Post #13: August Horrible-scopes

8/1 A need to examine your choices can drive you to reject any rash impulses vying for your attention. I generally only find myself examining the results of and resulting guilt from my choices and any rash impulses.

8/3 It might seem difficult for you to make choices about your life today (and that makes today different from any other fucking day how exactly?) which could be because you may feel stuck in your life. Does that mean right now in my life I feel stuck, or that I’m stuck inside my life like a truck in a mud bog kinda stuck? Perhaps you have been trying too hard…and applying undue pressure on yourself as a result. Uh huh. Say it ain’t so. You might try taking a deep breath and noticing where your feelings manifest themselves in your body. Gently breathe into that area and notice the thoughts that arise. I don’t even know what any of that means. I take a deep breath, and all I feel is all the stuff that hurts which is pretty much everything from the neck down.

8/5 Even if your schedule requires you to pass much of your day focusing on professional endeavors or chores (all my professional endeavors are, in fact, chores), you will likely savor any time you are able to spend in the company of loved ones or in the warm solitude of your home. I think The Grinch said it best: “I tell you Max, I don’t know why I ever leave this place. I’ve got all the company I need right here.”

8/6 Your craving for companionship and closeness can be at odds with a burgeoning desire to experience life as an autonomous individual. Reconciling these two very real needs could become a moral dilemma that causes you to retain a great deal of tension. You can ease your mind and quell the conflict within today by choosing to view each of these elements of your life as vital to your well-being. First of all, to have a moral dilemma, ya gotta have morals. Okay buh-bye. Second, if they’re both vital, how does that quell any conflict?

8/8 You may be dissatisfied with the nature of your responsibilities and lost in thoughts of pleasurable activities you would rather pursue. Mounting feelings of frustration can establish themselves in your emotional center. Maybe it’s just the English teacher/writer/editor part of me talkin’ here, but I think the proximity of “pleasurable activities” to the word “mounting” could have been improved upon.

8/9 You can make a larger dent in your schedule by working more intelligently instead of struggling to expend more effort on the duties before you. Again, maybe it’s the English teacher/writer/editor brain, but…is it just me, or did someone use 25 words just to say “Work smart not hard?”

8/23 You may be feeling that you or your efforts aren’t being acknowledged today or are being ignored. Story of my entire teaching career for the past 26 years. If you make efforts today that others fail to respond to or acknowledge, you might consider giving yourself the applause and acknowledgment you feel you deserve. What I deserve is more god damn money. In the words of John Waters, “A check would have been an homage.”

Post #12: Grades

Ah, the end of summer classes, and once again I turn to that singular part of my career that fills my heart with joy over the results of a job well done makes me want to gouge my eyes out with some sharp jewelry and wander into eternal Oedipal darkness.

I don’t mind the lack of editing, the willful refusal to double space (or follow even the simplest directions), or the equally willful refusal to look up much less use MLA format. Hell even the flagrant plagiarism is its own brand of entertaining.

But as always, technology has created a new wrinkle and given rise to roughly as many problems as it solved. For whatever reason, ever since we began this iteration of classes on Zoom over a year ago, I always get a few students in every class who apparently don’t know how to tell time.

All of their final stuff was due on the last day of class by 1159pm. Before you ask, yes, I’m reasonably lenient in order to allow for connectivity, hardware, software, etc. difficulties. For the most part, that kind of late stops before 1215am. But there’s always someone(s) who turn stuff in some time the next morning. Or afternoon. Or at some point in the next 72 hours.

I don’t know if they’re blissfully unaware that their submissions are date/time stamped and just blithely carry on with the submission process as if there is no opprobrium whatsoever attached to their attachment. So what, you’re no doubt wondering, do I do with these wayward course requirements?

Literally nothing. I don’t read them, open them, or even delete them. I just calculate the final grade based on the absence of whatever came in late. There are the inevitable questions which I may or may not respond to some time during the next term. My educational institution doesn’t pay me nearly enough to read my faculty email or answer phone calls from admin if I’m not under contract at the time.

Some other time I’ll letcha in on the grading process. But for now it’s done. And now we drink, or drink more.

Post #11: I Hate People Part IV

It’s been said numerous times by folks who know about these kindsa thangs that I should promote my blogs more. Indeed there was a time when I tried to just that. I believe it was a Tuesday.

Back when I was far more actively engaged in the poetry world, and was writing poems like a madman and getting them published with moderate success, even then I sucked at self-promotion. I find it personally distasteful and unpleasant. Ironically, I also marvel at and admire those who seem to be naturals at this.

Like my friend who just started writing fifty-two, a book blog where, among other book-related topics, she’s going to review a book a week for an entire year. Wonder where she got that idea? Anyway, almost immediately, she started doing stuff to get some egagement. One of those things was putting up a Facebook page for it.

Apparently when she did that, a prompt popped up asking if she wanted to make it Sponsored for like 10 bucks, so she did. In the time it would take to turn a page (or scroll to one–she uses one of them thar infernal, new fangled Kindle things), a couple fuckwits trolled her. One accused her of spamming her page.

Now, I’ve know the author of fifty-two a long time. I can say with confidence that she has wwwaaayyy better dumb shit to do than spam someone total stranger’s Facebook with information about her book blog. To her eternal credit, she responded with grace and cordiality.

So not what I would do. I’d have shot back with something like, “Well, I’m sorry the algorithm I have zero fucking control over mistook you for someone literate who can read, or might at least have a better than average shot at spelling ‘book’ if I spot you the two O’s.” Another dude got particularly nasty with her and said something vile in German. I’ll spare us all the ugliness that would have been unleashed from my own orc-like digits. I’m not proud of that.

My point is, when someone asks me why I’m not better about promoting stuff and gettin’ my name “out there,” this kinda shit is one of many reasons.

Post #10: July Horrible-scopes

Not all my horrible-scopes are worthy of their own commentary, so I’ve decided instead to round ’em up, the best bits anyway, and post the whole shootin’ match all together at the end of each month. Here’s the July overview.

7/12 If you remind yourself frequently that luck will see you through today, a wonderfully bracing feeling of self-assurance will likely steady you. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that probably doesn’t include crossing the street when a truck or something is coming. Although, it worked in Mulan with the cricket.

7/19 Today, you may find yourself growing irritable in the presence of those whose outlook on life does not correspond with your own. A) this is not a “Today, you may” situation so much as a “Here is what will most assuredly happen if you leave your apartment at any moment, and even the safety of your personal fortress may prove insufficient.” B) The whole thing could have stopped at the word “irritable.”

7/24 The amount of progress you see in your plans could worry you today. Perhaps your concern is because things may not be going the way you wish, and you might feel powerless to change the way things are right now. If that’s all it took to stop me, I’d never get outta bed. Of course things may not be going the way I wish. Why the fuck would they start now? Should you feel any unease about your future (when do I not?) you might take a few minutes to breathe deeply and let the universe know that you are willing to place your complete trust in it. Except I’m not willing. I’ve read enough Lovecraft to know the universe is the LAST thing I trust. Trusting that the universe will take care of us is a TERRIBLE fucking idea! Our anxiety about our plans usually comes from our fears that something unpleasant will happen to us. I don’t fear something unpleasant will happen; I KNOW it will. By letting the universe watch over you, you will find peace of mind about your plans today despair and madness waiting to consume your soul.

7/31 As you contemplate the many avenues of action open to you today, try to envision how each will impact your existence, both in the present and in the future. I can’t even decide what to do about dinner, and now I also gotta worry about how ordering pizza and wings vs. going to the taco joint will impact my existence both in the present and the future? I’m goin’ to bed.

Post #9: Excerpt From “The Hole Story”

“Wanna go next?” Jumbo wasn’t kidding. Out of reflex it seemed, Johnny said, “Make me.” Jumbo’s voice turned hard. Cold. He told Johnny, “Get in or I throw you in.” Johnny looked scared but grabbed the rope. “Better pull me up.” Jumbo lowered him in. “Far enough!” Johnny called. Jumbo kept lowering. After a few seconds, the rope slackened. “I’m down! Pull me up!” Jumbo shone the flashlight down. We could see Johnny’s upturned face. Jumbo dangled his end of the rope then dropped it on the ground. There was a plywood cover nearby. Jumbo showed it to Johnny then covered the hole. Johnny screamed. Jumbo stood there. He’d never acted like this. We could hear Johnny struggle against the sides of the hole. There was a shriek as if he’d lost his mind. Then it was quiet. Someone said we should get him out.

–Full story appearing in Candy & Rigor Mortis II: Post Mortem, available this October!

Post #8: Why Didn’t I Take The Blue Pill?

Wanna know my big problem with controversial scientific theories? No, of course you don’t. I failed algebra at least 3 times, so who cares what I think? Well, just for the quick hell of it, I’ll mention it anyway.

Let’s say, as one of Stephen Hawking’s theories suggests, that we’re living inside a black hole. Or… let’s say this is all a simulation. OR… just for shits & giggles, let’s say we’re in a simulation being run by someone whose planet is inside a black hole. All of these ultimately lead me to ask the very same question.

SO???

Let’s assume any one of these is the case. What does that change? Nothing. And the possibility that any one of these could in fact be the case does zero in terms of terrifying me or causing me concern. I’m far more apprehensive trying to figure out whether or not a fellow motorist is going to let me merge.

Here’s what IS terrifying, however, about the simulation theory. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that our world is a massive scale SIMS type game being played on a galactic or intergalactic level. That means someone created and is playing me and my life. That means I’M a character someone built and thought would be interesting and fun to play. Based on what I know about my life, the person playing this character is a serious loser.

Think about it. If this world is all a construct, this one, things as they are, it begs the question “Was this the best they could do?” The only ray of hope, of course, is that we’re still in beta testing.

Ever the optimist.

 

 

Post #7: I Hate People Part III

So there I was, parked at one of my favorite coffee joints. I was at a four-top by myself which I’ve mentioned I try to avoid doing if I can, but all the big tables were full. Whatcha gonna do?

Whilst I’m sitting there, writing a Blogferatu post (conveniently linked for you. What can I say? I’m a giver), three women came up to me and wanted me to move. Didn’t ask. Didn’t say “Excuse us.” Nothin. Just this: “Do you really need this whole table to yourself? There’s a seat at that big table over there.”

I stared, purposely longer than was comfortable for any of us, then said “This was the only spot available when I got here.” Her response was “Well, you could move now” to which I said “I could. But I won’t.”

This kind of thing happens from time to time, especially at this particular place for some reason. Mighta been cuz it was a Sunday, and, well, those jesusy types, y’know? Normally I say something along the lines of “I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware that as an adult I was obligated to explain myself.” I don’t know what made me deviate from so tried and true a response.

Still, they left. They left muttering, but they left.

There’s another place I’ve been going to that’s smaller, a little more outta the way, and much quiter. Usually. I was there recently, and the artist whose paintings are on the wall was there explaining them to some guy. Some of her pieces were on the wall behind me. She stood directly in front of me talking to this dude. Which is fine, but she had one of those voices that manages to use up all the auditory space in a given room.

Sigh.

Well, I hear the Covid virus numbers are goin’ back up. As much as I seem to accomplish more in a coffee joint, I guess I’ll go back to stayin’ home for a while.

Post #6: I Hate People Part II

I may, on occasion, hint in my typically subtle manner that I am slightly dissatisfied with many of my fellow travelers on this little orb. Some days I find them a scosh trying. Today was one of those days, and for this, I’ve rendered a wee graphic. This, without using too much imagination, is the community table I often sit at whilst offering my patronage to yon purveyors of caffeine. The circles are seats.

At one end was Dudebro (D) 1. I sat at the other end (Sidebar: I don’t like to take up a normal two- or four-top by myself. I think that’s shitty). After a bit, D1 is joined by D2 and D3 who sit on either side of him. No problem. It’s a big table after all.

But then…along comes D4. Does he sit across from me which would be way less cramped? Or next to his dim buddy on the other side of the table?

No. He squeezes his dumb ass right in next to me (Sidebar 2: the scale isn’t great. Ain’t much room between chairs. Much more room across the table). Now, I sit there cuz I’m trying to be a considerate, decent human being, or at least look like one. I should know better because that kind of behavior always kicks me in the dick. But I keep doing it anyway.

The truth, however, is that I like the background noise and activity of a coffee joint. I work better there than at home. That doesn’t mean I like actual people. I don’t. The point is, I don’t enjoy being near people under the best of circumstances, much less in these still uncertain “to mask or not to mask” times. So, yeah, I was irked. But I probably could have managed.

That is, until they turned on their dudebro switches, all at once, simultaneously, at the same time. They were already dudebro-y to start with, but now it’s gone up an order of magnitude.

So, yeah, now I’m home.

Post #5: Horrible-scope Part II

More good fairly inaccurate news from the stars yesterday.

You may feel especially hopeful about the future today- This might have happened once, a long time ago. I believe it was a Tuesday. And anyway, I had a dream last night that a second Hitler was trying to take over the world, and lotsa people seemed to think it was a great idea. Da fuck? Only it was in the future, so he was referred to as HpLRT Top +1 for some reason. I don’t know what that means, or what my psyche has dredged up from the sludge at the bottom-most depths of my subconscious. My point is, not an “especially hopeful” frame of mind today.

Your optimism may be strong- It may be strong, but that’s unlikely. It may be comatose…and this could be contributing to positive expectations about your plans- My only expectations are that if I make a plan, it will become a trainwreck in a matter of hours…as well as encouraging you to consider more effective ways to reach your goals- You mean besides my standard M.O. of choosing the most inefficient method possible?

The positive energy you exude… The what that I what??

A great way to enhance this process is to consciously focus your thoughts in an optimistic, positive way today- Uh, okay. I’m positive that this will not accomplish anything. I suspect that’s not what they meant, but it’s what I’ve got on tap.

If negative thoughts or doubts come in, you can purposely replace them with positive ones– Sounds like hell to me. Plus, wouldn’t that be, like, exhausting?

Post #4: I Hate People

Back in 2003, Lynn Truss published Eats, Shoots & Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach To Punctuation, and it was funny. I liked it. But what I enjoyed substantially more because it spoke to me on a much deeper, more personal level, came 2 years later. That was Talk To The Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness Of Everyday Life. There’s one passage in particular where she discusses her vexation with being subjected to some rando’s cellphone conversation.

Here indeed was a kindred spirit. Every time I leave my apartment, something invariably happens that makes me wonder A) why I would do something so stupid and B) why I would ever ever ever do it again. Often this comes down to a common factor: noise. I understand that headphones would offer a simple solution to this, but it’s the principle, damn it.

“I’m a quiet living man.” Isn’t that what Henry Higgins said in My Fair Lady?

Who prefers to spend the evening in the silence of his room
Who likes an atmosphere as restful as an undiscovered tomb
A pensive man am I of philosophical joys
Who likes to meditate, contemplate
Free from humanity’s mad inhuman noise

The cruel irony is that I get more writing done in a coffee shop than I do at home. I’m not sure why that is. It’s been suggested that I have too many distractions at home or too much stuff I can see needs to be done: dishes, laundry, sweeping up, litter box maintenance, watching an hour or six of the YouTubes and the TikTaks.

Invariably, however, there is someone in the coffee shop who I classify as a loud talker, and generally they fall into one of three groups. The first is the middle-aged white business guy. He can often be spotted wandering about the joint on his phone, beleaguring the other patrons with his occupational acumen. Make no mistake. This dude and whatever he’s got goin’ on is far too important to be confined to a mere single location and a reasonable volume.

The corollary to this dude is the shrill, often somewhat younger entitled white woman. She’s got a voice that can etch glass and a laugh that will make your ears bleed–and she thinks everything is hilarious. Frequently there’s a stroller with which she can and will clear a swathe through any crowd on her way to that lavender latte. Do not be found in the way.

It’s the last group, however, that more often than not send me home, and that’s the jesusy folks. I was at a place just this morning and heard a guy use the word “church” close to 100 times in about 20 minutes. And it wasn’t just that he said it. No it was the earnestness, enthusitation, and volume with which he did so.

I asked someone I’m close to/fond of and who inexplicably tolerates me why the people on the jeebus train are always so loud. She said, “Cuz they’re filled with the holy spirit. People full of spirits get loud. You know that. You were a bouncer.”

I mean…she’s not wrong. Eventually the word “ministry” started flyin’ around as well. But the quote of the day, hands down, had to be “I’m a cheerleader of the spirit.”

Sigh…