A Mix Of Things

One of the benefits of having hundreds of extra full-size candy bars is that it is easy to reward the growing list of delivery people showing up at the house. It’s rare for a driver to respond without appreciation as I hand them a couple of candy bars. It’s like a tip, except it’s for people we wouldn’t normally tip. If I were left to my own devices, I think I would have a basket of chips, cookies, and candy bars – and let the driver choose. If you’re interested in experimenting with it, I recommend you give it a try. It’s a benefit to the driver and it will lift your spirits a little. It might make the driver make a little more effort for your deliveries in the future.

Note: I have hundreds of full-size candy bars. But I haven’t eaten a candy bar in at least seven months.

Potato chips are a bigger risk than candy bars ever will be. The easier method to deal with temptation is to simply not have unhealthy snack choices in the house. I can’t make that decision for everyone, even if the presence of ‘real’ chips is akin to a bag of cocaine lying on the counter. The same is true for real cheese of any kind.

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I visited a Dollar General store the other day. As I often do, I grabbed a helium balloon from the party aisle, took it to a huge cemetery near my house, and let it go. This time, I wrote words on a scroll of paper, rolled it up, and tied it to the truncated balloon string. (Sort of like the “write-the-letter-you’ll-never send.”) I didn’t plan on getting a balloon that day. But the balloon corral on the ceiling was stuffed with innumerable balloons. I’ve done the balloon thing on and off my entire life. It’s a stupid bit of fun trying to see how long you can spot the balloon against the immense backdrop of the sky.

It was damn near impossible to take good pictures that day, being close to noon. The sun was relentlessly beating down, washing everything out in a bright pattern. I planned to park on the newer section but the caretaker was struggling to mow the 4,500-gravestone cemetery on that end. I walked out to a random section and took a couple of selfies. I noticed by coincidence that I was standing in front of one of tombstones of one of a friend’s grandparents. It gave me a laugh, the coincidence.

Recently, I told a therapist that I loathe the entire concept of burial, but that I love cemeteries. She laughed. We could have talked for four hours about the absurdity of our rituals. Cemeteries fascinate me. Not just the range of names and types of stones, but the idea that there are thousands of stories buried where I’m standing, lives as complicated as mine, and all of them extinguished.

Like the life on this eye-catching stone. Leonard “Cowboy” Kilpatrick. I could discover so much about his 37-year life. Were I to kick over a few clues, I have no doubt that I might find myself with a longer list of questions. He had a lot of siblings. Whenever I go deeply into someone’s story, one like Cowboy’s, it never fails that a strange series of revelations and coincidences would align. I’m still in awe of how many ways all of us are both separated and overlapping. I don’t find it macabre that we’re all marching toward oblivion, although the loss of so many stories continues to bother me.

I forgot how much I love the terse prose style of Robert Parker, and of his Jesse Stone character. Most people seem to know him from the CBS movies starring Tom Selleck. While Pat Conroy’s purple prose resonates in my heart, the stripped-down way Parker wrote fascinates me.

My cat Güino stares at me from his perch in the bedroom window. The sun is making sporadic appearances this afternoon. If the rays are bright enough, the prisms cast their rainbows around me. The absurd thickness of the pillow is amusing.

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Take a hard look at the circumstances and context of the words, “You’ve changed,” or “You’re not the person you used to be.” Clinically speaking, it is possible that the person saying this is saying it because you’ve stopped behaving in a way they want you to.

This isn’t necessarily an indictment of you – or the other person.

Sometimes, though, it is.

There’s no two ways about it. We all need to grow, change, adapt. Especially if any part of our behavior isn’t reflective of who we are or who we want to be.

I was asked to examine the phrase intensely: “You’re not the person you used to be.” It’s a therapy response. One of the things I came away with is this: IF someone says it to you in an emotional or angry way, it can’t be taken at face value. There’s no proper defense against it, and not just because all good adults change significantly.

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I almost forgot to start taking allergy medication again this season. Allergy medications confound my hunger response. And no matter what the packaging says, it causes both sluggishness and excitedness, no matter what it is supposed to do.

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Someone related to my deceased wife went back to prison for something related to her parole. I don’t have any details but it’s distracting and needless. A few years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to keep her connected to her old life and to imagine there was a reason to hold out hope. I can’t imagine going from living a normal life to being put back inside. She’s 26 with a young daughter.

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One of the objectives of me going to therapy is to figure out cognitively what shifted in me that makes it harder for me to sleep. I’ve never been one to require eight hours. But having gone through a phase where sleep evaded me taught me that it is very dangerous for me to go very few nights with inadequate sleep, especially less than five hours. I learned that it is stupid of me to try to make decisions or to hold conversations while in such a state. Trying to keep a sleep record is harder than it sounds, too.

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Regarding men on social media: As the tendency to post a profile picture of himself wearing sunglasses increases, so too do the odds he is a narcissist.

Corollary: the greater your resistance to this idea, the more likely that you tend to think such men are more attractive.

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I letter bombed Ford Motors. They chose to not do the right thing in regard to a failed transmission with my Ford Focus, which had only 55K miles on it. I bombarded their social media people first. When that went nowhere, I shifted to a comprehensive letter containing the history of the failed transmission design and my involvement. I mailed that letter to several different people within the company. It was like the old days, when “Letters From A Nut” was something I aspired to. I finally got a tepid response back from Ford. Just like Andy Dufresne did in “Shawshank Redemption,” once he got his foot in the door with the bean counters, he started writing TWO letters a week. After all, what is it really going to cost me to try to get Ford to do the right thing? Shame on Ford. Callous behavior is expected of large impersonal corporations, of course. But that’s why I shouldn’t take it personally: they screw everyone equally. Or mostly equally. There’s comfort in that.

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I bet you will find something interesting in this article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/04/deep-friendships-aristotle/618529/

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