Humor

Hunting and Pecking

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Nothing to do with this post, just a new picture I’ve taken.

I was in Barnes and Noble the other day looking for something new to read. Bookstores are so desperate these days that they are now begging for money. I bought a cup of black coffee and the barista tried hard to up-sell me on a larger size, a shot of flavor, a bowl of soup. A bowl of soup? No, I’ll just have the coffee that I ordered about an hour ago. She finally relented and handed me my receipt that also included a coupon for cookies.

I spent lots of time in bookstores in my youth. Borders afforded me a sense of freedom. I could ride my bike there, smoke cigarettes by the bucketload on the patio outside its cafe and thumb through photography books that could, by chance, contain a nude (one exposed breast constitute art; two, pornography). I should have used my time there to expand my knowledge and vocabulary, but instead I searched the racks of CDs for music I might like. In those days you had to buy a CD on speck. After plunking down $25, you might discover the album was terrible besides the one or two songs you bought it for in the first place. I once flung a Culture Club CD out the window of my car because I found the songs other than “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” to be so reprehensible. It pains me today to admit I even liked THAT song. Continue reading “Hunting and Pecking”

Self Help

Panic #60

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I wish this wasn’t true. I sat staring at my computer trying to come up with an excuse not to write this but I couldn’t think of any. I’m not looking for sympathy or praise. I am trying to help myself. I’d really like to just move on with my life and forget this is even a part of it. My life is happier and healthier than it has ever been. Still, I suffer little blips in my mental health that are very real and I’d like to attempt to shine some light on them here. 

My heart began to palpitate while I was eating lunch two weeks ago. I started the day innocently like most days begin before trouble starts. I thought nothing of it because I’ve dealt with little jumps in my heartbeat all my life. A perfectly normal occurrence, not to draw concern, unless you are like me. I didn’t think much of the palpitations until they happened again as I was lying in my bed that night. This time the palpitations were harder and faster- thump thump, thump, thump, thump thump thump- and they got my attention. I figured that whatever was causing them would clear away as I slept, so I tried to forget them and went to sleep. I woke up around 2 AM and felt the same weird thumps in my chest. Then I was certain, I was dying.  Continue reading “Panic #60”

Essay

Allergies

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I love springtime but I suffer terrible allergies. Debilitating, grating allergies that sometimes prevent me from leaving the house. Most people seem to be affected by the yellow stuff that shows up on cars and in puddles. I am not bothered by that sort of pollen. Although, much like a traffic light, the yellow stuff is a warning that the pollen that sets my immune system on fire is on the way. 

I’m pretty sure it’s ragweed that makes me the most ill. Ragweed is everywhere and it emits invisible spores. The fact I can’t see the enemy is the most frustrating part. If it was the yellow stuff, I’d have a marker. I could go, okay it’s sneezing time for a few weeks until this stuff clears up. Ragweed pollen may not paint cars but it does use my nose as a siren, letting everyone know it is around. Continue reading “Allergies”

Charleston

Spring in Charleston

People from Minnesota laugh at our winters. Why do we do that? Project our reality onto other people. If you live in Minnesota, you better learn how to deal with a frigid and dominating winter. If you live in Charleston, SC, two days below freezing is a damn ice age. It actually snowed in January of last year. I grew up north of here and I’ve never experienced snow like that. Six inches of snow that turned into ice. The city was frozen for a week. I walked to the grocery store down the street and was almost killed by a car sliding off the road. I didn’t leave the house again until it thawed. You could hear the people from Minnesota laughing at the Charleston “snowpocalypse” clips on the weather channel. Everyone in northern states loves a good southern snow storm so they can make fun of how unprepared we are. It just reinforces their stereotypes of us. Fine because we have some pretty good ones about them.

We can’t drive in snow and ice because we never have to. A few weeks before the snow it was 65 degrees on Christmas Eve. I’ve always said if I need to use a heater to get my car battery warm enough to start my engine, I will only do that once, pack whatever fits into the car and hightail it south as fast as I can. I’m proud of my novice snow driving because driving in snow and ice stinks. I think snow is pretty for a day and then I’m ready to say goodbye. Enough already. Last year, snow piles in Boston were still around in June. Oh, the superiority. 

If you live in a place that is stunningly beautiful and pleasant in the spring and fall like Charleston, winter is a real burden, even if it is mild. The short days and gray skies are like a sedative for the population. People are less happy, a little fatter, sun deprived and tired of being inside. Occasionally a 70-degree day will pop out of January and we all become like escaped inmates. We had one of those days this year and I went outside and stood in some sunlight for about thirty minutes. It’s a real weather tease.  

Now it is spring and Charleston is alive again. Our cars are yellow and our noses are running; a small price to pay. Most days in the Charleston spring feel like nothing. You don’t notice temperature, which allows you to notice other things like the sweetness of the air or the gentle sea breeze. The temperature allows your mind to wander; to search for better descriptions than “it’s hot” or “it’s freezing.” 

Humidity begins to build in the spring. In the early morning, it lays across everything like streaks on a freshly washed window, slowly disappearing. Green returns to the marsh grass. Color creeps up the spartina stalks beginning in late march. I actually think it is prettiest when the grass is half brown and half green.  Spring happens underwater as well. Nutrients return to the marshes fed by the Ashley and the Cooper rivers. That brings mullet and shrimp that bring bigger fish and so on. Winter water is a pretty aqua, but it is also dormant. When marsh water is dark with mud, it is alive. Life pops and flips throughout. Winter is hard under water. Food is scarce and the water is clear making it tougher to hide from dolphins. Fish from Minnesota wouldn’t stand a chance. 

I would not drive around Charleston during the first week of spring. People are delirious, gray-eyed, like they haven’t completely awoken from hibernation yet. I imagine when a grizzly emerges from her winter sleep, she is also ravenous and irrational. We are starved for sun and pleasantness. The winter sun is lower in the sky and most of its rays go right over our heads. The summer sun shines down on us like a cop interrogation scene from 80s television. The spring sun is gentle, friendly. 

The spring sun gets inside the house as well. It turns the shades burnt orange as it breaks the horizon. Then, it paints everything a soft yellow as the day moves on. 

Charleston isn’t a sports town. It is too nice in the fall to bother with football all the time. We watch, but we aren’t fanatics. Your team stinks? Let’s play nine. College basketball has a presence here. The College of Charleston has a great mid-major arena right downtown. We enjoy sports with an eye outdoors. We can just as easy listen to the game on the boat. Worlds are never as in sync as they are when it is beautiful at The Masters as well as out your window. The green of the fairways of Augusta National seem to spread from the TV into your living room and beyond. We also love March Madness. Not because we are rabid fans but because we love excuses not to work. If you have business in Charleston on a beautiful spring Friday, you better get it done before noon. 

Spring in Charleston has some flaws. No-see-ums will ruin a pleasant morning. Female no-see-ums have to feed on your flesh so they can have the energy to reproduce. Males don’t bite. Metaphor all you want. No-see-ums are warded off by wind and the hot sun. Early morning and late afternoon hours can be torturous if you get into a swarm. The worst thing they do is bite your scalp. The bites raise huge welts on me because I’m allergic. The welts don’t last long but they are itchy and painful. I always think about the days in the south in the past when working and living in the marsh must have been almost unbearable. I’m sure they had some no-see-um remedy that was a solid lead salve or something equally as deadly. I wish they had passed it on to us. Lead poisoning might be preferable. 

Springtime ushers in abundance. Tourists come and spend their money. The city is teeming with life again. Farmers markets begin. My health and my mind are both benefited by weekly farmers markets. I’m not sure I have grasped their privilege yet. Lots of places struggle to get fresh anything, even in summer, and here we are with a weekly cornucopia. Blueberries are my favorite. There’s a farm in Awendaw that specializes in growing them. I think they grow the best blueberries you can buy anywhere. 

I do not believe there is a prettier place on earth than Charleston in the spring. I try not to take it for granted; to enjoy as much of it as I can. Don’t worry Minnesota, spring will come to you as well. It will be summer down here by then. Hang in there. Come on down if you are feeling restless. The weather is fine.

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Humor

Dead Dog

Can you kill a dog? I like to tell myself that I would never in a million years kill a dog, but if I were in a covered wagon crossing the American plains in the 18th century and my family was starving because no one told us how long these friggin’ plains were, I’m afraid I’d have to kill the dog. 

I don’t want to kill this dog. I’m hoping it’s really old. I’m going to tell you why I want this dog to die and you have to promise to hear me out before you judge, okay? The dog barks every day. I can handle dog barks. That’s not it. It’s when and how this dog barks that makes me wish something terrible would happen to it. Like a vocal cord accident of some sort. Continue reading “Dead Dog”

Humor

I Sneezed

I’m always sick at the end of the sick-getting season. At the end of February or the beginning of March, you can bet I’ll have a cold or the flu. I get the flu shot every September. Does it expire by February? 

On the morning of February 16th, I sneezed. Just woke up and sneezed. I knew that this was it. No idea if it will last one week or two, but I needed to prepare myself for the worst. I got up and made coffee even though caffeine weakens the immune system. I think I need some terrible tasting green juice that all the assholes drink after the gym. Please, someone blend me up a cure. Continue reading “I Sneezed”

Essay

Not My Last Supper

I have the luxury (or curse) of having ten plus years of stuff I’ve written on record, either in this blog or in thousands of pages of notes. We have a terrible habit these days of taking a tweet some guy wrote ten years ago and using it to sink their entire career. On occasion, I’m going to uses things I’ve written in the past to show you how absurd this practice is. I barely recognize things I wrote a year ago, much less ten. While I take responsibility for the things I wrote, because I did write them, I ask that you allow me the opportunity to change my mind. To admit I was wrong. Please let me learn from my mistakes, even if it takes years.

This is not easy for me to do but I think it is important. Something I wrote two years ago came up again and I feel the need to address it. “My Last Supper” is a small post, only 500 words, but it still lives with people I care about. And it’s ugly. And I’d like to correct the record. 

This old post is about how much trouble I used to have attending large gatherings like dinners. Instead of trying to figure out why and fix the issues in my life, I decided to blame the dinners themselves and my friends for even inviting me to them. I wanted you to know how much I hated the evenings and I wanted you to in turn quit having them or at least quit inviting me. The people that I’m speaking to in this post aren’t adversaries, they are people that I love. Why do I so crudely admonish them for inviting me to a party? I don’t know. I think I was looking for something or someone to blame for my unhappiness. Other than me of course. 

Honestly, I wanted to just delete the post because it is so hard for me to read and admit I even wrote. But because someone recently brought it up again, because they were planing a nice dinner and they were worried I would not agree to come, I feel the only way I can erase the damage the post has done is to address it verbatim. I so easily forget that the things I write and say matter. Even if it only matters to a few people.  

The words in bold are from the old post. They appear unchanged. I’ll also link the post here. Continue reading “Not My Last Supper”