Birthday Parties

Soon I’ll have another birthday upon me. It’s really no big deal but, this year, I decided to get together with some of my friends. Now, I use the word “friend” loosely because I don’t have too many REAL friends and most live out of state. I’m talking about people I went to school with who never even looked in my direction because I was ruthlessly profiled as a weirdo. Others are people I’ve met throughout the years at different jobs. Isn’t social media wonderful? You have a thousand friends which you would never contact and the only way to reach them was through a chance meeting at someone else’s birthday party . . . or at a funeral. Now, THERE’S the ultimate meeting place!

But let’s deconstruct the concept of birthday parties. You’ll never have one at your own house because (1) they may get drunk and never leave or throw up all over your floor (2) they eat you out of house and home (3) they’ll steal from you and finally (4) the post-party clean up. Next, we have the cost of throwing a party. Food and especially liquor can put you in the poor farm quickly. Other issues to consider are your neighbors and the noise, the lack of parking spaces, and the crappy gift you will receive if any at all.

So, that’s out of the question.

The other option is to have a “free for all” get together at a pub or bar. This is even more dangerous if you’re picking up everyone’s tab so they’d have to get shitfaced at their own expense. This also applies to the overpriced pub food. So, this is what you do: you tell them it’s just a gathering and nothing else. You request no gifts but you supply the cake. That’s not too bad considering I hate cake.

My birthday has always been a dilemma even when I was a kid. Eight-year-olds usually don’t have every schoolmate’s home address to send invites or phone numbers to verbally invite them.  When your birthday falls in a month when there’s no school, you’re screwed. That would be me. My mother would end up inviting the defective neighborhood kids which you have avoided all your life. This is how I became an introverted weirdo who would rather spend time reading the World Book Encyclopedia in my locked room just to avoid talking to anyone who had nothing in common with me. Needless to say, I grew out of this phase but my conversational skills had taken a beating. This brings up the next problem with birthday parties.

As a host, it is standard to entertain your guests. However, in a pub environment, it is very difficult. The music is too loud, the guests are scattered around the venue and not all in one specific place, and, of course, you always have that one couple who wants to relive their high school days by having sex inside their car in the parking lot. Nine out of ten times, they will get busted by a cop and end up in jail for indecent exposure. You feel responsible so you bail them out. There goes all the money you saved on the party.

But, going back to the hosting, you realize that you have, let’s say, forty people there. Some know each other but you also have the ones that have deliberately been ostracized. You go talk to them and introduce them to others. Problem is, the ostracized crew is into butterfly collecting or ancient religions while the rest of guests are into David Lynch, mass murders, reality shows, and experimental crustacean cloning. You end jumping from one table to the other to entertain everyone. Running around is making you sweat. A droplet of perspiration from your forehead falls on one friend’s plate of French fries. You apologize and turn around to find the barmaid and order some new, uncontaminated starch sticks but she happens to be walking behind you with four plates of food in her hands (and arms). You smash into her and food flies everywhere. Some of the meatloaf falls on another friend’s wife’s dress so she gets up to go wash up but slips on the buttered baby carrots. You try to hold her up as she’s tumbling down but you also slip on the damned carrots and totally rip off her dress as you fall on your ass. It’s become a strip show because she isn’t wearing any undergarments. The loud music is drowned out by the explosion of laughter . . . until the cop that busted the butt naked couple outside in the car walks in.

You were the host of a party and you ended being the main clown in a circus.

Never mind.

I’ll stay home.

It’s safe there.

Highway Chronicles – INTRODUCTION

There are two things I’m quite knowledgeable about: music and road trips so I decided to start a series of blogs about my misadventures on the highways. Twice or more times a year, I rent a car (because why should you put wear and tear on your old jalopy) and drive to random places in the U.S. How this came about is a story in itself so I’ll make it as short as possible.

I have spent most of my life living in Florida after I was “withdrawn” from my small town of Rye, New York, at an early age (that’s another bizarre story which I will write about tomorrow). I moved to Houston right after I graduated from high school. What was the reason? My sister lived in the adjacent duplex and asked me if I want to go. So I did. I picked up a few things, a hundred bucks, and followed her to the Lone State in my Ford Mustang. When I came back thirteen days later, I was fifteen pounds lighter (and, yet, another hysterical story). This was my initiation to road trips (Actually, no. My family drove from New York to Florida in a 1957 Olds). The other reason why I prefer the car over plane rides is that I am factory defective. I cannot ride on a plane because landings trigger the most excruciating pain in my head which includes deafness and nosebleeds. I’ve tried all the common remedies and nothing works. Even my E.N.T. specialist remains baffled.

Being a road trip enthusiast exposes you to many places you wouldn’t even imagine. However, living in Florida is a major drag. If you’re in, let’s say, Orlando, and you’re traveling north, you’re okay because the state line is around two hundred miles depending which highway you take. If you’re in Key West, you will have to plan a hotel stay before you reach the land of peaches and pecans . . . and wildly swaying highways, massive traffic, huge stretches of road without a sign . . . any sign . . . a road sign, advertisements, mile marker, or seventy years old, roadside Burma Shave signs. You’re lucky if you find a rest area. But let’s concentrate on Florida. There are 535 miles between Key West and the state line. That’s quite a bit of miles especially because you HAVE to stop in several rest stops or service plazas (Florida Turnpike) for meals, bathroom visits, and to stretch those legs because the last thing you need on a road trip is blood clots. These stops are particularly interesting because I seem to have some sort of magnetism towards derelicts and psychos. They always approach me and spark up a random conversation. Last time I checked, I do not resemble Lucy Van Pelt in any way, shape, or form. Besides, I wouldn’t offer anyone psychiatric help for a nickel; those days are long gone!

The Florida panhandle is another long stretch at 357 miles from Jacksonville to Pensacola.  Highway 10 is the ONLY logical road to get out of Florida and into Alabama unless you take U.S. Highway 98 to get a starring role on “Deliverance 2.”

Well, that’s enough for the introduction. There is much to write about in the future. Road trips include Texas, Maine, North Dakota, Tennessee, Indiana, Arkansas, and many more. Have a preference? Drop me a comment.

Oh, and please, like and follow my blog. I have a quota to fulfill or I’ll be forced to donate money to the National Emu with Tourette’s Disease Center.

Are you serious?

So I posted my most popular blog on WordPress and it vanishes from one day to the other. This is the modern world: all technology. The new world has its benefits but, for the most part, it’s just monkey crap.

For instance, back before the 1970’s, cars were fixable by their owners. Now it’s all about the computer. You open the hood and it’s a 15,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I still have a hard time figuring out which oil goes where. Simplicity was stupendous. You had three or four television channels. That’s it. Don’t like what they’re playing? Go outside with the hula hoop. Finally, you had vinyl (shellac) records. Tangible round objects with grooves that played music when you placed the needle on it. Elementary.

Complications all over. Beef was beef not genetically modified organisms. Sodas had real sugar not sweeteners. Students used pencils, paper, books, and, occasionally, pens and crayons (if you were really young). Now you have laptops and common core math which is the most inane invention since fiberglass cars.

And don’t get me started with music. I could write volumes on this subject matter.

All I know is that in this new “Big Brother” world, nothing is sacred.

 

The perils of Juan Valdez and the Sandman

Everyone has drama at some point or another. These personal setbacks usually have a logical solution. The problem lies with the person. Is the person logical? More than half of the times, the answer will be “no.” The different topics involving drama can range from your car that breaks down in heavy traffic every Sunday after mass to your pet cat that refuses to smile at you even though you bought it the most expensive food at Walmart. Let’s get real, folks. Ditch the car . . . and the ungrateful feline. You can always sell the cat to China. It’s a delicacy there! Either way, problem resolved!

My predicament is much more noteworthy since it indirectly involves health. Sleep has become a troublesome occurrence in several spheres. First, getting to sleep is difficult. People tell me it’s because I drink too much coffee and should switch to decaf. Well, that’s non-negotiable. I refuse to drink decaffeinated coffee simply because it is bland and equivalent to Curly Howard’s chicken soup in which he pours hot water through the top end of the chicken and it comes out through the bottom. It’s even worse than “morning blend” coffee. Who wants to drink coffee which has no effect on you? You need something strong like three Vivarins and a quadruple shot of bitter Cuban coffee (not that watered down Starbucks espresso either). You want to fly like an eagle at the workplace not become a well-dressed sloth with a chronic silly grin.

So, I have to wait until I’m dead asleep to attempt my Z’s. What happens? ADHD, that’s what happens. All of a sudden, I start thinking about bills, the future, my friends and family, the neighbor’s dog with a limp, meteors crashing through your roof, what it would be like to play billiards if I looked like Marty Feldman and the list goes on and on. Finally, when I’m so exhausted from all the physical work and the smorgasbord of thoughts, I fall asleep. If I’m lucky, I will wake up when the alarm rings at 5:40 AM. That would mean I slept roughly about three and a half hours. But this never happens because when the REM sleep kicks in, so does the bizarre nightmares. We’re not talking your conventional “falling or drowning” dreams. These nightmares (should I say) are intensely bizarre which, somehow, alerts my uncooperative bladder. Rapidly, I run into the bathroom for a “number one” and plop myself back on the bed as quick as possible. Most of the time, this works without a glitch but lately, I am so frazzled by the nightmare that going to sleep becomes an impossibility.

I have realized that these new nightmares exclusively deal with the past. When I was younger, my dreams always took place in the future. What does this mean? No future left for me? Is this why the characters in my nightmares are with people who have passed?

The ADHD kicks back in and now there’s not a trace of hope for a mid-morning nap because I begin to worry about the recent nasty weather and the safety of [my friends, the] smiling alligators along the south coast or why my belly looks bigger this morning. It’s always something ludicrous. Now, this is REAL DRAMA because I can’t just call someone and vent. They’ll think I finally lost it for good. So, I keep it to myself and swallow the venom . . . and, before I know it, the sun is setting again and the sandman is nowhere to be found because he’s vacationing in Bora Bora.

I look at myself in the mirror one last time before I attempt sleep again and I see that I have metamorphosed into Play-Doh. I see the creases in my face and the bags under my eyes and wonder if I will ever break free from this torment. Pray for alien abduction. That’s the cure.

Note: I definitely do NOT look like the featured image. At least, not yet. Maybe in about twenty or more years if I don’t get any sleep soon!        

Bizarre Building Blocks

Strangeness is something you usually don’t acquire throughout time unless you were born with it. I am the exception to the rule. The non-conventional has always found me but it really escalated once I started elementary school. By the time I (barely) graduated from high school, my “strange world” was set in place for the next phase which will be covered in “The Blurry Years.”

But let’s begin . . .

First of all, I didn’t care much for having friends at school or from my neighborhood. I was to be a future Peabody or insane bookworm since my best pastime was reading the World Book Encyclopedia. I didn’t care about anything except those dark navy and ivory hardcover books and, of course, music. My siblings were much older than me so I was exposed to the real cool era in music: the late fifties and sixties. While in school, I was a straight “A” student until I began to experience the strangeness of society first hand. To begin with, my father would occasionally mix milk of magnesia into my morning glass of milk without telling me. This was a ritual which was scheduled at random times. “It is to cleanse your insides,” he would say later. No one ever told me what day I was to be the lab rat. To make matters worse, I would NOT do any number two’s at school. I had one toilet…and that was at home. Come third period, my stomach would make an all too familiar sound. I knew then I had been poisoned with the morning milk. For the rest of the day, I would clench my butt cheeks tightly until I relieved myself at home many hours later. This may be the reason why I would probably be able to crack a walnut if I were to put it inside my butt crack. No, I don’t do this as a hobby and, in fact, I’ve never done such disgusting things…yet.

The second example of strangeness around me was the obese lady driving her station wagon that would take me to school. My father worked very early and my mother didn’t drive so they found Loretta to drive me (and some other misfits) to school in the morning and back home in the afternoons. I thought it was bad enough that she had a roadrunner complex. A true thrillseeker who would wait at a stop sign until an oncoming vehicle to approach the intersection to burn rubber scaring the living shit out of the kids inside and the driver of the other car. But, I needed to be exposed to much more than this. A curly haired, funny toothed girl called Mayra would always sit across from me on the “U-shaped seats” in the back of the station wagon. She would just sit there and stare at me reminding me of a female Alfred E. Newman. This would creep me out but, on a couple of occasions, she would very nonchalantly begin blowing green booger bubbles from her nostrils. She wouldn’t flinch, she wouldn’t wipe, and I wondered how I didn’t shit my pants. Who needed milk of magnesia? By the time the station wagon pulled up to the school, I was traumatized between Loretta the NASCAR driver and the mucus version of Lawrence Welk. Here’s the visual: I can picture well-dressed ballroom couples waltzing but avoiding the slowly descending ceiling full of mucus bubbles. (It’s no wonder I always wake up when REM sleep begins).

Lastly, we have George, a dark-skinned kid who had bowel problems. I wonder if his dad gave him the ole “Phillips Special” too. But probably not. IBS was not a common term back in the day if the term even existed. He must have had this problem because whenever he needed to go, he needed to go. No questions asked. The wicked English teacher, which I had for three years while at that school, would not allow George to go to the bathroom in the fifth grade. He would get up running and she would stop him in his tracks before exiting the bathroom. Needless to say, it happened one morning. As I sat there watching the spectacle, I notice the steady flow of turd chunks exiting his pants while she, unknowingly, scolded him for not raising his hand to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Just my luck. As I mentioned before, I was a straight “A” student which meant I sat up front in the class giving me an up close and personal view of how humans simulate animal behavior in the wild at times. The rest of the class erupted in laughter while I frantically buried my head inside my shirt uniform avoiding the wicked stench. I’m sure my parents sent me to a daytime mental hospital for juveniles and not a normal elementary school.

These are but three examples of how my world became a surreal circus of the odd. I can write volumes detailing the absurdities that I have been presented with throughout the years. This is also why I write such odd little literary pieces. The worst part is that the strangeness keeps on escalating. When will it end? Am I going to wake up one day looking like one of David Lynch’s characters?

“The Blurry Years,” which I’ve started writing, is the culmination of what happens when you look back and realize how unconventional life can be. At times, it is horrifying and ridiculously humorous simultaneously. These blog entries are on events leading to those strange thirteen years. Hope you enjoy the absurdity.

Live it up!

You wake up in the morning after having your usual three or less hours of sleep. Have your first cup of coffee followed by the second. It really doesn’t matter; there’s no way to wake you up. At some point, you collapse on the bed again and when you wake up, another hour has elapsed. Now we’re looking at that in-between time when you don’t know what to do. Your morning is shot, it’s too late to start your outdoor cardios because the thermometer has hit ninety degrees and it’s only 10:30, you skipped breakfast (coffee is not breakfast; it is starter fluid) and it’s too early for lunch. This is the everyday routine and it’s not working out for you. Your weight is up, you’re always in a quasi-stoned mindset because of the lack of sleep, and you have zero motivation. But now it’s when you slide into phase two: the ADHD.

Your mind tells you: “Hey dude! Let’s review your failures for the twelfth thousand time!” You want to go back to graduate school but you have to WAIT to apply to the specific programs you want to be part of. You’ll have to get student loans. Your car is not good enough to take you to school every day but you don’t want to invest more money into this car. What do you do if you don’t get accepted? A crappy school? You want to become a professor and won’t settle for anything prior to freshman college studies. You fear those savages in elementary and high school. They govern you. It’s not like when you were a kid when you would get paddled or forced to clean your 1923 school’s dirty bricks with a toothbrush. They would take your coloring book or Crayola crayons if you were goofing off instead of paying attention to the boring teacher. You would have to stand in the corner facing the wall. . . no, no, no. . . those days are over. I’m sure kids nowadays try to prod your butt when you’re not looking with your mother’s (or father’s) new “recto-wrecker” which they found hidden somewhere in their bedroom.

Suddenly, you realize that your mind is on both steroids and hallucinogens. “Don’t take Ritalin. You’ll get more screwed up or drive off a cliff,” that wicked part of your mind tells you. And the mind is right! Sometimes, all you need to do is get away from the routine. Take a road trip, visit friends, see the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet, and occasionally, harass a bear by throwing watermelon flavored chewing gum at it.

This is how comparisons become an effective method to break you out of your rut. Face it, the status quo has never worked and the “comfort zone” has become more like vengeful anal lice. You will be able to make the necessary adjustments once you realize how screwed up your life really is. Time to take the plunge and take chances by experimentation . . . and I don’t mean buying a used Ouija board to contact Timothy Leary for “trippy recipes.”

Live it up, friends. You must learn to enjoy yourself. It IS NOT later than you think to start your life all over again. Oh, and if your ADHD is giving you a hard time, kick it in the butt and feed it some watermelon gum too. One last thing: I don’t know who Fred the Dead Head is either. I just decided to throw a curve. Confuse the cat, you know.

Yeah, it’s me. I think I figured it out!

First and foremost, I am a writer of strange fiction. I make up bizarre characters who are questionable as human at times. There is quite a bit of psychology in my writings since I was a psych major before I decided to stop analyzing myself and others and switch to literature. You may say that’s one hell of a change but it actually makes sense.

I spent countless years working on anything related to music. I worked wholesale, retail, manufacturing, deejaying, producing, publishing, performing, and promoting. I have several R.I.A.A. gold and platinum records up on my wall for the latter. This artsy-fartsy life came to an end a few years ago with the sudden realization that the music biz was dead (not to mention talent in music, for the most part). I went back to school and received my degree. Some, including myself, consider this a parallel move since both businesses are similar.

But that’s not why I am writing this. The true reason for this random post is to assure people that I’m as “normal” as anyone else though I may just have a tad more unconventional imagination than your ordinary Joe. Let me start off by saying this: It is very difficult to get me scared or make me laugh. This brings me to the latest book I read which was recommended by my friend’s wife. I was skeptical about wasting time on a humorous book but decided to give it a try since I’ve known these two since the pyramids were being built. Yes, they would have to be considered family to make such an unprecedented sacrifice of my time.

The book is three years old and I had never heard of the book or author even though it was a New York Times bestseller (this just shows how much I pay attention to these things.) The cover made me panic for a second until my brain told me “Hey, think of Monty Python and everything will be alright.”

So, after staring at the book for a couple of days, I braced myself and picked it up. I will make this short: I laughed my ass off which is something I don’t often do! This book is also filled with some encouraging words for those who, at times, feel helpless (or hopeless) against the daily human struggles. It even “triggered” writing philosophies I had not previously utilized.

Oh, are you still wondering what this book is?

It’s Jenny Lawson’s “Furiously Happy.”

BUY IT.

I am about to embark on my yearly “spring road trip.” This is the third year in a row going to visit my friend and wife who live in Indiana (If you’ve noticed, I don’t use the phrase “best friend.” Whenever this term is used, some other friend feels dejected for not being #1. I consider ALL my friends #1 and those who have inexplicably and quietly disappeared off the radar are nothing but a hot steamy mountain of bovine dung.) Anyhow, I suspect that I will be “tested” on its contents. LOL!

These road trips are especially important. This is how I get most inspired to write. It was in last year’s trip that I came up with “The Psychpomp” which should be published somewhere soon. It was when I gave life to “Lee the Tree,” who has become an actual person in my everyday conversation with friends (he doesn’t really exist and if he did, I’d be scared shitless if I ever saw him.) I am looking forward to this since I have no idea where my creativity will take me. Perhaps I come up with something new or maybe a clearer idea on how to approach the much spoken about “The Blurry Years” manuscript. Just in case you don’t know, “The Blurry Years” will be a mostly non-fictional recounting of my many strange and ridiculous experiences while growing up. I suspect everyone will think it’s fictional because most people don’t believe these events actually happened.

On a more serious note, I believe people should experience the whole spectrum of life as much as possible. The everyday grind makes a person sullen or depressed, bitter and critical, and overall way too serious about everything. You should always deviate from your routine and do something you’ve always wanted to do. We are not immortal and death creeps up on you. There are no second chances. No REW or STOP only PLAY and FF. Enjoy yourself. Be wild and always look forward (unless you pressed the REC/REW button at an early age and looking back makes you laugh like a lunatic).

That’s it for tonight. Gotta start packing.