Are We Relaxed?

We’ve been going back and forth to the cabin for the better part of a month and we were given a key so we can come and go as we please. I think it’s important to note that we have one key and two cars.

This past trip there were a lot of errands to take care of before we left, packing of clothes and some food and when we finally got the car all packed up Melanie says to me “Do you have the key to the house?” to which I answer with a confident yes. We’re good to go. We’re off to the country.

As we head up the Thruway, we notice how cool the clouds look and how great it feels to be heading to the country. We are talking about how relaxed it feels right about now and how good life is.

About 45 minutes into the hour and a half drive, I suddenly and pretty conspicuously grab my keychain that’s hanging from the ignition of a car that’s moving at about 70 miles per hour to check the keychain for the key to the cabin. As I’m fumbling to see if the key is there, Melanie says, in a manner that completely met expectations, “You don’t have the key, do you?” Clearly, the answer to the question was not the much preferred “Yes, I have it”.

As I’m being reminded that I did in fact say I had the key, I fumbled to respond as all thoughts of how relaxing and beautiful the country is rapidly fade into those clouds that didn’t look all that cool anymore. Ok maybe I thought she was referring to the key to the house were leaving, not the one we were going to in which case I’m an idiot for even thinking it, let alone writing it. We took the Subaru and the key was on the Jeep keychain so maybe I got confused and thought the Jeep was the Subaru. Sure, they look similar.

I had nothing so we decide to push on to the cabin as there was a chance there was a key hidden outside. As we approached the cabin, my heart was racing as I prayed the key was there. I’m not really in the habit of praying, but desperate times require desperate measures.

It turned out that the key was there and I fully recognized the fact that the worst thing I could have said was, “Hey, the key is here so we’re good.” That would not have been my best choice.

License and Registration Please

I’ve heard many people tell me they don’t trust anyone, but they may trust a whole lot more people than they think.

When you approach a green light, do you trust that those with a red light will stay where they are or do you stop, get out of your car and walk over to every single car that’s stopped to get verbal confirmation from everyone that we’re all on the same page and that they all know they need to stay stopped until it’s green?

Whenever you eat anything, do you trust those that prepared the food safely or do you check for poisonous substances through chemical analysis on everything before you eat it?

When you hop into your car to go somewhere, do trust those that engineered it and simply start the engine and drive off or do you execute a pre-ignition protocol that includes, but is not limited to, an electrical checkout, checking the gas tank for leaks, pop the hood to visually inspect the engine or make sure the brake pads look ok?

When you board a plane, do you simply take a seat or do you demand to see all the safety certifications, the plane’s registration, the pilot’s driver’s license or insist the flight attendant tastes the food before you do?

I thought so.

Focus Please

In grammar school, I had difficulty with reading comprehension. I used to get distracted by all the other words on the page rather than letting those I was actually reading sink in. The school had this machine that helped with comprehension by blocking out surrounding words as I read across the page.

Today, I am reaping the benefits of that machine more than I ever could have imagined. I still struggle a bit with reading, but if I need to buy one item, I can go into a store the size of Pittsburgh, be focused only on that one thing and walk out with only that one thing. If I’m looking for an extension cord, I don’t see the plants, the paint, the lumber or the Windex as I walk through the store. All I see is an 8 ft long orange extension cord and when I find it, on my way back I still don’t see the Windex, the lumber, the paint or the plants.

Venus & Mars

So you’re having a fairly heated argument with your partner and as the dialogue goes on you can see in her eyes that deep down she’s thinking “I so got this”, oozing more confidence than Tony Stark. You recognize this, process this and come to the conclusion that you are about to be verbally and logically slaughtered. You know it, she knows it, everyone’s pretty much on the same page. It’s gonna be ok.

When we do have those arguments, I will occasionally take a bit more time than the average person to respond. It’s a little obnoxious. Waiting for me to respond is sometimes, not nearly all the time, but sometimes like planting a grass seed, watering it and staring at it, waiting to see it pop through the dirt. My brain has decided since it’s been working ridiculous hours for so many years, it’s time to cut back a little bit and chill.

But I digress…We are talking about women and men, Venus and Mars so they say. The glasses I wore 20 years ago were based on learning and trying to understand my feelings towards women and their feelings towards me. The glasses I now wear show me the endless love, compassion and fire the one woman I care about has.

Whatever side of the fence you find yourself, I think we spend the first part of our life learning about each other and the second half enjoying each other. Maybe it doesn’t work out that way for everyone, but it seems to be the case for me.

In my 66 years on this planet, I have come to realize that women possess something that men don’t have. Women’s intuition maybe? I’ve never heard of a men’s intuition so I think it might be something worth paying attention to.

Kerry Vincent

I just learned tonight that Kerry Vincent had passed way. My heart aches as I know this woman from afar as being the kindest, most generous person you could ever meet. Kerry made a big impression on my life. It was probably around 2008 when I first connected with her.

I love woodworking and in late 2007 I started building wood cake stands. I had made the first one and I sent e-mails to tons of people. Over 2,000 emails over about a month. One of them was to Kerry Vincent and I got a response from her. And the response I got wasn’t an email. She called me on the phone to tell me what she thought of my work. She was very complimentary about my woodworking.

I remember telling her, when she called, that I can’t believe that I am speaking to you on the phone when just last night I saw you on TV! She immediately started telling me about color trends and styles that might be useful to me in marketing my work. I told her how grateful I was that she called me and she went on to say that she gets thousands of emails each day and she responds to every one of them to encourage emerging artists and help them.

For quite a while, we emailed back and forth and at some point she says to me…”Would you be interested in being my exclusive woodworker for my show? Each year I have a cake decorating competition and I want to make the grand prize one of your stands.” Yes! Thank you sooooo much.

And so for the next 4 years, I built cake stands for Kerry’s OSSAS competition’s grand prize. It was awesome designing a stand for her. It would start out with sketches of the stand, we would agree on a design, and as I progressed with building it, I would send her photos. The whole experience was awesome!!!

And that last year is when I flew to Oklahoma to Kerry’s show to hand deliver the stand I had made for her show. It was the first time I met her in person as it was almost like a life changing experience. I was standing next to this woman who, on the Food Network, was paid to judge artists and had no problem giving me, when I finally arrived, a hard time for being a tad bit late. And with that, she instantly lived up to my high expectations of a person I liked a lot.

That 4th year was the last show I collaborated with Kerry on and I flew to Oklahoma for her show mostly just to meet this incredibly giving woman and when we met it was the most satisfying experience of my life. We emailed from time to time with each other afterwards and it was nice. It was like talking to the most supportive and inspiring friend you could think of. My last communication with her was via e-mail in June 2019…

I am very sad to hear of her passing, but I am happy to have had her in my life, if only for a few of her wonderful years on this planet. She was a joy as a person, and as a friend. This lady will be missed…

People Speeds

Everyone exists at different speeds. This is what makes us all special. Some of us are a tortoise and some of are a hare. I would describe myself as a tortoise with a mild shot of espresso in me. I may outrun your average tortoise, but for the most part I move at a steady, somewhat irritatingly slow pace. I’ll get there, just give me a little time.

I have found that hares wake up instantly in the morning. As soon as their eyes are open, it’s as if they’ve been up all day. When I wake up, it’s not like a black-out, more like a brown-out. Power is at a significantly low level, you know it’s coming back to full capacity but it’ll just take some time. This tortoise needs at least an hour or more to wake up, and even then, I’m not completely awake, let alone coherent. A few cups of coffee, relax a bit and I’m ready to start my day. The fact that I need to relax a bit after waking up is ironic since I just relaxed for about 8 hours. My brain and my body need to ease into consciousness.

It’s not like I’m in a bad mood when I wake up. It’s more like no mood at all. Just give me a little space for a little while so I can grasp the reality of the day. It’s pretty basic I think, but I’m not sure hares grasp this concept.

I‘m not sure the hare is more productive than the tortoise. Maybe they just get more stuff done when it’s light outside. Our internal clocks may just be a little skewed. I don’t know really…

But what I do know is that this tortoise is with the most amazing hare and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Where’s My Car?

In a previous post I referred to a period in my life as a very fuzzy black hole. A time when I was having a blast with not a care in the world. I was in my early twenties, living at home and had no one but myself to answer to. Well, there was my Mom and Dad…

In my junior year of high school at the age of 16, I met some pretty cool people. They introduced me to a completely different lifestyle that included alcohol and all sorts of mind altering stuff. I liked these people. They were my friends and I felt comfortable with them. It didn’t matter that I was handing over my entire paycheck to pay for cocaine. They were my friends.

And over the next bunch of years I partied like a champ. There was a disco (Yes, a disco) that we would go to every Friday and Saturday night in Orangeburg, New York by the name of The Cuckoo’s Nest. It was a bar that one would go to meet people, even if it was for just one night. It was that kind of family oriented establishment frequented by only the most responsible adults. We would go there every week-end and every time we went we would prepare for arrival with specialized refreshments and other substances that would ensure we were all in an exceptionally good mood.

On one occasion, I got my 1966 Volkswagen Beetle stuck between two trees in the mud at 4:00 AM. I was wearing a Tony Manero 3 piece white suit that eventually turned dark brown because of all the mud that we were trying to get out of. I think I got home right about the time my Dad was leaving for work. It was not a pleasant experience.

Then there was the time that I was with these good friends partying all night and all seemed ok until I got up the next morning. I got out of bed, shaved, showered, got dressed and went outside to the driveway to get into my car to go to work but my car wasn’t there. A 1966 Volkswagen Beetle isn’t the biggest car out there but it’s still a little difficult to misplace.

At just that moment when I started wondering where the fuck my car is, my Mom comes outside and asks me “Bobby, where is your car?” My immediate thought was, well she’s not too pissed off at me since she didn’t call me Robert. She only called me that when she was really, really upset with me. In any case, it was not the best of circumstances and all I could come up with was “I’m not sure, Mom”.  Not the answer she was hoping for which led to an extended period of time with me listening to the pitfalls of having this lifestyle while I stressed over trying to figure out where the fuck my car was so I could get to work. I spent the next four hours driving around with a friend in the big yellow school bus that she drove trying to locate my car and finally found it in a Texaco gas station about 10 minutes from home. I have no idea how the car got there or how I got home and this got me thinking that perhaps this lifestyle isn’t for me.

Have a Good Day

Watching scary movies is worth it. No matter what your situation in life is, after you watch it you think Hey it’s not so bad. At least I’m not getting shoved into a wood chipper. At the end of the day, every day above ground is a good day. For the most part, I didn’t think this way when I was 20, 30 or even 40 but when I hit 50 I started to appreciate things I had never really thought of before.

When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I only thought about rebelling. Sex, drugs and rock and roll as they say. I had what I now affectionately call a 7 year black hole within that time frame. A time where it’s all a bit fuzzy.

At 26 I got married, was introduced to “In-Laws” and life was deceivingly good.

In my early 30s, I was married with two kids. I was happy to be a Dad but started to question the whole marriage thing and the in-laws were becoming a much bigger part of my life than I had planned.

In my 40s I found myself listening to Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, watching scary movies a lot more often and dealing with nightmares of in-laws.  

In my early 50s I was fixated on the final verse of Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, “Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!” I only watched scary movies and started to get concerned when I began thinking being shoved into a wood chipper may not be so bad.

At 56, the end of time arrived and I started to appreciate the concept of every day above ground being a good day.

Much of my late 50s and early 60s was spent learning about lawyers and a thing called alimony. They don’t teach this shit in college!

In my mid 60s I met a woman, my beautiful girl, someone that has made my entire journey worth it. Now, every day above ground is not only a good day but an awesome day.

Where Am I?

When you’re born, you are thrust into this world without having a clue on what to do. You don’t get any training, you didn’t ask to be here and you’re not a happy camper since the very first thing that happens to you is you cry and soon find yourself in a box, tightly wrapped in a blanket and sporting a wool hat and mittens. You look around and see many other boxes with little people in them all wrapped up with mittens and the hat, just like you.

After a few days, it’s pretty obvious that your only contribution is to eat, cry, poop, throw up and sleep. You eat this liquid that hardly qualifies as food, cry because it tastes horrible, expel this black matter that looks and smells like rancid tar, throw up because there’s only so much of this stuff you can eat and sleep because the whole damn thing is exhausting. And you have to do this every day. To think you had to crawl for 12 hours through that tiny tunnel to get here.

And what’s with this all these appendages? They all keep jerking around without any apparent purpose, especially this big ball on top that is way too heavy and makes the head on a bobble head doll look stable. You try and look around but everything is very fuzzy. You’re not in this world for an hour and you need glasses.

In a fit of frustration, you struggle to find your place in this world and can only find useless information that says if you’re 0 – 2 months old, you’re a newborn, 2 months – 1 year old, you’re an infant, 1 year – 3 years old, you’re a toddler…The list goes on all the way up to 60 years being old age. That last one doesn’t sound very flattering and toddler sounds ridiculous. According to Webster a toddler is one who toddles and to toddle is to walk with short tottering steps in the manner of a young child.” Ok, there’s way too much toddling and tottering going on for you to even care anymore. There’s a bunch of other categories but hey, you just got here and your attention span isn’t exactly stellar. And you still haven’t figured out what all those appendages are for…

You wonder why everyone is so much bigger than you are. There’s no way they could have fit through that tunnel. Two of these big people bring you to another location where they place you into a bed with bars on both sides. This just keeps getting better. You can’t see and you’re in prison.

Soon you start seeing a lot more big people. These giants are everywhere and every day more giants appear and a lot of them speak this cryptic language that includes words like “Goo-Goo and Ga-Ga.” Can you please tell me what that means? Just when you think you have a handle on the language, you realize either you need a translator or they need a shrink.

You start to notice the same two big people around every day and get some comfort with them until one day they bring you to a really big building where they hold you over a pool of water next to an old guy in a white robe. There’s music playing and the old guy pours some water over your head and all you can feel is disappointment at the poor job he did in attempting to give you a bath. He must think this big ball on top should be cleaner than the rest of you, but it’s puzzling that he didn’t use any soap. Whatever, none of anything makes any sense so why should this part be any different.

You get back home with these two big people and it’s back to eating the same really bad liquid, crying and all the rest and it feels like you’ve spent you’re entire life eating this stuff. Well, technically you have.

Soon, you learn that crying gets the big people’s attention. It seems the big people will immediately stop what they are doing and tend to you if you cry. Boy oh boy, this could be fun. You want to put me in prison? Ok, let’s see who has the last laugh when you cry your way into that big bed that’s the size of Montana.

Things seem to change every day and you can’t wait to see what life has in store for you tomorrow…