Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long And Good Riddance!

Not only to this past year, but to this whole freakin' messed-up decade.

Since January 1, 2000, the start of this "2000's" decade (though debatable whether it was the start of the New Millennium), my life has slowly-but-surely been spiraling down the proverbial crapper.

2000 was the year I started to go from a 34" waist to a 38" for the first time since 1991. By the end of the year I had officially regained all the weight I'd lost in '92 and I was showing no sign of slowing the increase, having all but abandoned exercise and, with the help of friends like Jay and Ric, fully rekindled my abusive relationship with beer.

I was also compelled to resign (ie: politely fired) from my DM management job. Yes, I found an adequate and debatably better replacement within a month so it wasn't so bad on the wallet, but it caused further damage to my psyche and self-confidence since I didn't even see it coming.

2001 saw further weight gain and the loss (to the Big Easy) of my favorite drinkin' buddy, Jay. It also had 9/11 which really depressed me and propped up my nihilistic pessimism about everything and, of course, the December DUI arrest.

By 2002 I saw fewer prospects for advancement in my Sears job and struggled greatly with the penalties of my conviction like jail time, probation, mandatory classes and counseling sessions and, of course, no use of my car. I was thrust into the world of public transportation and all its associated lack of aesthetics, convenience, efficiency, comfort and control. And then I left my job in the dust and the real shit hit the fan.

2003: The start of the Koyaanisqatsi. Car repossession, credit destruction, loss of savings, loss of home, death of my mother. I began the dizzying ping pong game between Orlando and New Orleans. Fell into the syndrome which would take hold of my life for the next couple of years at least: Failed Hopes, Frantic Escape, Awkward Resettling, Feeble Reprieve followed by Failed Hopes again to start the cycle all over.

2004 was more of the same cyclical mess. Add to that the death of Gary.

2005: Living with a loony and working a job that was sucking the life from me. Weight spikes up to over 300.

2006 saw a little reprieve but I was filled with insecurity about my job and living arrangement. Had the feeling both were destined to soon change.

2007: Regained the ability to drive and got a car, but since I was still poor, it was an 8-year old model with a massive number of miles, no AC and some overheating problems. Ric kicked me out and since credit was bad, had to take a kinda low-end apartment option.

2008 was when I really started having health problems and diagnosed with a list of chronic illnesses. Landed in the hospital for heart issues. Got in a major car accident wrecking my car. Bought a newer car at an exhorbinent interest rate. Then I got laid-off.

2009 saw me attempt to work at two jobs which were an extreme ill-fit to no avail. Medical issues continue. Weight as high as ever. Job prospects bleak and credibility shot. Looking at some hefty legal issues as well.

So yes, so long "2000's", or "oughts" or whatever. It's been real...but now you gotta go!

I'm fixin' to take my life back in this new decade.

(Will we call it "the tens or the teens" or is it too early?)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chinese Blind Justice

Shame on you, China!

A clearly mentally ill person should not be killed in the name of "justice".

As a citizen of the world, I submit my protest and condemnation.

Unfortunately, as a citizen of a country in which its constituent states are allowed to do the same, I can't be as smug.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy To The World?

Oh I'm sure some would say I'm just being a spiteful, bitter atheist trying to lash out in a hateful way towards those that "believe", but really folks, I'm just reporting the facts.

Here are the latest headlines from various media within the past 24 hours.

All I ask, and not in a smarmy, self-righteous way at all, is simply: Where's your "God" on his son's/self's/part-of-himself's (I can't wrap my head around the whole Trinity thing either!) birthday?

Woman knocks down Pope at Christmas Eve Mass

Taliban Video Shows Captive U.S. Soldier

Passenger Ignites Explosive on Delta Flight, Al Qaeda Connection Reported

Deadly Christmas Blizzard Spreads

Salvation Army Worker Shot Dead in Front of His Own Children

Traffic accident sends truck crashing into Ohio church's live nativity scene, killing man

SCRAPBOOK: 2009: A Blog In Review


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Last Straw. Really!

Alright, I know I've said it a number of times before and it seemed like it was going to stick each time, but really, this is truly the last time. I'm no longer friends with Ric.

Unlike the past few times which were examples of the growing rift between Ric and I coming to a head, this time, it's for a definitive reason. I revealed to Ric that I was undergoing a personal crisis and he pulled away. He wants to retain our friendship as a video game playing one only, with the intermittent need for me to drive to places outside of his biking reach.

I'm tired of being used. And to use me without supporting me during my need for support is the lowest of the low.

So he can call, but I won't answer.

And I won't be knocking on his door in a month or so.

I feel better without him.


Friday, December 18, 2009

SeaWorld On A Dime

Since I have a Fun Pass and I chose a motel stay about 3 blocks away, I was able to spend a lovely day at SeaWorld not "on-a-dime", as they say, but actually FREE! I walked to the park to avoid the $15 parking fee (gasp) and ate at McDonald's prior to arrival. I saw some guests eating their own sandwiches and snacks brought into the park in their backpacks and such. How ghetto! Just wait 'till you're done with the park or eat ahead of time like I did. Man, I know the economy is bad but don't ghetto-fy the sacred exhorbinently-priced atmosphere of our area theme parks by setting up a picnic with your family. Use a public park for that! Really!

It was a weekday and during the tourist "off-season" so it was not very packed. If I was hankerin' to ride any rides, I could have gotten on with little wait time, But the only coaster-ish ride I can still comfortably ride would be this, pictured above..."Journey to Atlantis". It's a great themed indoor/outdoor flume ride, but though these brave souls shown here opted to find it suitable weather to plunge down a steep slope and get soaked with water, I didn't. It was about 68 degrees. Brrrr, downright wintry to a native.

The park was, of course, decked out for the season. Here's a decorated tree by the entrance. Ooooh! Ahhhh! ;)

Penguin Encounter is an interesting little walk-thru exhibit. The guys live in a controlled environment which mimics temperature and seasonal conditions of the Antarctic at the time. Since it's late spring right now there, the light in the exhibit reflected what it would look like near the South Pole, right about now. I'll take their word for it. I'm not about to fly down there to check it out.

They are currently running a show called "Blue Horizons" at the Whale and Dolphin Theater replacing a more "edutainment" show they used to run. It's nice with the music and choreography, incorporating both sea mammal and avian performances (as well as the land mammals known as humans). This show, like the new "Believe" show at Shamu Stadium gets a little too "Disney" IMHO though. If I wanted Disney's manufactured drama I'd go see it, just a few miles down the road.

These guys made me wait them out for 20 minutes to get a good shot. I had to watch their movement patterns in their "habitat" an artificially-created and sustained "seashore" but I finally got my pic. They're sea lions BTW, in case you were wondering.

See, what'd I tell ya...5 minute wait time for Manta, the newest coaster here. Of course I'd already ridden it a few months ago so I didn't need to ride it again. Actually, I felt too chicken to try it alone;)

What theme park here doesn't have its obligatory flamingos? is, after all, Florida!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Return Of Adventurism

Remember when, as a kid, you lay on the fresh-mowed lawn, smelling the newly-cut grass mixed with the cool spring air and gazed up at the puffy white clouds slowly cruising above you? You'd create images of all sorts of creatures and objects in those clouds and just simply wonder. You'd wonder about all things, well, wonderful.

How long has it been since you felt that way?

For me, its been way too long.

I've decided to take a detour in my hum-drum life and embark on a journey of adventurism. Now, will I be climbing Mt. Everest or scuba diving amongst killer whales, no. Well, not really. You see, what I mean is that even small scale "adventures" can emulate or reference big ol' risky ones...for instance, here in Orlando I could ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Animal Kingdom or visit Shamu at Sea World and because of their similarity to the "bigger" adventures mentioned previously, one can imagine something almost as grand.

To aid in my mind's immersion into this new adventurous attitude, I'm going to, once again, take on the persona of my alter-ego super hero of sorts, Capt'n Bloetox and, later today, I'll be joined by my new Monkey Boy.

So I consider this my first day of my journey. One that will tap into my almost lost childhood sense of wonder and awe, and exploit it for all it's worth. Who knows how many more opportunities I'll get?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Micro-Mini Vacation From Reality

Have you ever felt during times of stress that trying to do the "right thing" and think the problem through only produces nausea-inducing nervosis and incapacitating indescision? I have and the time is now. So, to step away from these rather troubling symptoms I've decided to go on a little mini vacation for a few days to the far off, magical land of Orlando.

Well, it is undoubtedly magical, but not so far off, of course. In fact it may seem silly that I'm staying in a motel room only 30 miles from my house. But it's not really all about distance and exoticness of the location that defines a vacation, it's the fun and carefree attitude, as well as the break of the "same-old, same-old" routine.

So look for some new snapshots being put up here soon of me capturing the "new" and "wonderous" sights of my vacation destination. Maybe photos from a theme park perhaps? Who knows, maybe I'll see something I haven't seen before in the 38 other times I've visited.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fear And Loathing In Lake Mary

COME, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes? Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,

We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Leaves of Grass - Pioneers! O Pioneers! - Walt Whitman

Like over a decade ago and again at the start of the Koyaanisqatsi, I'm feeling compelled to uproot and go forth into the great unknown of newer horizons.

I sit here in my little room, since that is what it is, and wait in fear.

I fear the dark.

I fear the light.

I just fear.

It consumes me and I can't shake it.

Many people wait until their fear leaves them. Mine isn't budging. So I must leave it.

And with hope and a little bit of luck, unfortunately two things I traditionally lack, I will leave it behind me as I blaze a new path for myself.


Anywhere else.

Monday, December 14, 2009

FLASHBACK: Fall 1983

It had been a harrowing first day of college. Mostly because after attending a few morning classes I saw what I was to contend with for the next two years. I'd quickly ascertained that I was surrounded by boobs and nincompoops, totally immature and ill-equipped for the rigors of post-secondary education. And that was just the instructors. My fellow students were 10 times worse.

I thought that I'd major in fine arts for 2 years, getting an easy AFA then either breaking out into the assumed-to-be-lucrative field of commercial art right away or studying a couple more years at RIC or URI for a bachelors. But I got disillusioned fast. First, I found out that commercial art, especially on Madison Avenue where I wanted to go was cutthroat and my pitiful community college degree wouldn't even get me in the door. Second, I also discovered that it doesn't pay very well...until you've been at it for a while. Entry level paste-up artists made squat. Finally, I knew within a week or two that the actual studio courses here at CCRI were more akin to arts and crafts lessons for retirees and hobbyists. Not too many serious budding artists in our groups.

Despite my lowered expectations, I was intent on making the best of it because, frankly, I had no alternatives. It was all I could afford. My parents made it plain and clear they would offer no financial assistance to me. My selected major probably didn't help either since they seemed to shrug when I informed them of my choice as if it was no concern of them how I wasted my time avoiding working towards a real career. Like mill work, no doubt.

Besides, there were a few true-blood artists among us, even here at Reject, the "beloved" nickname of our school, a pejorative that still stuck despite the school's name change a few years earlier to rid itself of the acronym which was the basis for the term...RIJC (Rhode Island Junior College).

It was later in the afternoon on that first day that I first saw Nancy in the halls. Nancy was once a good friend of my sister's and though Nancy was still a senior in high school she was able to get into an arrangement whereby she would complete her credits here, in community college, and a majority of her courses were art.

Nancy and my sister had some falling out a few years back and I hadn't seen her much since then. She was always such a free spirit and now that she was studying art full time, she really blossomed. She was extremely talented, like myself if I may say so, and we both so deserved to be a few miles over at RISD rather than here, and we both knew it. And that knowledge of our own self-proclaimed superiority was what bonded us together and got us through this first semester.

We had become very fast friends and soon she was picking me up for school on chilly mornings in her rickety turquoise VW bug with no heater. Nancy drove that car like Mr. Toad and hacked the stick into position with each shift as the car would creak and moan, the gears clanking and straining under her nonchalant abuse. Riding with Nancy as she drove erratically to class, as fast as can be since she was invariably late took a brave heart and stomach. What's more, being the artist she was, it was entirely a possibility that we'd suddenly screech to a halt in the middle of the road, heedless of other cars so she could catch a better glimpse of the way the sunlight shone through a thicket of trees.

Nancy would come over to my house so we could paint together. My mother enjoyed Nancy's joie de vivre and Nancy liked my Mom's no-holds-barred attitude. One afternoon as Nancy and I made our way through the kitchen to my room to paint, she inhaled deeply and beamed a broad smile. Joking with my Mom who was busily stirring a huge chedron of clam chowder (RI-style, of course) Nancy boasted brassily to my mother that it smelled so good that she was going to grab a bowl right now. My mother, not missing a beat, took a long drag on her cigarette, saucily exhaled the smoke, put her hand on her hip and blurted out, deadpan as can be, "Fuck you!" staring Nancy straight in her eyes. Nancy, a child of a very Christian and Proper home was a bit taken a-back at first...but only for a second or two. Nancy was sharp, that she was, and she was soon laughing her ass off since she knew she wasn't at home. No Dorothy, this sure wasn't Kansas.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pullin' A Twenty Four

I have to shake this flip-flop sleep schedule I've fallen into. Just like last year at this time, I have no job to dictate my daily responsibilities. Other than the need to occasionally feed my face and eventually remove the resultant waste products, I have nothing else telling me when to do anything. Including sleeping, it seems.

I try to get to bed before 3 am only because that seems like a "normal" late-enough bedtime. But my body really is quite the committed night owl. It wants to stay up until dawn...and then some. The day before yesterday, I stayed up 'till 10 am! Then went to bed and slept 'till 5 pm. Ugh!

I know all-things-vampire are "in" lately but I don't think I fit the mold of the "Twilight" set. Teenaged girls are definitely NOT going to swoon over the sight of my shirtless bod. Well, actually, maybe they they faint in horror and disgust.

I think my nocturnia is infectious too. Saturday night Ric and I played Civilization non-stop (except for a break to watch SNL) from about 7 pm to about 6 am! Yikes!

So I am going to just stay up today. Of course, I've been up all night and yes I'm tired but I need to re-adjust this kookiness.

Ugh! TV news says it'll be 84 degrees today. Yet it seems everywhere else in the country it's cold and in many cases snowing like crazy. Well, I don't wish for that, but 84? Seems like Mother Nature's as out of whack as me!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Santa Feeding His Reindeer?

Rest In Peace, Mr. Jingles

Ironically, I'm watching (again) "The Green Mile" on AMC right now, just after I got done tossing away the corpse of the little grey mouse that was living in my walls.

It was dead 'cause I killed it.

After almost two weeks of hearing scratches in the walls and seeing droppings in the cabinet under the sink I'd finally had enough. The thing was getting so bold I found it skittering across the living room behind my computer desk the other night and last night I saw it jump from the clothes hamper in the bathroom and into the wall through the hole made for the bathroom sink pipe. But worst of all, I saw droppings in the silverware drawer in the kitchen. That's right, it was licking my forks and spoons that I would use to eat with.

I suspected it was just one mouse since it didn't seem like there were sounds of anything else with it in the walls so I opted to get one 4-pack of snap traps at Walmart.

The traps seemed quite small and very simply constructed. Just a small rectangle of wood with a spring-loaded clamp-thingy set off by a small amount of pressure placed on the little yellow plastic paddle made to look like a slice of Swiss cheese. I think the visual design was actually for human sensibilities since I don't think a mouse really is that discerning of potential foodstuffs based on just visual cues. In fact, though the package said "no bait needed", I couldn't see why it might attract a mouse, but I read on the manufacturer's website that they are "scented" and have been tested and proven to be reliable at luring mice. I didn't notice any smell coming from it but I guess it's a rodent thing. Maybe pheromones or something.

Well it wasn't long before I heard it was a success. Kind of...

I set all four traps. One at the back corner of the kitchen cabinet under the sink, near the pipe hole. The second in the bathroom on the floor under the sink. This spot is kinda exposed so I didn't have very high hopes for it. I knew the mouse would favor a secluded, dark niche. The third behind the fridge. And for the fourth, I decided to clear out all the silverware in that drawer and once I had it emptied, I lay one towards the back of it.

I sat watching TV and also listening for my "little friend". I hadn't heard him in a couple hours but then suddenly I could hear him scratching in the walls and I hoped it was just a matter of time. In fact, it was only a few minutes. With a loud snap I heard one of the traps go off followed by a flurry of scratches and thumps, along with a few squeals. It was the silverware drawer.

Before opening it and potentially freeing him, I grabbed a chef's knife. I slowly opened the drawer and saw him try to scurry back the way he came into the drawer, from the back. But the trap hadn't accurately done it's job, so to speak, otherwise I wouldn't be seeing him squirm and flutter about. Instead of snapping its neck, it had clamped down tight on one of his little front paws. Probably in pain, but still very much alive, it stared at me and squeaked as it tried in vain to get away. I looked into to his little beady black eyes and thought it was looking into mine to see if he could find mercy in them. Unfortunately for him, he didn't. I meant business.

I thrust the point of the knife towards its torso attempting to impale it but his body was too squirmy and flexible. I was only catching skin as I pushed the blade towards the back of the drawer. I then tried to slice its head off and though I could feel the blade making contact with its little spine, it was still too squirmy for a good contact. Plus my knife is cheap and dull. So I put the knife in my left hand and used the blade as a clamp holding its body down still. I picked up a fork from the counter and thrust the tines directly into its head several times, piercing its skull and spilling a small amount of blood which oozed into the absorbent wood of the snap trap. I used the fork to pick up its lifeless body and tossed it, trap still clamped onto its now limp, dead paw, into the trash. Then I bundled up the trash bag and took it to the street garbage can.

I don't think it's supposed to go down as gory as this.

And what's more, as I sit here typing this, I hear sounds coming from inside the walls.

There's another one.

And this one sounds bigger.