Carpe Vinum Like a MoFo

This morning, I drove across town, heading back. I felt like I had been on another planet for a day. In a way, I guess I had. Whenever you find yourself in a transition in life, try to take a moment to snapshot how you’re feeling. That feeling later morphs into comfort or consolation, no matter what the ‘after’ you find yourself in looks like. Life is going to sneak up on you anyway. And no matter what you’re planning, some of the things that you dread reveal hidden treasures – while other certainties end up fizzling or filling you with disappointment.

Yesterday, to my horror, I realized that pink fuzzy dice are prominently featured in the amazing book, “The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste.” It’s a good thing my set of pink fuzzy dice can’t read English, or their feelings would be hurt. To my delight, many things I like had their respective pages. “Everything is in bad taste to someone,” I like to remind myself.

I also became a fun memory for someone yesterday. He’d never had someone come in and say, “I want however much pico de gallo $20 will buy. I ain’t here to negotiate. Whatever it is, it is.” To my surprise, it was a LOT. And they threw in two bags of unrequested chips and salsa for free. After I paid for my order, a shorter Latino man came around the corner. The cashier pointed at me. (He didn’t know I was looking at him askance.) The Latino man looked in my direction. I waved like I was recently injured in the head. It was apparent to me that he had poked his head out to see ‘who’ ordered so damn much pico de gallo. He hastily retreated as I waved to him. I told the cashier in Spanish, “Does spying cost extra?” He laughed.

I’m also 100% sure that the two workers in the liquor store I entered thought I was trying to steal. Naturally, I made at least five needless and random tours around the smaller store. I thought about ducking below the top to REALLY draw their interest but don’t want to be banned from another liquor store.

On my walk yesterday, I discovered so many hidden gems, hideaways, and unexpected pleasures. On one dead-end side street, I discovered new and fabulous houses. The style was so odd that I realized I loved it. It’s not something I would ever choose, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m impressed. At the outlet of that street, I stopped and did pushups. The smell of the towering mimosa tree was unbelievable. I stood under it as the purposeful wind swirled the scent around me.

I also got reminded this weekend of how much turmoil some people have to endure. Some suffer so much invisibly that they don’t come out of it alive. Having done the one wise thing I’ve done in a year and going to counseling gives me an entirely different appreciation for those who don’t go when they need it. Right now, I am sure that someone will read this and be one of those people who secretly have a private feedback loop running in their head, the one telling them that there’s no point or that maybe they shouldn’t be here. Counseling isn’t what you fear it might be. But it can be the starting point. And so many people would benefit from getting a handle on their issues now. We don’t realize we’re at the beginning of an avalanche until we’re half-buried in snow. The best gift you can give someone is the confidence you need in yourself to be able to tell them that they would benefit from getting help. And if you’re the person needing help, give yourself the gift by confiding in someone that you need help.

I stopped this morning and bought two containers of chalk, one of which I almost entirely used, making a ‘small’ homage somewhere in Springdale. A couple of people witnessed me in action but said nothing to discourage me. It’s too bad I wasn’t wearing pants. (Just kidding about the no-pants portion. Although that much chalk residue is a real problem at times.) It’s not like chalk is graffiti; it’s as impermanent as we are, though we cavalierly pretend otherwise as we move around on the face of this planet.

Leaving the grocery store, I saw an older Latino man ahead. Both arms were weighed down with liquor store bags. I slowed, checked behind me, and tossed the myriad mess from my passenger seat into the back. Pulling up alongside the man, I rolled my window down. (Yes, my Spark has roll windows, which is something that I love the idea of.) “Hop in,” I told him in Spanish. He politely declined. I insisted and repeated my first line with a bit of salty language. He laughed and put the bags on the floorboard as he climbed inside. I saw that he had Harps bags tucked inside each liquor store bag. (For those few people who don’t drink, black liquor store bags are much stouter than their grocery store counterparts.) About halfway inside, he realized how small the car was. “Where are you headed? I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.” It turned out he was staying a couple of miles up the road. I asked him he needed anything: money, food, a ride somewhere else… “No, but thanks,” he said. He told me he was working twelve hours a day and sleeping in the garage of one of his friends. I didn’t pry, but he volunteered that the last year was the worst year of his life. Without thinking, I said, “You’re paying the price now to have your life back.” He looked at me, and I realized that I probably touched a nerve. “Verdad.” He got out, picked up his bags. He nodded his head as a farewell as he walked up to the house.

I opened the garage door and fired up the grill to make grilled chicken breasts and portabello mushrooms. Almost immediately, a dog wandered up. For a brief second, I thought he was going to attack. Unexpectedly, he ducked his head and began to wag it back and forth, his eyes downcast. I kneeled and petted him like he was my dog, oblivious to the initial idea he might bite. After I finished petting him for a couple of minutes, he laid on the garage floor, content. I found some old smoked turkey breast and put it on the ground. He ate it, his tongue working across his snout long after he finished it. When I finished grilling, Guajolotero, as I named him, still was sprawled out on the garage floor. I cut up one of the huge chicken breasts, along with a portabello mushroom, and fed them to him. He ate slowly but thoroughly. Even though he still licked his chops, I petted him again. Afterward, he casually plopped down to rest again. Apparently, he adopted me. If that’s the case, I will hope he doesn’t expect freshly grilled chicken and mushrooms on the daily.

Two hours later, he’s still in the garage, chilling.

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“It doesn’t matter who you’ve been with, it matters who you end up with.”
Anonymous wisdom
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“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, if you’ve made amends as much as you can, it only matters who you end up to be. None of us are ever finished – and those who think they are, well, they are ‘finished’ in quite another way.” – X
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Something I learned in counseling.

Do you feel like you failed today, or worse, that you were a failure?

If you’re alive, you succeeded in doing something, even if it is the minimum necessary.

Tomorrow, survive again.

Stop expecting a dramatic crescendo of satisfaction from each of your days and eventually, gratitude for JUST the minimum will take root.
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I hope to get my hands on this door, to help in transition into something else.

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Love, X

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