They gave me some questions, and I went to work. Here is the result. I do expect them to edit…Do you have a question or a problem that you are too embarrassed to ask someone in person about?
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My son wants to be Barack Obama for Halloween, but I’m a loyal Republican. How should I handle this?
Signed, Loyal GOP
If this is the biggest problem you have, you really are a Republican. I recommend trying a spoonful of Get Over It. Although, going
out as a liberal on Halloween is the best way to get handouts.
My family is hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, and my sister wants to invite her in-laws.
What should we do?
Signed, Holiday Indecision Planning
You know, the holidays are about getting together with family and sharing the love, blah-blah-blah.
They may not be your family but they are hers. And who doesn’t love in-laws? Wouldn’t you enjoy watching them all simmer to a boil right in your own dining room?
It would have to be better than the parade. But not better than football, obviously. Go ahead and invite them. And make them bring a dish. And alcohol.
You’ll need it. I’m not kidding.
My daughter and her boyfriend of 6 years are coming home for Christmas and staying at our house.
Should I let them share a room?
Signed, Did I Raise a Slut?
Dear Yes You Did,
I want to answer this as delicately as possible, but I seem to have wavering indecision like you.
Hmmm. Should you let your daughter and her boyfriend share a room and have the loud, wild sex in your home that you haven’t had in a quarter of a century, securing your reputation as the cool MILF and her as the town slut, or should you show some backbone and
decency and earn your daughter’s respect by telling her no, she has to sneak around like everyone else? What to do, what to do….
Finally, we have a letter from a visitor from out of town:
I’ve always wondered whether or not it’s acceptable to wear loafers without socks when wearing khakis. I’m going down south for spring
break this year and like to go barefoot during the summer.
Seriously Derrick? A fashion question? Get a life. Here is my only fashion rule: don’t wear socks with sandals, or I will personally hunt you down. Have a safe trip.
After the family moved from the country to the suburbs, I had a friend from the neighborhood. Younger than me–I was about nineteen or twenty, and he was a junior, maybe a senior in high school. Jim? Yeah. We hung out at Joy’s place. She always had lots of people around. Joe, of course. Me and Jim. Later, her daughter Rhonda. Jen and her boyfriend. Billy. After a fashion, Joy’s friend Gina came to stay with us. Her boyfriend Joe was around alot. Joe was cool. He was an authentic south-city Italian. He could pass for a New Yorker.
And then James started hanging around as well. He was younger. We called him "James at 15." Closeted while I was there, then he came out after I was gone. But we always had people around. Things change. People come and go. The "Friends" thing never lasts as long as the show did on TV.
In the early days of my relationship with The Storm, we had people around. Linda had a couple of homeless teens living in the basement. Sonny and Jeff. Then she took on a homeless woman and her teenage daughter. We had alot of people in and out and around.
The mother and daughter–I forget their names–eventually left for Washington state. I had to kick Jeff out because he caused Linda to lose the lease on her apartment. We moved into another house, and Sonny came with us. He was half-Vietnamese and half American. So was his brother, Joe. Joe came around alot, sometimes with his girlfriend. She was a sweet young thing. Sonny had a girlfriend name Sheri. Yeah, Sonny and Sheri. They lived with us for a while–Sonny was in our wedding party.
Eventually things came to a head with Sonny. We were expecting a baby, and they were still doing drugs. Couldn’t have that in the house. I myself was trying to quit–hard to do in that environment. But they left in a way unrelated to that, oddly.
I came down on Sonny for the messes he was leaving around the house. Maybe too hard, but I was trying to make a point. The next day, Sheri’s dad came over with a truck to load up their stuff.
He also came to kick my ass.
I had met him before–we had stopped by somewhere in Illinois on a trip, and that’s where they lived, Sheri’s parents. Rough people, hard living. Biker people. Sheri was a cute little blond, slutty looking. The mom was the same, but with more gristle. We talked with them for a while, and talk came around to what kind of badass streetfighter the father was. And it wasn’t bullshit. It wasn’t told in a bragging way, but more of a matter-of-fact manner, and I remember being both impressed and intimidated.
So that’s what I was up against.
While Sonny and Sheri loaded their stuff into trashbags–the universal quick-move tool–the dad was outside, by the truck. Stretching. The kind of stretching you do before a fight. He then came up in the yard, and we talked. I don’t remember what was said, but I diffused the situation. I really don’t think I was eating any crow–we just talked. I did apologize once and only once, saying maybe I over-reacted.
In the end, we shook hands, and I said, "Well, they’re your problem now," and they left.
During this time, Linda’s daughter Melissa was with her father, and her son Mike was with the grandmother. Mike was only a few blocks away. Melissa came back and stayed with us for a while. About the same time, these teenagers got boyfriends/ girlfriends. Melissa’s boyfriend became a fiance, and they moved in together in our basement. When they got married, they eventually moved out and got an apartment. That was her first marriage.
Meanwhile Mike and his girlfriend got serious. He moved in with her at her grandmother’s house.
That was it for a while.
About the time Mike’s daughter–my granddaughter Jessica–was old enough for kindergarten, she lived with us for a year to go to school because we were living in a better neighborhood at the time.
Later, Mike and his four kids lived with Melissa and her (third) husband while he sorted out divorce, custody, and other court issues. That was less than a year.
When their uncle became ill, he moved in with Melissa, until he died.
Much later, Mike moved into my house after I left, but that didn’t last. Even he couldn’t live with Linda–his own mother–very long.
The cycle continues with Mitchell, now with his girlfriend living with him in Linda’s house. For all of her supposed prudishness…
Meanwhile, me and Detroit moved in together. Her son Alex came to stay with us after graduating high school. He’s 18, so is this permanent, or is it temporary? He’s working, but is he going to go to school, get a career, move out, meet someone, get married, have kids, and then never visit us?
Detroit’s older son, who has been kicked out of every place he’s ever been– including places he has been homeless in–gets kicked out AGAIN. The people who let Alex stay to finish school accidentally let Brandon slip in and stay in the basement, because it was winter and they were saps.
Alex wanted to move down here, and that left Brandon up there. Mooching. A ticking time bomb. Eventually, it went off.
I suppose we didn’t have much choice–I rue the day I told him how hilarious it would be to see him homeless–because Detroit sent him a train ticket, and down he came. And now he occupies the couch like he is chained to it.
Oh, shit, I just realized that I forgot that Detroit’s batshit-crazy sister stayed with us for about 5 months. Instead of getting a job and becoming independent she’s in a home for stupid lazy and people.
So I don’t worry so much about Alex. I know that eventually he will get his shit together, move out, and have a life. But Brandon? I’m working 70 hours a week and now I have to support him? I work 70 hours a week and instead of coming home to relax in my home, I come home–to him? Are we doomed to have him with us forever? Am I going to have to put up with his mooching, skulking, and weird behavior until…one of us dies?
If so, I should be getting more head.
It was like a storm off in the horizon. We stood and watched, from the safety of our porch. The sky was clear where we were, but in the distance it was cloudy. Lightning flashed in the distance. An ominous wall of rain slowly moved towards us. We huddled together, noting that we were no longer in Kansas. I wished for the storm to go another direction.
This morning I awoke from fitful and restless night’s sleep. I looked to my side, and noted that Detroit was gone. And Alex is gone too. Yet…yet somehow I still felt as though I wasn’t *alone*. As I got ready, I couldn’t shake that feeling. An empty house feels different…and this house didn’t feel empty.
It seems that with supernatural events come unusual odors as well. What manner of poltergeist were we dealing with, and how long would this haunting last?
I was tired, very tired, and thought of sleeping in for a bit, and going in to work late. But I didn’t want to stay. It’s my own house, and I didn’t want to stay.
Later in the day, exhausted, I thought of leaving early, but where would I go? Where could I? Would my home still feel like home? Not like it was. Would it ever be like it was?
When the TV sucks us into it, and the burial ground under the house becomes more active and starts to drain us of our lives before finally destroying the house and killing us all…maybe after that we can get back to normal.
It’s easy to blame "the Economy." Blame the government, blame George Bush, blame somebody, blame everybody–
Everybody but yourself.
The fact is, things are the way they are. So you can wish for things to be different, or you can adapt. Maybe the economy is bad–but maybe your decisions are making the local economy (ie, *YOUR* economy) worse. If wishes were pizzas, beggars would eat. When I hear other people’s stories, it sometimes makes me feel better…
My sister–bless her heart–has spent nine of the past 12 months unemployed. Only because she’s unemployable. It’s not her fault; she’s obstinate and ridiculously stupid with no knowledge of how the world around her actually works. Her house is paid for, but she has other bills. I feel that eventually I’m going to have to perform some sort of bailout to save the family homestead. She did just get a job recently–we’ll see how long that shit lasts. The only reason I don’t feel good about this is because I know I’m going to end up getting involved. Retard.
My friend Serena and her boyfriend Mark have problems. He switched jobs only to be let go from the new job because they wanted to live in the 1970s and he wanted to bring them…at least into the 90s. He’s looking for work, but has a standing offer to return to his previous employer. Meanwhile, Serena’s had expensive car problems that are compounded by a lack of knowledge about how to work the system. Briefly, her car wouldn’t pass the required emissions inspection, but they didn’t tell her and she didn’t ask about a waiver. Her check engine light was still on even after all the work, and they said it wouldn’t pass because of it, but they could turn it off but said they couldn’t. Even Auto Zone can reset one and turn it off. She’s been screwed by these mechanics that she keeps going back to. Idiot.
I talked to to the Dude recently. He’s working, but his brother isn’t. Karl brings in a few hundred bucks a week–not much. His brother is supposed to be the bread winner. However, since his accident almost a year ago, he hasn’t worked. He’s waiting for an insurance settlement or worker’s compensation or something. Pennies from heaven, maybe. Meanwhile, he won’t accept a job for 35k a year because he’s worth (and needs) 50k per year. I would think 35k per year is a raise from 0 per year, but I’m not a math major.
Plus, after you’ve been fired from or quit every other job in your field in this market, it limits your choices because you can’t go back to some of these places. Your only hope is for new restaurants to open up. Karl is holding up his end, but he is just a border; what happens when his "landlord"–his brother–loses the house? Shithead. I mean the brother.
My friend Kim is on the high-dollar end of things, which to me is scarier. She has to make a certain amount of money to pay bills–alot of it is debt from the past–and pay for her kids in Private school. I can see why she makes the sacrifice for them, and that’s good, I suppose. But she takes risks and chances that I never could. Her husband Scott closed the restaurant, and now he’s working a variety of odd jobs while trying to get a new career going. In what, you ask? Well, dude, we just don’t know yet. That’s why he’s still trying to get it going. Of course, he has to find it first. I hesitate to call them any names, but they are dorks. A trail of bad decisions follows them like bread crumbs.
And here I am, firmly entrenched in the middle. I work two jobs to get by. I came home on Wednesday intending to pay the internet bill–because it had been shut off–and had to pay the water bill because it had been shut off also. Do I know, at all, what I am doing? This happens to me all the time, by the way. Am I a grown up? What’s my age again?
Twenty years as an "adult." More than that. I see old people, and the wisdom that they have–and realize that most of it is trial and error, and learning from their own mistakes. I should be a genius, then. I thought that when I reached forty, I would have my shit together. Maybe I did, for a while. As I get closer to fifty–good God! Fifty!–I still feel like a child. In an old body. Maybe when I’m fifty, I’ll know what the hell I’m doing?
On the one hand, I have a very organized system to handle this (bills, finances, et cetera). On the other hand–I can’t find my system. Or my ass, with both hands. I keep working on it, and eventually I’ll get it. I think I need to pay bills *first*. Is that how you’re supposed to do it? Hello? Any grown ups out there? A little help?
Speaking of "I work two jobs," I have a funny story.
So, I’m working at Domino’s. Now I run shifts, a bona fide part time assistant manager, with all of the responsibility (of which there is very little), and none of the perks–because there aren’t any. I make pizzas, talk to customers, and count money at the end of the night. I should count food…but, fuck it. Or butt-fuck it. As previously mentioned, they aren’t paying me to do a good job, they’re paying me to be here. I count the cheese and fake the rest of the food count with the computer.
But the money you can’t fake. You have to count that. No sweat.
Recently, our money count has been a little funny. Not "funny, ha-ha." More like, "funny, and you’re fired." That hasn’t happened yet, but I can see that something is going to happen. About three weeks ago, I was 35 dollars short one night. I just went with it, and the paperwork showed the shortage. Two weeks ago, I was again short on Monday, and then Wednesday I was short 50 bucks. In addition to the 50 bucks, a driver was short–he said he would pay it back the next day, and he did–40 bucks. Remember, that’s not apart of the 50. That night, someone else closed, and the store was 15 bucks over. So–some of my 50 short came back. Right? Friday night I was again short 30 some-odd dollars.
Last Monday I was short 30 bucks again. Wednesday, I worked with Stan, who worked dayshift that day. He said, "Oh, btw, short the till 30 bucks. It was short last night (again?) and it wasn’t me." He was adamant it wasn’t him; he watches the money, locks the draw, and secures access.
So if it wasn’t him (and it wasn’t me), who was it? Stan suspects a couple of different drivers. That’s not how I see it. What do the shortages have in common?
Dina, the manager, working dayshift.
Dina, who is a divorced mother of three, working on salary and not making a bonus.
Dina, who just had her house foreclosed on.
Dina, who just found a new place and had to put a security deposit down on it.
I know that Dina knows I’m not "new." I’ve been around for a while, been around Domino’s forever. What she may not know is that as a manager, I have fired dozens of people for stealing. I find it, I figure it out, I get rid of people. I do this all the time. I did when we were on paper, before computers. It was harder then. I did it with crappy computers. And this system makes it easy–it clears up all the false leads, and directs you right to the problem.
The problem is, however, this started happening shortly after I became a manager. I need to cover my ass. I need to get Stan on board, or I need to pre- emptively call the supervisor. It’s Dina’s store, and it’s her money, and I don’t want to screw her over. She’s got three young daughters, for crying out loud, and obviously not getting by.
But I’ll be goddamned if I’m gonna take a fall for her, and let her screw me over. She couldn’t suck my dick enough for that.
The problem is, we only count the money at the end of the night. We don’t count it during the day when the managers switch shifts. We should–but you only need to do that when you don’t trust someone. And we are just one big happy family.
Here are my options:
Go in tonight, and tell her I want to count the money before I take over, because I keep showing up short.
Wait till she leaves, and count the money. But then I have no witness.
Call the supervisor, and/or call Stan.
I am in a position of trust in my day job, at the bank. I don’t need to get accused and fired for stealing from this job. It would reflect poorly. What to do? What to do?
I show up to work and Stan is there, not Dina. I did discuss with him my theory, and how I did come to it. And the experience I have in this topic. He agreed, while hedging. I get that. We count the money though, so we can check it and so he can show me how you do it with this computer system. Oddly enough, there is a template for a shift change and it is NOT installed on these systems. So whom do they have to blame for cash mismanagement? Every place I’ve ever worked that dealt with cash had a system for changing shifts. Hell, at Steak n Shake we had a till of $1000.00. Three-200 dollar drawers plus 400 in the safe. We dealt in all cash and only cash–this was before plastic–and we counted all the money several times a day. So there’s no reason–there’s no fucking reason–
We count the cash, and it appears to be about 5 bucks short. Odd. But not a big deal. And now I know. At the end of the night I do the cash out, and I’m 16 dollars over. That’s right, OVER.
Curiouser and curiouser…
These things combined with one other thing lead me to hold out another possibility: The computer is buggy. A few weeks ago, the office dialed in and updated our prices and coupons for us. Immediately, it started charging an extra $4.50 if you got a thin crust pizza. I’m just not sure if that’s a good marketing strategy. But that and a few other things make me feel that I could be wrong–it could all be computer error.
It’s just odd that the shortages happen to me on days when Dina opens…
Returning to the tasks that I never finish, or never finish in time…
I’m in charge of my dad’s probate estate. Whose idea was that? My dad’s antique car–his pride-and-joy 1939 Chevy Coupe–is supposed to go to my brother. Ideally, we could have just signed it over to him, like we did with dad’s other vehicles–just signed them over–but we couldn’t find the title.
And so, knowing that things go wrong, I wanted to do this the right way because it was too important. We included the vehicle in the estate. Well, I got all lawyered up, and my lawyer says we need an appraisal on the vehicle.
We miss the first court date, and the lawyer filed for an extension. I think they only let you have one Mulligan on this. Chuck (lawyer guy) tells me I need to have the appraisal by a certain date in September. I’m holding out on you, allowing for some suspense to build up, okay? I
Meanwhile, I contact my brother, and he says he’ll take care of it. He mails me some pages he printed from the interwebs. Not good enough, I believe. Time continues to slip into the future.
Finally, I drop by my cousin Joe’s place. Joey’s wife’s dad has an antique and classic car shop, and perchance they know someone. Joey says, call his wife. I call her, she talks to her dad, and the next day she emails Detroit with a name and phone number. I wait a few days, because there is no pressure of a deadline or anything like that.
I call one day, and there is no answer.
I wait a day, and then call again–this was Saturday. I got a recording and left a message. About an hour later, he calls back. I explain what I need, and we go through a convoluted process and set up a date. He can do it Wednesday, otherwise it would be over a week. I quickly snatch up the Wednesday appointment, as the future is starting to make the hairs rise on the back of my neck. It’s already been keeping me up at night.
I suppose it wouldn’t be the end of the world, I rationalize, if we miss the court date. It would just cost more money to the lawyer, and waste more time…
I call my brother and make arrangements–he didn’t seem too terribly excited about it, plus he wasn’t sure if he could get off work, and the guy wanted us both to be there. I made arrangements with my day job to be off.
And then I go. As I roll into town about 45 minutes early because I wanted to make a good impression on a stranger, he calls me and tells me he’s already there. I call my brother, and he’s to swing by and pick him up.
He’s a nice guy, the appraiser. Not at all what I expected. I expected a big guy, short hair or balding, all business, and very gruff. Dick Cheney sans shotgun. Instead, he was an older guy, short, slightly hunched, with a beard and a happy face and easy going demeanor. He examines the vehicle, and I talk to my brother about…stuff.
Then he has to get back to work, so we all go to his work. The guy gets an extension cord from Carl and hooks his laptop and printer up to it so he can enter all the info and print the pages. While he spends about 45 minutes doing that, Carl returns to the very important work I took him away from. He was barbequing.
No, he’s not a cook. Well, yeah, he is–he’s a chef. But not at his job. His job is with FS (farm service) which you would know about if you lived anywhere even semi rural. About 6-7 months out of the year, he works alot–6 days a week, sunup to sunset. Spraying fields, applying fertilizer, taking soil samples, and other assorted mopery and dopery.
But the rest of the time, they just hang out and find things to do. they fix equipment, work on things, get stuff ready for the next season, jack around, paint some….and barbeque. Or work on your own personal projects in the machine shop, or leave for a while with no one knowing and return to continue cooking.
It’s not a high-paying job, but freedom is a big perk. I can appreciate that. The only reason they were barbequing was that the boss bought a pig, and there was some miscommunication on what to do with it, so they slaughtered it.
"I wanted it as a pet."
"Oh. Well, here are your pet’s pork chops. They’re very good."
My brother made some pork burgers as well from some of the sausage, cooked some ribs and some pork chops. Enough to feed alot of people, so the appraiser-guy and I got to eat as well. The weather was nice; it was a cool, sunny day. Everything went according to plan.
Detroit pees all over my parade when she said, "I thought the deadline was the 16th–"
Uh oh. Well, find the paper.
"Can’t find it."
I could swear the deadline was the 23rd. I had a thought–maybe I just put the 23rd in my mind because September 23rd is the anniversary of when I closed on the first house I bought, up in Troy four years ago. The one the ex has. Shit-shit-shit.
Ruin my perfectly good–
Nothing I can do until Thursday. I called this morning, and his assistant looked it up for me. I held my breath until she came back on and said, "The new court date is the 23rd."
Now all I have to do is get this document to him before then. I only have 4 or 5 days. Wonder if I can do it?
And I did go ahead and drop it off for him at his office today. He was still there. He was happy; we chatted. I occasionally get the feeling that he’s hitting on me. Fucker. Why couldn’t my hot redheaded and female divorce attorney have hit on me instead?
dh: I need to place an order for tomorrow. What time do you open in the morning?
me: hmmm. I’m not sure–
And that’s how it got started. That is where it all happened. I was being laid back and casual–informal–and he was strictly business. He wanted things done his way, and he wanted them done now (when I tell this in person, I’m snapping my fingers because that’s how I imagine he is). Before I could say, "But I’ll check," the dickhead launches into the first of what would be several tirades.
dh: You’re not sure? You’re not sure? How come you don’t know?
me: You know, I have a day job. I only work at night–
dh: Well ask someone else. Find out when you open.
He had the tone to his voice that he is some kind of boss, used to being obeyed. Instantly. I looked around. Paro was the only one in the store. He only worked nights as well. Plus, his English was only slightly better than my Bulgarian. I made the first of several mistakes with this dickhead: I told the truth.
me: The only other person here only works nights, but–
The indignation is rising in his voice.
dh: What kind of place are you running there? I want to order a hundred dollars’ worth of pizza; if you want to lose my business this is the way to do it.
Notice that I refuse to give him the respect of calling him "sir." I can get a little stubborn.
me: Well, I have been trying to tell you that I will find out, but you haven’t given me the chance to yet. I will find out.
dh: What do you mean I haven’t given you the chance to? I asked you–
me: And you also kept talking over me. You’ve been belligerent.
dh: Did you say I was belligerent? Who owns this store?
Instead of looking anything up, I made up an answer for him. For the first question.
me: We open at 10am.
dh: Who owns this store?
me: You know, I’ve been trying to help you.
dh: Who owns this store?
me: I don’t really know.
dh: What kind of business are you running here? I’m trying to order some pizza, give you business, and it doesn’t seem like you want it. Is that how you do business? I’m going to ask you for the fourth time: Who owns this store?
What the hell? He’s been trying to order? Not yet, he hasn’t. Plus, I’ve seen his type before. Maybe he’s in sales, so he thinks everyone is in sales. I should try harder to make this sale. I wanted to pat him on the shoulder and say, "Dude, I get paid by the hour."
me: Like I said, I’ve been trying to help you. You won’t let me, you want to argue instead.
dh: Who owns this store?
me: I think his name is Nectar.
dh: You think? You don’t know? I can’t believe this. What is your name?
dh: I said ‘what is your name?’
me: You know, it seems obvious to me that you only want this information to "get me in trouble" or "to tell on me." You are the one that let this escalate, trying to go over my head when you are the one who is difficult. So…I’m not going to tell you my name. I’m not going to let you use it as a weapon against me. You are on your own, dude. I will not acquiesce.
Yes, I really talk like that. I’m sure he thinks he’s talking to someone whose life is pizza, that isn’t going anywhere, that their future is right here. And it pisses me off that he knows me that well. Or am I projecting?
dh: I can’t believe this is how you run a business. If you don’t know anything, why are you fucking working there?
And with that, I hung up. My one safety, my way out: once they start to curse, the conversation is over.
I’m sure I handled it badly. But the guy was trying to control me, over the phone no less–and I am naturally resistant to that. He wanted me to be subservient to him, and he wanted me to eat crow. All I wanted to do was get through his fucking order. We went into the phone call with differing agendas, I guess. Maybe he is a bigshot executive in his world…
…But I don’t care. He seemed like the kind of guy who is wound too tight. If I had managed to keep him on the phone longer, I would have asked him how long it had been since he had been laid, because I would like to get to the root of his problem. And help him.
And I’m sure this will get back to the bosses at Domino’s, somehow. Let’s see how far he wants to pursue it. I’m sure he–like the bosses at Domino’s–have mistaken my working for them in this position as a desire for a career. The dickhead on the phone came close to hearing me leave the phone dangle as I walked out the door and left.
And if I get a level of reprimand beyond what I think is necessary from this company, they’ll see me get up and walk out in the middle of them talking to me. They made the choice not to pay me what I am worth…so I made the choice to only give them what they pay me for. I almost hope they do; I would love for the supervisor or owner to call me on the carpet and start yelling at me, so I could laugh and turn around and walk out. For 37 cents I would.
I can find a shitty part time job like this anywhere. Have a nice day.
Addendum: I called the manager after it happened and briefed her, and gave her my version, where I am the victim. But he called the next morning–at 10am, like I told him, and ordered pizza. My final analysis is this: I pissed him off, but he still ordered pizza. Therefore, I won.
So, Saturday we drive down to Mount Vernon Illinois, which is roughly a hundred miles away, and stayed with my Aunt Nina. Of my dad’s siblings, only the daughters are left. Nina, Gloria, Donna, and Audrey. Dad and Junior passed away more recently, and they had a brother Gary that died when he was fifteen–I want to say about 1945.
Gloria lives nearer to us, and we can see her more often. But we got a chance to see all of my Mount Vernon Aunts while we were there. Donna came by on Saturday, and Audrey came by on Sunday. And it was nice, especially for my daughter to see them, and talk with them a bit, especially Aunt Nina, because we stayed with her.
Got to learn more about the story about past relatives. Nina is the family historian, for now. Some interesting and odd things…
Saturday night, after dinner, Detroit and I stepped outside for a smoke. It was a cool night in the country, no lights anywhere, and the stars were bright. Surprisingly, no problem with bugs. It was nice. We come back in, and…where are Nina and Miranda? In the playroom, sitting down, and just talking about stuff. Deep stuff.
We sat in, and talked about many things. Psychic stuff. Auras. God. Reincarnation. Other beliefs. It was quite something to hear my daughter express herself about this topic.
But this is not about all of that.
My Aunt Nina lives in Mount Vernon, which is just barely big enough to be a city. In fact, she lives outside of it, in the country a few miles. But her house is listed in the Mount Vernon "Things To Do" website and print info. Aunt Nina has a labyrinth.
If you know what that is, good–I don’t have to explain it to you. But for others, I need to explain. Several years ago, she took her above ground pool down, and had a big….spot. At that time she was beginning to be interested in them, and so she did build it. Let’s just put some links in here.
So, it’s not a maze. The difference is, a maze has several paths you can take, choices you can make. A labyrinth has just one path to follow all the way through. And it’s not 6 or 8 feet high so you can’t see over it; it’s just a brick pathway to follow.
The purpose for it is meditation, and connection to the earth, and your spirit, and so forth. I get the meditation thing. And there is supposed to be a purpose for it. You are suppose to…I don’t know. Think about something that you want, or don’t want. A wish maybe, or a change. You leave something in the dish as you enter, and when you get to the middle, my aunt had prepared some cards kind of like Chinese fortunes, one of which you are to pick.
I had her explain it to Miranda better, so I could listen. I had walked the labyrinth before, but with no clear goal. But as we had talked the night before and this Sunday morning, some clarity oozed in, like blood through a seeping Sponge Bob bandage on your knee after scraping it and getting a boo-boo. That happened also, by the way.
Now–now I had a clearer idea of what I wanted. What I wanted to wish for. The answers that I sought, what I hoped to accomplish. Now I knew what to ask for.
I was ready, and I stepped near the labyrinth. I held the object in my hand, lightly, and just held it, but did not dwell on it. I stepped in. The path is fairly straightforward, just stay on the path. It encompassed the entire area that the pool had taken, and was roughly circular in shape. It followed the landscape as well, with a hill to the right, and several loops of the ring passed over it. The path had overgrown with weeds, also, and to me it gave it a primitive look, and a connection with nature.
I walked slowly, and began my thought process/meditation. I knew what I wanted to accomplish–and I knew what I wanted to get from this to accomplish my tasks.
I thought first of all the artists that we have in the family. Each of us have some talent. Nina paints and draws and makes jewelry and sculpts and does lots of things. I know her daughters are artists, and Carrie’s daughter–I forget her name at the moment–is going to art school. Others as well: Little Greg, who is a tattoo artist. Cousin Joe, who is an artist of sorts with concrete. All of these people, and the legacy from which they sprang. My kids, daughter and son, are both very talented. Miranda created some drawings for Nina while we were there.
And my talent–what is it? I used to draw, I wanted to. I wanted to do alot of things. I had explained to Nina about my flash drive: I have a folder called "creative Projects" which is all of my ideas. In there are many other folders. My standup, this blog, my fiction, non fiction, and poetry. So many others that without looking at it I don’t know what they are. My comic strip. And then, for instance, in "Fiction," I have a folder for each of my bigger novel ideas, and there are about 15 or so. Then another folder for short fiction, and a page called "idea bucket," where I just write down ideas for stories I’d like to do. All in all, I have ideas for well over 30 novels. Am I going to write any of them?
Well, that is a very good question. I need to write. I need time, and a place, and a…Well, I’m not sure what else I need, but I need something.
Oh–motivation, focus, and direction.
As I walked, the path seemed to follow the ebb and flow of my thoughts as well. Near the weeds, I was always in the middle of a quandary, a problem. On the hills, I always felt good, and felt as though I accomplished something, even if it was only in my mind that I accomplished it.
And I realized a few things. It was kind of like an equation, where you start with one premise, resolve it, accept it, and use that as the basis and move forward.
The first thing was that I didn’t really want to be creative for the money. Or *just* for the money. Creativity is an end to its own. Other people have been and will be creative, and there is no shame in it. As I saw from Aunt Nina, you can proud of what you create and be willing, and *want* to show it to other people. I had thought it was a bit juvenile, I guess. "Look at me, look at me!" But if you’re creative, it’s natural to create–and it’s natural to want to show it to people. Nothing to be ashamed of. This came as a relief to me, actually .
The thing after that was that I *AM* creative, and I while I shouldn’t necessarily flaunt it, I should use it, expose it, nurture it, embrace it. Let it define me more, because it does define me. Revel in it, enjoy it, wallow in it. Maybe not that, exactly, but you get the idea.
What followed after that was the harder part. What to do, specifically, in the creative world? I want to do so much, that more often than not I am spinning my wheels, looking for purchase on this slippery hill of ideas I am trying to surmount. (Ironically, I was walking up a hill when I had this thought.)
I need to pick a direction, and start walking. Pick a theme, and stick with. Pick an idea, a format, a something–pick one and go with that one. Finish it. Finish something. So many of my other ideas–but if I don’t pick something I will never accomplish anything. Maybe I can return to those later; no need to get rid of anything.
So. I need to stick to the writing, and write. And submit items for publication. I’m sure to get some rejection, that’s the nature of the business. But you won’t get accepted until you submit as well. Write, submit, keep going. That’s the mantra. That’s the new mantra.
I entered the middle, and circled around it while I came to these obvious conclusions. Then, I dropped in the bowl the item I brought, the thing I wanted to get rid of: An old driver’s license of mine, essentially an avatar depicting the old me. I wanted the new me to emerge.
Then I picked a card from the middle of the short splayed stack in the bowl. I didn’t think of this part as that important to the process; this just seemed random to me.
"There are no ‘accidents.’ I am always in the right place at the right time."
And the other side:
"I am right on schedule. Where I am is a necessary step to where I shall be."
These two both had an eerie relevance to my life. The first, especially, because Detroit has always said that "things happen for a reason." This is the ultimate paraphrase of that, I feel.
And the second thing…a little bit of relief. I always feel I am running out of time. Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, into the future. Pretty soon I’ll have no time left.
And now I turned around to walk the path again, the exit route. I had some clarity, and some focus, and some renewed purpose. It might take me some time to put these lessons into action, but I felt I would, and sooner rather than later. I thought of all my creative projects. My cartoon strip, my writing and poetry, my game designs, my inventions. My money-making ideas.
I can’t sift through the crap as yet, so I’ll keep it. But I need to concentrate on the writing, because that is my strength. Make time, and do it. Even if it’s just a brief amount of time every week, set it aside and use it for writing.
I traveled toward the exit, with these thoughts in my head. I realized I had some hurdles to get over, to jump. As I neared the exit, the vision I had in my mind’s eye was me, jumping a hurdle. And the hurdle?
The hurdle was me also.
I came out of the labyrinth with a chuckle. I don’t know where that came from, but that’s funny. And true.