Tag Archives: rainbows and kittens and unicorns

Zen and the Art of Not Fucking It Up

An uncharacteristically smooth and uneventful week for my humours—partly the reason I haven’t been able to generate a blog. When everything seems pretty well stabilized, you don’t want to go hyper-focusing on one thing and throwing everything off balance.

Basically, the less involved my conscious brain is, the better. Don’t want to go waking that shit up.

(Pretty much the opposite of the times when I’m bogged down in something and try to haul myself out by blogging about a different topic entirely. Or other times, when I figure if I’m that deep already, might as well just keep digging.)

In fact, I was just talking with McD about mental corrective measures yesterday—how “Arguing With Assholes in my Head” has become a sort of consciousness shock-collar for me, something that pops into my head when I find myself mentally playing out an argument that has little to no basis in reality. All of a sudden, Tom Lehr’s silly, soaring melody pops in, with those words—something so irreverent and fun and accurate.

It’s worked pretty well, actually. Like smacking a dog on the nose every time it starts to go for the dinner table. Would be fun to think that my brain is finally making progress in its obedience training.

Do I sound schizophrenic here? Eh, at least we’re getting along.

Among this week’s pleasant-but-not-disruptively-so occurrences:

Fantasy football win. Damn near lost by .02 points (which probably would’ve been enough to throw this week off-kilter from the get-go), but pulled it out thanks to a single-point post-interception tackle by Lance Moore. So at least he’s good for something.

Long-procrastinated work assignments completed. Should’ve been done a month ago, which makes them even more stressful—what started out as so simple I didn’t have to worry about them turned into seemingly impossible tasks (because why couldn’t I get them done?). The upside: Way more relief than was really warranted.

The beautiful combination of wide sidewalks, a bicycle, and Audible. Tina Fey is going to be solely responsible for getting me back into shape.

Regular thunderstorms.

Wine and coworkers in a bayfront back yard. Boss-hosted party with homemade Indian food and odd (and only occasionally off-putting) writers and editors.

Another team trivia night to look forward to. Team Aiming for Third is probably going to need another name. And more correct answers.

Progress on my puzzle. (Hey, point is: It’s the little things.)

A calm, obligation-free Friday. A spontaneous lunch outing with McD, a triple-grande mocha, a blog in the books, and a beautiful expanse of unfettered, football-filled weekend to gaze out upon.

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Birthday Week Recap

dracula

 

Pretty good birthday week. Generous fam gifts of an end-of-the-month San Diego excursion to visit Thing 2, with a customized tour of SD microbreweries to boot. (Also: Edward Gorey Dracula puzzle. Badass.)

Hit some snags, though, too, in quiet moments. Visits from the Ghost of Birthdays Recent Past.

Also, crutches still suck. A lot.

But Friday afternoon was all about a five-hour fried chicken tour of Sarasota, which ended with a couple pints of Cigar City IPA among super-smart people. Gotta feel pretty accomplished when your job involves stuff like that.

What I’ll write about, though, is Wednesday.

Wednesday involved a pretty fantastic trip to McCurdy’s—free tix for me and six friends (with the usual two-drink minimum). An exceptionally well-run business, they regularly give free tickets to people who’ve signed up for their list, which I did, like…eight years ago? Usually it’s eight free tickets, almost always for birthdays and generally another two or three times a year. I rarely take advantage, but it winds up being great motivation to bring a ton of people in there to spend a shit-ton on booze and snacks. I imagine the comics appreciate the full houses, too.

Work friends and hockey friends and friends with whom I’ve generated countless shenanigans: Dinner at Broadway, laughs at McCurdy’s, after-show drinks at Bahi Hut. Dinner was great—introductions and reunions and food; the comic was great—I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve never, ever had a bad time with a headliner there; Bahi Hut was…exactly what it’s supposed to be: potent and awesome.

It just felt…good.

Among my most joyous experiences, from childhood on, has been seeing people come together from different parts of my life, and having them enjoy each other. The latter doesn’t always happen, but I feel like, the moments when your friends like your friends…those are the times when your own qualities are multiplied—when you’re liked (or even just tolerated) as a person across a few different planes, and suddenly those planes intersect. And in those moments, all of your different identities—the different persons you become in different places around different people—assemble into a single, liked being.

And you are a social Power Ranger.

That’s actually a pretty self-centered assessment, but whatever: It’s my birthday.

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A Better Long Day than Usual

The backside of the sunset.

The backside of the sunset.

Sunday morning. I dreamt I was taking Thing 2 to some Main Street bar/restaurant, that I knew (or thought I knew) was nifty, but it wasn’t really living up—I had trouble finding it; it didn’t seem the same; the bartender/owner wasn’t very helpful. We somehow wound up, unfed, in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

That being said, it was a decent night’s sleep.

I would’ve lingered in bed, but when I got the wherewithal to look at the clock: 10:05. Motivation enough to haul myself up and turn on the radio for Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. (This week’s guest? Comedienne Tig Notaro, whom I’d conveniently read about just 12 hours earlier, catching up on TIME back issues.)

After that, Radio Lab—an especially unsettling hour of stories about parasites. Animals eating other animals alive. Intestinal worms.

I like to while away my weekend-morning radio time mixing puzzles and Wii golf, but since yesterday’s “productivity” involved finishing my latest puzzle—an elongated rectangle of Harley-Davidson memorabilia—I kept my arms and eyes busy for most of today’s two hour-long radio shows playing Wii golf and Wii Frisbee and Wii three-point contest.

Then killed time till 2 watching baseball and putting away laundry. Then off to the rink, a 45-minute drive of radio baseball—game-tying HR from Longoria. Go Rays. Go radio.

Not a great hockey game, but at least against a team not prone to confrontation and ugliness. I recently heard a snippet—a preview for some other show?—from some kind of cognitive scientist about his detest for the word “consciousness.” He felt it mislabeled something; it was a misleading catch-all. He cited the mind of a pianist performing—that the fingers moved without thought, and to think of their movement—to be aware, to be conscious—would screw it all up.

And someone else (oh, I’m excellent at citing my sources) recently mentioned physical activity among a list of meditative actions. I guess I’d known that, but I sort’ve thought maybe “sports-induced meditation” wasn’t considered legit among those who performed meditation as an activity in and of itself.

But for all that I dive into conscious descriptions of things in writing—or maybe because of trying to put everything to words—I’ve long appreciated sports for giving me some lovely moments of Zen: relaxed, focused autopilot. It’s amazing to me, to relax and let things happen, to see what I can do without trying to do anything in particular.

My brain is sharp but diseased; left alone, my body has always done pretty well for itself.

Anyway, today’s game was but a fitful bit of Zen. Sometimes—the best times—a whole game can go by without the urge to grab the wheel. Today I had some nice moments on the ice, but nothing that lasted. Like one of those nights where you get a bit of sleep, here and there, but nothing you can maintain.

And then I drove home. This past season marks the first time since my first months playing hockey, nearly a decade ago, that I regularly arrive at the rink, skate, and then go home. Years and years of post-game social pursuits; it’s weird to drive home in the daylight.

Weirder still after a 3:15 p.m. game—generally the earliest available. I’m at Publix before 5 and home before 5:30. It’s July. It may as well be noon. I fix dinner; I rarely feel like taking the time to cook on a Sunday. I eat dinner (stroganoff). I watch two hour-long episodes of Slings and Arrows, the last two of the first season: Hamlet. The story of Geoffrey’s mental breakdown.

It was still bright as hell outside. I’m fed, but I stink.

I went to the beach.

I’ve played hockey and then gone swimming before. (Hell, I’ve played hockey, gone to the beach, and then played hockey again, same day, but god only knows where that stamina went.) Still, so much recreation today, it seemed special to have the memory of cold toes fresh in my brain as I kicked off my flip-flops and walked through the sand, threw down my shit, took off my shirt and dove into the waves in the same sports bra I’d worn (god, how many hours ago?) under a pile of pads, trying to stickhandle around guys twice my size. From looking at ice through a cage to lying back in water over my ears and staring at the bright blue sky.

So that’s one way to get the stink off.

Later, while I sat in my wee little sand chair and read Gone Girl (about a journalist who kills his wife), a couple came between me and the waves—about 15 feet away—and proceeded to take pictures of each other. I swear to god, the nearest humans were 50 yards in front of me, and none to be seen down the other way on the beach (which, by the way, is about ¾ of a mile long). Why the fuck these two parked their asses right in front of me to take pictures, and then turned around and walked back in the direction they’d come is like…I dunno, it was that scene in the movie where the universe fucks with the main character.

But it was a lovely sunset.

I walked home with a phrase stuck in my head: “You can explain yourself all you want, but you are who you are.”

Anyway, here I am. I had to take a shower almost immediately—oddly enough, I can sit in hockey stink all day, but beach sticky-salty skin is nigh onto intolerable for me.

Now I’ve written a blog, one that’s pushing short-feature length.

And it’s…9:30 p.m.

I haven’t even been up for 12 hours. Technically speaking, my bedtime is two hours away. And it’s not a bedtime I necessarily adhere to.

Time to start the next season of Slings and Arrows, I think—the Scottish play, this time. Not sure what that says about my Monday. Maybe Mackers just needed a trip to the beach.

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Fantasy Thursday: My Last Meal

mcdonalds-Cheeseburger

Where’s my nuggets, yo?

For my third and final (and possibly favorite) fantasy this week, I gave much thought to assembling the best spread ever.

Have you ever seen some of the things people order for their last meal on death row? Granted it’s kind of a morbid topic, but if you just think about the food—it’s these incredible lists, more than many people could ever eat in a single sitting. Not a “meal” in the sense of a single composition, but just a big pile of your favorite things to eat, ever.  I tried to limit myself a top-10, all-time favorite and/or transcendent indulgences (plus beverages)–and while I think this is pretty darn good, I feel like this list is going to be an ongoing project…

  1. Ma’s Spaghetti carbonara. Pasta, eggs, bacon, cream, butter, cheese. Can’t beat it.
  2. McDonald’s cheeseburger and chicken nuggets. They count as a single item because I put the nuggets on top like a condiment.
  3. Oreos.
  4. The Beach Bistro “White Castle slider.” Seared foie gras, tenderloin, demi-glace and béarnaise on a garlic bun.
  5. Mashed potatoes with lots of butter and some real brown gravy on the side.
  6. Eggs Benedict. Cook the eggs just barely firmer than normal, real back bacon (Hi, Canadians!) and lemony Hollandaise with a little bit of cayenne or hot paprika kick. And real, well-done home fries to sop up the extra.
  7. Snow crab legs with drawn butter.
  8. Granny’s baked mac ‘n cheese.
  9. Cheetos.
  10. A hunk of brie.

For beverages? Three Bud Lights, a Mountain Dew, Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-yo, and some whole milk (for the Oreos).

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Fantasy Wednesday: $10,000

neon-dinosaur-planters-2

$10,000

My hump-day fantasy theme is money. This actually came to me a few weeks ago–how I can’t bring myself to fantasize about Power Ball millions, but what a relief a slightly more modest fortune could be.

However, after modestly fantasizing about debt-repayment and responsible saving (and trust me, those are powerful fantasies), I can’t seem to prioritize any indulgences–there aren’t any big purchases I long for, and while a variety of experiences would be nice (a trip to wherever, season tickets, a bunch of fancy dinners), nothing jumps up to the top.

So, basically, I turned this into a modest shopping blog in honor of one of my favorite gift sites. These days, more than half of the 10 grand would go straight to pay off my credit card and car. After that, I decided I’d use the leftover to purchase 10 vaguely useful, occasionally overpriced and exceptionally awesome tchotchkes from Uncommon Goods:*

  1. Rawr.
  2. Classiest rally shots ever.
  3. A polar bear that vomits ice cubes!
  4. The coastal region of Southwest Florida: a place to lay my head.
  5. I’m too flabby for the mitts these days, but I still want a boxer’s robe—and it’s good for the environment!
  6. Yay for letters.
  7. I’ve failed at making compost for some time now (which is pretty sad, if you think about it).
  8. I can’t tell if this would improve my grilling or my stick-handling (or neither). Also I wonder if they have different brands.
  9. Perty skirt. (This one, too.)
  10. And, well, duh.

*And these are just things for me; shopping for other people on that site is almost as much fun.

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Fantasy Tuesday: A Day with the Cup

stanley-cup.gray

A lot of times, thinking about the things you don’t have (and likely never will) can be depressing. But I recently discovered that taking a somewhat “realistic” approach to a fantasy can bring a little bit of lightness to your day. Like, go from “Wouldn’t that be nice” to almost planning for the opportunity—whatever it may be. Sure, it sucks that it’s not going to happen, but maybe this is like when they tell you to smile even if you feel like ass—that there’s still something physiologically beneficial to the act. And nothing says “Tuesday” like a forced smile.

(P.S. Please don’t ever tell me to smile when I feel like ass, or I will give myself a reason to smile, and it will involve violence.)

Anyway, here is the first of three fantasies that I will try to play through to their logical outcomes.

A Day with the Cup

Interestingly, I never really thought about what I’d do if I, like someone on the winning team, got to spend 24 hours doing whatever with the Stanley Cup.

Seems right to take it to your hometown, as many folks do. So I guess my day would involve a trip to Bradenton Beach, where the Cup would be the mold for the top of a sandcastle before being filled with ice to keep my beers cold.

It’d also have to take a moment on the Asolo stage, and then I’d do a soccer-themed photo shoot with it at GT Bray.

It’s also logical to take the Cup back to where you first started playing—for real Cup winners, this invokes memories of mite-ish beginnings and that oh-how-far-I’ve-come kind of vibe. My hockey roots are decidedly more shallow.

But I could see it do just as well around a table at the rink’s Beef O’Brady’s (back before it was a preschool, a church, an OK bar, a bad bar, and then a horrible steakhouse). No, Beef’s: a few tables pushed together, with all the old crew, and the crew that have come since. And select favored opponents. And every single soul who ever showed up just to watch us play and then hang out afterward. With a pile of wings, keep the pitchers coming.

And, while we’re fantasizing, make it on a Sunday night before a Monday holiday—so nobody has to worry about going to work in the morning.

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Saturday Salvation

Last week was unnecessarily crappy, through no one’s fault but my own and my hormones (“thanks,” period). It culminated Friday—short story: I was guilted into going to a luncheon, and then, upon my return, guilted into working late for not getting my work done (because I was at the luncheon). On the one hand: That’s a lose-lose there. On the other hand: I should’ve just agreed to the luncheon weeks ago and not procrastinated on my other stuff.

So 7:30 Saturday morning, I was back at the computer. Finished up around 10 and sent it off to my boss, completely unsure if my rush job was sufficient and half-expecting (as I always do, really) to get back a list of additional work to do on it.

I rode my bike to Publix, bought slightly more than should have, and rode back with a box of rigatoni wind resistance sticking up out of the top of my backpack.

When I checked my email again, I had a note from boss that read, verbatim, “This is awesome! Better than I could have hoped! Thank you so much!” Bless her for her enthusiasm—she knows I’m a special mental case who needs that kind of stuff, and even if she’s overcompensating for my deficiencies, that kind of praise still works wonders on my mood.

I still had to finish up some sidebars, so I spent most of the afternoon on the computer—all the while, friend after Florida friend posted on Facebook about the lovely, lovely weather outside. ‘Nuff said. Around 4, I finished up my work, I put on my bikini top and headed toward the beach with a chair, my Kindle and a G2 bottle filled with mango-vodka smoothie.

saturday salvation

I cannot begin to explain how lovely it was. “Magical”? “Transcendent”? The breeze was just cool enough and the sun just warm enough—like a hypnotic, undulating balance between the two temperatures. After 15 minutes, I was felt like this was not an ordinary kind of unwinding. It was way more than your usual, “The weather is really nice, I’m glad I’m outside, deep breath, ah” kind of relaxation. It was trance-like. I sat there for an hour with nary an impulse to fidget. The usual ways my mind wanders into worry had all been disabled.  It was basically a religious experience. It stuck with me for hours.

And then later that night, Little J and the Deelios came over and we all walked to the beach again and I went to go pee and fell down and got sand in my bum. The end. (Heh.)

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