Sleeping on the Trolley

SEPTA_Route_34_trolley_9107I fell asleep on the trolley once and went all the way down to the place where it turns around. I had to be awakened by the driver when we reached the end of the line, and he seemed none too pleased while he was shaking my arm and screaming in my ear. You’d think he would have been at least somewhat sympathetic, but he was not, and I had to get out right there, twenty blocks away from home. On the plus side, I did get some good exercise from the incident. And it taught me never to fall asleep on public transportation ever again. I almost kept that promise to myself, too. Almost.

A few months later I fell asleep on the subway and once again traveled to the end of the line, except this time no driver arrived to jolt me awake with a hardened face and a bad attitude. Instead the train just kept on going around and back up the line to the other end. I finally woke up halfway back down the other direction and completely disoriented about where I really was. And of course the doors had just closed so I had to go a stop further before getting off and getting my bearings.

That’s when I realized I might have a problem, and I tried to figure out what it was. At the time I had begun taking afternoon naps anyway, and I would wake up from them still feeling exhausted. What was wrong with me? My doctor said perhaps it was all the late nights I had been having. You see, at the time I was suffering through an intense insomnia that I hid from everyone. Instead of just talking about it, I instead would sit up in my room all night with my headphones on, watching horrible nighttime television, or listening to the stereo, or reading while watching horrible nighttime television and listening to the stereo.

Then I found a group that was up for staying up all night, every night, so I joined them and I got into some destructive habits that did nothing to lessen my insomnia. I became the life of the party, and I can’t even recall of of the stuff I put into my body back then, but I would be out all hours, most times even crashing at someone or other’s house and driving my mother insane. In fact, she took to putting the chain on the door to frustrate me on those early mornings I would actually show up at home. I became quite adept at using any number of implements to get the chain off so I could crash.

And I would have to be up by 8 so I could get to class, so you can see where the massive tiredness came from, but I had no way to combat my insane insomnia. No matter what I tried nothing would work, and my doctor merely prescribed me drugs that also didn’t work. I slept every single chance I got because, amazingly enough, I could sleep on a dime during the days while the nights pressed in on me, making me paranoid. Somehow eventually I got over it, though. I stopped sleeping on the trolley, and on the subway, but how did I finally do it?

I met a girl. It was as simple as that. It didn’t matter what drugs the doctor prescribed, or how bad I had begun to feel about myself, absolutely nothing stopped the insomnia like meeting a girl and having someone to dream about at night. So I slept so that I could dream, and everything changed. From then on I never once slept again on the trolley, although I did kind of miss the adventure after a while.



Checked Out: Week 19

thumb.phpI just realized not just that I read a lot of series books, but that there are also a plethora of series books out there, more so than it seems like there were back in the day. We’ve come a long way from Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. I even recall reading the massive horde of Star Trek books that were out there once upon a time. It was even interesting to read the ones by the same author, or to compare the different authors’ styles of that series.

So, last week I was reading the second book in the Divergent series, and this week it’s on to the third (and final) book in the Delirium series. Requiem has been out for a little while now, but I was caught up reading a bunch of other stuff. In fact, it’s been so long since I read Pandemonium that I had to go and read a synopsis of that book to re-familiarize myself with the fringe characters and the plot at the end of that book. Ah, the glory of series reading!

Here’s what I have Checked Out this week:

  1. Requiem, by Lauren Oliver. After I got caught up on the series again I realized once again why I liked it in the first place. Society is breaking down, which makes sense since the society is based on this “cure” that will stop people from falling in love, because they say that love is a delirium that makes people do stupid things. Well, duh! I’m really interested to see how this one winds up.
  2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. This one is strange, but it still has my attention enough that I renewed it from the library. Ooh, that would make a good entry. Renewed. Anyway, this store is a magic portal to another dimension, or something like that. Okay, so I’ll admit I’m slightly confused. I may just start this one over from the beginning again.
  3. The Sound of Things Falling, by Juan Gabriel Vasquez. This book club selection reads like just what it is, a book club selection. It is literary without being too stuffy, so I’m enjoying it. I just hope others in the group appreciate it as much as I have been so far.
  4. Running Blind, by Lee Child. This is the fourth book in the Jack Reacher series (see, another series book!) and I happen to be reading them in order, but I just got this one and I’m excited to get started on it. I think I may finish Requiem first, though, and get that series finished.
  5. Psychos: A White Girl Problems Book, by Babe Walker. I might be about to check this one back in. It’s the second book in a series, but I haven’t read the first one yet, and I thought it wouldn’t be a problem, but this is not a standalone book. I’m getting quite a bit confused as I read along, so I might just return it until I’ve read the first one. I’m going to read a few more chapters and then make the decision.

There was this biography of Johnny Carson that I picked up last week from the local library that I really want to read, but it’s a “new” book and I just don’t have the time to read it right now so I sent it back. I put it in my phone’s list app, however, where it joined 10 other books that I need to get back to when I find the time to read them. Also on the list of books I need to get to pronto is the final one in another series, The One, by Kiera Cass. I was enchanted by the other two, so I look forward to when it finally comes in through the library.

Happy reading to you!


Checked Out Archive

Games & Rhetoric

Student at teachers deskI always did well in school because I knew how to play the games, and because I bought into the rhetoric. I mean, teachers are still people, right? And they want the same type of accolades everyone else does. So, it was easy to be that good kid. You know the one, the one who the other students call the teacher’s pet, the one who sits near the front of the class and likes to answer questions.

Well, I’ll tell you a secret. I didn’t like to answer questions, but when the teacher knew she could use me to “bail her out” when no one else would admit to knowing an answer, that can certainly come back into her mind come time to grade a test, or an essay, or a research project.

Now, that’s not to say I’m not book smart, because I am, but you know as well as I do that it’s not always the smartest people who get ahead. It’s most times the people who can see advantageous situations and put themselves smack dab in the middle of them. In school, that was me. Straight A’s throughout elementary and middle school, and mostly A’s (when I felt like it) in high school. I had a pleasant attitude. More teachers were nice to me than students, and the work itself was easy.

Maybe in the end that was the biggest problem, though. If I had ever had to actually work hard for grades maybe I would have appreciated the exercise of education more after the fact. As it was, I was able to play the games, to get the grades, and to be pleased with myself, but only because I bought into the rhetoric that schools sell, the rhetoric that says school is an important building block for life.

Yet, when looking at it objectively, there are so many people who didn’t even graduate from high school who are doing fantastic things in life, who are healthy, happy, and successful by most yardsticks’ lengths. And don’t even get me started on the number of people who have gone on to higher education only to find out that the job market is saturated with people who already have the same degree they are so proud of obtaining. Continue reading “Games & Rhetoric”

All Those Dates

1618444_10203570210000818_861906220_nI’m the overtly sentimental type, and my wife… isn’t. I’m the person who remembers every single “first,” like the first time we had dinner together, our first trip as a couple, the first kiss we shared, and even our very first “I love you”‘s. She would be lucky to tell you the date of the first time we met, or even the day she first told me she was falling in love with me. Yet somehow she understands more about the day-to-day maintenance of our relationship than I ever will. And that fascinates me so much more than my own memory of rote facts.

We first met over the internet, and, without looking, I can tell you the exact date she first emailed me. It was October 31, 2001, yet the email had absolutely nothing to do with Halloween. On December 27, 2001 she told me on the phone that she was going to legitimately give “us” a chance, and I was nothing short of ecstatic. I first met her in person on March 12, 2002 at the Albany airport, where I was sweating so profusely I had to stop off at the bathroom before meeting her. We moved in together on July 11, 2002, and by then I knew it was forever, even if she didn’t… then.

I think her birthday is more special to me than it ever has been to her. Maybe it’s because I’m that sentimental sort, and I can find something to hang on to and get emotional about with just about anything. And there are so many other dates I can list off right now that are special to me because of their connection — no matter how random — to her and to us. It’s funny, but I bring them up as they come up and she just laughs, knowing how I am, and what I find important. She humors me, but we both know what’s really important aren’t all those dates, but the feelings and memories that brought us to those points in our relationship, the ones that keep us going, that sustain us throughout our hardships, so that we overcome.

So, I want to revise my earlier statement. My wife is sentimental, in her own way, and its subtlety is so refreshing even to me, the man who likes all the bells and whistles, all the accoutrements of the big moment, of the special dates. Speaking of special dates, this is one of those. This is actually the biggest of those, because on today’s date, back in 2003, we were married in a civil service at Utica’s City Hall, a joining that legally affirmed the bond we already had emotionally, mentally, and physically. It rained on that day, which is supposed to be a negative, but I just raised my face to it and rejoiced.

I had lunch with my wife today, and every single time we take time out from our busy schedules to include each other, no matter how small the gesture seems, means the world to me. Every single time, no matter what the date says, no matter what else is going on in these hectic lives of ours. Because, before all those dates, between all those dates, and after all those dates, we are still us, two people who came together in the strangest of ways, but who connect in the deepest of ways. That’s what I truly value, and that’s what my amazing wife shows me every day of our life together.


Should We Talk About the Weather?

th“Do you think it’s going to rain today?”
“Yeah, it definitely looks like rain.”

That’s a conversation I’ve had about a million times, and usually it’s with people who are associates. Not friends. You know why? Because with my friends we talk about real subjects, like love, war, and who we think is going to win American Idol this year. The weather is relatively boring unless something like a flood, a tornado, or an earthquake hits. Then we debate over who should have shown up with relief efforts and when. But only then.

Usually talk about the weather is just space filler, what you say when you don’t know what to say. Like on a first date, or on a break at work, or when stuck in an elevator with men wearing Brooks Brothers suits. It is the absolute last resort, and the problem is that everybody knows it. So when you adroitly bring up an impending rain storm be aware of the rolling eyes or what I call the “dead stare.” That’s when they’re nodding along but looking through you while you talk. It’s usually followed by “Sure,” no matter what it is you just said.

Do you blame them for spacing out? Talking about the weather is usually as dull as dishwater. But it accomplishes its purpose most of the time, to fill in the space. Continue reading “Should We Talk About the Weather?”


“See, I know that you may be just a little bit jealous of me. ‘Cause you’re blind if you can’t see that his love is all in me.” ~The Boy is Mine (Monica & Brandy)

cheaterAm I the only one who wonders about people who cheat and are then found out? I mean, I hear about it all the time through social media, from the celebrities down to some of my Facebook friends who seem hell bent on letting everyone know their personal business. And most times I read or hear about it there’s this theme of anger towards the “other” person, with a protective bent towards the one who actually did the cheating.

As you can see, even in songs, it seems to work out that way. Yes, you know he cheated, but you still want him, and you’ll fight the other girl in order to make sure he stays in your bed. But why? What is it about these guys that makes you want them so much, so badly that you’ll either overlook what he did, or think that even if he does come back to you that he’ll stop straying? What happens to self-respect in the whole scenario?

It’s called love, or possession, whichever one floats your boat. If it’s love then it’s decidedly one-way, and if it’s possession it might go from one to the other and back again because possession is addictive. It’s like a drug, and once it gets under your skin it’s so difficult to scratch and claw it back out. And it hurts like hell, too, because possession hardly ever exists without a fight in the first place. We fight for what we think we deserve, but once we get it we take it for granted. It happens all too often.

And that’s why people cheat, too, isn’t it? Continue reading “Possession”

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