall.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

To make everything official I have broken into the Sacred Vault of Hawaiian Shirts and Beachfront Attitude. The sand in my eyes each morning is now a residue from the shores of the sunlit ocean.

It is all so Jimmy Buffett.

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I’m Feeling A Bit Gassy

HELIUM…HYDROGEN

Two elements – gases- that are lighter than air. However, I urge you to keep your lighter away from the Hydrogen unless you have this passion for large explosions.

Helium = Happy Birthday!

Hydrogen = Bon Voyage!

The reason I’m even thinking about this is that I recently saw an article stating that there is a shortage of Helium. There is such a dearth of Helium that a number of “Party Stores” are closing their doors. They are unable to inflate enough of those festive Helium Balloons to keep their customers and all of those Birthday Cake Sugar wired two year olds happy.

Unhappy Customers = Job Hunting

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Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”

Throwback Thursday – “100 Years Of Turning Left”

Indy 1946

Indy 500 – 1946

AUTO RACING IS BIG, VERY BIG IN INDIANA. This year it is even bigger.

“Why, Oh, why?” I hear someone ask.

The reason is that this year is the 100th edition of the Indianapolis 500 race. This year, as in every other year, 33 cars will tear around the 2.5 mile track for 500 miles – turning left the entire time.

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