Imagineer's Workshop

Life is about words, one after another, written from a imagineer’s workshop – a place where gerunds and infinitives, modifiers, and many other grammarian tools hang at the ready. An author’s toy box of elfin ideas. This place of unlimited beginnings, caressing story arcs, and heartfelt closures, stays silent to the outside, but is always vibrant in an eager writer’s mind. It is ever open to new, friendly faces tapping at the sides, wanting to play along, anxious to join the matrix of merriment that is this inner world of a writer’s silent joy.

As one of many solitary minds playing with words in such a literary toy box, day after day, I am fascinated by imagined ideas coming into reality within the lives of the living. When fantasized wonders become real in poems, short stories, long reads or letters – simply one word after another – eyes see loves redder, ears hear “I love you” more often, touch is goose-pimplier, and one white rose smells as heavenly as a dozen red. The charm of inexhaustible possibilities, woven into word tapestries, cordially blanket the reader’s time with endless preoccupation.

I never knew this to be so. A free flow of ideas inside one’s mind for the purposes of enlightenment, fulfillment, engagement, and whimsy? Notions such as these never inhabited the younger mind of this writer. Immediately purged were thoughts of gentlemanly handshakes between peaceful words and hope for better tomorrows as I navigated my way through confusing earlier times. Harmful words, contaminated missiles not always a direct hit but leaving craters on my soul, I would later understand to be out-of -context and grossly inappropriate. “Consider the source” and “Understand the why of the other” common themes among those considered great council at the time when I, a lost wanderer, sought a welcoming hand. An open gesture never to be offered at the time. Opportunities and words dying. Year after year.

That was the holding pattern leading up to graying templed-head, split-screened eyeglass “now” years as I embrace my potential last third … if actuary tables hold true. Words reappearing, now, in understanding the why of me after intense inner-study, introspection, talk therapy, and writing … lots and lots of writing. A much, much better place to offer my own hand to hold.

At present, I capture each moment with passionate words just like my younger self; However, the tears are soaked with joy and the words go forth to you … not to leave craters on your souls, but to build mountains of hope for your tomorrows.

Past experiences took time. Bad and good ones developed into memories … into words, one after another, written from a imagineer’s workshop. I’ve only just begun to rebuild after tearing down what was once a place of limits and harmful words. Please visit my ever expanding toy box of elfin ideas – this place of unlimited beginnings where words fly free among all that dream .

Fantastical Whimsy

Approximately 9 p.m. last evening, I owned today’s writing. My formerly sharp brain and I, by extension, held captive an idea … written on the walls of imagination. There, among dreams of lottery winnings, high functioning mental health, youthful skin, and non-clicky knees, this most wonderful, uplifting theme for today took its place. Largely noticed within bumbling fantastical whimsy, it sat as I went about other matters knowing this morning would come quickly. “Alas, I have stumbled upon the golden theme for tomorrow’s posting!”, as paraphrased and foretold to a friend in a text last evening, thus setting a terrific tome for today…

…yes, a particular, predetermined post never to appear in front of your expectant, hopeful eyes. Unfortunately.

Sometime during the night, whispered Samsung gods stole my phone and, in the process, took hostage my sanity. All attempts to pull lucidness back into my 6 a.m. start blogging world came to a panicky halt … and with that, a delightfully original idea went into a disposable digital file stamped, “I may remember for later … but won’t. Even if I do, the brilliance I believed in my heart will have been sacrificed to the what would-have-been idols.” … (and, yes I do have tabs wide enough for such a label).

Let’s get this over with. I sleep rogue. With certain back issues and irregular patterns of wanting to be my own boss, the sofa is king. Charging station, multiple remotes for stuff I don’t even think are around anymore, trays for snacks and glasses, reclining possibilities … all comforts giving me at least a promise of 4 hours quality sleep. This is the healthiest option I have short of snuggling into a heaping pile of large bills on a swanky, velvety hotel bed somewhere in Nevada.

Mr. Samsung is never far away – within an arm’s length resting comfortably atop the largest cushion, overseeing my dream state. He is in a holding pattern at the ready, fully charged should I rise inspired. Until he’s not.

Welcome to my February 7th, 2020.

There was no reason for me to believe in ghosts until reaching for my phone early this morning and all I felt was a sliverly white charge cord. Familiar? Yes. Expected? What do you think? Not only did this feel narly in my already suprised hand, it also had its little “watcha gonna do ’bout it?” jack face staring right back. Picking up the little bastard, in my best grimbly, stubble-faced voice, I demanded, “Where’s my damn phone?! …. I need answers and I need ’em NOW!’. Silence.

Ok. Talking to inanimate objects wasn’t going to work. Corrective action needed. I knew my phone was within 3 feet. It HAD to be near because I plugged it in only hours before. In behind, down in back, across the front, up the sides did my not quite awake body-eyes scan. My every knee-worn move was mocked by the Jack King from its sofatic throne above with those quiet spits of righteous venom from …. hold on … I’m overheating through reflection.

So, anyway…. no phone. Off to the house phone to do the reverse-call-cell-number-gag-trick. You know, right? Problem being ….. what? Yes. My cell volume was …. off. No worries, though. Middle of the early morning with no noise meant I should have been able to hear the vibrating no-call default. Home phone up to one ear, the other free, I began my best impression of Tonto listening for cattle hooves. Slowly, up and across the sofa cushions, then down on the floor, I relentlessly ear-scanned with excellence. Puncing, poping, and prodding my lobe in places I never thought possible with rug burn as a reward…no vibration -save the ever increasing, irregular frustrating beat of my heart … still no phone…and jack staring me down.

Next. The dreaded “thrust hands in mysterious, dark cracks” method of retrieval. Jeepers. At this point, I sat back and contemplated. Is my phone really worth it? If ghosts took it, so be it, right? I like my phone guys. I can always write using my desktop, upgrade to an IPhone, … the options are aplenty. Stick my piano hands into where? Shit, no!

I was into this project, easily, 20 minutes and wrote off any hopes of following through with the original blog. This was developing into a Doug does a thing anyway, so I had to push forward into uncomfortable.

Squinty eyes aren’t my thing unless I have bad gas or eye sight too poor to pick people out of a crowd. This was an unfamiliar time to squint. In went my hands as two eyes, not used to partial closure in response to distress, closed completely from the horror of it all. Swiping around in darkness amidst textures I’ve never assumed real, my hands were assaulted by things. I have no other words. Grubly things. Stofly things. Glurkley things. Enough things to warrant my immediate withdrawal of hands without concern for any phone I may, or may not, ever see again.

Off to the kitchen. Two reasons. I needed to return the house phone. Second, in the everything drawer was a flashlight. Last resort. You may be wondering why I didn’t use a flashlight before – when looking in and around the sofa. Well, I’m a guy. We don’t do the obvious things first. Also, as an aside, if you’re ever frustrated, don’t look into the shiny end of a flashlight at 6 a.m. before turning it on …. and then. Maybe this life skill was covered in 2nd grade? I may have been absent that day.

Back to the front lines I marched with flashlight in hand and two very bright white spots in my eyes. On my knees once again, battle weary with a chafed ear and traumatized hands, I mined the underbelly of the fabriced beast whereupon I once rested. Memories of those moments gone … simultaneous stares from jack above, dripping sarcasm every time I failed. The rails and metal parts scuffed and scraped until at last I saw a small little gem – an AHA moment heard silently around the living room. A sliver of silver so perfectly perfect was the volume control on the side of my phone!

Take THAT, Jack!! .. I found my phone. Step one. Here’s the new problem. This is a sectional sofa with an iron and metal configuration challenging the Eiffel Tower. My phone was jammed upright in between two rails making extrication almost impossible. Now, I knew the phone made its way down there from the pain-in-the-ass jack, right? Gravity works only one way. I had no solution. My hands were too large to fit in between and taking apart the sofa then, at 6:45 in the morning, wasn’t a fix. I considered sucking in deeply, thus reducing the hulkiness of my hands. Maybe the general laws of body mass would step aside? Yardsticks, yarn, another household item beginning with “y”, or another letter, wasn’t the answer. A quagmire🤔.

Out of ideas was I. The ring so close … yet so far. A bridesmaid, not a bride. Almost a full hour. All I wanted to do was wake up, blog about Chinese food, push “publish”, and go about my day. As it stood, I was being taunted by a skinny wire and beaten down through a series of sensorial slaps to my soul. All for what? To be left looking at my phone two feet away, pining for release …. a salvation I could not provide.

And then a cellular MIRACLE, my friends!!

….As if those very idols, of a blog never to be seen, released their powers upon me with alacrity never before seen. The force strong enough to force my little Jack “buddy” off his little perch and to dislodge my phone from its perilous position, falling gently to the floor where I scooped it up. Simply said, in a less dramatic way, I kinda banged the f*ck out of the sofa cushion above – out of frustration – which dislodged my phone.

I doubt today was the day you wanted to hear about Chinese food, anyway. Good thing ghosts decided to move my phone and for me to miss a few Friday happenin’s in order to write. It’s always good for me share as I hope it is for you to read.

With that, I will plug my phone in for another night’s charging. Honestly, if I wake tomorrow and find my phone missing again in the early morning, there will be a quite different fantastical whimsy dancing around in my head …..

Five Words

“Today…”, meaning yesterday, “started out real weird”.

It was barely 2:00 in the afternoon when my most wonderful friend, Mike, squeaked open the door to my favorite hotel cafe. My moments were few and a bowl of turkey noodle soup just arrived. Any lengthy conversation – a usual fare with him – wasn’t going to happen as I needed to be elsewhere at 2:45. So, a short visit. Politics, the weather, and food. These are the facts. Dry, rather uninteresting, tidbits of information.

Unaware of Mike’s future attendance, I assumed a half hour of right index blogging while, simultaneously, left-handedly mastering the art of non-drippy soup tasting. This circus act I’ve done in the past when challenged by time. It is a necessary, arguably life-affirming, skill those of us who can’t settle into one-task-at-a-time groove mastered early in life.

I began … five words with intention: “Today started out real weird.” With two slurps of really good soup, the tap of a napkin to ease slow moving broth escaping down the lower corner of a dry mouth, and a swig of over carbonated Pepsi, my blog for the day was on its way. So I thought. Five words. Then, of course, Mike walked in. Love the guy. No complaints. I’d rather visit with him than write, anyway.

Eighteen hours later, soup well digested and Mike’s conversation with me gone into the clouds of remembrances, I have time to finish. Time to use both hands. It’s 4:00 a.m. No clanging silverware or waitresses bantering about skimming for orders. No Mike. Better moments now, in a way, to look back. A quieter time. Only the hum of the furnace accompanies my words to paint a morning that was … before I opened the glass doors of my favorite cafe yesterday slightly before 2:00.

I’ll look back. Spin the hours. Assume the warp of time-space and finish my thoughts. Five words.

“Today started out real weird. I don’t know why. I know all of us have days like these. If you don’t, there’s a mis-step in your gait somewhere. This is a day to sit. Just sit.

Earlier, I sat … and listened. Well, partially listened. A skill I’m not too fond of doing. Probably better at double souping and texting than lending an ear for my benefit. Having a tendency to be dug-in, aka male trait syndrome, I’m not likely to be wrapped in conversation with someone – over an hour- listening to their advice. Such was the case, however, this morning. It kinda just happened.

These are the unplanned conversations we trip over. Not only trip over, but the top half of our foot gets stuck in the crack of one issue and it takes an hour for us to figure out how to twist our way out. In the process, a good person, standing by our side, isn’t helping the actual problem, but is gently talking us through life. Such is what happens when we don’t watch where we are going. Guys like me …. sometimes. Like today, for example.

I certainly didn’t listen the whole time this morning. There’s a better chance of a powdery Whig party reunion than my complete silence during a conversation. But, I did sit and listen. We talked back and forth. Most certainly an unplanned exchange of ideas, proposals, and hypothesis designed to alter the course of humankind as we know it. Two adults engaged in the highest levels of verbal repartee.

All I know? I was in the process of a one mind-set, mental Lego mansion-building idea of a morning when I stepped on a rogue out-of-the-box block. Initially, it hurt. Not gonna lie. Minutes into the dialogue, pain subsiding, I began to realize happenchances isn’t just a fancy 13 letter word used flippantly to describe mundane events. It is, maybe, a good thing. A great thing. A thing happening by chance bringing joy to life.

Back (mostly) and forth words were exchanged as ideas and thoughts passed through filters of theology, idealism, and reality. Personal histories folded into current events while present ideas projected hope onto screens of future unsurety. Seventy-five minutes of this-and-that. Almost 1-1/2 hours of words causing me to miss an ugly friends 🤣 meet-up breakfast meeting in the very cafe I now sit.

They probably didn’t miss me, my sarcasm, or eloquence. No worries of any retribution either because none of them, fortunately, read this blog. I’ve enjoyed this time. Soup wonderful as always and the company of myself solitarily, texturally complete, I end as I began … All of us have days like these.”

All this to say I’m happy for three reasons. One, the Whig party is no more. Two, unplanned conversations can be a wonderful, inviting experience if we’re open to them … and willing to, uhm, listen. And, three, I’m so glad I have friends. Friends who interrupt texts at 2 pm on a Wednesday …. and friends who take time to talk with me when my day starts out real weird.

Keep those humans in your life if you have them. They’re the weird ones that will always be here for you.

Caucus .. what the F'aucus this?

“Caucus”: A meeting at which local members of a political party register their preference among candidates running for office or select delegates to attend a convention.

NBC news writers Carrie Dann and Mark Murray posted the following wonderful online article yesterday … to add clarity to the above definition I found on Google. I’ll see you on the other side – thirteen paragraphs, two aspirin, and one hand to the forehead down from here.

There are a total of 1,679 precincts that will meet to caucus. The Democratic Party in Iowa will also hold a number of “satellite” caucuses (60 in state, 24 out of state and three international — in Tbilisi, Georgia; Glasgow, Scotland; and Paris, France) for those who are unable to travel to a caucus location.

There are 41 pledged delegates up for grabs in the Democratic race, plus an additional eight unpledged (superdelegates) from Iowa. (Whenever we refer to delegates for the Feb. 3 precinct caucuses, we actually mean precinct delegates to county caucuses. After county conventions are congressional district and state conventions, at which the real national convention delegates are selected

Democrats and Republicans hold their caucuses differently.

Democrats move around the caucus site — for example, supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden will gather in one corner and backers of Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts others. At most Democratic caucus locations, a candidate must get support from at least 15 percent of attendees to achieve viability. If that threshold isn’t met, a candidate’s supporters must realign to a different viable candidate or join with other nonviable groups to form a viable preference group. (One of those preference groups could be “uncommitted.”) And the number of delegates awarded at each caucus site is determined by a mathematical formula. So get out your calculators!

In a change from past Democratic caucuses, the party will release three sets of results: “the first expression of preference” before the realignment, the “final expression of preference” after realignment and state delegate equivalents (the number used to determine the “winner” in past results). The final expression number — rather than the first expression — is used to determine who gets delegates and who doesn’t.

All of the numbers will be released at the same time.

Another change: Only members of nonviable groups will be allowed to realign. In the past, candidates who had initially hit 15 percent could lose supporters in the realignment. But for this cycle, the initial 15 percent support gets locked in.

Unlike the Democrats, Republicans select their candidate via a simple secret ballot. There is no shuffling from one corner of the caucus site to the other. There is no 15 percent viability or realignment. And there’s no mathematical formula to determine delegates awarded at each caucus site.

With President Donald Trump receiving nominal GOP opposition, however, the Republican process in Iowa isn’t as important to follow this presidential cycle.

(This had been controversial in the past, right?) Yes. The last two election cycles in Iowa have resulted in controversy on caucus night. On the Republican side in 2012, Mitt Romney was named the early winner, but a closer — and later — examination revealed that Rick Santorum had won by a mere 34 votes.

And on the Democratic side in 2016, Hillary Clinton edged Sanders by just 0.3 percentage points, with Sanders supporters citing counting and reporting irregularities.

The activity on caucus night is electing delegates in each of Iowa’s 1,679 precincts to the county convention. But the Democratic “winner” is the candidate who accrues the most state delegate equivalents after the realignment process.

The Iowa Democratic Party says there will be more than 2,000 delegates to the district and state convention. So if you see that Joe Biden gets 35 percent on caucus night, that means he won 35 percent of these state delegate equivalents.

I want to meet Carrie and Mark. I really, really do. Buy them a beer, soda, or whatever would calm their nerves a bit after attempting to explain the baffling beyond repair universe that is the Iowa Caucus. In thirteen paragraphs they tried, admirably, to teach me – a college educated, unapologetic, apolitical, motivated writer – the process by which 1,679 precincts delicately, and quite deliberately, decide delegates. Delicious, isn’t it?

Their article is well written and precise. No complaints from me at all. None. I’m not writing this blog from Tbilisi, Glasgow, or Paris so absolutely no complaints at all! Let’s look at what we’ve got here …

According to the article, “Democrats and Republicans hold their caucuses differently.” … Why is this important enough to mention, separately, in a stand alone sentence?. Hmm. First, I don’t have a clear definition of what a caucus actually is. The word sounds way too familiar to me, … a once – and possibly still – immature dude. Second, for what reason are they holding it? Third, do they know each are holding their own cauci differently? And last, what purpose does said cauci have when they’re done with it?

Moving on. We have the words, “viable” and “uncommitted” in the same paragraph. Two words one always likes to hear figuratively attached at the hip – explicitly when two people are attached at the hip. “Honey, my love, I’m so viable right now, but I’m uncommitted”. This duality of certain provocation might work well in politics; The certainty of one’s cauci is in doubt, however, seconds after stupidly saying that phrase in the throws of a Barry White moment.

Back to it. We then have three sets of results, or “expressions”. Well, we don’t. Iowans do, I guess. The final expression number, rather than the first expression, is used to determine who gets the delegates. Oh, yeah, the delegates. Delegates have expressions. At first read, I figured some guy wearing a seed-corn cap stood up and said, “I want this dude for President!” while others clapped in agreement. Nope. There are numbers involved. Numbers are expressions in Iowa. Not just any expressions. FINAL expressions. Kinda like, “I DID IT!”, but with numbers.

Reading on, Simple, secretive ballot on the right. Yeah. Ok. Secret. Got it. Republicans don’t do any of this math shit, apparently. One of two ways here. Either they’re too, er, crackbrained to puzzle out the figures involved, or too intelligent to unravel the nuances of the system. I don’t know. Don’t reckon I’ll ever care too much. There’s no opposition to the apparent GOP ticket holder, anyway.

The second to last paragraph is one of those I had to read, re-read, and … then … read again. I’m rethinking a lot of things in my life right now. Am I actually a guy? Did I just blow my nose and wash my hands before typing in this sentence? Why does my Wendy’s hamburger always slide out the backside of the bun after the second, not first, bite? What is the true singular spelling of caucus? Why is Schitt’s Creek so damn funny? on and on… This paragraph prompts my inner questioning. A winner wins, but possibly loses? I could be broken-brained. Very possible. My good friends, the “state delegate equivalents after the realignment process“, are most likely so much better equipped to be who they are without my understanding. My chakras align with political realities in other ways, I guess.

I’ll never run for political office or live in Iowa. Ever. On the extreme outside chance “ever” changes and I do, please – dear friend, please – remind me of my complete lack of understanding in this matter. I do understand simplicity in all its weird forms. Complexity, even when simplified down into an article well-written, can be an enigma to me.

Life stands on my pedestal of limited information. I’m fifty-ish years experienced in being wonderfully 10% immature and 90% happy I’m not holding my cauci differently, All of this adds up, even in Iowan weird math, to a great life.

As with anything in life, look at it. Study it. Say, “What the f*ck is this?” Try to get hold of it. If it makes no sense to you, move on … The math gets too complicated and you may just find you’re holding your cauci wrong, anyway.

Numb Butt and a Lesson

A line of exiting shoppers extending from the front door, easily ten yards ahead, to the same distance behind where I sit watching a cute young couple devour two hot dogs, one large hamburger, and two sodas. An all too familiar scene inside our local Sam’s Club as I wait, patiently and uncomfortably, on a red and white little elementary school-sized table not designed with me in mind.

Physically, I have a bony frame – specific to a certain part of my body in contact with a small, hard seat I currently occupy – that no amount of exercise will ever remedy. Emotionally, I’m not happy seeing unhappy people sloodged over their slow moving, thin-metal cages holding prisoner impulse bulk items they were unconsciously forced to buy. Spiritually, I focus on correct word choices I now type into my Samsung, praying for enlightenment as members jam extra shots of soda into their already full cups of overflowing carbonated poison at the fountain nearby. So yes, uncomfortable is the correct word choice for now.

Question: What would make me secure in my feelings right now? Well, maybe that isn’t the right question to ask. Rewind. What could I be doing right now – other than sitting on a toddler playground set in Sam’s Club, blogging about my first world problems, while anxiously slugging my knees upwards against the underside of a cheap plastic table? This the proper question! …

Answer: Absolutely NOTHING. This is where life placed me right now. For better … for worse, I am here.

A few minutes ago I was shuffling through the bread aisle sampling pizza off a small vendor cart. Before then, staring mindlessly into a self-serve kiosk that asked me, in a sexy, Angelina Jolie-ish robotic voice, if I wanted $2 off a bottle of dish detergent. I did stand there for an extra minute just to hear her ask me again … and, maybe again… before leaving without extricating a coupon from her welcoming aperture. In between, before and after pizza samples and, err… coupon moments, I wandered to and fro, in and among people-folk of all big-tall and smallness. They, as well, found themselves here – in Sam’s Club on Superbowl Sunday – pushing a cart full of expectations.

Twenty minutes ago, my good buddy Jim greeted me at the door with his usual smile and welcoming, “Hey, Doug … Nice to see you” demeanor. I pass through the doors of this gray brick building many, many times during the seasonal months of my business … February not being one of them… so, for Jim to address me in such a way wasn’t a surprise. Because we share a common interest in collecting small pieces of cardboard with athletes pictures on them (as wives understand them to be), the bond is natural and genuine. One of the few un-contractual benefits of “The Club”, I guess.

As I reflect, the faces in the never-ending line have changed. This doesn’t mean much except everyone around me looks different as well, which must mean I’m done in this place for now. My butt has the feeling of an anesthetized loaf of bread, the young couple’s food has been reduced to soggy napkins in the waste can, and I’m pretty sure there’s no more diet coke remaining in the soda machine. For now, time will not wait, but my thoughts will …

….I didn’t have any high hopes as I walked into Sam’s hours ago. My wish today was to fill time while Superbowl snacky odds and ends were being gathered. Writing wasn’t even on my mind. If any pangs of hunger poked a peek at all, I would have entertained a snack instead of observing. Eating is far better a diversion and time waster than staring at strangers while growing increasingly, posteriorly numb. Alas, I was driven to ogle. That is where life placed me and I was determined to make something out of it.

If there is a lesson, that’s it. Where we are at any moment – grocery, school, or park – is a place full of emotion, spirituality, and physical senses, etc … IF we see it that way. Observing our surroundings is filling up our lives with color that otherwise would be missed.

I was reminded of that today.

Now, when I get the chance … and soon … I must go back. I hear there’s a coupon for $2 off dish detergent.

Well, So much For Just Facebook

My “non-blog” thought for the day: Our human to human connections are wonderful … Especially when we suddenly realize something very familiar and remarkably similar in our past was a shared experience. Those “Oh, you too?” moments are so special. I’ve experienced them and am open to many more – should life be so kind – because life can close in so fast with day-to-day annoyances. We may feel alone in the “today” of our trouble, but somewhere there is another who will, someday, say of today, “Oh, you too?”. So, hang in there.

At roughly 4:10 EST, I posted that reflection on Facebook and intended for it to stay solidly there, and nowhere else, as a reminder of excellent social connections. My intention, however, cleverly disguised itself as a fuzzy puppy patiently swooshing his young tail across the kitchen floor… waiting only so long for the “go” order. A treat of the tie-in “Oh, you too?” moment” balanced on the end of his steady nose. Three hours later, a diversion of coincidence once again found a way into a human connection – becoming blog worthy at that moment. A chance meeting after a rather normal church service during an average first weekend in February.

There’s not much fabric in the lobby of our church. Aside from the padded bench against the wall where we stood talking, most of the material is in the sanctuary. Louder speaking can echo a bit because of the stark nature, so I try to speak softly when mentioning others’ problems, lack of humor, or ugly outfits. It’s a brief gathering of wits after a Saturday service that I must attend to disperse my familiar brand of sarcasm upon the fortunate few. As I am the service pianist/organist, it is my duty … err … pleasure to mix in with the post-worship faithful. It is an assembly of the hardly any on their way forward, this evening, into a Superbowl weekend filled with merriment, hot wings, and beer.

Within the mix tonight was “someone“. A kinda-regular. A person I’ve known a short while, but long enough to say, comfortably, it seems like I’ve known longer than a short while. Got it? We have a musical connection through the black and white 88. Our story could end there, but then there’s the lobby. A place where I found a trinket of information I never knew previously undisclosed in prior encounters with said someone. (Admittedly, that has to be one of the most confusing sentences I’ve ever written. I ain’t changin’ it. You know what I mean!).

The stark, solid space became an expanse where the fabric of connections began to weave a tapestry. Silly words between five people narrowed into two talking for a few extra minutes in an entrance hallway. Words about writing, creating, and blogs. The “go” order of an earlier intention.

We discussed the relevancy of a gender bias “hulk”. Is there a female form for same? I offered up a possible alternative www address for this blog site which was met with expected dubiousness; Yet, at the same time, said skeptics were starting to type, “www.Iamahulk.com” into their search boxes as I proudly declared this to be my blog address.

On the more serious side, our “Oh, You too?” moment extended into continued communication concerning possible self-publishing, etc… There’s a shared interest in blogging as “someone” does as well. As a published author, this person extended the kind hand of experience to me should I ever endeavor to do it (oh, how I’ve waited to use those two words side by side … so poetic and just glide off the tongue!).

I’ll take the untroubled moments for now and enjoy the treat. That treat being a wonderful, unexpected conversation with a connected, interested friend. I don’t need anything much more than that for now. My thanks to “someone” out there who/whom I suspect, being a more educated grammarian than I, knows which one to use.

HOW R U ?

ANOTHER: “How are you?”

ME: “Well, I’m pushing toward the inevitable end of the human race and, quite possibly, the universe. Isn’t this what all of us are doing right now?”

According to my sources, “Living the dream” is no longer an appropriate response to the above query. “Great” is passe, supposedly. “I’m fine, and you?”, too antiquated. Replying with, “Who’s asking?” is apparently sarcastic, and “I guess o.k.” not definitive enough. “Swell” is certainly dated along with “Groovy, man”, “Peachy”, and “Tops, sister!” ….

All those, and many replies frequently used, are out. Good, I say. Certainly glad the stuffed shirts decided to take away my pleasure of using such pedantic retorts. Now I have the highest honor of crafting slightly restive returns. My only challenge is not receiving a physical response from either a larger male fist planted in my cornea or an angry senior citizen spanking a bluggendry cane across my sharp-witted kisser.

… And so began my lunch conversation with a very kind gentleman at the lunch counter today. He asked, I answered with the above. Universe be damned. We’re ultimately doomed to be sucked into the sun. Get over it, folks.

Ed is his name. We cross paths frequently, so he’s very much … very much … aware of my proclivity for using sarcasm as a tool to open locks of human interaction between friends. Most of my acquaintances are aware of this trait, tool, insecurity, goof-off, .. whatever label you wish to use is fine with me. Without a history of strange coincidences or normal happenstances between us, I would say, “G’day, to ya” and tip my hat. Other than that, all bets are off and you get what you get from my always respectful, but non-quotidian brain.

Here’s what I figure: There exists, somewhere, anthologies for almost everything. So, I googled “smart-a** responses” because I figured this would be the closest public phrase describing my query: “How do I answer differently when someone asks me how I am and I don’t want to say ‘I’m fine’ in a nice, normal way?” GOOGLE: About 651,000 results (0.26 seconds). I knew it!! Now, me being me, a self-described non-conformist who wouldn’t stand to salute the words on any another literary flag, I find myself in a familiar position. Create my own little compendium of contemptuous comebacks to the ever-so interrogatory inquiry, “How are you?”….

“I want to be glad you asked … but I’m not. I’m always five white balls and one other red ball away from at least 40 million dollars that’s, most assuredly, going to end up in someone else’s wad-wallet.”

“I don’t know. How are YOU? … And if you tell me everything is super in your life, I’m not going to believe it and suggest you re-read ‘How to Get a Real Life Now’ that I loaned you before you started smoking the positive magic grass.”

Wanting to keep going with the list, I find this road of a positive blog post having an exit ahead to another therapy session town, so I’ll leave the list at two. Suffice to say, there are more times than not I really don’t want to answer the question. Thus, the sarcasm. Especially when, “How are you, … really?” invites itself into the party.

Hopefully you’re like me in some ways. In other ways, not. I like brutal truth. “How are you?” is so over used and almost meaningless anymore. If you give a true answer back, there’s almost never time for compassion and sympathy in return. Not always, though. This isn’t absolute, mind you, just hardy ever. I’ve found eye contact is the key – if you have that, stay with it .. there’s hope of a meaningful connection there.

For me, I’m sticking with sarcasm. I love to laugh with my people. This helps me heal. I also like to look at myself and ask, “How are you?” … and be brutally honest with myself – sometimes sarcastic, sometimes not. The answers aren’t always easy, but they’re real. It’s what all of us should be doing right now.