Category Archives: Behavior

Random Saturday

Random Saturday

I stood on the landing outcrop. Light rain started about 6:15. It felt like a gift to just let it softly pelt me. Rain has been a distant stranger lately. It’s odd because some Septembers have been torrential.

Earlier, I mistook a visitor to be one of my neighbors. We exchanged pleasantries from opposite corners. I gave him the rest of a bottle of vodka. I already knew he had stayed up at night playing the role of reveler. He is very young, so burning the middle night oil is a requirement for him. It takes a long time to discover that almost everything that happens after 9 p.m. is probably not as meaningful as it seems. Perhaps I sound old saying that. I am old. But I have luckily not forgotten how stupid most of us were when we were younger. When misadventure was mistaken as a sign that we were living life to the fullest.

The picture of the teacup is from my recent jaunt and stay in Compton. Arkansas, not California. Sometimes I sign the inside of one of the teacups from my dear departed friend Jackie – and then hang it in plain sight. Erika signed this one with me. I dared the tall grass, chiggers, and hidden snakes to put it in a tree on the perimeter of the wilderness. I love imagining people finding them accidentally. Surely there are others like me who get lost in wondering about what led to it being placed there. I’ve left so many artifacts in Northwest Arkansas, some in the most unlikely places. A lot of them have been right under the noses of the people I know. Such secrets make me happy.

Did you know that smart televisions use about 18W of power? That’s about two LED light bulbs left on 24/7. It’s not a significant amount, but most people don’t even think about energy consumption for items plugged in yet turned off. Remember when grandma would unplug EVERYTHING because of “the electricity!”

For newer houses or remodels, I can’t believe electricians aren’t installing whole-house surge protectors. They reduce almost all chances of a surge damaging your electronics. I’ve yet to see a homeowner have it explained to him or her and have them say, “No, I don’t want that.” If I were using a rural power grid, it’s the best little bit of money you’ll ever spend. And might save your life, too. I’m surprised that many people don’t know that all power strips don’t offer surge protection. There’s a huge difference in the distinction. Another misconception: most people’s houses do nothing to stop lightning strikes from frying everything (Even really expensive surge protectors you bought at Best Buy). Whole house surge protection going through your main line is about the only way to avoid that sort of catastrophe. Really. It’s true.

Although people think it’s a boring subject, I’d like to mention water heaters, which use a huge chunk of your energy budget. First, most people have their water heaters set too high. Second, when you get a new unit, you should always buy a hybrid heat pump water heater. They pay for themselves in two to three years. They are incredibly efficient and will save you a LOT of money compared to a traditional one. Third, for the love of god, please install moisture-sensitive alarms near your water heater. (And fridge, too, if it has a water line.) Since I’m throwing out random facts, the average shower uses 2 gallons a minute. If you have a luxury bathroom, it might be twice that. Your dishwasher uses between 4 and 6 gallons of water. Larger tank water heaters are more “convenient,” of course, but most of the cost of your water heater is lost efficiency, as it must maintain a set temperature in the tank even when you’re not using it. Tankless and on-demand water heating systems are the best if you don’t have a large family or all six of your siblings living with you “temporarily” for five years while they “figure things out.”

By the way, it’s good to brag that your fridge or washer/dryer is twenty years old. Really, it is. What you don’t realize is that old appliance is drastically more expensive to use than their modern counterparts. Replacing the old one would have paid for itself in a few short years. The energy consumption of a new fridge versus one twenty years old is staggering. You might be saving something from going into the landfill, that’s true, but your carbon footprint is amazingly bigger due to the old appliance’s inefficiency.

I still get a lot of flack for being mostly oblivious to gas prices. I just don’t notice. I have to have gas, so the price is irrelevant. It’s made me much happier than most of the people I know. If money is tight, I would drive less – rather than obsess over getting the cheapest gas. I know someone who drove 11 miles in each direction to save twenty-five cents a gallon. (Excluding the fact that you wait in line and spend thirty minutes of your life going there and back. Time is not replaceable.) I calculated that it cost them $4.05 to drive. They retorted, “Aha! That’s less than I saved!” To which I replied (expecting that answer), “Aha! It costs an average of thirty-five cents a mile for the wear-and-tear and maintenance of your vehicle, doofus. Even if you don’t maintain your car properly, let’s say it’s fifteen cents a mile. You spent MORE driving to SAVE than you saved. It’s math, not your feelings.”

Confession: I am not a money genius. I waste it like nobody’s business. I acknowledge my stupidity, though – and try not to defend it.

Clever joke: hand someone a pair of work boots. They will undoubtedly say, “What are these for?” Just laugh and don’t explain the obvious comeback line to them. Just shake your head disapprovingly.
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i jumped from the bed as i always do

not caring, not looking, not even for a shoe

i remember when my body was a weight

as if i’m not it and it’s not me

i don’t worry about how i look

i’ve done what i can

every other man in the world can worry

not me, not ever, never again

i will take what i have

my battery was once low, my spirit unproud

now it’s me, ridiculous perhaps

it seems like arrogance though it’s not

its acceptance for the cards i’ve drawn

and the hand i’ve played with them

i hear the sand trickling down the glass

so it’s me, it’s you

we both better get off our ass

acceptance is cheaper than fixing what ain’t broken

choose your path, now that i’ve spoken

so many of you are beautiful

some inside, some out

yet you let temporary worry

fill you with doubt

Love, X
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We Cut

“If you never heal from what hurt you, you will bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”

I’ve written about this topic before. We carry our wounds and issues, often in plain sight of everyone except ourselves.

This statement states it in a way that exceeds pithiness.

I made the image, too.

X
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Personal Post 76

It is possible that one death prevented another catastrophe.

It woke me up to the fact that other people would be devasted by more loss.

I don’t know what another two weeks might have brought.

Whether a fortuitous accident, fate, or simple happenstance, the universe rolled in my favor this time.

It’s been almost a year since my emergency surgery.

Thereafter, I committed to a ‘reset’ project. I failed at that on a couple of levels. I’ve kept the weight off and stayed active. My failures were personal.

The funk I experienced not so long ago wasn’t that much more profound than others I’d temporarily passed through. It was like a mile-long curtain of beads hanging from a doorway I was attempting to go through. I did, however, get wrapped in those beads, ones which got heavier the further from their source I traveled. The feedback loops in my head trapped me there. My feet were moving step by step, but no motion propelled me.

It’s a dangerous place to be.

I understand it much better now.

Being humbled does that to you. Having to look at yourself harshly is never a comforting experience.

Our egos have a way of whispering with too much bravado.

Someone in my circle recently suffered a profound loss, one which will forever demarcate her life into the before and after.

I don’t want to be a part of anyone’s loss or regrets.

The curtained beads are behind me again. I hope I retain the lesson, though. I always hate that I forget the primitive lesson of loss I learned in 2007.

No matter what happens, you have to “Get busy living or get busy trying,” something I originally was going to add to this post.

I woke up this morning with so much energy that I could feel it radiating off of me. I hope that energy converts to motivation and enthusiasm. Without those, life is a series of responses to the world around us.

I chose the picture for this post because it’s one I took a year ago when I was just happy to be outside feeling the sun on my face. That was enough – just literally standing outside in a foreign place, surrounded by trees and distant people in the periphery. Gurus have maintained for centuries that simplicity is one of the components of happiness. I’m not sure any of those gurus had to live life in this modern world.

Love, X

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Black & White Intentions

“We are very good lawyers for our own mistakes, but even better judges for the mistakes of others.”

One of the hardest things as a human is to swallow the urge to correct people who have misconceptions about you. We all come to our own conclusions, draw inferences, and make assumptions about other people, ones which are based on our own observations and intuition. No matter how carefully you talk, behave, or think, people will fiercely defend the conclusions they’ve come to. At times, they are simple misconceptions. Others? They are villainous views, ones that hit you at the core. No matter what led you to act or talk in a certain way, it’s a certainty that you’re going to be misunderstood. No matter your defense, your arguments, or your intentions, you’re going to have to develop the ability just to let it go.

All of this is why so many memes, reels, and TikToks exist to remind us that we must do our best to swallow the drive to correct people’s erroneous assumptions. Those assumptions belong to them rather than us. That doesn’t mean they are always wrong. Each of us gets blind to our stupidity or can’t find a way to accept how we’ve behaved. If you jump out of a tree, you’re going to have to land whether you’re prepared for it or not. You might not remember climbing the tree or why you did it, but you’re going to have to prepare to hit the ground.

It’s hard enough for me to live my life and with myself and thoughts without fighting intrusions from people who have written a different narrative. It’s doubly troubling when I’ve made mistakes that weren’t ill-intentioned or nefarious yet get filtered that way. Complicated situations and emotions become reduced to black-and-white decisions. I wish life were that simple or that I had the constancy of purpose and drive to avoid them.

Looking around, I see that most people are rowing in the same boat. If we’re rowing in the same direction, it’s folly to use our oars to pummel one another.

Love, X
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Arrogance Of Circumstances

It is true my apartment, absent my presence and decorations, has the ambiance of a Yugoslavian prison camp.

However, I don’t remember riches being a prerequisite
for great ideas. My grandma Nellie had very little education and never a lot of money. Yet some of the wisest words and kindest gestures of affection came from her and spoke to my heart and mind. It’s true she often threatened to box my jaws or get a switch after me. Unlike others in my life, she didn’t do so unless it was one of those rare occasions I wasn’t listening to her. It was an amazing example and juxtaposition to experience her brand of loving discipline in comparison to my mercurial and unpredictably violent parents. Grandma was always poor. But the place and home I hold dearest in my heart throughout my entire life was a shotgun house built with tar paper and tin roof.

To discount someone or insult them based on the condition of their living space is to negate any possibility of being open to learning from any source. To do so is to inadvertently reveal an understandable but also snobby attitude. I’m living proof that profound things can come from the dumbest person. Besides, if you don’t have someone like me to roll your eyes at, it is tantamount to being iron-deficient.

My place is better for my presence. Weirder, too. Improved, though, simply because I don’t believe that one’s current living situation is necessarily a reflection of their personality or character. It’s true I sometimes forget this and catch myself making presumptions about those who live in such places.

Any of us can lose everything at any moment. Or have to start over.

Given that I’m poor, it’s a good thing that I live so much in my own head.

Love, X

PS The picture wasn’t originally in color. It’s of my maternal grandparents. They aren’t happy in this picture. Though I don’t trust my memory, I believe it was taken at the house near White Cemetery, the one that preceded the happy place that I recall with love and fondness‚Ķ
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The Curtain

I’ve written personal stories about my dad Bobby Dean. He was violent and loved alcohol. He went through at least a few years smoking marijuana, too. As did mom, who would be mortified to see me write this. For people with multiple DWIs and violence issues, it’s still odd to me that they were worried about something like that. As I’ve aged, a lot of the hardness I had toward dad dissipated, in part because of the human overlap I share with him. Including base emotions. He was responsible for a lot of carnage. Paradoxically, he infected me with a sense of humor that I like about myself. There were times he genuinely helped people. The same is true for mom. It’s a struggle to separate the dichotomy of that realization.

Especially because of my multiple and ongoing surprises with both DNA and genealogy, my belief that it’s stupid to fight the disclosure that history drags with it. It doesn’t change history; it merely mirrors it. Talking openly about someone or what they did or didn’t do doesn’t change history. Revelation should not be shunned because of the possible ramifications of needing to adjust your viewpoint or opinion. Truth is truth. You can turn away from it, but it remains, whether to illuminate or to tarnish.

No matter what personal mistakes a person makes, they might otherwise have monumental or mundane accomplishments. Dumb people sometimes say intelligent things. Someone might surprise us with their dedication toward a social or religious cause. Smart people? They are the worst about careening into the abyss in their personal lives.

Behind it is a human being. They have vices, anger, sexual issues, or be terrible spouses and parents. When we get to know someone, we go beyond the easy socialization and familiarity we have with people. There’s a lot hidden behind most people’s curtains.

Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world in so many ways. Yet, as history peels back like an onion, we discover that he had numerous affairs. He was with another woman the night before, and the day he was assassinated. He smoked and didn’t like the image it portrayed, so he kept it a secret. Times were different back then, and though the FBI violently tried to tarnish his reputation and mitigate King’s accomplishment, news outlets didn’t take the bait. Because he was also a minister, it adds a level of incredulity to most people’s heads when they dive into everything hidden behind his public persona.

JFK followed the same trajectory. He was a political visionary but also had a torrid personal life.

Gandhi? He had some wildly racist views. History indicates that he had some strange views on sexuality and was undoubtedly bisexual. You can find reputable sources and look them up yourself. When you read these words, please remember that I’m a liberal. If people are consenting and wish to live their lives the way they choose, I am without criticism. Gandhi didn’t always express his life with consenting people.

Mother Theresa? It’s almost sacrilege for most people to hear reminders that she had so much baggage that I don’t even know where to start.

I wrote earlier in the week about Dr. Seuss, a writer who gave the world a love of words and fundamental poetry. He was not his public persona.

We all write our biographies each day with the choices we make, the words we say, even the things that we believe to be hidden.

I don’t have a premise, theory, or moral to this post either.

Just thoughts piled on the floor like laundry.

X
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Of A Morning Encounter

Earlier this week, at a very early hour, I had a human moment, one which I will write about cautiously, against my nature.

Just a couple of nights earlier, I listened as a neighbor sat outside. His mind was at high elevation, so to speak. He had his phone in front of him, singing loudly and with an absent melody. His voice carried, even against the strident insistence of insects. I couldn’t help but laugh at the content of the song he sang. I wasn’t laughing at him per se; but his delivery and vocal content were so amusing that I couldn’t help but laugh involuntarily. So much so that even days later, I find myself singing a certain segment of what he sang.

On the morning in question, I stood on the balcony. The neighbor sat below. Something about his demeanor signaled that something was amiss. His mind was clear – and that surprised me. “I just need to talk to someone.” So, even though I needed to leave for work, I did. And he told me a story about dear friends, ones who’d moved away. Betrayal had struck them like it does so many. As we talked, his mood lifted, and I gave him a practical distraction about the absurdities of human behavior and its consequences.

It’s the terrain I know too well. I suspect most of us find familiarity in the map of mixed emotions.

I went inside, petted the cat, and headed out again. As I sat in my car, way before sunrise, I looked at him again, still sitting in silence in front of his apartment.

I ignored my inner voice and exited the car, walked over to him, and hugged him. He sobbed for a bit and then thanked me.

Presence.

It’s overlooked and sometimes feared.

But who among us doesn’t want it and need it like the oxygen we breathe?

Each of us will have a turn in our own flooded boat. Perhaps it will be invisible to those around us.

The rain falls on all of us.

I don’t have a moral to the story or a tidy bow to crown it.

Just shared words.

Sometimes, that is more than enough.

Love, X
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