Category Archives: Personal

I Own My Story

It’s true that my memory isn’t perfect and sometimes I exaggerate to amplify a point. But the story is mine, outlining a world I created in my imagination in response to the people, places, things and thoughts around me.

If you going to visit it, please remember that if you want to play a good character, you can’t be an ass and expect a starring role. I’ll try to minimize your story arc if you’re misbehaving but no promises in this regard can be made or kept.

I’ve used variations of the above for several years, as people struggled against my right to express the content of my life, even if I sometimes made errors in its telling.

When I started walking frequently, I downloaded an insane number of TED talks and similarly-structured audio files. I was walking near one of my favorite spots listening to my second TED talk of the day when Anne Lamott’s segment started.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

 

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This quote reverberated through my head. It conveyed almost exactly the sentiment I’d felt for years. It’s one thing to know something – and another when a bona fide voice of authority echoes your idea.

Now, I use Anne’s quote instead of my own original sentiment. Because I’m not the one who said these exact words, I can use them like a spear. Coming from someone who can be googled somehow grants the same idea some clout contrasted against my attempt.

So many people are reluctant to tell their stories. Some are worried they lack the ability to be honest and fair, while others are concerned that they lack the language skills to avoid being mocked. It’s a risk to tell a story, especially one which reveals a part of yourself to the world. It’s a risk not to, as well.

In my own world, I tend to be aware of not identifying everyone in my stories. It gives them the opportunity to continue on with their lives without my imperfect alterations. There are times, though, when I feel it necessary to describe people by name, relation or occupation. I hope it’s never out of malice but even I know that our minds behave in ways we don’t always recognize honestly.

I would hope that anyone reading this would welcome the chance to share their lives with those around them. Allowing people to experience our thoughts and lives is one of the only ways to experience a full life.

The stories are ours to share, for good, bad, or ugly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Gift of “Rectify”

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“It’s the beauty that hurts the most, not the ugly.” – Daniel

As a reader and lover of language, I sit in satisfied wonder after watching “Rectify.” It’s been said by many that it was the best show that no one was watching. Rarely do characters come so vivaciously to life, murmuring and whispering with such glib eloquence. Listening to the people in this show move through complicated lives in this show is the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing visuals as if they were a novel. Several times in the past, I’ve read of the love and admiration of this show and renewed my self-promise to immerse myself. Not until the show was finishing its run, however, did I stop gazing at it on my to-do list and start down the intricate road it travels. I regret not having been a part of it since it first aired but I will make amends by recommending it to anyone with a discerning taste for depth.

If you have the opportunity, please visit Netflix and give this treasure of a show an open door in your life. You won’t regret it, even if the pace seems to be too languid for you at the beginning. Oddly, if you describe yourself as an avid reader, I’m convinced that this show will be an immediate friend to your life.

The intelligence of this show astounds me. The people inhabiting the world it paints for us trip and fall, even as they see the obstacles in front of them. Countless times I watched the inevitable pain surprise them, only to see a parallel to my own life. The mirror it smashes into my face catches all the sublime idiocy of the steps we all take, regardless of the severity of circumstance.

From the show’s beginning, Daniel emerges from prison and instead of railing against the injustice, he perplexes everyone with a deeply insightful commentary on the world. I’ve had trouble explaining to people exactly what about the show was so captivating. “It’s about a man who is released from prison after almost 2 decades.” If that’s the case, “Sling Blade” is just a movie about an eccentric older man being let out of psychiatric care in the South. The particulars aren’t what brings forth the revelations: it’s the humanity inherent in so many scenes of this show.

It’s difficult for me to pull back from my enthusiasm for this show; it’s likely I’ve over-sold it people. Something about it forcefully reminds me of the wild emotion I felt the first time I finished “The Prince of Tides” and heard the words, “Lowenstein, Lowenstein, Lowenstein” reverberate in my mind.

If you need a gift for yourself, I recommend that you find a quiet moment to step away from your real life, sit down, and give “Rectify” the chance it deserves to unfold the way television should be revealed. It avoids the mega-dose of plot twists that doom so many potentially great tv shows or movies. Don’t let the initial premise of a condemned man’s unexpected release from prison trick you into thinking you understand what this show is about. The story is about us, individually and collectively, careening around the backdrop of what it means to be human.

The show itself is a crescendo of discovery as the seasons reveal themselves. By the end of season 4, you will find yourself under the gossamer veil of nostalgia, for a world you would love to live in. As the show ends, you will find yourself feeling restless for unknown highways and side roads, all hopefully leading to places where people like Daniel Holden might feel at home. (And allow us a moment to sit in their presence.)

If you are lucky, it will reveal glimpses of your own self that you’ve kept hidden slightly around the corner.

“Finding peace in the not knowing seems strangely more righteous than the peace that comes from knowing.” – Daniel

 

 

Ponder: The Lesson of Karl

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I think we should adopt the word “Karl” as a code word to indicate that we love someone deeply, even as we live flawed lives. Whether we like to admit it or not, even when we are comfortable with people, ‘love’ is a catch in our throats, often reluctant to escape.

“Sling Blade” is an iconic movie. Each time I watch it, I see it from a different point of view, and not only because I am not quite the same person as the last time I watched it. As tragic as it is, it is evocative of a life of connections that I would cherish.


After Doyle kicks Karl out of the house, Linda drives up as Karl is shuffling away. “You light him up in his eyes, I’ve seen it. He wouldn’t know what to do without ye….” Karl tells Linda, referring to her son Frank. Linda calls out, “Karl?” as he leaves.

When Karl leaves Frank his books, the sum total of everything he holds to be valuable in life; inside is a bookmark with the words “You will be happy” written on it. As Karl walks away, Frank turns to the trees and shouts, “Karl?”

Karl knocks on Vaughan’s door and hands him all the money he has in the world when the door opens. He tells Vaughan that he would be a good daddy to Frank and that he won’t be judged for who he is. “That boy lives inside of his own heart. It’s an awful big place….” Karl says and ambles away. Vaughan calls out, “Karl?”

Of course, Doyle looks up off-screen at Karl as he raises the sharpened lawnmower blade to kill him: “Karl?” Doyle asks, after talking calmly with Karl about being killed by him.

The last spoken word in the movie by Doyle, Vaughan, Frank, and Linda is the same: “Karl…?”

As broken as Karl’s life was, he managed to touch each of those people’s souls by his words and presence. In response, each one was powerless to respond at the same level with Karl.

I think we should agree to use “Karl?” as a code word in our daily lives. Using it would be a signal that conveys our deep understanding of who and what the person with whom we are speaking means to us.

Some words are like knives passing our lips, even when coated with the warmest regard and sincerity.

Honesty is a sharp weapon and truth is a hard master. Even in love.

“Karl,” I whisper to you all.

A Christmas Villa In The Living Room MMXVII

My wife Dawn greenlit my enthusiastic wish to build a Christmas villa in the living room this year. Using several hundred pictures, 100+ boxes, innumerable lights, a couple hundred ornaments and bits of crazy, a universal remote to control it all, a Festivus pole (for the rest of us, of course), hidden gift compartments, a house cat who daily prays for a gift to fall from above, and a huge dose of yuletide spirit… we present the most unusually-decorated living room you can possibly see all year.

I shot this video with Dawn performing the role of director. I drank 17 cups of coffee prior to shooting and I now regret telling Dawn her version was too jittery.

P.S. I wrote this version of “Carol of The Bells” myself so that social media sites couldn’t claim copyright. I hope you like that part, too. Writing music is another one of my hobbies, one which requires a commitment of time.

My living room has a vaulted ceiling, so the drunken rectangle I created piece by piece is approximately 8′ high, 15′ wide, and 20′ long. It’s difficult to grasp the scale unless you walk through the front door.

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A gallon of my patented Elf Juice, one which grants the imbiber the ability to decorate one’s domicile in the manner of Buddy The Elf.

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A necessary part of the structure is a cat bed constructed into the base of one of the 8 9-foot vertical columns. (Our cat’s name is Güino, given that he was a shelter cat, one rescued from the Feline Witness Protection Program.)
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The green-and-yellow picture is a wanted poster for my stepson Ty. A list of mostly imaginary crimes is listed at the bottom. To the right, you’ll note our infamous family portrait, just us two monkeys posing for the camera. (Dawn is on the left in the portrait, by the way.)
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Anyone who thinks I don’t like pictures, please take a note at this point. Despite ordering several hundred before I started, I found myself needing more as I neared what I thought would be the final push to completion.
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The columns are all tall and each one is connected in a drunken rectangle around the entirety of the living room. Looking back, it was a lot of work but if Dawn didn’t lose her mind watching me meticulously create each box, each column, and apply every picture and detail, I will look back on this in years to come and ask, “Why didn’t anybody stop me?” 🙂

There are both visible and concealed Christmas-themed quotes from some of my favorite books and movies for the season, too.
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Don’t be distracted by the backward clock. It comes in handy when visitors foolishly try to determine what time it is. Note the handsome couple in the background of the clock. Anyone with a spider phobia needs to walk around carefully, as the million streamers often touch you unexpectedly in the neck as you pass.
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What’s not visible in this barrage of pictures and Christmas insanity is my appreciation for life, one given to me in daily wonder and amused amazement.

To have the time, energy and ability to creatively express myself is a luxury which I don’t take for granted.

I have to admit, though, that this is a spectacle.

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Almost everyone I know has at least one picture of honor in the celebration. Some of the pictures are irreverent, but none fail to make us think or laugh. Or think then laugh.
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You’d never know it, but there are several presents hidden in plain sight around the room. Several might require demolition to access them but as we all know, that is what Christmas is all about.
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Taken from the kitchen, looking over the counter, perhaps waiting for Santa Claus to come inside and demand a pint of eggnog and a slice of pepperoni pizza.
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The Festivus pole certainly adds a dazzle to the room, doesn’t it? In keeping with the original intent of Festivus, I don’t adorn the pole with anything to distract us from its beauty. I’m convinced Dawn wants to accidentally recycle it sometimes – or give it to someone building a fence. If this were to happen, however, I would have no choice but to replace it from Wagner Steel and add her transgression to the following year’s “Airing of the Grievances.”
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Note that my genuine Daisy BB gun sits next to our wiretap device, ready at a moment’s notice if some crazed Christmas-hating Grinch attempts to enter the house and steal Christmas from us. Hint: such a person is going to need a truck, a saw and a mean disposition.

Also, the Grinch will have to depart with it all, as I took great care to conceal hidden compartments for gifts. I kept a treasure map, but I’m not certain even I was diligent enough to note them all.

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If anyone looks at this and wonders, “Is that ME?” – the answer is probably “yes.” And, you are welcome. Several hundred pictures used in this project makes it likely that if I know you and have shared any levity in our lives that you are part of this.
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Christmas quotes, ornaments, pictures from my life, pictures of iconic Christmas scenes, vintage Christmas ads, crayons, bows, ribbons – if it is interesting or unusual, I tried to find a way to include it in this.
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The above picture is of the column containing the cat bed on the bottom. I’m pretty sure there’s at least one hidden gift in this column I forgot to take note of during the initial stages of building this.
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Here’s a link to a previous post I did, one describing the last time I did this on a really large scale: 2011 Christmas Craziness2011 Christmas Craziness
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The above was taken from the reverse side of the decorations. Note the dollar bills. Here’s a link to explain what the dollars mean: Christmas Dollars Each Year
I didn’t take as many closeup pictures of the tree this year, even though we added several fantastic ornaments. Some of them I ordered and had custom-made, some were whimsy from different stores and events from our lives this year. I’ve met many people who’ve adopted a motley approach to their Christmas tree ornaments but I’ll be ornament-to-ornament that none shares a breadth of diversity like the collection my wife and me have. People tend to look closely at our tree and shout, “THIS can be used an ornament?!” and laugh, filing away the idea for later use.
Now that it’s done, I can look at the pictures and lights, and wonder about my year and the future which follows. Another Christmas, another year.

I Forgot To Post This

At 4:21 on a recent Sunday afternoon, I was walking the trail towards the declining sun. I’d just begun my walk and I was already anticipating the random thoughts and observations that would inevitably come.When I exited my vehicle, I was surrounded by at least 7 dogs, all of them vying for my attention as I crouched and rubbed their ears. The owner of a very large white dog kept saying, “MuffinTin, calm down!” in a weird, high-pitched voice. MuffinTin was as big as a small foreign car. If someone had a saddle at hand, we could have used him as a horse. By the way, I can also report that MuffinTin did not, in fact, ever calm down. He was galloping across the field with wild abandon as I walked along the wide curve of the trail. I could hear his owner shouting at him with her exotic and strange voice.

I cut through the serpentine portion of the trail, the section I love. I smelled the pungent smell of marijuana. It was a very strong odor, not a lingering one from someone who had toked with abandon and then abandoned the trailside. I imagined that the smoke was coming from someone in the thinning Autumn brush, someone who was hiding away from prying eyes. I looked around with curiosity but I couldn’t see evidence of anyone crouching in the brush, nor the obvious waft of smoke in the air. Out of amusement, I shout, “Dude, where’s my car?” one time with the faint hope of startling someone in the bushes.

As I exited the far end of the serpentine path and I noted a patrol car parked diagonally across multiple spaces in the parking lot. The lot is the one which faces a wide expanse of field, and the water park on the opposite side of the acreage. A sunglasses-wearing officer sits in the front seat, probably doing paperwork or swan origami. Who knows what police really do in these situations? I laughed to myself because I would have loved to run up to the policeman, tap the window and watch his expression as he cautiously lowered his window, listening to my incredible story of someone smoking pot probably within 30 yards of where he was sitting. I, of course, didn’t do this and not just because my walk is more important than ruining a cop’s lazy Sunday afternoon but also because I assume whoever is out there is an adult. If the policeman wanted to chase someone, I wish he’d come to my neighborhood and chase the guy who thinks urinating near the side of his house is a brilliant choice during daylight hours. Also, I’m pretty sure that guy wears superhero underwear.

On the return leg of my walk, I decide to return the same route. I pass the patrol officer, still sitting stoically in his patrol car diagonally across the lines. I noted that the license plate indicated _ _ _. I cut through the trees but saw no evidence of people, much less billows of smoke in the air. Just because I was feeling like it, I said, “There’s a policeman sitting over there in the parking lot, if you’re still here. PS: Anyone can smell what you’re smoking 100 furlongs away.” (Furlongs sounds more personal, doesn’t it?) No one answered my words, of course.

Even though it is not relevant to the story, I have noticed people drinking and smoking in strange places. Most of the time, I think they have forgotten they are visible from strange angles, much like when people argue without realizing their voices can carry through multiple hallways or across yards and fences. It would be fairly easy to write a book titled, “Things Overheard In Public.”

As I walked out of the denser part of the trail, a very large dog confined by the fence barked and howled at me. I ran up to pet him, half hoping he’d take a finger with a hungry growl and snap. (It’s always been a goal of mine to have an odd number of fingers.) Getting a finger torn off would be a great story, especially for the dog.

I asked the owner the dog’s name and he told me. I then ask him if the dog speaks English or Spanish. After looking at me as if I had morphed into a large snake, the owner said, “Both, of course,” and laughed.

I sometimes amuse myself by adding “Leave potato chips by trail” on my to-do list. Whoever was smoking probably had the munchies. They won’t put vending machines by the trail, and not just because the cord would have to be at least 6,034 furlongs in length.

And Now, A Word About Complaints

Among those frustrations we share in common as humans, perhaps none is as deeply pernicious as the specter of inaction in the face of a pattern of misbehavior. Each time the feeble question of “what could we have done” cuts deeper. It is difficult enough for an intelligent person to come forward at his or her own risk when silence is the easiest choice among glib options. In part, this is the major justification for pausing to listen attentively when someone steps forward with a complaint – even if no one else does. Silence, as we know, is just as likely to signify fear and distrust of the process as it is the absence of truth in the allegations. In the face of being ignored when speaking the truth, I am more surprised the table is not only pounded on with greater ferocity and frequency but also that the table is not overturned. Ignored complaints fester and make all of us lesser people.

While my post is personal and not born of any specific or recent event, I think it applies to current events as well. (P.S. Don’t ascribe motives or scenarios.)

Someone I am close to reluctantly got dragged into a lawsuit decades ago, one in which allegations against a prominent public figure were labeled as ridiculous. Those who came forward suffered a barrage of insults and distrust. As a result, the wrong side won and we will never know how much damage was done to other people.

Imagine the spectacle of that first person daring to come forward, knowing that her word was going to be questioned. Every scandal starts with an unsubstantiated allegation. Every truth starts as a heresy.

4 a.m. Is A Wonderful Life

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Yesterday, returning home from our day of avarice and caprice, I opened the surprises which had arrived. It’s trickier during the holidays, especially when my lists are full of weird and half-forgotten surprises.

First, I tore open the cabinet knobs I had ordered on Amazon. Each was packed in its own little cube. While my expectations when ordering were low, the company doubled the quantity they sent and the knobs were notably beautiful. They are ridiculously prismed, each a nexus of colors. Naturally, Dawn and I both loved them. I offered to replace her bathroom set, the one I had just installed, but she insisted that I go ahead and install them in my bathroom. Recently, after much delay, I finally got around to putting cabinet pulls on the drawers and doors of the house. Believe it or not, the builder didn’t do anything to address the convenience of actually living in the house. Dawn and I spent hours yanking on the drawers expecting them to open, only to walk away with snarled and snapped fingers. While I gnaw and chew on my fingernails like a crazed bear, Dawn keeps her fingernails orderly – and didn’t appreciate random nails flying off when simply trying to get a teaspoon out of a kitchen drawer. I finally overcame my misgivings and started drilling. As expected, I needed 6 different size screws to address the builder’s wildly inconsistent approach to cabinet installation. I used my highly advanced piece of cardboard template to place the holes. To my surprise, I finished it without a major fire, holes in the ceiling, or losing an eye or finger. I’m pretty sure Dawn was surprised too. When I chose the sets of knobs, I asked myself what a normal person might find to be appealing and followed that instinct. Had I followed my own, I would have chosen from the less-popular “Epileptic Color Shock” line of hardware. If I were to be assigned a Contractor Rating, I think it could be best summed up as “Don’t.”

Second, my much-ridiculed set of 5 remote outlet switches arrived. Dawn had previously expressed specific and snarky misgivings about this idea. After seeing what Hobby Lobby and Lowes charged, though (with one of these almost requiring a mortgage application simply to afford them), I found a set on Amazon which was an incredible deal. I needed a set of these so that we wouldn’t need to walk around the living room and need to perform acrobatics to reach the outlet switches. (I had previously ordered a set of Belkin switches, which were awesome, too, by the way.) If you didn’t know, my living room is a feat of Christmas engineering. The entire interior perimeter is covered by vertical and horizontal columns of craziness. I planned the light sets so that no particular outlet would be overburdened and so that I could add additional lights easily. Having just seen “Christmas Vacation” again no doubt inspired me to avoid having 25,000 lights plugged into a single outlet. P.S. While I am no fan of the builder of this house, having a modern electrical system is a miracle. It’s true that I paid to install an advanced system at the last house before we sold it, but having an electrical system designed to work is a laughably overlooked privilege in this life. Because I’m blind and stupid, Dawn used the magnifying glass to read the ‘pairing’ instructions for one of the remote-controlled outlets. Once I’m frustrated with a piece of technology, I’d rather do naked cartwheels on the freeway than continue to attempt to make something work. Dawn, on the other hand, is OCD and any unfinished check on her to-do list will turn her hair white until she can address it. Luckily, she figured out the last outlet snafu while I snarled and moaned in the kitchen. With a ‘click,’ we can now turn on all four million lights simultaneously with one remote. As Dawn says, it is not as satisfying as the clapper, but it’s a delight.

Third, another surprise arrived from MarriedToTheMetal (an Etsy seller). As has been the case for all my previous purchases, it was spectacular. I had to be clever and evasive (not to be confused with the Grinch’s “joyful and triumphant”) with Dawn so as to not arouse suspicions. When I clanged the gift with a loud metallic bang on the kitchen table, though, she immediately jumped to the conclusion I had illegally bought her yet another Christmas present. For those who don’t know, Dawn is one of those unfortunate souls whose birthday is on Christmas Eve. She’s a good sport about it. However, I have to maintain the fiction that my gifts are in fact given in celebration of her birthday rather than the yuletide season. She growls about me for buying too much- whatever that means. I just pretend she is suffering from a minor head injury and do what I want anyway. It’s a delicate arrangement and one which seems to be working decently well.

During this morning’s walk, I was surprised to find the Springdale Christmas tree was still lit. It’s a good thing, too, otherwise, I would have been tempted to turn on the tree manually from the connection hanging just below the Shiloh Square overhang. (It sounds suspiciously like I’ve investigated this before, doesn’t it? You would be correct if you assume this to be true. I have to continue to remind myself that the city didn’t create all this just for me, even if it continues to feel this way in the early hours of the morning.) The moon above was indeed a supermoon, although still only intermittently visible against the cloud cover. The concrete trails, however, shimmered in a luminous white ribbon as I walked. Many of the houses along my walk were still lit with holiday cheer. Despite the unseasonable warmth of the December morning, it was a glorious way to start the day.

I took a detour down Emma. From the square, I was hearing an unusual and arrhythmic flapping. It reminded me of special effects from a science fiction movie. My imagination was running wild – and without a saddle. It ultimately turned out to be Tyvek fiber sheeting a contractor had stretched across the façade of the first floor of a building undergoing renovation. When I turned around, I jumped a little in surprise. Someone was standing on the rooftop of the buildings across the street, smoking a cigarette. I waved at him. I think he was surprised I had noticed him, even above the brightly-lit and festive street. He waved back. We shared our respective moment of sonder, each of us bound to continue our day.

P.S. The tree twinkling is exactly how I feel most mornings as I experience the mundane surprises.

Supermoon Superseason Superceding

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Advisory: Possibly NSFW, depending on whether you like the smell of weird cheese or enjoy trying to clog dance after your leg falls asleep…

Before being sidetracked by frivolous detail, the picture is a 3-D one I made of my wife. Her eyes are googly and her hair made from a few dozen strands of ribbon slivers. It is a thing of beauty, even more so than the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story.” I’m certain that Dawn will grow to love it, as it hangs from the living room heater vent on the ceiling.

This is a story about a walk, but not really. I didn’t sleep well last night. Dawn had experienced some excruciating muscle cramps in her lower leg, the kind of erupting pain so intense that she would have traded a baseball bat to the elbow to lessen them. I’m not the best sleeper to begin with but the anticipation of waking up in a sudden sweat as the person next to me screams in the dark is not one to be enjoyed. Being unable to help except perhaps to be a prop to lean against only worsens the situation. My problem is that I want to do something clever, such as sing the lyrics to “Lean on Me.” To her credit, Dawn still hasn’t shot me in justified irritation, although I think I’ve mentioned that she keeps hinting that she wants me to buy her a crossbow and only one arrow to accompany it.

(We usually only scream in pain like that as we accidentally watch the nightly news, a feeling many of you might find to be familiar.)

I glimpsed the ominous orange supermoon only for less than a minute this morning. It was hanging low on the western horizon, somehow dodging the unexpected cloud cover. Even though I knew it was a fruitless attempt, I took a picture of it. It might as well be an image taken from an endoscopy procedure.

As I stood in the middle of Don Tyson Parkway, admiring the moon’s brief beauty, in the background I watched as a white dually pickup attempted to navigate the circumference of the double roundabout at high speed. As the truck rocked and bounced over the edge of the sidewalk, I hoped the driver was holding a steaming cup of hot coffee and that as he hit the obstruction unexpectedly, that the coffee boiled his nuggets as it spilled into his lap. Nothing evokes the spirit of Christmas like the sound of a reckless driver screaming from the consequences of his poor driving. (The best part of waking up is hot liquid in your cup, so to speak.)

I greeted this morning, along with the unusual soft brightness the obscured moon brought with it. The night hours had reset the monstrosity of the early part of my day yesterday. We all have our own issues and sometimes even when we do the right thing to correct them, they worsen. The trolls and sociopaths seem to be vigilant along the periphery of our lives. They wait, knowing they will be able to spread the opposites of happiness and joy, like sad black and blue glitter – or hateful holiday cards, ones filled with profanity and pictures of war and destruction. In my case, I wait, because no matter how idiotically people might behave, I will still have my keyboard. History will be written in farce, cleverly disguised as fiction. No matter what happens, I tend to say, “It will make a great story.” So far, time has given me a buffer to be able to laugh at everything.

Yesterday was also supposed to be the kick-off of phase two of the 2018 IBLCC weight-loss challenge. For reasons related to the last paragraph, that too fell through. Trolls are like the Stephen King’s Langoliers, except instead of eating time, they eat other people’s joy. I lost 30 lbs during phase one. In the interim, while waiting for my competition to catch up, I regained some of the weight back. (Which should be no surprise, given my insatiable urge to eat an entire pizza as if it were a fruit roll-up.) Phase two was going to both excuse and impetus to finally get to 200 lbs, which is still way too high for someone of my advancing years and historically untrustworthy arteries. Whiskey, salt pork and lard flow through my veins, at least genetically. None of these has fared well in scientific studies of longevity.

(I had an uncle who once insisted that he’d stopped drinking alcohol and eating bacon when they stopped tasting good. I think he meant it as a challenge.)

Once away from the absurd pseudo-rules of commerce, I had a fantastic afternoon. While Dawn was frolicking in Eureka Springs with her sister, I was adding a million yuletide touches to my massive architectural Christmas display. For those of you who are worried about the weight, don’t be; our house is on a concrete foundation. If I had to describe what it looks like, I would say it is a hybrid between what Will Ferrell as Elf did in the department store scene and how Steve Martin might design a children’s room for the holiday season if he ate an entire bag of magic mushrooms after browsing Etsy for 16 hours.

Before leaving this note, I’d like to tell all of you who were worried about the roundabout driver’s nuggets that he escaped injury. I waved at him as he passed. I could see his silhouette inside the truck cab due to the streetlights. He waved back as he went about his day, hopefully without further attempt to set a land speed record. Also, duallys are just about the ugliest vehicles on the planet.

Finally, I leave you with a poem, one written in a thoughtless moment of profane hilarity. This poem is much more enjoyable if you stand in the middle of a crowded room and recite it in a loud, raucous falsetto. If you have a special someone in your life who reminds you of this poem, stare into his eyes as you read it. Some hints require a little more effort.
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Don’t Water the Asses

Attention is their nitrogen
strife, their air

Their fruit always bitter
their beds stony with despair

By the time you sniff them out,
your life, too, becomes a derriere
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Still a Mystery

A Thanks:
Someone surprised me with two packages from the Mysterious Package Company. As the name suggests, the giver isn’t identified. Each shipment is a weirdly-themed motley assortment of clues, information, curios, and puzzlements.

The first package definitely threw me out of the boat with curiosity. Usually, it’s me being the circumspect eccentric catching everyone else off guard. This time, though, whoever sent me these put me at a disadvantage.  Trust me, I was as confused as a dog jumping up to catch a frisbee, only to find I’d caught a porcelain plate in my teeth. I used the newsletter from the first one (after reading it and piecing together the disparate pieces) to decorate a birthday present. It was a big hit. I made ornaments out of a couple of the pieces. There were a couple of the items which bedeviled me endlessly, such as the paper and cardboard wind-up birdhouse.

These things are difficult to describe. The company making them has full-scale complicated stories which come in stages – and stand-alone surprise boxes. (You can google The Mysterious Package Company if you are interested in what craziness I’m describing here.)

If you received a strange postcard, it is because I thought you might have been the person who surprised me with these. If you didn’t get a postcard and you are the guilty party, thanks. Some of them are mailed from the future, by the way, which makes things exceedingly complicated, given that we are living in the present. I assume we are, anyway.

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A Little Post With Cat and Color

For quite a while, I’ve had several prisms hanging behind the blinds of the ‘other’ bedroom. Güino loves the sunlight and the colors, often following the trajectory through the afternoon.

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As you can see from the above picture, I had a nice Xmas ornament made with my cat’s picture.

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