Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Annual resolution post

Things I will do more of in 2014:

Blog: but that's not really that hard. I think I had like 12 posts in 2013. It just never caught on with me again and I never found time, but I'm looking at returning to creative writing and this is a good place to exercise the habit a bit.

Travel: I did travel a bit last year. I went to Michigan to a wedding and had a really enchanting time in Chicago. The drive was good for me and took some of the fear out of hitting the road. I'll do it some more in 2014.

Exercise: I do get in some exercise, but after a colleague passed away at the radio station, I took on a regular mid-morning shift. That's probably going to come to an end and I can put more consistent time in at the gym.

Look for a way to make some more money or get a different job: I love what I do, but the money isn't great. The radio gig isn't stable and I was flat-out turned down on a raise by the boss at the newspaper. You see, I got a small (tiny) raise last year. The hope was the raise would help with health care costs, but then the payroll tax happened and my small raise was devoured by that. In fact, I checked. My take home actually went down three dollars a week.

I could rant and rail about how the people I work for are short-selling their staff and themselves --or I can work on doing something about it. I'm willing to trying to earn a few bucks on the side with freelance work, if I can get it, but if the money isn't there, I'll need to go where I can find it.

A man has to eat.

Sell the house: That sort of relates to the above, but also, it's a lot of work trying to maintain this place. Mowing the lawn takes between 4 and 6 hours with a push mower and I don't see myself investing $2,000 in a riding lawn tractor that can handle the hill. Those aren't the only reasons, but I need to downsize.

It's too damned quiet here, too.

Write more: That relates to item one, but also to getting published, which relates to item 4. It's all one big circle.

Read more, watch less TV and spend less time on Facebook: I like books more than what's on Netflix right now and I like Facebook not all. Yet, I spent way too much time on the latter this year.

Spend a little more time with friends: I still haven't caught back up to speed with everybody.

Keep doing the things I already do right: A lot of resolutions are about corrections. I don't feel like I need a lot of repairs to my life. I'm a decent guy who does quite a bit with limited resources. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bumping donuts

The lady at the donut store looked at me and said, "And then her little boy pushed a screwdriver up his nose until it bled."

Her co-worker, appalled, just shook her head in disbelief, but looked like she could believe it.

They were both young women; in their early 20s, menthol-cigarette thin and looked a little road worn. You don't get a job at the donut store if you're breaks up to this point have been good ones. I guessed one of them was in cosmetology school or a recent grad.

Her hair and makeup didn't match this type of work. She looked a little too clean and well-manicured to be slinging donuts.

They both looked out of place, like they could at least get a job at Sears, but I supposed somebody has to make donuts. Donuts must be made and this was there fate --at least for the time being.

The other woman seemed familiar. Lots of people look familiar to me now. I blame Facebook. I take pretty much everybody except obvious con-jobs (that is internet prostitutes and scam artists) and people previously distantly related to me through complex legal framework.

"How'd a two-year-old get a screwdriver?" the one I sort of recognized. "That's what I want to know. When you've got a kid, you gotta child-proof your house."

She looked at me for confirmation. I selected two French Crullers, two peanut butter iced donuts and one of the red velvet cake donuts with the white, presumably cream cheese, frosting.

"Those are real good," the woman said. "Very popular."

And it's always good to be doing what the popular people are doing. I also got an apple fritter, which was about the size of a house cat.

"She doesn't care," the woman with the expertly highlighted hair explained. "She didn't even take him to the hospital."

"But he could have punctured a sinus or something." Her face was pained.

I nodded. Yes, this was awful.

"First thing, before I even had my baby, I got all that stuff out of there. I put things up," the woman I maybe knew said.

"But she don't care. That kid can pick up a screwdriver or a wrench or a hammer anytime he likes," the other said.

I wondered how it was the kid was being raised in a garage, but then remembered all the shit my father used to keep lying around. Hell, he used to melt lead wheel weights on the kitchen stove to turn them into fishing sinkers. I have no idea what was in half of the stuff he used to make fishing bugs in the living room. It's a wonder he didn't kill us all with some of that shit.

"If it were me, I'd be calling CPS," she added finally and for a moment I wondered why she hadn't.

But I knew. If you've ever had Child Protective Services breathing down your neck, you know. That's something you invoke lightly. They're the angels of darkness. Calling upon them can bring ruin down on whoever is named and even if it doesn't, the process is agony. It's fear.

You only bring them in when there is no other option, only if you truly believe the parents are worthless fuck-ups or degenerates and the child is in actual peril.

A two-year-old poking the inside of his nostril with a misplaced screwdriver was bad, but it was more lazy than evil --and the mother in question might be a lot of things (an asshole, for instance), but when the numbers got added up at the bottom of her card both women still considered her sort of a friend.  

"That'll be $7.11," her partner said and smiled.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tabula Rasa

The neighbor next door keeps the shade drawn on her kitchen window. I think that's because she caught me taking a leak out on the lawn --a couple of times.

In my defense: It is my lawn.

In my defense: It was dark and there are trees separating our properties.

In my defense: I never did it very often. 

In my defense: I tried to be discrete.

But at three, four or five in the morning, with two dogs taking their sweet time to pinch one off (the little one is the worst), I've occasionally made for the back corner of the house and a well-placed shrubbery. There might have been a time when I didn't even make it that far, but I've always turned my back to the light.

I suspect she thinks I'm a drunk. Who else but a drunk would piss out in his front yard?

A guy with two dogs.

To be sure, there was no going to the bathroom before the dogs went outside. If you did that and you'd be sponging up a puddle from the carpet or ,just as bad, one of them would make a run for the back room and take a dump on whatever looked particularly inviting --the stone floor in front of the fireplace, the laundry stacked in a basket, the couch.

It's better now. The little dog has gained some measure of control and can now wait those important 30 seconds it takes for me to empty my bladder before going outside.

This is a small, but important victory.

There haven't been a lot of victories out here in the sticks.