Next stop, crazytown!!!

Life is a journey, filled with many choices; avenues to follow covered in speed bumps, twist, turns and dreaded forks.  You do your best to navigate with confidence, because let’s face it; life doesn’t come with a rule book, or a pocket guide helping you make the right choices, no life lets you make those choices hoping you will learn from both your successes and mistakes.  

But what if you feel as though in one aspect of your life you have done everything right and it all still turns out wrong? You’ve taken the right paths, traversed the toughest hills, and done your best to succeed only to be crushed time and again? Standing by your convictions is hard enough, especially when you know and I mean know you are right! But to be constantly pushed backwards, thrown to the wolves and left watching as others with no moral or ethical values flourish?

Now someone at this point usually will explain how one’s own moral convictions can lead to blinders upon one’s own eyes.  So much so that understanding the vision of the morally/ethically bereft is unimaginable! That sight has been clouded by arrogance in conjunction with a narrow point of view! To reply poppycock only deepens the level of ignorance one may have in regards to any subject held dear by the morally/ethically bereft. 

But yet I stand, fists bawled tight, red-faced, sweated brow, screaming bloody freaking poppycock!!!!

I feel as though a Tourette’s patient has overtaken my body as controlling my speech laden with multiple expletives’ has become more difficult than in the past.  Rainman is living inside my soul as everyday is met with a hearty “5 minutes to Wapner, 5 minutes to Wapner”! My laugh is no longer the jovial Betty Rubble giggle but more reminiscent of Pee Wee Herman with a touch of schizophrenia! WHAT! ARE YOU TALKING TO ME????

It’s as though I have been placed in a serious game of Whack a Mole and my head is starting to hurt from the beating I take each time I pop my head out.  Hmmmm what’s going on out here? WHACK!

I would pick myself up from the mud and try a different path but each one I take leads to the same conclusion, the same effect, and really that just leads me to the definition of insanity!

Insanity by Albert Einstein: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Do I give up my moral convictions and become a hypocrite, leading to different results? or do I continue to stay the course eventually walking through life looking like Doc Brown? Do I allow myself to be swayed, flopping like a politician looking to save his career, or do I stand tall with a square jaw and take the hit? Time and again and again and again-oh you get the point….

Of course I already know the answer to these questions, and trust me morals, ethics, honor and integrity will win every time.  But sometimes, when left holding the bag, uttering then pondering “why” doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

My morale is low, and my head hurts from thinking about all the time I have invested in this “second” most important part of my life (my wife and family being first). To those who thrive from controversy, use power to pad their own interests under the guise of (the) common good and protect the few who lack ethics and moral character while destroying those who hold it in the highest regards.  You have driven me to the point of temporary insanity! (Giggling uncontrollably like Pee Wee again)  Yet my integrity remains intact, my morals are holding strong. I will not give in for the joy of cheap success! Karma has a special place for all of you…

In the end even though there is no map, rule book or guide to help you through life,  I sure could use a new path, one with a few less speed bumps, a little less mud, no more dead ends, and a tree-lined drive would be nice if I am not asking for too much.

Thanks for the ramble.

5 minutes to Wapner….. 

 

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To infinity and beyond!!

This is a sad day in Betty’s world. 

Today’s obituary: Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon.

Let that sink in for a moment.  The first man to set foot on the moon, July 26 1969 has perished. 

Although he was just one N.A.S.A. (National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration) team member in a pool of extremely intelligent and talented individuals, Mr. Armstrong was lucky enough to be chosen to command Apollo 11 and even luckier to be first down the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) planting his feet firmly in lunar soil then muttering the all too familiar phrase “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” thus forever cementing his name in American history. 

Little known fact: Mr. Armstrong actually stated “That’s one small step for (a) man: one giant leap for mankind” as man/mankind would have been improper use of the English language because man is synonymous with mankind.  But the (a) was blocked by static so the recording and phrase we all know to this day is forever cemented in history. 

So why is Betty so sad?  Mr. Neil Armstrong was one of my childhood hero’s! In elementary school I would read about space missions up to and including landing on the moon.  Then I would run out and play as if I were an astronaut.  Circling the jungle gym like it was the moon, coming in slowly, after burners at half thrust, slowly easing my spacecraft onto the top then leaping to the ground screaming; “that was one small leap for all kids, one giant landing for all kidkind!”

Yep we all wanted to be astronauts! Space suits, space ships, stars and planets, we dreamed and we dreamed big.  At night coming in from the barn the moon would call to me like a lost friend.  Staring at its kindly giant face, wondering what it was like to stand on its forehead looking back at our giant blue sphere. Knowing that Neil Armstrong stood there, gazing upon his home from a perch that few would ever see! What did he think, how did he feel? Was he scared? Did he worry that he and his crew may never come home? 

Yeah space the final frontier; these are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise! Her five year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before! Crap! Wait wrong fantasy!  I also used to pretend I was Captain James T. Kirk, but that story is for another time.

Astronauts, sheriffs, firefighters, teachers, superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Capt. America etc..) Cowboys, sports heroes, they were all there for us to idolize and admire.  To dream about becoming as we grew into adults.  These images forever etched into our minds, approved of by our parents and lived in the fantasy play periods of our afternoons. 

Where are today’s heroes? Who do our children have to look up too? When my kids are in their forties who will they look back upon as being their childhood heroes? Computer generated actors? Rappers? Boy bands? Disney created childhood mental cases waiting to explode as adults? I am just not seeing it! Where are the brazen leaders, moral guided heroes, larger than life humans that stand by their convictions leading the way for all youngsters to dream?

Am I wrong? Is it just me?

Rest in Peace Neil Armstrong.  Thank you for the endless hours of dreaming your bravery brought to my young life.   

 

License to drive…

 

Mirrors adjusted? Check! Seat is in the proper position? Check! Steering wheel is placed at the optimal level for a 10 and 2 hand hold? Check! Are you mentally ready to drive today son? To which a death glare is leveled upon my kindly old man face.

And so goes the dilemma a father faces while teaching his 16-year-old to drive. His son frigidly sits behind the wheel; grip tighter than a vise, knuckles Casper white as the truck moves slowly out of the driveway onto our mile long dirt road.  Plenty of room here to screw things up before he merges with the masses of Dario Franchitti’s/ Dale Earnhardt’s vying for position on Americas roadways! 

Now all of this is supposed to be a monumental moment; a point in family history where a father enjoys sharing his knowledge of the road and joy of driving with his son/daughter. Yet all I feel is fear! Now over my storied employment history there have been numerous adults who learned to drive the behemoth 18 wheelers that dot our highway landscape from your truly! Never once did I trickle even the smallest droplet of sweat! I could firmly place my cup of coffee on the dashboard and nary a drop would spill from the styrofoam chalice. Yet with the family prodigy I am as nervous as a death row inmate waiting for a pardoning phone call. 

Maybe my nerves would wear a little softer if my son showed some “drive” (nice play on words huh?) when it comes to this enormous responsibility. But he is so lackadaisical about the whole process it leaves me screaming ugly profanities inside my head! Why? Why is so indifferent? Why does he not seem to care about the outcome? He doesn’t come across as self entitled. He says he truly wants to learn the finer art of motoring. Yet getting him into gear (another fine motoring reference) has been sticky to say the least!

When I was a kid (flashback moment-didiloo,didiloo,didilooooo) life was like this;

Hi everyone my name is little Betty! I am only 13 years old and I love cars! I have models of cars that I built scattered all over my room, wanna see? The Chevelle and 1957 Bel-Air are my favorite cars but I would drive a Chevy truck with a 454, nice wheels, tires, painted blue with ghost flames! Yes sir by golly that is the truck for me! I clean horse stalls and do all sorts of chores saving money up so that one day I can get my license, purchase my truck and drive where ever and whenever I want! Only 23 months, 2 weeks, 4 days, 16 hours and 12 minutes until I get my license! I like to sit in my dads old GMC and pretend I am driving all over town! Every day after school and on the weekends if you want to find me, that’s right where I’ll be! Ahhhh Shucks, I can’t wait to drive!!!

Flash forward-(didiloo, didiloo, didiloooooo)

It’s taking so long to turn 16! Being 15 is a giant pain in the butt! Do you know when I turn 16 I will own the coolest truck in town and be dating girls left and right! Summer is gonna blow if I don’t get my license! Man, cruising around in moms station wagon with my permit is a giant drag! But I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Shhhh come in a little closer so no one else can hear; when my parents are gone I steal the old man’s GMC and cruise all over town! I know cool huh! Yeah its ugly but seriously who cares and who needs to be 16, when you have an all access pass to party time with no license needed! Turn up the tunes, pick up the friends and whoop, whoop, just cruise! As long as I am home before 8, because you know that’s when my parents get back from their Monday night association meeting and my dad would kill me if he found out! Oh yeah, I am soooo cool!

Flash forward a little more (didiloo, didiloo di-oh you get the point)

Yes! I have my license! I have a truck! I have freedom! Life is great! So long suckers, I’m hitting the road, places I need to see, things I need to do and they don’t involve this place! Van Hagar playing loud, windows rolled down so all you “walkers” can partake in some choice music as I roll on by! Owning a car is fantastic! If you have the means I highly recommend it!!

Present day:

I get nothing from the lad! No enthusiasm for driving, cars or trucks, nothing, nothing at all.  Where have I gone wrong? Is this even my child? Spinning donuts in the parking lot, drag racing out on Fry road, cruising downtown Petaluma on a Saturday night with hundreds of other cool cars and trucks! Loud music, screaming, laughing and having a general good time! Isn’t that enough to entice a young lad to give it a go; to want his license more than anything on this God forsaken planet?

What is that you say? Cruising has been deemed against the law? Hanging out with your friends is considered loitering? A custom car with loud pipes and a cool stereo is now disturbing the peace? To even think of working on your own car you need to aquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanics. On top of that insurance and gasoline are five times the price they were when I was a kid?

Well hell, it all makes perfect sense now! What incentive does the lad have? Why would he want to drive at all?  Why would he even care? Apparently there is a reason they are called the “good old days”.  Because it was good and now we are old which leaves the youth of today nothing but boring days ahead!

So out of the driveway we go, his hands in the perfect 10 and 2 position, the stereo is on, air conditioner set and he is piloting this barge very well down the road.  I resist the urge to browse Facebook as we roll through the countryside. I am trying to build his self-confidence by acting like I fully trust him while I am slyly paying attention to every little detail of his driving manners.  It still ends up being a moment I will cherish forever.  We drive many miles over several days with small corrections here and there, then finally giving him the freedom to drive comfortably without repercussion he relaxes and settles back into the seat.  Another driver on the road, another human reaching the pinnacle of freedom for their age; He may be ready to take the final test securing his permanent license. It might be time for the sensei to release his student out into the world. We pull the truck over and with a sincere smile along with the adoring eyes of his father I lean in and tell him what a good job he is doing, he slowly looks over with a half cocked smile and says thanks. Still no real excitement on his part…

Maybe we should just scrap the whole idea and find him some public transit?

Another page…

Reflection:

Betty is turning another year older tomorrow (or today depending on what timeline you reside) and with it brings a myriad of inner struggles rolling through my ever spinning brain on a daily basis.  There are so many things to accomplish yet time is running amuck.  These “things” spin wildly out of control consuming my thoughts every minute of every day; feeling as though there is some great stopwatch in the sky ticking away every second of my life!  A timekeeper resting upon the outer edge, screaming down to me like the gate-keeper from The Wizard of Oz: “you are running out of time”!  

In life I have always done things the hard way, it is just my nature! Repeatedly I feel a need to fail at something, helping me to understand the nuances, finer points, angles, and basic structure of whatever I am trying to achieve.  Never having been gifted with any great talent, most of my life has been left wondering why? My grandmother once told me “when you find what you were meant to do in life you will love it, cherish every moment of it, and crave the pursuit of “it” for the rest of your life”. She stood by that statement and achieved many great moments in her life including writing and publishing her memoirs. Those words, her words continue to haunt my thoughts, leaving me empty wanting to try everything without truly finding something to cling too.

Once told I would never amount to anything.

Throughout my existence there were several times the above statement was thrown into my face, and though it has been a driving force in whom I have become, it has also become an obstacle to success, an easy way out when things get difficult, as in; “well I was never expected to amount to anything, so what did you expect”? Turning another year older, one would think a bruising phrase would slowly fade away; disappear like a trapped antelope in funneling quicksand. Yet every now and again it rears its ugly, brooding head leaving me stunned and hurting inside.

Looking upon my life there have been quite a few major accomplishments, successes that are by no means trivial and yet I still feel empty/unfinished.  I feel as though there is something “greater” for me out there, something bigger than myself left to do.

How do I tame this feeling? What can I do to quench my thirst for greatness? Why can’t I just be satisfied with what has been achieved in my life so far?

Something tells me I may never know the answer.

Here is what I do know.  Writing is devilishly fun! Making people laugh, pulling out emotions you didn’t know you held the strings too, sharing stories/experiences everyone can relate with is exhilarating to say the least! I plan on continuing this effort, hopefully growing and sharing other people’s experiences along the way. Life is a journey that should be shared and hopefully someday we can all share it together.

So another year in the books, hundreds more stories to write and one man who goes by the name of Betty left smiling, frowning, laughing, crying and hoping someday he will slowly figure out this crazy little thing called life…or at the very least figure out how to slow down these voices in his head, using them for good not evil..

Closing abstract light, vision obscured, only anticipation, arousal, and intrigue are left to sensory overload. What will happen, where will we go? Eyes darting side to side while covered by fleshy matter, blinded, yet everything is seen clearly, concise and vibrant. A story, soliloquy, or diatribe, what lays in store for this personal moment? Holding no control over any outcome yet relishing the moment, for it is all mine;  no one can enter these locked chambers, pilfer my seconds, part with peaceful noise. 

Drawing winds from the south, entering through inspiration, swirling, turning unstable air removes all waste, clears all debris then retreats to the north as fast as it came. Sometimes forceful other times with gentle relief.   Regardless an engine is fueled, light shines in, darkness retreats, a story unfolds and a brain once void of feelings, numb, weighed down by the trappings of a daily routine is unleashed through paired hands.   The end product of a mind not left to waste, an imagination once thought sterile, creativity not classically trained but allowed to flourish through determination. 

This is how writing has changed my life…..

Thank you grandma, I think I found the “it” you were describing.

(Beulah Fabris; 1913-2006)

Olympic Bound..

Watching the 2012 London Olympics over the last 12 days has left me in athletic awe! How I yearn for a challenge of that magnitude,  to focus mind, body and soul on one sporting activity, rise to the challenge, overcome insurmountable obstacles to be the very best that I can become!

Yes it is true, like many young people around the world I have decided to become an Olympian! To feel the thunderous roar of an adoring crowd, performing at the peak of my physical prowess, standing atop an Olympic podium while our National Anthem plays and I (being the great Olympian I am)do my best to lip sync the words knowing that someone at home can tell I have no idea what the hell they are! Yes, YES I want to be that guy!! (Thunderous applause)

Sadly, there is one little problem with my dream, a small issue really but a problem none the less.  I am 45 years old and last I checked there weren’t too many athletes at 45 breaking ANY world records! Oh sure I run most days (3-5 miles), work out constantly in the gym,and eat (somewhat)right, yet near a 4 minute mile I am not! In fact I don’t believe there to be anyone currently cresting the precipice of senior citizenship dominating the track and field ranks! Not one person of age flowing effortlessly without the aid of Ben-Gay or a walker traversing a gymnastics canvas! Not one person that can be referred to as “sir” or “ma’m”  swimming at dolphin like speed or rowing sculls with the ease of a 5 horse power outboard! So what‘s a guy like me to do? All these dreams, hopes, aspirations bottled up inside ready to explode upon the scene? What to do, WHAT TO DO?????

ANSWER:

I will “do” as any red-blooded American father would; I will impose my wishes upon my children!  Disguise their efforts as being “what they want”!  Twist their little minds and stress their little bodies fulfilling my dreams not theirs! Propping them up high on a pedestal of half-truths with statements like; you are the best, no one can perform like you, daddy loves you even when you fail (lie), oh and remember we are doing all of this just for you!  Yeah that’s the ticket!

Want to join the swim/dive team? Well then you will swim/dive morning and night everyday all year round eating tofu and drinking tiger’s milk! Up the ladder jump! Onto the starting block, jump! Swim, swim, swim and dive, dive, dive! Honing your craft, building your skill set and slowly becoming a champion! Hee, hee hee!

Gymnastics, wrestling, boxing or trampoline; No problem, hit the gym kid and don’t worry about school, you don’t need friends from the outside, you have us! Gym people are your family now, plus we’ll get you a tutor so training is all you focus on! LOOOOVVEEE YYOOUUU!

Want to be a runner/sprinter? Peeeerrrrrffffeeeecccccttttt…….

Get the hell out of the car right now! Start running! Oh don’t worry, we won’t leave you behind, but if the Australian Runners can train in the desert and those little Kenyan kids can run from village to village out of necessity thusly making the Olympics as young adults; then your sorry little butt can run out of pride! The pride you are going to bring your father when he receives his Olympic passes in 2016 whoop, whoop (tear in my eye)!! That right kid; so shut your pie hole and start running, we have little time and lots of miles and injuries to get through so WE can make it to the national trials! Oh yeah, give me a hug because daddy thinks your number one!

So there it is, my plan is in place! National exposure, our countries pride along with selfless coaching on my part will bring them to the forefront of the Olympic stage! Thereby ultimately allowing me to perform as an Olympian! Genius, pure genius I tell you!!!

They may hate me for a while but once a Gold medal is around my neck; whoops I mean around their neck (wink, wink)it will all be worth it; right? Yes sir look out NBC’s Today show here we come!!

In closing, later tonight we will stand in front of a mirror while developing our signature “thanking Jesus” ritual!

                                To the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!!!

 

No!

I have been working on a blog posting about this very topic! But not being one to plagiarize I will now sing the praises of Mae! Nicely done!!

A Confederacy of Spinsters

I Say No

No. It’s such a short and simple word. It’s one of the first words we learn to say as children. It’s super easy to spell. And yet, sometimes, this word comes attached with so much headache inducing guilt and stress that it should be considered a perfectly legitimate reason to leave work (and still get paid). Why is it that the word “no”, the word we’ve been saying for practically our entire lives, can be one of the most difficult things for us to say?

Life is busy. Holy hell is life busy. And the thing is, nearly everyone is busy. I’m busy. You’re busy. We are all busy busy. And yet, we truly struggle to say “no” to things that make us even busier. I mean, sure, I work a full-time job, am planning a wedding, write at least 6 blog posts a week, am trying to (finally) finish…

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Writers Block

Dreaded writers block! The undoing of many great writers throughout history! You are left staring blankly at a tablet, mind numb to all receptors, nothing passing through the vast wasteland of Dura matter encompassed by cranial fluid that is your brain. Drat, drat double drat!

What brings on this most dreaded of phenomenon’s? Is it a cramp of the brain muscle? Have I reached the end of the internet? Are my children really just normal, leaving me with nothing humorous to write about? Is Misery Chastain really dead and out of self-preservation the brain has decided to protect itself from the pain associated with blocked ankles? So confused, so incredibly confused……


Annie Wilkes: God came to me last night and told me your purpose for being here. I am going to help you write a new book.
Paul Sheldon: You think I can just whip one out?
Annie Wilkes: Oh, but I don’t think Paul, I know.

The movie “Misery” Columbia pictures 1990

Steven King novelist

 There are moments when sparks fly, images rule, ideas flow like wine from a forbidden glass! This usually happens when there is nary a writing utensil to be found or the battery on my iPhone has perished leaving me stranded, mired in my own neglect! Then just as a pen appears from seemingly nowhere, (meaning it’s been retrieved from under the seat of my car) and a piece of paper has been salvaged from a wadded up hamburger wrapper POOF! Those very ideas are gone like yesterdays lunch! (Where the wrapper came from)  Left with nothing to show for my efforts a mindless argument rages unchecked in my head! Think, think, think, damn you think!!!!

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers! –Wikipedia definitions

Not being able to write is like taking yoga away from a granola eating Southern California super model, marijuana from Cheech and Chong, alcohol from a Jimmy Buffett concert, the bull away from Bull Riding! AAARRRGGGG!!! What fun would life be if one couldn’t write anymore? How would you relax at the end of the day? Maybe one could have a glass of wine, take a long deep breath, or find a comfortable chair, but then what? WHAT!!!

What would I do without the ability to express myself on paper, let those inner demons flow without retribution from society or the targets of a few jagged little barbs? It baffles the mind to say the least! Creativity comes in all shapes, forms and guises! Relaxation is only found within a few well observed areas of one’s life and mine so happens to come from pen and paper, keyboard and operating system, dry wit, children and senseless humor! How can I possibly go on knowing my brain is so barren it can’t relinquish a simple story!!!!  My eyes capture the picture, yet hold no definition from a darkened thought, a crippled hand, an empty pen.  

Ahhhhhh-sad sigh..

So I sit, needlessly staring at my computer pondering the definition of Oxymoron.

 “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Charles Bukowski, The Last Night of the Earth Poems