Thursday, December 31, 2009

...I Will Be Brave...

I was kind of a tough kid. I wasn’t a bully, but I had a reputation where people knew not to make me mad. I didn’t start fights, but I always finished them. And I wasn’t necessarily what some might call a “confident” person, but I was brave when I had to be. Not the kind to leap without looking, but they were far flying leaps if I thought they would serve me.

And then one day I (quite literally) woke up a different person.

I was living in Chicago at the time and woke up with a horrible headache. I felt nauseated and disturbed, and like I was covered in fur. I had the odd sensation of something trying to pull or scratch at me. I was alone but the room still seemed too quiet since I lived on Division St which is just a bunch of bars lined up on both sides of the road and less than half a block from the subway, so it was pretty loud around the clock. Still I remembered being alarmed at how quiet it was and how sick and wobbly I felt.

I got up to go to the bathroom and wash my face and noticed in the mirror that my eyes weren’t right. My pupils were completely dilated, no white, no color, just black, like that old Bones Thugs video.

I remember feeling shocked and confused. I put a cold towel across my eyes for a minute and pressed but when I looked up, nothing had changed.
I remember thinking I probably just needed to get out and get some air. I was living in the world’s tiniest apartment and even with the windows open, it could feel stifling.

I managed to get dressed and grab my backpack to walk to the library about 4 or 5 blocks away but as soon as I hit the street, something didn't feel right.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

...This is Part Where You Judge Me...

This post is coming from a different place, so despite my best self-editing efforts, it contains language some might find offensive.

I don’t give any details, but slight trigger warning anyway.

A major rule that governs my life is “you are all you have.”

If you want it done, go do it. And if you think you need help, there is no such thing as help unless you help yourself.  If you get yourself into a situation, get yourself out of it.

I don’t rely on anyone for anything and I make all of my plans with me in mind. It’s actually quite liberating; a complete disregard for what other people think or feel….This is the source of my happiness. Except when it isn’t. 

Turns out the flaw with the philosophy is that it leaves you in an odd position whenever someone else needs help. Do you help, or worry about yourself?

Reasons I should help:

  1. Moral obligation
  2. If I don't, who will? (For the record, no one else did)
  3. It might save a life, or a lifetime of pain.
Reasons I should not help:
  1. It's not even happening, I imagined the whole thing. All three times.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

...Letting Go is Difficult... and Wonderful...

For years, the story of how I learned to ride my bike without training wheels would remain in my head as a wonderful, funny story about a great thing my sister, Cassie, did for me, as well as a sad and defining moment in our relationship.These days I see it a little differently.

I was motivated to learn because Cassie promised me that if I did, we could go bike riding together, maybe even as far as to the park which in my 8-year-old mind was pretty far.

This was no easy task since my parents had given my bike away to my friends’ family. (They had three kids, but two “tike” bikes; we had two kids and three tike bikes). At first I didn’t mind since the math seemed right, and I was actually left with the nicer bike, but I soon realized this also left me with a larger bike. Even with the seat on the lowest setting, I still couldn’t sit down and reach the pedals at the same time, so I struggled a bit with it and Dad eventually relented and put one training wheel on the bike.

Despite the teasing from the other kids on the street (including the same kids that had my bike), and encouragement from my parents and neighbors, I was still unable to let go of the training wheel. I just couldn’t understand the mechanics of how the bike worked and it didn’t seem logical to me that I could make this machine remain upright and in motion just by hopping on and pedaling.

“You just get on and go” my father would say, but I couldn’t make sense of it. So while I had never known my dad to ever be wrong, I still couldn’t trust it.

Cassie took the training wheel off and pedaled me over to the next street early one morning near the end of summer. She was smart enough to recognize that I was being distracted by an atmosphere of adults yelling, “You can do it!” and kids yelling, “No you can’t!”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

...Tis the Season for Overspending...

In these not so great financial times many of us might find comfort and connection in knowing things pretty much stink for almost everyone, almost everywhere.

I found someone’s ATM receipt yesterday and, of course, I read it before I ripped it and tossed the shreds. Someone withdrew a couple hundred dollars from their account leaving them with a balance of less than $100.

Let’s pretend it was for a bill or other necessary expense but if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, it was probably money for Christmas shopping. Let’s be honest: even the biggest of savers and most fiscally responsible among us have been known to lose their money mindful selves during the holiday season.

Darn the H1N1, can someone make a vaccination for over-spending?

Due to multiple scheduling conflicts my family and I celebrate “Christmas” during Thanksgiving, complete with gift exchange. The greatest benefit to this is that you’re done shopping just before all the stores start laying on the heavy holiday push tactics like the decorations and music. One store nearby actually had Halloween and Christmas decorations in the same aisle! I mean, dang, can Santa make his presence known via the Thanksgiving Day parade before we start up with the holiday hoopla?

If you’re still out there in the trenches, fighting the crowds for that perfect gift I hope you find the following ideas helpful:
  • There is no perfect gift- whatever you get, they'll complain anyway
  • Keep those arms akimbo- and never you mind that old lady you just knocked down for the last pink Snuggie; She was old, and her time was coming soon anyway.
  • Leave the kids at home. They just weigh you down and you need to be quick on your feet to snatch that last Zhu-Zhu Pet.
Oh, wait, this was supposed to be about smart spending during the holidays. Well then, I hope you find these ideas helpful instead: