Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Half Century

It is possible to wake up one day and realize that a half century has passed in your existence. I mean just think about that for a minute, because we all must investigate ourselves and realize that there was a time when we couldn’t even conceptualize that ever actually happening. Some may still have a hard time wrapping their mind around this concept, while others are simply shaking their head and saying, “there’s another obvious for Jeremy to point out and think he is original.”

The fiftieth birthday does make you think just a little more about what you did wrong in the first half century, and for some reason the good that has become of you gets lost in it all. It’s probably all the same as the fact that of the thousands of truly good people you have met along the way it’s always that total asshole that beat you up in sixth grade that sticks out like a sore thumb in your mind. It’s too bad that we (ok I, maybe you) dwell in these things but I am pretty sure it is natural now that my relatives are dwindling along with the years I have left. It’s more the regrets they talk about, but you can often steer them towards the good things, if you (ok I, maybe you) are willing to go there.

Oh God why is Jeremy back here talking about nonsense?

Well, that’s a good question, I know if I were reading this (thank you by the way if you are) the simple answer is, life has changed for everyone recently, and I find myself with a lot more free time on my hands. No, I didn’t lose my job, I am just one of the many Americans fortunate enough to have the option to work from home, and work for a company that asked me to do that. This adds about 2 hours to my day, between the driving to work, and the overtime I was putting in “inspecting” stuff. Unlike most people my mind is certifiably a terrible place to roam around in, and when that happens, yes, I write it down to try to find someone else inflicted with that issue. Sometimes it works, often it just keeps me busy.

Well to be honest with you, writing wasn’t the first thing I went to. No, that falls about twelve or thirteen down the list. Once I had six perfectly organized playlists with at least a hundred songs on each one, finished off all those audiobooks I was going to get to sooner or later, while modelling my second fully functional home gym, mastered every racing game on the X-Box, sorted all my porn, remodeled all of my vaporizers, and of course finished up everything worth watching on Amazon Prime, all that appeared to be left were the destructive hobbies. After poking through those, gambling (broke), politics (no seriously all of your politicians suck), news (see: politics), porn (not ready to start sorting again), it appears that writing may actually get me in the least amount of trouble.

That looks like nonsense …

Fine, lets get back to being 50 (the big five zero), but there is a lot of bull crap that gets floated around about the age of 50 (the official age where “over the hill” is placed on most gifts), and first and foremost is, that of the AARP is now sending you membership details, you’re old. Deal with it! Of course to be completely honest at 50 (29 years past the last birthday that was truly great) you bet your ass I sent in my $16 bucks for all those free discounts (bite me) and already have the text alerts coming in so I can know who to be angry at for disrespecting us seasoned citizens (***kin Comcast). The worst though, is the hypochondria really manifests around this time of life.

My grandmother (aka Greektradgedius Inyiddish) died about a half a year ago. Long story short, we had a falling out and I walked away from my family in total. One of my children contacted me to ask me to visit her after she got the cancer diagnosis, and I did drop everything and go out there to see her. It was the usual explanation of the cancer, life expectancy is not long, then all of the news that happened while I was away that would make me completely miserable, followed by a need for an explanation of why I walked away from the family. A woman who aged 20 years in the 2 I have been away and is dying, and the best I could do for her was to not tell her. Years of watching politicians made it easy to evade the answer, but more years of dealing with her should have told me it was never going to work. I walked away again, until I got the phone call that she is in hospice and I should be there. I dropped everything and went.

I got two things from this. First, I managed to get a new and rather decent relationship with my mother. The two of us sat alone at her bedside. The two black-sheep of the family, and we bonded in that. Sadly, it took me forty-five years to truly understand why she ran away before she was 30 and why I should have too. Don’t get me wrong, I truly do love every last family member I abandoned years back, but my own lack of people skills and common understanding made it so that the only gift I could give them and myself is one less thing to worry about, or feel guilty about. I ripped the band-aid off and I don’t regret it in the least.

Have you guessed what the second thing is yet?

Of course, you did. I spend half of my days now stretching and exercising my hips because I wake up every morning with sore hips. I’m sure it’s all an acute case of hypochondria, but I will talk to my doctor about it, if this COVID 19 thing ever goes away. Amusingly enough, at 50 (15 more years and the government will start paying ME!) I’m still able to pose in front of the mirror and pretend I’m Captain America (as long as I ignore all the grey hair, geeze only person in my family who didn’t lose his hair but I look like Santa Clause if I grow a beard) … (ok, the Goldberg, Santa Clause from the Dodge commercials not the one from the Coke commercials) … sorry got lost there a moment. In other words, I have done all the right things health wise so far, so I think I will be ok, I am just more willing to look into it, because it’s been a half century after all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Regret, My Old Friend,

There are moments that just never leave. They pop up anytime. When you can't sleep in the middle of the night, while you are waiting at one of those endless stoplights, while you are writing a blog post, who knows what, something, again, who knows what, will trigger a memory. And there it is. A few seconds you can never take back, playing out in front of you. The theater of divine self reprobation.

Probably, nobody else remembers those flashes of time from so long ago. But, they will follow you, or me, to the grave. At least I hope I am not the only one haunted by seconds that flashed by and now seem to last for hours.

It could be as simple as a few words spoken in anger. A childish tantrum compressed into a small sentence that hurt a loved one. A few words you can never take back, and were quickly forgiven, but never forgotten. Seared into the memory they will be with you for the rest of your days. With you both. Yes, it was foolish, and meant nothing, but there it is, playing at random times. There are times when I look into my wife's beautiful brown eyes and remember the sadness or anger that were there, and I hate myself.

Maybe it was an accident. A careless act performed in haste with frightening consequence. There are things that still, years later, make me nauseous just thinking about them. I can hear the words of the doctor stitching me up about the severity of the wound. It comes back in stereo.

Sometimes I hate those little replays. In fact I always hate them. They never pop up something good, something noble. I did good things, too. There were times I chose the right path. But, my memory diode has erased all of those, or at least hidden them.

And, every one of those little plays could be used to learn, to improve. Maybe it is fate's way of telling us life is filled with 2nd chances. Perhaps it is evolution's way of insuring the future of the species. Everything passes, everything changes, but we can always do things a little better. I hope to be better tomorrow than I am today. I hope we all are.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Aging, and Learning, Sometimes.

The problem with aging is getting older.  Things start to seem foreign.  Terms, ideas that come easily to peers seem alien, almost impossible.  Sometimes it is simpler to pretend not to have heard something than it is to explain how something makes no sense.  Not only is it simpler, it is safer.  Sooner or later every older person will fall into the paranoia caused by the accelerated pace of technical achievement.

It is easier to assume that some "punk kid, still wet behind the ears" is lying, right through his healthy, youthful teeth than believe that they have a printer that will make objects in three dimensions. It has to be a lie, or witch craft.  But, it seems they do have printers that will make anything from a scale model of Yoda, to a working prosthesis.  And, if you ask really nice they might print you a slide rule, or an abacus.  Whatever you do, don't write on their tablets, man those kids hate that.

Despite being a little older, though, I like to think I stay in touch with rapidly expanding potential of mankind's insatiable hunger for more, and better technology.  Blogging is one example of that. I blog, all the time, enough to make people think, "shut up." My dad used to tell me I talked a lot but never said very much. At the time it didn't make much sense, now it snaps clearly into focus.

I don't understand all of the terms that people use when discussing computers, I recently decided to upgrade to an iPad Pro as my main computer. I looked at all these reasons listed as to why this would not be feasible, and not only did the convince me, I didn't understand most of them. If you don't know what they mean, they don't mean anything, that's my motto.

I blog from my iPhone, I write from anything, it is an addiction. If you want to make something work you probably can.  That's my motto, too. If you want a motto, I am your man, your one stop shop for a new motto.

And, with that, I will leave you hanging.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Opposing Points of View

I recently read "In Retrospect" by Robert McNamara. It was a little indulgent about the decisions that shaped policy during the Vietnam War. But, it was brutally honest about the lack of knowledge that informed those decisions. And it was almost rabid in its praise of the vocal and active protesters demanding attention.

In fact, McNamara was at the pentagon when it was besieged during the march on Washington. His account was centered around the people inside. Inside the pentagon, inside the bastions of government, inside the centers of power, and control. No matter what your opinion of Robert McNamara you can't deny his intelligence. He was a smart man.

Now I am reading "Armies of the Night" by Norman Mailer. A fictional account of the actual act of investing in the spirit of free speech, and besieging the very center of military power. History as a novel, The novel as history.

Mailer took part in the march on the capital. He was on the outside of the pentagon, outside the established order, outside of the boundaries of most middle. And his version of the happenings are from inside the movement itself. The struggles of all the giant egos, and the need for each to be heard above the din, the noise and chaos of protest. No matter what you think of Mailer, he could tell a story,

It is an odd twist watching from one side, then the other. and combining the power and anger, the rights and the needs. Seeing both sides makes it hard to focus, you see a lot more, but you don't see anything clearly.

I think more things in life should be viewed through those lenses. It might not be so easy, and it might make us see things that are uncomfortable, but that's ok, Maybe we all need to see a little more, and understand most things are a little fuzzy.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

What A Difference a Day Makes

Things in my life turn on a dime, let me tell you. I spent last night talking to a beautiful Italian woman, right up until last call, which took us both by surprise. What was more surprising was that she ran into me today and sat right down and the conversation picked up where it left off. Just friends mind you, but it feels good to look cool in front of everyone. Of course my sunburn that I acquired yesterday has taken on a less dark red today, but it’s obvious that this one will take a few days to bleed itself down to the nice dark amber I would prefer to be walking around with. I really am such a pasty white guy, whose entire face is accentuated with white stubble and a sunburn.

Now of course I didn't get the sunburn while I was wandering around the Turks in the pouring rain. It was still worth it because I got all kinds of great pictures of all the Apollo and NASA stuff, including the antique capsule above. For a laugh the township that we ported at is called "Cockburn" which after spending time wandering around the decks yesterday with my shirt off, is the only part of my body that isn't burned, thank goodness.

Talking to most of the people I have met on the boat, I appear to be one of the lucky ones who has a seat in the Villa Rosa dining room. It’s the smaller of the two and I have had no complaints. The Black Crab, which is the larger of the two has been nothing but complaints. As I had mentioned before the food and the company at my dining table has been top flight, and last night also came with a huge plate of calamari, which my Italian friend had mentioned was actually as good as I thought it was.

Tomorrow will be the last full day of my cruise and despite how miserable it has been at times, I will miss it when it is over. The real world really does suck worse than the worst day on the boat. Just cleaning up after myself in the real world is reason enough to want to just spend the rest of my life on a cruise. Of course I am still at the phase of my life where I will have to go to my actual job to get the actual paychecks that afford me these little jaunts now and then. In the end I’m sure that without having something mundane to compare the less than mundane too, it would all start to get boring.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Go Back to Europe MSC

I hate to say this but four days into this cruise and I can’t paint a happy picture on it any more. Am I enjoying myself? Yes. The real problem is it takes way too much work to enjoy yourself on this cruise. There are circumstances that are beyond the boats control. Horrible weather, horrible conditions, more than half the people on the boat are seasick. I am not one of them because I have had sea legs since I was two, but then there are the things that are just making it all worse. I seriously don’t know why the cruise company even bothers to run Caribbean cruises. It’s very unfortunate because I have talked to a lot of people who are on their first cruise and MSC might make it their last. Let me explain further.

The weather is horrible yes, the wind is incredible yes, but the company’s answer to this is to close off almost everything outside. Entire decks are roped off, and crew members are out there steering people away from, well, fun. If the sun does come up the one place that they allow you to enjoy it is elbow to elbow with people and a horrible experience unto itself. The entertainment on the ship has all the charm of a middle school talent show. A little bad opera here, some cheesy acrobatics there, a half assed rendition of a Queen song there. This is not how someone who saves all year for a vacation should be treated. It just isn’t, and you really start feeling like they don’t care.

A couple of things really kind of let me down over night and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, forcing me to stop playing nice. The “offshore excursions” in Puerto Rico got underway late. I can’t believe how unorganized these things are on this cruise, because you really have to put a lot of effort into finding out where to meet etc. After getting back on the boat I found out why the excursions were late. Someone lost their fingers last night when a door whipped back and sliced them off. The crew were being verbally ripped to shreds and they couldn’t disembark while this was going on, the reason being that had they called the Coast Guard after it happened they could have saved the person’s fingers. Since they waited to get to port they can’t. While they commit these safety (crimes if you ask me) brain farts they have closed off most of the boat (due to inadequate training if you ask me) in the name of safety. Really? If they are going to be this bad at cruises, they shouldn’t park the boat next to a Royal Caribbean ship, where we can all watch those guests having a great time. I wanted to stow away on that ship.

To top the whole junket (God a word with “junk” in it just seems to fit here) off, getting back on the boat, most of us soaked to the bone from all the rain, was such a chore. The line would have made the TSA jealous and they would just trail a rope across the line and reroute the pathway to the scanners with no warning. Trust me when you get to the front of the line twice just to have to start all over again it gets very frustrating. I finally ducked under the rope and the guy may have scolded me, but he did realize the line was going nowhere until I went through.  I was prepared to see if this ship had a brig but it is probably roped off. This of course coming from a person who has done more work than the crew to enjoy my trip. It better be sunny tomorrow, because the rain is turning this into a prison barge.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Good Life

Puerto Rico here I come. I sit here drinking my coffee Americano  (that’s how you order a normal coffee on a European ship based on an Italian theme) and when it is finished I will step off the boat and take the only excursion I booked for the entire trip. It will mold my three favorite things, walking, coffee and taking a lot of pictures of local stuffs. It is a historic coffee tour of San Juan which will take you throughout the cobblestone streets and take you to many a historical site, statue and of course coffee house. I will learn the perfect cafĂ© leche from barristas who make art with their cups. Both drawn in milk and made by hand. I have been looking forward to this for several months. I look forward to taking hundreds of pictures without anyone being humiliated by it as well.

Needless to say I love taking pictures and I love coffee. I’m sure I made that clear but the added bonus of a walk in the sun makes it perfect. To describe that picture above a little better, the hole on that cup is too small for any of my fingers, but it is strong coffee. It’s an Americano because of the way it is served but it is still an Italian roast (espresso beans) brewed like normal coffee American style. That square chocolate  mint is supposed to be dropped in and stirred into the coffee, but I prefer to just eat it when I am done. Tomorrow or tonight who knows, I should have plenty to say about Puerto Rican coffee so stay tuned.

I have settled into being alone. I mind it a hell of a lot less than my history of being in love with love would portray. I have enjoyed being flirted with this entire cruise, and I have to admit that I have enjoyed the whole “not following up on it” attitude that I have acquired. I am after all a married man, despite what it may appear these days, and should anything go astray which it seems to weekly, I really enjoy my own company. I enjoy walking around in circles watching people, and I enjoy just laying in my adjustable bed watching Netflix alone. Scary thought but I am starting to not need anybody and perhaps it is the catalyst to not hating people as much as I have in the past. I need, I accept, I feel guilty, I feel trapped, I feel angry. I don’t need shit right now and I like it.

This isn’t to say that human interaction isn’t nice, but I have that. I go to work and I interact. I go to the assisted living facility my father is in and I interact. Hell there are more people I am not related to that look forward to seeing me there. Why not? I’m a nice person, even to that Yankees fan that lives there, but of course that is after the Red Sox won a few. The fact of the matter is there is a difference between being a human doing and a human being. As a human doing that’s all I ever did. I was doing and not being, and being is what levels me out. I just wish I had figured that out 20 years ago, but better late than never.