Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I've folded a lot of bags the past few months...

...for the annual luminaria display they have at my workplace.

It's a repetitive, boring task that does take practice and dexterity to master and I've been doing it every year since the club I advise started.

Years and years it seems.

While it does get to me now and then when the count left to do is high and the stack seems implacably large, through its simple motions I feel a kind of relaxation. Granted any sense of peace I feel is probably stolen from the muscles in my neck where knots seem to form after several hours at it, it's still a good feeling.

The display is less than two weeks away at this point and I'm done with my/our allotment.Set-up begins the Monday following Thanksgiving, though I think I'll skip helping there until the day of, choosing to help straighten and light for the evening.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post in a few weeks.


It really is quite a sight. Especially if it there's a light snow in the air. We had to cancel one year do to a heavy-ish snow (well, heavy-ish for the high desert), but if the flakes start falling the hour of, it just magnifies the beauty of the display.

I wish we could leave them up the entirety of the season, but then where would anybody park?

Ah, well... my part is done for now. All there is to do is wait for time to roll by and concentrate on other things.

Hope to see you there~

The San Juan College Luminaria Display is an annual event that begins around sundown on the first Saturday in December. Visitors driving through must start at Butler Avenue, traveling on Sunrise. Walkers may park by the Quality Center for Business or CFDC by traveling south on College Boulevard from Pinon Hills.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You know, I really love my Jeep...

...in that weird way in which people get attached to their vehicles.

I occasionally see commercials that try and capitalize on that idiom most recently for station wagons. That particular bit of advertising used both warm and fuzzy nostalgia and the heat of first love remembered (for an actual lover, not necessarily the car).

It's funny because I'm currently searching for both a new car and a new love... and I'm feeling doubly put upon because, while I've been single and lonely for quite some time (it's been almost a decade since I've been in any sort of relationship beyond wishful thinking and a few one night stands), my '93 Jeep Cherokee has always been there for me when I needed her.

Until now, I guess....

Sure, if I had the money, I'd love to give her a huge refit... fix all that needs fixing, replace all that needs replacing. As it happens, unfortunately, I've only had enough to keep her limping along... and have now hit the breaking point.

I've done a serious disservice to something I say I love. I couldn't afford to take care of her properly and literally can't afford to keep her going. Already in debt for the last repair (only a month gone by) this new problem with her innards is way beyond my budget. I wish I had the courage go even deeper into the red to resurrect her, but I don't.

I'm a coward for not saving my Jeep. I feel it every day as I ride past her on my current mode of transportation. And I think said cowardice is a symptom of why I'm still missing out in other areas of my life. Perhaps it is a reflection of my personality flaws.

Perhaps I'm reaching... over-thinking it too much in my lack-of-funds/lack-of-car/lack-of-love depression?


...could be.

Either way, I miss my Jeep.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Everyone Should Do Karaoke

So last night was a bit of a weird night.

It was a special occasion because our core group of friends (along with a couple of newish folks) went to see the original Ghostbusters in theaters. It was only getting one showing a night, one night a week for the three weeks leading up to Halloween, and we chose this week to do it.

So it was a pretty groovy night already.

Then we went to our friendly neighborhood <name redacted> for some food and conversation. Little did we know that it was karaoke night. And a rather loud karaoke night at that.

It was packed.

Not that folks were there to sing, necessarily. Sure, there were one or two folks constantly going back and forth between their tables, taking turns crooning out pop-ish country and several Black Eyed Peas mainstays (really? Fergalicious, people?), but for the most part it seemed like folks were just doing their best to suffer through the night as they ate their dinners and performed their mating rituals (it was interesting to watch the young cholo lad in the table next to me steadily creep into his date's personal space).

Our table was certainly hostile to the crooners.

We're a pretty opinionated group. We know what we like and don't... and aren't afraid to tell each other so (don't worry, we didn't start any brawls). It didn't help that none of the music those regulars rotating on the mic were choosing were of the sort we ever enjoyed.

Someone had to do something, but I didn't want it to be me.

I started laying out hints and challenges.

"There's only one way to put a stop to it," I'd prompt the table. "You have to go up there and pick something decent." Notice my self-serving use of the word 'you.' I'd like to think of myself sometimes as the Jeff of the group, though I'm probably closer to a cross between Abed, Britta and Pierce. "You could totally do better than them."

This sort of baiting went on for a half an hour with no success. Not a single member of our crew wanted to get up and croon. I steadily worked my way down the table, challenging each and every member of our party to make the pain and constant parades of Shanias and Will.I.Ams cease and desist.

Then one of them had the inkling to call my bluff with one of their own.

"If you do it, I will."

That cinched it. I had an in. I could bow to the small pressure put on me and do what I had really been itching to do all night but hadn't had the courage to start under my own power due to my friends being so anti-Karaoke.

You see, I wanted to sing.

The table didn't quite erupt in disbelief as I walked the short distance across the bar to where the Karaoke DJs were camped out, but there was certainly a stir. I asked how much of a line there was (as we were finishing our dinner at that point) and snagged the rather thick song book the DJs had several copies of so folks could choose their tunes. Pacing back to the table, I sat back down and started going through songs.

There were several thousand of them and barely any sounded interesting. It took me close to half an hour to go through the entire list, skimming through countless R&B, Rap and Country tunes that I knew nary a word to. The pickings weren't entirely slim as there were quite a few songs that I knew, but didn't think I had the range to sing, but then I found it.

Bohemian Rhapsody.

It's a song everyone has sung at one point or another, whether they be in the shower, driving down the road or just headbanging along with Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey.

Maybe it was cliche, but I had my song.

As of this writing, I still don't know if my group thought I would actually go through with it until I pulled the book from the table with me and headed to the mic. The regulars were taking a break and I had my chance. No line, no wait... all I had to do was sing.

Then... disaster.

The mic wasn't on and I didn't know it. A DJ scrambled to get it on and I went a verse without any amplification over the din of folks talking and flirting. Still, I soldiered on.

The next several minutes were bliss. It wasn't orgasmic or anything, I just stared at the screen and did my best. No playing to the crowd or searching for eye contact, I just felt the music and tried my damnedest to do Freddie proud.

Sure, I missed a note or two... there are some high pitches that just haven't come to me since reaching my majority. And, yes, my voice was probably flat or sharp here and there. And, finally, there were a few cues I missed due to my nerves.

But it... was... bliss.

It wasn't until the song was done and I started inching away from the mic that I noticed that people were clapping and folks had actually enjoyed my rendition. The egoist in me said many were applauding, the shy introvert side of me tried to reign me back by whispering that it was only my friends and a few sparse others doing so out of politeness, but I still took a few half joking bows and nods of the head in acknowledgement.

By the time I got back the table, the jig was up. I had called their bluff, now it was my time to call theirs. Unfortunately, they disappointed me. Not a single member of my party had the courage to get up and join me. I was crestfallen, but tried to stay upbeat.

When the waitress came around to offer a bit of encouragement, I smiled and blushed (let's just say it's been a while since a cute gal complimented me for anything). I'd like to think her 500% tip was mostly due to her service (don't think I went too crazy, I'm a cheap date... all I had that night was water and an appetizer)... but I'd be lying to myself if part of the reason wasn't due to her post-Rhapsody comments.

As we paid our bills and headed out, one of the DJs tried to get me to come back up for more, to which I no doubt blushed a second time. The night was over, however, and I hadn't found a second song in all those thousands I had any confidence in. My friends and I moved back to my apartment and sat around talking for several more hours, a few moments of which I spent trying to gauge how I actually did by asking folks as subtly as possible.

I've slept on it now and still think I had quite a bit of fun. It really was bliss to be up there singing a song I love dearly, hoping to wash the taste of the pop and rap that folks had been doing earlier from my mind. Sure, there were a few disappointments. The missed notes, my friends chickening out... and no lovely young ladies raced across the bar (drunk or sober) to give me their numbers or buy me a drink... but, still, I had fun.

I think I'd do it again in a heartbeat... so long as I could find another song from those thousands of rejects.

And, in the end, really... everyone should do Karaoke.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Today I could not wake up.

I budgeted myself several extra hours, setting my alarm early and even creating a backup, yet still I couldn’t find the willpower to move beyond reaching an arm over to poke at my cell phone to hit the snooze button… several dozen times.

Oddly enough, I got to work at my normal time, but several key activities that I wanted to get done before my working day began (pack a lunch, bike to work, hit the gym for an hour) did not materialize the way I hoped.

Of course, I only have myself to blame for this because, fundamentally, I’m a lazy person.

Packing a lunch should be a simple thing. Pop some salad into a plastic container, pop said container into a semi-insulated tote, and pop said tote into my book bag. Sure, I could’ve done most of this the night before, but I find that handling greens with my not-so-verdant thumbs and fingers causes them to wilt and decompose rather quickly. Yes, I’m probably imagining it, but there’s a reason I wait to fix my lunch. Unfortunately, my half asleep self also reckons that it’s “hella easier to buy some hard boiled eggs on the cheap in the cafeteria, health be damned. Woo! Ten more minutes of sleep!”

It was only when my car broke down that I started biking to work, despite having purchased a 12-speed several years previous to attempt just that. Now that my car is back in working order, my half asleep mind keeps making excuses for not getting up at the appointed hour by saying “oh, we can just drive to the gym in half an hour… we’ll get there at the normal time and it’ll let us sleep some more.”

And it’s only when I look in the mirror every day and see the spare tire that I’m carrying around that makes me think that I can consistently go to the gym and actually do something about getting rid of the bloody thing. But then the aches and pains of working muscles, that are normally given free rein to relax, keep me up at night and my half asleep mind tells the motivational center of my brain in a sweet whisper that “we worked out after work last night, surely we could do the same today, right?” And says this despite the fact that I wanted to get home and go to bed early.


I know I’m lazy, and I know I need to stop listening to that voice that overrides my impulse to get up and go in the morning. I know that I especially need to stop listening to it over and over again as, while it might be okay to hit the snooze button once, letting it talk me into wasting the better part of my pre-work morning is pathetic.

It’s both easy and hard to be a better person. The easy part is choosing to do it. The hard part is stopping yourself from sabotaging it.

I seem to be doing pretty bad at the latter the past couple of years.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Speech for my tenth high school reunion…. I was NOT invited.

Dear class of ’99,

I stand here before you today peering at all your faces looking for something to recognize and all I am finding are vague notions of familiarity… and only that occasionally.

We’ve grown up, we’ve moved on. Most of us look, to me, to be tremendously different to how we did ten years ago… the young, mostly clueless proto-adults about to make our way either to college or the military or the oilfield.

Me, I got a hat… and finally grew my hair out like I always wanted, added a beard to my ugly mug. Most everyone else, I see, has changed as well. We’re all older, gruffer and a helluvalot more attractive. Some of you may have been bombshells in your teens, but let me tell you… the twenties is where it’s at for hotness.

But, I digress… 

I’m not up here or even at this reunion to receive any of the token awards or rub elbows with old friends or maybe even hook up with the cheerleader that I always had a crush on. No, instead I want to talk to you about how much I forgot about high school… because, really, I forgot pretty much all of it.

And let me be clear, I’m not kidding when I say I do NOT remember much about high school at all. I’ve blanked pretty much all of it out. I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but that’s the way it is.


That’s not to say I don’t remember a few things here and there… writing poetry on the chalkboard in math class, playing full contact tackle football on my lunch hour freshman year until someone got bloodied and we had to go touch (and where was the fun in that?)…. 

Mostly, I remember two things… taking physics from Debbie Prell (whom I miss dearly as a mentor)… and how horribly depressed I was all throughout my time in high school.

And I mean depressed… really depressed… horrendously depressed… the I-can’t-believe-I-wasn’t-heavily-medicated-and-institutionalized kind of depressed.

Let me tell you folks, I was in a lot of pain. There were plenty of times back then that I wanted to kill myself. There were a couple of times that I almost did.

I made it through by diving into fantasy… reading books, watching movies and playing games were my escape routes and I used them copiously.

And I survived….

Now, I’m not saying this to whine at you begging for your sympathy or rail at you for not noticing or caring. It was high school… it was shit for most, if not all, of us. And I’m not saying this to rage at you for us not being friends or confidants or even lovers. It was high school… ‘nuff said.

The reason that I AM going over this was that I wanted to say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I never got to know most of you and find out about the real you… the ones who wanted to go pro or become lawyers or doctors or nurses. The one’s who wanted to be writers or mechanics or parents or chefs or social workers or….

I’m sorry I was too much the coward to try and make a meaningful connection with you, worried as I was about myself and not others. 

I’m sorry I didn’t ask several of you out… I’m sorry that I didn’t let in those of you who were trying. I’m sorry that we never became long lasting friends. I’m sorry that we never fell in love.


They say that you should live life without regrets… and that the past is the past, not to dwell on it, only learn.

Well, I say that, if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would.

I think that if someone invented a time machine and allowed me to roll back time and become the boy I was back then, knowing what I know now, it’d all be different. I’d’ve been a better student, a better person, a better friend. 

Paradox be damned.

But… that’s the beauty of hindsight, I guess. I can make grand, sweeping pronouncements of how things would be wonderful if only I could do it once more. I think we all wish it were possible at some point or another.

And all I can think is “oh well, I guess all we can do is move forward.”

Stupid time. 

I’d like to punch it in it’s stupid face, sometimes.


And, speaking of time, I think I’ve taken up enough of yours, so let me just leave you with this:

To all the people I’ve wronged, please forgive me. To all the people who may have wronged me… well, I’ve honestly forgotten it all since then, so don’t worry about it.

To the class of ’99 and the upper and lower classmen around us… I love you and wish you the best. Be good. Live your lives, love each other (and me if you get the inkling) and… forget everything that brought you pain, both then and now.

Now, I think I need a drink… who’s with me?