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Archive for June, 2003

Column 6 – Part 2

But never once was I asked again, and the rest of the day just ticked away. I won’t deny that I was excited about the possibility, but it my mind it was only a possibility if Sarah and I could go together. In passing I had heard my boss say something about it being more cost efficient if one person went, but there was no way. I would not travel that far overseas without my new wife and have my whole weekend gone.

Another employee was emptying my trash and I asked, “So what is going on our there?”

He said with a laugh, “So, you want to go to England?”

“I could, I have a passport. But not without my wife.”

“Really? Come on, be spontaneous. I would take that opportunity.”

This made me feel a world better, or maybe that was his intention when he made that demeaning comment.

As I was leaving, I printed out a document. I passed by my boss’ office and my other fellow employee discussing the game plan. “Not to offend you or anything, but,” and then he stopped and asked, “…unless you were serious?”

“I was, but I am not going without my wife.” I couldn’t understand why this was such a hard concept to grasp, and why no one answered that challenge.

He didn’t say anything, not even an explanation why that wouldn’t work. So I left.

I was pissed.

Why should I be? Because it just seems to be the way things fall for me. Why would that be even a real consideration for me, that wouldn’t make any sense. I mean, it wasn’t enough that I thought I heard that the customer would pay for any means to get the parts there tomorrow, including someone escorting the goods overseas. Proportionately, they were losing much more money per day in downtime.

I could have been in England tonight.

I came home and told Sarah, and secretly wished that I would be called and asked, “Were you serious? Because, we have decided if you and your wife want to go, we could use your help. We can’t pay for any meals or your gas to the airport, but we will cover any airport parking and the airfare,” which, in my mind is what I understood the charges that they were capable of billing the customer.

So, this paints my mood just a little, and I would go into more depth, but those of you who really know me, don’t need me to.

I arrive at home

I told Sarah to be ready to go when I got home, because we had dinner reservations at 5:45 tonight at the EGR Grill. I came in the door, threw down my stuff, explained what almost happened today and grabbed a small nail polish sized container from the counter. I was shaking the whole time I was talking, and when I finished my story, I went outside.

My car hood was really hot from the sun and from just driving it. I wiped it down with a wet rag to clean it off of the accumulated dirt from the night before when I had washed it. I leaned over and looked really close.

My hood has been a sore point, and every time I wash my car, I get more pissed.

Let’s go back to the wedding day. My best man and another groomsmen decorated my car with this foam stuff that was supposed to be exactly for automobile type surfaces. The night of our wedding it rained, and it was a late night. We had an early morning and we left the car parked in the Lansing airport, with most of the foam still on, some pulled off. It had that whole week we were gone to bake on.

The first thing I did when we got back, was to pull the foam off. It wasn’t until about three weeks later that I finally got around to washing the car. It was filthy, and we scrubbed it hard and long. But no matter what we did, we were not able to get off the residue this “special foam made for cars” had left on my hood, and other parts of my car.

While we were scrubbing, we were having particular problems because some areas seemed kind of bumpy. But the actual problem we realized was not a thicker residue. Oh no, it couldn’t be that simple. We realized that the six months I had driven on an unfinished loose gravel surface on M-45, twice a day, at speeds up to sixty miles an hour had done more damage then I thought. I had two ruined windshields on my new car, and now realized, I had probably over 30 small chips in my on my hood from my travels as well.

I had dealt with the long process of getting money from the road commission’s insurance agency, I didn’t have the time or patience to do it again.

So here I am, leaning over my car, squinting in the bright reflection from my hood, and as I steady to touch up the spots on my hood, I realize that I will have all these little red dots, and that it just won’t look nearly as nice as new. To top it off my skippy go lucky attitude, the hood was so hot that I about burnt that sensitive skin around my elbow, and the hand I was leaning on for balance.

I finished and came inside. I sat down to make more changes to my client’s website that has been riddled with them over the past week.

I look at the time. It is 5:35, and I still see my wife wandering around in casual clothes. I yell, and I am pissed.

She has had the whole damn day off, we are going to a special dinner, and she isn’t even dressed for us to get to our reservations on time. She has no management skills, and worse, a lack of respect for my feelings. I was glad that this date meant so much to her that she couldn’t be ready on time an hour after she started, and 8 hours after she got up this morning.

We left, and 2 miles into our trip, the light to my gas tank came on. Seems that the mileage I was counting on for the amount I put in, was wasted away from my stop and go driving on the Beltline this week.

We get to the restaurant. I don’t have much to say, I am still hurt. My day has not been good. We have some water, I take deep breaths, and we talk a little as I try to put on a new face.

We talk about our impressions of the restaurant. As soon as I start to speak she looks off at the table next to me and is smiling, watching a noisy child talking to the waitress. I know she isn’t listening.

As Tom Cruise said, “And the hits keep on coming.” I shut my mouth and drink some more water.

The waiter comes and asks us if we are ready. Sarah finally decides, and I order accordingly. We had a gift certificate, and the whole point for me, was to try to stay within the monetary range of that gift. There were a bunch of items on the menu that interested me, and so I told her to choose what she wanted and then I would order.

After she ordered her mid range piece of dead piggie, I decided I would compliment that with the pizza. Now, mind you, I remember only these things from the pizza description; grilled dough, wood fired with mushrooms. It said pizza.

Wood fired would not have meant anything to me 8 months ago. But since I moved home to Grand Haven, I have been to a restaurant that does wood fired pizzas. They are just so good. The crust is dry, with a soft powder on them a little coarser than flour, but none the less, not greasy. The toppings are generally a little off the beaten path, my personal favorite is the marinara sauce with grilled chicken and garlic covered in melted mozzarella. Not just a sprinkling of garlic on top, or mixed in with the dough. No, we are talking like mac truck sized hunks of garlic flesh all over the little 10 inch pizza.

The pizza’s aren’t cheap, but they are just the right amount of food for a person. Male or female, and they don’t leave you with the that same achy feeling you get after eating thanksgiving, only compounded with the feeling of eating 80 pounds of grease like you get from Pizza Hut. (Don’t be mad, you know I love you Pizza Hut.)

Out comes my pizza, it was like a nightmare. It was this burnt flakey matza type stuff with an all star lineup of toppings. Take a seat cause this is “bery bery excitink.” It has hunks of asparagus, diced tomatoes and slices of mushrooms, with randomly plopped gooey piles of feta cheese.

Mmmmm mmmm. Good God, does it get any better.

Sarah gets her dinner, and I can barely see over the pork chop as he sets it down. It is like when you go to Ponderosa and the slice that meat off that hunk of animal under that red light. It is this gorgeous huge amount of meat on this perfectly shaped bone and they slice you off a two by two portion of the fat and ask you to come again.

Well, it was like Sarah got the whole piece of meat, minus the fat. She got mashed potatoes and carrots. It was like pork stew and any guys dream dinner.

I got the Paula Abdul special instead. Our waiter must have thought I was so gay. I passed on the initial drinks as well, as my worldly wife got some wine, I just said, “Oh, water is fine.”

Sarah was nice enough to share her pork with me. The piece she gave me though was like night and day. The cross section looked like Michael Jackson standing next to Michael Jordan, with a film of fat on it. The meat was kind of spongy and I wasn’t even sure sometimes if it was fully cooked. Although very good, I think that was largely in thanks to the sauce.

I kind of picked at other items on her plate, as we both stomached the hippy goat food that mysteriously got set in front of me.

“Did you read the description?” It was a vegetarian pizza!” She laughed ask she asked me, surprised.

“Pizza! Pizza! Pizza has a red sauce, covered in some sort of melted cheese. This is a garden on burnt toast!”

If this isn’t at all funny to you, then I guess you had to be there. Sarah thought that she would try to cheer me up. So the whole dinner as I was starving, she laughed her ass off at me. She just kept laughing and laughing, and saying, “Mmmm, gosh this pork is good.”

So, I take some whole potatoes off her plate and pop them both in my mouth. I crunch down and get this sweet rush of chalky potato. Not like sweet potato, but like a potato, covered in sugar, but raw. Oh, and it had a skin.

“Can I put anything that tastes good in my mouth tonight?”

Sarah just kept laughing.

Finally we left, full of garden crap

Finally we left and came home. I opened the car door for her and shut her in. I took another look at my side paneling that I noticed last night. On the passenger side I had had a stupid Asian chick driver slam into me and mess me up. I had it repaired a long time ago in January, but it appeared that my paneling was coming off.

I smiled and wished I had gone through with installing that bed in the back of my car, so I could go back to it before I started this delightful day.

The whole ride home, Sarah kept chuckling like Santa Claus in a roasted almond factory.

Except, by the time I had blown through an unseen stop sign, created a “straight ahead” lane where there really wasn’t any, an orange light, and about ran over a 8 inch tall hubcap, I was laughing so hard my eyes were watering.

“I feel like I am going to puke” Sarah kept saying as she just giggled and giggled incessantly. There really wasn’t anything funny, but we were to that point where everything was amusing.

I about rear ended another car, and my gas light came back on.

This shot off another storm of giggles and a surprised smile similar to when your wife comes home and you are using the restroom with the door open and she looks in.

I laugh some more and just keep thinking,

“I am sorry, there is no column today, I had a sudden trip to England. I will write all about it when I get back.”

…and I realize why God was making it so hard for me to write my column this week.

~final


Column 6 – Part 1

Excuses, Excuses.

Either you do it, or you don’t, there aren’t any excuses. I have known so many people in my short life that talk about doing something, but something always gets in the way.

I never want to be that person. If I want to do something, I push things aside, and I make it a priority. It is a challenge, and I am a vehement believer that challenge is good for you. My Grandpa told me many times as I screwed around and pissed away my school days, “You just need to be challenged”. “Yeah, right. I doubt it,” I thought. But he was right.

I don’t complain when I don’t do something I said I would. I don’t say, “Well, I had to organize my recyclables” or “I had to go to the store and get some earplugs.” What I do say is, “I didn’t make time for that” or “It just wasn’t important enough to me, to do right now.” I don’t lie but instead stay true to myself.

That is why this disheartens me to say, that I am not sticking to the two week schedule for this column. I was up until 1:30 one night this week and thought, “Gosh, and I still don’t feel like I am making any headway.” In awe, I surf these sites of these artists who are breaking out, and I feel left in the dust. I have just made a new commitment to do coloring on my artwork 15 minutes every night. It is a small goal, but I have been so unmotivated in the past to do it, that if I don’t start somewhere, I won’t at all.

Originally I thought, if I write this column every two weeks, it will be great for me to practice my writing for when I self publish. But a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. Even though I do believe that I am above average in my creative writing, I do not believe that doing it at a two week click will be as beneficial to my artist career as working on more finished images will be.

So basically, I am apologizing. For the few of you who have read these right along, I hope you will still read even though I will only be doing this once a month. I feel guilty, but that will pass. Time is always a struggle with me, and I will soon forget and put that time elsewhere.

“I didn’t make time for it right now,” is kind of what it comes down to.

I don’t have any good excuses, because there is no such thing. I have made a decision, and I hope that you who read won’t look upon me harshly for it. I know I don’t. I am proud of my commitment to meeting deadlines, and I intend to keep doing that, only in different areas on this website.

So, don’t go away, I will still have all sorts of fun stuff coming up.

Warning: Sara Littell. This column details my first trip to the EGR Firehouse. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great trip. I am writing a whole column about it. I know Sarah’s first reaction when she saw your gift certificate was, “Gosh, that was awfully generous of her for only one person.” We had a great evening, this is just an exaggerated take on our excursion.

Always read the full description.

I was kind of hoping that the column I posted tonight would have said this,

“I am sorry, there is no column today, I had a sudden trip to England. I will write all about it when I get back.”

I had thought it out in my head, and thought of the weight it would convey, and I was bubbling with delight.

The “Buzz” at work

At 1:00 today things started to buzz around work. There was a customer, I am not sure if it was a returning one or not, that needed some parts overnight because their production downtime was costing them large amounts of money daily. Their drives were down and we had the parts that they needed, it seemed simple enough, get it to them the next day to minimize their downtime. This is most of our business. The only catch, this customer is located in England.

I am not privy to any information at the office. I do my job, and I try not to be too nosy, but sometimes, my curiosity gets the best of me. For something like this, I will not lie and say I was completely passive. There was talk of how to gets these goods to this customer in the UK, and no air cargo was going to be able to do it by noon tomorrow. The best they could do was midday on Monday.

I was in my newly walled off cubicle when this discussion was happening between the boss and another employee.

I said, “My wife and I both have current passports.”

My boss is over 6’4” and he just kind of peered over my wall, hung his hands over and looked in, “Are you serious?”

I nodded.

Now, my boss is the most level headed man I know, and this question was not misleading at all. There was no indication of interest at the statement I had just made, and as I nodded, I just kept staring at my compute screen, without a blink. When he left, I didn’t even turn in hopes of a reaction. I just kept plodding along through my work.

As the day went on, it was apparent that no one would be able to fly the cargo overseas for us, instead, someone who have to take it over. My boss’ wife was in the running to take it, but she turned it down. I am not really sure that anyone else even had a passport in the office. But I do and so does my wife. Granted, it was something like an 8 hour flight each way, and I had made some promises to have an almost final version of my client’s website done by Monday.

But this was not something I would pass up. It would still assert to myself, and the surrounding world, that I can still be spontaneous in a life that has boiled down to an overwhelming amount of routine.

Continue to Part 2…..


Column 5 – Part 2

The aftershocks

That doesn’t change the many years of outspoken words that I said, and how many people I have hurt in the process. I can think of two people that are very close to me indirectly, that I unknowingly hurt with some weighty words in this time of brash dialogue. They won’t ever know how sorry I am, and neither will any of those I lost, or those who are still hurting.

I have made an effort to change this. I am not stupid, and I learn from my mistakes.

But, like I said earlier, I won’t lie to you. If you ask my opinion, I think it is only fair that you be prepared for the answer. In that same timeframe, when I was feeling insecure, I did make a lot of new friends. But I founded those relationships on a mistake. I thought I had to not be myself, and constantly censor my thoughts.

Those people are not my friends anymore.

It is because they were stupid. They were stupid to think that I was going to sit around and consider every word I ever say, and think through everything I say before I say it. I just assumed that my friends would love me more as they got to know me better, and how I truly was. If I had to sensor everything I said, I would never say anything, and one conversation would take the time it took the Israelites to find the Promised Land. It is too much effort to please everyone, in everything I say.

Those who care about me, care about me and what type of friend I am, even if I occasionally hurt their feelings.

I immediately know if I have hurt someone close to me and I apologize, profusely. That is if I am in the wrong? I hope those close to me view me as someone who will admit when he is wrong, but you have to prove it first sometimes.

I hope they also chose to hang around because they know that there isn’t a thing that I wouldn’t do for them, and that I would never ditch an open minded friend. I would never dump them for a feeling they said out loud, which I might not agree.

As a result I have a small close circle of friends. They have the best damn qualities any friends have to offer, and each one of them is so amazing.

Reason number 3. Still reading?

The final reason I would say that people don’t like me is that I am selfish. I just heard my mom, telepathically. She said “But does he really believe that? He should really lose the sunglasses and he’d have a better attitude.”

I choose the activities I am interested in, and I feel a lot of the time that my interests should be valuable to those around me. I will always evaluate other people’s wishes, and then make my decision.

But every person does that. A friend asks you “Hey, do you want to go see Swim Fan? I think that looks like a really hot movie.”

I think, “Where in Pete’s sake did I meet this guy? I would have rather of had my wife choose the movie.”

Then I say, “Yeah, I don’t really think I want to see that one on the big screen. Maybe we can get together afterwards.”

I might be selfish for not wanting to go just to be with that person, but I am not the only one guilty of doing this. But with me, it comes off so much more worse; maybe everyone assumes I am a jerk because of the aforementioned two reasons. I evaluate what they want and whether it is really a good use of my time and what I want to do.

I am more intelligent than I let on, and I know myself very well, and I know how I will react in potential situations, so a lot of the time, I jointly avoid those situations and potential conflict.

I have always felt, little things do matter, but I don’t do little things. After a while, if you keep doing the same little things over and over, your friends will take it for granted. Eventually your friends will put you on this platform, and if you slip, you are the one that is in the wrong.

Sarah had this with one of her friends. This friend got a lot of personal time with Sarah. She got cards, special hellos, and thoughts throughout the day. Then one day I said to Sarah, “Hey baby, like ice cream?” and the rest was history. Some of that time and caring was shifted to me. It didn’t mean that she didn’t value this friend any less, but that is how the friend felt. As a result she did some extreme things that hurt Sarah.

So, I don’t give until I am orange in the face. When I do something for my friends, it is memorable event. I do something for them that takes hours, not minutes. I do them less frequently. But I feel that generally people will remember big events. They won’t remember how you emailed regularly or called on a regular basis, until you don’t. Then you would like them to make some contact, and they get mad at you. They don’t know it, and don’t do it on purpose, but they take you for granted. I never want to be in that position.

I wouldn’t say that I am misunderstood, I am understood very well. I would say I am not understood past the place between meeting me for the first time and the first bad impression. I don’t generally make good first impressions. Many relationships with me never are realized because of that sole reason.

So, listen up!

These are my faults. They aren’t easy to admit, but they are on the table now. They might not have been as obvious before, but now you are informed.

This column is to those friends who have stuck with me.

They have stuck with me through my changes and my harsh words, and have found that I am a valuable friend to have, with refreshing and interesting takes on life.

To those who I hurt or turned off, I want to say, we both missed out. I am cool.

So to those who never were, I would say that I am sorry and that I am like a highly anticipated movie. I am better enjoyed the second time around.

~final


Column 5 – Part 1

Mom quote for the week

“I think you should lose the sunglasses.”

Well mom, I just wanted to say, “I don’t think I will ever lose the sunglasses”

Do I smell?

I am going to go out on a limb here.

I would say that in general, people don’t like me. Surprised you are, I can tell.

I think those who feel the need to inform me of how I come across, assume I don’t realize. But I know how I come off, and I know what people think. I am going to list a few of the reasons here, and you all can see which, if any of the reasons, you might fall under.

Reason numero uno

I concentrate on the negative. Big surprise.

Anyone who has met me for roughly five minutes has heard me say something is stupid, or retarded, or people who protested our war in Iraq are inconsiderate jerks. I am so negative, I have actually applied for my own button right next to the plus sign on the calculator, but Texas Instruments turned me down.

To say that I don’t realize to what extent my negativity affects other people, would be a more appropriate statement.

This is one of the certainties I have found in my short life. For me, to concentrate on some minute iota of positiveness, and then to proceed to blow it up to float me down the happy river, takes all of my strength. It isn’t easy for me to see little good things and have them overshadow the negative things. So I guess you could say, I am lazy, to the hundredth power.

I know I can say that at one point in time, if not most of the time, the general population does the same. Or at least they think about it.

Do you feel this way?

Think about it.

You come home from a hard day’s work. Your day plodded along, you just didn’t have all that much to do that day. You come home and you have to fix a meal for other members in your household. They hungrily gobble the meal you planned and shopped a week in advance, leave the table, and leave the dishes for you to do, without saying thanks. Would you sit there and say, “Golly! I sure am glad that my fellow employee dropped off that individually packaged life saver candy for me, or this would be a sticky situation!” Hell no! But I will give the benefit of a doubt and say everyone but me would concentrate on the good, smile all the way into bed that night, and dream about marshmallows and funny little elves building the dreamworld’s first happy bridge.

Ack!

I make the choice to reserve the effort it takes to find something positive in something negative and channel it into my artwork. I go into my room and I create beautiful works of art. Some finished, some not. All of them my feelings flowing from a pencil. I have books and books full of feelings.

My art and my negativity are inseparable.

Have many of you been to my web site? You know that no anger = no cool drawings. I would not have the drive and concentration to make them, because my fuel is my negativity. I make myself happy by creating something that I enjoy.

I do handle the events in my life differently; I have a different way of calming my soul. Does it make it wrong? No. But is it easy to be misunderstood? Would anyone be able to look beyond that and make the association that I use the anger as fuel? Nope, and I don’t expect them to.

My Beef, it’s what’s for dinner?

The second reason for my mixed impressions on others is that I am outspoken.

I am going to inch out on the proverbial limb even farther and say that I have gotten better at this. College has changed my stance on my own opinions because I started to get a taste of my own medicine.

Rock my world, please!

College is always fun because you get to meet all sorts of new people. But as I was making new friends, I found that I couldn’t do that by being myself. Myself was too outspoken. I had to concentrate on being more neutral.

I also noticed that I was more sensitive to criticism then I had remembered. I wasn’t a big shot anymore. I was just one of hundreds of the best, the kids who all received “Class artist” awards from their graduating peers. My art didn’t feel so special, and I didn’t go off to college with anyone else from high school, so all I had to fall back on was me. One small comment about my appearance or my work made my shaky wall of security come crashing down.

It was the same thing I was doing to people 24/7, to people who are affected by other people’s thoughts, all through my pre-college years. From that point on I realized that I needed only to give my opinion when asked. I still felt I didn’t need to lie. I didn’t like people who responded in such a way to suffice what another wanted to hear.

Continue to Part 2…..