Friday, April 30, 2010

Thank you World Wide Web

It started out as a normal dinner at a family favorite, Granny’s Drive In. 

Granny's

The bummer was the pierced and tattooed cashier saying they were out of fries.  “What did that mean?” the family asked each other in hushed whispers.  “Will they make more soon?”  Nobody asked the teenage cashier with a cigarette sitting on his ear like a pencil.  Dad ordered himself onion rings instead of fries. 

They all laughed and talked while gorging themselves on burgers, onion rings, and Granny’s famous shakes.  

After dinner, the four adults and baby climbed into the car.  The gray four door sedan turned onto the road and into moderate traffic considering it was Heber City, UT.  The baby was fussy and the family wondered if she could handle an hour long trip home.  Grandma started feeding her toddler snacks, the kind that look like cereal but immediately melt on the tongue.  The baby was still crying and was in no mood for snacks from Grandma. 

Several snacks in her open wailing mouth meant gagging and nearly choking.  Mom looked back with concern at the first gagging noise.  The car was stopped at a light but Dad deftly pulled out of the lane making a right hand turn.  A couple feet on the side street revealed an entrance into a parking lot. 

The stores were all closed for the night.  Small towns don’t provide much retail entertainment after 9:00 pm, even on a Friday night.  The parking lot was empty.  Dad pulled up alongside a vacant store and Mom bolted from the front seat to the back seat almost before the car stopped completely.  In record time Mom was unbuckling her baby to pat her back. 

The choking stopped as soon as Baby was relieved from the indignity of a rear facing car seat.  Grandma asked if the family should stop for a minute to feed Baby.  Mom agreed.  Grandma and Mom traded places in the car. 

While Baby played with her bottle, much to Mom’s irritation, Dad pulled out his new iPad.  His fingers danced across the screen to pull up the commercials mentioned earlier that evening.

Commercial number one, number two, number three, and the final commercial viewed in a parking lot.

Cackles, giggles, and guffaws rang out from the car in the deserted parking lot.  Onlookers did not know what to think.  A short time later they were back on the road. 

The family quoted lines from the commercials and laughed some more.  The giggles soon died down and the only sound in the traveling car was the soft snoring from the passengers. 

Thank you World Wide Web.  This evening has been dedicated to you. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

On a hot summer day . . .

Blood curdling screams filled the air and echoed in my head.  The crunch of metal off in the distance made me want to vomit. 

Click.  Click.  Click.

Wind rushed all around me and I knew I should’ve enjoyed the calm before the storm.  The smell of hot grease melting in the sun scorched my nostrils.  Brakes screeched but we didn’t stop.  I opened my eyes just in time to see the trees turn upside down.  My head was pounding as if any second my ears would explode, shooting blood in short bursts in time with the intense thudding of my heart. 

Was it my head ringing or was it the incessant screaming?

Sarah McLachlan calmly reverberated in the back of my mind, “This is gonna hurt like hell . . .”  Sudden impact drove the point home.  I violently jolted forward only to immediately snap back.  The screeching brakes slowly died down. 

For a brief moment all was silent.

My hands somehow unglued themselves from the sweaty safety bar.  Muffled retching sounds caught my attention.  A glistening fat man filled his baseball cap.  Suddenly I remembered why I had sworn off riding the roller coaster.

~ ~ ~

This is fiction.  I wrote it for fun.  Any thoughts?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Step one: Start running

Running is a means for humans to move quickly on foot. It is faster than walking and involves having both feet in the air at the same time, at least for a moment. Running was first discovered as effective when man chased down his first meal.

Running was practical especially when large, menacing beasts challenged man to a staring contest. Or when Cain charged after Abel. Eventually the Olympics were born and running became part of the athletic events. Coroebus, a cook from Elis, won the stade in 776 BC. This was the first record we have of a race in the Olympics. For all anyone knows maybe he just had too much cooking sherry and was running around in the buff for the fun of it. Without the wind resistance of clothes, Coroebus was pretty quick. Whatever happened, running somehow became contest worthy.

Runners came up with this list of techniques to practice. Techniques. For running. People practice running. With coaches and everything. For running.

As true as this simplistic approach to training for a marathon is, there is more to it than just running the day of a race. This episode of How I Met Your Mother goes on to show Marshal training for the marathon while Barney puts on a track suit the day of the race. Barney finishes quickly and then gets on the subway because it’s free to the marathon participants that day. Unfortunately for him, his legs no longer work and he can’t get off the train. He just rides around all day hitting on girls until he has to call Ted to rescue him.

Running is funny. Well, when you find no pleasure in it. But for many people, running is a wonderful thing. It gives them a sense of satisfaction. It releases endorphins which are a natural high. Running is a natural way to battle depression and it is even reported to combat the mental effects of aging.

Honestly, I have great respect for runners. Mostly because I can’t do it. My brother ran cross country in high school. I loved watching his races. The races were three miles long. Three mile races. Who does that? It was amazing to watch. His wife enjoys running too. She has ran several marathons just because she can. Recently she ran in Salt Lake City’s half marathon.

I took Trax with my family to support her and watch her cross the finish line. Part of the running route followed the Trax lines. We passed by so many runners. It was interesting to see the different shapes and sizes of people competing in the half marathon. I saw women with full faces of makeup and fully styled hair running. Hard to make fun of women like that because I would do it. And they were out there running. I run in place in my room. Not the same thing.

A woman wanted to bike in a marathon type race. She began practicing in her home on a stationary bike. She was extremely proud of herself for biking a few miles the first night. When she took a real bike ride she panted and struggled through one mile. This went on for a while – success on her stationary bike then struggling on a real bike. She never built up her endurance on the real road. But no worries. She was going to take the week off before the race to save her strength. All I have to say is good luck with that race, Barneyrella.

Back to the half marathon . . . we got to the finish line at the Gateway. Some runners would jog in red in the face, sweating, panting, ready to die. Suddenly they found some magical burst of energy. The sight of the finish line reminded them of whatever they were running for and they kicked it in for the last several yards. It was extremely inspiring.

Many runners would come through pumping their arms above their heads. The crowd went wild. Actually, there were cheers of some kind for every participant. The ones who looked ready to give up were given encouraging shouts from the onlookers. A few stopped running and started walking. The crowd went nuts. “Don’t give up! Come on! You’re almost there!” I think I only saw one or two walk in. Everyone else dug deep and pushed themselves to run across that finish line.

My sister in law finished with cheers from her family and nearby strangers. She had a big smile on her face and since we all forgot cameras no pictures were taken. The cell phone wouldn’t focus fast enough so there was one picture of nothing. Her euphoria was contagious. She had done her personal best. My favorite part was when she said her goal was to be to Liberty Park before being lapped by the full marathon runners. She was past Liberty Park and only two miles from finishing the half marathon before the first marathon runner passed. That guy was awesome. White guy, not some guy from Africa. He finished 26 miles in 2.5 hours! For real.

I may not run and I have no desire to, but I will always respect those who do. I am inspired by the runners who do it to prove something to the world or prove something to themselves. One girl had a T-shirt on that said, “I run for M.E.” Not sure what M.E. stands for if it doesn’t mean ‘me.’ Run for a charity, run for a living, run for family or friends, run for yourself. Just run. Meanwhile I will huff and puff in place while my cartoon trainer compliments my efforts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Beautiful Melancholy

She was going to enjoy this rotten mood.  Ease her way into it and really get the most mileage possible out of a dreary disposition.  The day started out dark and black. 

A torrential downpour of emotion pounded for several minutes.  Then it would let up a little as if maybe it might cease.  Maybe she would realize the awful state she was in and stop savoring it so much.  But the addiction to morosity couldn’t be stopped.  It forged on as a new flood of sadness started as quickly as it had ended. 

The tears were steady. 

The sky would lighten to a bright gray for brief moments.  Then a fresh barrage of despondency.  Puddles of dejection were never calm.  Constant dripping.  Never ending rings and ripples of eternal crying.  The sky would soon open up and let loose the silent howling of an anguished soul. 

This is not the remorse that comes from a goldfish dying the same day it is purchased.  No amount of chocolate, caffeine, carb rich food, nail polish, or shopping was going to mask this problem.  This is deep loss.  The wracking torment of the depths of despair. 

The intensity of her depression was beginning to lash out.  There was no consoling her.  Any fleeting hope had long since flitted away.  In one final horrific tantrum the gut wrenching moaning furiously stormed down.  She angrily sobbed the last of it out.  Every last tear painstakingly squeezed and wrung out.  Exhaustion dictated there was nothing left to do but dry up.

Weakly the sun made its first cameo appearance of the day.  It was as if common sense was slowly being rediscovered.  The dolefulness was not nearly as impossible as imagined.  Being emotionally drained from exultation in her own misery the sky steadily grew dimmer.  But no more rain.  She had cried until she can cry no more.  She has been dehydrated ever since. 

After 12 days off from school for Spring Break, today was the first day back.  It was painful.  My six year old writhed on the floor last night bemoaning his fate.  I really felt for the kid.  It’s possible Mother Nature did too. 

She couldn’t imagine missing out on the giggles or the imagination.  So she spent the day mourning. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Cost of a Dollar

Everyone is hurt by the current economy.  Unions are protesting every other day as if protesting is a rite of passage.  Fees are being raised all across the board.  People are up in arms over it.  How dare someone else be affected by the economy!  How dare they raise fees to compensate! 

Watching the news is like watching a circus side show.  The cause and effect takes on a level of surrealism.  Like a Salvador Dali painting melting.  thumbnail[2]

Besides the controversial proposal to create a daytime curfew for juveniles . . . that wasn’t already a law?  It was when I was growing up.  Parents are beside themselves shouting that this is racial profiling.  One angry parent said,“The Latino kids will be caught for truancy which will introduce them into the system and before we know it they will be on the road to prison.”  Don’t all kids, minority or not, have the choice to just attend school like they’re supposed to?  Stay out of gateway trouble altogether?  How is this a debate?  But I digress from my original point.

The newest outrage among the Bay Area community is the proposal to increase tolls across the Golden Gate Bridge.  Not just for regular traffic but for carpoolers too.  “We may be the only bridge in the United States who doesn’t charge for carpooling.”  A quote from some lady in a suit.

What is most crazy is they want to charge pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the bridge too.  A small poll of tourists concluded that people are generally ok with this idea.  After all, it’s only a dollar per person.  They paid enough to visit San Francisco, what’s another dollar to cross a landmark bridge?

But here lies the problem.  The one thing no one thought of. 

Some guy is having a bad day.  He lost his job, his significant other left him and his cat ran away.  Plus, he burned dinner and the acrid smell still hangs in the air.  Ok, the guy is having more than a bad day.  He’s depressed.  To the point that he is considering leaving this world.  His debt is astronomical and without a job to even make a dent in the payments . . . well, you can see how late at night desperate thoughts are entertained.

The Golden Gate Bridge looms in his mind and in the picturesque view from the apartment he cannot afford.  A metaphorical light bulb blinks on in his mind.  But he has to pay $1 just to get on the bridge.  A whole dollar to jump. 

The government applauds Golden Gates’ efforts to save millions to help ‘bridge’ the financial gap.  A financial gap that has been in the making for years.  Government spending is like a bum on the street begging for a buck you know will only be wasted on booze.  It took being trillions of dollars in debt before our government decided to reverse course.  And now Jon Doe can’t even escape his impossible situation without the government gaining from his loss.

Is there no rest for the weary?

(Because it is difficult to hear tone of voice through writing, I need to say that I am being sarcastic and facetious.  This post is supposed to be funny!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Clutter

People have many strange addictions.  I didn’t realize clutter was mine. 

As much as I hate clutter it’s interesting that I have so much of it.  Even after spending a day organizing clutter, clutter still reigns supreme.  This may always be the case. 

I have come to accept a lot of it.  The alternative would be to purge memories.  Or at least those things that someday may be useful.  The rule is that if something hasn’t been looked at or used in a year then get rid of it. 

Rules were made to be broken!

The bookshelves are overflowing with books.  Books are stacked two deep on many shelves.  Another bookshelf is crammed full of books, magazines, scrapbook paper, scrapbook supplies, among many other items.  It would take a psychiatrist to convince me I don’t need these things.  And even then I wouldn’t listen. 

To throw away these bookshelf items would be the equivalent of having a food fight in the Louvre. 

The rest of the clutter can’t be helped either.  We need a better storage system for all the cords, electronics, cords, important papers that never seem to get filed, cords, and more cords. 

The size of living space has nothing to do with it.  Regardless of tiny apartment with no storage, house with a basement and garage to accumulate clutter, or whatever, every horizontal surface is covered.  Vertical space is stacked as tall as possible without precariousness. 

My parents bought me a headboard with built in storage when I was a kid.  I remember looking at the three large divided spaces.  It felt so empty and as much as I tried to keep myself from doing it, I rushed to fill the space.  Soon each of the three compartments were stuffed full of things.  The top of the headboard, being a horizontal surface, soon housed many knickknacks and other various dust collectors. 

When I pride myself on organizing the clutter in my life, all I’ve really done is arranged the clutter into neat little piles.   But it works and that’s all that matters.  If that’s all it takes to calm my racing heart and inspire creativity, then it is worth it. 

This morning I walked downstairs to a beautiful sight.  The rugs were straight.  The floors were visible.  The carpet and furniture felt so tidy.  The office looked foreign in its cleanliness.  Dishes didn’t take up all the counter space.  Those few moments of quiet serenity nourished my very soul. 

Soon the kids would get up with their bounding energy.  Soon the toys would make their daily parade downstairs.  Soon the blank computer would call to me.  Soon the neatly stacked scrapbooking supplies would entice me to dive in, once again creating the clutter I had just put away. 

I will surrender to the call of creativity.

I find that the most fascinating thing about taming clutter.  The peace and calm lasts only so long before it is overpowered by the need to create. 

I used to keep my bedroom messy because it kept my brother and sister out.  But I have to admit I did like it when I cleaned my room and they would naturally find their way into my room to talk, laugh, and do headstands in front of my full length mirror.  Something about my clean room inspired our best ideas. 

Every time I organize my kids’ toys I feel like I should be committed for insanity.  The end results are amazing in spite of the conflict I feel during the project.  This time I asked them to help me and when they balked at the idea I was secretly relieved.  I basked in my cleaning frenzy. 

When I finish, they discover toys they forgot they had.  They play so much more creatively and cooperatively.  It doesn’t last long before they resume their bad habits of tossing toys wherever just so long as the floor is empty before bedtime.  They are getting better at putting things back where they belong.  I believe they recognize the joy that comes from everything in its place and try to make that feeling last. 

My love/hate relationship with clutter is therapeutic to me.  I hate it enough to do something about it.  Then I feel like I’ve accomplished something big.  This inspires all of us to play harder and create better.  That brings back the clutter and the cycle continues.  What would I do without clutter?  I need it to survive.