Category Archives: Thoughts A-Z
What’s on my mind?
I was walking out in the cold for a very long time when I came upon a fire. It was a godsend, because I’d been out in the cold so long that I don’t honestly believe I would’ve made it another mile without it. As soon as it warmed me, it flickered out, leaving behind a few smoldering embers. I gathered them up and tried to relight it.
I’m no boy scout. I know nothing about lighting fires, except the stuff I see in movies. This half-knowledge almost worked. I’d see it growing a little and then it’d just go back out. Nothing motivates a person like “almost” doing something. I don’t care if it’s video games, building a card house or just trying something no one has accomplished before. If you “almost” do something, then you won’t rest until you succeed at it. That’s what happened with me and this little fire.
There was also the feeling that I came across this fire for a reason. Maybe I’m the “Keeper of the Fire!” Maybe I’m supposed to make a torch with the flame and carry it with me to light the night. I didn’t know. I just knew that the fire was burning fine when I came across it and it went out while I was sitting next to it. Maybe I felt guilty like I inadvertently did something or didn’t do something that caused it to go out. Whatever the reason, I refused to rest until I lit it.
If this were a movie, then this would be the part where they’d play a humorous montage of me trying to relight the fire a bunch of different ways. It became an obsession. I had other things that I should’ve been doing, but none of that mattered anymore. Hell, I’d even forgotten where it was that I was headed when I came across the darn thing. I figured out early on that external forces (rain, the elements, etc) made it really difficult to kindle a fire, so I built a shelter around it. Before long, I’d decorated this shelter and started calling it home. In short, I lost myself in it.
Years went by. I accepted that I might never relight that damned thing, but I was too heavily invested now to leave. Where would I go? Would it even be better than what I had here? This place was comfy. It’d be a lot warmer if I could get the fire to light, but it was still home. I felt safe and secure here. All of my memories were here. Who knows what’s out there. I know “bad” and this place wasn’t it by a long shot. So screw the fire! I was gonna try one last time and then call it quits. Fire or no fire, I’m home.
I took whatever fuel sources I had left and set them all up in the pit. It was all or nothing this time. I placed the last of the embers and emptied my lungs. There was smoke at first. Then nothing. I wasn’t even disappointed. Deep down I knew it wouldn’t work, but out of nowhere came more smoke followed by…FIRE.
I did it!
I re-lit the fire!
I can’t describe that moment. Everything happened so fast. I watched the flame grow higher and brighter than I remembered it. Before I could bask in it, before I could celebrate the fact that this fire represented what’s possible if you just don’t give up, before I could do any of that I had to run…away.
You see, when I came across the fire it was burning by itself. I put a shelter up to make it easier for me to relight it. I built a home around it to nurture and care for it, but I never considered what an uncontrollable open flame would do to all of those things once it sprang back to life. It burned my house down. And it did it quickly. There was no time to salvage anything. All I could do was to get out, and even with that I still got burned. The pain is fading, but it left a scar that will take a long time to heal.
I told this story to someone not too long ago who asked, “Well, did you even try to put it out?” The answer is, “of course not.” As much as I loved my house–Hell, I built it from the ground up with the expectation that I’d live there forever–the thing that I gave my heart and a third of my life to wasn’t building a house, it was relighting that fire. Now I know that I wasn’t the “Keeper of the Fire” after all, so maybe I am supposed to take a small piece of it with me as a torch and finish walking wherever it was that I was headed to begin with.
I guess it all depends on how you look at it. The cool thing about torches…….They’re warm. They make it a lot easier to see where you’re going in the dark, and they make it very easy to start a new fire.
If you EVER see me with another pack of Skittles, please punch me in the face. Today marks the first time in my extremely long and sad history of going to the dentist where I’ve discovered that the Novocain didn’t take mid-drill. Because people never get sensible until it’s too late, it has been my mission since childhood to constantly have a mouth full of dice. So there I was today laying back in the chair chewing my cheek when she began drilling.
It felt different. The operative word here is ‘felt.’ As a matter of fact, that’s our word of the day.
Pressure or discomfort is normal. ‘Feeling’ isn’t. She told me to raise my hand if I experienced any discomfort. Apparently both of us have great reflexes. Mine told me swing at her while her’s said to bob and weave. She stopped immediately and apologized. She gave me another dose and we waited five minutes for it to kick in. I could barely speak when she started up again. My whole face was puffy. She stuck something in my jaw and I felt nothing. There’s that word again.
She started back up with the drill and all was well…for about twenty seconds. Then there was this immense pain that was worse than the last. She was afraid to give me more anesthetic, so she decided to stop with the drilling. Out of nowhere she picked up some medieval torturing device and started scraping the last of the decay away.
She’s a very nice lady and very pretty. I think it’s that latter part that caused me to sit there and try to be tough. She thought that doing it by hand would be less painful because she could control how deeply the pick went. She was mistaken. It felt like I was getting an unmedicated cesarean section in my jaw. There was a baby in distress beneath the gum line and she had to get it out.
I left there a changed man, which brings me back to my initial statement. If you see me with another pack of Skittles, do your civic duty and punch me in the face!
Well, they finally found a name for what’s wrong with me:
I stumbled upon an online forum the other day where the discussion centered around amazing memory. There were people who can remember every single telephone number they’ve ever read. One lady said she remembers which geographical direction she was facing for every single memory in her head. The conversation shifted from ‘what’ you remember to ‘how’ you remember it. That’s what sparked my interest the most.
Some people said something along the lines of, “I just do,” but there were a few who claimed to actually ‘see’ these things in their head, almost like a projection in front of them. Someone suggested they look up synesthesia. I googled it and my jaw dropped.
There are many different types of synesthesia, but they can all be summed up as, “screwed up senses.” Some people see numbers in color even if they’re black and white on the page. Others can taste sounds. A car horn may trigger the taste of peppermint in their mouth. But there are some who can ‘see’ time.
If I ask you to think about a bald eagle, what pops in your head? Probably a bald eagle. If I ask you to describe it to me, you’d probably start seeing the feathers and its beak or something. Now, think about June 11, 1993. What do you see? Probably nothing. I see a calendar in front of me. Not a wall calendar, but a very expansive calendar projected in front of me in a semi circle going around me.
I see 2013 in the center, 2012 to the left, and 2014 to my right. I can scroll the calendar left to right at will and I can zoom in on each year in much the same way that you would zoom in on a google map. 1993–June–11th. I was in the fifth grade, it was hot, and my teacher had an attitude that day. The girl that I liked smiled at me a few times, which threw me off because we argued the day before after I told her to “give me a chance.” My mother and I went to see Jurassic Park at Union Station. It was opening day, we were late for the 5:05 show and ended up sitting apart. I sat in the 3rd row from the front on the right hand side of the theater three seats from the wall. She was one row ahead two seats over. The theater was freezing and I had goosebumps on my arm which I kept rubbing, wondering why they were called goosebumps.
And that’s just one date. I see thousands of dates in the same way. They’re just…there…in my head. I recall them just as you would recall your phone number or your name. I ‘see’ them. For the longest time, I assumed everyone was like this. It only takes a few arguments with your girlfriend or spouse to realize that your memory is not only different, but irrelevant to someone who thinks they’re right. LOL
Well, that’s apparently called time-space synesthesia and there are several studies that are trying to link it to eidetic memory. This may not be very interesting to most of you, but I feel like I just found a church home or something.
I just saw a McDonald’s commercial that reminded me of an old friend named Bob (not his real name). He’s filed away in my memory under “Appearances Are Deceiving.” I thought about some of the random things that I observed and figured I’d write a post about him.
Bob was a friend of a friend. When I first met him several alarms went off (something I’d learn that Bob was good at). We were all having a conversation about some cop show and Bob’s ability to shoot down the realism of the show was…interesting. He had this intricate knowledge of police and court procedures that would put the late Johnny Cochran to shame. One only gains that kind of knowledge through experience, and MAN, did Bob have experience.
In fact, he got arrested the first week that I met him. I was walking home and saw a bunch of cop cars. As I got closer I saw Bob sitting on the curb in bracelets. He saw me and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “Yeah, they got me. What can you do, huh?” With armed robbery among the list of charges, I assumed that it would be a while before I’d see him again. Nope. Two days later he was sitting at the bus stop eating a box of chicken. He explained arraignments and bail to me about as casually as you’d tell someone the time. And so began our friendship.
I’ve known a lot of career criminals, but I never met one like Bob. It was his nonchalance about the whole thing that intrigued me. Some people boast about the stuff they do. Bob saw it as just a way of life and that fascinated me. I had no interest in what he was talking about. In fact, in the beginning I did my best to avoid him at all costs. One day he saw me walking down the street and decided he would walk with me since we were going to the same store. The whole way I just assumed that I was being photographed by some member of law enforcement perched on a roof or hiding in a van somewhere. I kept thinking, “Now I’m a ‘known associate’ of Bob.” No, I didn’t find the stories themselves interesting, just the guy telling them.
I read something once that said “Even warlords go home and tuck their kids in at night.” Bob was far from that, but he was the same guy who would steal a car and then offer me a ride to work.”Yo, it’s raining. Why do you wanna walk?” I’d explain, “Listen, I appreciate it, but the fact that your ‘uncle’s’ car is missing an ignition and there’s a screwdriver on the floor makes me think that we’d have a hard time explaining it to the police.” He’d just laugh and drive off. The next day it’d be his “cousin’s” car and I’d have to go through it all over again. On the one hand, he was a criminal, but on the other hand he was considerate.
One day we were going to play basketball and he wanted to stop at McDonald’s first. I told him that I was broke and I’d eat when I went home. I sat down at a table while he got in line. He came back with two Extra Value Meals, two apple pies, two sundaes and a double cheeseburger. He took the cheeseburger and one of the sodas and pushed the rest over to me. He said he felt bad because I never eat when we go out and he knows it’s because my family doesn’t have any money. I tried to refuse it, but he said that he didn’t do it out of pity, but to thank me for helping him with “that stuff with Jane” last week.
Jane (not her real name) was his ex-girlfriend. One day I ran into him on the street and he was crying. Like… boo-hoo crying. I didn’t even know he had tear ducts. Even when he was laughing he frowned, so to see this stone cold guy who talks about sticking people up crying was baffling. I figured that his entire family must’ve just gotten killed…at the same time. That was the only thing that could make someone like that cry. Nope. “Jane broke up with me. She said I’m crazy.” (He was)
For the next few days I had to really summon my powers of psychology in order to convince him not to shoot her. He didn’t want to kill her. He loved her way too much, but his logic (if you can call it that) was to put on his mask and gloves and to shoot her in the leg or arm one night on her way home from work. He was going to make it look like a robbery and then run through the alley by her house. Then he was going to ditch the gun, gloves and mask, then put on a change of clothes that he’d have waiting in the alley and run around the block and “rescue” a wounded Jane. That, in his mind, would make her love him again, because he would’ve gotten her to the hospital on time. (You can’t make this stuff up)
I don’t know if it’s a bad reflection on him or a bad reflection on me that it took an entire week to convince him that his plan was flawed. Either way, he eventually saw the err of his ways. They reconciled without him having to shoot her and the meal at McDonald’s was a thank you from him to me.
I’m approaching 1,000 words, so I’ll cut this short. He was a good friend. He’s still alive, although I haven’t seen him in a while. He got locked up for robbing a cleaners or something. It was either that or sticking up a cop. I can’t remember. He had so many pending cases, that they just ended up putting him under the jail. But every time I see a McChicken meal, I think about him.
Breaking up is hard. Talk about an understatement. The lucky ones are those who come to a mutual disdain. When you both feel like you’ve squeezed the last drop of positivity from it, then you can part ways amicably. But more often than not that isn’t the case. Back in the good old days, before I was in the cast, I was just a member of the audience watching “The Break Up Show.” I used to tell people that the toughest role was the one who fell out of love last.
When you’re the initiator of a breakup you get to fall out of love first. You have time on your side to sort things out. I’ve been in that role before. I woke up one day and realized I wasn’t happy. I tried to jump start it, thinking maybe it was just a temporary feeling, but after a while it became clear that the love was gone. The next few days/weeks involved me trying to figure out how to breakup without crushing her. That’s why I still maintain that saying, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is genuine. Some people go to great lengths to not crush the other person.
But even with that extreme consideration for the other person’s feelings, you still get the luxury of falling out of love first. The honorable thing that I’ve learned over time is to let them know right away. That way you get the chance to try and repair it together or at the very least, you’re both going through it at the same time. Because if you don’t, then you condemn the other person to go through it alone.
I like to think of love as a form of energy that begins in your heart and flows through you to the other person. As long as they’re there to receive it, everything is great. In a “merciful” breakup, both people start shutting their love flow down around the same time. I call it ‘merciful’ and not ‘peaceful’ because there’s usually a lot of arguing or disagreements going on between the two. But in that other kind of breakup, the kind where you don’t see it coming, that second person has their love running at maximum capacity and is all of a sudden expected to just shut it down. You have a better chance of getting a 30 car train to stop on a dime, than to get someone to gracefully accept that you’re not in love anymore.
And in a lot of cases it isn’t that you don’t love them anymore. It’s that you’ve done something that goes against your professed love or you’ve just chosen a direction that doesn’t involve them. Regardless of what it is, once that person hears, “I don’t love you,” “I cheated,” “I got someone else pregnant” or “I took a job in another country. See you later.” –Once that comes up, you pretty much assume that the other person isn’t receiving any more of what you’re shipping out. In the meantime, what the hell do you do with all of this love you have flowing through you?
Love is a nurturing type of energy. It’s like food. But, just like food, it can spoil if not consumed. You now have all of this excess energy building up inside and it’s starting to go rancid. Some people run out and find someone else to give it to. Rebound, I guess you’d call it. Other people go nuts. They start bargaining, begging and just acting crazy, because they don’t know how to release it. But eventually it all spoils and you just become angry. It’s okay, anger precedes acceptance, but you really gotta be careful how you allow that anger to manifest.
In the Curious Case of Me, I’ve found that I can deal with most things if I can understand the motivation behind them. If not, then I need an analogy or something to help me process it. Sadly, in most breakups, the other person is usually short on explanations that you find sufficient. Most of us need an encyclopedia of explanations that cannot be refuted, and god help the other person if they don’t have one ready.
Being me, I tried to come up with my own, not to explain it but to cope with it and understand the emotions going through me. At first, I saw it like this: My love was dead and the object of my love is the one who killed it. She is both victim and assailant. I grieved yet despised at the same time. But that just leads to a duality that’s not sustainable. Anger and sadness can’t coexist for long before one wins (usually anger). So I came up with a different one. And this one works a little better:
Instead of grieving the loss of the person, grieve the loss of the relationship as though it were a person. Don’t try to focus on all of the negatives in an attempt to make the breakup more palatable. Instead, remember all of the good times, and try to make peace with whatever thing caused its abrupt end. You can’t change it and you can’t pretend it didn’t happen. What you can do is move forward and try to make something good with whatever you gained from it.
It’s funny, all of this came to me while watching the music video for Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You.” It kinda makes me wanna dress in all black and dance in the rain. Maybe I could even dress my daughter in all white and we go climb up a hill. Two questions stop me from doing that:
1) Can Puffy do any dances besides spinning around in a circle?
2) I still don’t understand how/why he crashed the motorcycle in the beginning of the video. I know he slammed on the brakes, but why?
R.I.P. Mac Daddy
For all intents and purposes, Kriss Kross was pretty much a one hit wonder (album, at least). Totally Krossed Out came out 21 years ago (Yes, you are old). They tried a comeback which failed to pan out, and that was pretty much it for them. Still, Mac Daddy’s death was on CNN’s homepage last night and I think it was well deserved.
It says something about you if you can have one major hit over two decades ago and still have name recognition. I don’t know about you, but no 90s playlist is complete without Jump. And not even the album version that just starts off with the chorus. It’s gotta be the extended version that starts off with, “Some of them try to rhyme, but they can’t rhyme like this!” Yeah, that’s the one. I was in the bowling alley one day in college when that came on and I almost broke my neck in those shoes trying to jump. I wasn’t alone. I looked up and saw two or three people planking in the lane.
I’m trying to remember where I was when I first heard Jump. More than likely I was watching Arsenio, another victim of time. But that’s my point: The song is iconic. It’s an anchor that holds my 90s memories in place. I remember listening to it in the car on the way to go see Bebe’s Kids in the theater. I remember it playing at a dance we had in elementary school. They pushed all the metal crates that the book fair books were in up against the wall of the ‘multipurpose’ room (aka the cafeteria) and brought in a DJ. I can’t dance now and I really couldn’t dance back then, but jump was pretty much an instructional song. “Wait for it. Wait for it. NOW! Jump! Jump! Stand still. Jump! Jump!”
I still know the dance to this day.
I really want to post everyday. I really do. You would think that with all of the “free time” I have nowadays that I could. You would be wrong. There’s still so much going on in the Adventures of Me, so I have to postpone. Plus, I’ve been reading some of the previous posts….they kinda suck. I know that I’m my own worst critic, but damn.
I majored in English (one of my many majors), and you wouldn’t believe how many papers I had to write. I had a professor brag that she never gave out A’s. “I’ve yet to come across a student who exemplified ‘A’ work in all my years of teaching.” I got four in a row. Writing is very important to me, as is storytelling. Each, I approach like a job. Draft, rewrite, rewrite, start over from scratch, rewrite, say ‘fuck it’ and turn it in. But who has the time for that with a blog? I can hardly get through the first sentence before “someone who must not be named” stabs me in the side with a crayon to get my attention.
To be honest, I want to redesign the whole site. I’d like a unique logo, a different name (I chose mentalstorage because everything else I came up with was already registered, including my own first name), and more than anything I want to link a podcast to it. You should hear me tell the stories…waaaaay better when you hear them.
Anyway, I write all of this for the handful of people that I see keep coming to check each day for something new. I’m still alive, just really busy right now. So either you’ll get nothing for a while, or it’ll really suck (in my eyes). On the plus side, my personal life is looking up. “I got my swagger back,” or whatever those young kids say these days.
One would think that with my daughter now being in daycare that I could shut down the Bat Cave, unplug the Bat Computer and hang up my cape. Nope. I haven’t really had time to breathe, because it’s enrollment season for public school. Now a while back I posted a status on Facebook wherein I cursed out every single person who got a spot in the DC Public School Lottery. The only ones safe from my wrath were those who actually grew up here and, as I consider it, paid their dues.
Little things like–I don’t know–not having textbooks for a whole year and not having a Math teacher for three quarters of the year are character building exercises that I feel earned my child a spot in the new “We’re supposed to care about kids?” public school system. School was closed a few months ago due to what I can only describe as 28 snowflakes, yet my knee and elbow still give me trouble almost twenty years after Cha-Cha Sliding down an icy sidewalk during a blizzard. I want my daughter to be a part of this new Age of Reason where the school being on fire is an acceptable reason to miss class.
I just feel like it’s not fair that my daughter struck out at six schools on the lottery list. There shouldn’t be a lottery for us 80s DCPS’ers. I should be able to whisper the name of the teachers that used to give us the answers to the CTBS test under the guise of “You’ll repeat a grade if you fail” and someone just magically pull a chair out of the closet for my daughter at any school of my choosing (GoodFellas-style).
But that’s not how the world works, and perhaps it’s for the best. I still get to be Batman and who doesn’t want to be Batman? I’m jumping from rooftop to rooftop going on last minute tours and gathering enrollment data. You’re only supposed to enroll at one charter school at a time. I’ve been thoughtful and followed this rule, but that means that every time a new/better school calls to say we’re off the wait list, I have to grab my grappling hook and swing around the city trying to drop off medical forms, birth certificates and DNA samples. I feel like I’m on Making The Band.
I spent last Friday running…to the train, to the daycare, back to the train, to the house to get the medical forms I forgot to bring with me, to the bus stop, to the school, back to the bus stop… It was a lot. But…I’m Batman.
Over the weekend my daughter and I watched Monsters Inc. I’ve never really liked that movie, so I don’t know any of the character’s names, but she enjoys it. I asked her what the big blue monster’s name was and she said, “Daddy!” I thought she was trying to be funny. “Okay, well if that’s me then who is that?” I asked pointing to the little girl in the movie. My daughter said her own name.
I don’t really remember what happens in the movie, but the particular scene that was playing at the time involved the little girl being captured by a snake or something and the big blue monster trying to save her. He said something along the lines of, “Nothing else matters now. Boo’s in trouble and I have to save her.” He then went through a bunch of crap trying to save the little girl. At the end, he saved her and the girl gave him a hug. At that moment my daughter gave me a hug.
I could be looking too deep into it, but I realized at that moment that my daughter identifies me as that big blue monster going through hell and high water to protect, care for and entertain a little girl. She identifies herself as the object of that protection, care and entertainment, a.k.a., love.
Just at the moment of that realization, ninjas broke into my apartment (stealthily) and began cutting onions behind our couch. A single solitary manly tear fell.
But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. I consider it a challenge before the whole human race and I aint gonna lose…
OH MY GOD! At the time of this writing it is 9:08PM Sunday April 21, 2013 the year of our Lord. I have everything from We Are the Champions to gospel songs playing in my head. I just finished my first weekend alone with my daughter since she was born. If you’re reading this and a single parent…I kneel before Zod. Good Lord! As a matter of fact, add that Jay-Z song “Oh My God” to the list of things playing in my head with the woman screaming in the chorus, “Good Lord (bump) Good Lord (bump) Good Lord (bump) Good Lord…said I feel like I’m dying!”
Now let’s backtrack a bit for those just tuning in. Long before ‘The Fall’ I was a stay at home dad. I’m not the stereotypical man who gets a dose of reality when the mommy is gone for a while. To the contrary, my 918 days of stay at home dad-ness has made me a hall of famer when it comes to parenting. BUT…there was always a relief pitcher. There was somebody I could tag into the ring in the evenings. At 6:15 every night, I clocked out. I’ve never done a 24 hour shift before by myself, let alone two freaking days.
It all began Friday. Somebody called me right after my daughter fell asleep around 9:00 and I knew that I should’ve just gone to bed, but a part of me feels like “oldness” wins if I go to bed before 11PM. Pride cometh before the fall. I watched the clock and I did that thing that people usually do the night before work. “If I go to sleep right now, I’ll get X hours of sleep.” I lied to myself and said that my daughter was super tired and would sleep at least until eight. Bullshit.
6:00 AM Saturday Morning“Tiger Uppercut!”
That’s what she should’ve said. Instead she said, “Daddy!” The voice of an angel accompanied by three part harmony of my rib, lung and her fist/foot/something connecting. I can’t know for sure, but if I replay it in my mind, then she had to have been jumping on the bed for a while to get the kind of height needed to land on me with that kind of force.
Anyway, that’s how my weekend began. With a bang and a whimper. I was then instructed “Cook. Breakfast. Cook. Grits? Sausage? Cook?” The rest of the day is a blur, which is very sad considering it was YESTERDAY. I just remember being tired for most of it. I assumed that being up at six guaranteed a nap around noon. Nope. She sat in her bed singing negro spirituals until about 1:30 when I dozed off. I woke up at 2:30 and she was just nearing a crescendo. I don’t remember much else, except learning from my mistakes and going to bed directly after her.
6:02AM Sunday Morning
She let me sleep in an extra two minutes. She was feeling merciful, I guess. It didn’t last. I woke up to the Tiny Toon Adventures theme song being sang directly into my ear canal at about 200 decibels higher than the human ear can tolerate. I just stared at her. There was nothing else to do in that situation that won’t get you put in jail. I just stared. She smiled and said, “Watch rabbits?”
Somehow I made it to the living room. Somehow grits, smoked sausage and a banana appeared on the table before her. I returned to the table with my bowl of grits only to see her bowl empty and her hands reaching up for my bowl. “Grits?” I handed her the bowl, she took my sausage too and then I just sat there and ate tasteless, flavorless Grape Nuts.
I was instructed to read every Fly Guy book that we have in addition to every Dr Seuss book. Then we watched Tiny Toons. Then we did some flash card app on the iPad because she thinks I’m the illiterate one. Then my desperation said, “Check the clock. It’s gotta be time for her nap. It’s gotta be noon.” The devil is a liar. It was 9:08. I’m federal agent Jack Bauer and today is the longest day of my life.
We went for a walk. We went to the park. I tried inducing a nap by having her “race” me up a hill. She made it up and down twice before I got up the first time (wink, wink). We went out for a slice of pizza. I took exactly enough cash for two slices of pizza to prevent greedy-me from getting a whole one. Little did I know, they raised the price so I only had enough for one slice. She was nice enough to give me the pepperonis off of it. We went to the zoo. Oh yeah, all of this was on foot. We went somewhere else–can’t remember–and then we finally came home. We went up to the roof to look at the sunset. We did everything a human being can possibly do…and now she’s finally asleep.
So guess where I’m going.