Friday, December 31, 2010

Winding Up 2010

Quickie Post.

Before I say anything else let me just properly greet and welcome all of you new followers that I've noticed popping up. I'd also like to thank all of you who have have been leaving clever and encouraging comments. You're all my enablers, each and every one of you and have been sufficiently feeding my new-found lust for attention.

********

Next off, I received, not one, but two blog awards. I'd also like to thank dbs @ think.stew for awarding me with the Guide Blog Award:


And Semi True Torystellar @ Can U Relate? for the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award:



Thanks, guys, I'm truly touched (And I don't mean in a way that requires legal proceedings or awkward promises of commitment).

********

Having only started in September this year I don't have a "Best of the Year" list, not this year anyway. Even though I really do love some of my more recent posts:

Cleaning Out My Closet - Where I reveal details from my sordid past.

Some People Need To Feel In Order To Learn - Spoiled brats annoy me and, apparently, they annoy you too.

But my personal favorite has to be: The Wonderful World of Blogging - An in-depth analysis (Yeah, right!) of the mental and emotional changes experienced by us new bloggers.

Okay so I do have a list.

Sue me.

********

Last, because so many of you expressed the same concern as I did in my most recent post, I searched my archives and pulled up an essential training video to help us face an alien invasion.

From the people at HISHE:


Here's hoping you all the best for the upcoming year. I'd say don't do anything I wouldn't but you guys are more fun than I am and I don't want to tie you down.

Happy New Year, guys!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's More Random Than Nature?

Well I hope everyone had a great Christmas weekend. Mine was... eventful. As usual, it was filled with family, nog, turkey and ham.

Hey, you know what I think about when I think about ham?


Big shout out to Keely, the Un Mom for making Random Tuesday Thoughts possible.


Sunday night.

We're sitting at home on the couch. After a weekend of holiday family visits, we're tired and are warming ourselves in front of the glow of our TV.

Rumble, shake!


My wife looks at me, " What was that?!"

"Earthquake." I reply. The fact that she acknowledged it confirmed that it was real.

RUMBLE! SHAKE!


Mrs. C springs to her feet, eyes wide. She looks around the room. Quickly, she heads inside to check on The Old Woman (her grandmother, who has been living with us for the past few months). She noticed it too.

We brace ourselves... and wait...

All this time, I'd been playing it cool. Mrs. C tends to be the expressive one. If she's scared, worried, happy, sad, you'll notice. Me... I put up a nonchalant front most of the time. In this instance, I decided to be the calm one again, as usual. However, this was only a front. An outside appearance I put up to avoid feeding into my wife's panic. Inside was much different.

"What should we do? Stand under a doorway? Get under a desk? SHIT! We don't have a desk! How could we not have a desk?! We can't survive nature's onslaught without a desk!!! Maybe we'd be safer outside. No! That's not right. Why didn't I pay more attention?!"

Nothing.

"Maybe it wasn't an earthquake. Maybe it was the aftershock of some kind of explosion. Nah! We would've heard something. An explosion big enough to rock our apartment twice would have clearly made some kind of sound. A loud one."

"OH.CRAP! Alien attack!"

I try to remain calm as I move to the window. Nothing. No strange, bright lights, no ominous dark silhouettes hovering in the night sky. Still, I don't trust it.

"Okay, think! What do you when the aliens attack? SHIT! I can't remember. What have I been doing all this time?! I've been watching sci-fi movies for as long as I can remember. I should know this. What am I saying? This is why I shouldn't have watched Skyline (not that it had anything to do with the situation. It was just 90 minutes of my life I wasted on that crap and I'll never get them back. And now that the aliens are attacking! I could have been preparing instead!)"


It was, in the end just an earthquake. The news said it was a 4.7 off the north coast. Just four or five seconds of Mother Nature reminding us that she owns our asses. Just an example of how one random act of nature can fuel some crazy random thoughts. I'm going to go buy a desk now.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasons Beatings!

It's been about a month since I first gave out my "Tanned Hide" award and, in the season's spirit of giving I've decided to give out a few more.

I'll keep this one short and sweet because I didn't get a wink of sleep last night. Since exams are over and I shouldn't have an excuse for not sleeping, I guess I should explain:

It started with a phone call from Mrs. C who called me from work last night. The conversation ended with her saying these words:

"I don't care what you have to take. Coffee, energy drink, whatever. I need you tonight. All night!"

What followed her getting home took place in every room of the apartment. We did every possible thing imaginable. We swept, dusted, changed the curtains and bed sheets, polished the furniture. We even baked the ham...*

What..?

Oh, you thought...

Perves!

* In case you're wondering, no, none of these are code for anything else.

Anyway, now that I've got your attention, on to some award giving:

Once again:

As I mentioned when this award was first given out, the "Tanned Hide" goes to bloggers who hold a mirror up to society and its members who may have somewhat gone astray and often smash them over the head with it provide insight as to how those situations should be properly handled. - I just love how that sounds.

This time I've chosen three recipients who get to take the happy couple above home:

Peter V of Triton Cove - Like me, he's tired of the materialistic BS the media - and their snotty-nosed little mascots - try to shove down our throats.

The Didactic Pirate - Scourge of the high seas & bratty college students. Up until some recent redecorating his motto used to be "The beatings will continue until morale improves, or I get tired." Nuff said.

Nubian - Her blog's private but, without a doubt, she doles out well deserved punishment with true elegance. And she doesn't even spill a single drop of wine in the process.

Like before, this award is rule free and the recipients are free to pass it on to those who know have been handing out the ass whoopin' without fear of favor.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a nice coma to slip into.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Being Proactive Sucks

It's my last end of semester exam today but I just had an experience that I had to document somewhere so I could refer to it in case I needed evidence someday. I just came from school. I used my lunch hour to get next semester's registration organized. I'll admit that I can be a bit of a procrastinator at times. For the last two semesters I've had to pay late fees along with my registration because I missed the deadline.

Not this time.

This time I was going to be proactive. I was going to be organized and do it right and everything would be perfect.

Boy, was I wrong...

Let's start at the top, shall we:

I go online and print all of the required documents in the office so I could get processed more quickly. I strut confidently from work to my school which is only a ten-minute brisk walk away.  The air is crisp. It's bright but not too sunny. As I walk, happy little humming birds dance around my head. It's just that perfect.

I get to school, no line. Excellent. I walk up to the counter and ask for the GATE form (we fill this out so the government will pay the bulk of our tuition - a total lifesaver). The girl at the counter asks me for my forms (the ones I printed in advance). I proudly present said forms, filled with pride because, yes, I was proactive.

Me: Here they are (voice all sunshiny).
Girl at Counter: Do you have your student email?
Me(Chest puffed, fists on hips, looking off into the distance - the ceiling needs dusting) Why, I most certainly do. Got it when they first came out. (Even further evidence of my overflowing proactiveness.)
Girl at Counter: Did you print it?
Me(I look down at her) Print what?
Girl at Counter: Your email.
Me: No... Why?
Girl at Counter: That's one of the documents you have to produce.
Me: (Chest quickly deflating): Since when?
Girl at Counter: It's our requirement for this coming semester.
Me: I didn't know that. Did you guys give some kind of announcement?
Girl at Counter(Shrugs) You need...
Me: (Chest returned to normal size) Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can't get the GATE form or pay my registration fee until I bring it. I.know.
Girl at Counter: You can use the computers upstairs.
Me: (Growl)


I shuffle across the lobby to the elevator to get to the third floor. At this point I'm in totally the opposite mood than when I started. It isn't only because my attempt at efficiency had been thwarted, but also because the school's computer system is wols (so slow I had to spell "slow" backwards).

On the third floor I find a free system. I log on and, OHMYGAWD, it takes FIVE MINUTES just for the little log-in dialogue box to come up:

Slow-Ass PC: Your password has expired. You must change before proceeding.

Why, of course it has. I'd expect nothing less at this point.

TWENTY minutes later (which was basically made up of me pacing, banging my head against a nearby wall, swearing silently and crying a little), I'm printing my email info and, CRAP, I only have access to the printer on the second floor.

Hell no, I ain't going through this shit again! I send two prints and stay logged-in on the third floor slow-ass PC while I run down the stairs to the second floor to check the printer. I find both copies waiting for me in the printer. YES! Something went right. I run back up the stairs third. I log off (which went quickly, mercifully) and head back down to the lobby.

Me: Here (not so sunshiny this time around).
Girl at Counter: Thanks. Here is your GATE form.
Me: Thanks (grumble)

I fill the form, take my copy and proceed to the cashier to pay my $75 (TT) registration fee. I hand my forms to the cashier.

Cashier: That will be $280 (TT)
Me: Huh...
Cashier: $280.
Me: It went up? Since when?
Cashier: That is the fee, sir. (Her tone clearly was saying, "Not my damn problem. I didn't raise the fees Now hurry up and pay so I can get back to my Twilight book.")

Outstanding...

I paid. I decided it was best to just get it over with before I came back and realized there were even more forms and fees required the next time. By this time, counter-girl had made herself scarce so I wasn't able to thank her properly for the head's up. Counter-guy had taken her place.

Me: The fees went up?
Guy at Counter: Yes, sir.
Me: It would have been nice if they announced something like that.
Guy at Counter: (Shrugs - They've been trained well) I guess.

I leave. Thoroughly defeated I trudged back to the office. At least, I managed to make it back to work just as my lunch hour ended. Next time I have to do this, I won't make the mistake of being optimistic.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cleaning Out My Closet

I never thought I'd actually get around to writing this. In fact, even as I write it, I'm debating with myself as to whether or not I'll actually post it. But, in a weird, totally unexpected way, I ended up having to deal with what had gotten me into blogging in the first place. In my very first post I only said that I'd “been through a lot of stuff” in the year prior but never actually come clean on the tangled web of circumstances that brought me here today.

Oddly enough, the reason I finally ended up writing this, believe it or not, is because my calculator died.

******

Yesterday morning, I was studying for one of my end of semester exams. I reached for my calculator and realized that the screen was all black. It was old so I knew its demise was at hand but that didn't solve my problem. Mrs. C had one but even that one needed batteries and it was never unpacked from our last move. Since I did need it, I proceeded to search. I rummaged through boxes with no success so I hit the closets next. In mine were a few boxes full of odds and ends I'd never gotten to throwing out. I searched until I came to the box. The one I didn't want to go through. The box containing, among other things, the items from my previous job. In it was all the junk I'd accumulated over the five years I'd spent as a banker.

Old, battered & worn looking, isn't it? Hard to believe
 that this box hold five years of what was my life.
In one of my past posts I only briefly mentioned that I was once employed in the banking sector. “Was” being the operative word here. I was forced to make a hasty retreat from this scene and the abruptness of that departure sent my life into a tailspin. Aside from the loss of income, I experienced a loss of identity. I questioned my faith, went into a state of depression and lost all sense of direction. In short, I was a fucked-up mess (for anyone who's been paying attention, that's my first blogging f-bomb).

Eventually, though, the dust settled and during those long days of unemployment I began to take stock of myself and what had brought me to that point. I explored different avenues to deal with what I was going through but, somehow, I always ended up coming back to writing – a hobby I once had in my teenage years.

I was a naïve and innocent twenty-six year old. Too naïve and innocent for that age. Before banking, I'd only worked for small companies doing basic grunt work and this was my first foray into the corporate world. A world where, if you weren't careful, the backstabbing, deceit, and never ending supply of users, abusers and self-absorbed douchebags that exist in it will eventually start to seep into you as well.

And I wasn't careful.

For the most part in my banking career, I was in loans (let's not start hating me all at once, here). There's an inside joke in loans that you have to learn the proper art of bullshitting to do it right. You have to be friendly ALL.THE.TIME. You also have to be ready to drop down and kiss ass at a moment's notice and because you were always representing “the bank” this brown-nosing applied whether you were on or off the clock. I had to adopt that phony personality. I became a “salesman”. I learned how to talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk and became a proper bullshitter. For a while I was doing okay but the truth was that this person I had become simply wasn't me. Soon enough the cracks began to form.

I became this person I didn't recognize. Added to that, I experienced betrayal, dishonesty, egotism and cutthroat ambition at a level I'd never before known (and if you knew some of my relatives, that's saying a lot). Slowly, it chipped away at me. It broke down my childish optimism I had when I first went in and, before I even realized, it sucked me in. Soon enough I was one of them.

Still, I don't really blame the job. In retrospect, I mostly have myself to blame. When faced with the situations I encountered I have to honestly admit that lacked the mental and emotional maturity to handle them. I made mistakes. I compromised on more that a few occasions in areas where I shouldn't have. I was a passive aggressive ball of bitterness and anger. If you knew me then, you probably wouldn't have liked me. Truth is, I didn't like myself. Worst of all, it was damaging my marriage. To be honest, I'm not sure how much longer we would have lasted with me being in that state.

What banking did have going for it is that it paid well. Really well. My, then, coworkers and “friends” (none of whom ever tried to get in touch when I left) griped and complained constantly about how pathetic they thought their salaries were. And I sang along in tune. Even after I found another job, I was amazed to learn just how little some were willing to work for – and they didn't complain half as much. Being surrounded by so many who didn't appreciate what they were getting, I never realized how full of shit we were. If I could go back there right now, I'd bitch-slap the lot of them just for being such ungrateful, whiny brats.

Will I ever go back to it, though? I'm slightly older and a whole lot wiser now and have had a lot of time to figure out where I went wrong. But, no, I probably wouldn't. I've rediscovered my priorities and realize that that wasn't the life for me. If I did, it would only be for the money and I'm not sure if that would truly be worth it to be back in that world again. To be honest, even though I still have a lot of damage control to do on some parts of my life, I like who I am now. Some of the naivety and innocence is gone now. But I think that's a good thing. This world will swallow you whole if you let it.

******

Yesterday, I finally threw it all out. The promo buttons, the pins, the bags, the t-shirts, all the worthless shwag and, hopefully, the last little bit of regret and resentment I'd been hanging on to for the last year and a half were all stuffed into a plastic grocery bag and put out on the curb. It amazes me how small all of this baggage actually ended up being. It sounds cliché but actually I feel lighter now.

For those of you who made it all the way to the end of this ramble and are interested, I did eventually find my wife's calculator. It was after I had forgotten that I had been looking for it in the first place. By accident I noticed the small gift bag Mrs. C kept it and some other stuff in on the shelf above her own closet. Had I looked there in the first place that box would still be sitting ominously in the corner of my closet waiting for me to face it one day.

Funny how things work out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Battle of The Sexes Reach Da Streets

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pondering Humanity's Downfall To The Machines & Other Random Thoughts

Well, another week has gone by and it's Tuesday yet again - actually, it's been two weeks since I last did a RTT. However, I submit that my argument is still valid since weeks do occur on a weekly basis so, if you think about it, a week has gone by since last week. Go ahead, think about it. I dare you.

Wow, even that intro was random. Anyhow, the fact is, I just can't stay away. Might as well face it, I'm addicted to:


RTT is a product of Keely the Unmom and brought to you by the Mystery Background Ham. Actual randomness of this post may vary. Some randomness may appear more random than they actually are.

Great! Now I have Robert Palmer music stuck in my head...

- Hey, I wonder what ever happened to his robot backup girls. Are they in storage somewhere? Some kind of warehouse or something? Someone should really check into that. I mean, they're like a ready-made skynet army... Yes, the first wave of terminators will be hot and will also play a mean electric guitar.

Humanity is so screwed.

- I have a neighbor that has taken to blasting Christmas music every morning for an hour from about five o'clock. It's so loud that, when he cranks it up, it can jolt you right out of bed from five houses away... I live three houses away.

Outstanding...

- I read that the third annual pole dancing championships were held in Japan last week. Pole dancing “athletes” took home wins in female and male categories, as well as a winner in the new disabled division category was added this year... Ummm, yeah, let's leave that one alone.


First of all, pole dancing is a sport? Second, I have to wonder, does this "sport" have scouts like basketball? Do they trawl strip clubs worldwide night after night hoping to find the next pole dancing phenomenon. You have to admire such determination to endure these rigors for the cause. Organizers hope that the "sport" will make it to the Olympics one day.

- No, seriously, someone get on that shit with the killer robot chicks.

I'm going to be basically phoning it in for the next few days (I submit this post as Exhibit "A"). End of semester exams are looming and I've really got to hit the books (and if that doesn't work I'll probably try reading 'em).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

When Vinny Met The Diva

There are a lot of things in life I can say "I just know" to. Like, whenever I tell Mrs. C that someone in work or school flirted with me, I just know she'll ask when would be a good time for her to pay a visit (being about 1/3 Venezuelan - don't hold me to the math - her first instinct whenever her territory is encroached upon is to "cut-a-bitch"). Again, whenever I talk to Big Momma C, I just know the conversation will eventually go to the grandbabies - or lack thereof that we've provided so far (one of my younger sisters has already provided three but me being her first born and only son makes her especially eager). Also, I just know that, nine out of ten times, whenever I leave for work the stray dog that sleeps in front of the apartment building we live in will embarrassingly follow me for half a block jumping and playing and making sure everyone knows it's me she's following.

WARNING! The following is a sappy, sentimental tale of a boy meeting his first love which may-or-may-not result in a boredom induced coma:

Fourteen years ago I was a teenager working in the upstairs office of a local fabric store. I was a gopher/messenger and would usually be out delivering and collecting things for the office. Often when things were slow upstairs I was asked to go down into the store itself to lend the girls a hand. In retail, I noticed several girls come and go. Some were attractive some weren't. Some were "DAMN!!!" fine. You know, the kind that leave you having to wipe the drool off the side of your mouth when they walked by. Being a teenager, of course I objectified women sexually (one day I hope to eventually figure out how not to). But, I digress. There were some that were friendly and talkative and some I became friends with. But, since I was shy and awkward (and clueless) none of these friendships became anything more than that.

Until one day, when I had just returned from one of my gopher runs I stood one of the street entrances just for a few seconds, looking in. It was September. The Christmas season was about to begin and soon there would be barely any room in the store to stand with all the women - with tired and frustrated husbands in tow - looking to buy new fabric for their traditional Christmas curtains and table cloths. Then, something zipped passed me and quickly disappeared into the lobby which lead to the upstairs offices and storerooms. I only saw her for a second. She was petite, even shorter than I was and really damn cute. One of the porters assigned to help the salesgirls with the heavy lifting was close by and I did something I never did before: I asked about her.

"That's the new girl. She started today." was his reply. He didn't know her name. All he knew was that she worked the same table as K. (K was the only male sales clerk and the store's resident drag queen. K would proudly show the guys and girls photos of himself decked off in evening gown and wig. He wasn't too convincing, though. I think, maybe, it was because he refused to shave his mustache.)

But, I digress again. As I was saying, this girl caught my eye in an unusual way. I learned her name in our first conversation that day. It was unique. To this day I've yet to actually meet someone with the same name. We'll call her Diva for now. It's a nickname I gave her because of her amazing singing voice and because she could be a bit of a brat, when she was ready.

Unknown to me was that I caught also her eye as well. And, unknown to us both, our mutual attraction was noticed by K and his merry band of gossips long before we knew the feeling was mutual. Because they thought we'd make a cute couple - and because working in a fabric store leaves you with little much else to do - they hatched a plan to get us together. It was a pretty simple plan. The guys would drop hints that she was asking about me. K and the girls would always send Diva to the storeroom for stock and suggest I go with her to help with the heavy lifting. This left us usually alone on the poorly lit, abandoned floors of the building looking for toweling or tablecloths (before your imaginations run wild and you get revved up I'll dispel any illusions here and now. We just talked... Honest!).

Perves...

Anyway, it wasn't very long before asking her out became the obvious decision. Being a shy, awkward, introvert I must admit I took my sweet time to work around to it. I'll admit it, I was insecure, but I decided to go for it. I decided to ask her out after work one Saturday in October. We were repacking a table and talking. It was now or never for me. I couldn't keep putting it off. I felt my nerves on edge.

Me (to myself): "Dammit, man! Stop being a little bitch and do it already." I imagined slapping myself in the face a few times since I figured doing it for real would diminish my chances somewhat. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to say the words when she suddenly interrupted me.
Diva: "You want to meet in the pizza place around the corner after work?"
Me: "Okay..."

I won't go on to tell you about our adventures during our seven years of dating until, one day, we just knew it was time to tie the knot and Dive became the Mrs. C we know today (you're welcome).

Even to this day, Mrs. C asks me what it was that attracted me to her. I try to think up an explanation but the truth is it was one of those things I just knew.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Wonderful World of Blogging.

When you first get into blogging you often don't know what to expect. We all get into it for different reasons, of course. Sometimes it's to cope with day-to-day stress or to help deal with a traumatic event or even to test your skills as a writer. Whatever the case, you may not often realize how entering this new world can affect you:


At first, when you start blogging you think to yourself, "I don't care if nobody reads this. It's my blog and it's for me." (Let's be honest. If you really didn't care about who read your innermost thoughts and ideas you'd have just bought a diary in the first place)

Things progress harmlessly enough. You publish post after post and, while you're sure no one reads your ramblings, you keep at it. You read other blogs from much more interesting people than yourself and leave a comment or two. Eventually, though, you see an actual reader has left a comment about the nice post you put up. This happens again and again and then, one day, you see it. Your first follower has appeared! That's when things get interesting. All of a sudden and without even realizing it, all you can think about is blogging:

Oddly, I haven't observed anyone saying that they've experienced any weight loss from blogging.
And all you want to talk about is blogging:


Over time, as you more gain followers and get more positive comments, you start to think, "Finally! People who get me." Blogging becomes all-consuming. It dominates all your free time and permeates every aspect of your life. Pretty soon, all you do is find opportunities to tell everyone about your blog. Your friends, your family, your coworkers, they all must partake in you genius:



You're hooked. You try to post daily. You want to post daily. All for fear that your followers may lose interest and find something more interesting to do. Blogging has taken control of your life and soon you want nothing else but to publish that next post:


Well, almost nothing else. Let's face it, for some things there aren't any substitute.


Meanwhile, you forget about the real reason you started blogging in the first place. This isn't your personal therapy session any more. No, now it's about the followers and the comments. You start to feel you can do no wrong and every keystroke is a magical pearl of wisdom and wit that is born out of the teardrops of angels.

Not so:


You aren't really as good as you think and you won't always get the validation you desire. You can sometimes find yourself taking it personally:

_____________________________________________________________________________


Before too long, real life starts clamoring for attention, like the needy little attention whore life is. Petty annoyances like bills and loans and your job/kids/hygiene, whatever all decide to get in the way of your new, happy world. You can even suffer a bout of writers-block (Yeah! I can say it. I am a "writer" now so why not?).

Eventually, through trial and error and for reasons as varied as the reasons for getting into blogging in the first place, you find you do eventually find a balance. (If you're lucky you may even realize you aren't as good as you think you are and stop being a douchebag.)