A Lesson in Anger Management: How to Be the Bad Guy Even When You are the Good Guy

1ht_dealwithangrypeople16__01__630x420

This past week my wife and I had what some might call a little disagreement. Due to, let’s just say a difference in opinion. Naturally, in typical Tom Gonzalez fashion, I got myself rather worked-up. Like Marsellus Wallace, chasing after Butch, after he was run over by him, type of worked-up. But don’t you worry good people, I didn’t do anything dramatic like he did. That was because I am trying my best not to get myself into any major arguments with the wifey. I know myself well enough to know that If I dared to opened my mouth at that time, if I allowed the somewhat heated conversation to continue, I would end up saying something idiotic that I would most definitely regret and make an already bad situation turn even worse. So I channeled my inner Buddha by taking that giant ball of rage that was threatening to engulf the peace of our little home and swallowed that baby whole. Well maybe not whole. I still managed to take out a small portion of my frustration on my poor phone. Which apparently it failed to appreciate. Because by the next morning my phone went on strike and stopped working. This only served to exasperate the sense of frustration that I was already reeling from.

I needed to clear my head. Catch my breath so to speak. Remove myself from the situation. Now I’m not very fond of bars, or drinking on my own, so that was out of the question. It was late, and I was broke, and I had to wake up early the following day for work, so going out to see a movie wasn’t going to fly either. So I did the next best thing. I took myself and my festering tumor of rage downstairs to the family room. I powered-up my trusty 360 and spent the next hour and a half unleashing my biblical sized wrath on the poor citizens of Los Santos, while playing a game of GTA V.

At some point I heard several sets of footsteps coming down the stairs at various speeds. I didn’t need to look back from the comfort of our sofa to know that the wifey was coming down the stairs being escorted by two eager fur-balls. Pixie and Dory came over to me, tails wagging , mouths panting, asking in their usual adorable manner for me to pet them. I was upset but I knew that they were innocent in all this, so I obliged. After giving each one a gentle pat on the head, they both settled down on the rug. The wifey crossed my field of view in order to sit next to me. I made sure avoid all eye contact, and kept my gaze on the screen, where one of the characters I was playing as was being perused by a small army of police cars. My cold, yet still beating heart, was apparently making the basement even chillier than usual, because the wifey ended up covering herself with the throw-blanket that we keep on the sofa. She didn’t say a word. I’m sure she wanted too. But the fact that I never bothered to acknowledging her existence probably gave her enough of a hint that I wasn’t in the mood for talking. The silly thing was that I did want to talk. I wanted to tell her that what she said had bothered me. That I felt offended even. I wanted to tell her that it was beyond ridiculous for us to even be having these types of discussions at this juncture of our relationship. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m too much of a knucklehead. Too damn proud. Especially if I feel that I am justified in feeling the way that I do. Which to be completely honest with you, I always feel justified. Even when I’m not. I simply couldn’t bring myself to tell her how bad I felt. Instead I allowed her to just sit there feeling guilty. Well I think that was what she was feeling. I guess I was practicing that whole eye for an eye thing. You know– like a good Catholic.

My little session in digital anger management wasn’t working for me. Having the wifey just sitting there, looking all sheepishly, was in the end making me feel like a world class jerk. My wife has one of those pretty faces, that when she gives of a big, genuine smile, she can light up a room, but when she is feeling sad and low, you can’t help but feel like all the colors in the world have been muted somehow. That’s why I hate to see that lady sad; even when I’m mad at her. I knew that she was sad because I was refusing to give her the time of day, which was causing me to slightly hate myself. Which, let me tell you,  is a job I do well enough on my own without her added assistance. This, as you can imagine, was only serving to piss me off even more. It was I that was offended. It was I who was made upset. It was her words that got the ball rolling here. Yet here I was now feeling bad for her too. That my friends was some straight-up, Jedi mind trickery. that this little woman was pulling on me. I thought it was beyond unfair.

********************

I know Jess was just trying to extend an olive branch. She wanted to tell me ”Hey babe. Yeah you’re right. What I said was a bitch-ass move. I guess that makes me a bit of a busta’. But I want you to know that I love you. And never meant to say anything to hurt you. Plus– and I don’t want you to think I’m trying to make cheap excused for myself here. But I would like you to keep in mind that I’m a woman after all– and sometimes I say some shit simply because my body is releasing an egg or some other womanly function is taking place inside of me that I’m sure your male brain knows nothing about. And that, as it has been extensively documented by science, sometimes causes me to go a little crazy. But with all that being said–my bad boo.” I on the other hand, being the gracious, enlightened fool that I imagine myself to be; I should have accepted her olive branch with the utmost humility. I should have told her that it was all water under the bridge. That if she really wanted to make it up to me– she could start by going back upstairs with me to make monkey love like Bonobos (I know they aren’t monkeys. But just go with it.) do. But I didn’t. I just allowed her to sit there. Quietly. Patiently. Until her presence made me feel so guilty that I abruptly ended my game session, and walked myself straight to the bathroom to take a scalding hot shower.

I know I’m an idiot for it. I still feel I had every reason in the world to be angry. That part I will not deny. But what, I ask you, was the point of allowing my pride to prolong my suffering? What good did that do? The only think I accomplished that evening, besides being an asshole, was making myself sick. Just because I can’t never just let things go.

The wifey would eventually grow the courage to apologize to me after I had laid myself down for the night. She told me that she did not mean to upset me the way that she did. That I had a right to be upset. Which in my head I said loudly “No Shit!” I mumbled and grumbled a bit before saying it was fine. She gave me a soft kiss. Told me that she loved me and then proceeded to sleep all snug like a bug, happy that all was well in our little kingdom of four. Unfortunately it wasn’t as easy for me. I was still mad. I found myself holding on to those negative feelings like a man trying to break a wild mustang.

All that negativity just got bottled up. It had no outlet. There was no pressure valve in site that I could use to release some steam. I just allowed the hard feeling to fester, while I spent the night wallowing in self pity. So what happens when all that negative energy doesn’t get released? Well it gets absorbed. Right around my lower intestines.

I got upset on Sunday night. By midday on Monday I started suffering from what you can refer to as lower abdominal discomfort. I’ve felt this before. Always happens after I have gotten myself past the point of what most people would consider upset. I don’t know if this condition has a name, or even if it is a condition at all. For all I know its all psychosomatic. But whatever this thing is, it about as much fun as a 12 hour marathon of C-SPAN. Now some might consider this to be TMI. So please accept my apology if me sharing this offends my dear readers delicate sensibilities. But I like to be honest with people. Which means that sometimes I get to share stuff that don’t always come of all lollipops and gumdrops. Basically it felt (and as I write this still feel) like having to take a perpetual shit. You know that feeling you get when you been binging on nothing but red bean chili and Fiber One bars for three days straight, and for whatever reason you been denied bathroom privilege during that entire duration? No? Well I don’t either, but I imagine that the pain that I feel is probably pretty similar to that. To make matters worse, even if I go to the bathroom, well lets just say there is not a whole lot of action going on. So the pain just lingers. Another side effect is that my lower left side becomes very sensitive to the touch. If any pressure is applied to that area the general feeling of discomfort can be pretty painfully. Which is why sitting in front of a computer, trying to write a blog post, while feeling kinda crappy (pun totally intended) is not so appealing. This is the reason why I missed my making my usual Wednesday post here Once Around the Block.

The old me would have gone over to WEBMD by now to look up what this so called ailment might be. But since every symptom on that site basically points to cancer, I decided against it. Why give myself something new to stress about. Besides, the only time I get this is way is whenever I get Hulk SMASH mad. So it is obviously connected to my emotional state. Just another example of how not having a healthy way of coping with anger and stress can start tearing you up from the inside-out.

So that’s my current dilemma. I need to find a good, healthy way of deal with the everyday stress that comes with just being alive; along with the extraordinarily stressful situations that occur when you have to interact with folks, who like me, are trapped living in a self contained reality that exist only in their mind. I know I can’t avoid arguments out right for a number of reasons. One being that it’s not really part of my nature, and two, I’m married, and couples are gonna disagree and have misunderstanding from time to time. Plus I have a temper, and folks sometimes like to poke a stick at a sleeping bear. But I can control how I allow that tension to affect me. The only thing we have any control over is how we react to that stress, tension, adversity. Like (os and so says) life is 10% what happens to you. 90% how you react to it. That’s my problem right now—well always really. I react horribly to any situation that I deem remotely unpleasant. I need to make finding a healthy way of dealing with my anger and stress a major priority. Because all this pent up aggression is starting to kill me. How exactly do I do that? Fuck if I know.

The Science of Happiness

This vid was quite touching. The cynic in me can’t help but feel like this vid is a little manipulative. But at the same time, I do appreciate the sentimentality of it all. I think I will give this a try one of these days. Maybe it will help my happiness meter go up a few percentage points.

Thanks to Janine for posting this on her blog. Much obliged.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. --Ernest Hemingway

 

Being happy is simple. Well, sort of. Just take a few minutes to watch this video. It made me smile almost to the point of tears. Trust me, it’s worth it.

View original post

This American Life: A Dream Lost

Over the last few months I’ve been feeling a little uneasy. Not exactly anxious, which surprises me, but definitely a little uncomfortable. I’m trying to be optimistic. But I just got that sinking feeling in my stomach. And I can’t figure out if my stomach knows something I don’t or if it’s just gas.

Fading American Dream
Fading American Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are too many uncertainties in my life right now. Mistakes that I made, because I’m an impulsive jackass that has a hard time wrapping his mind around how my spending habits might affect our bottom line, is drastically limiting our breathing room. We don’t have any financial security what-so-ever. No safety net to speak of.  I blame our current predicament on my being too preoccupied with the past, and to casual with my present, and not spending enough time thinking about our future. I’m short sighted and too impulsive. I live for instant, yet short lasting, gratification. Which I admit is stupid, and careless and above all dangerous. I have no sense of fiscal responsibility. Money doesn’t hold any value in my mind, and because of this, I don’t take into account how much I have to work in order to earn what I spent. I’m not 15 anymore. I don’t have all the time in the world to learn and make amends for my poor judgement.

I find myself flashing back to earlier days. Back when thoughts of being married, or paying mortgages, bitching about dwindling job benefits, higher property taxes, aging parents, living check to check, maxed out credit cards, tons of debt, and health care cost, seemed so far off in the future, that it wasn’t even worth sparing a second to contemplate. But the older we get the faster we perceive time, and before you know it, you find yourself slamming face first into that future that for a while seemed like it was never going to get here. That’s where I find myself now. My face pressed up against a future that got here much quicker than I ever expected it.

I keep hearing murmurs about our jobs being outsourced, or layoff taking place. There are times, especially after a rough day at work, I welcome the rumors with open arms. Some days I fantasize of being handed that pink slip, along with a tiny severance check, and cordially be shown the door. I picture myself being ecstatic that I don’t have to do something that brings me so little joy. Not having to spend so many hours feeling trapped in a depressing environment. Working for a company that sometimes feels like it goes out of its way to make us feel expendable. Where the only voice that is heard and valued are the ones that hold stock in the company. And then the reality of my situation hits me, and the thought that brought me so much joy then fills me only with dread. We have a mortgage, car notes, student loans, and credit cards to pay down. I also know that sooner or later I will get the wifey knocked up and I will have even more responsibilities, more cost, more reasons to be gainfully employed. If I am suddenly showed the door then what? What do I do then?

I’m in the same boat as millions of Americans who live from payday to payday. Always being at the mercy of the best case scenario. As a pessimist, that does not bring me a whole lot of comfort. I admit my faults. I know I had my hand in our present predicament, but a part of me does feel slightly let down. Betrayed even.

English: The Supreme Court of the United State...
English: The Supreme Court of the United States. Washington, D.C. Français : La Cour suprême des États-Unis. Washington D.C., États-Unis. ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Høyesterett i USA. Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When 9/11 happened, and the drums of war began to beat deeply and loudly, G.W. Bush told Americans that the best way that we all could serve our country, what was our patriotic duty, was to buy stuff. Buy as much shit as we could. Keep the giant, insatiable, American economic engine going. So we did. Credit cards were maxed, equities were dipped into, vacations were taken, and cars were bought. People all across the country lived way past their means. Some out of foolishness. Others out of necessity. But everyone stuck in the same perilous situation. All the while companies both big and small, were given the same rights as individuals by SCOTUS, flooded our politics with obscene amount of money, made record breaking profits, cut hundreds of thousands of jobs, stagnated wages, and increased stockholders return in investment. Leaving the little guy both voiceless and penniless.

Cover of "Stand and Deliver"
Cover of Stand and Deliver

Ever since we were all tiny little children, long before we understood what college even was, our parents, teachers, and government officials, touted the importance of a college education. We watched movies like Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and Boys N the Hood, that all shared the same basic notion, that only with the help of education, particularly a collage one, could we ever hope to rise above our humble beginnings. We were warned that we would never be able to earn a decent paycheck without that degree. That degree was the key to everything. Once attained all things in life would become possible. But that education isn’t free. The trajectory of tuition creeps upward year in and year out. We found ourselves bowering more, and more, and more. Only to find that by the time it was all said and done, we borrowed so much that the dept that we now owed was tied unceremoniously around our necks, like a noose. Keeping many of us from ever achieving any real financial freedom. What’s worse that for many of us, the debt from college loans threaten to put us right back where we fought so hard to escape from. And what happened to all those beautiful, glorious, high paying jobs, that were promised to be waiting for us once we graduated? Most of the people that I know that graduated college, are working in fields that they didn’t even major in. Getting paid only a fraction of what they envisioned. And having a not so insignificant amount of our earning going off to pay for the college loans that we took out. Loans that are not forgivable under most circumstances.

How about the great American dream of owning a home? How many Presidents, and politicians, and business leaders in this country gave speech after speech about how owning the home was the great equalizer. That owning a home symbolized that you made it. Yet most of the home owners I know are under water. And are stuck with the choice of either letting the house of their dreams go, or paying over inflated mortgage price to the same banks that caused the Great Recession in the first place. What about the forward thinking folks who weren’t directly impacted by the Great Recession? People who were diligent that bought their homes at a reasonable price. Who paid their mortgages every month without once ever skipping a beat. Only to see their hard earned equity drop drastically because their neighbors were not so fortunate. Now they are stuck surrounded by a number of abandoned properties, and a neighborhood that no longer feels like one. Big investment firms located in other states, bought wholesale, thousands of properties unseen, for pennies on the dollar. Flipped the houses for minimal investment, and then allowed only a handful of houses to go back out on the market at any given time in order to dictate supply and demand. All perfectly legal. All terribly unfair for individual families everywhere. Thankfully, the wifey and I were lucky enough to buy our house at a time when the market had hit absolute bottom, but we still find ourselves contending with ever increasing property taxes that make no sense to me no matter how hard I try to figure it out.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This is not the America dream that I grew up with. I worry about what will happen when we reach retirement age. I worry about what kind of life I will be able to provide our future children. Some days I feel mad. Mad that I didn’t develop any foresight. Mad that so many fell for the same hollowed-out ideal that was sold to us as a promise, but instead turned out to be a pyramid scheme. Yet when it is all said and done we only have ourselves to blame. It is our fault because we no longer are outraged by injustices. We will bitch and moan about Ben Affleck being hired on as the next Batman (I know I did) but don’t blink an eye at how we all get taken advantage by unfair, yet perfectly legal business practices. We don’t bother to hold our politicians accountable, because we vote for party first, rather than with our conscious. We bought hook line and sinker every lie that we ever heard about the American Dream because it was convenient for us to believe in it. It meant that we didn’t have to take responsibility for our own actions. That we could spend and waste our hard earned money on frivolous things. It meant that we did not have to look at the companies that we worked for with suspicions. It meant that we could hang our hopes on politicians that promised us a change that we could believe in. We all were conned, but it was a con that we all seemed to enjoyed; so we voluntarily set ourselves up time and time again. We weren’t robbed. We happily gave it all away. But to be rather honest with you, on most days, what I feel the most is a sense of being powerless. Powerless to undo past mistakes. Powerless to bring about any significant change in my own life. Living in perpetual uncertainty. In a future imperfect. That’s 21st Century America for you.

A Little Heartbreak Soup for the Soul: A story about a young man’s love affair with comic books

“Today, comics is one of the very few forms of mass communication in which individual voices still have a chance to be heard.”

Scott McCloud

I’m pretty sure I was about 13 years old, the day I stopped at a newsstand to purposely buy a comic book for the first time. I had read a comic or two before that, but they had always been just handed over to me. I would read them, think that the pictures were kinda cool, and then toss them in the garbage without giving it a second thought. Before that day, comic books just didn’t seem as interesting as the cartoons I watched, or the video games I played. And those things took up enough of my time as it was. Comic books were nothing more than a cool looking curiosity. Then one day I’m making my way towards the Q66 bus stop in Flushing Queens, when I saw a newsstand that had spinning rack full of brightly colored comic books. I don’t know what compelled me to stop and check out those comics. Perhaps it was the vibrantly kinetic illustrations that were plastered on the covers that lured me in like a kitten being drawn to a laser light. Whatever it was, it pulled me in and before I knew it I was turning the rack, and pulling out a handful of comics that caught my eye. I walked over to the attendant, handed to him 5 comics and a $10 bill. He placed the comics in a brown paper bag, handed the bag back to me, along with my change, and I set a course for home. Not yet realizing that I had just discovered what would be one of my great loves.

English: Young woman reading a comic book at A...
English: Young woman reading a comic book at Alternative Press Expo 2010, organized at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, California, by Comic-Con International on Oct. 16-17, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t get a chance to read the comic books on the bus as I had intended. The Q66 was jam-packed with students from Flushing High School, and it was standing room only. It wasn’t until I got back to our apartment, and I got to throw my gear in my room, that I got a chance to look through the comics that I had purchased. I had picked up Uncanny X-Men #292, Classic X-Men # 77, Spawn # 4, and two other comic books that apparently left no lasting impression on me. I laid there on my bed and read through them all in a matter of a few short minutes. I had no idea what was going on. I had no discernible clue who these characters were, or what was their story, and why they all looked so angry the entire way through the book. But something about it called my attention. At that age, being on the cusp of manhood, but still attracted to childish things, I was drawn to it. The characters were larger than life, god like being. They lived in an angry, dark world, similar to the one I lived in. But unlike my world, these characters had powers that allowed them to fight the injustices that they witnessed. They suffered, and went through great loss, but they persevered and fought for noble causes. It didn’t seem childish to me. Even with all the spandex, and brightly colored costumes that look absolutely ridiculous in real life. Those costumes, for some strange reason that I quite couldn’t fathom, added to the mystic of it all. I wanted more.

I would pick up more comics in the coming months. The X-Men cartoon debuted shortly there after. And I found myself spending more and more of my time revisiting the world these characters lived in. Eventually it got to the point when every Tuesday I would spend every single cent I could get my grubby little hands on at the comic book shop on Main St., and walk out with a nice big stack of comics. It had become my favorite form of escape. As the world I lived in became more chaotic and irrational. I found great comfort immersing myself in a world that seem to have a very basic set of rules. There was evil in the world. There was also good. The evil would try to engulf it all. But good would stand its ground, and at some point, when everything seem to be at it’s darkest, good would find a way to prevail. Then the song and dance would begin anew. I could get that. I liked that. It was simple, and neat, and much more comprehensible that the shades of gray world that I lived in. Where there didn’t seem to be good or evil, just these meandering malaise of indifference. Those comic books kept me sane, as things at home got darker and and more uncertain.

But you can only keep darkness out of you heart for so long. Especially when you are being shrouded by it. As my teenage years wore on, and the scars started mounting, the simplistic, good vs evil, morality plays no longer could hold my interest. At the time I felt I understood the underlying truth to everything. That the darkness, always wins out. By the time I had reached my late teens I had all but stopped reading comic book. Part of it was that now they just seemed bloated and corny. Characters sacrificed themselves, only to return a few months down the line. Slightly altered, perhaps darker. It no longer spoke to me.

***********************

A few years passed. I met a girl. Moved to Chicago. Got my education on. I wasn’t feeling as hopeless as I had once felt. I started feeling a little nostalgic for the comic books I had read during my teen years. I was getting curious as to what fate had befallen on some of my favorite characters. So I would look them up from time to time. It seemed something horrible had happened to so many of the characters I admired. They were all battered and scarred, just like myself. I didn’t feel the need to look into the mirror every time I read a comic book, so I never would never get myself to pick them up permanently. Just once in a blue.  To satisfy my lingering curiosity. But the love for the medium was still there.

Maus
Maus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wanted to read comics, but my taste had matured, and the comic of my youth wouldn’t cut it. I needed something a bit more real. Something more sophisticated. It was then that I started discovering books like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore’s The Watchmen. These comics weren’t a simple morality play. These comics were making social commentary about the world that I lived in. These comics were set in a different universe, but somehow they were grounded in such a manner that they mirrored our world in ways that I hadn’t ever thought possible. The men who wrote these great books had something to say and they used the comic book medium to say it. It was a revelation.

Cover of "Blankets"
Cover of Blankets

I wanted to find more comic like these. So I found other books that had previously escaped my notice. Stuff like Will Eisner’s A Contract with God. Or Craig Thompson’s Blankets. These books spoke to me. It was around this time that I discovered the works of two brothers. Men who are pioneers of sorts. Two men that wrote and illustrated, some of the greatest works ever in the genera. Jaime and Gilberto Hernandez. Los Bros Hernandez.

The comic book industry has a very big elephant in the room, that is pointed out time and time again, but nobody ever really bothers to really address it in a serious way. That is the lack of female and minority representation in the medium. I’ve read thousands of comic books in my day, and yet there has been only a handful of times that I ever read about a character, or saw one, that looked like me. That it was someone of color. I can only name you one Puerto Rican character that I ever remember reading about. Her name was Dr. Cecilia Reyes. She was an X-men. A very reluctant one. And one that I only saw in maybe a handful of issues. I don’t recall ever reading about a Mexican character; and the few black characters that I saw had their origins in the blaxploitation period of the 1970’s. And females, well, females, where nothing more then half naked, roided freaks, who went into battle posing like coked out models on a Paris runway. As much as I loved comics, the industry itself it seemed didn’t really care much for me. Or anyone who wasn’t Caucasian and male. But Jaime’s and Gilberto’s works changed all that for me.

Love and Rockets #16 by Gilbert and Jaime Hern...
Love and Rockets #16 by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, 1985, Fantagraphics Books. Cover illustration by Gilbert Hernández depicting two of his major Palomar characters, Heraclio and Carmen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their comic book, Love and Rockets opened my eyes. Set in post punk L.A during the early 80’s, Love and Rockets featured Margarita Luisa “Maggie” Chascarrillo and Esperanza “Hopey” Leticia Glass. Two bad ass Chicanas, that worked on cars, played in punk bands, and who most of all tried to make sense of the brutal, and yet vibrant world that they lived in. A world very much like my own. There were black characters, brown characters, white characters, lesbian, straight, mentally ill, gang-bangers, rockers, lovers, haters, mad-men, and saints. Love and Rockets had all these diverse characters mingling, arguing, and living side by side, not in peaceful harmony, but with passion and tension, like people do in any urban sprawl. I knew this world. I lived in it. I thought it couldn’t get better than this. Thankfully I was wrong. Because it was then that I picked up Gilberto’s masterful collection of Palomar.

Set in a small, undisclosed Latin country, the town of Palomar, was a place that was neither here nor there. It existed almost in the ether. It was a town that somehow lived in both modern times yet was stuck in a much older one. The town of Palomar was populated by some of the most colorful and moving being that I have ever read about. And they all gravitated around the towns Matriarch, a big breasted, bow legged woman, that walked around with a hammer, by the name of Luba. Palomar was a place that would have been easily recognized by my parents, or my grandparents, or anyone that had ever spent time in a Latin American country, during simpler, less wired times. It was a place where the veil between the world of the living and the dead was at it’s thinnest. A land where death was permanent, but the ghost of the past visited frequently. It was both absurd and poignant. It was above all, a town where the broken hearted could find comfort. They even had a special soup for those that suffered from sickness of a broken heart. It was called “La Sopa de Gran Pena”, or Heartbreak Soup. The stories from Palomar were not simple comic stories. They were the greatest example of comic books unrealized potential. It was pure illustrated literature. And it is one of the finest examples of magical realism’s that you will ever encounter.

I am grateful to whatever it was that pushed me to pick up that small stack of comic books at the newsstand that day. It inspired my love of art. My appreciation for writing. It filled my head with big ideas, and transported me to some of the more magical places that anyone could have dreamed off. There is more to the medium than just super heroes. I just wish the industry as a whole could understand that. I don’t know if I will ever fulfill my once vibrant dreams of writing my own graphic novels. There is so much uncertainty about the future, and I’m not entirely sure in which direction my life will be taking over the course of the next few years. But if I ever do manage to come up with something, I hope that it will be something that will bring comfort to the restless souls who yearn for something that they can recognize themselves in. Just like some of these works did for me.

A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do!

image

On Friday night I went to bed dreading the day I had ahead of me. I’ve been a bit busy as of late, with work and my writing, which has caused me to neglect my yard upkeep duties. Yard-work is not my idea of fun. And anything that I don’t perceive as fun automatically falls under the “shit I rather not do” list. But the yard was looking a tad bit abandoned and I rather not have my little place be deemed the neighborhood eye-sore. So I went to bed that night with my mind set to do what a man had to do.

I woke up early Saturday morning cocooned in our plush comforter. I had left the window opened and had turned on the fan, not knowing how chilly it was going to get overnight. Even though I was snug like a bug, with only the top of my head exposed to the cold air in the room, my bones could still feel the early chill that was in the air. Even though I was conscious, I had to lay in bed an extra 10 to 15 minutes while the rest of my body slowly regained it’s senses. As I waited patiently for my body to snap out of it, I was mentally psyching myself for all the work that I was to do. “ A’ight big man, we gonna handle our business. We just gonna go out there, pick up all the crabapples that damn tree in the back left strung all across the yard, and give that lawn a little TLC. After that gets done, we can come back inside, go down to the basement, power on the 360, and get in some quality time with Bioshock: Infinite”. My mission was a simple one. Yet I wanted no part of it.

I eventually managed to get my big frame off our comfy bed. I went through my early morning ritual of brushing my chompers, washing my face with cold water, in hopes that it would wake the last bits of me that were still asleep, and helped myself to a nice cold bowl of day old oatmeal. I put on my, I’m about to get dirty but I don’t give a f@#k , gear on, and went out back. It was a bit chilly at first, but the sun was out and about; and she was still giving off just enough warmth that I didn’t have to run back-in to look for a sweater. It was perfect weather for a big guy like me. I grabbed the garbage bag and got straight to work.

The first hour and a half all I did was pick up crabapples. Now I don’t know who was the genius that thought it would be a good idea to plant a crabapple tree in the middle of our yard, but who ever they were I wish I knew where they lived, so I could drop the dozens of apples that I picked up and toss them across their lawn, to see how much they like it. You know, as a thank you, for all the hard work that they have put me through.

I must have picked up at least 100 apples that were strung cross my yard. It’s safe for me to say that it was the least enjoyable part of my morning. But I got the job done, and my yard was on it’s way to looking half way presentable.

Next order of business was to pull the reel mower and even out the grass that had grown a little unruly over the past few weeks. I live in a corner lot, so I have to not only cut the grass in the yard, but the large patches of grass that I have next to the sidewalk and the front lawn. This I didn’t mind so much, because it is nowhere near as tedious as picking up half rotted apples from the ground.

Once the grass was cut and then evened out by the edger, I picked up some of the fallen branches that were scattered around the property. This only took a few minutes and I didn’t mind at all, because by this point I was feeling strangely motivated to do a good job. I was like a bolder being tossed down a steep hill. The more I worked the more momentum I seem to pick up. I was in the zone. I was taking pride in my home, and I wanted her to look her best. I was feeling guilty for neglecting her. Yes, my wife and I have had a lot of things to juggle lately, but I should have found the time to fit the work in. This is our home after all. This is why we wake up early every morning, and spend 40 hours a week in a mind numbing office. So that at the end of the day, we can drag our lifeless bodies away from our daily torment, and be resuscitated in our little slice of heaven.

I finished of the work by nourishing the yard with some much needed watering. I hooked up the sprinkler. Set a couple of lawn chairs out. And the wifey, pups, and I sat under the crabapple tree’s shade for an hour or so relaxing by watching the sprinkler go to work. It was the perfect end to a work filled morning. It was pure nirvana.

image

image

image

image