Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Home

It's hard when I describe things now, because I don't know what to call that place I lived for 29 years. It never, ever truly felt like home. I hated my high school years. Despised the below average education and the unlikable cliques. I met some good people along the way, but few and far between. I spent most of high school yearning to return to Brooklyn. My trips back, even when the access was so very simple, were non-existent.

The happiest I ever was, was working from 19-21. Not a care in the world, limited responsibility and finally embracing the fact that I had a wonderful family. I made lots of mistakes, but I grew a lot then too. Then the years of bouncing around from job to job and even then, I longed to be anywhere else. None of my relationships made me feel like this was my home and looking back, I realize now how large a part it played in my demoralized mind.

So now I sit, well over 200 miles away. I find myself stuttering when I speak to the locals, describing a place I lived. Home? I don't know. My heart was never there; ever. Is this home? Time will tell, but it doesn't feel like it and I don't know if any place ever will.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Buck Showalter Is A New York Hero And A Baseball Genius

Forget how he and Stick put together a championship dynasty and how he became the scapegoat for them not winning the year before. Forget everything you've ever heard about Buck Showalter. The man, for all intent and purposes had no reason to do it, but he did.

Last Thursday, Jeter waited on deck. The winning run on first base. The Baltimore Orioles clinging to the a glimmer of hope of having the best overall record in baseball and home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. Brett Gardner is at the plate and Joe Girardi has him bunt the runner over. Ninety nine percent of the time, that is the right play, but not tonight. Not with Derek Jeter waiting on deck for his potentially last at-bat. Gardner bunts and is thrown out, with the runner advancing to second. Textbook baseball. Jeter walked to the plate, fans cheered and the scene was complete insanity. Why? Why would 45,000 fans be excited to see an intentional walk? Their beloved captain has just had the chance to be a hero plucked away. Not one fan realized this. Not even the announcers.

And then a funny thing happened. Showalter decided to allow Jeter his moment, but he did something even I didn't expect. He gave up the opportunity to win the best overall record. He essentially gave his players the final three games of the season to relax and enjoy their season and their division win. He also allowed his three main starters to work, but in limited capacity, to be in top shape for the playoffs, knowing Detroit was still battling for the division. It was a stroke of genius, but that wasn't the real gem. The real gem is something only real, I mean true students of the game understand and to be honest, it took a few replays for me to swallow it all.

He pitched to Derek Jeter with one out and the winning runner on second, knowing Brian McCann was up next. McCann leads the Yankees in grounding into double plays. A scenario which would have ended the inning and possibly, Jeter's home career. This in itself is startling, but like I said, true students of the game realize that was the most rudimentary part of it. Showalter had the first baseman playing at normal depth and the second baseman less than six steps from second base. Jeter is a prolific slap hitter and has made his career hitting towards right in this situation. So what did Showalter do? He left the entire right side open. That to me was baffling, but here's where it gets even crazier. He had his catcher set up on the outside corner. In case you're confused, he played the pitch defensively as if Jeter was a dead pull right handed hitter and pitched to him as if his inside out swing wasn't legendary. He basically served Jeter up a winning combination of circumstances and said "Here is your moment. Enjoy!"

One columnist for some tiny St. Louis newspaper wrote about the fact that Buck didn't walk him. The rest of America shared in the oohs and aahs of the moment. He did it for baseball, Jeter and the fans, but he might just have won the next round of playoffs because of it. Either way, Buck is too classy of a guy to ever admit he hand delivered the feel good story of the year, but us baseball loons all know what happened that night and trust me, fan or not of the man, I admire Buck and I appreciated and enjoyed the moment too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Strange Week

Started last Sunday with a nine hour trip.
Closure?
New Beginnings?
Rosh Hashanah for the first time in a decade.
Brisket, No Latkes.
A buzz.
Surprise visitors.
A movie night.
All is right with the world. All is wrong.
Leftovers.
Pie!
Mentally drained.
Physical pain.
My time. The crickets. The Rain. Calm.
The internet is buzzing.
Ferguson. No!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Random Thoughts at 3AM

Watched an old movie by myself tonight and longed for my alone time. Of course it was cut short, but by a somewhat welcome surprise.

Everyone has their quirks and from the outside they appear to be flaws, but should we dare ever mention them, we'd change the course of our lives and theirs, in ways we'd never have intended.

Never before have I spent so much time indoors and talked so much about the weather. Nobody will ever understand how painful I find the subject.

Today I made a lunch that looked so incredibly beautiful and delicious and as I ate it, it dawned on me it desperately lacked one thing. A common trend lately and not just in food.

I've spent the last 20 years learning and perfecting a craft that has made me happy, but has left me with nothing, but memories.

It's been so many years since I've played a sport competitively, I almost forget what it feels like. I've thought about writing in great detail of the pain, but to be honest, I feared it would be misconstrued and folks with think I wanted to die. All I can say is I'd be willing t give up all the years I might have left, if I could have my old abilities back for just one year.

When I look at how far I've grown apart from those I call friends, I can't help but wonder if they even know the things they do. I know I've changed, but never in my morals or how I treat others. I wish I could say the same for most of them, but they scare me at times, with the hatred and sorrow they carry with them.

I don't think words do justice how much I'm looking forward to this food treat tomorrow morning. The simple pleasure of having the best bagel in NY delivered four hours away. Special!

Maybe if I go to sleep now, everything will fast forward and become great again....let's see.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Free Writing - Take 56

Cell phone on, but only calls that ask for me by name. Twelve weeks since I've laid in bed, watching a movie, waking to snacks in odd places. That smell is gone. Memories lay in a bag outside, waiting to be washed away. One person, maybe two, understand what it's been like. Open book for so much, but this. Sat outside today. Sun pouring in, reminding me of the days months ago when I arrived, not knowing when I'd return. Thankful on this new year for those who make me laugh, think and learn. Seriously thinking of shutting things down for a while and concentrating on what matters. Tomorrow will start, with the painful stuff. Then progress!....I hope.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Few Questions For My "Insomniac" Friends

OK, I admit, it's a dead horse that has been beaten by internet addicts and it's a tired subject, but it's bothersome to my. As someone who has gone several weeks in a row. with less than 30 hours of sleep, I get a little irritated by those who enjoy the slumber, but feel the need to call themselves an insomniac. I don't care what medical websites say, because the reality is, if you've ever talked to a sleep specialist, a few bad nights in a row, is not insomnia. We all have stress and it keeps them awake, but jumping out of bed, because you hear a bell signaling you that someone who is sick needs you, ten years after they have passed, is not what most of you suffer from. Waking up to use the bathroom after being asleep for 45 minutes, then not sleeping for another 36, is not what most of you endure.

Recently, I've seen my location change and my sleep habits have vastly improved, but they are scattered. I am sleeping about six hours a day, but it is broken into two elongated naps. Yes, there actually have been the seven hour stints, but they are few and far between. I also wonder how many of you self proclaimed insomniacs, have constant dreams about trying to fall asleep. Have you ever woken from a sleep and felt you haven't been asleep? Then you look at the clock and realize that only 20 minutes have gone by, but you lay there so confused, trying to figure out dream from reality, that hours pass by and you never go back?

So here's what makes me question many of you.
1. You are always tired and look like you're about to fall asleep, so why fight it? If you've ever seen me, I never ever look tired. Nobody would ever know, I suffer from this.
2. If during your waking hours, you post, like and comment incessantly on people's pages, why is it that I have not seen one post from you between the hours of midnight and 8AM? Or maybe it's 10am and 6Pm if you're home alone during the day. These large gaps of inactivity from those who are pretty much routine, lead many of us to believe you are full of it.
3. Waking up in the middle of the night isn't insomnia if you're able to get back to sleep, so why do you think you have it? Does it make you feel better than admitting to a weak bladder?
4. If you have something that you need to be up for, that is not insomnia, it is merely responsibility. I don't hear the mothers or fathers of newborns claiming insomnia, because they call it parenting.
5. Stress is a part of life, but if your stresses break your sleep, it's a lot different than those of us who simply don't have the ability to overcome those stressors until they literally knock us out. As anyone who knows me is aware, I will go 60-70 hours without sleep and then crash for eight hours. Those are the times I feel the worst. I feel as if I've slept for eight minutes, not eight hours. So why don't you acknowledge the stress and take something. I've tried and it doesn't work. I find I get more irritable.
6. If you believe caffeine keeps you awake, you're not an insomniac. I drink coffee religiously, both on my good and bad nights of sleep and I've actually been a coffee drinker much longer than I probably should admit.

Listen, we all have issues and this is admittedly a silly pet peeve, but it drives me crazy when I hear people complain about something that isn't really a problem, because for me it's real. I know what was the catalyst and I have no idea why it has stayed with me. I am someone who loves sleep, laying in bed and basically anything that involves being horizontal, but to not be able to fully enjoy a night's rest and it's multiple benefits and to have this plague me for well over a decade is something that has defined me. It is for these reasons, I become bitter when I see posts or listen to people tell me of their sleeping woes. The ones who tell me the sorrow of "only" being able to sleep six hours a night. I don't tell people I am depressed when I am having a bad day and that is how I view it when people use insomnia loosely.

Not much else to say to those people who feel the need to belittle this ailment, but bonne nuit et doux rĂȘves

901

Well, the last entry in this never ending saga was #900. Now granted some of them have been nothing more than paragraph long movie reviews and some have been elongated diatribes about the woes of the world. Some have been painfully personal, while others are just my attempts to have fun with a much too serious world. A serious world, I am constantly reminded, is brimming with hate, both learned and passed down. 

Today, in my minute attempt to make a change, beginning with myself, I deleted someone from Facebook. The reason for the omission from my life was due to the use of a racial epitaph. I no longer need to keep up a facade and pretend to have a use for those types of people in my life and as the days grow shorter, I have a strange feeling my list of friends will too dwindle. 

I've thought a lot lately about who is and isn't important in my life. The irony is there are some who I can actually benefit from, who I have already let go of, because they aren't the ones I wish to associate with. I find their definition of love, friendship, success and failure to be so vastly different, even offensive at times, that I need to rid myself of the mere thought process they maintain.  Self righteousness? I don't know, but I know that I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the words, phrases and beliefs they all seem to share. This is not to say I do not possess flaws of my own. Of this, I am well aware. 

Recently, both publicly and privately, I have been speaking to a lot of people going through a ton of shit in their lives. All of it, from what I can tell is caused by outside sources. Basically, they've shown me that none of this pain, we so often have shared with us on social media and through conversations and gossip, is self induced. I wish I could say all my woes were caused by outside sources, but that would be false, but that does not mean that I must continue to surround myself with such people. I want a better life and the first thing I need to do is to rid myself of all the negativity that I see, because it is truly contagious.

I talk a lot about what bothers me, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to stick to my guns about this. I know over the course of time, some will get offended and there may even be the rare occasion where I regret my decisions and may even have to apologize, but I am ready. Ready to try, without claiming finding enlightenment or a holy guide. Just ready to do something that I've been promising myself for a long time. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Funny Things You Realize When You Drive Nearly Eight Hours Straight.

On Sunday from 2:10AM to 11:15AM, I logged in over 450 miles of driving. There was some stuff that went on in the middle, but that is unimportant. The important part is what I realized while driving more in 12 hours than I had in the past two years combined.

Between 2AM and 4AM you are guaranteed to hear Cult of Personality, Dead or Alive and pretty much every horrible Journey song ever made. You're also without a doubt going to find a hard rock station that feels it necessary to play three Doors songs in an hour.  Don't forget the light rock stations, which truly push the boundaries of "rock." Candle in the Wind, Dust in the Wind and probably some other song about wind, which wanted to make me drive off the road.

You also realize that there are a lot of fucking McDonald's in this world. You also realize that thinking about those creepy Australian Outback movies are not as funny when you're in the middle of nowhere and you see someone picking up a tire on the side of the road at 2AM.

Granola bars are the worst snack idea ever if you don't have a gallon of liquid to wash them down. I literally felt as if I was in one of those saltine whistle challenges. I think I might have passed out from Roscoe to Deposit, NY from lack of air.

Road work at night is fine unless there are a shit ton of reflective cones and lights. I went through one area and I'm pretty sure I came out with epilepsy. Fog is also scary as fuck when you know that if you crash, nobody is driving by for at least 15 minutes. I saw exactly 11 cars, on both sides of the road, within the first hour and half of my trip. This wrong turn didn't have Eliza Dushku either.

You think about a lot of stuff and dammit if every mistake you've ever made in your life doesn't pop up, just as you're driving over a body of water. Maybe it's a sign of cleansing or maybe it's just a hint. Who knows, but the feng shui in the Honda Odyssey was leading me towards the latter.

At least once, if you're a guy, you get horny. Maybe it's memories of driving with a horny girlfriend or maybe it's memories of bus trips in sixth grade when every bump got you aroused. Who knows, I'm a guy and don't we think about sex every seven seconds or minutes or years? Who knows, I think my libido jumped ship in the 90's. I just wish there was a Viagra that made females want to talk all night.

There is something about having to pee five miles from your destination and pain from holding it in feeling like you'll die when you reach the 2 mile mark. Needless to say I didn't make it.

After a while, whether it be delusion or boredom, you become the greatest singer of all-time. You hit all the high notes and somehow you transform yourself into Barry White, Freddie Mercury and the girl from Lime. There is no note that isn't in your repertoire, but you know deep down that to roll down the windows would be to invite the onslaught of owls who just want to know, who?

Finally, you realize that there is something about pulling into that spot and knowing you are home that feels so euphoric. When you finally feel at ease and you turn that car off and as it settle, you feel that stress leave your body and it just feels good. Almost like a run or a workout, but just complete relaxation. Realizing that feeling never came from the place you called home is even more eye opening and that will take a while for me to really comprehend. As for now, I'll just think back and realize what a mistake the last ten years was....and I mean all of it.

One hour of driving for each year wasted.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quickie Review - Noah

Darren Aronofsky is by far one of the most interesting directors out there. He is one of the few directors out there who has come close to matching Terrence Malick's vision for aesthetic beauty in films, but all his films have a very common thread. They lack that one thing that makes them great. He tends to weave in and out of a story, forgetting which characters we care about and which we don't. He seems so content on destroying them on screen, that we have no choice but to leave a little bitter. Not one film has ended on what can be considered a happy note. Many leave us gasping for air. His non-Hollywood approach is refreshing, but at times leaves me feeling fatigued.

I will say, I went into Noah with low expectations. Sadly, they weren't met. It is rare, that not a single scene plays well, but this was the case. From the ridiculous opening credits to the finale scene, the movie felt like a Lifetime movie with a big budget. Even the religious points were so clumsily done, one couldn't applaud or jeer the attempts. The dialogue was amateurish with Russell Crowe's especially bad. If there was a shining light, it was Ray Winstone, but even this, is just overacting to create an atmosphere of anarchy. The beautiful Jennifer Connolly and Emma Watson are completely wasted and their crying one mirrors my feelings.

In the end, I would say there are few movies I've enjoyed less. Usually, there is some humor in something this horrible, but there was none in Noah. I also had hoped for some sort of biblical argument to arise from it, but even there, it was bland. I normally, even in the worst situations, say "see for yourself," but I think everyone would benefit from finding a better use of their 137 minutes.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Early Saturday Morning In A Strange House

My sleep schedule usually has me going to sleep at 7:30am, not waking up. This morning I awoke and the house was empty. As someone who is used to an apartment the size of a postage stamp, it was a bit daunting. The ice cold floor sent chills from my bare feet up into my spine. I closed a bathroom window which let the 41 degree temperature creep inside the house. I have only the summer clothes I packed, so many weeks ago and that concerned me. With nothing large enough to fit me, I slipped a tiny blue blanket around my shoulders and made coffee. A pair of socks was added to the ensemble, but warmth was not joining in. A bagel, toasted and sips of coffee slowly warmed me slightly, but as I stepped onto the floor once again, I was again reminded the odd chill on a normally tepid September morning.

I wash dishes and ran and jumped back into bed, Warmed up enough to venture out for a rare television flip through. I settled on English futbol and drank my the rest of my now cold coffee. I thought about what I would do at home, huddled under a comforter, the warmth oozes up from the floor and droplets of sweat beading on my brow. A shower fogging up everything and back into bed. Staring at my phone, but nobody calls, texts or writes. I'd stare at the cracks, with anger boiling inside, until finally I'd flee. Off to nowhere or anywhere. Searching for an escape, many times alone anyway, but with a draft or a bottle, eventually finding conversation with some poor victim.

Tick-Tock, the clock with the birds clicks with every second. One-two-three seconds closer to death or something simpler, say lunch. The time goes by so slowly in the morning and so quickly at night. Why is time so unfair. Waiting in a doctor's office makes a mere five minutes of our existence seem like hours, but the hot steamy embrace of a lover, makes those same five minutes flash by like seconds? Why are there no calls interrupting us during work, but they cause the steam to disappear from a dinner for two? My mind wanders from the time ticking to the mistake I made. Reminded constantly, but why should I be upset. My mistake made other people's lives better. Isn't that what it is all about? Isn't it?

A car door slams and I am soon no longer alone and I creep back to the room and slide under the covers, the blue blanket has gone back to it's place. No longer needed as heat pumps through the pipes. I'm away from the dungeon of home, but find the cracks are replaced with the buzzing little fly, trapped between the window and the screen. I let him go and wait for someone to open my window and let me out. It's not to be and I imagine what the spider is thinking as he stares down at my world, then goes about his day. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Free Writing - Take 55 (Beyond That Day)

Eight million people in that naked city and thirteen years later, all eighteen seem to have been there. Running up stairs, carrying people to safety and digging in rubble. To me that day was a sad blur, sitting in safety in a Westchester co-op. The following day, I get the call from friends there. I ask if I can give my time. Please, I beg them, let me not feel so helpless. It's a crime scene they explain. A friend visiting, is accepted, but 30 blocks away. Triage during the day, tales and tears at night. My friends, cops, firemen, correction officers, work amidst the horror. Weeks later, one describes. The sights, the sounds, but it's not what gets him. The smell. I see a side, not often seen. I tell him again how much I wish I could have done more. Thirteen years later, with social media has taken over and every second or third friend claims to have been digging in those piles, enduring the horrors, being patriots. I know how their untruths hurt my fine friends. It burns like the smoke they inhaled those days after. I see post after post with those same two words and they don't know anything. They don't know what three, yes three people, have said to me at different occasions. Those two words, emblazoned in our minds, also completing their sentences, but with such powerful meaning.

I know I can't. I would give everything I have, if I could erase it from my memory. I wake up at night smelling the death, seeing buckets of rubble with hands, feet and chunks of flesh. Wallets, keys and pieces of jewelry. I wish it would all go away, but I know it won't. I know, try as I may, I will....Never Forget.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Drunk Girl

Standing in a bar, talking to a girl. She tells me she goes to Iona. We laugh and I pour her a drink from my pitcher. We talk some more and she tells me she has to find her friend. We pass each other a few times and then we're back together. Talking, laughing. She plays with her hair and touches my arm. She whispers something in my ear. I stare over her shoulder at the group of guys, all very aware I'm not a student. They whisper, muscles flexed, but I'm 19-20, I can take on the world. The girl walks to the bathroom, I see her stagger and her friend giggles, says she needs to help her. I drink. The group is gone. I begin to care. She appears, but is blocked by five, maybe six of them. Her friend pushes past as she falls forward, caught by this Casanova in black. Her friend comes to the bar, while my eyes stay fixed on this behemoth. His friends touch grab her and hug her, whisper in her ear. She somehow comes to the bar and tells her friends of the guys who live in her dorm. She apologies and explains they are her friends. Her eyes roll and I grab onto her. I tell her friend to let the bouncer know, I'm taking her home. He comes over and I explain that he needs to stall the group of guys. He nods. I make my way outside, her friend giggles some more. The girl starts to fall and can't speak. She kisses my cheek and tells me how nice I am. I smile. I pick her up and she starts to get mad. "I can walk. I'm fine." We cross the street and make our way up the block. A commotion behind me and I know. Her friends giggles turn to fear. "They're coming," she says. I get to the front of her building. The pack catches up. Taunts of tough guy and suggestions of putting her down and walking away. Suddenly, a punch to the head, but I keep my eyes on the door. Another in my back. Her friend is now crying. She is drooling or throwing up, I don't know. A security guard from inside stands. I sigh. He walks out. Tall, thin, but athletic enough that I relax. One last punch to the kidneys and I keep walking. "What's going on he says?" A voice from behind me yells, "This fucking creep is trying to get in on our friend." Another voice sounds and my heart starts to race, "C'mon Mike, it's us, this guy doesn't go to the school." A hand on my shoulder and the security guard sternly says "I can't let you in the building." I walk through his stiffened arm. He grabs a hold. I tell him to get off me and call the cops, but I'm going in.


I lay her down on the bed and her friend, still crying, pulls the covers down. I explain that she can't leave her alone. I get a small garbage can from the corner and put it near her. I pull the covers up and tell her goodnight. She wouldn't recognize me if she saw me the next morning. Her friend hugs and thanks me. She promises me that she won't let anyone in the room. I say something stupid about not ever getting in this situation again, but this is college and tomorrow it will be a story about how nothing happened.

I exit the stairs and there are two policemen standing there. I walk over and hand them my wallet. They ask me what I'm doing there. I explain. They don't seem to believe me. They ask Mike to check on the girl. He leaves and I ask where the guys who hit me were. They look at me and say nothing. Mike comes back and stares at me. "The two girls seem to be OK." Questions of how long I knew the girls, my intentions and my duration in their dorm room are asked. I answer all of them, asking them again where the guys who hit me were. I explain that my friend is still in the bar and I must return there. They laugh. They leave and shake the security guards hands. As they exit, they tell me that the next time I'm seen in the dorm, I won't be so lucky. They continue to walk. I go back to the bar, talk to the bouncer and ask if my friend is still there. "He's in the pizzeria," he says. I go in, sit down and have a slice. "Where the hell did you go? Did you get lucky? he asks. I laugh, "No, but the girl I was with did and so did her friend." He looks, I tell him the story and explain that there's a good chance we're not getting to the car unscathed. We didn't and 25 years later, I'd do it again.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Free Writing - Take 54

Dishonesty, we're taught from a young age, is the root of nearly all evils. Yet, all it takes is having one whole dollar to another man's dime to make it the truth.

And I hear I sit with nary a nickel.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Will I Be Eating Crow?

I've always loved the smack talking of being a sports fan. Part of the fun of the games is being able to root for your team while making those around you endure a good natured ribbing. I've always been very vocal about "fans" showing up during the playoffs and then starting the trash talk. I'm in it until the end. No matter where my team's place in the standings. With all that being said, yesterday was a tough one.

Yesterday was one of the first times in a very long time, I had nobody to watch the games with. The opening week of football and I had little or no interest. I watched exactly six plays between 1pm and 7pm and felt like I'd redeem myself as a fan at 8:30, when my Denver Broncos kicked off the season. The problem was, I still really didn't care. My team, if there are no major injuries, are a shoe in for the playoffs and many experts feel, a return trip to the Super Bowl. After last years defeat, I just want to get back. Unlike the uncertainty other fans might feel, I'm immune to that, which also makes me immune to the excitement. This combined with my current location, equals boredom.

Let's face it, professional North American football is a boring sport. It's become nothing more than runs up the middle and dump passes and even though my team does that better than anyone else, I still long for the days of scrambling quarterbacks and a 1,200 yard rusher being an enigma. Those days are long gone. So is my passion.

So let's get to the point. Why would I eat crow? At halftime my team was ahead by more than two touchdowns and I fell asleep. My last post on social media was mentioning how unstoppable they were. When I awoke at 12:45, I attempted to go back to sleep. I laid in bed, thinking about my financial woes, a female friend from my past and present and the sun soaked day I'd wasted between an awful tennis match and not much else. Then it clicked that nearly every first week game had a huge turnaround. It made me start to really wonder. I decided to come upstairs and write this before looking at the score, with thoughts in my head.

Did my team continue it's dominance and win by four or five touchdowns?
Did they squeak by, letting their opponent back in?
Did they blow it?
Were there any major injuries that could ruin the season?
Are my social media pages littered with praise?
Or are they filled with abuse?
I don't know and won't until I publish this blog. I can only hope for the best, but the reality is, while I do hope they crushed their opponents, I don't care like in years past. Too much on my plate lately to care about sports and if you know me, that's a large plate to fill.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Free Writing - Take 53

What does it say about someone when they pick up and move from their comfort zone and the two things they miss the most are Chinese food and laying in bed watching DVDs? The people seem so distant, from a time in my life I can barely remember and yet, my move isn't even official. I can count the calls on one hand. The texts on two. Twenty-nine years should mean more, to all parties. I've had three friends tell me they miss me. I've known the three a total of about 12 years. Think about that. I'm not looking for pity, I'm looking for reasons for the effort I feel I've put in with others to be reciprocated. Is there a word for that which doesn't represent me wanting too much? I promised myself this would be a short one and my few minutes are now up.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Free Writing - Take 52

Crawling into bed. A night of a simple meal, no drinks, no coffee and set to get a full five hours of sleep, before getting up to start a wash and then head out to pick my father from the airport. Thirty minutes goes by and my mind starts racing. My apartment, my life, a girl or two. I grab my phone, but it's not working well either. Typical, as nothing seems to go right lately. This feels right. Staying up, eyes heavy, but light as I hit the pillow. Forty-Five minutes have gone by and I get up. I grab a slice of bread and slather it with peanut butter. I've forgotten about the peanut butter all week. It's the good kind. All natural, no sweetness, no saltiness, just pure peanuts. I take a bite and then a glass of room temperature coffee from this morning, with a drop of milk. I don't know why I still bother putting milk in, as it does nothing to it. One hour has gone by. I stagger upstairs, not due to the hour or any real fatigue, but my usual aches and pains that have made me resort to bannisters and walls for support. Seventy-five minutes and I'm staring blankly at a screen, reading the silly musings of others like me. Ninety minutes and I'm playing a silly game, writing this. Oh wait, I must have been distracted, it's now two hours. Where does the time go at night? I spend so much time within it, you'd think I'd know. The crickets are starting to get quiet and I hear the birds. If life could only be as simple as enjoying the cycle, but mine, never seems to stay the same and it is rarely in my control.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 NFL Predictions

I've been doing this for four years. Aside from one year, I have a system. So this year, I tweaked the system, because I had Houston being in the Super Bowl last year and if memory serves me right, they won two games.

OK, confession time. I actually go through every game of the season...yes, one by one. Since I started this, I have correctly picked 20 of the 36 playoff teams and all but two (I believe) of my other picks, missed the playoffs by one win. I have correctly predicted six of the twelve conference championship participants over this stretch, but sadly only correctly picked one Super Bowl participant and they didn't win it. So I've tweaked my system and paid more attention to home and away games. So here you have it.

AFC East
New England Patriots 13-3 (2)
New York Jets 7-9
Miami Dolphins 5-11
Buffalo Bills 4-12

AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals 9-7 (4)
Baltimore Ravens 9-7 (6)
Pittsburgh Steelers 7-9
Cleveland Browns 3-12

AFC South 
Indianapolis Colts 12-4 (3)
Houston Texans 10-6 (5)
Tennessee Titans 5-11
Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13

AFC West
Denver Broncos 15-1 (1)
San Diego Chargers 8-8
Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
Oakland Raiders 4-12

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 (4)
Dallas Cowboys 6-10
New York Giants 6-10
Washington Redskins 4-12

NFC North
Green Bay Packers 13-3 (2)
Chicago Bears 11-5 (6)
Detroit Lions 7-9
Minnesota Vikings 4-12

NFC South
New Orleans Saints 12-4 (3)
Atlanta Falcons 9-7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8
Carolina Panthers 8-8

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks 14-2 (1)
San Francisco 49'ers 12-4 (5)
Arizona Cardinals 8-8
St. Louis Rams 5-12

Wild Card
Indianapolis Colts over Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals over Houston Texans
Chicago Bears over New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49'ers  over Philadelphia Eagles

Divisional
Denver Broncos over Cincinnati Bengals
New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts
Seattle Seahawks over Chicago Bears
Green Bay Packers over San Francisco 49'ers

Conference Championship
Denver Broncos over New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers over Seattle Seahawks

SuperBowl
Green Bay Packers over Denver Broncos





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#100DaysOfHopper

Day 100: I know what some people are saying, but frankly I don't care. If it bothered you that much, you always had the choice not to read it. Others have commented from the beginning that this wouldn't last until the end. That I'd run out of things to talk about or things to bitch about or things to praise, but I'm not even close.

I would like to thank anyone who made a serious comment either publicly or privately and I will say this. I learned that despite all of us thinking we're individuals who live life the way we want and answer to no one, I do actually find it disheartening that so many people who agreed or viewed things my way, especially those things that go against society's norms, felt they had to agree with my privately. I'm not knocking them at all, but knocking anyone who would condemn someone for speaking their mind, simply because it isn't the way they think.

During this time, I came to the decision to move out of Westchester, although this daily post had nothing at all to do with it. I mention this, because I truly see how little I fit in, even after spending two-thirds of my life there. I just find it odd that so many more people who are not from where I live felt the need to comment and much more positively. They saw things, the people who physically see me all the time had missed. Without getting into any mud slinging, that is something that has always bothered me about "my town." People so involved in other people's business, but never really seeing what they are going through or listening to what they are truly saying.  I've also found during this, that a lot more people who I believed to be planted are looking for an escape. Truly eye opening.

The one thing that this has also taught me is that there are so many people who I see on here and even speak to all the time, that I know nothing about in terms of their likes and dislikes. I know what their kids are doing this summer and I know where they work, but I don't know what their favorite flavor ice cream or their least favorite fruit. I don't know if we have movies we appreciate in common and I don't know if they like museums. I have learned that some people are pretty decent photographers and I want to know where is there favorite photo from. I love discussing food and want to know what their favorite food is and where they had their greatest meal. I want to know everyone's favorite movie or least favorite. I want to know that one movie that they love and don't care who knows it. 

So this might be my next project, but definitely not with the same determination and also, sadly, because I'd have to count on others to keep it going and I know from the past, that whenever I ask a question of others, unless I add some tale of woe about myself, it is ignored. We'll see.

I know at times, I've crossed the line and made obvious who I was using as an example and for that I apologize. I promised not to single anyone out and I tried my hardest to stick to that. I've tried nothing more than to talk about things that I believe people should discuss, change, make better, do more or less of or stop doing altogether. As I stated when I started, it was my answer to the monotonous and in my mind fabricated and painfully repetitive Hundred days of happiness and the more grotesquely misnamed, Random Acts of Kindness. These are my opinions, but I always try to base it more on facts, experience and my knowledge of other people's pasts. I'm not always right and despite what you might think, I am the first to admit that; well, at least second. I simply wanted to have a bit of reality check on here. If I failed, so be it.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and even more to those who commented  and told me yay or nay. I do apologize for the times people wanted to comment, but the comments posted there before them were insulting and you didn't want to interfere. As I explained, those people are also my friends and I appreciate them, even if nothing does ever seem serious. As I've explained to you that have inquired, they are good people, who behind the scenes have reached out ten times more than some that I call my closest friends. To those people too, I thank you.

Well, it goes out like a whimper, with no angry diatribe or raving about this wrong and that wrong and how to make it better. Nope, it just goes out with me saying thanks over and over to the handful who call me a friend and read it because of that and that alone. Thanks! #100DaysOfHopper fin

#100DaysOfHopper Day 99

Day 99: This is the week that all the schools in Westchester start, so I know it's a frantic time. Some of my friends have been working diligently, trying to make sure everything is perfect for their first day. Others are taking in the last few moments of "freedom." Each of them has that slight feeling of butterflies, as the anticipation of the new flock's arrival commences.

Then there are the parents who have to readjust from summer living to school life. Some have dropped their kids off at college for the first time, while others get ready for the challenges of a new level of school, whether it be high school, middle school, elementary or their baby's first day of Kindergarten. Whatever the level, their is apprehension abound.

Teachers and parents, we've all had doctor's appointments, first dates, big games, plays to perform in or speeches to make. For each one of those kids, especially those entering a new school, it is all our worst fears and anxieties wrapped into one. We've all been through it, but as adults, we often forget those adolescent and childhood feelings. There is nothing quite worse than that feeling of being unnoticed that we all feel on that first day.

The thing about the first day is that we make too much of it. We forget that those anxieties don't end on the second day or even by the end of the first week. Kids adapt quickly, yes, but they also pick up quickly on our insincerity. Our big smiles, by both parents, friends of the family and teachers, must be real for kids to feel comfortable. That frenetic pace you set the first week at home, can't taper off during the second and for teachers, despite the grind, it must stay consistent throughout.

I've never been a parent or a full-time teacher, but I've been the one to get friend's kids ready and on the bus and I've worked in schools for nearly two decades and I will be the first to admit, you never stop learning. I do know that a child must walk into those doors, feeling good about everything in their life and they must walk out feeling they have not only achieved, but noticed. For teachers, I know it's a difficult one for some, but learning each child's name on the first day should be your number one priority. That second day, being called by your name, instead of "you with the blue hoodie," is essential in the learning process, because they feel appreciated, noticed and liked. I know I'm preaching to the choir, as so many of you already know all this, but it matters.

As much as you teachers do, there is nothing and I mean nothing more important in the learning process than what happens each and every night when your children come home from school. I don't mean when they walk in the door, I mean when you all sit down to eat dinner. Your job, your health, your money issues, whatever the case may be, must all take a back seat as you sit and listen to your child talk about their day. The retelling of their day is integral in the learning process, just the same as, if not more than studying. Your interest, even if feigned, lets them know, they did a good job, you're appreciative and that it is important. If you ignore their excitement in learning, it will fade. You are simply feeding the notion and an important one, that education is the most important thing in their lives. Psst! It is #100DaysOFHopper

Monday, September 1, 2014

#100DaysOfHopper Day 98 (Cats & Dogs)

Day 98: Why are dogs a guy pet and why are cats a woman's pet? Why when people see a dog, do they immediately say "what's his name?" So commonly the same people will say "what's her name?" when referring to a cat. Why are single guys so often seen walking their dogs and single women are so commonly known as cat ladies?

I think the answer is simple. Guys need someone to worship them. They need every insecurity fulfilled and need to know they are the main reason for the object of their affection's living. Basically, men are insecure freaks, who once out in the world with out their mommies and daddies, immediately feel the need to be superior to something. They name their dogs after cars, motorcycles and the devil, hoping that the testosterone filled name will somehow validate their masculinity. What they don't realize is that dogs will pretty much worship whichever person holds the food bag and is willing to take them for a walk. Like adult males, eating, sleeping, shitting and being goofy are the components of a dogs perfect day.

Then there are feline friends. Oh yeah their cats. C'mon, this has become such a distinct stereotype, that we've nicknamed a woman's sexual organ after a freaking cat. Cats are very simple. They like to be fed and left alone, unless of course they want attention and then, and only then, if you aren't giving them all of the attention, you're going to get clawed or bitten. Cats act graceful and when they look stupid, which is quite often, they immediately look to see who saw them. Think of a woman looking all sexy who slips wearing heels. Before making sure they haven't exposed themselves, they immediately survey the area to see who saw and if witnessed, immediately they stick their nose in the air, similar to their feline counterparts tail, showing us that we weren't worthy of witnessing that moment.

Both animals also act like their gender counterparts when times are tough. Dogs, like men, simply acknowledge something is wrong and look at you with that "what do you want me to do" face. They curl up next to you and let you know they care, but the second you move, it's immediately all about them and what you're getting them or doing for them. Cats on the other hand are like women. They don't care so much that something bothers you on the outside, but they want to get to the bottom of it. If your leg hurts, they will curl up next to it. If it's a stomach ache, they will climb aboard and if it's your head, they become almost as much of a problem, trying to press their purring body against your face. Then when you move, it's like the world is ending...they jump in fear that something worse is about to take place. Then when they realize you're just brushing your teeth, they go back to their slouched position and give you the look of "oh I knew it was nothing, I was just stretching."

If these aren't all accurate reasons why the stereotype has been confirmed, then let me ask you this. A dog will spend all day chasing his tail around, knowing he can't get it and a guy would sooner not get to where he is going, than to ask someone for directions. A cat...well a cat buries and hides it's poop. #100DayOfHopper

12 Simple Tricks To Save Money & Lose/Maintain Weight

I am broke and overweight, so of course, I'm your man to listen to, but trust me, as a test, I managed to live off of $47 worth of food over 14 days, without skipping meals.

1. Iceberg Lettuce - it's fresh, it's crunchy and it fills your sandwiches, salads and more importantly, your stomach. It's also pretty cheap and lasts a while.

2. Wraps over bread - store brand wraps are the same, but generally a little smaller. They are also about $1.69 for 8 as opposed to $3-4 for 16 slices of bread.

3. Cut cold cuts in half. You'll find that your sandwiches are just as thick and actually appear bigger. If you stuff them in a wrap with lettuce and tomato, it's a big meal and you're actually eating half as much food.

4. If you buy a family pack of any protein and there are eight pieces in the package. Immediately, when you get home, divide them between four freezer bags and put three in the freezer. The less you cook at once, the more you can make it last.

5. Add rice or pasta, even as a tiny side. to almost every meal. You add a starch and it's filling, causing you not to eat as much of the items that actually cost a lot. Rice and Pasta are about as inexpensive as it comes.

6. Beans!!! - see above. When beans are on sale, they are literally giving them away. Beans make everything better in my opinion. There are few meals I can't find a way to incorporate beans of some sort. Oh and a tortilla wrap, with a 1/4 can of black beans, some lettuce, a slice of tomato, chopped onion and a dollop of sour cream is a great lunch....costs about 75 cents, tops!

7. Stock up on pantry items when they have crazy sales. Especially on items like spices, condiments, grains and pasta.

8. Don't buy anything in a 16oz jar that you can make a gallon of for about twice the money. Make the gallon and freeze the rest. Pre-made and processed foods are so expensive compared to making fresh yourself. Almost always.

9. Don't ever buy paper plates, cups or napkins. Unless you're having 20 people over for a BBQ, this is the single biggest waste of money there is. Washing dishes and having a cloth napkin is the way to go.

10. Leave the junk food in the store. There is absolutely nothing that makes your receipt grow faster than buying chips and cookies. It's the most expensive stuff in the store in terms of how much you spend in comparison to what you receive.

11. Buy inexpensive, good coffee Spanish coffee, like Bustelo. You'll spend less on two weeks worth than you will on one trip to Starbucks. 

12. Finally, I'll leave you with one other tip that saved me a fortune...Cook as many meals as you can. When you cook, you'll find you're much more likely to sit down and enjoy the meal, you're less likely to make more than you need, especially when it comes to breakfast and lunch, if you're home.

*12 works wonders if you have kids too. It's a lesson that they will carry on with them forever, they'll appreciate food more and it's quality time. Oh yeah and if they're old enough, you might just wake up one morning and have breakfast served!