Of Mice and Mentos

The only real problem with borrowing time from the Universe is that there is really no way of knowing when She might decide to call in Her marker. She seems to be a bit of a masochist, and sometimes I have the feeling that She’s stringing me along just for sport. However, in spite of my innate tendency to view everything through a veil of cynicism, these days I’ve found that I tend to let go of the bad stuff much more quickly than I can purge myself of the daily encounters I have with my own mediocrity. I think it’s some sort of survival mechanism, as the middle of the road doesn’t require nearly as much energy as the fast lane. I’m not sure where it came from, either, as I don’t recall ever having the mental prowess to consciously develop something of that level of complexity. In fact, I don’t even have the mental acuity to rid myself of the eight bars of the Cheap Trick song that has been stuck in my head since May. While the loop does seem to drown out a lot of the other things that are going on inside my cranium, it is proving to make for a poor soundtrack to everyday living. I’m not convinced that it isn’t a sign proclaiming that I’m finally going batcrap crazy. All things considered, I’m just thankful that it’s not that damned song about pina coladas. 

I suppose that I should also make an effort to get something of value out of my common interactions with my fellow human beings, much like I hear that these so-called “normal” people can do.  Frankly, I’m not fully convinced that it’s not just a rumor, and that I’m more likely to find satisfaction with a sewer-dwelling Morlock. In any case, one possible roadblock that may add multiple layers of difficulty to this particular task is that no one has ever accused me of being anything close to normal…even my parents. While those comments were originally sidebars to serious conversation, there is apparently an inherent truth in that cliché regarding self-fulfilling prophecies. Maybe it was something that hitched a ride in my subconscious mind, if there really is such a thing, and I’ve been working with an agenda that isn’t readily apparent to me. If this truly is something that contributes to my current state of self-awareness, I can’t take credit for making the discovery myself.  Even so, knowing as much as I do about modern psychology, I’ve come to terms with my being far too lazy to calculate the statistics in an effort to provide myself with empirical evidence. Instead, I’d be more likely to attempt to subscribe to some meaningless “ism” that will at least provide me with a shaky foundation for a belief system that can only conclude with me practicing a brand of hypocrisy worthy of being granted a homestead where I can attempt to grow tulips in Dante’s Eighth Circle of Hell.

Last, but not least, it may also help if I actually understood what I was trying to accomplish when I start taking these transcendental journeys through the ghettos of my mind. It’s the mental equivalent of getting on a bus at 75th Street with no idea when or where the trip is going to end. I’m taking something of a surprise vacation, but there is always the off-chance that I could get dropped off at a makeshift beach on the shore of one of the collection tanks at the waste treatment plant. There may be plenty of time to relax, but it all takes place in a crappy environment.

White Chocolate

Everybody doesn’t like something. Taste, regardless of its application, is part of what defines us as individuals. For instance, I don’t like hate, prejudice, war, people who are mean to kittens, Brussels sprouts, pork n’ beans, compact cars, fake dairy products, animal porn, and people who name their kids after items you can find in a hardware store. That’s the sort of stuff that makes me who I am. However, the question sometimes arises as to why I don’t like certain things, and that is often something about which I have to think. Then I remember that I don’t like white chocolate, and the reason for that gives me a broad enough perspective that I needn’t be much more specific in regard to anything else.

When my wife and I were young and first cohabiting, and she was rather pregnant, and we were quite poor, we used to have to find imaginative ways by which to survive. We had a tendency to bring in small amounts of money through a variety of methods, which we would then spend based on our current situation. I usually leaned toward cheap beer and tobacco, while my wife would be a bit more pragmatic and apply it toward required food items of some sort. Regardless, we quickly learned how to be quite frugal when shopping at the grocery store, although it was not enough to save us from the occasional week of eating nothing but potato soup (that’s a whole other story…really).

Every once in a while we would get lucky in some way or another, and those brief interludes would somehow allow us to rise just a tiny bit above our standard level of poverty, instead reaching a level of poverty that was, well, not as impoverished as the level of poverty below it. As an aside, I never knew I could have that much fun with the word “poverty,” but that’s neither here nor there. In fact, it’s likely somewhere else altogether.

Alas, I digress. As it happens, one day we were shopping for a meager amount of grocery items, and when we were finishing up at the checkout counter we were handed a free package of white chocolate. It contained half a dozen large blocks, weighed several pounds, and while it was actually intended to be baking chocolate, it looked wonderfully edible. Somehow, the store had ended up with a large amount of overstock on that particular item, and they were giving out packages of the stuff with every purchase of groceries. Not wanting to blow an opportunity whenever one arose, we asked if we could have more than one, and the cashier was kind enough to give us a second package.

We skipped happily home with our newly acquired blocks of white chocolate tucked in the bags with the rest of our groceries, and once we reached the house we stowed the heavy packages of sweets in the freezer and went about our merry way. It wasn’t exactly the kind of item we had cause to use on a daily basis, but we were sure it would come in handy someday. Of course, with an income as sporadic and unpredictable as ours, it didn’t take long for a day like that to roll around.

One morning I found myself scouring the fridge for some type of sustenance, and all I could find was a half-full jar of pickle juice, a crusty bottle of expired ketchup, and an onion that was well on its way to growing a full-fledged Texas goatee. None of these items seemed palatable, and it was then that I remembered the packages of white chocolate in the freezer. This sort of thing was not really a new experience, as it had been during a similar situation when my wife and I decided to defrost the middle tier of our wedding cake, which had been tucked in the freezer for the last seven months (since the wedding, obviously) for the sake of tradition. Frankly, we were hungry, and microwaved, freezer-burned wedding cake was one of the only choices we had. It was terrible, of course, largely because that tradition is stupid, but it did keep us alive long enough for us to find nutrition from other sources.

I will say that, at first, the white chocolate tasted much better than the wedding cake. While it was real chocolate, it was packaged in big blocks because it was designed to be melted down and used as a coating for whatever items one wished to bathe in rich chocolate. Since old ketchup and pickle juice were not suitable prospects for that sort of thing, I decided the next best thing would be to simply gnaw on a block of chocolate like it was a frozen candy bar. It seemed to be a good idea at the time, and I was mostly enjoying my snack…right up until I was partway through the second block of chocolate, at which point  I was somewhat inclined to change my mind. In fact, reconsidering the merits of my unconventional treat became even easier the more nauseated I became – and there wasn’t much of a transitional period between “Yum, white chocolate,” and “Oh my god, I feel so sick.” In addition, once the nausea had become fully manifest it showed no signs of abating, and it ultimately resulted in me curling up into a ball on the bathroom floor, alternating between sucking my thumb and biting my fist, and silently cursing at whichever god was responsible for bleaching a confectionery item that had been perfectly fine in its darker iterations.

You see where I’m going with this, right? I’ve never forgotten that slimy coating inside my mouth, or that awful feeling that the contents of my stomach was slowly swelling into something explosive, and I can clearly recall how hyper-aware I had been of every movement and smell that had impacted my current environment. While I managed to hold all that chocolate down, I was never quite sure how, and the experience damaged my psyche to such a degree that it practically guarantees me I will be faced with a great deal of discomfort just being in the same room with chocolate of the Caucasian persuasion. It may seem like a first-world problem, but it came from a third-world salary, and I’m not inclined to take responsibility for eating a pound-and-a-half of the stuff in one sitting (even if it was totally my fault). I mean, you would think there would have been a warning label or something: “Consumption of large quantities of this product by poor people with empty stomachs is not only rather foolish, but may someday result in a useless blog entry containing weak descriptions of an epic bout of self-inflicted nausea. If you can’t manage to spare yourself, spare your public instead.”

From a philosophical perspective, I can honestly say that I lost track of where I was going with this whole thing, and the moral of the story is probably just that white chocolate sucks. In addition, I would remind everyone that hindsight is 20/20, but I’m uncomfortable with the idea of having eyes on my butt.

This Space Empty

Or, at least, it seems to be these days. Even so, I have to log in every once in a while to get rid of the spam that makes it through the filters, delete the bots/users who have made it past the captcha, and update whatever items need updating. Yeah. I wonder why I do it, but I still DO it. That must mean something.

It’s a good thing I only have two readers, or this would be very disappointing. At one point, I even had high hopes for the future, but I think I’ve finally become about as grounded as I am capable of being. I’m cool with that. Not really, but I’ll fake it. I can’t force myself to be something I’m not, so I’m settling for being happy with who I am. I’m still open-minded, but I’m not nearly as foolish.

You never know what can happen, so don’t change that channel. In the meantime, here’s a nice picture of Three Mile Island, because who doesn’t love a random nuclear power generating station? I know I do. Ciao.ThreeMileIsle2

The Adventure Continues…

The Boardroom was becoming more crowded when the building began to shake and the windows started rattling, but there was no earthquake. The Chinese Diplomat finally arrived and inquired in Mandarin as to why the cups were all over the floor, but Jesus was cleaning his Winnebago and wasn’t around to provide any guidance. The rest of us stared at each other and shrugged, which seemed to be the order for the day until Bob’s phone started playing A Fifth of Beethoven and the receptionist got a little jiggy. We were used to her antics, as what else could one expect when she was wearing that squirrel bone in her hair, and we could never tell if she was going to be greeting people in French or one of the rarer Klingon dialects.

There was no meeting that day, but nobody figured it out until at least 45 minutes had passed and the Chairman and the Window Washer hadn’t shown up. Bob was feeling sassy (he said so himself!) and he was able to convince everyone to participate in two rounds of We Will Rock You before Team 7 and the Chinese Diplomat had to leave for the elevator. It only worked twice a day this time of year, but that was usually because Pell had a tendency to fall asleep at the switch. Nobody ever said anything, but we all knew that Pell was a weird name for an Operator, and we often wondered if his parents had lived out on the island for any amount of time. It was up in the air. There was no time to ponder things like that, anyhow, because we had all been trained to keep our eye on the prize, and nobody wanted to end up underneath that particular cliche.

It was a long time coming, but we finally heard Jesus on the stairs and everybody hurried over to greet him at the door. Unfortunately, the alarm scared the poop right out of his puggle when The Transient accidentally hit the bar, and we never even caught sight of Jesus as he chased the little beast out the back. After a short discussion regarding raising the bar, we decided to send Simon out to the parking lot with a mission. “Find Jesus,” we said, regardless of the fact that we had an ulterior motive, as the clock was moving backwards toward lunch. We told him to keep the search brief, and if it turned up empty, to come back with some tacos. Nobody can have a bad day when there are tacos around.

As it turned out, we were wrong. The puggle came back in through the ventilation system and ate every packet of hot sauce while we were in the hallway jousting in chairs with mechanical pencils. We watched in awe as the strange creature ran around in circles baying like a swamp wog and gnashing its tiny teeth together. It would have been comical, but the Window Washer finally showed up just in time to almost lose a toe, and we had to send The Receptionist out for cotton swabs. In between his howls of pain, we inquired as to the location of The Chairman, but the Window Washer always drew a blank. After all, it was his job.

Pallbearers Anonymous

Searching for an empty place
A vision through a graying pane
Watching for the journey’s end
An exit from the gathering

Dead weight upon their shoulders
Marching onward towards the source
Dead weight upon their shoulders
Marching towards the void
Dead weight upon their shoulders
Emptiness held high and proud
Dead weight upon their shoulders
Marching towards the void

Standing numb upon a hill
Gazing blankly towards the sky
A eulogy of philosophy
The sound of dirt on a hollow drum

Dead weight upon their shoulders
Marching onward towards the source
Dead weight upon their shoulders
Marching towards the void
Dead weight upon their shoulders
Emptiness held high and proud
Dead weight upon their shoulders
Marching towards the void

In the end they all just stare
Seeing their mortality
In a mound of simple ground
The last page of the mystery

I Always Come Back

Why not? This place has value, at least to me. I thought about letting it go, but I don’t want to. That being said, it seems appropriate for me to add something like “nanny nanny, boo boo” to that statement, but I have no idea why.

I was going to change the theme for the blog, as I tend to do every so often, but I discovered that it would require making a decision that is a bit beyond my current capabilities. There are just too many of the damned things and they’re all on one page. I caught myself scrolling through the myriad of designs, and I had no idea if I had actually seen anything after the first three other than the colorful blur as they flashed by me. While I am rather adept at scrolling, I’m a lot less capable of paying attention while I’m doing it. I could have easily wasted the rest of my night lost in this rolling Sea of WordPress while I sat daydreaming about ninjas and tacos, or possibly ninjas with taco stands, but I caught myself before it was too late to reboot my brain. Regardless, it appears that WordPress and I will still be killing time together, even if the methodology is something I can pretend is a little more productive.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve used the cliche “neither here nor there” more than once in my life, but I think this is the first time that I can accurately apply it to something that will allow me to overlook the fact that it’s complete nonsense. It’s a perfect description for how I feel at the moment, and I’m enjoying the idea that I can wallow in the ambiguity implied by its nullifying allure. I am neither here nor there, which does present the possibility that I’m somewhere else, but constructing a practical foundation to support that theory is a bit perplexing.  I suppose there is still a valid argument for me being here, but that will need to be addressed from a philosophical perspective and I have no desire to tumble down that rabbit hole at the moment. It’s not that I’m unwilling to explore the mysteries of the Universe at that level, as I do so enjoy the occasional jaunt into the Transcendental Morass of Possibility. I’m really just incredibly lazy and would much rather go back to not seeing the WordPress themes before causing myself that kind of stress.

Aside from that of my childhood, which was lost at sea in a freak incident somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle, I’ve saved as much of my past writing as I possibly could. I don’t know why. Every time I find myself going back and looking at any of it, I have to wonder at what point in my life I suffered a grievous brain injury and went batcrap crazy. I’m not sure it ever healed, either. I tried so hard to sound like I knew something everyone else didn’t, and that I had a degree of depth that would showcase my unnatural aptitude for reaching beyond the limitations of the human mind. Unfortunately, the reality can be more accurately described by the opening line of one of the unfinished projects I saw in my files tonight: “The most difficult part of even getting to this point was finally coming to the realization that none of this is about me.” Yeah, that’s…uh…something. While it’s a terrible way to start a book, it’s actually one of the rare tidbits of tangible wisdom that appears anywhere in my work. From what I can see, since I can’t remember actually writing it, there must have been a brief moment when I almost had a grasp on something that surpassed the trivial elements of my everyday existence. I appeared to be on the brink of some real personal growth, and it seemed the Universe was finally going to open that elusive, proverbial window and lead me out of the Wilderness of Mediocrity in which I had been wandering for so long. It was my density…I mean…my destiny (thanks, McFly).

Unfortunately, I followed it up with this: “It seems like it should be, especially since I have spent countless hours gathering all of the sordid experience I need to qualify as an educated observer.” Apparently, I couldn’t go one more sentence without it becoming something about me again. Wow. I’m sure it was effortless, too, although I have the sneaking suspicion that there may have been a fleeting sensation of something slamming shut on my fingers.  “Almost,” the Universe probably said mockingly. I fail to understand why I thought it would be a good idea to use the word “gathering” when it came to “sordid experience,” too. Apparently, I was on an Easter egg hunt in Hell, but I guess it was an enlightening one.

I really couldn’t go on after those first two sentences, mostly because I’m not a freakin’ sadist, and it was one of those ephemeral moments when I was actually a tad grateful for the stroke. I have no idea what comes next in that piece, and I have absolutely no desire to find out. Granted, there is the tiniest possibility that I somewhat improbably and unexpectedly crafted something of incredible significance and value, and that I am robbing myself of the opportunity to bless the human race with this testament to my exceptional acumen, but that is about as likely as me getting selected to attend Hogwarts next year.  It’s more likely that all of that sordid gathering I had been doing inspired me to spend the next six pages writing about a magic potato.