#37 – Pals, or just the good stuff

So a couple of reasons for this one.

  • There’s a reunion of sorts coming up, of which I will speak on more later.  It got me to thinking.
  • The ’90’s, specifically 1990-1996, or more specifically to this subject like ’94-’96, are not always that far from mind.
  • One of the protagonists from that time period said to me recently, and I may be paraphrasing, “Dude, it’s not the ’90’s anymore.”  And I thought that was true, but also not.
  • I talk to my daughter about a lot of things, probably too many things.  Sometimes I forget that she’s only 12.  She knows a lot of stories from those days, not everything but many things.  She asks a lot of questions and I regale her with stories of “the good old days.”

It’s hard for me to believe it was only 2+ years that I lived with all those guys, on the East Side of Milwaukee (or the 414, as I’ve been referring to it).  Two different locations, one year each.  I can’t tell you much of what has happened the past two years, or maybe the two years before that, or before that.  But most of what went on those two years, ’94-’96, burn in my memory.

I won’t lie and tell you it was all smiles and good times.  But for this purpose, I’ll gloss over the bad stuff.  I’m not going to get into the crippling depression, or how I’d sleep all day sometimes, and the guy mentioned above would try to pull me out of bed and I’d basically tell him to go F himself.  Or how I’d lay in bed, wondering how I’d ever get out of where I was, how I’d ever have money, how I’d ever have a house and a family and a life that didn’t include boozing until all hours of the day and night.  Or the drama, roommate and girlfriend and otherwise.

And even though we’ve all made it, all these years later, or at least as far as I can tell, and all the things I thought I wouldn’t have I now have, and even though all of those things, good and bad have helped to inform how I am now, I’m just going to focus on the good stuff.  The fun stuff.  So for no particular reasons, expect the ones I listed at the beginning, here are some of those stories.

  • Like the time me and the guy and the other guy decided it was a good idea to have a food fight in the kitchen in the house we shared on Murray Ave. on the East Side.  I don’t remember how many there were exactly, 5 for sure in the house but upwards of 10 that lived there at one time or other.  But the 3 of us, probably after bar time, took everything out of the pantry and the refrigerator, and threw it at each other, and around the kitchen because we thought it was funny.  I remember a soup can going through one of the two windows in the kitchen.  I remember sticky floor and food everywhere.  I remember taking a bag of flour (why in the world we would have flour I’ll never know.  I don’t recall us baking a lot) and going into the intersection by the house and throwing it as high in the air as I could, watching it fall and explode into a white cloud.  The flour stain remained in the intersection for weeks, probably until it rained a few times.  And the one dude who was upstairs in his room, his room up the back steps and closest to the kitchen, throwing some glass bottle or something down the steps, presumably in anger or to join in the festivities I’m not sure.  What a mess, but we thought it was funny then, and I still think it’s funny now.

 

  • Or the time(s) we took down the dry wall in the basement, the one that separated the storage areas in the unfinished basement.  We destroyed it, for no particular reason except we were destructive and it was fun.  And then the landlord had them rebuild it.  I don’t recall if she charged us for it, although out of the huge security deposit (somewhere around 500-1000$$) I think we got back 100$$ or so.  So once it was rebuilt, we proceeded to tear it down again, probably with our hands and fake Kung Fu kicks.  I think she gave up after that.  In that same basement, in the corner across from where the band (a lot of those dudes were in a band, of which I was a hangers on, and of which most of our social life revolved) there was a pile of broken glass where we’d throw our beer bottles and 40-ozer’s (Old English only, please) until there was a jagged hill of death in the corner.

 

  • Or when someone was in the shower, it was mandatory to get a container of cold water and dump it over the shower bar onto the person showering.  You’d think we’d have taking precautions when we got into the shower, but naaa.

 

  • The time when a squirrel got into the house, probably because we left the door open, or it blew open because we never locked it.  We chased it all over the house.  It was not amused, and we were too dumb to just leave the door open and let the squirrel escape on it’s own.

 

  • Or the times in the middle room, where we had set up a bar, and we’d smoke weed and dance around.  I remember listening to the band Ween specifically, which is a good band to listen to when you are stoned.

 

  • Or sitting on the front porch on the couch the city made us get rid of, chucking beer bottles onto the lawn, and the neighbors hated it and put the bottles back on our porch.  And we’d just chuck them back onto the lawn because we were assholes.

 

  • Or the times I’d play catch with a couple of the guys, one in the yard on the side of the house, one in front and one across the street.

 

  • And all of the times around North Ave., the bars that we’d go to, Vitucci’s or Von Triers or BBC or the Globe to hear the band and others play but especially the Landmark, which was kind of like our home base and especially on Tuesday’s, which was dollar import night.  And especially the time where we almost got into a fight with an off duty cop.  But never Judge’s or RC’s, because those bars were full of people who thought they were cool but they were not slacker X’ers like we were and we were so much cooler and looked down on them.

 

  • And then down the road from Murray, down Oakland Ave. closer to UM-Milwaukee.  There were just the 3 of us then but a lot of the dudes and gals still hung out with us when we lived there.  We lived on the upper floor of a house.  The garbage would pile up and we’d be too lazy to take it out, so there was the one time when we lit it on fire and threw it off of the back porch into the yard.  And there was so much garbage in the kitchen, of which the porch was right off of, that the flames reached halfway up the house and the one guy had to go get the hose to put it out because it was teetering on becoming out of control and later we could not believe that someone, especially the guys that lived below us, did not call the fire department or the cops or both.

 

  • And the times where you’d be sitting in the living room, playing the old Sega Genesis we had, and a bottle rocket would come whizzing across the floor and pop just before it got to you.  Many a bottle rocket got shot across that apartment, and I have a hard time believing we never burned it down.

 

  • Or at both places, when we’d sit on the roof and drink and talk and watch the world go by, and occasionally yell at passersby.

 

  • Or the one time we had people over at the 2nd place, and we sat on chairs in the kitchen, which was carpeted for some reason, and drank and smoked and built a tiny campfire in and ashtray in the middle of the circle, which we may or may not have kept lit with lighter fluid throughout the night.  And later, when we moved all the chairs and danced in a circle around the little fire.  We may have been listening to the Meat Puppets, though I’m not 100% sure of that.

 

  • And all the shows we went to, at the Rave or the Globe or Summerfest or the Unicorn or Shank Hall or wherever there were shows and bands to be seen.

 

  • And the coffee shops we’d go to, before Starbucks was a thing.  There were a bunch of them, but especially Fuel, where you could drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and talk about books and writing and hang out and be sober and not drink for a minute.

 

  • Or the one time we piled into the one guys Chevy Blazer and drove straight through to NYC because his now wife had moved there and because it was an excuse to go for New Years Eve.  And we drove all that way just for a long weekend and meant to go to Times Square for the ball drop but we were having too much fun where we were.  And we ended up in a bar that we knew this girl from the ’90s MTV reality show ‘Road Rules’ hung out at and she was there and I talked/hit on her but I was really wasted (because it was New Years!) but she wasn’t having any of it and told me I should lay off of the alcohol (which she may have been right about but bitch, please, it’s New Years!).  And I remember I was talking to this other girl, who helped me approach the MTV girl, and she was cooler than the MTV girl anyway and wanted to give me her number but I was too stupid to see it, and besides I lived in Milwaukee, and besides the girl I was dating (dating?  girlfriend?  I don’t think we ever really decided) had come with us but while I was talking to the MTV girl she was in the back part of the bar making out with the drummer of the band we hung out with.  And I remember being a little upset about that, but not really.  And then later, when we went to the subway to go back to the hotel we smoked something with some guys outside the subway which ended up to be a really bad idea.  And at some point I got separated or separated myself from the group and woke up sitting against a pole in the station missing my glasses and my wallet.  I wandered around sightless for a few hours until said drummer, who was staying with a girl he knew but not my sort of girlfriend came and got me.  I remember being mad but not really but I probably smelled like a NYC subway for a few weeks after that, or thought I did.

 

  • And the one time we were at a party, and I lit the one guys pants on fire, because we thought the holes in our jeans were cool, and the strings from the ripped part would hang loose, and his pants were on fire (just a little bit) and he jumped up and slammed his leg down to put it out and we all thought it was hilarious except for him, and he had driven to the party and left us there, downtown or wherever, and we were sure he was going to come back for us but didn’t, which was probably ok since I had lit his pants on fire.

 

  • Or the little game we had, our little ‘grift’, where the girl I dated would distract some guy at the bar and the one guy or I would steal his money off of the bar while she was talking to him.

 

  • Or how the one guy and I loved the after-bar parties, because wherever we were we’d inevitably make our way upstairs and get some kind of souvenir.  It’s not like we took anything of real value, maybe just a pipe or some small amount of cash or whatever was laying around, just because we thought it was funny.

 

And the times, all of us or some of us would just hand out and talk or bullshit or whatever, and that something was always going on, day or night, and that for me, for once, I felt like part of a group, felt like I belonged, that I had a bunch of pals.

And it’s ok that it broke up.  It had too at some point.  If we were all still doing the things we did then it would be a little pathetic.  I don’t regret most things.  I led to this particular point and the things I thought I’d never have I have.

But those days are with me still.  Sometimes I hang on to them a little bit too hard.  I’ve learned to loosen my grip on them, and when I do squeeze it’s only to remember the fun and the good times.  I’ve learned from the bad stuff, and I’ve been able, for the most part, to leave it there.

So this will be happening in about a month.  The band that our world revolved around, Big Mother Gig, will be back in town playing a show with a bunch of the bands that they played with and were part of the Milwaukee music scene back in the day – back in our day.  I told the one guy when we were talking the other day that I’m probably not ever going to go to any kind of school reunion, and that this show will be the closest I’ll come to something like that.  And I can’t wait to hear those bands again, specifically BMG, but even more I can’t wait to see all the players.  And I think that most of them will be there, but I know a few won’t, and the ones I’m not sure about will not be there, though I wish they would come.

But if you are in or around Milwaukee on March 18th, or can make it, you should come.  Even if you don’t know my or any of these bands or any of these people.  It’ll be a good time, and we’ll all remember the good stuff together.  Even if you don’t know me or any of them I want you to come.  Grab me and say hello – I’ll be waiting for you.  Check out the link for the show:

http://pabsttheater.org/show/bigmothergig2017

 

Big Mother Gig has a bunch of new music out too, which I think is some of their best stuff.  You can find both the new and the old stuff all over, from Spotify to YouTube to possible you local alternative radio station.  Here’s their best new song below.  I don’t think they’ll mind if I post the video here, and if they do it’s too late.  I’m not sure why they would though.  Rock on!!

 

 

 

Hope to see you Fragas there!!

 

 

 

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#36 – Music Videos will Save the World

NBD but I’ve been out of commission for the past week++, or at least more out of commission than usual.  It was a week ago Friday at work and I started to feel super sick – flu like stuff with a cough and sneezing and headache.  (Side note – I average like one sneeze a month.  In the past week I’ve double and tripled my usual sneeze output.  I’m feeling much better, so to compensate I don’t plan on sneezing until sometime in mid-2019).

Whatever the sickness was it lingered and lingered.  I’d go to work and get some stuff done and then come home and sleep.  A couple days I stayed home.  One day I got all the way to work, pulled into my parking spot, and coughed so hard I vomited into my lap.  True story and super gross.  I didn’t know what to do but I needed to get a little bit of work done.  So I drove to Wal-Mart, bought a pair of pants and wore them out, and chucked my puke spotted pants into the garbage.  I told the lady at the place where you try on the clothes that I had spilled coffee on my pants on the way to work.  I’m not sure if she bought it or not.  I drove back to work with my new pants on, worked for a bit, and called it a day.

So I slept a lot, but even me, who loves to sleep, and loves to sleep because I’m tired but also loves naps and loves to sleep to avoid I could only sleep so much.

And I’m sure in a perfect world none of us would work and we’d all love to stay home and indulge in our hobbies and spend time with friends and live the highlife.

But have you ever had a few days off when you had nothing to do?  Have you seen the state of daytime TV these days?  It’s an abyss, even in these days of technology and Netflix and cable and etc.  There’s not a lot out there after awhile.

I watched a few shows on Netflix.  One was this, ‘Black Mirror’ which is now may new favorite show of all time.  It’s sort of a modern Twilight Zone for the technology age.  I’m not really doing it justice, and it’s more for adults.  I’ll warn you that if you have any interest the first episode is really good like all of them are, but the subject manner is a bit disturbing.  If you can make it through that one the rest are totally worth watching.  I love this show.  (I don’t think this trailer really does it justic either, but it’s on Netflix and you should watch it.)

 

I also watched a WWII documentary on the Netflix which was depressing as hell.  (I mean, I don’t think just typing numbers do enough justice to how terrible WWII was.  Upwards of 80 million++

wwii-deaths
Check out China.  Bet you didn’t know about that number.  Japan absolutely destroyed them.  It’s not really talked about enough.

people died as a result of that conflict.  Try and wrap your head around that number.  I also learned that we should probably ease up on the French bashing when it comes to how we perceive them as “giving up” or “surrendering.”  It’s not really fair to what actually happened.)

So I kind of ran out of things to do or to watch after a while.  In addition to Netflix I love love YouTube.  I love the little channels that people have created.  I love that just like other search engines you can put almost anything into the search bar and a video of your search will pop up.  It’s full of crap and good info and garbage just like the rest of the internet.

I suppose there are other places you can find them, but there are music videos all over YouTube.  I’m not sure which was the first one I popped into the search function, but once I watched a few I was hooked.  I watched great chunks of videos on YouTube as the week progressed.

Do you even remember MTV?  I think it’s still around.  Does anyone even watch it anymore?  Unless they’ve changed the format recently I don’t think they’ve played a music video in 20 years.   They should change the name of the channel, I think.

It doesn’t really matter in this day and age, though, with anything and everything you could ever want to watch a mere search away.

I remember, though, when MTV came out, or at least when we got cable TV and started watching it.  There were like 50(!) channels.  There was all kinds of things that I’m not sure I should have been watching (boobies!  violence! bad words!) but we watched it all anyway.  I recall that our 1st cable box had still had a dial in it that you actually had to get up off of the couch to change. But we didn’t care.  It was worth it to get up and flip around until we found some crap or other to watch.

There was no looking back after that, as we got remote controls (the first on I remember was long and bulky and had these rounded silver buttons that stuck up out of the controller) and as the channels increased.

I don’t think I stopped watching MTV until well after I was married.  Even when they started suplimenting videos with original programming I watched.  (I loved early seasons of ‘The Real World.’  I think my favorite season was the one with Pedro and Puck and all that craziness.  It was a hell of a thing when Pedro died.  We also liked the underrated ‘Road Rules.’  That one woman, Kit Hoover who is an anchor on the now Billy Bush-less ‘Access Hollywood,” was on the first season.  And remind me sometime to tell you the story of when I met Allison from that same season in a bar in NYC on New Years Eve in 1996 or so.)

But it was always the videos, and early on we watched MTV all of the time.  I remember especially the summer of ’84 or ’85, when I was going into junior high.  My sisters were young and my cousin Shorty (that’s just what I call her.  It’s not her actual name.  It’s another story on how I started calling her Shorty.  There’s a lot of things in the story that’s I’d have to leave out, though, so I don’t know if I’d tell it.  I didn’t call her Shorty back then.  I’ve called her Shorty for only about 8 years or so)  sort of baby sat them while my brother and I ran wild.  It was that summer especially that I remember watching MTV like every single day.  We’d sit and watch.  We’d do something else and leave it on.  MTV was the soundtrack of that summer, and the videos from the early days of that channel have stuck with me.

I like most kinds of music.  My musical tastes are mostly uninformed.  It’s usually hear music, like or don’t like music.  I’ll admit that country music is not for me, and when I hear country music it kind of makes me want to claw at my ears until the music ends or I go deaf.  It doesn’t mean that country music is bad or if you listen to country music that’s a bad thing.  It’s me, not them, but their twangy voices sometimes makes me wish music was not invented in the first place.

But the past little while, while I was checking out some of the music videos on the YouTube, I found myself looking back to vids from those early days.  I think I have a prejudgment of pop music videos in this day and age, that they are all just women shaking their booty’s while a dude sings about their booty’s, but I don’t really know if that’s the case and it’s probably not fair to say that.  There are probably channels I do not know about that show videos.  I know there is VEVO, an online video channel that has a big presence on YouTube.  So there may be all kinds of cool stuff out there that I do not know about.

I just feel like, rightly or wrongly, that when they started out, the music videos usually tried at some kind of story.  Some of the effects or production values were really awful, but as I watched them the nostalgia factor was off the charts, and the more I watched the more I wanted to watch until hours would go by and I’d done nothing but watch videos.  I forgot about what ailed me for awhile, and I discovered a new way to procrastinate and cure my boredom.

Here are some of them I watched.  There’s no real rhyme or reason to them.  I’ll tell you though, if you have nothing else to do, though, watching a few videos definitely beats staring at the wall.

I could go on but I won’t.  You should check some out.

 

 

 

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#35 – A Biography of You 

If I’m being honest I’m just sitting here in the lobby area, literally staring at a blank white wall while I wait for my daughter’s volleyball practice to conclude.  I seem to do that a lot – sit and stare.  I’m usually thinking, or more likely trying not to think, about the things I should be doing, both the things I have to do and the things I want to do.

I usually will get around to whatever it is I have to do, work or shop or eat or shower.

The things I want to do, though, even though I want to do them, I for some reason avoid like grim death.  It’s a lot of stuff, but most of it seems to revolve around things that would be good for me, like eating better or exercising. Or calling or writing to someone I haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Most of it revolves around this – writing.  I’m not sure why it takes me so long for these, or for stories I write, to go from thought to fruition.  The process is excruciating, and a lot of times I think I’d be better off without it.  The backlog of ideas I have is debilitating, and most will never see the light of paper, or screen.  The vast majority will continue to careen around and pinball in my head until I’m driven to distraction.

If you’ve been following along you know that this is something I’ve discussed at length.  I’m not sure what exactly my problem is.  (There is a list my problems I have that I’m working on.  I’m not sure if I should alphabetise them or list them in order of severity.  Regardless, I should print out the list.  When someone asks ‘What’s your problem?’, which happens more than I’d like to admit, I could just hand them the list.  It would probably save us all some time.)  I mean, I know there are issues, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint one Theory of Everything problem that explains why I am the way I am.

So a big one on that list would be the procrastination issue.  I usually subsist on the bare minimum, doing just what I need to do to get by.  If there is a Kingdom of Procrastination then I am it’s sovereign.  Nothing much gets done in the K of P – we usually spend the day watching TV ignoring the sewers that are dangerously backing up.  We also lead the world in duct tape consumption.

Yeah, but I do have ideas.  Very few of them come to fruition.  So far I have had one tiny little story published on an internet site.  I have this, blog, but honestly even the word blog makes me a little uneasy.  It sounds…self-indulgent, I think.  (Didn’t I write something like that in the #1? I think I did.  Oh well…)

One idea I’ve had for awhile is for a website.  I think I’d call it “The Biography of You” or “The History of You.”  It would be like an obituary site, but so much better.

I like to know the whole story.  I like to know how things started.  I crave etymology, history, causality.

I also really want to know about people.  Sometimes when I’m out and about I’ll see someone and just want to ask them a bunch of questions, who they are and where they come from and what they do and if they’re ok.  I find myself wanting to ask people that a lot – if they are ok.  But of course interviewing a complete stranger is insane and I’m not going to do it.  Probably.

What would be cool to me about this website is that it would highlight regular people.  Just me and you and your dad and your uncle – anyone you wanted.

See, I have heros just like you do.  Famous people I admire or enjoy or envy.  And we all do this thing, especially these days with the interest and such, where we are sad and lament the death of one of these noteworthy people.  And we write books and make movies about them.  Or if they are leaders we talk or write or glorify their achievements and how they influenced and shaped the world.  We remember them, build statues to them, name our streets after them.

And none of that is inherently bad, though I think we should have been and should continue to be careful on who we decide to be exalt.

But the in the history of people, there’s like .000001+++% of those type of people and infinity+++ of us.

It would be really good.  Instead of a tiny little obit that no one reads the site would be dedicated to you.  It would be your story, told in a documentary type format, with pictures, not just from when you were older and shrivled and dead but from as much as a loved one wanted to tell of you and your story.  It would include video and interviews and would look professional and you would be made to look important.

Because you are important.  Maybe you didn’t lead a country through a war or start a movement or make a great discovery.  But that doesn’t mean that you, or me, or all of use, the untold multitudes, being born and living and dying are not a part of this, all of it, whatever it is we call history.  We’re all historical.

I read somewhere once on the internet that after you die it’s somewhere around 100 years before there is absolutely no one left on the Earth that has any memory or knowledge of you.

Think of the untold numbers of people, then and now, born, lived, died.  They are history, and have as much right to history as Napolean or Lincoln or Kim Kardashian  and I want to know about them.

It could have a searchable database by time or country or origin or profession. You could even sign up yourself before you die, be interviewed at different periods of your life, decide how you’d like to be remembered.

Imagine an entire database of your genealogy.  Imagine seeing your grandfather when he was 25 and not just in some grainy picture.

They are just coming out with virtual reality.  They’ll continue to perfect it, and there will be a day where we’ll be able to view events, history, our own personal history in 3D.

The implications of this website would be awesome and every time I think about it I get excited.  I’m sure they have something like it out there, but not what I have in mind.

I’m not going to do it, of course.  But someone should.  It would be cool.

I swear I wrote some kind of story about something like this.  It’s in the attic somewhere.  I should check it out but it’s kind of cold up there.  I’ll do it soon.

I started thinking about it again today because my Great Aunt Edna died yesterday.  She was 97, or somewhere around there.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile, not since her husband died some years back.  She was a nice lady.  But I didn’t know her, not really, and I would have liked to. Maybe just talk to her, see how she was doing, if she was ok.  I’ve done that with a lot of people, relatives, friends, whomever.  Meant to check back in.  There’s always time, until there’s not.  And before you know it they, and you, poof, are gone.

But I’m part of history and so are you.  I don’t know if that means anything important, but it certainly means something.  I think we deserve to be remembered, somehow, someway.

Semi-related, I heard this song on a Netflix show I was watching the other day.  It may have been in the context of the show but I thought it was super sweet.  I think Aunt Edna would approve of it.

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#34 – Judge not…

“…that ye be not judged.”

It’s been 5 days since the inauguration and things are upside down.  Seems like there is trouble ahead.  It’s going to be a long 4 years.

What’s done is done though.  He’s President.

I don’t understand a lot of things.  I don’t purport to be a smart man.

Something I will never understand is how some people who call themselves Christians vote the way they do.

That’s not to label all Christians.  But I do feel like a larger percentage of people who voted for the President call themselves Christians.

I’m not against religion.  Believe what you like.  Whatever helps you get through the day.

I don’t believe in God.  I don’t believe that a person named Jesus was a real person who walked the Earth.  I think it’s and he are made up.

But that is of no consequence.  I’m no Biblical scholar.  I’m sure anything I say can be rebuked by someone with more knowledge of that book.

But inherent in being a Christian is that you are to follow the words and teaching of Christ.  I’m correct in that no?

Whether I believe in a literal Christ is irrelevant.  I do know that the words attributed to him are powerful and are at least worthy of reflection.

Some things Jeaus did not say anything about:

  • Homosexuality
  • Transgender
  • Building walls
  • Political systems/economic systems

Some things he did say which I like:

  • “A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
  • “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”
  • “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray fo those who persecute you…for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
  • “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.”
  • “All the commandments…are summed up in this single command:  You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor…”
  • “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
  • “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
  • “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven…”
  • “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…”
  • “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
  • “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other…”

And so on.

I get confused by who says they believe in Christ’s words and who acts on them in this country.  I don’t think it has to do with who says they are religious or not.

What’s done is done.  It’s how we decide to move forward that matters.  We can argue about this and that and the other.

But if you are calling yourself something, a Christian, how do you feel about some of the words above?  And the many others?

Don’t tell me.  Reflect on it maybe.  I should.  We all should reflect, and not just in a religious manner necessarily.

But especially if you are following something, someone, in your heart, do you really believe the words?  And if you do, are you acting like it?  And if you’re not, should you be calling yourself what you do?

The person we’ve elected behaves in a way that is in conflict with the words above.

How can we reconcile it?  How can you?

It doesn’t matter what I think or what anyone else thinks.  It’s what you think and what you really feel and believe in that matter.

It’s not too late.  It’ll never be to late.  Act on what you believe in, if you really believe it.

Love thy neighbor.  No qualifications or amendments on which neigbors, what they look like or act like or believe in.   I’m not the one who said it, but I believe it.

I’ll be waiting for you, if you want to talk about it.  If you change your mind.  No judgements.  There’s room for you over here still.☮

Read more "#34 – Judge not…"

#33 – Marisol, or on memory and other stuff

It’s 4:53am on a Sunday morning.  I’m awake, though not sure why.  I wouldn’t say it’s a huge problem, how and when and how long I sleep, but it’s definitely something.  Often enough I sleep too much or too little.

I try not to think about it too much, though I think about most everything too much, so I’m not always successful at it.

I’m pretty sure I know why I sleep too much.  It’s usually avoidance.  The more I sleep, the less I have to think.

Thinking about stuff is not bad in and of itself.  I do tend to overthink things though.  I’d like to be more spontaneous, in the things I do and the things I say and in the things I write.  Sometimes (often times, all of the time) the thinking leads to paralysis and avoidance and procrastination.  Most of the time I end up doing nothing, not anything of the things I want to do.  I usually only do the things I have to do (work, eat) in order to get to the next time I can avoid everything.  It hasn’t been going on too long – maybe just around 44 years or so.

But I try, at least, to do the things I want or should be doing.  Doing the things I want to do instead of just thinking about doing them, thinking about doing them someday, that there will always be another day to do them is a better way and a better way to have a fulfilling life instead of just doing the things I have to do, the basic things that are necessary to live.  When I do the things I want to do (like writing this, for example) I feel better afterwards. But the lead-up to doing anything I want to can be excruciating.  It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy.  And there’s always tomorrow.

Only there isn’t, right?

It’s not something anyone likes to think about.  I mean, we’re all going to die.  I’m not trying to be morbid or anything.  It’s just a fact.  I think most of us are good at ignoring that fact.  I think if you don’t you could drive yourself insane.  It seems really abstract, doesn’t it?  Something so inevitable and something we’ll all have in common and something that is the truest and most absolute things about ourselves doesn’t really seem real, does it?

So whatever, that’s not my point (if I have a point, now or ever) and there’s no reason to dwell on it.  I guess the point is that tomorrow, or today, or the next minute is not promised to anyone.  I’ll probably be here tomorrow and so will you, but who knows?  I hope I am and that you are too.

So I waste time and don’t do much.  Like I said, I’m trying, but then I’m always in the stage of trying, with limited success of stop and starts.  I want to be a certain way, and I only get to that way for very short periods of time.  Maybe it’s like chasing your shadow.  It’s right there, in front of you or behind you.  You’ll never quite catch it though, will you?

So now it’s 5:14am and I’m up writing this and I know why I cannot sleep sometimes.  Most of these silly blogs I write have been brewing in my mind for some time.  A lot of time.  And I delay and procrastinate and don’t write them down because there is always tomorrow.  But most of the time they can only stay in my mind for so long until they demand to come out.  They used to have nowhere to go, not really, except a couple of pages in whatever notebook I happened to be scribbling my silly words on at the time.  That always helped, but didn’t seem like enough.

And so typing them here is maybe kind of the same thing, but maybe something better.  I honestly don’t think anyone will read any of these, or care about them.  It’s not like a lot of people read them, but someone does, which is always bewildering to me.  I tell myself that I don’t want anyone to read them because I feel that when the thoughts from my mind are translated to my fingers to the screen something gets lost.  But that’s not true.  Why put it, or myself out there if I didn’t want someone to read it?  I usually think the things I write are awesome and awful at the same time.  And when one of these are done (honestly they are never done – I forget stuff I wanted to say, or I cut it short because I think that I’ve typed to many words and who the heck wants to read all of them?  I mean, if an internet article is longer than a couple paragraphs I usually get bored and on to the next one.  Thanks internet) I go back and forth as to whether or not to click on the “publish” button and when I do I usually instantly regret it.  What’s the point of putting these words down and sometimes laying myself bare for people to read (and possibly judge)?

But as you can see I’ve sucked it up 32 times before and hit publish so whatever.  And if you’ve been with me from the start, from blog post#1 (you probably haven’t and that’s ok, and even if you have been why would you even remember) I said something like (“something like” because I’m not going to go back and reread it so I hope I don’t quote myself incorrectly or out of context.  Talk about being lazy.  Also, how many parentheses in one sentence and paragraph are too many before you confuse and/or lose a reader?  I’m getting confused writing this sentence) I’m writing these mostly just to get them out of my head.  I’m writing them for myself and for a place to put them, and anything that happens after that (like another living person reading it) is just a really great bonus.  And as I’m typing this I feel better, clearer, not as gummed or clogged up.  It’s odd to me, this writing stuff.  I’m unable to consciously sit down and make up something to write, a story or any of this.  The words are just kind of there, sitting in my mind.  They just come to me and wait to get out and get mad at me if they are not allowed to and then maybe I can’t sleep.

So now it’s 5:30am and there is a little word counter to the right as I type this draft and it’s at 1050 words plus and all of the above has only been the preamble to what I was going to write about in the first place.  So I apologize in advance for the length and how rambling the previous 1000+ words have been.  I’d imagine it’s how a crazy person writes, though if I’m writing it I don’t really have to imagine that much.  It is a crazy person writing it.  So as most of these are it’s nothing particularly interesting, or any great story, but whatever I’ll keep going.  If you’ve made it this far you might as well keep going.  I’d understand if you quit now, or quit a while back and do not even see this sentence.

 

*                                       *                    *                         

 

So one of the things I think about a lot and that holds interest for me is memory and dreams and how the human brain works.  I don’t know what memory is, and I don’t know that even people who study things that happen in the human brain do or can fully understand all of it.  I’ve read some stuff on the brain and on memory (not enough to I know anything.  Like most things I think I know, I only know enough to spout uninformed half truths and as I’ve always said you shouldn’t really take my word for most anything.  You should look up stuff yourself) and one of the things I’ve read somewhere is that when you remember something you are not really remembering the event.  You are remembering the last time you thought about or remembered it, like a copy of the original.  And while copying machines are pretty good now, in the old days when you made a copy of something, and then made a copy of that, and made a copy of that, the result would become unintelligible until the meaning or quality of the original would no longer be clear.  That’s why they say (again, look it up I don’t feel like finding a link to a source right now) that eyewitness testimony becomes unreliable the further away they are relaying it from the actual event they witnessed.

And I find it interesting that there are some memories I have are so clear and so true and that others I misremember or do not remember at all.  I’ve been told that when my parents were married 20 years that my sibs and I held a party for them.  I have no actual memory of that occurring and will swear to you that everyone is making that up.  But I can remember and place myself in the time and place when I was about 5 and my mother wasn’t feeling well and she took a nap on the couch and as she was sleeping I decided to take some scissors and try and cut her hair.  Why I remember that I have no idea but here it is.

I think the human brain is like outer space.  They know a lot of things about space, but what they know is a tiny spec of nothing compared to what they don’t know.  At any moment aliens could show up and blow up everything we think we know.  I feel like that’s the same thing with the human brain, and how memory and identity and consciousness works.  We think we know, but we have no idea.

One of the things I remember now and again, and remembered suddenly for no reason a few months back is this little girl I knew only slightly and then for not very long back when I was in middle school in Oak Park, Il.  (We didn’t call it middle school back then.  I don’t know if it was the same everywhere, but we had junior high and it was only 7th and 8th grades.  Now they have middle schools, one of which my daughter attends, and it’s 6th through 8th grades.  I hear that some middle schools are even going from 5th through 8th.)

I entered 7th grade at Hawthorne Junior High school.  It was named after the author Nathanial Hawthorne.  He wrote the Scarlet Letter, amongst other books.  I recall reading that book either in junior high or maybe early in high school.  I’m sure it’s a book I couldn’t go back and read without a teachers help because it would be too obtuse and I’m not that smart, but I remember reading it and liking it and the themes it presented.  (Again, look it up yourself.)  I graduated 8th grade from Percy Julian Junior High school.  It was the same school but they changed the name between 7th and 8th grades.  They renamed it after the scientist and Oak Park resident Percy Julian.  He and his family were the first African-Americans to take residence in Oak Park, and he got the usual runaround as many people of color received when they moved into mostly or all white suburbs and neighborhoods.  Crosses burned on his front lawn, etc.  Oak Park became a fairly progressive town as time when on, but it was just as shitty as the rest of them back then.  I don’t really know how it is now because I haven’t lived there in over 25 years but I know people who still live there and I don’t think they still would if it had become any less progressive.

And I know people grumbled at the time but I always thought it was a cool and appropriate name change.  It was nothing, but I thought it was something to be the last of one and the first of the other.

I don’t remember a lot of the people I went to school with in OP.  I remember some, some that I was friends with since I can remember.  But especially starting in Junior High, somewhere around puberty and accelerated in high school I suddenly became aware that I was digging myself out of a hole that I didn’t even realize I had dug in the first place.  I know that a lot of those years I just sat in the hole in the dark.  I did start climbing at some point, and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped or ever made it to the top, though I can occasionally get close and see the light above.   It’s kind of like falling upwards in a bottomless pit.  I don’t know that I’ll ever reach the top – the hole grows, but sometimes I can outpace it for a little while.  At best I keep the pace of the growth.  Sometimes I give up, but most times I try and keep climbing.

But this girl, though, she started at Hawthorne but never made it to Percy Julian.  She did not go to the same grade school as me, so I didn’t really know her like I knew the kids that went to the same grade school as me and that I had known since I was 6 or 7 or whenever you start grade school.  One of the fun and scary things about reaching the next milestone in your school career was moving up in school, junior high and high school and college.  You knew some kids, a lot of kids, but not all of the kids.  And especially in junior high and high school, they were like you and had a commonality of living in the same place as you, so you kind of knew them but really didn’t at all.  And that was both exciting and scary.

So this girl was new, at least new to me.  Her name was Marisol.  I think her last name was Santana but I could be wrong about that.  I can’t remember any of my teachers from junior high.  I can barely remember what the school looked like on the inside (it doesn’t look the same on the outside – when it became a middle school they redid the whole thing.  It’s way bigger now and looks almost like a high school.  They filmed the movie ‘Vice Versa’ with Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold there back sometime when or around when I went to school there.  If you want to know what it looked like back then you could watch that movie.  It’s not particularly good but it’s not awful.  It was one of those body switching movies, where the kid is in the adult body and…vice versa.  I think it might have come out after Tom Hanks ‘Big’ and seemed to be copying that a bit.  A lot of kids that went to school there were extras in the movie, and I’m pretty sure I would recognize some of the kids if I were to watch the movie again, if not their names.)

I don’t remember anyone, but I remember Marisol Santana.  She had light brown skin.  She was probably what some people call ‘mixed’ or multi-ethnic or multi-cultural.  (Or maybe she was just a person.  Labels, though, they drive me crazy.  I mean, honestly, aren’t we all ‘mixed’?  Just because I have white skin doesn’t mean I have the same life experiences as all the other ‘white’ people, and vice-versa for any other ‘color’.  Not all colors have the exact life experiences.  I probably had more in common with Marisol then I do with most people in Milwaukee County where I live now.)

I honestly don’t think I knew or cared about any of that back then.  I don’t feel like that was a thing for us in OP, especially in grade school and into junior high.  Maybe it was or maybe I was just naïve back then (probably) but even from the first time I stepped foot into a classroom in OP I just remember everyone being represented.  I remember Robert Mendoza’s father visiting the school now and again (wow I just pulled that name out of thin air) to talk about Native Americans (we probably said Indians) and his and his sons experiences of being Native Americans in OP and the like.  I remember thinking it was cool but not some big anomaly.  Don’t get me wrong about OP – it had it’s share of issues and problems and again I don’t really know how it is now.  I just don’t ever remember, especially when we were younger, that your ethnicity was that big a deal, or that difference necessarily was any kind of bad thing.  But like I said, memory is tricky and that was how I remember my early school experiences and I’m probably wrong and it was shitty for people of color.  Who knows.

I remember Marisol was pretty, with her creamy brown skin and bright brown eyes, her slightly pointed nose.  She had curly black hair, at least on top.  I know that even though I thought she was pretty I didn’t think much of her hairstyle.  It was short on the sides, and kind of tapered to the top, almost like a mushroom.  I think she had really white teeth but cannot be sure.  I remember her smiling a lot.  I don’t remember who she hung out with, but I feel like it was with the ‘popular’ kids, of which I was never one.  I have memory that the popular kids were always mean to me, but the adult me thinks that while that was certainly true some of the time, I now feel like a lot of that was my own insecurity and projection of that onto them.  Anyways, I didn’t hang out with Marisol or any of them but she was always nice to me.

If death and dying seem abstract now to me (and maybe to you), I don’t think I thought too much about it back then, or had much concept of it when I was a kid.  But then in the summer between 7th and 8th grade Marisol went ahead and died.  I remember hearing that she had asthma or something and had an attack during the night.  I remember hearing that she had an inhaler but either couldn’t find it or couldn’t reach it in time.

Since I didn’t hang out with many people other than the few core friends I had I don’t recall if I heard about her death that summer or when we got back to school.  I do remember this one guy talking about it (Gerald McCoy – wow just pulled that one out of nowhere – I guess I remember some people) and how all the girls being sad at her funeral and how unreal the whole thing was.

I know nowadays if a child dies they have all kinds of mechanisms in place for their classmates to talk about it.  They have counselors and the like.  And maybe we had some of that stuff but honestly I don’t remember Marisol’s death being discussed at all expect amongst us kids.  I don’t know if the school acknowledged it with parents and I’m not sure my parents even knew, and if they did I don’t remember talking about it.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t, but I don’t recall it.

So I wasn’t really friends with her.  And I only knew her for a tiny percentage of my life.  And I’ve certainly had people closer to me and who meant more to me pass away.

But I remember it meant something to me back then.  I know I imagined what it must have been like for her, the panic she must have felt, and how it must have been for her parents to find her in the morning.  I don’t know that my little kid naïve mind was fully prepared to deal with such thoughts, and as with most things I just internalized it.

From time to time as the years have gone on I’ll find myself thinking back to those days.  It’s not really a thing anymore.  People die all the time, and the older you get, the more they start to fall off.  It’s still awful and is never not, but the feelings you have have some context.  There was no context for them back then.  I find myself wondering about her parents and her family, and the girls who were friends with her back then.  I wonder if anyone else remembers or thinks of her.  I’m sure someone does.

She’ll always be a little girl as the rest of us are now in middle age.  She’s frozen in time.  She’s missed so much.  She never got to be anything.  She never even had a chance to experience the mundane stuff we have to do every day just to maintain our lives that we take for granted.  I wonder what she would have done, or what she would have become.  I don’t think of her a lot and it’s never very conscious.  But memory and the brain and how it works is a mystery, and things that spark a thought and a chain of memories that will very once in awhile lead me back to that time and place and feeling are mysterious at best.  Miraculous, even.

I thought about her a few months back and thought that someday I’d write about it.  As with most of these that I write down, it’s not a very good story or even a story at all.  And I don’t know why, but it feels good to type her name down.  Marisol Santana.  It’s an acknowledgement to me that she did exist, that she was someone, and if everyone else has forgotten her, I haven’t.

What all of these now 3600+ words mean today I don’t know.  It’s 7:25am now and I’m really tired but I don’t feel like going back to bed at the moment.  I’ll go about my day much like you will.  I have some laundry to do and some groceries to buy.  I know a lot of you will watch the football today and that’s fine.

And maybe you already do things that you like to do, or things that you want to do, that make you feel more like the person you are and not just the person you’ve become, with all the mundane stuff we all do day-to-day.  I don’t do that a lot.  Writing this is part of me doing that, though.  And if you don’t, if you have a hard time getting out of your head too, do something.  Now, or later, today or next week.  Something that makes you feel human and feel humanity, or just takes your mind off of stuff.  I think it’s important.

Every time I write one of these I’m able to breath a little bit better afterwards.  I feel a little better about life and myself.  I feel like just for a little while, until it all builds up again and I’ll have to do it all over again, that I’ve outpaced the hole a bit and gotten that much closer to the top.

Yo, if you made it to the end thanks for reading it.  I hope but can’t promise that the next one won’t be quite as rambling.  Have a good day all you humans.

Update:  It’s 9:34am and I’ve decided to hit ‘publish.’ I wasn’t going to, but I will anyway.

 

Read more "#33 – Marisol, or on memory and other stuff"

#32 – The Time Traveler

The following is a true story.  What I think happened may or may not have actually happened, but the actual story did.  It’s not a very long story, or a very eventful one, but it’s something.

It probably occurred somewhere around 2-3 years ago.  I can’t be exactly sure.  I remember that it was hot out, but maybe it wasn’t summer yet because it may have occurred during the school year.  I’m not sure of the day or month or year.  I’m not sure if it was a weekend or a weekday.  I do know that my daughter was with me, and that we both saw what we saw, although what she saw and how she remembers it may have been influenced by what I saw and how I related it to her.

We were driving east down Bluemound Road in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.  Bluemound runs east/west.  It’s also known as Highway 18.  It starts in Milwaukee right around Miller Park where the Milwaukee Brewers play baseball, and extends into Brookfield, Wisconsin into Waukesha County and beyond.  I’m not exactly sure how far it goes or where it ends.  It may extend to the Pacific Ocean for all I know, but I kind of doubt it goes that far.  I mean, who really keeps track of how far roads, streets and highways go?  Google Maps probably does, I guess.  I don’t always have a lot to do – maybe sometime I’ll drive west on Highway 18 until it stops and report back.

I don’t know where we were coming from.  It’s possible that I had picked my daughter up from school, but Bluemound would have been a bit out of the way.  Back when she was in grade school she would occasionally go home after school with one of her friends and I would pick her up from there, and they live just off of Bluemound just shy of Brookfield so it’s possible we were on our way back from there.  We also could have been coming from the hair salon (all of us – me, my wife, my daughter, my two sisters and some/all of their kids and my mother go to the same hair salon and go to the same stylist.  I’ve been seeing her for like 12-13 years.  She’s super awesome, not just as a stylist but as a person.  I was the first to see her and I’m probably her favorite, but then I’m most people’s favorite anything.  People don’t always like to admit that, but it’s true) which is located in Brookfield and is as far west as we go on a regular basis so maybe one or both of us had gotten our hair did.

I know it was 2-3 years ago because my daughter was still riding in the backseat.  There are guidelines as to how long a child should be in a car seat based on age and height and weight.  She’s in the front seat now, but I’m pretty sure she was not yet when this took place.  She was out of the kid car seat but still in the backseat.  They say the air bags in the front can be harmful if you are not a certain height/weight.  I always wonder about adults who may be short or do not weigh a lot.  Maybe they shouldn’t be driving based on those requirements.  Or maybe they should be driving from the back seat?

I suppose it depends on how old you are, but do you remember when no one knew or cared about seat belts or car seats or seat belts way back when?  I can recall my brother and two sisters crammed in the back seat of our blue Chevy Nova, or hanging out of the back of our super awesome red station wagon.  When I was really young I can recall sitting in the front seat well on the passengers side by my mom.  Even when people used seat belts most cars were only equipped with lap belts, and I don’t remember using them a lot.  I remember them being more of a nuisance than anything, and that the metal would get super hot in the summer and would hurt if you touched them.  Back then air conditioning in cars was optional and expensive.  I don’t remember which of the many cars my parents owned when we were kids was the first that had air conditioning, but it was not the first few, that’s for sure.  It might have been the Ford Escort that they bought when I was in high school, which was also the first one that I recall having the seat belts with more than just the lap belt.  The belt actually came across your chest automatically when you turned the car on.  That Escort was in three accidents, two caused by me, the second of which destroyed the car for good and occurred after both sister #1 and I had both moved to Wisconsin and had already graduated from college and moved in together for a couple of years.  She had taken ownership of the car.  That car lasted a long time, but the second accident I caused finally killed it, the accident occurring when I was on my very first date with my wife.  It was around 5 minutes into the date, and I’m always surprised that there was a 2nd date after I killed the car and almost killed us in the process.

But as always digression is my specialty and my curse so back to the story.  We were at the stop light at the intersection of Bluemound Road (Hwy 18) and Mayfair Road (or Highway 100, or 108th Street, which is another major road in the Milwaukee area that travels north/south and could extend from Mexico to Canada for all I know).  Both of these roads are major roads in the greater Milwaukee/Waukesha area, and the red lights are interminable.  (I don’t know about where you live, but I actually feel like all of the stop lights are interminable.  Maybe it’s just when I travel on them.  More likely it’s just me being impatient but sometimes I think I’ll have to shut the car down and stay overnight until the light turns green.  The amount of my life that has been wasted waiting at red lights in Milwaukee will be something I’ll recall and regret on my death bed, and I’ll rue all the things I could have done with my life had I not wasted all of that time.)

So there we were, waiting to turn left from Bluemound onto Mayfair.  Nothing much happening.  But then, seemingly out of nowhere, I saw a man on a bicycle.  That is not unusual in and of itself.  But the man on the bike looked unusual and his bicycle looked unusual.  The bicycle looked like one from the early days of bicycling.  The front tire was oversized, and the back one was tiny.  The seat was up high.  It looked like this, man-on-bike as did the man riding, or trying to ride it.  He was dressed up, or at least dressed up in comparison to how most of us dress when the weather is warm.  He wore a cap and heavy looking pants.  I’m not sure but I think he had a vest with a coat over it.

I’ve since learned that riding these old-time bicycles and dressing this way was/is a fad that had occurred/is occurring.

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/stories/the-penny-farthing-makes-a-comeback

But even still, I don’t know that a hipster would have been trying to ride this bicycle on and across this particular intersection.  He was so out of place that it was hard not to notice him, although I feel like I would have noticed him coming.  Maybe I was too upset because the light would not turn green, but if I’m being honest it was as if he just appeared.  As he began to cross at the crosswalk on Mayfair where he had a walk sign he appeared to struggle to get up onto the seat and it took him a few false starts to being to ride to the other side of the street.  I’m probably extrapolating at this point but it almost seemed as though he was nervous or unsure of his surroundings, maybe like he was seeing things that he had never seen before.

I pointed him out to my daughter and we watched him ride this odd and unwieldy looking bicycle across the street.  I was so transfixed by this anomaly that I forgot about the stop light and didn’t notice that the light had turned green and we had the arrow to turn left (don’t get me started on left turn signals and how they last for approximately three seconds before they turn red again).  So I kind of had to floor it to get through the intersection lest we miss the light and would be forced to wait through another one, not to mention the amount of people I would have pissed off behind us who were also waiting for the light and would have had to wait as well.

As we turned through the intersection we both looked back to try and locate the cyclist to see where he was headed.  I feel like I caught a glimpse of him as he continued down Mayfair Road over the bridge that goes over the highway.  But I’m not sure if I did or not, and I know that after the turn was complete he was gone.  I know we both saw him and then I know we both did not see him.  It was as if I the few seconds it took to turn left he had completely disappeared.

I know I influence my daughter a lot, good and bad, so the fact that, as we drove the rest of the way home we decided we had just seen a time traveler appear and disappear was probably me saying it and her believing it because I had said it.  It was probably nothing, and there is a perfectly good explanation for his appearance and his bicycle, and his dress, and his sudden appearance and disappearance, no matter how out of place and odd that it was.  But I do know that there was no where for him to go – no where to turn, nothing that would have obstructed our view of him after we had made the turn.  The only thing he could have done was to through the huge bicycle over the fencing on the bridge and then jumped off in the few seconds that we looked away.  I feel like we would have heard something about that had that occurred.

Like I said it’s not a long story or a very eventful one, or maybe even a very good one.  But it’s something that happened and it’s something I wonder about.  Every once in awhile when we happen to be driving in the area my daughter and I will reference the time we saw a time traveler.  We’re mostly joking, or at least she is.

I’ve read that time travel into the future is theoretically possible.  You don’t have to take my word, but you could take Steven Hawking’s word, if that does anything for you.

He and they say that travel into the past is very less likely, although I’ve read some stuff that may refute this.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_paradox

And I suppose none of it is very likely at all.  I kind of like to think things that are impossible are actually possible.  Just like it’s impossible that the Earth is round, or that the Earth revolves around the Sun.  Just like it’s impossible that we could travel to space, or to the moon.  Just like it’s impossible that we could get a machine into the air that can take us great distances over the Earth in a short period of time.  Or that we could have modes of transportation that were not carried by horses, or that we would have devices that could send communications to anyone and everyone around the Earth and beyond in an instant.

So it was nothing.  But if you look back to what people must have thought was impossible, the things that we take for granted, things that would have astounded people 10, 15, 100, 1000 years ago, then maybe nothing is impossible.  Maybe everything is possible.  Maybe if you can think it, it already is.

And that’s the story of the time my daughter and I saw a time traveler.  Thanks for reading and see you next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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#31 – Mr. Awesome’s 2016 Year in Review

“Time is a concept I don’t believe in…” text from my daughter to her Aunt

 

As I’ve said, I like lists.

I like rankings and top 10’s and best of’s.

You can probably find a ton of those kind of lists on the internet right now.  It can be pretty interesting to look back.

I’ve been hearing that 2016 was not such a great year, and I can get on board with that I guess.  Lots of your favorite celebrities passed away.  The Orange Menace was elected President.  Other stuff too.

But if I look back to 2016, from my own personal perspective, it was ok.  Wasn’t horrible.  Wasn’t spectacular either.  It was like most years, a bunch of similar days where some minor stuff happened that made a particular day or time period almost memorable.  So here are some.

Jan 5:  Got a Facebook Message from an old college friend that I hadn’t talked to in 3 years and have not seen in 14.

March 2016:  Begin painting the kitchen.  It’s long overdue.  We moved into our house in July of 2001 and it has not been painted since then.  It is really gross and I can barely stand to be in it.

Mar 10:  Got a voicemail from old college friend after avoiding his messages for 2 months.

Apr 22:  Complete my 44th revolution around the sun.  Receive 1st in a series of awesome t-shirts this year.img_3225img_3700

Apr 27:  Awesome haircut.  First different hairstyle in many years and first in a series of yearlong awesome haircuts.img_3232img_3547img_3398

Early May:  Finish painting kitchen.  I’ll burn it down before I paint it again.

June 22nd:  First family mammal pet obtained from the Humane Society.  She’s a bit mean and bites sometimes but we love her anyway.img_3383img_3448

End of June:  I literally give a one handed, shirtless man the shirt off of my back.

July 3rd:  I find out where the sidewalk ends.img_3494

July 9th-July 17th:  Northern Wisconsin vacation with in-laws.  I see a deer and a heron.  It rains 10+ inches in one night.  Major flooding and roads closed and collapsed.  We still had fun though.img_3596img_3583img_3585

July 9th:  Day of arrival up North – drunk woman breaks barrier of small bridge down the road and observable from our cabins back yard.  Car tire hangs over bridge briefly but she is able to get away before car plunges into river.  I am slightly disappointed.

Mid July after vacation:  I begin to eat better and to walk every night.  Eventually lose 10+ lbs.

Aug 6th-Aug13th:  Northern Wisconsin vaca#2 with family.  I see another deer.  Lose every type of game we play, including getting crushed at Boggle for 4th consecutive year by various family members.  Play a bunch of Shrek pinball and remember that I really like pinball.

Mid-Aug:  On walks around the neighborhood I meet the “Pig Lady.”  She sits on the lawn in front of her apartment building smoking cigarettes.  I stop and say hello and she tells me she is not a pig, that all the pigs are at the state fair that is going on.  I tell her it’s too bad for the pigs because it’s so hot it must suck for them.  We talk a few more times into late summer.

Sept 10th:  Meet up with guys from a band I hung out with in the ’90’s as they record their first songs in 20+ years.  Band led by buddy who contacted me at beginning of March.  We’ve been talking on and off all year.  Band reunion coming in March 2017.  It’s all pretty dope.

End of Sept:  Stop walking and eating well.  By end of year have gained back the 10lbs and then some.

Nov 2nd:  Cubs win World Series.  Secondary to the Cubs Hat cake I score by losing a bet that they would win.  I said I would eat a Cubs hat if I did.  The guy I bet with has an awesome cake made so I don’t have to eat a real hat.

Nov 13th:  Attend NOFX show – punk rock band from early ’90’s.  1st music show of any kind by about 20 yrs.

Nov 24th (Thanksgiving):  Win my first round of Boggle ever with a 6 point round.  Still lose game by a lot.

Dec 13th:  Attend 1st political protest as The Orange Menace is in town on his “victory” tour.  Nearly get frostbite on my toes and don’t feel warm until halfway through the next day.  Still though.

Dec 21st:  Ice dams on roof in back of house results in water leaking into kitchen and kids bedroom.  Paint job from earlier in year slightly ruined.

Dec 22nd:  Hand homeless lady holding sign at intersection where highway ends on Lisbon Ave. 5$.  Wish I had more.

Yeah, not much and not sure I would call them “highlights.”  I’m sure a bunch of other stuff happened, good and bad.  It’s just some stuff I’ve remembered.

I know all the other stuff is important, the celebrities and the politics and all of it.  It’s important to me too.

I realize, though, that sometimes I forget that real life – the real life, my real life, is more important than all of that other stuff.  I measure myself and my life and my worth against all of those other’s lives, and those other lists, and how it affects me, or how I think it affects me.

But looking back, 2016 wasn’t so bad.  It wasn’t great, either.

All that other stuff, that happens to the tiny fraction of people who are famous enough to be on TV, or in the movies, or on the internet.

I’d like to have those kinds of lives – be famous, have power, have money, influence people.

But for me, and maybe people like me – all of us really – our years are measured by the little things we remember.  We hope for the good – a child born, employment, sustainability, health.  We – I hope we all make it through the year and that our – my bad days and sad days are outweighed by the good days or the happy days.  I think most of the time a neutral day is victory enough.

I don’t mind if you have New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t make them.  I don’t think they really work but whatever.

For me, it’s just one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, and hopefully a years worth of days will add up to something.  Hope for the best, strive and try to achieve.  That’s good stuff.

But if you’re reading this, you made it.  And if you did, then 2016 was a good year.

Let’s go get it in 2017.

 

 

 

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