Thursday, July 13, 2017

Double Dipping...


"Did you seriously just double dip that chip?" Lori glared at Pete.

"I turned it. That's totally fine. It was a dip, bite, turn and dip."

"That is not fine, that's a double dip. That's not okay. Tell him that it's not okay." Lori made her case to the table.

"I think the turn and dip is probably okay, but I prefer the break off and dip in pieces." Carl shrugged.

"One dip per chip. You don't need every square inch of chip covered. One dip." Janine declared.

"Wait, so yours isn't a germ thing, it's a greed thing?" Lori asked.

"Not greed. Flavor balance. The chip needs to be appreciated for its chipness. To use it just as a dip delivery vehicle you might as well get a spoon."

"Okay...so we have a no way from me, a you can but you should do it differently from Carl and a foodie choice from Janine. What do you say?"

Amy shrugged her shoulders, "Didn't Myth Busters do a whole episode on this? Like they measured the germ level and decided that double dipping, even without a turn, was no big deal?"

"Not the point. Just because Myth Busters could blow it up afterward doesn't mean it's not gross. Aren't you grossed out by it?"

Amy shook her head, "Nope. Why should I be? We've all had our fingers all over the chips and the salsa all night and I only know when I last washed my own hands, not the rest of you. And even if you did wash your hands right when you got here, like I did, you've touched each other, the table, your glasses, your jeans, your arms, pretty much all over the place. Then you grabbed a chip brushing against the chips next to it and then possibly turned the chip to get the best possible dipping surface and putting the finger touched side in the bowl of salsa."

"Okay, now I'm grossed out by the whole idea of finger foods." Lori pushed her plate away.

"Why? That's my point. You've been sharing germs with us all along. It's not gross. It's actually good for you. People who are too worried about germs and bust out the hand sanitizer constantly have weak immune systems. Look it up."

Carl started laughing, "This is about the toothbrush isn't it?"

Amy shot him a dirty look, "No. It's about the chips. And how some people are really weird about germs when they are already covered in them and are FINE."

"Yeah, it's totally about the toothbrush."

"Okay, what about the toothbrush? Now I'm curious." Janine broke in.

"Yeah, me too. Forget the chips, now I want to know about toothbrushes." Pete added.

"If it's gross I don't want to hear about it."  Lori shook her head.

"Fine! Thanks, Carl, I'll now share with the group."

"Oh, that was going to happen eventually anyway." Carl smiled.

"Whatever. Steve and I are not dating anymore."

"Wait? What? You just started getting serious, right? What happened?" Now Lori was interested.

"I asked if I could use his toothbrush and he freaked out."

"Oh gross. You did not!" Lori was back to being disgusted.

"It's not that big of a deal."

"Apparently it is." Pete nodded toward Lori whose face was tightly scrunched.

"Okay, just like you are grossed about the thought of germs when it doesn't really happen you are grossed out about using someone's toothbrush when we had just had our tongues in each other's mouths. He had literally touched my teeth with his tongue. Among other body parts. We had sweated on and in each other. We had kissed and licked and...well it was really good sex, okay?

 So we are pretty much wallowing in each other's DNA, I want to take a shower and freshen up before we go grab some dinner and to be POLITE I ask if he minds if I use his toothbrush and he FREAKED out about how disgusting it was. When I tried to explain that it wasn't he just kept, well making that face." Amy pointed at Lori.

Janine snort laughed.

"So anyway, it ended up being a big fight we aren't dating anymore."

"And..." Carl waved his hand at her.

"And I might have licked his toothbrush as I was leaving anyway."

The friends all laughed. Except Lori. Who just pushed the chips farther away.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Absence...

So...yesterday I went hiking with my friend Marcy. Marcy is a unicorn. She's a Mormon Democrat. It's kind of amazing. I lived in Idaho for years and Intel recruits heavily from BYU and I'm pretty sure she's the only Mormon Democrat I've even known. That's actually why we are friends. She had a real lack of liberal friends and a mutual friend of ours (who is not liberal so couldn't fill the role) suggested she make friends with me. So I am her liberal friend. And because she's Mormon, she counts as one of my more conservative friends. Totally counts.

Anyway...while we were out hiking she asked me about some of my fictional stories and how they relate to my lack of religious belief. Because, as you all know, I often write stories where the undead aren't really gone. Souls, spirits, ghosts, they are all main characters in a lot of my writing. So she was curious, knowing that I don't consider myself religious, what I thought happened after we died.

I told her nothing. No, I didn't keep my opinion to myself, are you new here? I told her nothing happens. Nothing, that's what I believe probably happens. I always say probably. Or I believe. Because I don't know. Nobody knows. It's what keeps me on the agnostic side of the line though I lean pretty atheist.

But I believe that nothing happens. I believe that it's much like before you were born. You weren't here, then you were. When you die it's the same in reverse. You were here then you aren't. I have entertained ideas through my life that deal with energy and recreation and such things, but those are more due to my imagination and partly having a hard time dealing with letting go of the religious belief of more than anything else. I really do believe that this is life. Right now and right here, and after this we are done.

But I discovered yesterday that that is hard to explain. Or hard to explain in a way that is easy or acceptable. Religions give you something else. Some next. Either a new land, heaven, hell, reincarnation, limbo...something. But nothing? Nothing at all? Just absence of belief? That's a tough one to want to believe in. And I get that, I really do.

How do you tell a story about how to live your life that ends with...and then the lights went out. Click. Done.

People want more.

Most people.

Not me. I actually like the thought of nothing. I like that what I do right now matters not because of what might come next, or what reward I am getting or punishment I am avoiding but just because it matters right now. I like that my legacy is what I do and what I leave. The people I've touched in some way. My son and what he does with his life. My friends and any hearts or minds that I've changed in positive ways. Those are good things, but even the negative things. The people who would rather never hear my name again. I had an impact. I hope it's positive, even a negative interaction can lead to a positive direction.

But that is a really hard sell. There isn't a promise of pearly gates or streets of gold or a do-over in another body. There is no reward waiting for you. There is no carrot. There is also no stick. There is no purgatory waiting for you if you are so-so. There is no hell if you were a so and so. What are you living for if it's not for the end game? We've been conditioned to always be reaching for some prize. To be good because God is watching. To do the right thing because we will be judged. To say, I do the right thing because it's the right thing? I don't expect a reward. I don't expect to get anything out of it except that it was the right thing to do. It's not as easy to explain.

Another friend was surprised the other day that I don't believe in karma. Again, I will write about karma, and even say that karma will get someone. But one, that's not really how karma works, if you do believe in it. You can't really wish for someone to be "gotten" by karma. That would be bad for you karmically...ANYWAY...even though I use the figure of speech, I do not believe that there is some great cosmic justice system out there waiting to punish you if you do something wrong. Now I do believe that you get what put out there, which is karma in a broad sense. But the reason why I believe you get what you put out there is because there is nothing else that would make sense. If I'm an asshole people are going to tend to be assholes back to me. If I'm a decent person, the same is going to happen.

That's not really karma, or supernatural, or religious, or what ever. That's just human nature. But actual karma? Nope.

I can't believe in it because we've all see too many instances where really bad people have really great things happen for them. So where was karma again? Just taking the day off?

And I have the same issue with God. To believe in a supreme deity who has his own book (or books depending on your faith) I would need to believe in that book and his omnipotence. The book contradicts itself. The book has stories that do not make sense if you take them literally. And shows a pretty heartless God if you do. And, again, the world is currently full of really shitty things happening to people who don't deserve them. So you have to take all of that in stride and tuck it away in to the "God works in mysterious ways" folder and move along.

I find it easier to say no.

To believe that there is no broken karmic system.

To believe there is no indifferent to the suffering of starving and dying children God.

That when we are done the world will weigh what we left and how we are remembered but we are done. Lights out. Click.

But until that switch is flipped I am here. I am responsible for my actions. I am able to influence people. I am able to make the world around me a better place in small ways and sometimes in larger ways. It's all on me. Not for later. For now. Before the click. I would say that's better than nothing but...

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Wake and Bake...

When the Rock Star died the world mourned. It was a public mourning. And a private one. Because he wasn't just a rock star. He was a person. With friends and family who loved him. But because he was also the Rock Star he had adoring fans who loved him as well.

He had met the Rock Star at a wake, oddly enough. Not the normal place you would think to meet a rock star but this wake had been for the Rock Star's father, who was like a grandfather to his wife, so they met at the wake.

He had met the Rock Star's father a few months earlier. He hadn't even realized that he was the Rock Star's father at the time. He was just a friend of his wife. A close family friend. Like he said, like a grandfather actually. The Rock Star's father had been in hospice care in London. He and his wife were there on their honeymoon and she wanted to make sure they stopped in for a visit. She knew it wasn't the most romantic of things but the Rock Star's father had been too sick to make the wedding and it was important to her that they meet. That he had a chance to know her loved ones at least briefly.

He had been worth the visit. He regaled them with stories of his childhood. Of the way things used to be. Then he shared stories about his wife's childhood. Which gave him more insight in to how wonderful she was. She had always been wonderful to hear the Rock Star's father tell it. And his wife obviously adored him. As they said their goodbyes his wife and the Rock Star's father held hands and gazed in to each other's eyes for a very long time. Both of them knowing that this would probably be the last time they would see each other. He was very ill.

When he died a few months later and they made plans to go to the wake, they had just been to London and he wasn't sure how they were going to afford the trip back. But tickets arrived. First class tickets. "I knew it might be a stretch." The Rock Star had sent them. They were met at the airport by a driver who took them to a hotel they could not afford. The Rock Star again. His wife shrugged her shoulders, "Family comes when called, I would have been here anyway, but it's nice of him to make sure we could make it."

They dressed in black for the wake. But each with a purple scarf. It was the Rock Star's fathers favorite color. And she had packed something purple to wear each day of the weekend. Mourning colors should honor those being mourned was her belief.

A call came to the room announcing their ride. They arrived at The Rock Star's manor. You couldn't call it a house. Not really. It was grand. He tried not to stare open mouthed but he couldn't help it. The Rock Star greeted them at the door. "Thank you for coming. It's good to have family here." Then he turned to Eddie, "I am sorry I missed the wedding, I wish we could have met in better circumstances." He leaned in very close to the both of them and whispered, "Don't eat the brownies." His wife smiled and nodded. As the Rock Star walked away he turned to her, "I guess they are a bit special."

The wake was unlike anything he had ever seen. So many people were there. His wife spent most of her time with the Rock Star and his sisters. He spent most of his with an old photo album. The Rock Star's father had been a photographer in his day and he had told them stories of some of these photos. To see them now was incredible. He could hear his gravelly voice telling the stories about the people in them. There were shots of his wife as a child as well. Those he lingered over the longest. The Rock Star came and sat with him for a bit. "I am so sorry about the loss of your father. I only met him once, but he was so very kind to me and Karen adored him." The Rock Star patted his knee, "It meant a lot to him that you came. He was broken up that he couldn't make the wedding so to come on your honeymoon to visit a dying old codger made him feel like a king." They both teared up a bit and then pretended to get absorbed in the photos again.

"I remember when he took that one. That's at the country house. But..Karen spent the whole day picking flowers and making giant arrangements with them. Da never had the heart to tell her they were just weeds. But after she left he never let anyone pull them up again. They were her wildflowers and her meadow from that point on. They loved each other."

The wake went on and turned to more and more of a free for all party. They said their goodbyes and made plans to see the family again at the private entombment of the ashes. The Rock Star glowered at the crowd. "Most of them couldn't be bothered to come visit him when he was sick but here they are enjoying my free booze and my free food. They didn't want to be a part of him when he was living..." they hugged the Rock Star as tightly as they could.

And now the Rock Star had died. He was packing a bag when one of his daughters came in to the room. "When do we leave?"

"In the morning."

She was holding on to her phone. There were a lot of stories being written about the Rock Star as the world mourned him. She wanted to ask about one. The one about his father. "Is it true that he snorted his father's ashes?"

He stopped packing for a moment and tried to decide what to tell her. She knew about drug use. She knew about excesses. But he wasn't sure if she should know about this.

"What does the article say?"

"It says it was always a rumor, that he had said he did something special with part of the ashes but that was all he would say."

"Then we should let it be all he has to say. How about that?"

She thought about it a little bit. "I'll ask Aunt Libby."

He laughed and went back to packing.

Yes, he did something special with the ashes.

Don't eat the brownies. "...they didn't want to be a part of him when he was living. Now he gets to be a part of them."

Friday, June 30, 2017

Comfortable in Her Own Skin...

Janet walked by the shop window looking over the latest models on display. Fashion changed so quickly it was hard to keep up. And honestly she really didn't want to be cutting edge. The colors were too bright for her, the angles too sharp, and the styles too extreme. She liked the classics. The things that she saw as a child and dreamed of being able to buy.

But she did need to refresh her look. She had noticed this morning that her favorite was getting a little threadbare. A little worn looking. Nothing changes classic to old quicker than a sagging seam. But she wasn't keen on this new look. The bright blue was especially popular right now. And what was the deal with the add on spikes? Shoulder caps with long silver spikes. Neck collars with deadly looking needles. How in the world were you supposed to interact with the world if you looked like a blue porcupine?

Of course, she didn't really know exactly what a porcupine looked like. She had seen pictures of them and once even an old nature documentary where a dog had gotten a face full of quills. She had never seen a real dog either, for that matter. But she did have an idea of what they were like as well. She had always thought having a dog would be a good thing. 

She took a deep breath and walked in to the showroom. She was going to have to get new things, no sense putting it off any longer. Maybe they would have something on the clearance rack that would suit her tastes more. 

"Welcome in, Ms. Vargas! What can we help you find today?" The Salesbot rolled over to her as soon as she walked in the door. Her personal information already being transmitted to its memory banks.

"I'm looking for a new suit. Do you have anything in this style?" Janet motioned over what she was currently wearing.

The Salesbot scanned Janet from head to toe. Janet swore if its head had been articulated enough it would have cocked it in a puzzled look. As it was it was just silent for a very long time as it accessed all of the data records.

"The suit you are wearing is from our 2045 line. We haven't had anything from that line in stock for quite a while I am afraid. Let me set you up in a fitting room and we can look for other styles that might fit your needs."

Janet sighed. She figured that would be the case. Oh well. She let herself be led to a fitting room and sat down on the padded bench in front of the view screen. 

"If you will please stand still with your arms out to the side so I can scan your dimensions, Ms. Vargas."

"Oh yes, I'm sorry. It's been awhile since I've had a fitting."

Janet stood and let herself be scanned. She hadn't changed sizes since her last fitting. It was why she had been able to keep this suit for as long as she had. She hated being a style chaser anyway. She really did like the classic look. And it was just so expensive. She didn't understand people who had a variety of sizes at their disposal. So much money for something that you could make last with just a little more discipline. 

After the scanning was complete she sat down to view the style mirror. Her body was projected on to the screen wearing the bright blue spike suit she had seen in the window.

"This is our latest design. It's very popular."

"No thank you. I really am looking for something more classic in style and color. Do you have anything in champagne?" Champagne sounded so much nicer than beige. 

Janet watched as version after version of herself modeling the latest styles and colors scrolled quickly past as the Salesbot looked for a more basic style. It stopped on a pink version with artful cutouts on the waist. "No. Not really my style, I really would like something more classic."

The images scrolled again stopping on a royal purple outfit with a collar that looked vaguely like a coronation cape. "Not that classic. Really I would like something like I have right now. Just not so worn out."

The Salesbot tried again, "Many people like the updated looks once they adjust. They wear very well. Stain resistant. State of the art blocking technology. The brighter colors do not show damage as much as the older lighter color styles did. We find that..."

"I would really like to stay away from the bright colors. I just don't prefer them. Can you please look again to see what is available?" The images started to stream faster. More colors. More attachments and cutouts and stylistic choices. All of it much too ornate for her tastes.

"Wait! Go back!" Janet saw one she liked, it had been a light brown suit. Perfectly fitted. Very smooth. The images slowed and reversed one by one. "There that one! How much is that one?"

The image crackled for a moment. She could almost hear the circuits in the Salesbot's processors humming as it tried to access the information. "I apologize, Ms. Vargas. That suit is not available."

"What do you mean not available? You have it on the screen. It has to be part of your inventory."

The screen changed to a pale purple suit with silver highlights on the shoulders. "This is more contemporary yet understated look."

"No. Go back to the other one."

"That suit is not available..."

"I heard you. Go back to that look."

The screen shifted and Janet was again looking at herself wearing a light brown suit. It was perfectly tailored. Not a seam to be seen. The detailing was different. Shading here and there. But it all looked like it was exactly right. Not overly ornate. But she wouldn't call it plain. "When was this a current design?" Janet was thinking she might find a tailor who could copy the design and get a privately made suit. Though she wasn't sure she would be able to afford one like this.

The Salesbot was silent.

"I asked you when this was in your stores. I won't ask again. Don't make me call programming to run a diagnostic on you."

The threat of having its circuits wiped worked, "This is an historical rendering of what your original suit would look like if it had not been damaged in the fallout."

"Wait? This is..." Janet looked at the picture again. "This is skin? Actual skin? My skin?"

"Yes. This is what the projections say you would look like before the fallout."

Janet stared at the version on herself on the screen. Then she carefully peeled off one glove and looked at her hands. The radiation sores never healed. She was more wound than skin. Had never considered what her actual body would have looked like. She had been born after the war, after all. She was second generation after war baby. The land was diseased. The animals were gone. But the robots remained and the people were making a comeback. The scientists who created Nu-Skin had saved them all. The original suits had only been available in dull gray. It had taken years for them to design other colors. Then the style mavens had taken over.

Janet ran her fingers over the picture screen wondering what that suit felt like. What it would have been like to have lived in that skin. She put her glove back on.

As the tears fell down her champagne colored cheeks she said, "I guess I will take the lavender suit."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Splash of Red...

It was the red shorts.

She was driving to work and caught them out of the corner of her eye.

A jogger, do people still call themselves joggers? Probably not. Now everyone was a runner. In training for a marathon. Or a tri...tri what? Maybe it's try. Maybe she has been hearing it wrong. Try athletes. Not tri-athletes. Like maybe they are out jogging, excuse me, running because they are trying to be athletes.

Anyway...he was wearing red shorts.

As she drove past him she saw the flash of red out of the corner of her eye. His red shorts.

But she didn't realize that's what she was seeing. She just knew that there was a splash of bright red on the side of the road.

She didn't realize at the time it was red shorts and he was a runner and it was all normal. She just saw the splash of red.

That's what she told the officer anyway.

Not right away. I mean she didn't call the police because she saw a splash of red on the side of the road. That would have been crazy.

She called the police when she saw the story about the hit and run accident.

And even then she didn't call them right away.

She saw the splash of red out of the corner of her eye when she was walking in to the bar. The News was on the TV in the corner and they were talking about the accident. As she walked to the table by the window she saw the splash of red. And it made her think, I've seen that splash of red before.

That's when she found out it was a jog...runner. Wearing red shorts. The red shorts caught someone's attention on their drive in to work. They saw it as they were driving by and something didn't seem right so they had pulled over and gone back to look. They found him on the berm.

Berm is an odd word. She had thought for a long time people were saying burn. Which didn't make sense. They weren't burning the grass they were planting it in hills. Building a berm to block the view of the new construction. To keep people from seeing them. Unless, of course, they were wearing bright red shorts. Berm.

So now she had her drink and she was watching someone else who had seen that splash of red and had stopped and found him. It made her feel as though she probably should have stopped. But she hadn't. For a splash of red? Who does that? Well, except for the man on the News.

It had been a splash, a flash of red. How did he even know it wasn't right? How many other colors did he stop for each day? Did a splash of blue make him slow down? Or was it just red? Yellow? Orange? Pink? Pink would have probably led him to slamming on his brakes and putting the car in to reverse right away.

She laughed out loud.

She hadn't noticed she was laughing until people in the bar turned and stared at her. She didn't blame them. She was sitting by herself watching a News story on a hit and run and the hero who had stopped and she was laughing. Was it laughing? She tried to stop. It sounded a little hysterical. And it wasn't really funny.

She was probably feeling guilty that she had just driven on. Was he still alive when she had seen the splash of red? If she had realized something was wrong and stopped like the man on the News would it have been in time? Or was it too late by then. Had he already felt the berm?

She snorted and laughed again. Slamming her drink down and signalling for another.

It had been a spectacularly bad day. She had been late for work. She had spilled coffee on her keyboard. Again. IT was not impressed. She had called her boss by the wrong name. Which wasn't her fault. She had one of those names that are too close to other names. The number of Christines, Katherines, Cathys, Courtneys, Calistas, what ever. What happened to Rhonda and Lisa and Darlene? When did people start naming their kids the same name? Three hundred Britneys, Britnees, Britnays in her nephew's graduating class. It wasn't her fault. Not really.

Anyway once Crystal was through berating her for being late, ruining a keyboard and calling her Catherine she had told her that the company was bringing in an expert to run the Lakeridge account. Excuse me? She was an expert on the Lakeridge account. She had been running it for the past year hadn't she? Well, yes she had but apparently some things had slipped lately so they felt it would be good to get someone in who maybe had a firmer grasp on the fine details. She would, of course, be needed to help. And she would still be handling the other aspects of her job.

The filing. The making copies. The getting coffee. She was being pushed back down to being a glorified secretary. Again. She had been with the firm since she graduated college. She had worked up from intern to managing partner. Well not partner. Almost partner. She had been so close she could almost taste it. Then it had fallen apart.

Bermed.

She signaled for another drink. Was shocked when she looked down and saw she'd already had two empty glasses on the table. How did that happen?

She had been about to make partner. Had already started looking at new condos downtown. Ones she would be able to afford when that raise came through. Maybe a vacation to Europe. A tour. That's what they called them. A European tour. Partners got extra time off. More money. More vacation. She was right there. Then she wasn't.

A splash of red.

She laughed again. It was a splash of red that did her in wasn't it? Jerry got caught with a bright red lipstick stain on his boxers. His wife didn't wear bright red. Jerry decided to retire. His wife had given him the option. Retire or divorce. And he had chosen to retire. And her dreams of being partner retired with him. They couldn't fire her. They knew that. She could sue. So they kept her. For all the good it did her.

A splash of red.

She signaled to the bartender that she would be signing out now. When she got her tab she was amazed at how expensive a couple of drinks had gotten.

The News had switched over to an entertainment show. The latest it girl talking about her latest summer blockbuster. Wearing a cut down to her navel shirt and laughing at the host like he was the funniest man in the world. She did a slow blink watching them flirt. As the starlet leaned back you could see the edge of her bra. Just a little splash of red.

She got in her car and started the drive home. Slowly. There was no reason to rush. What did she have waiting there anyway? The trash and recycling that needed to go out tonight? Was that all? She didn't want to rush for that. She wouldn't put her containers out until late. She knew her neighbors were judging her. Like none of them had bottles to put out. She knew they did.

She saw the News van on the side of the road as she got close. They were broadcasting from the scene of the hit and run. Why did they do that? Go out where something had already happened? Did they expect to see the ghosts of newsworthy events past? Ridiculous. Shouldn't they be on a beach somewhere waiting for a hurricane?

She laughed again.

She drove past the News van. Past the berm. Past where the splash of red had been.

Well where it had been when the hero saw it.

She passed where it was when she noticed it a few feet past that point.

She could hear it again. The thud he made when he hit her car. She felt it. The way the car shook when he ran in to her. Because he had run in to her. She would have seen him if he had been on the edge of the road the whole time. He was wearing those damn red shorts after all. But she hadn't. Not until he was on her hood. Then flying up and over to the berm. Landing in a way that no one would ever land naturally.

Just a splash of red.

When she got home she called the police. She told them she had seen the News story about the hit and run. She told them her side of the story. That it hadn't been her fault. He had run in to her. She hadn't even noticed it except as a splash of red out of the corner of her eye. Not really. Then she told them where to find the car. She hung up the phone and had another drink. Then another. She took her trash and recycling out and sent Crystal an email message.

Dear Crystal,

Fuck you.

Then she filled the bath tub and sank in to the warm water clutching her glass so tightly it shattered in her hands. Across her wrists. Up her arms.

Just a splash of red....






Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For God and Country...

Yesterday Arkansas put up a ten commandments monument outside the state capitol building. Last night a man drove up to it and knocked it over. According to reports he also did this to a ten commandments monument in Oklahoma a few years ago. Apparently he suffers from some mental issues. But he also, it was reported, had posted before about being upset by these monuments. Not because he isn't religious but because he is.

And I feel that.

Driving home from the gym I pass a church. They had been setting up a tent earlier this week and I assumed it was for their VBS program. They have one every year and they set up the tent for it every year. Today I realized I was wrong. It's a fireworks display. So the fence of the church is lined with flags and the giant fireworks tent is set up and it's just brimming with patriotism. God Bless America...

And I could feel my face doing that thing my face does when I find something distasteful. And I wasn't sure what was bugging me for a little bit. I mean, I'm not a fan of fireworks. They are loud, they are annoying, I grew up in an area prone to fires so they always indicate fire danger for me, people start setting them off as soon as they go on sale and don't stop until they run out. There are people who think marking midnight of the 4th is a good idea who the fuck cares how many people are trying to sleep. It freaks out the dogs and it freaks out the vets. Go to a big display. We have a ton of them. You don't need to set off your own. And you especially don't need to set off the ones that are illegal here. But I know that's just me. Most people don't feel that way about them and I just deal with it every year. It annoys me but it doesn't usually make me mad.

So what was it?

And a voice in my head replied, it's a church. Ah...yeah, that's it.

And here is where I found myself nodding along a few hours later reading about the crazy guy knocking over the monument not because he wasn't religious but because he was.

In the church I was raised in you were not supposed to be political. God isn't a Republican. Not a Democrat either, by the way. He's God. He's above all of that nonsense. And you are supposed to be as well at least as far as mixing the two is concerned. Be in the world but not of it. Politicians and politics are small potatoes when you worship a king sort of thing. And even though I am not religious anymore there is the part of me that was raised that way that really hates when churches go political. Not because they can't but because they aren't supposed to.

And yes, I know that selling fireworks isn't really being political. It was more the row of flags surrounding the church that I found distasteful. American flags. Like God had chosen a favorite country. And that's part of what bugs me. That religious smugness that permeates so much of our politics. That invoking of a higher power who favors us. USA us. Like we are some sort of chosen people. Which, by the way, that's already taken and we already give enough money and clout to them that you would think we would understand that.

But it goes against what my religious teachings were and as much as I've rejected them growing up and leaving the church there is still a part of me that makes that face when I see a church wrap itself in the flag or a politician hide behind a bible. I find it distasteful. And usually dishonest. I mean look at Trump and his new found religion. Or Gingrich and his firmly held religious beliefs that he changes with each new wife. They are phonies and frauds and better hope that I'm right about the lack of a higher power because if the God they are pretending to believe in actually exists I have to think he won't look too kindly on hypocrites who use his name to advance their careers.

Which then reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother last year during our very contentious presidential elections. After debating the current candidates she suggested that I should run for office and that she would vote for me. (which I think was sweet of her to say, but my mother votes straight R tickets so we both know that wouldn't be likely) But anyway...I told her I could never get elected because I'm not religious. I would not end each speech with God Bless these United States.

And she replied...

You wouldn't be the first to say it that didn't believe it.

Yeah, but I wouldn't be able to keep my face from doing that my face thing...



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Half-Way...

So we're almost at the half way point for the year. A few days shy of the six month mark. I thought it was a good time to check in on my goals and see how I'm doing.

With this blog a day in June push I'm back on track here. In fact this puts me ahead of the game a touch. I should be at 58 by the end of June and I'm sitting at 68 as of yesterday so I'm a touch in the black there. Which is good because I still have sabbatical coming up and that's two months of a totally different schedule staring at me. I want to be ahead of the game by a chunk before that happens, this helps put me there and hopefully I'll keep it there until September.

My reading goal was lighter this year and that's good. I'm three books ahead of the curve there but if I had set my normal higher number I would be quite a bit behind. So I was right in that I had so many other things I wanted to do that my book count would suffer. But for now I'm still ahead of the game. I would guess I will be even further ahead after our Alaskan cruise. I think there will be a lot of downtime on the ship where pretty much what I will do is read. I have no idea, I have no clue what to expect, but I think that's what will happen?

Health. I was aiming for 5 days a week at the gym plus more active outside of it. I'm pretty good about hitting the gym. Most weeks it's the 5 days. I skipped a day last week to get some things taken care of around the house before the day got too hot and I skipped today due to a blister and some things we'll talk about at the end of this list. Cooking and eating. I've drastically lowered the amount of sugar we are taking in. During the week I don't eat anything with added sugars if I can help it. I eat things that have natural sugars, fruits, cheese, milk, but no "sweets." On the weekend I do eat dessert and maple syrup. It's gotten to the point that I cannot tolerate a lot of sugar. It makes me a little ill. So that's good. Still not great, but it's good.

Gratitude and Picture of the Day. I've been consistent with both of those. The daily gratitude has been challenging some days. Not that I don't have things to be grateful for, I always have a lot of things I'm grateful for, but I find myself judging what I post. Does this sound stupid? I mean I am grateful for catching the time of day at 12:34 but how lame is that? Does this sound like a humble brag? I am really grateful we are going to Alaska. But I know a lot of people who can't take trips like that. Is it shitty to talk about it? So that's the challenging part. But I try to remind myself that it's MY daily gratitude and it's what I am grateful for. I shouldn't be less grateful for the things I have because others don't, I should be more grateful for them. And if you don't know that I love seeing sequential numbers then why the hell are you my friend? Picture of the Day I might drop at the end of June. We'll come back to that as well.

The year long list. I've checked off a few things. I still have a few to go. I've added more as well. Which is what it is for. So that's still chugging along.

Goof off time. This one has been hit and miss. I have time where I am goofing off but it's not supportive. Supportive? Is that word I want? I don't want to use productive because that is the opposite of what I am supposed to be doing there, but supportive seems right. It's not enhancing my life. There are some things I've done that have. I'm watching a TV show C recommended and I enjoy that. But I want to bust out my crayons more. And figure out a nice way to do a puzzle without messing up the kitchen table. Things that bring me joy. THERE YOU GO! Joyful! I find that sometimes when I'm goofing off it's not joyful. It's just...meh. So more good TV or movies. More coloring. More puzzles. Less online time suck things.

And then to track it all I got a calendar and some flashy colored stars to motivate me. I do love getting a star. And that worked...for a bit.

So here we are at the parts that I need to evaluate. Health is always the big one right? Though I've been pretty darn good about the gym I have not been as successful at the additional fitness things. Part of that has been weather related. We had a brutal winter so getting outside and doing things just wasn't appealing. Hopefully now that summer is here I will be better about it. Get us a few hikes in on the weekends and such. Last month I did a squat challenge with Brent, Susan and Liz and that was fun. It was extra physical activity and a group project in a way. Checking in daily kept me motivated. So maybe I will look for other things like that. Part of my problem is all of the other things on my list are sitting things. I can't read, write, color, while being active. I have conflicting goals here. So time management needs to step in.

Health is an issue with diet as well. I know it's all about being fit but I still really want to lose about 10 pounds. Now this is good news because on January 1 I wanted to lose 20. My problem is I've tapped out where I am. It goes up and down in a new range, but I'm not really lowering any further than I first hit back in March. It's just settling in in this area. So the cutting back on sugar was REALLY helpful, but it wasn't all of it. I know I should switch the way we eat further. Mediterranean is the diet style that comes up over and over as best for heart health and brain health. I just have been super resistant to actually doing it. I went to the bookstore today to pick up a plan book. I was going to just put us on it for a month and see how it went. BOOM. Then I looked through the recipes and remembered why I haven't done it yet. It just doesn't appeal to me. I need to get past the block and try it out, I think, but I'm so bad at sticking with things that feel forced on me.

I mean, I'm already frustrated with the sugar thing and I've lost 10 pounds and I think I'm sleeping better and it's got to be healthier for my insides. But I haven't lost more. I'm not making HUGE strides and damn I love sugar. So I'm sort of pouty right now. I'm trying to add in a bit more fruit to see if that gets me past this slump. And like I said about the Mediterranean diet part, I am lousy at sticking with things. I like cake. I like cookies. I want to be able to eat them whenever I want without getting sick to my stomach or a head ache. Even though everything I have read says they are SO bad for you. But dang it they taste so good...Like I said, I'm just pouty right now. I want my workouts and my eating to be showing better results, not slow results. Not I'm 48 so really this is very good (according to my doctor) results. But I'm hopeful it will pass.

I need to work out my writing. I feel like I've not been as focused there as I should be. I think maybe I need to block out a few hours every day where I just sit down and write. Blog or other work. But daily writing. Sort of what I have been doing this month, but not just focused on the blog. I don't have to have anything at the end of the day to show anyone except myself sort of thing. So I think I might do that.

I mentioned dropping Picture of the Day again. This one is always tricky for me. I do it because I enjoy it. Then I drop it because it's not bringing me the joy it did. Then I go back to it because I miss it. Maybe it's just that I need a different prompting list? Maybe I will find someone else's list instead of Fat Mum Slim for July and test that out. I've done her lists often enough that I recognize the repeated prompts and it's difficult not to repeat myself with the pictures.

And then there is the star chart thing. I need some sort of plan. Some sort of scheduler. But the stars aren't cutting it anymore. I've done 6 months of shiny stars and now they've lost their sparkle. Maybe I need to set goals for the number of stars of each color I am aiming for instead of just marking them? Though what am I working for at that point? What is the master YAY you did it? Hmm...not sure. But the stars have lost their motivating abilities so I think they will go away in July.

Maybe.

And this is where the other issues come in. I feel like I've set these yearly goals and designs and I'm only halfway through them. I feel a need to finish but I also feel like some of them aren't working for me right now. I have three more days of June to think on it and make any final changes before July 1 for the next 6 months. I will have to see what I do.

So there you go. Half point check in.