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roadrage72_7Dear Journal,

I almost leaned on the horn today, and you know how rare that is for me, but this guy in front of me was going 30 mph in a 45 zone. Seriously. I would have gone around him but inexplicably there were these double yellow parallel lines that went on what seemed like forever. Then he began going even slower. Argh. I had places to go and things to do. I did not have time for a lazy Sunday driver traveling down a relatively busy road on a Thursday afternoon.

When he finally turned (and pretty slowly, too) I put the pedal to the medal, happy to finally have my freedom back. It made me think, though, was I always like this? Did it take something relatively small like that to get me angry? Was it just because I was running behind schedule or is that just my m.o. now? I was saying choice things under my breath the entire time we were creeping along at a glacial pace, and I felt embarrassed for them after they were out, but that doesn’t excuse them slipping out in the first place.

That’s happened more lately for whatever reason. Perhaps it’s all the construction EVERYWHERE this time of year, but it honestly seems like everyone is conspiring against me on the roads. Even the traffic lights are in on it. I was on my way somewhere really important (a different place), and I was running behind schedule (yes, again) when I got stuck at a light that was solid yellow. It wasn’t changing at all, and people were stopped on all four blocks leading to the intersection, so it must have been stuck on yellow for everyone. I mean, really?

Maybe I’m just getting old and crochety. At least that’s what my brain tells me after the fact. But I did restrain myself enough in each instance not to get so frustrated that I laid on the horn, or passed the slowpokes when that imposing double yellow line was present. Even when I’ve been behind farm equipment I try to breathe in and out deeply to get out all the pissed off feelings. After all, it’s not like they’re doing it on purpose to drive me insane. They’re not, right?

So hopefully my mutterings don’t turn into real road rage. I always think about those guys who get so fired up over what happens on the road that they flip each other off, or pull off the side of the road to get physical about it, and I know I could never be one of them. I can’t even be a George Costanza and follow a guy who I feel has flipped me off. I like to think I’m more civilized than that, but maybe I should get rid of the mutterings anyway. They’re not going to get me anywhere any faster than keeping my mouth shut so what’s the point anyway?

Oh, and my horn. I think I’ll save that for when the Ford Fusion in front of me decides not to go once the light has turned green because the lady in the driver’s seat is fiddling with her phone. Grrrr.

Sam

This Echo

River tracers fording a river valley near Taroko Gorge.There is joy
In this echo
And the silence
That comes after
So succinct
Like gathering rain
Searching for land
Warm and distant

There is laughter
In the solitude
That descends swift
And as delicate
As a puff of air
Moving sideways
To tickle your neck
Such a fragile touch

There is music
On the edges
Of this renaissance
Simply elegant
In its beauty
A trick of the ear
Haunting like a fire
That refuses to die

And it echoes
Off the stone face
Of our canyon
Waiting for a reply.

Sam

christmas-present-1080p“You haven’t given me a gift; you’ve given me an obligation.” ~Sheldon Cooper

On December 21st of last year I got a package in the mail from a woman I haven’t spoken to in probably five years. For the first couple of years after we lost contact I sent her a gift for the holiday. I got nothing in return, not even an email with a “Thank You,” so I decided she had moved on. So I moved on. And then out of the blue, a few years later, she sends me a gift. My first thought was, “Damn, now I don’t have time to send her a gift in return.”

Obligations: we have many in this life. We have to pay our bills, to feed ourselves and our children, and to work so that we can afford those first two items. There are so many other obligations inherent in being an adult, but I’ll stop there. Except now I’ve been given one more, out of the blue. Sheldon was right. She hadn’t given me a gift. She had given me an obligation, and it came from completely out of the blue.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I loved her gift. It was very thoughtful, and it reminded me of why we had become friends in the first place. If she had sent it at some random time of year, and if it was just something she liked to do, I would have probably just smiled at it and moved on after sending her a “Thank You” card. But getting it at Christmas-time, and after so long a hiatus, it sat like a lead weight on my soul, begging me to reciprocate even though I didn’t have time left to do so. It gnawed at my brain, though, until I went out and purchased a suitable return gift, tossed in a “belated” card, and sent it off posthaste.

Then I finally exhaled. Continue Reading »

A Firm Hand

firmhand“That’s not even remotely what I meant,” Christian said before turning away. The others were left to wonder what he did mean, even though it had seemed pretty clear to him at the time. None of them were brave enough, though, to open their mouths and ask him that one simple question, so one by one they exited the room. After they were gone Christian finally allowed himself to breathe — deeply in, and shallow out. It was already a tough Monday.

When he inherited his father’s massive real estate business, he hadn’t known he was also getting three of the crankiest vice presidents in the bargain. It was hard to come into work each day knowing they talked behind his back as constantly as the sun shined down from above, but he couldn’t let them win. If there was one thing his father taught him, it was never let others determine your mood. Control every situation, even when you’re not really in control of the situation.

He sat down behind his mahogany desk and was immediately swallowed up by the expectations that sitting there entailed. It was behind this desk that many of the firm’s most lucrative deals were made, what seemed like a dog’s age before he was even born. The desk had welcomed several famously rich individuals throughout its many years, none more memorable than Nelson Rockefeller himself shortly before Watergate. It was a history that Christian had studied intensively as he prepared to take over the reins of the Hand Group.

They put words in his mouth, too, he had finally surmised nearly two months after his father’s untimely death from emphysema in the fall. As winter rolled in for good, Christian realized he had to make a stand or he would be seen as ineffectual, something that would have made his father roll over in his grave. If there was anything Jonathan Hand craved, it was the symbols of power that he wielded with an iron fist until the very day he died. But Christian didn’t have the innate ability to crush others like bugs in order to get what he wanted.

“Your two o’clock appointment is in the lobby,” his assistant, Brian, buzzed him over the intercom. Continue Reading »

Weather or Not

edd66c6af8ee485510dacdd6e01ee5d9I was getting proactive. I swear I was. The clothes had been washed, and instead of tossing them into the dryer I hiked all the way outside to put them on the line. You see, we have a clothesline out in the backyard. It consists of two sturdy posts with a snaking line of rope that stretches tautly between them, creating five (or six) parallel lines. That way I can hang multiple loads out at the same time, an ingenious idea that I did not come up with.

So I got the first load out, and the weather was fully cooperating, with each article of clothing blowing in the light breeze. The better to dry them by, my dear. The second load followed the first about 45 minutes later as the wind had picked up a wee bit in the interim. There were probably no less than 30 clothes hanging on the line by that point, and a third, smaller load came out of the washing machine an hour later.

The first load was mostly dry, but needed about 20 more minutes to assure they were truly dry, so I left them out. I gazed up at the sky after hanging the third load up, and it looked exceedingly clear, even though the wind had begun to whip itself into a frenzy in the late afternoon atmosphere. So, I headed back in.

Then the deluge began. No sooner had I sat down on the couch to watch some tennis when the skies opened up and water began streaming down as if from a faucet turned all the way to the left. I guess God was trying to get ready for a bath, but it took me a moment to register what was really going on. When I finally did I swore, jumped up from the couch, and tore outside. I probably would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money at that moment, skidding out the door into the downpour to rescue the clothes.

storm-clouds-2-134981298598261vguBy that time, of course, they were getting soaked, and so was I. A second after I walked out the door my glasses were completely useless, which meant my eyes were too. I was basically a blind man weaving madly around the clothesline grabbing clothes left and right, tossing them into the basket, and hustling them inside. I went out there six times in order to get all the clothes. By the time I came in after that sixth trip water was streaming off of my nose, coming off of my shoes, and my own clothing was soaking me to the skin.

And the whole time my eight-year old daughter was laughing at me. I don’t just mean small chuckles either. These were full belly laughs that shook her little body until I could have sworn she was having a seizure. I did not find it humorous. I ended up having to change all of my clothes, drying my hair, drying my hair again, and throwing the clothes that had been on the line in the dryer after all. To add insult to injury, Alexa never let me live it down, claiming she knew it was going to rain (but she somehow never shared this nugget of information with me).

It had finally started to die down as a source of mirth when, a couple of months later, I did it again. Yes, you heard right. I somehow managed to miss another sign of an impending storm, and ended up having to run out to rescue the clothes yet again. And if anything, I think it was raining even harder the second time. Maybe I’m just not meant to save energy by using the clothesline.

Sam

the-silkwormWouldn’t you know it? Two days after I got Top Secret Twenty-One, the other book I’ve been dying to read (Galbraith’s The Silkworm) arrived at the library for me. That of course should have created a dilemma for me, but amazingly enough it didn’t because both are so interesting I’ve been alternating back and forth for the past four days. I’m more than halfway through both of them too, and don’t worry. I’m keeping them straight.

My problem is that those are not the only two books I have Checked Out right now. Here are the others that are staring me in the face, begging me to read them as well…

  • Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. I’m just hoping that the magic of the series will take this leap to novel form better than it did to the movie. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie. I just expect more from my books, and this new series at least has a guiding hand in Rob Thomas, who helped to write and produce the TV series. Plus, look at the title!
  • Four: A Divergent Collection, by Veronica Roth. I have mixed feelings about this one. Since I wasn’t too keen on her ending of the Divergent series, and one huge part of my displeasure came from her perspective that came from Four narrating alternate chapters, did I really want to read a whole book from his perspective? I’m still thinking about it, but I do have the book here, and I might give it a shot at some point.
  • The Hard Way, by Lee Child. This is yet another Jack Reacher book, and I think it’s number 9 in the series. The formula is familiar enough by now to make him seem like a friend of mine whom I’ve known for a while, similar to a heroine who is also a good friend of mine — Stephanie Plum. You know, I think those two would be good together.
  • City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare. As much as I love this book I got stuck because the other two books came in for me and they’re physical, not in digital form, meaning they also have firm due dates. So I didn’t want to put it down for a while, but that’s just what I’m doing while I get through these other two. Please forgive me, Ms. Clare.

Speaking of those two books, they couldn’t be more different. Stephanie Plum is as clueless but lucky as ever, while Cormoran Strike (the detective protagonist in The Silkworm) is methodical and competitive. Plum does the same series of things over and over to try and catch whoever has skipped bail this time, while Strike recognizes the efficacy of different methods to suit different people he’s trying to track and expose. Plum is often funny, while Strike is serious, but both are interesting in their own way, enough to make them intriguing reads, especially at the same time.

I’m getting back to City of Heavenly Fire next, while probably reading the next Reacher book at the same time. Maybe I’ll fit the Veronica Mars book in there as the bedtime book. We’ll see which one interests me the most once I start reading, but for now I’m going to enjoy these two novels that suit my fancy.

Sam

Checked Out Archive

Understanding Women

talking with your woman“Women are like tricks by sleight of hand
Which, to admire, we should not understand.” ~William Congreve

I’ll never understand women, and I guess it’s supposed to be that way, what with God giving them a complexity that most men lack. Sure, women say men are tough to “get,” but when was the last time a man gave you more than surface? From birth men are taught to ignore their feelings and power through life. The few who don’t take this approach are seen as odd and get judged by others, by both other men and women, as weak. Those who skew towards the artistic or the representative are seen as more female than male.

Which is the really strange thing because most women fit along a wide spectrum when it comes to how they live their life, and as to the comforts they enjoy. Women aren’t seen as odd when they stray towards the artistic, or when they focus on the depth in life instead of merely dipping their feet in the shallow end. They can be emotional without being harshly judged by other women, and yet when they feel the need to be physically strong it is seen as a positive and they are congratulated for it. Being “feminine” has never been more of an oxymoron.

Don’t get me wrong, either. Women are individuals. I’m not lumping them all together by any means, but not a single woman I’ve ever met was not incredibly complex, and not a single woman I’ve everĀ  met do I completely understand. Maybe when you completely understand a woman she disappears like Rumpelstiltskin when you guess his name. They do have this magical quality about them, I like to think.

I’ve lived with women for the vast majority of my life. I’ve dealt with their mood swings, with their protective nature, with their ambition, with their constant love, and with their need to be understood. But no matter how long I’ve lived amongst them, I’ll never be one. And maybe that’s the larger issue. In order to truly understand a woman, her motivations, and her emotions, you have to BE A WOMAN.

And even then it’s no gimme.

Sam

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