Flash Fiction: Synthesis

The word: nimble
The word count: 500 words

The artificial lung hung on the wall as it had for 265 days, or as long as Allison had been at her job, give or take a day. It wasn’t there to commemorate her promotion, however. It was there for its own reason that the brass hadn’t deemed mandatory for their subordinates to know. Not that it stopped the kind of frenetic gossip that took place around the water cooler from occurring. In fact, since Product Corp had been founded, there were no fewer than eight such water cooler environments per floor to encourage just that kind of frenetic gossip.

Allison didn’t really give the artificial lung the time of day. She was far too busy making life or death decisions, figuring out which swatch matched the wall color in the Fergusons’ summer home down at the Cape, for instance. Continue reading “Flash Fiction: Synthesis”

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30 Promises: Day 9

Day 9: I promise to complain less.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to find excuses to complain about things instead of just chilling out. Case in point — yesterday’s post. Yes, I know I should expect a sense of order from those delivering or offering services to my house, but why take up my own valuable time complaining about it? Especially when I know nothing will get done on it unless they decide to change the system.

That’s how it is with most things I complain about, in that complaining isn’t constructive. Talking things out and figuring out quality solutions to problems that I can actually change, well, that’s constructive. My dad always said that “God sorts out those kinds of things,” as if there’s this divine being who wants me to sit back passively and wait for things to happen around me. That’s how I always interpreted it. But maybe he meant that there’s no use fighting against things that aren’t ours to fight. Continue reading “30 Promises: Day 9”

Between 8 AM and Noon

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How come it seems like anytime a company says they’ll be there between 8 a.m. and noon they always show up when you least expect them? I was waiting on a package today, and I was here for all but 15 minutes of the “approximate time,” and of course they came during that 15 minutes. Luckily for me, I set it as a non-signature drop-off, but what if I hadn’t?

Why do all these companies have such large windows of time for these kinds of drop-offs or stop-bys? It’s like the cable company saying they have a 4 or 6-hour window that their representative “should be by,” when we all know that if they do show up they will probably be at one end of another of that window (and usually at the tail end, if not over the time allotted).

I guess I just don’t get it. I mean, in this world of technology, advanced metrics, and all that jazz, how come we can’t be very specific with our times? If your GPS says it is 35 minutes to the town I’m in, and you know you’re going there that day, why not give me, let’s say, an hour or a 2 hour window instead of the 4 hour behemoth? That seems far too old school in this new school age. Or maybe I’m just ahead of my time. But I don’t think so.

And, aside from that, the company knows around the time they’ll be in your neighborhood. They know if they’ll be hitting your town at the beginning, the middle, or the end of their route. So even if they don’t give you a very exact time, at least give you the ballpark figure. “We’ll be there in the morning. We start our route at 8, and you are 3rd on our list.” How hard is that? You can even program in your route and the computer will do the rest.

It’s just so difficult for me to believe that these companies aren’t just resting on their supposed laurels, that they aren’t still giving these wide-open swaths of time just to toy with us, the consumer. Whether it’s the cable guy, the UPS guy, or whoever else is coming to offer a service, it all seems a bit shady to me.

But maybe that’s just me.

Sam

15 is Crystal

wedding-like-pictures-002.jpgHas it really been 15 years already? I don’t believe it. Well, the mirror believes it for me though. When I look back at pictures from our honeymoon I see this youngster, svelte (some would have said painfully skinny), ready to take on the world. It’s been 15 years, and a lot of change later, and I still feel like that youngster ready to take on the world. Well, I feel like that inside. The aches and pains of my body on a daily basis beg to differ with me that the feeling is overall.

But my bride? She’s how she’s always been. I remember when we met, some sixteen and a half years ago, online, getting that first picture she sent my way, and wanting to see more. Then when we met in person, knowing that that wry smile was for me, because she saw something in me. She’s always seen something in me, often things I haven’t seen myself. She still sees something in me. She’s really everything I could have ever wanted or needed in another person.

And 15 years ago… we knit our lives together, not as one, but as two individuals who knew the bond was strong enough to last. Thank god we were right. At least here we are, standing shoulder to hip (that’s not a short joke, I promise) all these years later. I think of all the trials and tribulations we’ve had over the course of these 15 years, but I also think of how we overcame each and every one. Not that they were easy — far from it — but that we were able to assault them and put them in our rear view mirrors after a fashion. That’s startling to me.

But time hasn’t mellowed us. It’s sharpened and blurred our edges at the same time…

My previous record for longest relationship before I met Heidi was three and a half years. I think we got that beat. I know before I met her I couldn’t even imagine what 15 years would look like. Heck, I couldn’t imagine what five would look like, to be honest. But to be equally as honest, sometimes these 15 years don’t feel like they’ve taken all that long to pass. The only times I really fathom how long it’s been is when I look at our children — 12 and 9 respectively — and I am humbled.

Time has no challengers.

But time hasn’t mellowed us. It’s sharpened and blurred our edges at the same time, making us more ourselves, helping us retain our individual selves while becoming more of a cohesive couple. Because that’s where it all began after all. First it was us, individually. Then it was us together. Then it was us, together, being parents. And 15 years passed, but it still is what it was. We are still individuals struggling together through this thing called life. We are still a couple that works hard on making sure we keep the connection strong.

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So when it was time to figure out what I wanted to get my wife of 15 years it should have been easy, right? Well, not quite. You see, 15 years means 15 anniversaries, and 15 birthdays, and numerous Mother’s Days — you see where I’m going. I’ve been really original some years, and really cliche during others, but I’ve always had some ideas. This year, though, as our anniversary approached, I had one big gift and no more thoughts in my head. Everything else I could think of I’ve already done for her, and I’ve never been one to recycle.

What do I do when I am out of ideas? Luckily for me, wedding anniversaries come with a guide. Each year has a special connection. Like year 1 was paper. That was pretty cheap, I must say. But year 15, when I looked it up, proved to be crystal. Yikes. And it doesn’t go back from here. But when I thought about it, really thought about it, crystal makes absolute sense when it comes to Heidi. She is as tough as they come, but she often also wears her heart on her sleeve. Crystal is tougher than it seems, but it’s see through, which makes it look fragile.

My wife is the single strongest person I know, and after all this time I’m still working hard to show her just how much I appreciate her every single day, not just on our anniversary. Yet, here it is, the special day, and I’m ready for it. Because 15 is crystal, and I will not disappoint. Now, if I could just get up from this chair.

Sam

30 Promises: Day 3

Day 3: I promise to be fair to those who are not fair to me.

It’s easy to be fair to those who treat me well. In fact, I don’t even think about it when that’s the case. But how about those who don’t treat me so fairly? What about those who are always looking to do me some injustice? It’s hard to look at them objectively, even for me, because if they don’t give me that respect then why should I give it to them?

I’m generally a fair person, or I like to think of myself that way, so it hurts me when others aren’t fair to me. But I can’t let those hurt feelings turn me into a person just like them because it’s a slippery slope. It’s easy to go from someone who gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, who treasures difference, to someone who lets negativity change his worldview.

“Do unto others…” That’s the golden rule, right? Well, I would like to amend it to say “Do unto others, even when they don’t do unto you.” Perhaps it’s the difficulty of this kind of venture that appeals to me in the first place. It’s like doing what’s right even when no one’s watching, or especially when no one’s watching. Because I want to be able to look myself in the eye in the morning.

I’d like to think that breeding a culture of fairness might change the minds of those who are looking for every advantage over you, whether it’s fair or not. I’d like to think that being fair in everything would be a trait that others would want to espouse when they see it in me. But I’m realistic. I can change what I can change, and that’s the way I approach those who approach me differently.

That is my promise.

Sam

Stranger Danger

strangerdangerMy mom told me everything I needed to know about strangers when I was little.

“Don’t get into their cars, no matter who they say they are, or what they promise you,” she said to me, hands on my shoulders, looking me straight in the eyes. “That’s how they get you, and you don’t want to get got, do you?” she asked, but I knew it wasn’t a question. It never was a question. I nodded my head. I didn’t want to get got.

So… if strangers are so bad, how come it’s the people we know who do the most damage to us? You’ve probably heard the horrendous statistics that get trotted out every once in a while to prove that people we know are more dangerous. You’ve undoubtedly read the startling anecdotes of those who were horribly mistreated by those who claimed to love them. It happens all the time.

And yet we still teach our children that strangers are the bad ones. It’s easy to say, of course. It was easy for my mom to say, and it’s easy for me to say too. Because if we don’t know someone they might have it out for us. They might also be boy scouts who really just want us to have our choice of free ice cream from the back of their windowless vans. Everyone knows windowless vans are cheaper than ones with windows.

The problem is that anyone might have it out for us. You know how life goes. We end up places we never dreamed, with people we never knew before. Remember that all those friends you made were once strangers. If you hadn’t ever talked to them you wouldn’t have these amazingly three-dimensional souls you would give your lives for in a heartbeat. Well, that you would give your lives for if it was absolutely necessary anyway, if you couldn’t offer something else as an alternative.

Strangers aren’t the problem, although my mom, and your mom, and your Aunt Sally couldn’t have possibly known that back in the day. We are taught to fear the unknown, but isn’t it also “better the devil that you know,” and all that? There’s this carefully constructed dichotomy that keeps us in constant fear of those we haven’t known for XYZ years, but that also makes us wary when people we know do things that are out of character for them. It keeps us on edge, at least these days, because the world is full of crazy. That’s what the kids say these days. The world is full of crazy.

When you’re a kid, strangers are perceived as people with giant lollypops who hang out at the street corner across from your school, not Uncle Ted, even though you’ve never met Uncle Ted before. These days strangers can be people who Facebook message you because you’re “friends of friends.” Don’t ever assume that just because someone is Facebook friends with someone you know that you can trust them. Not everyone has a stringent screening process, and/or cares enough to keep those who they don’t know standing at the gate.

It’s a new world these days where “full of crazy” could be so subtle you could miss it if you happen to blink one day. It’s a time when everyone is suspect because no one is suspect, when life can throw you curveballs and you’d be hard pressed to distinguish them ahead of time from the fastballs that always rain down on you. I know I’ve been hit more than once by a few of both persuasions masquerading as just another experience, but they turn sour quickly. Or maybe they were sour all along and I just didn’t realize it because I was too busy giving others the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe I should have listened to my mother a bit closer all those years ago. Because, now, as an adult, I realize there are way too many strangers in my life. There are way too many people who I don’t know, but who I assume I do. There are far too few who I can honestly say I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I would give my life for. You know, if there was no alternative available. Stranger danger? Well, that’s tricky, but so is trusting people in the first place.

Just… well… you still shouldn’t get into windowless vans.

Sam

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