Thursday, March 30, 2006

Turning the corner again

This past month has been a little topsy-turvy, but things seem to be on the right track. This past month, some friends have let me down, others have been awesome, and another still I'm trying to figure out, but I'm taking my time. Many things that seemed bad really weren't, and other things that seemed wonderful have become quite cloudy. In the end, almost everything is looking better today than it was any time recently.

My dad had major back surgery a few years back (couldn't feel or even control his legs at times), and it was quite an undertaking. Earlier this month it seemed as if a similar procedure was needed to correct the same problem elsewhere on his spinal chord. Yesterday my dad had a much less evasive procedure done, and he went home last night. Being so far away, it was hard to not be there, but its really seemed relatively quick and painless (I'm not the one with the hole in my back, but then again he's got the oxycontin).

Similarly my ex, who has had a previous brain hemorrhage, seemed to have had another. While we broke up a while ago, it's hard to not care when something so significant and unfortunate seems to have happened. Being a recurrence, brain surgery may have been in order, which is always bad news, even if everything goes according to plan. Fortunately, the symptoms and initial tests were misdiagnosed, as it was just a relatively benign calcium deposit. Another significant concern working out for the best.

Lastly, today I just got done taking a test that most of my coworkers either fear or respect, and even one of the few smart people I ever worked with fail it the first try. Given all the other shit going on in my life, I kinda was a bum and didn't study at all. I skimmed through the chapters, never used the CDs, flashcards, study guide, simulated tests, or even studied the formulas. I only took the test because my window was closing and I'd rather suck it up and fail miserably than reschedule (I figure that would be the easy route). Either way I'd have to pay extra, but at least now if I failed I may have learned my lesson. I didn't figure I'd pass. I've been putting off looking at the book for a second time for ages, and every night this week I found a reason to postpone things. Well last night I was convinced that today would be Wednesday, thus giving me one last day to study and replace my broken business calculator. Well this morning I was trying to be Mr. Know-it-all by telling someone they didn't know what day it was—fuck, it was me who didn't know! No second skim, so I pretty much went into things without much of a care in the world (I even had a couple drinks before the test). Well, like the other instances, things worked out quite well. I passed, and it wasn't just scraping by.

Anyway, I'm meeting even more really really cool folks, and I've got to spend a lot of cool times with some old friends. I've started getting involved with more creative things, and I just am starting to feel comfortable again, which hasn't been the case in a few weeks. My Gators are in the Final Four, the weather is starting to get really nice up here in Ohio, and spring bulbs and groundhogs are popping out of the ground.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Now I can Flick People Off!

For the first time in my life I am writing as a normal person, as I no longer am the freak that I have always been. For those of you who only know me on MySpace, I've been carrying on a lie. I tried to fit in, and I may have duped you folks. I feel terrible, but you see it's not easy dealing with the way things were.

Well now things have been fixed. I can't wait to buy gloves; I can't wait to count on my fingers; I can't wait to hold a girls hand, as it will be so much more natural now. You see, I suffered from hexadactyly.

It may seem shocking, but I had six fingers on each hand. As a kid I was ridiculed and dismissed as a freak. In time I learned to take advantage of the situation by becoming a world class pitcher with a wicked curve ball (you'll be amazed how much extra spin you get with 25% more fingers). I also developed some great ball handing skills playing basketball (they used to call me white chocolate for some reason). It was all bitter sweet, as after a big play or after the game, no one wanted a high six. Not even members of the other team would shake my hands. Alone and dejected, winning didn't seem to matter. Soon nothing in life mattered. Girls wouldn't want to be near me, guys teased me, and even my own parents shunned me. I was a complete failure in life, so much so that when I tried to kill myself, my extra finger got caught behind the trigger. I had to have the gun sawed off of my hand, and sure enough I was subjected to even harsher insensitivities.

I moved off to college, and things became better. I tried to hide my awkward paw from everyone, and things seemed normal. One day this cute chic noticed, and she seemed to stare—Damn! Not this again. She turned, and she looked as if she were going to run away, but she pulled a tail out of her jeans (with that odd bulge in her pants, I was worried she may have been something weirder like a tranny). She smiled, and I waved my six fingers at her (her name is Amber). We quickly bonded, and it felt so wonderful to finally have a friend. Time passed, and everything was wonderful, until … One day we were rolling around in the grass in front of Library West, and Amber's tail popped out. Surrounded by Krishnas and other oddities, it almost didn't stick out. Sadly a talent scout for the circus was there, and Amber had the chance of her lifetime to be with other odd people and get to go to a city filled with what could best be described as rejects. She was offered a scholarship to join FSU's Circus (I'm not shitting you, the fucking dump has an on campus circus, complete with degree programs).

After that heartbreak, I moved to Ohio, where I read farming accidents can be quite common, and fingers usually are the first to go. It's hard to find work when you're from out of state, try not to shake hands, and ask how often accidents happen (with an odd tone implying that more is better). Well, I ended up working my ass off, getting splinters (in all 12 fingers), and I left dejected and with all my fingers intact.

Then I went to Columbus, started working at Nationwide in hopes that insurance will cover the procedure to make me normal. Getting hired was tough, because I needed finger prints for state and federal licenses, and well mine are a little outside the box. Literally, there are boxes for 5 fingers, how rude. What about people like me? Anyway, that is behind me, as are my two extra fingers. The operation was a success, and I'm figuring out what to do with those extra fingers. They have been such a part of my life; I don't want to throw them away. Any ideas?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is it possible that a bad relationship can make you stupider?

Is it possible that a bad relationship can make you stupider?
The past few months I've noticed that my mental abilities have made unusual leaps forward, especially in light of the general decline they were mired in before. I'm a pretty intelligent guy and I have an unusually good memory, but recently I've been operating at a level I haven't known in years.

In high school and in college I participated on trivia teams, traveling the country flaunting my useless knowledge and getting drunk. Many nights of NTN trivia in bars back in college pretty much went the same way. After college things started to get a bit rusty, both in terms of memory and intelligence, but nothing major. One way or another, it seemed to get worse in recent years, corresponding with my last unsuccessful relationship. I couldn't speak German (not even to two cute young drunk German Au Pairs), I couldn't solve puzzles like I used to, and I didn't even pass a Jeopardy pre-screening (previously I scored a very nice passing score on the official test, though I wasn't selected to be on TV). I kinda gave up on some of what I used to be capable of. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't senile or anything, just closer to average.

Well, in recent months I've had a renaissance. I'm now magically able to speak and write German as well as I could in years. I watched Jeopardy a couple times recently with a friend, and I can answer all but a couple questions, usually real quick. What's odd is the stuff I'm remembering is not even the usual shit, its like stuff I'm pulling out of my ass. Brownian motion, Bernoulli effect, WTF? It's not just this relatively useless stuff either. I'm remembering all sorts of old memories, people, places, feelings, etc I'm working at a high level, thinking pretty well (well I still can go overboard and overdo things), and I'm able to read and learn at my old rate.

I can't think of anything else that's changed in my life, and I cannot figure out why things would have changed. I'm not trying to blame anyone or anything, rather just noticing things. I suppose some of the positive developments in my life may have brought this out--if so, thanks friends, you guys (more often than not gals) have really brightened my life. Anyway, it's good to be my old self.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dealing with Life

Recently, many of my friends (and myself), have expressed a general dissatisfaction with life to varying degrees. No one is jumping off bridges, but it's becoming an oddly common scenario. Everyone seems to have similar general symptoms, dissatisfaction with work, dissatisfaction with friends, and dissatisfaction with relationships. I don't know if misery loves company, and I simply socialize with folks who feel this way (I also hang out with folks who don't seem to be going through these issues), or how many people I know keep their feelings inside (perhaps it hasn't reached the boiling point—maybe one of the three aspects of life is going well) . Sadly, if you are reading this looking for immediate solutions, I don't really have any. All I know is that many people seem to be going through this right now, and I've been in and out of this situation.

I try to be a good coworker to make others' jobs more bearable; I know am can be a very good friend; and I try to do the best I can in a relationship. Are others trying? Are these new problems, or did our parents face these issues? Are we a spoiled lot, unable to deal with what life brings us, or are we living in a much more complicated world with very little we can depend upon when things fall apart? I think that's what we're dealing with (more complicated world where we have little to depend upon), and I've discovered having rock solid friends who will always be there is what can help keep things from moving from manageable dissatisfaction to miserable crisis.

I like to meet new people, try new things, and do a lot on my own, but I also like doing these things with old friends. When you're having fun with friends, whether it be doing something, hanging out, or just talking, there's a certain feeling of comfort and security, and while we must be able to exist outside that net, its nice to know its there. I find that I can wear down well intentioned friends by not giving them space to be themselves, so balance is needed.

For now, I'll try harder at being a good friend—sometimes my well-placed intentions get lost amid my somewhat crazy actions, and I can be more of a negative force than a positive one. For a smart guy, I don't always see things through other people's eyes. Maybe working on that could make me a better friend, and make my life and the lives of those around me better.

To My Friends

I know about the good guys/gals you let get away, and I know about the bitches and assholes you let stay around too long. I know about the poor decisions, indecisions, and complete fuckups. I know about the frequent changes in majors, careers, and philosophies on life. I know about the heartbreak, and I know about the tears. I know this, because I'm there for you, and always will be. I make these mistakes too, and I'm in no position to judge any of you, and as my friends, I accept you—even your faults.

Sometimes it hurts to see you folks make choices I don't agree with, and it hurts even more when you tried to make the right call, and it failed. It hurts because I care, but I will still care—no matter how much it hurts, as you are my friends. You may marry a lazy bum; you may get mired into an extramarital affair; and you may even be the one still married. I may be disappointed; I may disapprove; I will let you know how I feel; but I will always be your friend. I may get caught up in my life, and we may grow apart, but we will always be friends. For friendship is stronger than anything I know of in this world, as long as you care about it. I care about my friends, and their friendship. I hope they feel the same way too.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Death of a Dream

I recently returned from the 28th annual Rumble in the Bronx Breakdance and Beatbox Championship. This has been the premier event of the American Breakdance and Beatbox Association (ABBA). Lately I've been reconnecting with old friends and interests while also making cool new friends and trying new things. Well for those of you who don't know me from back in the day, I can bring itand I come correct.

I arrive, ghetto blaster and cardboard box in tow. I only sign up for the breakdancing contest, having sworn off of beatboxing after I got screwed at my best chance at winning with the cancellation of the 2002 competition due to SARs. I stretch out, and look around at a pretty hard-core crowd. An unfamiliar voice yells out my old nickname, "Cracker", which I heard so often back home when I was breakdancing and ballin back in the day. I guess my reputation has preceded me. I must be the guy to beat--I am THE MAN!

I entered the freestyle routine competition; only the elite of elite dare enter this competition. By some mix up, my routine came towards the beginning of the event, as typically top competitors get the honor of going last. Perhaps someone forgot that 1999 honorable mention I received in the ABBA sanctioned Fleming Island Open (Caucasian division). Things started poorly when I tripped on my moonwalk, but I tried to recover by doing the worm. That didn't work too well either, but I was feeling it. I threw myself into a mighty windmill, which was the low point of the show. I spun out of control and kicked a little girl in the head. At that point the crowd became rather angry, and the friendly calls of "hey Cracker" became "Get off the stage you mutha fuckin' Cracker!" Well, at that point, ridiculed and dejected, I left the stage and drove home. I didn't even remember to stop and load up on knock-off Kate Spade purses for upcoming birthday and Christmas gifts.

Have I lost all my moves? Is Fleming Island not among the elite breakdancing hotspots? Am I too white? Well, I guess there is a little bit of yes to all of those answers. A not-so good end to a not-so good week. Now I'll have to refocus my efforts on the upcoming Ohio Rock Paper Scissors Championship.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Share the Wealth Paula

Many of my friends watch American Idol, some of which tried to seduce me into watching the show. Well years have gone by, and I finally relented this season. It wasn't anything premeditated, as I was chatting with a friend who was watching and wanted to see what it was all about. Having recently joined the karaoke circuit, it was interesting to see these folks up there living the dream.

Well enough about the contestants, as what amuses me the most is Paula Abdul. An interesting choice for a music critic, she brings a certain perspective. I don't want to accuse the otherwise reputable Ms Abdul of any wrongdoing, but the bitch looks like she's fucked up. Not bad fucked up, but good fucked up. Everything is rosy to her, and nothing seems to bring her down. Where do you get that shit? Is that what's in those mystery ubiquitous Coke cups? Could you share? Is there another explanation? Did MC Skat Cat hit her upside the head?

Regardless, she's happy, and everything is wonderful in her eyes. So, Paula, why don't you do me a favor and start up an 800# with me. Imagine you're having a shitty day, dog died, girlfriend left you for your brother (after she poisoned your dog), etc… Wouldn't you want to be able to call Paula and have her say random nonsensical encouraging words? She'd just need to record about an hour's worth of random nice things to say, and a computer could do the rest. After that, a Paula Abdul Furby, for uplifting words on the go. It would have the additional feature of finding something positive to say about any song. Like other Furbies, she would talk to others. So maybe a Randy Furby would banter with the Paula one, while the Simon one rolls his eyes. Paula could also make money doing public speaking, on the we just announced you've been laid off tour. She could come in after some HR hack hands out all the pink slips to find something positive about the situation. Anyway, lets not lose focus of the fact that somehow Paula has found chemical nirvana (either that or a talented intern is hiding under that table they sit at), and life is good for her.

I'm not quite hooked on the show, and despite my karaoke tendencies, I won't be competing. Lately I've been watching Jeopardy again, and I'll try again to get on there. I'll give a shout out to my homies when I'm on there.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Story of a Victim of Oppression

There is a good chance that by the time you read this I'll be interned somewhere, tortured, and perhaps worse (like forced to watch a lame-ass Ohio State game).

A few years back I was living the good life, free of the oppression I am forced to live under today. It seems so foreign today, but if I close my eyes, I can almost see it still today. Sadly when my eyes open, I return to the oppression, and my eyes fill with tears.

Living in Gainesville, I never appreciated the freedoms I enjoyed, and I never realized what impact a decision I made would have. My employer forced me to decide to remain in the Promised Land and lose my job or move into this strange foreign land and get promoted. I didn't know so much about Buckeyes, apart from some miserable moments as a kid watching crappy-ass Big Ten football on ABC (stretching the adage that any football is better than no football). So I did some research, I came to the realization that a Buckeye tree is just code for cannabis. I guess I was at the point in my life where I was ready to experiment, and Columbus Ohio is a hell of a lot closer than Amsterdam. Besides, in Amsterdam they hide the stuff in coffee shops, off of the menu, but in Columbus, they celebrate it with a football team. Maybe Columbus wasn't so bad.

I move up to Columbus, only looking for the best. I try to accept my new surroundings, but they wouldn't accept me. I discover that no one wants me to be there, as I get greeted with "Why the hell did you want to move from Florida to Ohio?" (that question has stuck in my head for years, and I really don't have answer). People also quickly try to convert me into being a Buckeye. I look around, and few people have not been converted, and they don't make eye contact. I stand proud, put up my Gator pictures, calendars, and other shit on my cube walls. I wear my Wuerffel and Spurrier jerseys, and I represent the for the Gator Nation. Soon I've become an outcast at work: people get up and leave in the café when I sit next to them; cars won't let me in when they see my Gator tags, and parents grab their children when they see me wearing orange and blue. I really started regretting things.

Well football season came, and I figured I had to see what this was all about (and I was still looking to smoke some "Buckeye"—hehehe). I walk to the stadium, and as I get there, I see the burly masses wearing their red and silver. I look for tailgaters to mooch off of, which is what I'd do down in Gainesville. I soon discover that there are no tailgaters, as there are no tailgates. There are parking garages, fields, and a whole lot of hillbillies standing around with 24 packs of cans in one hand and a can in the other. What kind of beer is so good that people need to drink so much? Holy shit, they're all drinking Busch and Natural Light. It's more popular than Kool Aid at Jonestown (and given the choice, cyanide laced Kool Aid wins over Naddy Light all the time). You see, they call it tailgating, as historically it involved a vehicle with a tailgate: a truck, suv, minivan, station wagon, etc… I could care less on the mode of transit, but these vehicles were used because they could haul some chairs, a table, a cooler, and a grill. With this friends could sit, relax, and enjoy the food, beer, and atmosphere. As I was discovering, there was no atmosphere in Columbus. I've already discussed the beer, so onto the sad state of food. Food options range from carts serving hot dogs, sausages, and gyros (which all in all are good options, especially when drunk at 2:30am) to corporate sponsored, Clear Channel promoted, affairs, which may involve a cover, always involve a shitty band playing Hang On Sloopy (face it dude, the bitch let go a long time ago, just like that chick on Titanic did), and the food selection pretty much is the same.

At this point I realize that things would be so much better if I could find myself some Buckeye to smoke. I start by asking some locals who look the part, and they laugh at me when I ask. Discouraged, I walk on. As I'm walking, I start to notice many folks have these crazy ass beads on. It's like a white trash Mardi Gras. Big fat hairy guys are walking around topless, proudly displaying their man-boobs and their beads (this made my appetite disappear, so the lousy selection of grub no longer is disappointing). All of a sudden, some little old lady offers me some beads. I try to partake in local custom, but I really don't feel like flashing anything for some old lady, and lord knows what else she wants from a strapping young lad like me. She says, "take them, they're Buckeyes!" Buckeyes? I told her I thought Buckeyes were code for hippy lettuce, and she said that Ohio is famous for that too, but Buckeyes were nuts, poisonous nuts. I then realized that I wasn't gonna get to experiment, and I was surrounded by a bunch of druid like tree worshipers drinking skanky-ass beer. I went home utterly dejected.

The next Monday at work, I try to laugh it off. Soon it became obvious that my non-participation in the Buckeye pre-game rituals has made me a further outcast. Soon no one would talk to me, stores would kick me out, and meals at restaurants had a slimy glaze. Ohio became hell on earth to me, and all I could do is stay at home and watch the Gators on pay-per view. Since 99% of people are Buckeye worshipers up here, I tried to reach out to the other 1%. They still didn't make eye contact, and when I finally caught a glimpse of someone, I saw that they were almost like zombies, oppressed until they broke. Nothing remained inside these people, and their will to live had been extinguished. Was I next? How could I fight it?

Well I have fought it, and I still survive. I must pick my battles, and I've learned to deal with the funny looks, scared parents, and exclusion from society. If anyone up here found out I wrote this, I might not ever write again. I'd likely get lobotomized and learn the words to Hang on Sloopy (the bitch will still let go, and who the fuck is Slooopy?). If you can read this, stay away. If you're already up here, join the revolution. I know that big Midwestern car flippin' rioting types can be scary, but we have our UF wit and cleverness. We can find a way. We can prevail!