Today’s Daily Prompt speaks of anticipation. If you’re a U.S. citizen east of the Mississippi, this is what you might be looking forward to:
Plan accordingly and stay safe, everyone!
Today’s Daily Prompt speaks of anticipation. If you’re a U.S. citizen east of the Mississippi, this is what you might be looking forward to:
Plan accordingly and stay safe, everyone!
In today’s Daily Prompt we are to write something involving the word “sincere.” Ok.
What would happen if I just disappeared? Who would be upset by this? My sister and some other family members would be devastated, but beyond that, I think that my going missing would only cause a momentary ripple. I’d be forgotten with weeks, if not days. And really, it would be my fault in a way. I’ve done nothing of value with myself, I’m not worthy of being remembered.
Part of this, a lot of this, is that I just want to run away, to flee. I feel trapped in a cycle of boredom and depression. I exist, but I don’t really live. Maybe it’s too late. Maybe. I don’t know. All that I do know is that I’m not really satisfied with where I am but don’t have the energy or focus to break out of my rut. Perhaps I deserve to just sit here and suffer, perhaps not. In the long run, that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the here and now, a time and place that I want to flee. I just wish I knew where, or how. I doubt I will do anything other than wallow, but the day might come when I act on my desire to disappear, one way or the other. I’m sincere about this, too.
Today’s Daily Prompt is “Sanwich.” This is what came to mind:
Per today’s Daily Post, here’s what I think of when I think of the word “giggle”:
I’ll admit that the last one was a stretch, but I did this all without the help of a thesaurus!
Today’s Daily Prompt asks “Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?”
I get anxious when I speak in public, but that begins to fade fairly quickly, especially if I’ve had some consistent practice. And therein lies the key to it all. It may be cliché, but practice does make perfect. And I have Hugh Ringer to thank for that.
The gentlemen of whom I speak was my high school’s speech team coach (we didn’t have debate as he was also our high school’s athletic director) for several decades. And he fit the bill, a dapper dresser with a stentorian voice and dynamic manner, he was almost the prototypical protagonist in 50’s musical. He would see to it that a system was in place. You were encouraged to join in 7th or 8th and stay until 12th grade, and while you did, you practiced twice a week from December until March or early April. This was my pattern; I started in 7th and stayed on until I was a senior (12th grade). In short, I had a lot of practice during my formative years.
Another way that being a member of the speech team helped was our exposure to those who were closer to what we call the “1%” today. We were a group of small town kids of whom little was expected, and yet we won numerous tournaments that we entered and collected individual trophies by the armful year in and year out. And we won by beating kids from other schools who being groomed to apply to – and be accepted to – Ivy League schools while most of us were encouraged only to shoot for a State of Pennsylvania-sponsored school. We learned to see past that sort of class difference and not let it intimidate us.
So, yeah, I still get a little nervous, but after a while, I’ll do just fine. One of my grad school professors even told me after a presentation that I “had a great future as a televangelist.”, so I thin I’ll be juuuust fine with the Speechifyin’ , thank you. And thanks, Hugh!
Francis Bacon — ‘Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink,old friends to trust and old authors to read.’
I don’t even know if this accurate, as history can be as much plagiarism and guesswork as fact, but I still like it. And it comes from a smart guy (he was Shakespeare, you know), so it brings the imprimatur of erudition. In other words, it’s got a bit of that razzle-dazzle that wows others into thinking you’re actually smart yourself. 😉
More importantly, it brings to mind a quiet fall weekend in a secluded cabin in the woods. You’re there, hanging out with your friends, reading a good book, and enjoying a few drinks, all while a fireplace is crackling and popping contentedly in the background. It sounds like Heaven to me. Now that I think about it, I really should look into putting something like that together for October. Hmm…
This writing challenge asks us to talk about where and how we write. And with that, I give you my ‘happy place’ where the Muse pays me a visit. That, or it’s just really damned comfortable and I’m really damned lazy. Either way, here’s where most of my writing gets done
I used to think how super-cool and inspirational it would be to write at a coffee shop or some other public place. But after trying it a few times, I had come to terms with the fact that all I wanted to do was drink coffee and people watch. No, more often than not, I just wind up sitting or lying down on this thing and typing away. The blue light is supposed to help with improving one’s mood. We shall see.
Humor on Twitter’s something of an art form. Fitting an a clever aside or a witty aphorism in 140 characters is quite a challenge. Nihilist Arby’s rises to it brilliantly.
Spoiler alert: you will soon die and your flesh will spoil.
— Nihilist Arby's (@nihilist_arbys) September 10, 2015
It can be ready as tragic or horrifying. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hilarious, too. Personally, I find dark humor to be therapeutic.
We’re doomed. But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about it.
Okay, day 4 of this here challenge lies right in the ol’ wheelhouse, yessiree!
It all started about a year-and-a-half ago. I got a ride from a coworker to a local garage to get my car picked up for some repairs needed for it to pass inspection. It was on the way in that I saw this:
I love “Coming to America” as the next person raised in the 80s, but not as much as this guy. And I’m willing to bet that it was a guy. Honestly, I can’t see any woman putting that on her plate. I could be wrong, but somehow I doubt it.
Shortly afterwards, I started this blog. It was then that it suggested by the good folks at WordPress.com that a recurring feature is a good way to attract followers and build a “brand” for one’s blog. All of this had merit, but, more than that, it meant that I would get to make snide, bitchy remarks about people’s vanity plates. And oh Lord in Heaven has the Harrisburg area been obliging! I’ve posted almost 150 of these pictures – three per post with very few exceptions – and I still keep coming across more. A friend of mine recently pointed out the obvious in that we’re so close to the DMV that is makes it exceptionally easy for people to get these things (Harrisburg is Pennsylvania’s state capital). Still, it’s remarkable in a way how strong everyone’s desire is to stand out. I’m sure some clever soul could produce some riff on this being part of the Society of the Spectacle. All I can really do is chuckle. And, as snotty-nosed as I can get, I realize that I’ve got my little vanities as well. But still, what else am I gonna with my time? I’m too old to go out blowing cash on decadent pursuits every night. I’ve neither the constitution nor the wallet for that. No, instead I’m just sitting in the balcony, pointing and laughing for fun and entertainment.
And really, when you come across gems like these, how can you resist?
Some seem to want to hitch their wagon to a strong identity:
Some plates (unintentionally) cultivate an air of mystery:
And still others seem to beg your indulgence:
Yup, Harrisburg and its surrounding area has vanity. Lots and lots of vanity. So, if you’re looking to score a few points with a quick anthropological or sociological study or just looking to kill time with a cheap, easy, and wholly legal hobby, it’s the place to be! Toodles, all!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Decisions, Decisions.”
So, I try to portray myself to myself as a rational adult who makes rational decisions with great deliberation. I tell myself a lot of things. The truth is that if it’s a fairly big decision, I’ll cross a mental and emotional Rubicon and then that is usually that. I try to think an important decision through, but more often than not it’s my way of figuring out how I can justify the time, and more importantly to a grownup like me, and money such a decision will cost me. This isn’t to say I’m reckless, but there are some big decisions that just click no matter how much I try to hold off. Hell, that’s how I wound up running the Istanbul Marathon! So, it’s not all bad. It’s not cheap, either, but, what good does it do me to be a miser? Life’s too damned short. (Famous Last Words?)
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Green-Eyed Monster.”
This isn’t so much an apology as it is a reminiscence about an important lesson I learned as a child.
It was the fall of 1977 and I was in the first grade. Mrs. Cornelius, our (improbably attractive) teacher, decided to hold a handwriting contest. I felt sure that I would win. My handwriting was great! Well, I thought it was great. Never mind that Mrs. Cornelius had to remind me not to draw little choo-choos on my letters. That had nothing to do with anything. Besides, I had just turned seven – facts and logic were still, er, “negotiable” in my mind. At any rate, the contest was over, and the teacher announced the girl’s winner and the boy’s winner. That boy was not me, and I was not pleased. In fact, I was mad, and green with envy. Oh yeah, I was steamed. And so, when Mrs. C invited us all to give the winners a round of applause, I began to show my disdain by booing soundly. You could easily my “BOO! BOO!” through the clapping. I was really letting them (well, him) have it. This lasted for all of, oh, five seconds before I heard “Shawn! Put your head down! We do not ‘boo’ in the first grade!.” from the teacher. The intensity of her words was matched by her angry glare, and I knew that I had stepped in it but good. So, down my head went. Oh, the shame!
But I learned two important things that day:
“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.” – And with those opening words Hunter S. Thompson captured the imagination of at least one high school senior – me. I was a nerd, I had few real friends at the time, and I was just itching to get the Hell out of podunk nowhere, but reading that made me feel like I was too hip for the room. I could scoff at the squares and look down on those looked at me like I was the loser. “Ha,” I would think to myself “I get it and you don’t.” Ribald, cartoonish vignettes of drug abuse and flaunting the rules fed my angsty little soul. Back then, those opening words were shocking in just the right way – at least to my mind. I felt as if I were quietly but decisively flipping the bird to the squares who were dragging my world down.
Over twenty-five years later, what I have learned is that the real worth of that book isn’t its shock value but the insight that it offered into that period of time. At its core, its not a tale of drug-addled depravity but a harsh, painfully accurate snapshot of these United States. The country was still very divided but the initial euphoria and optimism of the 60s was giving way to cynicism and paranoia. Thompson notes this clearly when he points out that both Kennedys were dead and Nixon was POTUS now. The party was over and now he had come to Las Vegas to peer into the true, reactionary heart of America. The revolution was over and never spread as widely as anyone wanted to believe, anyway. And it’s here that I see that while the opening sentence of Dr. Thompson’s masterpiece is its most quoted part, it’s his look back at what had become of San Francisco’s “Spirit of ’65” in 1971 that’s the true heart of the book:
“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era—the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights—or very early mornings—when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
I’ve gotten it for a while now, but like all wisdom, it came at a cost. The world doesn’t change very quickly, and simply wishing for it is never enough. The comedown from the whole damned high is never is easy, and it’s easy to just up and fucking quit. But, life goes on, so unless you want to just shrug your shoulders and give up, so must you. And so, it’s back to work. Now if I can just remember to maintain a sense of humor and carry a little hope with me as I advance into the middle of middle age while praying to…something… that things will get better. Wisdom can be a bummer. Bastards.
Today’s Daily Prompt wants us to post an Anti-Bucket List. As in, stuff we would never do, say, watch, make, etc. Sure, I’m game. So, here we go…
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “One at a Time.”
Wow, crap, this is tough! I can’t even begi…, start. Let me think. How is this?
Brief words, strong and true.
I think I like to Tweet more.
That takes much less thought.
There, how was that?
I set my alarm for 6 a.m., but that was of secondary importance. I already had a wake-up call: the muezzins’ first calls to prayer came at 5:45 a.m. and rang from at least three different mosques in my neighborhood. What’s more, I got almost five hours of rest the night before. I only got one before running in the 2012 Philly Marathon, so five hours felt like Heaven by comparison. I was up, showered, and even managed to down a light breakfast before getting ready to depart my hotel.
A short five-minute walk took me to my destination: Sultanahmet Park. This is where the buses would come to pick us up to drive us to starting point of the race, which was across the Bosphorus Bridge on the Asian side of Istanbul. I got there a good 30 minutes early, thinking that was plenty of time for the 7 a.m. departure. What I saw was a pretty fair-sized crowd already milling about.
And so, after even more people came, we were all treated to semi-frantically trying to cram ourselves into a series of buses and
hoping praying that we wouldn’t get left. Being in a far away country, and one in which you don’t speak the language, will exacerbate one’s fears of your hosts’ organizational acumen falling short. But, these fears were unfounded. We got on, and were carried to the starting area at the Bosphorus Bridge in the city’s Üsküdar district (don’t ask me to pronounce it) and I even managed to make some new friends during the bus ride. Then we got to the starting point. It was actually more crowded and more impressive than I anticipated.
I stretched out a bit and chatted with the Americans (and a German by way of Canada) from the bus when I ran into them again. At first, I tried to play off the whole thing in a light-hearted manner to battle my jitters.
But then it started to hit me.
Then it really started to hit me.
But of course it was too late by then. I had to put away my phone and I tucked away my glasses, too. We lined up, heard some speechifying – sponsors and VIPs pay good money to underwrite these races, so, yinz’ll just have to wait ’til they’re done a-talkin’ – and then the Turkish national anthem. I didn’t understand a word of it, but it was pretty damned stirring all the same. This was a good thing. I needed all the adrenaline I could spare at that point. And then…we were off!
I didn’t have my camera, but the Istanbul Marathon website has a gallery that helps to fill in that long, long gap.
The odd part is that I don’t really have any strong memories of the race itself except for a fairly fast (for me) start and then the last 3k. It was a tiring, achy race before those last 3k, but I was managing ok. Then the 3k were basically uphill. No fair! By odd happenstance, I happened across this Twitter photo of myself ‘enjoying’ the final stretch of the race as we made our towards the finish at Sultanahmet Square.
— Elif Özgen (@elfozgn_) November 16, 2014
I’m at the far left, forcing myself to run after walking at 1.5 to 2k of the final 3k. Once we closed in on the last few hundred meters I was able to muster enough energy for a last ‘kick.’ I know that’s a cheesy way to end a race, but it was oddly gratifying to know that I hadn’t pushed myself too hard during the race. There’s pushing, and then there’s damned near suicidal. I’ll leave the latter to someone else, thank you. And it wasn’t as if I was finishing ‘daisy fresh’ either.
The biggest problem with the finish was that they ended the race in a heavy tourist area. This meant that the race organizers were unable and unwilling to let us mill about the square immediately after finishing. Instead, we were fed through a ‘cattle chute’ that forced us to come to almost complete, dead stops. This is dangerous. You can’t just ‘power down’ after 26+ miles without risking serious cramping or other sorts of injuries. Luckily for me, I still had enough energy to make my way outta the chute and into the more open area of the square. I drank some water, and forced myself to eat some orange slices and a piece of bread. Odd as it might sound, I had no real appetite at that point. This was in part due to the glucose gels and sugar cubes that I ingested along the way. It also had to do with being to with that amount of running killing my appetite in the short-term. After my light post meal snack, I managed to convince someone to take my picture next to what’s known as the Theodosian Obelisk.
After I recovered a bit more, I went back and filmed a few seconds of my fellow marathoners finishing.
Afterwards, I kept walking to loosen myself up. I made to the nearby Starbucks and ran into the one other person that I knew from Harrisburg, PA that was running the race for the third time. The first time was during the race as we crossed the bridge. I kept up for about two or three miles until she grew weary of my slow hindquarters and proceeded to motor off. I then saw her again in the square with her in-laws, and then, finally at comfort coffee port known as Starbucks.
After that, I wandered into an English-language bookstore where my smelly, sweaty, half-delirious self engaged in a brief, animated, and perhaps slight manic conversation with some fellow U.S. & A. types. I don’t think the managers/owners quite knew what to make of me. Finally, I convinced the one nice lady who I want to say was originally from Canada but am not sure ‘cuz, y’know, I was exhausted, to take another post-race picture. This one was much more hammy.
After that, I made my way back to my hotel, cleaned myself up, and then took a nice, long nap. Then I got a call, explored, and eventually made my way to the Sah Bar (“Sah” is pronounced “Shah” by the way.) where I proceeded (to continue) to reward myself for all of my hard work.
The service was good – and entertaining!
But all good things must come to an end. And so, we headed back to our respective hotels to sleep in after a long day. But not before getting to know some of the local canines (more on them in another post).
And that was the end of one of the longest, most rewarding, and most enjoyable days of my life. May we all be so blessed in the days to come!
Per WordPress.com’s http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ready-set-done-5/ here is a 10-minute free write. Just writing, no editing, no thought, just doing it for 10 minutes and then stopping. Let’s see what I can do.
So, tonight is Halloweeen and I’ve not a thing to wear. I could dress like an againg nerd, but that’d be redundant. So, I gotta run off to a costume shop and figure something out. I’ve a pleather coat and some black jeans, so maybe with a boa or scarf and some sungleasses and my mutton chops I can be an aging rocker, hipster. I’d wear makeup, I might, like pale face and lipstick stuff to make me ghoulish, but i Have a crooked nose, so dressing up in makeup would draw attention to a flaw I do NOT like. What else? Maybe I can some kinda wolfman thing with ears and clasw? The muttonchops are the defining feature to this, so that will the centerpiece of a costume. Hmmmm…
Of course, what matters is going out and looking at the ladies dressed all sexy-like. I know that makes me a sexist pig, but I am a man and have needs. Besides, it’s not like I’m gonna be all crreppy about it. Well, not too creepy.
Oh hey, runners just jogged past the coffee shop where I am writing this. Nice. now I have Runner’s Guilt too on top of my worries.
But it’s all good, I just gotta remind myself of that. After having to leave my car here in ittsburgh and having to return to Harrisburg and then take the Megabus back, I finally have my own wheels again. W00t! as the young people say. Do they still say that?
But yeah, it’s still a bit stressful. I don’t have a place to crash yet. I could pring for a hotel at this point but that is extra $ and I don’t wanna spend it with a vaacaytion coming up. More on that in a few days/weeks.
I hope I will at least be able t get some candy. And now that song is stuck in my head. Not a bad thing mind you. Of course, the coffee shop here in South Craig St. is blasting all sorts o’ Halloween music, so I’m sure something else will come laong to push it outta my wee brain. I just hope it’s something good as well. At least as good, if not more gooder.
I justrealized that gripe as a I might, this is not a bad situation to be in a overall. 7 years ago I was underemployed, scraping by with a ton of grad school debt and dim prospects. While a job for the stat of PA isn’t super-ideal to some, and I do grip myself, it’s far, fr better than wehre I was. So, I have been able to gain a moment of insight and thereby some relief.
Now if only I can find a place to stay. Eh, that’ll work out one way or anotger, too< I’m sure.
Now I wind down and realize that I am a terrible typist. Yeesh.
Today’s Daily Prompt asks what we would do with an extra hour in the day. What would I do with this extra time?
The answer is simple: I would sleep. Precious, elusive sleep is hard to come by for this insomniac, so I will take what I can get. It would be a blessing.
In lieu of that, any advice on mitigating insomnia would be greatly appreciated.
Today’s Daily Prompt asks: “Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?”
My answer is, it all comes down to context. For example, the New York City subway system is not a magical place, not by a country mile. This was something that I had to learn PDQ when I moved to Jersey City and then Astoria. When I got there in the summer of 1999, it was scorching hot. This meant that waiting for the subway while job hunting meant sitting inside what was essentially a giant convection oven. This didn’t help things. But even as the temperatures started to lower, things didn’t change much. More than a few people waiting for their train were either commuting from the outer part of the outer boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester County, and even Connecticut to Manhattan and using the subway get to their (often stressful) jobs or going back home the same way with their tired, sweaty, and not infrequently inebriated fellow commuters. In short, most people were a little wired in the a.m and a little fried in the p.m. This was not conducive to friendly conversation. I learned this hard way when I, partially Midwestern person that I am, tried to strike up the odd conversation to pass the time. I learned quickly that when you tried to do this people thought that you were either 1.) running a scam, 2.) crazy, or 3.) both. And so, I adapted and just put on my headphones with my portable cd player and stared ahead. I also started standing a bit towards the back of the platform as the fear of some nutjob pushing my pale hindquarters onto the tracks took hold. Granted, this was a one in a million chance, but fear trumps actuarial tables.
On the other hand, one of my best friends met his wife during a layover in O’Hare airport. So, again, it all depends on context.
Today’s Daily Post asks “But what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image?” It wants to know “…what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image?”
For some, I’m sure it’s the beauty and wonder of nature. For others, an attempt to catch a moment of affection or quiet dignity is what drives them to snap way. Others still look to moments of high energy (e.g. runners in a 100 meter dash) or drama (e.g. anything that made the news in this God-awful month). Me, I look for vanity plates. I guess I’m kinda shallow that way.
In my defense, I have a few good reasons for doing this:
Here’s my all-time favorite example. This is the one that started it all:
Ansel Adams I ain’t, but come on! Who wouldn’t want a memento of something like that?
If you’re curious, check out some of my other vanity plate pictures, starting here.
So, it was the summer of 1992 and my good roommate Chas (as opposed to our evil roommates J and R) headed out from Pittsburgh to go visit his family in Lebanon, PA. It was a straight shot across the ol’ PA Turnpike, but whereas I thought it would only be taking 3 hours, it actually took closer to four as my sense of South-Central geography wasn’t quite where it is now.
Like any good road trip, we had music. We were about 60 miles out and I was getting a little anxious as I actually thought we were much closer and I was giddy with getting out of town, actually getting to meet my buddy’s family and see his hometown, and just a-road trippin’ in general.Chas had one of his mix tapes (naturally; have an old person explain the idea to you, kids) in and we were passing the time singing when Steve Earle’s classic “Copperhead Road” came on. Oh yeah, this was stuff. We were in the groove, getting close, and I was already giddy, as I said. And then…the big chorus and song bridge was about to hit. Yes! And so, I came in with the chorus, singing (blurting, really) out “YOU COULD THE WHISKEY BURNIN’ DOWN COPPERHEAD ROAD!!! ” – a full half-verse early. Chas must have laughed for a good ten on twenty seconds straight. I have to hand it to him for managing not to wreck through his fit as it was quite heartfelt. I started laughing along a little, too and tried to play it off, but he held my feet to the fire and pointed out that I was ready, man. It was hugely embarrassing, but it was funny, I had to admit. Oh well, at least there was just the two of us in the car at the time.
P.S. Thanks to fine folks at the Daily Post for using my idea. I’m a little flattered, actually.
So the Daily Post asks us about a certain particular smell or smells and the memories they can trigger.
For me, that smell is the smell of old books. Both of my parents, God rest their souls, were avid readers, so we always had books around the house. And, my mother was also the librarian at my high school. I guess over time I’ve come to associate the smell of old books with home and family. That, or I just like the smell.
This is probably one of the reasons I like hanging out at the Midtown Scholar so much. The smell makes it feel homey.
And now, some science. Read below:
I was right all these years, even when the occasional Philistine would look at me as if I were the crazy one for asking him (it has almost always been another guy) if he liked the smell of old books too. Yay me!
Today’s Daily Post wants to know what our favorite procrastination destination is. I’ve got two.
First, I like putting things off by hanging out at the Midtown Scholar after work or on the weekends. It’s a convenient two-and-a-half blocks from my house. The coffee’s good, the baristas are friendly and interesting, and there’s always the hundreds of thousands of used and rare books that can be browsed should one feel the need to get up and take a walk.
My second form of procrastination is @Midnight‘s #hashtagwars. It’s a glaring example of ‘sleep procrastination’ but it’s just so damned fun. And besides, I need an outlet for my inner Smart-Ass lest it surface at work and get me into trouble.
I could go into greater detail about both, but, nah, I’ll get around to it later. 😉
Today’s Daily Post asks
What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?
I’m gonna have to go with watching myself on video. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the sound of my voice when it’s recorded. It tends to be tinny and nasally more often than not and any attempt to sing results in what sounds like a form of punishment.
But video is even worse, it combines all of my audio shortcomings with my decidedly un-telegenic self (which isn’t to say that I’m ugly; I just don’t translate well “onscreen”). I have a crooked nose, thin lips, and am choppy with my gestures and blocky in my comportment – that is, body language.
I would show you just how much worse my video aspect is than my audio avatar, but that would be difficult. You see, the last example of myself speaking ‘on tape’ is literally on tape. I took an Adult Methodology class this past January in which we were required to speak. At the end of the class, our reward for braving public ridicule was an actual VHS cassette.
Who even owns a VCR any more?
Today’s Daily Post asks what our mood would look like if we painted it on a canvas.
Mine would be what it is 99% of the time – a grey background with a few random streaks of black.
Depression does that to a person, I guess. But that’s another topic for another time.
Sooo, today’s Daily Post asks for a memorable moment involving a sporting event. Some of these prompts are tricky, but not this. I got this one covered.
It was June of 1992 and the Pittsburgh Penguins just swept the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup. Woo Hoo! My friends and were at a bar in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh when this happened. Like almost everyone else, we poured out of the bar, down the stairs, and out into the street to hoot and holler with everyone else around. It was your typical evening of (thankfully minor league) mayhem that follows a sports championship. After a few minutes of jumping and cheering, my 21 year-old self looked at some of the other loonies that had climbed on top of a city bus. “What a great idea. I wanna do that too!” my youthful, drunken, and possibly, er, “smoked out” self thought. And so, I made my climb via the back of the bus to its top. Boy oh boy, was I having fun! But then, I heard warnings from below that the cops were coming. Uh-oh. Better get outta there! I looked down and two strangers told me to jump. “Come on! We’ll catch you!” they cried out. “No no no, I’m good man!” I yelled back (or something to that effect) and then hopped off the bus. And then, POP! I felt something snap in my left ankle. There was a brief flash of pain but then that was gone and replaced with a swelling numbness and an inability to stand on that leg. As others were either still celebrating I found myself in a state of panic and possibly mild shock as I limped around the street yelling “CHAS!!! CHAS!!!” as I looked for my college roommate. I eventually found him and one of his fraternity brothers after what seemed like an eternity (read: 5-10 minutes). The next I remember is limping into his car and going to the nearest emergency room. One long, painful wait later, and I found myself fitted with a nice plaster cast. I would be wearing it for the next six weeks. During that time, I learned about the unique pleasures of showering while injured, hobbling around on crutches, and why pencils and rulers are your best friend when you get an itch beneath a cast. It wasn’t my greatest moment, to be sure. Still, my sister pointed out to me a few years ago that I was just being young and stupid and that I should just laugh about it. Plus, she pointed out, it makes for a good story. And she was right. And there you have it, that’s my story involving a sporting event.
Today’s Daily Prompt asks how we in the Northern Hemisphere plan on taking advantage of today, the longest day of the year.
My plan is to keep nursing this damned hangover. Naproxen, electrolytes, and moving slowly are the ‘cures’ I will be employing. Ok, the last one isn’t so much a cure as an acknowledgement of reality, but you get the point. With any luck that will get better by this evening and I will be able to take a nice stroll along Riverfront Park here in Harrisburg, for example.
As for the sunlight, who doesn’t like long summer days? Vampires, maybe, but that’s about it. I don’t miss the winter and its short days one bitty bit.
For today’s Daily Post, here’s a picture of Pittsburgh’s Point State Park en route to seeing Lucinda Williams. It’s not so much a mistake as a clumsy effort, but the spirit is similar.
Today’s Daily Prompt asks us to write about something about which we are unabashedly proud. My answer to this is my running in the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon. I trained for six months steadily and conscientiously. I fueled (ingested glucose gel) consistently and ran at a steady pace. In short, I prepared and ran as well as I could have.
Now I just need to work up the courage to run a second one!
Today’s Writing 101 asks us to compare and contrast. The title is literally “Give and Take” and so, I have decided to take the author’s cue.
Last Sunday a thin man of foreign comportment approached me and asked for me help. It turns out that he had locked his keys in his car while it was running and was looking to get some in getting back into his car. Luckily I belonged to AAA (the American Automobile Association). I called, and in about half an hour a gentlemen showed up and opened his car. Problem solved, good deed done, and all was right with the world.
Contrast that with me having to ask for help. It was the beginning of 2006. I had finished graduate school a year before and was having trouble looking for work. I was working retail part-time and trying to hold on. I was 35 and just getting by. I also needed a new car thanks to a wreck that totaled my old one. I asked for a loan from a local bank and was turned down. My mother, God rest her soul, offered to co-sign for a loan. I wasn’t in a position to refuse. I got the loan and the car, but it was a deeply shameful moment for me. Yes, I was in a tough spot economically, and yes, she was my mother, and that’s what mothers and other family members do for one another. But I felt like I had lost face. Receiving help was humiliating to me.
In short, the belief that has been ingrained to me, the contrast, is this: If I give help, I am virtuous; If I take help I weak and morally deficient. I speak only for myself here. The gentleman who locked his keys in his car, for example, was in a dire situation. His need for help was born of circumstance.
None of this is to say that pure altruism doesn’t exist. It does, but it’s also exceedingly rare. Even the fabled Golden Rule, which appeared consistently in every major world religion or philosophy, isn’t purely altruistic. On the contrary, the exhortation to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is based on reciprocity. It’s telling you to treat others generously because that’s the best way to ensure that you are treated generously. Ethical and moral rules can often be difficult to follow in reality, but this rule is based on very practical assumption.
Still, there’s a power dynamic at work in many offers and acceptances that we don’t like to talk about. Giving implies you can afford to be generous. And again, this implies a degree of affluence and affluence implies being moral. Needing and/or asking for help implies need, and need implies weakness. And the weak can be exploited. Asking for help makes us vulnerable. We are beholden to someone else. This doesn’t have to sinister, of course. The patron-client relationship many prominent Roman families had with the follower was of great mutual benefits to the parties involved, but it did limit one’s options, and that can feel more than a bit claustrophobic. It hampers our ability to act on our instinct to pull up stakes and move elsewhere, sometimes literally, to flee, when we believe it be in our best interests. And none of this even touches how this dynamic ties into issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class et al.
Again, I’m not saying that giving help is never done out of a pure desire to aid another. And it’s certainly not the case that receiving help is proof that someone is lacking in character or moral fiber. But, to deny that giving and receiving help exists in a vacuum is to be dangerously naive. Often times this giving and taking is bound up and continues to bind us to old traditions and established social order. It’s worth it to go back and reexamine why you did or did not help another and why you did or did not accept help yourself. The reasons may have more to do with old social habits than they do with actual need. It’s a question worth asking.