The Return of Real Relationships

I would like to start by saying I was reluctant to write another dating post. I have written two other ones, and there is a fine line between ranting and coming off jaded. My hope is, you’ve read my previous posts about dating and realize this has absolutely nothing to do with me being bitter. As with other writers, I just needed the right type of inspiration. I found it, and felt compelled to write the final part of all my experience from the modern dating world. This will be my last post about the topic. It ends the trilogy and completes the saga. This is my Dark Knight Rises. A reference that makes total sense, since dating has been the Bane of my existence.

I, like many who have gone through the ups and downs of online and modern dating, have many stories to share. Everyone it seems, has a story to tell. I have spoken to so many who say they could write a book with all there experiences, or that they should start a blog. Unfortunately, these stories are now all too common. They aren’t all that unique, and these aren’t the kind of wonderful tales you would want to tell your grandchildren down the road. No, these days, the stories do feel more like griping or complaining. We talk and listen to friends and colleagues about how bad dating really is. Their stories tend to eerily match your own. I was watching an episode of Master of None on Netflix and couldn’t believe every date story in that episode (I think 5 in total) was something I had personally experienced. I wonder if Aziz Ansari some how Inceptioned my mind and stole all my important dating files from the limbic region of my brain? But eventually, logic prevailed, and the technology for stealing human thoughts just isn’t there…yet. I realized that these stories are shared by many. It’s not unique to me, it’s not unique to you. The fact that many feel and go through this sort of dating brain fog doesn’t necessarily make it better or even provide clarity. However, I take comfort that others are finding similar experiences with dating these days. The struggle is real. That struggle is compounded when you talk to people who are married or in a relationship. They usually say one of two things. One is, how they wish they could be dating like you are. Or two, while shaking their head, they wonder how people even survive in the dating world right now and are so thankful they found their one before all this bullshit began. They pull out a Polaroid picture of their soulmate and kiss the photo. You puke into a nearby anything.

When we first jump into the world of online romance, it’s quite exhilarating. Possibility leads us down a path of intrigue and excitement. You quickly jump to the next stage, which is an increase in frustration when you wrap your head around all the repeating patterns in today’s dating scene. The same questions over and over. The same date ideas. And…the same outcome. How many ‘one and done’ dates have you had? Most of us have this necessity to feel that instant spark or click that would garner more dates. I agree with that statement to some extent. I think we yearn for the romanticism of the past. You know, one milk shake two straws. Calling each other. Letting something develop over time. Dating right now is just an endless amount of emails and texting back and forth without people actually connecting and meeting. I think we ask so many specific questions now. Filtering protocols put into place to prevent wasted time. That is, even the slightest thing that doesn’t align causes us to move onto someone else. We want perfection. We also do this because there are so many options out there with online dating, and nobody feels accountable anymore. We’re just ghosts typing into digital screens. If we delete someone, it means nothing. We’ve lost touch. A human touch. And sadly, we’ve all been guilty of this at some point. It’s time for a change. It’s time to rise from The Death of Digital Dating for Christ sake.

We know dating nowadays is predominantly done online, and there’s no denying it, no shying away from it either. For a while, I thought the only way to humanize the online dating experience was to get rid of online and toss the apps completely. I wanted to go back to the roots of how people met for the purpose of dating. Go old school if you will. But I was wrong, because that doesn’t work either. Allow me explain.

We, as in the disenfranchised members of the online dating community, all have this pipe dream of organically meeting that special someone at the grocery store, or a wedding reception, or through friends. Remember, I’m not saying everyone has this fairy tale in their head. People that are new to online, or are just looking to have fun, getting their feet wet after a break up, and/or just want to mess around. They don’t give a shit about fairy tales. They want a non-fiction fuck. I’m talking about the seasoned vets, the experienced daters who are so far past that lifestyle, that they usually start their dating rants with “dating these days..” Here’s the problem. We go to Whole Foods, in hopes that all the dating references about meeting people at Whole Foods are true, and we walk around the grocery store with aspirations of running into someone special. You have three organic gala apples in your cart that probably will cost in the neighborhood of $7.06, but that’s OK. It’s worth it because it’s a small price to pay to find…The One. You turn that corner and head down the fair trade tea and coffee section, and there she is. Gorgeous, but chill and laid back, checking the labels (as they should). Modern-hippie and just the right amount of trendiness. You know, purposefully tossed hair that’s equal messy, equal runway. Making sure the product she’s looking at is equitable and Non-GMO. You do a little sweep of your own hair, throw some other products into your cart to make it look full. It doesn’t matter if the cashier is going to look at you funny when he/she checks you at the register and you have three apples, menopause supplements, an ethical farming practice pack of bacon, and organic tampons. And you’re a guy. It doesn’t matter, it’s besides the point. Your small shopping cart looks packed. You walk up beside her. She’s perfect and this is the moment you’ve been waiting for your whole entire ‘post online dating life’. Which ranges anywhere from a few minutes up to maybe a few days since you quit all those apps. You start looking at teas. Mmmm…rooibos.  Mmmmm…dandelion root. As you stand there going through all the ridiculous flavors, she never looks your way. She looks at her phone a few times, does a couple swipe motions, and goes back to looking at tea. And then it hits you. You’ve waited for this grocery store moment for so long, and the problem is, it doesn’t happen anymore. Those people are online too, and their heads are in the digital sand looking down at their phone swiping left or right, missing moments left and right. Even if that person was receptive, do you even know how to start a conversation anymore? Does anyone? Let’s say you have the stones and know-how to bring up the fact that Kambucha is the way to go, and strike a great conversation. By miracle, you snag her number. It doesn’t change the fact that she’s likely still online! And how do you even know if she’s on the same page as you? Oh I know, you send a few feeler texts, send each other pics, and who knows, maybe you don’t like the way she tilts her hips in pictures. It fizzles, and 6 months later you try to figure out who the fuck ‘Erin’ is in your phone. So you do a generic “Hey cleaning out my phone who is this?” text to get a reminder but all you get back is “Who is this?” flipping your world upside down. Gosh, maybe I’m not the center of the universe. Touche ‘Erin’. Touche. So the answer isn’t to go completely sober from dating apps and websites. It’s to use them responsibly, and never swipe and drive.

The danger lies in hiding behind a keyboard, which so many people do. They spend hours online searching, days before making a phone call, and weeks before meeting. This turns into a viscous cycle that repeats repeatedly. What ends up happening is a phenomenon that all too many people are familiar with. And although it sounds supernatural, it’s far from super or natural in terms of what human interaction should be about. This behaviour is known as ‘ghosting’. This is the act of ceasing all communication with someone. This may be for a myriad of reasons. It could be a lack of interest, too many other options, it could just be that the other person is seemingly bat shit crazy. We ghost on people way too much these days. It’s becoming an epidemic. While ‘Ghost’ should be everybody’s favorite dire wolf on Game of Thrones, it should not be a tool used to get out of human interaction, even if the interaction is to disengage. Let’s start acting like humans, better yet, lets be human. Can we converse already? What’s that you say? No time I have to work on my selfie game. No time, I have to do nothing, and that takes a lot of time. How defeating is it when you want to get to know someone but they choose to upload a ‘story’ on their social media instead. They choose to post a new pic on their dating profile or Instagram to get more attention, but neglect even asking simple questions about who you are. Isn’t it just so sad? This is what is important now. Likes, and duck faces, and skin and tits and ass. Now some of you will say we need to adapt or perish. Darwin bitches. Survival of the fittest. But adaptations take time. This dating environment we’re in, is going to make us extinct like the dinosaurs. Pretty soon, no one will know how to interact without a phone. It used to be that fear was the reason you wouldn’t go up to someone at a restaurant or gathering. Fear of rejection or embarrassment. Being shy, or no experience. But these are human characteristics. Now the reason we don’t approach is because we’ve forgotten how, and/or it’s just easier to use our phone instead.

But guess what? WIFI goes down in a random cafe for two weeks. Do you know what happens to that cafe? No, it doesn’t become a ghost town. It becomes more lively and communal than ever before. Hey, you still have your phone and LTE, but you’re a little more reluctant to use all that data right? Same with dating. Let’s interact a bit more.  Let’s exercise those demons. Heck let’s just exercise and get out there for a hike. Do you really need to line up your dating card with 8 dates a week? How about asking some questions, conversing, and meeting just one that actually has potential. Does scrolling down your Bumble matches really give you satisfaction if it takes more than a swipe? We need to go on a date and not check our phone for other matches while they go to the bathroom. We need to act our age. We need to talk more. We need to stop using social media as a way to advertise and validate ourselves. We need to get out into the community. We need to order an organic strawberry coconut milkshake (gluten free)… with two fucking straws. And throw on some oldies while you’re at it. You know, 90’s.

So rise. Stand up. Put your phone down for a minute. Connect and listen. Because it’s time to start a revolution. We need a caped crusader that is capable of defeating the one dimensional dating approach that is monopolizing and taking over our minds. And that hero… is you. Only you can bring it back to the way it was, the way it should be. We need…The Return of Real Relationships.

 

 

 

Picasso the Precarious Pussy Cat Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Hank

Picasso loved going on walks. He certainly wasn’t shy about his slim size and lean physique. Often trotting around the house and street like a show horse. Raising his nose to the sky as if he was the prize winner at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show. Dogs in the neighborhood were not impressed. They were also a bit confused at his level of cockiness, considering he wasn’t a dog and wouldn’t be eligible for that prestigious honor anyway. The dogs found Picasso incredibly annoying that he would prance around as if he was the ‘best in show’. One particular dog, a young Doberman Pinscher who lived down the road, growled quite fiercely anytime Picasso would walk by. Picasso taunted and teased the dog right by the fence to which the Doberman was behind. A young and naive Picasso, pressed his luck often, he’d sometimes climb the top of the fence and jump back, hissing at the barking dog.  Of course Picasso would always make it home for dinner, hearing D’s kissing cat calls to get back to the house. D was unaware of his actions with the dogs in the area, otherwise she surely would have grounded Picasso.

D, like most little girls, had formed some unusual habits. Biting her lips for one. To the point they would bleed. Her mom tried relentlessly to get her to stop. “Stop it young lady or those beautiful lips will fall off” she would say. Her dad smoked, so he really couldn’t say much in regards to the matter. Another habit she formed, which would prove to last her entire life, was to find handkerchiefs, wrap them around her finger and suck on them. Kind of like sucking her thumb but using a handkerchief instead. She do this watching shows, or lying in her bed, even taking them to school. She’d have them on her at all times. Her mom did everything in her power to get her to stop. She hid them, she threw them in the trash, she tossed them into the fireplace. But somehow, more would appear! Her mom had no idea where she was getting all these “Hanks”, and D would never tell. D even put one around Picasso. He looked so handsome.

Mom, D, and Picasso were walking down the road one day. A beautiful winter evening, D and her Mom chatted with some people from the neighborhood as Picasso roamed freely as he normally does. A lone wolf sometimes, this was nothing new. The night was clear, and smell of wood burning from fireplaces filled the air. It was cold but they were bundled up. In the midst of chatting and laughter, D heard something. D looked around and in the far distance could see Picasso taunting the Doberman. “Picasso! Come back here!” D yelled. Picasso, still on the top of fence, pawed and clawed at the barking dog.

Suddenly, D saw Picasso lose his footing and the dog lunge upwards. With his sharp teeth, Doberman dragged Picasso to the ground. D screamed “Mom!” and started running towards the dog and Picasso. Her mom quickly followed in a panic. Picasso, on his fours, was facing the dog now. Both showed their teeth. The Doberman drooling with a menacing look. Even though the dog was young, Picasso didn’t stand much of a chance in this fight. He managed to dodge the first few attempts by the dog to grab hold of him, but the third attempt to bite Picasso did just that. Grabbing hold of Picasso’s tail and dragging him around. D shouting to the top of her voice “Stop!!!”. She pulled out her slingshot while running, firing rocks in the direction of dog in an effort to scare him away. Which she managed to do by the time they got to Picasso’s sprawled out and seemingly lifeless body. He was, thankfully, still breathing and in shock, but there was blood. A lot of blood. The end of his tail was almost detached. D, turned around, took out another rock and aimed it right at the dog in a furious rage. “I’ll kill you!!!” stretching the sling back. But her mom stopped her by pulling her arm down just as she fired. The rock hit the window of a shed instead of the canine. The crashing sound of glass shattering startled the dog further back into his dog house.

“We need to get Picasso to a vet as fast as we can” mom said. Mom took the handkerchief off Picasso.  “Quick, give me your Hanks too”. D took out a red, black and purple handkerchief from her pockets. They quickly wrapped Picasso with a couple handkerchiefs to stop the bleeding and warm him up. They tied up his tail with another to hopefully save his tail.

Mom and D consoled each other as they waited feverishly for the vet to complete the surgery to save Picasso’s life. “Remember D, life doesn’t easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” They embraced as D struggled to hold her tears back. Just then, the doctor came out with the news. Much to their relief, Picasso was going to be perfectly fine. D asked “And his tail..?” The doctor replied “You and your mom did some quick thinking. The handkerchiefs probably saved his life, and his tail. He should have full recovery and functionality of his tail too.”

“Well that’s a relief” D’s mom replied.

“There is however, one slight issue..” the doctor mentioned.

‘What is it? D asked.

“You see, umm, hmm, how do I put this? Well, his tail, won’t really be the same” the doctor chuckled.

That, my friends, is the story of how Picasso the Precarious Pussy Cat, got his white tipped tail.

Oh, and by the way. Mother never bugged D about her handkerchiefs ever again.

Secret Service

‘Silence is golden’, he would always think to himself and never say. But as it turns out, not everyone has ESP or telepathic powers. So communicating with others was becoming a bit of an issue. He always wondered why his past girlfriends would ask “What am I fucking mind reader?” Hmm…humbling, and just the right dose of reality he needed. So in Grade 11, after years of being the quiet kid in school, he decided he was going to speak up, and say what was on his mind. And what was on his mind, was his writing. The assignment was to create a short story for English, and hand it in to the teacher to be graded. You were also given the choice to read it aloud to the class. This was optional, the teacher said, and most chose to discretely hand in their assignment and stuff it at the bottom of the pile as if digging its own grave. He bravely put up his hand and volunteered to read his work called “The Scarecrow”. I’ll spare you the bloody details, that’s for later. Much, much later. It was a bit nerve racking for him to say the least. He wasn’t quite sure how the class would react. His eyes looked up slowly, to see 30 pairs of eyes staring right back at him, all in shock. He gulped and was immediately beginning to regret sharing a piece of his soul. But a slow clap from one of his peers, with the rest of the class following suit to a full applause, he could finally breathe again. To this day he’s sure the teacher’s jaw is still dropped. Not so much from the content, although it surely played a part, but the mere fact he spoke up was astonishing.  He opened up the rest of the year and the remainder of high school. Just not too much, he is a writer after all.

Towards the end of University, he started typing out some of his writing on an old typewriter. The 1915 Underwood #5 had long been retired, and was more than happy being the eye candy and decor for the room. ‘Woody’, as the typewriter was referred to, quite upset by all of this new found typing, prayed every night for the author to have writer’s block.

He decided he would place his writing in envelopes, and drop them off at random places in town. A Secret Service if you will. Underneath produce at grocery stores, in between the seats at the theater, on park benches, and his favorite spot, sliding them right into books at the local book store. He always tried to imagine how people would react when opening a surprise envelope. Are they just as happy like when they receive a letter in the mail? He was sure there were the few who didn’t care and tossed it out. But he was just as sure there were an equal number of those whose lives needed meaning and took that envelope as a sign. Maybe from God or a Guardian Angel. Or a signal to take action for whatever it was. Hopefully not to rob a bank or kidnap anyone. For this reason, he decided not to include excerpts of his literary works “Breaking the Bank”, “Assassination Monkey”, they were perhaps for a younger audience anyway. Nor did he want to leave “The Scarecrow” because of its content. He didn’t need to be strung up as an ‘accessory’ to any criminal activities.

His favorite piece of writing he left for someone was a poem called “The R Letter”. Quick, personal, witty, and clever. He biked to the bookstore, and walked around focused and deliberate. He decided to go with the “Thriller” section and tried to find a title that would be worthy of his personal life on display; folded neatly and placed in the confines of an envelope of course. “That’s it!”, he said, as his eyes caught the perfect book. As an ode to his Father and his love for James Bond, the envelope was placed in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.

He made sure no one saw him place the envelope right into the book. He caught a glimpse of one paragraph from the Ian Flemming novel. “When the lower rim of the orange sun touched the sea, it was almost as if a signal had sounded for the girl. She slowly got to her feet, ran both hands backwards through her hair and began to walk…”

He was careful to leave the book a little protruded and pushed out to get some attention from book lookers. He grabbed a tea and sat from a far, carefully watching and waiting. He waited, and waited some more. Finally an older gentleman walked down the aisle, only to turn back. Dammit. But just then, someone else: a girl. Not the expected audience, but quite alright. More than alright. She strutted through the aisle, and it was clear she was open to all sorts of genres based on what was in her hands. Self-help, yoga, trashy romance, and was clearly in the mood for some mystery and thrills, and I was ready to give it to her. She knelt down looking at some books on the lower shelves, then back up again, fixing her hair in the process. She was literally in front of the literary he needed her to take.

Suddenly, someone bumped into him and the tea spilled on his shoes. Disheveled, he quickly cleaned it up with some napkins and looked back into the aisle. She was gone, and so was the book! He got up in a flash, and started frantically trying to find her and the book. Nowhere to be seen. He darted from aisle to aisle, with no sign of her. Finally, he got to the “Reference’ section and saw a book sticking out. He looked around, and slowly approached the book that was obviously pulled out with the intention of attention. He grabbed the book out from the shelf. It was….a dictionary. Confused, he opened it up to the page with his envelope in it. It was in the “A” section. Once again, he looked around to see no one. He opened the envelope slowly, and inside his writing, “The R Letter” still there, except that a word had been circled. He looked down, and there was a hand-written note on the bottom. It read “Mistakes are information and opportunities to grow and understand. Say thank you! I just fixed your spelling error”. It was signed “CEO of the ALPHABET”.

“Shit”, he said to himself. He misspelled the word alphabet. The tables had turned, as he squinted his eyes.

New mission…find the girl…

The R Letter  

Silence is Golden

The R Letter

Dear READER,

Isn’t R the best letter?
Equally REFINED and ROUGH; an in-betweener.
He’s always thinking a million things at once,
but you wouldn’t know by his demeanor.

He’s not all ROLY-POLY,
like the BIG overbearing letter B.
BEATING his chest, BEING so loud,
getting ANNOYED and CATTY looks from A and C.

R is a laid back RELAXED kind of DUDE.
He is caring, thoughtful and polite.
Not like that DEUSTCHBAG D you see.
That DICK boyfriend that never feels RIGHT.

E ENJOYS to READ and R can’t stand it.
It’s been an ETERNITY since he last read.
Because READING his own work becomes a whole new EDIT,
He’d much rather write something new instead.

R writes about RIDICULOUS things,
like his dating life and FICTION.
But F thinks these are one and the same,
So R and that FUCKER have FRICTION.

A GO GETTER, R is persistent.
He REVELS in the challenge; he’ll GROW.
No wonder R likes G so much.
Initials are like siblings, and G is his bro.

R isn’t a fake like that HYPOCRITE letter H.
HE is genuine, authentic, and REAL.
HE will learn what HE doesn’t know.
HE’LL be HONEST about HOW HE feels.

But I never quite understood that about R,
The game ISN’T as INTERESTING played that way.
R would argue women want the truth no matter what,
and he’s REARRANGING the way the game IS played.

R always tries to do what’s RIGHT,
and sometimes this can be a snore.
But JUST ask J and he might say,
good JUDGEMENT shouldn’t be ignored.

R KEEPS everyone grounded and at bay.
He REGULARLY KICKS negativity to the curb.
He’ll often REMIND K, he’s just an l with sideways v
whenever K happens to get on his nerves.

We’re all LOOKING for LOVE and happiness,
but R RUMMAGES for L in all the wrong places.
He gets caught in the LEAST LIKELY of situations.
He’s a sucker LUSCIOUS LIPS, projects, and pretty faces.

It’s a MIRACLE that you’re still MEANDERING this silly poem;
R is gracious you REACHED this far and didn’t quit.
He MERELY took some R words suggested by someone,
MIXED them all together, and this is what he came up with.

Enough about R, why is M always high?
MUST she always be stuck on go with the flow?
MADDENING to watch her, a frozen RIVER of false dreams.
But R chooses REALITY over ice and snow.

The R words were suggested by the NUANCES of N, and
NOBODY knew the REPERCUSSIONS it would set off.
Writing a poem in an offbeat manner,
with irregular syllables that would make poets scoff.

R is a REALIST, and O is an OPTIMIST.
Are they really that different OR are they the same?
R would say an OPTIMAL balance of both is key,
while O thinks natural urges should be OBEYED.

P can sometimes get annoying,
because he PARTIES all the time.
Where R is PETRIFIED of being in the limelight,
he’s more clever; like a well thought out RHYME.

Yes R is much more QUIET than P,
but don’t mistake that for being shy.
R just happens to have many QUIRKS,
and is QUITE a RESOURCEFUL type of guy.

You see, R does his best to hide certain things,
RECONNAISSANCE until you truly get to know him.
Like did you know he’s a REALLY great RITER?
Spelling always correct; poems in perfect RHYTHM.

If you don’t believe me, just ask S.
Cause SHE thinks SILENCE is golden.
S finds R quite attractive,
Honest, a gentleman, and emotionally open.

R loves the girl next door type,
and S is the best kind of neighbor.
REALLY SWEET and innocent to everyone,
until you get to know her 😉

A THRILL seeker, T is always up for adventure.
RWANDA or RUSSIA, he’s always got a THIRST.
While R is much more TAME, so give him TIME.
R will TRAVEL soon enough, with Iceland being first.

R is UNBELIEVABLY friendly.
He tries to RECONCILE peace between U and V.
Because U wants to beat the daylight out of her,
apparently she’s jealous of V’s body.

But V doesn’t listen to U’s VOCALS or threats,
instead chooses to VERBALIZE with R over beers.
She likes talking to a RECEPTIVE listener
and one who is always ‘I’m all ears’.

He likes his W classy and cute.
His WOMAN will always be treated WELL.
Although he wants her RAMBUNCTIOUS and RISKY in bed.
He WOULD never WHISPER kiss and tells.

R loves going out to the movies,
especially action and Rated R.
But someone should REALLY tell X,
his movies go a bit too far.

This part is dedicated to the letter Y
YOU’RE a great READER, YOU’VE made it this far.
But can YOU be as clever as him?
Can YOU see the sly and wit that makes R…R?

I’m asking for the CEO of the ALPHABAET,
to please have the letter Z REMOVED.
Z is far too ZANY and impossible to work with.
This is the letter R, and it’s my letter to you.

REGARDS,

R

Tom

Impromptu writing session with the letter V.  I was given 10 random V words, and 2 hours to come up with something. This is what I wrote. All the V words given will be capitalized.

In a hot and sticky motel room, a man lays on the bed staring at a blank TV screen. He lights up a cigarette and smokes it as if it’s his last. His face dripping sweat, beading on top of his 5 o’clock shadow at half past 9. It’s a muggy night, and the ceiling fan pulsates over top of him, but does nothing to cool the room. The sound of it, each time it spins around, acts as a timer for Tom. He knows the call is coming. Tom ashes right onto the motel floor; he doesn’t give a shit. He’s been a zombie, a living VAMPIRE for years now. Death no longer scares him. He is death.

He pulls out a little notebook and begins to write down a few words. Right underneath his last journal entry called “Femme Fatale” He writes the title “VALOUR”

“I chose darkness over light. Cold instead of warmth, yet it feels like hell. I am that mad man amongst mad men. It wasn’t always like this, but the trials and tortures of my existence, both in life and racked in my mind, have led me to a crossroad, that feels more like a cliff. Is there anything further down from this hell? If I jump, do I die? And if I don’t do anything, do I still fall, and eternally drown in a sea filled of my own regrets? This is the choice I make tonight. I choose her.”

Tom takes another puff of his cigarette and the phone rings. He picks it up after the second ring. He doesn’t even say hello. Faint words, but words of his fate don’t phase him. He puts the phone down, and drop the cigarette on the floor. Extinguishing it with his shoe. He opens the night side table and touches the bible and shuts his eyes, then slams the drawer shut. He walks towards the dresser that has a box on top of it. He opens the box and rustles through it. It has bundles of cash inside. He takes a gun from his jacket and places it in the box, careful to empty the bullets from it first. The box is wooden lined with VELVET. He covers the box with paper, taping it up and writing down an address on top.

Tom walks out of the motel, and sees a red post box. He walks over, takes a look around to make sure no one is watching and slides it in. Tom continues to walk down the street. Time to meet his maker. The city sights and sounds were dizzying, as he squints and lights another cigarette. Maybe this will be his last.  He walks down the streets and alleys, seeing drug addicts inject themselves with recreational VACCINATIONS, prostitutes VOLUNTEERING their time in the late hours. How generous of them, as he pushes a few aside when they approach. Tom needs a permanent VACATION. One way or another, he’s going to get it tonight. And we’re not talking the VANCOUVER or VENICE type VACATIONS. No his VOTE would be to go to the middle of fucking no where USA. Exactly where that package is going.

He turns a few alleys, dark, isolated, and finds the place. Two men stand outside. One approaches him and says “we gotta check ya Tom”. Tom puts his hands up and spreads. Both men in long coats on check over Tom and pat him down. As they do, their jackets open up and Tom sees the guns they are carrying. “He’s clean” one says. The other turns and knocks on the rusted metal door that has a small peek window. Latch opens, a pair of eyes look out, and quickly shuts again. Locks, and latches, and deadbolts unlock for a few seconds before the door opens and they all walk into a dark room. One light bulb partially illuminates the room. “Sit down Tom” a voice says across the room. Tom walks over to a wooden chair underneath the light, and sits down slowly. He hears the door lock up and the two men who greeted him outside are now inside standing on guard, with hands underneath their jacket. Tom takes a quick peek with his peripheral vision and then looks ahead to pure darkness.

“Tom, where is she?” a voice asks. “Butt fuck no where boss, you won’t find her” he replies.

“Tom I asked you to do a job for me, and you didn’t follow through. I should have known the only time you would fuck up would be over a woman”. The voice rises in volume and sounds frustrated.

“I need a VACATION” Tom says.

“There are no VACATIONS in this fucking job!!!” the man screams as he slams a desk. “You are in or you are out!” Now where the fuck is she!?” the Boss yells. A moment of silences passes, and then a cigarette lights up and you can see the outline and features of a face across the room. He’s old, a lot of years on that face. Stocky in build with a bit of gut. Years of delegating has not kept him in the best of shape.

“You’re not going to tell me?” the Boss asks. Tom simply shakes his head. “No, I’m not”.

The frustration grows in the Boss. “Tom, I rescued you. You were a rescue. An orphan. A fucking nobody and I took you in. I gave you a life. And this is how you’re going to repay me?” The boss pleads as a few guns start to cock and click.

“I did everything you asked, I killed when I didn’t want to kill.” Tom exclaims.

“Bullshit! Tommy, you were already a killer, I gave you an opportunity to do it in a way that wouldn’t get you the chair. And now look, you’re in the chair any way” he sucks on the cigarette longer this time with a heavy exhale.  The smoke masquerades his face momentarily.

“Enjoy hell” the Boss says..

“I’ll see you there” Tom replies.

“..but not today” The Boss quickly rebuttals.

“The very least you could do is let me have one last cigarette” Tom pleads. The Boss stares at him for a moment, and nods to his associate. He gives his henchman, one of 5 in the room, a lighter and cigarette. Tom stands up and takes a cigarette into his lips, as a man lights it up. And walks back to the boss and hands up back the lighter.

“You’re right Boss…not today…” Tom says, and suddenly strikes the bulb with his forehead shattering the light and darkening the room. “Shoot him!!” as bullets fly across the room in pure darkness. Only the light from guns blowing off give any indication of where anyone is. “Ahhh”” screams of agony and pain fill the room along with bullets ricocheting of the walls, and empty shells littering the ground. “Get him!” the Boss screams.

Then silence….

You hear heavy breaths…

More silence…

“Where is he?” someone whispers.

“Shut up!” someone else whispers.

“Did anyone get him?” another whispers.

“Shut the fuck up” another whispers.

More silence… Seconds feel like minutes…

“You missed me..” Tom whispers

More bullets fly out across the room! “Ahhhh!!” The sound of walls being littered with bullets is accompanied by  bodies falling to the ground and breaking tables and glass.

Silence..

Finally, the silence is broken by the flick of a lighter. It’s the Boss trying to see in the darkness.  He’s hiding behind a desk, scared shitless. He takes a gulp, and peeks around the desk, looking for any sign of life. Finally he manages to spot a lit cigarette. He goes back behind desk and opens the drawer slowly and quietly. He pulls out his gun and slows cocks it. With the lighter still burning, he takes a deep breath, stands up quickly and tries to shoot where Tom is standing. But before he gets off “CRACK!” a shot rings out and hits the Boss in the knee. “Ahhhhhh” he screams in agony and drops to the floor. The lighter drops right by his face, illuminating the pain shown on his face. Writhing in pain, the Boss looks towards Tom. Tom unlocks the door and cracks it open. The moonlight brightens the doorway as the Boss sees Tom’s shadow. The wind rustles and blows his long jacket in the doorway.

“You gave me life when I didn’t have one.” Tom says with his back facing to the Boss but head turned slightly in his direction. “…So I won’t take yours now. Consider us even” Tom says.

“You’ll always be a killer Tom. Death will always be around you.” The Boss struggles to even say anything because of wound. Tom tilts his head down and holsters the gun. He looks back up and vanishes into the darkness..

The Boss still in agony, and squinting his eyes with tears of pain gasps out “VOL DE MORT.”

 

Vol de Mort: translates to flying from death or flying death.

 

Scarecrow

WARNING: FICTIONAL WRITING ONLY. PLEASE DON’T TRY AND CONNECT THIS STORY TO ME AND MY LIFE IN ANY WAY.

Scarecrow

by

R.K. Gandhi

 

They say a writer possesses one of two characteristics: a raw and unbound talent for creativity, or a troubled life usually consisting of a traumatic childhood.  While the one person that has read his writing, Dahlia, seems to believe Leon is incredibly gifted, he attributes his “artistic ability” to the less than perfect world around him.  She doesn’t know what goes on, she can only see it in his eyes.  And since he has grown some sort of tolerance for pain and an ability to hide feelings, she sees the only way to get through to him is by encouraging the writing.  But he insists, he is not talented… He is not talented.

It all starts on the bus ride home from school.  All the other kids laughing and smiling, excited about getting home.  Leon was the only one straight faced and upset about finishing another day of classes.  Besides writing, school was his only haven.  He excluded church from this list a while back, but still attends quietly and defiantly.  He would get this sick queezy feeling in his stomach on the ride home.  Leon has some folded up paper in his lap and is holding a pen in his hand.  He almost always sat at the back of the bus.  Unnecessary conversation made time just go by faster, and made the inevitable closer; something he didn’t want.  This piece of writing was called ‘The Scarecrow’, but no other words follow the title. “Hey?! Why is it you can’t talk to me on the bus?” a girl asks beside him on the bus.  Leon shifts his eyes her way momentarily, but quickly moves them back to view outside.  He also hides his writing.  Dahlia was her name, and was the only colored person at the school, and one of only a handful in the town.  She had it tough, for obvious reasons. What’s obvious is people seem to be scared of what they don’t know or can’t understand.  Just then, the bus slowed down as it approached a long path in front of Leon’s home. Dust from the gravel road created a moment of minimal visibility. It eventually settled, and  Leon took a deep breath and threw his bag over his shoulder. “See ya tomorrow” Dahlia says while Leon gets up from his seat. As he walks, she stops him suddenly by grabbing his arm “Hey, what’s that on your arm?” she asks. “Are those burn marks?” Leon snatches his arm and continues walking down the middle of the bus. He slowly walks down the steps of bus and stands at end of path.  Bus pulls away leaving another thick blanket of dust in the air.  It is a dirt path that is extremely long. His head rises to see the farmhouse at a distance.  His head lowers again as he starts walking the path with his heavy and worn backpack.

He had to walk this path home everyday which took him roughly ten minutes. Depending on his stride. But who’s counting?  He’s in no rush anyway.  Leon thinks about a lot of things on the walk down the path.  Usually thoughts like the first time he may kiss Dahlia, feeding the animals, writing up in his room, or when…HE’S gone. These happier thoughts all change like the wind when he sees that damn scarecrow.  It reminds him that he’s almost home. Leon sees crows picking at the scarecrow with evidence that this is a common occurrence as it’s clearly falling apart.  The scarecrow that doesn’t scare a single crow. Leon walks away shaking his head.

Leon arrives and opens the screen door to the front of the house, looks around quietly and realizes no one is in the house.  All of the windows are open, with the wind blowing the curtains in quite the picturesque way. It’s peaceful, with just the right amount of light coming in. Leon runs to a window and sees a man in the fields riding a tractor.  He quickly kicks off his shoes and runs up the ‘run down’ stairs into his room and closes the door.  He moves his bed slightly, and reaches for a section of the wood floor. He grabs hold with his fingers, shifting the wood and pulling it out.  His face is intent, focused, but still childish.  As if he is hiding candy from someone.  A smile comes over Leon as he opens the box.  It is Leon’s writing.  Leon quickly sifts through hundreds of sheets of writing as he is knelt down on the floor.  He takes his newest piece of work out of his bag and throws it into the box.  Leon discreetly hides his prized possession making sure the wood is secure and bed in the same spot. The blanket on his bed was just a bit too large but suited Leon, as it hid the area on the floor even better. The perfect cover if you will.  Leon runs downstairs to begin clearing up the kitchen area.  A few minutes pass and Leon is still cleaning the dishes.  He hears the sound of footsteps at the front of the house.

The scariest part of any of his days, was when Leon knew Father was coming home.  Leon always felt as though he had done something wrong. His face slowly changed from the satisfaction of almost completing his task, to emotionless.  Not horror, but fear.   Leon’s father, clearly the same man from the field, enters the kitchen and grabs a glass of water from the tap. Gulping it down ferociously as sweat beads down his face.  He doesn’t look at his son, in fact, Tom acts as if Leon isn’t even there for a few moments. Leon purposely keeps himself preoccupied by clearing and cleaning table while keeping his own eyes away from Tom.

“I’m gonna go feed the animals” Leon says.  Tom puts down his glass and watches him as he leaves.  Leon quickly walks out of kitchen and heads towards the barns.  He’s looking at his father through the corner of his eye in hopes that he doesn’t say anything. “Please don’t say anything” Leon hopes and whispers to himself.  He escapes without any word this time.  It was as if any time with his father was spent trying to avoid him.  Imagine, a child who’s father he was so much in fear of that every time they were together, the child is thinking how much he’d love to be apart.  That was Leon.  He cherished every moment he wasn’t around him.  Leon walks towards a fenced area.  He is certain that his life is already written out for him in that he’s supposed to continue on with the family farm.  Even though he resented it, renounced it as if it were religion, but to no success.  He don’t even argue anymore, not so much because it has no effect because there are visible effects.  It’s just that they happened to come in the form of bruises on my body. Leon carries a bucket of seed and throws handfuls out generously for the chickens.  After throwing a few handfuls, he turns around and sees a single horse running around in a small field they have fenced up.

The horse’s name is Grace, which was fitting the way she moved. She came up and nudged the fence near Leon. He pets her on the nose. While Leon enjoys his time with Grace, it’s really Tom who takes care of her, sometimes sitting out there for hours with her.  Suddenly father yells out  “Leon!! Dinner!!” Leon says his good byes to Grace and rushes home for dinner.

Dinner was usually a quiet time. Tom liked to stimulate conversation, but Leon wasn’t one to fall into a trap.  He would usually reply in one word or short sentences, and try to pretend he was too hungry to chat.  “So what’d you learn in school today boy?” Tom asked.  What was the point anyway, Leon thought to himself.  Father would only laugh at the supposed lack of usefulness of it all.  “You hard of hearing? I asked you a question Tom says in a stern voice.  What did you learn in school today?” Tom asks Leon again. Leon takes the last portion of potatoes. “Not a whole lot.” Leon shrugs. “You’re going to have to come up with something better than that.  If you’re not learning a whole lot, then you might as well stay home and help me look after the farm.  At least you would be more productive.  I remember when my father taught me how…” Tom lectures while Leon looks at him intently, careful not to look away or drift off in thought.  Tom was scruffy from not shaving for a few days.  Quite the portrait of the working man.  Sweaty, food in his teeth, character in his face and experience in his hands.  Leon wonders how they are so different? Leon is artistic, compassionate, polite. And Tom is, well…archaic.  There is an unspoken love, and that is to be understood. There was only one way, Tom’s way, and that was understood.

“..and that’s how I learned how to fix a cracked exhaust pipe on a tractor.  You listening to what I have to say boy?” Tom asks. “Yes dad” Leon grudgingly replies.

Tom grabs the bottle of Jack Daniel’s and pours himself another drink.  Leon finishes his meal and begins to clear his dishes off the table “Hey! Don’t you know it’s impolite to clear the dishes when another man is still eating at the table! Sit!” Tom yells.  Leon sits down and patiently waits.  Tom takes a swig of his drink. Silence.

Moments pass, and finally Tom finishes his last bite and chew. That felt like an eternity to Leon who was anxiously waiting. “OK, go ahead” Tom says. Leon grabs as many dishes he can and proceeds cleaning up.  Tom, clenches his bottle and glass and heads to front porch.  Tom pushes screen door wide open and steps outside.  The crows perched on the scarecrow all fly away as soon as Tom steps onto the porch.  Tom watches them fly away with no expression.  He sits on his rocking chair and enjoys his drink and a cigarette while Leon finishes up cleaning the dishes.

During this time of the day, anticipation is high.  Leon is so close to getting into his bedroom. Freedom. His sanctuary. Leon fears he’ll find out about Dahlia, or his writing. He’s afraid he may start an argument right before bed. He’s not the most forgiving of people.  Out of sight, out of mind though. Leon shakes his head in a slight disgust.  He finishes his kitchen duties, and looks around the corner to see what his father is doing.  He realizes that Tom is still outside drinking on his rocking chair.  Leon darts across the hall and after taking the first two steps of the stairs to the upper floor, the noise of the front door freezes him. Oh Leon stays absolutely silent and motionless as Tom makes his way back indoors.  Leon desperately listens to every move Tom makes and hears Tom sit down in the family room.  He listens to Tom flick on the lone, small television. Leon quietly climbs the few stairs left, but just as he’s almost at the top…”Leon!” Tom shouts.  “Get down here.”  Leon turns around, and hesitantly proceeds down the stairs.  Leon ducks his head out, and sees that Tom is pointing at the chair beside him. Leon slowly sits down, and awaits his almost certain grief. “The next time you forget to wipe down the table, I’m going to make you lick off the scraps.  Your mother kept this kitchen clean for over ten years, and since you obviously have more of her blood in you than mine, it’s your job to clean it.  You here me?” Tom says in a stern voice. “Yes sir” Leon responds soldier like. “Clean it, do your schoolwork, whatever you have to do, and get to bed.” “Yes Sir” Leon replies. Leon, with a sigh of relief, grabs a wet cloth and thoroughly cleans the table and heads upstairs. Usually he’s a judge reading a guilty verdict to an innocent Leon, but today, today he’s merciful.  He’s merciful, or Leon’s lucky, flip a coin.

Leon gently grazes over the spines of all his novels in the book case. He’s got all the greats. Dickens, Poe, Orwell.  Leon lies and tells his father that they are all for school but they’re really not.  He uses them as inspiration for his own writing.  The Bible is there too.  Even though he’s not a believer, pardon the blasphemy, he feels it is definitely one hell of a read..  You take the Bible strictly as a read, it is very fascinating.  That is why it’s on his bookshelf.  That, and his dad makes him put it there. Leon is cleaning his room, putting away his homework, and preparing for bed. Even when he’s in another room, he can’t help but have one ear listening to what father is doing.  If he speaks, Leon thinks his father talking about him.  If he walks, Leon assumes the worst and thinks he’s coming into the room.  Some call this paranoia, Leon would beg to differ and calls it being cautious. He climbs into bed, covers himself with blankets and stares at his books.

Leon had always hoped he could some day write like the authors’ work he read.  He wanted to write about things that would make, for example, someone waiting in line at the post office, or listening to a teacher’s lecture, to just stare off somewhere in another world.  To be so moved by words, that a person actually questions their very purpose to life.  He wanted to write like that.

Tom turns off the television, yawns, and heads upstairs.  Leon could hear the unsteady sounds of the stairs. Creeking louder each step he took as if to warn Leon.  Tom walks into his room, and as he shuts his door, he looks at the bottom of Leon’s door to see if there’s any light from bottom crack; there isn’t. Back in Leon’s room, the lights may be turned off, but he is wide-awake. He waits another fifteen minutes or so until father is fast asleep.  The loud snoring usually gives it away.  Leon, twiddling his thumbs under the moonlight, stops his movement when he hears his father snoring.  He quietly removes himself from the covers and stands up.  Leon has to be careful not to make any noise when lifting his bed and the wood panel. This particular time, he wasn’t careful enough and a sound is made. Leon freezes..  Luckily, he hears only snoring. He lifts the slab of wood, and takes out his writing.  It seems to glow under the moonlight, darkening everything else.  He grabs a pen and gets back into bed with his papers.  He takes a candle and sparks a match.  Let there be light, Leon begins to write.  He writes as he speaks; it is his unfinished piece of writing:

Scarecrow

Hired to protect the land, the scarecrow has a simple life to live.

Yet I ask it simple questions, and it has no response to give.

It stands tall and mighty, in skies orange, blue and grey

But it lacks the simple power, to scare the crows away.

A few seconds pass by, and Leon gets a little flustered.  Scratching his head, he can’t think of anything to write.  He pauses, thinks, and momentarily gives up.  His eyes move towards the single lit candle, and he blows it out, and heads to bed.

Leon opens the floorboard early in the morning, slowly putting in all the papers containing his writing.  But just as he does he notices something he hasn’t before. Maybe it was the light coming in, but he saw a shiny metal object underneath the wood. Was it money?  He digs deeper and deeper with his hand; his face showing his full effort and mobility.  He has it.  Slowly he lifts it up from the floorboard.  It’s cold, and metal from what he can feel as he grasps it. He lifts it up carefully, until finally it emerges in full view in his hand. Leon’s eyes bulge and his jaw drops, because to his astonishment, it’s a gun…

 

 

 

 

Colt_Factory_engraved

 

The Death of Digital Dating

With even more experience in the realm of online dating, I decided to write a follow up to my critically acclaimed by-very-few-people entry titled ‘The Ominous Optimism of Online Dating’. This was necessary for not only myself, but for others. I’m trying to help give a road map for people embarking on the same journey. So here are some of my observations.

The concept of time is altered in the online and digital dating realm. It feels like fucking Inception without Leonardo DiCaprio helping me out. Wow he’s living the life. Anyway, we live in a world now, where texting someone for a week without meeting feels like an eternity, and not meeting up quickly with someone you chat with online almost always means the opportunity is gone. Conversely (which is funny because no one is conversing), not hearing from someone via text or god forbid a phone call, even for a day, almost certainly means the connection is lost. Puns are everywhere so you just decipher what you will.

You can’t put a price for effort these days, especially at our age. When we were in our early 20’s, that shit could fly. T9 texting, postage stamps, 56k modems, busy phone lines, no car. I get it. But now we live in an instantaneous world. So the idea that someone can’t be in touch, or was too busy, is in most cases, over. That excuse is no longer applicable. It’s actually comical. That’s because the rules have changed, the game has changed. So someone, including myself, who says they got too busy, is a generic line that’s used now to say I’m not interested or I’m seeing what else is out there. Whereas 10-15 years ago, they actually could have been busy but more likely,  may have not had the means to communicate so quickly.  They just haven’t done their homework and updated their repertoire. They need to study more. And you need to me smart enough to realize that.

By the way, in no means is this some jaded person writing. Some angry dater down on his luck. Oh no, I do fine. Trust me. I know it, my friends know it. The very women I’ve been on dates with are probably reading this and going ‘Yes! He’s talking about me when I refer to quality women’. But I’m just as guilty of following and conforming to these sets of rules, because if you don’t, you’re left out of the game. I’ve always been the type to be playing rather than watching. So you follow along, and you follow her on instagram and twitter. So you text, but not too much because that means you’re too eager and have way too much time on your hands. Don’t show interest, come on, that would be giving away your hand at the poker table. All the games are still being played, as much as someone tells you they don’t play them. You just need to learn all the rules. Like reading the entire instruction sheets for a boardgame, or the fine print in your insurance documents. Dust those bad boys off and enjoy the read everyone. The problem is, even when you fully understand the game, you’re still not happy with dating these days. No one is.  You don’t feel better knowing you understand why dating is the way it is. You just get smart about it. It’s like understanding GMO foods or foreign policy. Even if you get a deeper understanding and knowledge of them, you probably end up feeling worse. Truths that would have remained buried if you had just stayed on the surface and superficial level.

So how do you win? How do we be happy again in this virtuosity? Because some days you just want to take a Louisville Slugger to your phone and computer, but then realize it’s a Macbook and Iphone and you’d never do that to your babies.. And to be honest, that wouldn’t change a god damn thing. Countless number of first dates that have been so awesome, crazy great in every way, that fizzle out because the choices and options in this digital dating game. You constantly come back from a wonderful date saying to yourself ‘Wow, that was the best date I NEVER had. It’s not just me, it’s a lot of people I talk to.

You pick up little things like most of the time, if a woman wants to split the bill, they’re actually throwing you a lifeline. They’re saying thank you for a wonderful time, I won’t be seeing you again, allow me to pay half. But what guy actually takes it? I don’t. And I don’t even swim! But those women need to be commended. Because I have heard stories where women go on dates simply for free drinks and dinners.You learn and understand that dating someone from a large city, while you remain in a smaller one further away, will never work. Not because of the distance, although it doesn’t help. Bigger city equals ten times the amount of people, ten times the amount of bars and restaurants and things to do, and ten times the amount of singles. We know what choice does to us. So you could blow a date away with your charm and wit, and maybe they have a great time, but unless it’s your soulmate, it won’t work. You go home in your suburb life, they go back to their city life. Country mouse, City Mouse. Their inbox and life in the city is filled with new single people all the time, and yours is filled with single people you’ve already been on dates with. Of course there are exceptions, and I remain hopeful. A small town girl (or small town girl personality) in a big city it still always an option.

You want to know how you can make change? I will tell you. You ready? You cut the head off. You slay the dragon. You kill the beast and put an end to the madness around you.

A month ago, I had a talk with a friend about dating, and I told him the best way to approach it, is to work on yourself. Work on the deficiencies you feel you have, and the women will gravitate to that learning. To that ambition to improve yourself, and the world around you. Maybe you want to get in shape, or maybe you want to travel more, or learn how to build things, anything. Try and shape yourself as a well rounded person and human being. It worked for me, and I’ve been on amazing dates lately. Again, it doesn’t change the fact that dating is awful these days, but at least I can take comfort in the level of women I’m meeting.  I sent him a link to an article I just happened to read a few days later that outlined the same things. What I should have done, is instead of sending the link to him, I should have bookmarked the link, printed the article in poster size, highlighted it, framed it, and stuck it to my wall. Because I needed take some of the advice I was dishing. Here’s the link to the article. It expressed what I was feeling completely, and I’m sure you can relate as well.

http://elitedaily.com/dating/im-guy-stopped-dating-found-next-best-thing/954714/

It’s a fascinating read and I’m sure people can relate. Now, onto the more somber part of the entry, and the reason you’re here. Let us pay our respects….

Thanks everyone for attending today. I had a special relationship with online dating as you know. We were very close. Sorry this is quite an emotional time. *wipes tears with tissue* Good to see so many of you here, friendly faces in this difficult time. So many fond memories. But while this is a sad time, it’s also cause for celebration. I’ll try and make this short and snapchatty. Where to start? Where did all the time go? From the epic first date in which the woman didn’t look anything like her picture, to the woman who was probably having an affair. Cherished thoughts. To the woman who cried about being so lonely, to the woman who sniffed cocaine in the bathroom. Thank you. To the woman who lied about having children, to the woman who needed a loan. Heartfelt times. To the woman who thought I was too white washed, to the woman who was a psycho to our server. Happy moments. To the women who only wanted sex, you have a special place in my heart. And to the countless other women and dating stories that we can’t really mention, God bless you. Let us pray and have a moment of silence. But not too long, those are awkward.

Doesn’t my profile look so peaceful now? In a happier place. I remember working for hours together, editing and being clever. I like words, and online always gave me special offers and promotions for staying longer than expected. Some might even say that’s an awesome profile, and appreciate the honesty behind it. And others would say dude you’re desperate get a life. But online and I had that bond. And the very fact that I put so much effort in, and how that effort works against me in some ways, just shows the state of dating today. It’s wasn’t their fault, it was mine, and we all had a part to play. We let dating down and are responsible for what it has become now.  In what world do we live in, when you try and frame yourself the most honest and best way possible, and get lambasted for it. Even if that’s only a few people. You’re going to judge me as something without even talking to me? Without knowing me? That’s not a scene I want to be a part of.

I was privileged to have known, and worked with online. *sniffling* Sorry this is so tough. I promised I wouldn’t cry. I’ve been on amazing dates lately, so this just shows you it’s not about getting dates. I can get dates. Gorgeous, intelligent, and funny women. It’s more about the state of mind and energy expended in this virtual world. The women I’ve met recently are not negative, and neither am I. Positive people tend to gravitate to each other. In fact, these women have been spectacular, and breathtaking and I owe it all to online.  Women are introducing me to new things like enjoying nature, fine wine, eating foods like octopus and oysters, getting me out of my comfort zone, and taking notice of the small things in life.  I’m grateful for that. But if I want to keep improving myself, the next logical step is get past this time in our lives. All of us have to. Please take a moment and say your goodbyes before it’s permanently deleted.  We will always remember you. While this is the Death of Digital Dating, it will always be a part of us. With darkness there is a light, with sadness there will be renewed happiness, with death there brings new life.

R.I.P.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.04.26 PM

Donations can be made in the form of connecting me with single women who are attractive, smart, and funny. Online would have wanted that.

Picasso the Precarious Pussy Cat Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Feather in Your Cap

As we know by now, Picasso was a Precarious little pussy cat, somehow finding himself in precarious little situations all the time. He followed D to school, and walked home with her at the end of each day. Tip toeing around gardens, along fences and walls, and sometimes straight into trouble. But that’s just how Picasso liked it. You could pet him, but pet him one too many times and he’ll try and bite. If he likes you, he might be your friend for a day, and that’s pushing it. And if he doesn’t like you, expect dirty looks with occasional hisses too. He was a master of catching animals like birds, squirrels, and especially mice. His black coat was the perfect evening attire, both for formal events like dinner out of a bowl at the corner of the kitchen, or for nightly excursions and activities out on the town. Town being neighbourhood, activities being hunting mice. He’d often come into the house in the evening with a mouse between his teeth, or found playing with them on the floor. Carefully batting them around with his sharp claws just for the fun of it. Oh yes, Picasso was ruthless. But loved the entire family, and especially D, the youngest child. She’d play the piano and Picasso would sit on it while purring and waving his tail to the music. Sometimes hitting a key with his white tipped tail. D enjoyed when he did that, even if the key was off and made her start again. Perhaps Picasso enjoyed the music so much, that he found a way to mess up her key strokes and make her start again and again.

One day, D was in the backyard picking raspberries from their garden that was full of fruits and vegetables, full of personality and life. You can thank her father for his meticulous eye for detail and love for greenery. Picasso was exploring in another part of the backyard, undoubtedly on a mission to hunt out garden enemies of the state. D gathered a bowl of bright red raspberries, still wet from the morning dew. She was going to help mom in making a lemon and raspberry dacquoise. As Mother and daughter baked and created by the window, it was quite alright that Picasso was left alone to wander. In any right, the window was open to let the summer breeze into the house.

Just as the dessert finished baking in the oven, D heard a screeching sound. But it didn’t seem like it was from any vehicle that had suddenly stopped. Nor did it sound like someone screaming. It was quite odd, but not quite odd enough for D to investigate further. Not until, the loud screeching sound filled the air again, repeatedly. She ran out into the backyard, looked around and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. She yelled out for Picasso. “Picasso?”. Putting her lips together and making a kissing sound. The trademark Picasso cat call. No response. Her voice sounding more concerned now “Picasso! Where are you?!” Unknowing as to what was happening in the animal kingdom, D didn’t realize that Picasso’s hunting and significant lowering of the mouse population in the area had managed to make one particular animal quite angry: Hawk. That is when she heard the screeching again and looked up to see the most horrifying image of her life. “Picassssso!!” she yelled out as she started to cry. Hawk had taken Picasso with its claws clenched in his back, and was flying away. D frantically ran into the shed and grabbed her slingshot. She found a rock from the garden and desperately aimed for the bird of prey. She quickly wiped the tears off her face as she tried steadying the shot. Pulling back on the long band and closing one eye to focus. She pulled back as far as she could without breaking the sling, and fired the rock into the sky. But to no avail. They were too far away. He was gone…

It rained for 3 days, and D stayed home from school. Her friend and protector gone, she and her family mourned the loss of their beloved Picasso…again. As we know from before, this wasn’t the first time Picasso was presumed dead. They put another gravestone, beside the previous one in the backyard. Since the first stone had nothing but his name “Picasso” written on it, they simply enscribed a “II” in roman numerals on the second stone.

D was sprawled on the piano, playing a song with one hand. No mistakes. She was emotionless however, much like her song. Even the piano felt cold and alone with no furry feline lying on it to warm it up from the string of rainy days. She sat on the stool, body laid across the keys, tears beginning to roll off her cheek at another fond memory of Picasso. This time, of the moment she first laid eyes on him as a kitten. Part of litter from a farm out of town. D knew right away he was the one she wanted. He was the only one who stayed in the corner as the other kittens rushed for attention. A lone wolf so to speak. And that spoke to her.

Just as D closed her eyes to prevent more tears from falling on the antique piano, she heard scratching noises. They were coming from the front door. She stood up alert, wiping her tears with her hands. Slowly approaching the front door.  Lightning lit up the room as thunder crashed. She slowly turned the door handle and to her astonishment and delight, Picasso was sitting at the door!! Soaking wet, but still as majestic and handsome as ever. He looked up at D, with a few feathers in his mouth. It was quite apparent, Hawk may have got the worst of it.

The Watcher

I arrived in the airport with an abundance of time to waste. What was I going to do with it? The ancient art of people watching of course!, I felt well equipped to embark on this sociological study and decided it was time to put what I learned to good use.

I sat down with my complicatedly ordered drink at the airport lounge. And as I watched the panic of families being late for flights, the men on their smart phones being not-so-smart and ignoring their women, security guards sick of the war on terror and vicious looks they had to give people who gave them dubious looks back. It’s all cyclical you know, it all comes full circle. I noticed everything from flies not being done, to flies on the wall. From little kids and their monster behavior, to little bitches and their monster heels. From dropping money on the ground, to dropping money on the most absurd things. As I laughed and shook my head at the ridiculousness around me, I looked to my far left and saw a woman laughing and shaking her head while flipping pages of a book. I couldn’t make out the title of the book. I wonder who she’s waiting for? What’s this woman about? I’ll people watch and investigate.

She had amazing hair. Big beautiful eyes and perfect teeth and super deep dimples. Lethal. Wonder if she had braces? She had a red, white, and blue scarf around her neck. Flight attendant? Corporate? Hard to tell from the angle I was sitting in. She looked strong, opinionated and sophisticated.

A few hours had gone by, just like a few drinks had gone down, and she was still there. She didn’t look at her watch once. And I never saw her eyes anywhere else but this book. She had all my attention; everything and everyone else just seemed like a blur. Very intriguing and mysterious.  The suspense was killing me. I had to find out more. Dig deeper. Just as I stood up to find a more strategic location, a group of people crowded the area between us. I lost sight of her. The Tokyo flight had just arrived and people flooded the area for food and bathroom stops. I tried shoving myself through the Tsunami of people but it took what felt like hours to get to where this woman was sitting. I finally got to her table, but she was gone. Nothing but her scarf and the book, which was opened to the final few pages. She’d bookmarked a page towards the end of the book with a receipt from the book store. I looked at the cover. ‘People Watching’ by Desmond Morris. The page she bookmarked had pen written on it. I began to read it:

You come off as kind of high handed you know. Do you think you’re the only people watcher here? You think you’re the only one who finds solace in coming to crowded places like these when they want to get away? Don’t play the victim card, wanting attention here or anywhere else for that matter. I see right through you; people see through you. And I’m sorry if that comes off as nasty, I am trying to change. But change is hard isn’t it? Please don’t get me wrong, I know the struggle is real. But you’re making a lot of assumptions. And in all that thinking, over-analyzing, over-processing, you should have just thought about keeping it simple. Spontaneity right? You may just need to re-invent yourself. You’re too predictable, and it’s easy to spot. I had you pegged as soon as you arrived here. Look at you, looking at me, trying so desperately to find answers for what you want. You have no idea I’m writing all this down in the book you think I’m reading, which by the way, you should read. It’s excellent. You could learn a few things. Good luck finding what you’re looking for.  – D

A confused and anxious feeling came over me. I gulped and looked around nervously to see if she was around, looking for clues or anything. But nothing. She disappeared just as quickly as she appeared. I began to understand what I needed to do, and what changes I needed to make. A moment of self-reflection, turned into timeless lesson. For that whole time I was confidently observing the world and passing judgement, I was the one being watched. And she, she was…The Watcher.

Run Boy Run

I never fully understood why I enjoy running as much as I do. In fact, I only thought about it, after someone pointed out one day “You’re probably running from something, running from your problems, from your fears”. Of course, I laughed it off at first, thinking that’s absurd. I run because it’s a good work out, I feel great afterwards, makes me feel productive, etc. But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized running, for me any way, was as much spiritual as it was physical. As positive for my mind, as it is for my body. You see, I don’t go to Temple. I don’t go to Mosque. I don’t pray. Kanye West no Jesus Walks for me. Hozier doesn’t take me to church. No. What I do, is run. That’s what I do, and I’ve done it for years. Even when I was kid, and they asked what events I’d want to do in track and field. I chose the 1500 and 800. Every time. Did I win any medals? No. But I really enjoyed it. Have I tried any marathons? No. But I did run 20km randomly one day last year just to see if I could do it, which I did. Running. That’s my spirituality. The road and trails, that’s my cathedral. Now it’s been months since I’ve been out for a solid jog and I can’t believe the void I’ve felt personally over this last while. It’s as though I was missing something from my soul. I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was…until today. Stepping outside, with my gear on and running shoes. Just enough layers to keep warm while the wind blows into you cooling you down. You see, after my ACL injury, and after reading a few research studies on how long distance running may actually do more harm than good; that it could be more detrimental to the body than people know, I decided it was best to lay off long distance running. Perhaps that was a bit premature and hasty. Since I’ve been doing it now for over 15 years. But I felt as though I should concentrate on something else, some other physical activity and challenge. There’s crossfit, yoga, the gym, sports. All amazing, but still, I felt like something was missing. I know now that the research is completely irrelevant to me in some respect, because it only touches upon that first layer, that physical part. It doesn’t really talk about the mental aspect at all. And that’s why I run. For those mental benefits. To relax and yes get away, to unwind. Maybe it is a form of running away from my problems, and my fears. Or maybe it’s just another way to handle  and come to terms with them. Never mind my injury, I’m healed. And fuck the research, I don’t need to run super long distances any way. In fact, I run to feel closer, not further. Closer to something, or someone. Maybe closer to God, or even closer to myself. I run for my sanity, in this crazy world we live in. Not for a better time or cross a finish line. I run to be at peace, to understand, and to make sense of it all. Not for anyone else, I do it for myself.

So run boy…run.

 

The Ominous Optimism of Online Dating

Let me tell you the worst kept secret in the world of dating. The elephant in the room, that’s hiding underneath a tiny flower-printed, dirty napkin: Almost everyone you know is online dating or at least tried it. It’s no longer faux pas; 87% of dating is now done online. I think 10 years ago this would be the equivalent of coming out of the closet. Oh my god! You’re on Lavalife??!  Notice how I didn’t use OMG there. I don’t think it was around back then was it? Anyway, with so many sites and apps available now, it’s impossible not to be connected. Match, Tinder, POF, Eharmony, Jewish Singles, Icelandic Dating, Interracial Dating, Prison Dating, Gluten Free Singles, and the list goes on and on. I wrote last spring that I deleted a bunch of women off my phone because I didn’t remember who they were. What I didn’t tell you was why I didn’t remember them. The reason was simple. It was online dating and the disconnect it creates. You see, last spring, I joined a dating site, and was astounded by the amount of choice, options, and potential there was in networking and meeting women this way. I was bombarded with messages, pictures, and introductions. It became comical. Before I knew it, I had gone on 30 dates in 30 days. I couldn’t believe it. It felt so very scientific, and as if I had been part of a social experiment. Most of these dates were on weekends. I’d have 3 dates on a Saturday sometimes. It was awful. I had one woman ask why I was in a rush to leave. Being the honest man I am, I told her, I had another date. She laughed thinking I was kidding. Awww, she thought I was joking, how cute.  I have two more today I responded. I didn’t hear from her ever again. But hey, here’s what else I learned about online dating, and about myself during that time.

First, online dating is a ladder. And everyone is trying to move up this imaginary ladder that leads to no where. It doesn’t lead anywhere! You think you’re at the top, and you’ve found a catch. But just as fast as you got there, it just slides back down again. Let me explain this metaphor. You connect with someone online, and you start chatting. You text, you talk, sometimes you sext, you instagram stalk. It is superficial laden, and no different than picking someone up from a bar or club. Except, the profiles give you information so you can pick someone up that’s more suitable for you in terms of a connection. It gives you a cheat sheet. It gives everyone cheat sheet.  All seems great, except while you’re talking, and getting to know one person, another connection pops up. Whether you’re the one that pursued another connection or not is irrelevant; it’s bound to happen with so many choices and sites. Now you find yourself with two connections. Ok, we’ve all done that. No problem, get to know them, figure out which one works better for you and decide. But then, just as quick as there are two. There are three, and four, and more. Sooner or later, that first one, is long gone. Then the second disappeared, and third, and so on. But while those connections are lost, more are gained. Everyone is hyper dating. It’s already on a surface level, but now your spreading the paint thin. You think you have something good going on, but you don’t know anything about any of them, and there’s always another profile to click, another wink to send, another swipe right, another favorite to add. While this is happening, the other person is doing the exact same thing. The dating scene is in serious trouble. These websites are in business for a reason, so don’t let the ads fool you. They don’t give a shit if you find love, and in fact, they don’t want you to. The longer it takes you, the more money they get in monthly fees that you stay connected.

Another aspect of online dating I learned was that both men and women have it equally as tough. This was a eye-opener because I thought it was just men who have it pretty rough online. I mean, it’s a woman’s market after all, they’re the commodity. Kind of like how women get in free at the club. Then I realized, it’s difficult for both men and women for different reasons. Guys tend to lie about intentions, women tend to embellish or fabricate looks in some way. You can see how filtering becomes more difficult just with this tendency alone. There’s already that small level of misrepresentation right off the hop. Here’s what else. If you’re a guy, unless you’re David Beckham, Ryan Gosling, or Benedict Thunderpatch or whatever his name his (I’m lying, I know his name. He’s a fine actor and a stud, that Benedict Cumberbatch), it’s extremely difficult to get a woman’s attention online. Remember, they’re the commodity, so they literally have hundreds of emails, alerts, messages, and dick pics coming their way. No pun intended. Imagine getting all those notifications. Every. Single. Day. By the end of the week, 200-300+ emails. How do regular cool guys like myself get noticed? I have some tips, feel free NOT to use them. First, you better have some fun pictures. You know, pictures where you’re wearing plaid, showing you can grow a beard, holding an axe as if you know what to do with it, pretending to have fun while camping. And some pics of you being cool at a new club, that in reality, sucked balls and was dead that night. Or pictures from a concert you really wanted to go to, and had every intention to buy tickets for, but couldn’t afford. So you just hijacked photos from Google images and superimposed your head in the crowd because in your heart, you knew you were there. That night was epic, and went by so quick you can hardly remember it. Like it never even happened. Always make sure your body type selected is ‘athletic’. There’s no other option for you here. Don’t click ‘average’ here guys. Oh, and round up your salary by $20,000 and justify it by saying to yourself you’re going to make that in 10 more years at your place of employment anyway. You definitely need a kick ass profile, that’s equally funny, zen, and adventurous. You know, talking about how your trip to Iceland is going to be so much random fun, a life experience, beautiful, and so exciting because you’re going alone (even though it’s a guided tour and the crime rate in Iceland is zero). And finally, a great opening message that at least shows you skimmed their profile. I like talking about hot yoga. Insert any yoga mantra from Wikipedia. If you do all these, you might have a snowballs chance in hell, which is where I’m going after some women decide to read this. But otherwise, you pretty much have no shot; you’re pretty much junk male. Pun very much intended. What’s fascinating is that women have an equally grueling experience. How so you say? Women get all these guys wanting to chat with them, begging for attention, drooling over them, how is this a problem? Well, they have to literally go through hundreds of messages and try and find a guy that’s genuine about intentions, and one that meshes well with them. You see, guys will just message attractive women regardless of what’s in their profile, because most of the time, they don’t read their profile. And if they do, they simply choose to ignore vital information. Muslim men only? Hmmm….I’m Hindu, close enough. Caucasian men only? Hmmm…I’m Indian, but white on the inside! Let’s give it a shot. Please be within a radius of 35 miles? Hmmm, if I convert that to metric, is that around 100km? Meh, close enough. Let’s try. Women almost need a secretary to go through all the messages. The whole thing becomes a second job for both men and women.

Here’s what else I found. It’s a fucking tornado of timing. That’s putting a shit storm lightly. Everyone signs up, and you literally have no clue what their intentions are. It’s like these reality shows where they throw a mess of people onto an island, and into a mansion, and say ‘and for your next challenge, run blindfolded with scissors!’  I had no idea what to expect when I joined. I suspect, many others sign up in the same frame of mind. You end up with a pool of people with extremely diverse situations, intentions, histories and backgrounds. I remember going on a date with a woman who had just recently joined. After a mere month of meeting her (there was nothing beyond the first date), she updated her Facebook status as engaged. Engaged?! What??! The same guy you complained about on the first date? I mean, I’m happy for them, but it’s just one example of the situations people are jumping online with. Such is life. Remember, just because they’ve joined, doesn’t mean they’re ready. And just because there’s a monthly fee, doesn’t guarantee people aren’t looking to screw around. I was astounded by the number of women who simply wanted to get laid. I actually couldn’t believe it. I thought this was exclusively a male characteristic of online dating. So now you know, $12.99/month doesn’t put everyone on the same page. Whatever page that is.

I quit the site before the summer, and re-evaluated what I really wanted, and how I would approach online dating again. After 30 dates in 30 days last March, with only 2 as a second date and none beyond that, I had to do some soul searching before I rejoined. I found the problem isn’t online, it isn’t the people online. It’s not situations, or distance or even the ladder itself. The problem can ultimately be solved, by yourself. That’s right. The classic check yourself before you wreck yourself mentality. And let me tell you, it’s working. I’ve been on outstanding dates lately, with attractive, hilarious, and intelligent women. I attribute this better level of dating to stringent filtering, and really trying to connect with that person. I try not to get distracted by the machine of dating. A warning though, to those who attempt this type of online dating; it’s tricky. Since everyone else is hyper dating, you will be the odd man out trying this approach. You’ll probably get pegged for coming on too strong or being too available, when in reality it’s because you’re not trying to spread yourself thin by talking to 4-5 people at the same time. It’s like you’re in the eye of the hurricane. Everyone else seems to be enjoying what they think is a ride, until eventually, they’ll hit the ground running. It does get frustrating as well. Here’s an example. You’re talking to someone you really feel a good connection with. Awesome. You try and give them attention, and learn more. I mean really learn more with in-depth conversation, how they tick, knowing what they like, don’t like, jokes and laughter, etc. You step away from the ladder, so to speak. But who knows, maybe they’re a new user, and haven’t exactly figured it all out yet. Maybe they’re fresh off a break up. So they continue climbing the ladder, while you watch from a far. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of this too. Of course I’ve done it. I’ve played that game before. There’s no point in lying about it. But nothing sucks the soul of my existence more, than really digging someone you meet online, and then seeing them online. They’re browsing, looking, or even adding more recent pictures to spice up their profile, trying to move up the ladder. Looking for something else while you thought you were exploring what seemed to be a good connection. Now I know what you’re thinking. But it’s not what you think. Frankly, I don’t give a shit if you want to climb. Hell, I’ll even hold the ladder for you. Even though I may just give it a little nudge (spin-kick) while you’re up there. But I’m not coming with you. No thanks. Not this time. Not anymore, I’ll wait right here.

One Last Cut

The pilot informs the passengers on board that they will be landing shortly.  Some passengers fidget, others talk, and one man is as still as his one single thought. The thought that has been on his internal movie screen the entire flight; most of his entire life.  Careful not to look at anyone directly except airport security, he heads out of the airport and into the street full of traffic.  Bearded, tired, but smartly dressed for the weather, he hails a cab. He carefully tucks his face back into his black pea coat; his mouth and lips escaping the frigid cold hair.  “Where to?” the cab driver asks. “Duke of Aberdeen. Wait outside, I’ll be less than 5 minutes” as he hands the cab driver an early tip. “Yes sir” as he continues driving. The man, settled in the backseat, looks out the cab window in deep thought. It’s night, it’s cold, but the city lights make it white hot. The cab driver tries to pursue a friendly conversation by asking “Business or Pleasure?” to which the man replies “Business. It’s always business”. The cab driver smiles and turns the dial on the radio to play music. “Can you not?” the man sternly speaks out. The cab driver, noticing the intent behind the eyes glaring back at him through the rear view mirror, turns the knob the other way quickly while gulping. His Adam’s apple looking as though it was about to be swallowed.

They park in front of the establishment, and the cab driver turns the meter off.  As the man walks in, he is greeted by one of the workers in the store. Hair proper, blonde, and a properly maintained mustache.  It’s a men’s shave shop. The merchant says “You look like you’re in the right place” as he stands up and walks past axes and various animal heads on the wall towards his merchandise. The man replies “Sheffield Silver Steel. Straight” The salesman replies “Loup et Belier?” The man responds with a mere nod. He displays the straight razor on the glass counter top over a beautiful burgundy cloth. “Shall we wrap it?” the store owner asks. “No need. How much?” the man asks. “250”. The man hands the salesman cash, and walks out the door. No receipt needed, this is a business expense that won’t be submitted. No need for the sharpener either, it’s only going to be used once. As the man climbs back into the cab, the driver shuffles away his newspaper. “Corner of 7th and Main. Take me there. Straight, no scenic route.”

They arrive in front of a quiet pub. It’s expertly named The Owl and the Moon. The man pays for the fair and shuts the door. The cab driver opens the window and says “You sure you don’t need a lift anywhere else? It’s pretty cold”. Clearly hoping to receive more gracious tips. “I’ll walk” the man replies while thinking to himself anonymity in a new city is priceless.

He walks in to the pub, sits down beside an older gentleman with white hair.  The barkeep asks the older man if he wants another. The man, startling the bartender, says “Yes, he’ll have another.”  While looking straight at the tele, the old man says “You may want to hide what you’re packing a bit better than that Mister.” The man tucks the razor further into his coat. The barkeep asks hims what he would like. “Glen Grant single. Straight.”. The first sip coats his inner throat with a smooth sensation. A gloss comes over the man’s eyes, as he too glances at the tele with the old man next to him. After a minute or two, the old man speaks up “Remember, there’s no going back. You’re all in, and there’s no easy way of getting out. You sure you wanna do this?” The man, still wearing his pea coat, and sipping graciously on his whiskey, responds “Where is she?” The old man turns to the man and whispers his answer. He takes a last sip of his scotch, slams the glass down and pays for both his and the old man’s tab. He walks out the door, looks both ways, and heads off walking intently, steady, straight.

He arrives in front of a complex, 4 storeys. It’s an even blacker night where he is now, and no ones around. He sees a fire escape on the side of the building and proceeds to climb. The darkness, and his black jacket make it nearly impossible to spot him. He gets to the top, and slowly props up the window once he sees he’s in the clear. Small light on in the kitchen. Quietly, crawling in, sliding the window shut. He tip toes across the floor towards the kitchen. A woman, in a long t-shirt, no pants on, is using a can opener to open cat food for her eagerly awaiting white cat. The man approaches her from behind, clenching something in his pocket. The woman kneels down to pick her cat up, and it begins to prrr as she stands back up. She’s all woman, just as he’s remembered her. Gorgeous long hair, and big beautiful eyes. She still had those legs, and he loved looking at them because it took so long to get to the top. With her back still turned, says “What took you so long?” startling the man.  She turns around, petting her cat. The man responds “You’re the one who left, and I’ve been looking for you ever since. And you ask what took me so long?”  Anger takes over his face. She’s unrattled. Unphased. Uncompromising. “I wasn’t hiding, I just wasn’t ready to see you” she whimpers. “And now? he asks. How do you feel now, seeing me, live and in the flesh, after this long? Give it to me straight.” “I don’t know” she replies. “I don’t know what to think. I didn’t know what to think back then either. I was so young.”

“I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to find you. You’re perfect, you’re painful” he says. She looks at him with those sexy eyes that makes his rugged beard melt. She moves towards a room and puts the cat away and shuts the door. The cat paws and claws at the door. She walks back slowly, sexily towards him. Tilting her head, smiling, and taking a small candy from a bowl. She passes a microwave clock that reads 1:43. “I still think you’re beautiful. Just how I’ve pictured you” he says. She responds “You doo?” as she smiles and continues walking towards him, sucking on a heart candy and puckering those sultry lips. She’s a slave for attention, and he’s a sucker for giving it. She walks closer to him until she’s almost propped up on him. His hands and fingers move onto her face, stopping at her dimples. His eyes shut, soaking in the senses of what’s felt like a lifetime of emotion, because it has been. He’s dreamed of the moment he could do that to her face. Her eyes shift, he grabs her tightly and turns her around. She moans and smiles with her eyes closed and hands reaching for his face behind her. He slides his hands in his pocket, and takes out his the straight razor and opens it with one hand. He slowly slides the blade along her leg being careful not to cut her. The cold steel blade touches her skin, immediately giving her goosebumps as she gasps. He continues to slide the fresh metal up her leg, calf, thigh, moving upwards. Lifting the long tshirt up just get a little glimpse. He lowers and the shirt fall over her ass again. He moves to her arm and does the same. The history of their pain has turned them both into masochists. He’s struggling to contain his emotions. Conflicting anger, sadness, attraction, happiness, everything wrapped in one. Confused and confusing. He takes the blade to her neck and pulls it up to her throat, being ever so careful. Is this how it’s supposed to be he wonders. She swivels her body like she’s dancing at a club. She always was a good dancer. She turns around with the straight blade still fully pressed against her neck. Smiling, always smiling. Tears begin to form in his eyes. “After all this, don’t you have anything to say?” he asks, as a single tear starts to roll off his eye, down the side of his nose. Mouth quivering. Her hands hold his tired and rough face, as her own face turns noticeably more serious. She starts to understand the gravity of the situation, the magnitude of how he feels.  She senses her fear come over her, as the sharpest of blades threatens to open her. Scared straight. He closes his eyes,  tightening his grip on the blade, and clenching his hands on the handle. He fiercely whispers “One last cut…”. She smiles as soon as she hears the words. She lowers the blade with her hand guiding it downward. His eyes still shut, she begins walking him backwards slowly, until he ends up shuffling back into a chair and sitting down. He feels exhausted and relieved; the blade now safely in her hands. She drapes him in a cover with a button that snaps around his neck, and jumps on him almost violently. She hold the blade to his neck now, and directs another sharp object right over his eye. It’s a pair of scissors, pointed over his pupil. She moves her head closer. Piloting her lips almost to his, so close, almost touching. She opens the pair of scissors, and whispers back “One last cut.”

 

 

 

If You Build it, They Will Come…

As a new homeowner, and a man in his 30’s living life in this crazy world, I can honestly say… I’m getting tired of fixing things. I’ve lost my patience for this. It’s underwhelming, deflating, and quite frankly, boring.  I have tried to fix things in the past, and I’ve realized, it’s not for me. Not anymore. Now I’m not talking about the little things. The day to day. That stuff I can live with, and we all have to live with. I can handle that. Grab the metaphorical hammer and nail, the symbolic screwdriver and screwy screws, the worldly wrenches, the nutty nuts and bolts, and all the rest of it. I get it. The day to day is what makes life worth living. It’s a life of learning after all. That satisfaction of problem solving is priceless. But the big things, those massive endeavors and headaches, the stress for no reason, fuck that shit. Some things are simply too far gone to fix. Unrepairable. I’ve earned the right to not have to tackle these projects anymore. Let someone else take care of it. Someone who’s better equipped, and has a better sense of it. Someone who specializes in fixing those types of issues specifically. Those. Very. People. They can iron out the wrinkles. Fasten and buckle down the clamps better than I can.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying, or at least attempting to help. I’m not heartless. I just think I need to understand there are limits to what I can do to help, otherwise what ends up happening is frustration and anger over something I simply don’t have control over.  Why do I need that type of aggravation in my life? I’m trying to live a life of positivity, and energy giving. But if it isn’t reciprocated, well than it’s all for not. It’s time to let go, and realize you can’t fix everything. And maybe, some of these things aren’t meant to be fixed. In fact, I can guarantee that. Maybe there isn’t a solution. Maybe it’s just life, and time is the only answer.  And if that’s the case, it’s just wasted energy to try and be a hero. Time to focus on what I can control, for myself and others. What I can do as a man, and not some savior.  Because, you know what I am getting good at? Building stuff and creating things. Making the best out of a situation. Maybe, instead of fixing something that is well past the point of repair, or isn’t meant to be tied down or bound, I should focus on building something new. Creating something out of nothing. Constructing new ideas. Thinking outside of the toolbox. Assembling all that I have to offer and then just going for it. For if you build it, they will come. And when they do, when they are ready. We’ll build something new…together.

Goodbye Old Self

Wednesday September 17th, 2014

re: Party Lifestyle Inc.

Please accept this letter of resignation of my position as Old Self, effective immediately. While this does not give you the fortitude of two weeks notice and the opportunity to quickly find a replacement, I’m sure you will be able to do so in a timely manner.

My decision to resign was based on numerous factors, and after this many years, I owe it to you to outline all of the reasons so that they may be rectified in the future. Sufficed to say, your path didn’t meet my long term goals of being the best man I can be in this particular lifetime, and the change needed to happen now as opposed to later.

It should be known that while the work environment was more than suitable for a number of years, it grew stagnant. This was never more evident then when I attended a life training event called the Digital Dreams Music Festival this past summer. I realized I wasn’t the bright eyed naive young man I once was. You know, joining the company full of ambition and looking to move up the ladder.  I will never be attending a festival like this again. The trailers and hype videos did their jobs, they got me to commit to this workshop for two days. Nothing could be more than the truth. It was filth, dirty, and not even authentic. It felt artificial. It’s my fault for thinking it would bring me a youthful glow to a midlife crisis. Silly Old Me. I deserve a simpler life, I’ve paid my dues. Bought company stocks with entree fees, long lines in the cold, and countless sick days the day after long hours.

The workplace, specifically the coworkers, were not the type of people that were conducive to my progression. I read, I write, I learn, I grow. And while l loved working with these people, most of which I consider my closest friends, there comes a time where you have to step back and figure out what’s best for you. Those 4am late work nights were just too much. I prefer my quiet evenings and some structure, after all, I’m a homeowner now. I’m all for spontaneity, but not when the result is going to end up much the same each time.  The same location, the same people, the same conversations over and over again.  I love these people, and will continue to see them outside of work until they too, eventually come to their own epiphanies.

I’ll gladly help with any transition. No I won’t. That’s a lie.  I’m going to cash in all the vacation days earned over the years.  Truth be told, I’ve invested plenty of time and money into the company that I really don’t need to do anything more than leave the empty bottles for you to recycle. It was a compelling experience, one that I will remember forever. I thank you for the opportunity, but the New Self, and the responsibilities therein, simply provide a higher intrinsic reward system and a better benefits package. Plus, I no longer have to work weekends!

Sincerely,

New Self.

Impromptu writing session with the letter Y

I was back at my supermarket the exact moment I saw her last. Time to see if picking up girls in the grocery store actually works. Feels like only YESTERDAY I was this shy kid who wouldn’t be able to talk to girls. Not anymore. I was really hoping I’d run into her again. This girl, she was beautiful. It had been two weeks since I saw her last. I remember it clearly. I was walking through the aisles, minding my own business. Saw some kids breaking eggs and take off; YOLK everywhere. YOUTH these days. I turn back, and there she was. She came in fast and furious that day with her shopping cart; going straight for the YOGURT. Dannon Activia YOGURT to be exact. The one with Bifidus Regularis. Up until that day, I had no idea what that stuff even did, but apparently it’s good for you. And judging by her looks, it’s been doing her a whole lot of good. She picked up a whole bunch as they were on sale. 3 boxes, and she’s a coupon clipper. Cute. Just as I went over to talk to her, I YIELD.  She receives a text message on her phone and scampers off, never to be seen again. What a shame, as I had my sexy black hat on, tilted, with a cool pair of black dress pants, and bad-ass pair of YACHT shoes on. That was me, a rebel.

So here I am, waiting. Persistent yes, but that’s how I roll. That’s my game. Little bit of scruff to make it seem like I didn’t care, but really I did, because I had shaved a day earlier on purpose. I’m such a geek; I hope she is too. She looked like she’s the type to dig beards. I YAWN. It’s been a long day.  Just as my eyes open after the YAWN, there she is!! Looking all sexy again, this time in YOGA pants. My favorite. I say fuck it, YOLO, and walked up beside her as she starts picking up more YOGURT. Vanilla…just like her scent. I approach and say…YOGA anyone? She smiles and says ‘ohhh..yah I usually only wear them when I work out or do laundry…but I just had to restock on my YOGURT’. I say ‘Ya it’s good eh, the Bifidus Regularis is supposed to be crazy good for YOU.’ She said, ‘wow YOU really know your yogurt.’  I respond ‘Damn straight!’ She smiled. And asked while pointing,  ‘So what’s up with that YELLOW apron?’ Surprised at first, I sheepishly look back to my cart and say ‘oh ya this, well, I heard women like a guy who can work well in the kitchen.’ She smiled again. I said ‘listen, I see you don’t have a shopping cart, but I got mine right here, I’ll make some space if you wanna load up your groceries. She said ‘Oh I duno’…and I said ‘oh come on, YOU think too much, here let me help you.’ I helped her put her groceries with mine. Slick move on my part, because now I can talk to her right up to the register. I asked if she wanted to jump on and take a spin as well, but she laughed and said no. We checked out, and rolled out into the parking lot and into the sunset together, well, at least until we got to her car. I loaded it all into the trunk for her. She said thank YOU and kissed me on the cheek. Just as this happened, my overweight and underachieving boss ran out and yelled get back to work and some other shit I couldn’t make out. YADA YADA YADA! I laughed because it sounded more like a YODLE. I responded ‘YES Sir’ while I think to myself what a jerk he is. I’m sure my YEARLY review next week isn’t going to go so well. I straightened out and wiped off my apron, held my head high, and pushed my cart back into the grocery store. Back into the produce section, to finish unloading all the YUKON potatoes in my cart we just got shipped today. Work sucks, but that night, minimum wage never felt so good.

Lion


Lion

a short story by

R.K. Gandhi

 

Leon was sitting at the rooftop bar late one night.  Not just any old bar, The Bar.  The one that he always goes to on Friday night.  The bar has seen many changes over the years, but one thing remains constant. 11pm Friday night, like clockwork, you will see Leon there. Leon is now in his 30’s, although his head and heart remain in his roaring 20’s.  Safe to say, when the saying came out that ’30 was the new 20’, he was ecstatic.  Now, he justified, he had until 40 to grow up and change. He assured himself of this thought nightly when he couldn’t sleep, and again in the morning when he laid in his bed and stared at the ceiling in sadness; this had become as routine as the bar.  Ask what Leon does, and he will tell you pointedly Jack of all trades, and master of none. Which is a fancy way of saying, he hasn’t figured it out quite yet.  He has a job that pays, and for now, that’s all that matters. Luckily, in his head, he has about a decade to figure it out. Unless of course a new saying comes out that states that ’40 is the new 30’. If this happens, he will be a booming 40 year old reverting back to his days of when he was a boastful 30 year old acting like a bright eyed 20 year old. Age is after all, just a number. 

 

Leon was wearing a carefully picked out shirt and blazer, with a nice pair of pants and a confident pair of shoes. It screamed enthusiasm, even though he wasn’t particularly enthused.  It was oh so Leon.  He was a fairly good looking man, blessed with a youthful face, and while he has dated a few girls, none have lasted long enough to be even remotely called a relationship.  The weather is nice this evening on the rooftop patio. Summer night, busy, lots of chatting and laughter and music to set the mood. But Leon is tired. Tired of the routine, tired of being in the same old place every Friday night, tired of being a jack, and not a master of his own life.  The thing is, Leon is a scared soul.  He has many fears. He doesn’t like change very much.  His beer, that he just finished ordering, is the same one they’ve had on tap for years.  He was born and raised in this dreary city he calls home.  And even though he loves home, parts of him wants to leave. Yet he simply lacks the courage, not the know how, to just up and go. Not yet anyway. He takes a sip of his cold familiar tasting beer. The bristles of his light scruff above his lips soaks in the foam of the beer.  He makes sure to clear the foam using his lower lip. He looks around the bar, scanning the rooftop to see if any female senses his cry for help.  A silent murmur of a plea that he wouldn’t admit to needing anyway. He turns back and watches the sports highlights on the television in front of him, and snacks on the peanuts along the bar ledge.

 

As the peanut shells pile up, much like his tab, Leon has grown weary of tonight and sighs as he takes one more glimpse behind him.  Again, he sees nothing but the same old set of women that he’s seen before time and time again.  His life has become repetitive and monotonous as the lines he uses to pick up women.  Which, by the way, painfully work.  Why doesn’t he just have the strength to make change in his life he wonders.  He turns back around just as the bill arrives by his empty beer glass. “He’ll have another.” A voice shoots out to his left.  Leon turns, and to his astonishment, sees a breathtaking woman wearing a black and purple summer dress addressing the bartender but looking straight at him.  “The usual right?” she asks Leon. “Yes thank you …ummm” reaching his hand out to greet her, pausing just enough in his words, inviting her to introduce herself. “D” she says with a smile. “D? Just D?” he confusingly asks. “Yup! Just call me D”. “Alright. I’m Leon. Thank you for the drink” Leon responds as he raises his glass in cheers motion even though there is no glass on the other end because D doesn’t have a drink.  “Aren’t you having anything?” Leon asks her. “No, I’m fine, I’m actually just on my way out” as D reaches into her purse and drops something in, looked like lip gloss or liptsick. Leon pretends to not watch what she’s doing, but in the corner of his eye, he stares.  “That’s a great shirt by the way” D says to Leon.  Leon, feeling high and mighty thanks her for the compliment and responds by saying “well that’s a great face”.  She smiles and Leon manages to get her to sit down with more sweet talk.  The two engage in small talk for a few minutes, discussing topics like food and their love of animals, even though Leon doesn’t have a pet but she does. She finds out he’s a Jack of all trades. He only manages to find out she’s a mystery. Leon makes her laugh more than a few times.  She’s worldly, and has super sexy legs that she crosses, uncrosses, and crosses time and time again.  Yes, Leon was a leg guy, and isn’t about to hide it.  She has flowing long hair and a fresh complexion.  He couldn’t quite make out her background. She wore feathers as earrings that made her look like quite the free spirit. It was her big, beautiful eyes that captivated him most. Stunning by any standard of any imagination. Leon is both intoxicated by her beauty and the alcohol, and on any other night, this sounds like a correlation, but not tonight.  There is something about this woman.  She’s mysterious.

 

“Listen Leon, it’s getting late, and I have to go.  But before I do, I have something I would have to ask you”.  “Ok, what’s that?” Leon awaits.  “What are you afraid of?” She asks. “What?” Leon replies. “I think there’s fear in you. More than one fear in you actually. I’m pretty good at reading people. So what are you scared of Leon? More importantly, what are you going to do about them?” D asks in a pointed way. Leon looks at her with a puzzled face. “What do you mean? I’m not scared of anything.”  “Well that’s a lie.  Listen this is a test, and so far you’re failing.” D says with a now more serious face. “It’s not a lie!” he exclaims. “Everyone has fears, it’s nothing to be ashamed of” she says. “So just tell me.” “I can’t really think of anything to be honest” he regretfully informs her.  She gets up from her chair abruptly, and says “Well, it was nice meeting you Leon, good luck with everything!” D walks towards the elevator, enters it and pushes the button to the ground floor. She gives Leon a curious look while shaking her head before the elevator doors close, leaving Leon bewildered as to what just happened.  Leon is left thinking what could have been.  He ponders what to do.  He bolts up and runs to the elevator. He runs out of the bar, down the street after her. “D wait!” huffing and puffing finally catching up to her. “How did you know?” Leon asks. “Oh I know everything Leon” she says as she smiles. “No seriously, tell me. How do you think you know me; know all my fears?” Leon, still breathing heavily from sprinting to her. “Listen, you have burn marks on your hands that are no accident.  You sip your drinks carefully. Too carefully. . And you didn’t once go near the rooftop ledge to see the amazing view of the city” D tells him.  “So?” Leon asks her.  “So…you need to conquer those fears Leon.  You won’t find happiness and what you’re looking for until you do.” She says.  “But you haven’t told me what my fears are!” Leon exclaims.  D pauses for a moment, smiles, and says “I don’t have to Leon. You already know what they are, and you already know what you’re looking for.” “Ok ok wait a second, why is this about me? What about you? What are your fears D? I mean if everyone has some like you say, what’s yours?” Leon asks in a smart ass manner.  A cab arrives next to them. License plate C060790. “I’m sorry Leon, I have to go. I’d love to continue you but I can’t take you with me. Maybe one day you’ll find me, after you find yourself” D says as she walks into the cab. “Wait!” Leon shouts. He pulls out a bent up business card. It’s just a card with his name, address,  and number. He hands it to her as she gets in the cab.”Call me!” he yells, as  the backseat window rolls up and the cab drives off into the night. Leon is left standing on the road wondering if he will ever see D again. What a strange and mysterious encounter he thinks to himself walking down the road, than onto a path in the other direction, which guides him down another street. Lights barely doing their job of lighting up the road.  Leon walks down the middle of the street with his head down and hands in his empty pockets, trying to figure out what on earth this odd night meant, if anything.  The encounter seemed unworldly.  Of course D was live and in the flesh, but she seemed more than that. It was very powerful to him. The connection was more than he ever felt, yet he barely knew anything about her.  D had made him feel more connected to himself, to the world, even if just for a moment.  Leon lied in his bed, tossing and turning.  He couldn’t get any rest.  He tried using a sleeping Drug, but that didn’t help either. That night, Leon didn’t sleep a wink.

 

Months had passed since that strange encounter, and it was now late fall.  The season and weather had changed, but Leon, he remained the same. He was unchanged in his life approach. Walking on the streets after work, with a light fall jacket and red scarf, he scurried home.  The bitterness of a truly cold fall day showed it’s ugly head today.  He quickly gets out his keys to try and unlock the door, but drops them in the process.  He picks them up and unlocks the door, scampering into his apartment.  Leon, steadfast in his routine, has put off taking in the mail for weeks until the latest possible date; the latest date being when the mail box in his apartment is overflowing, and he can’t stand the sight of it any longer. He sets his keys on the table and starts sifting through his rather large collection.  Throwing away junk mail, and post cards of friends travelling the world that only made him more upset.  Friends in Hawaii, family touring Asia, these sorts of things emotionally affected Leon if he stared at them for longer than a few seconds. Jealous of the people that could do what he couldn’t: take on the world. He tosses them in the garbage.  As he continues going through his mail, he picks up an envelope with no sender information. Not even a stamp.  Just his name and address on the front of a sealed white envelope.  Probably a chain mail, or some scam.  Nevertheless, he did enjoy surprises, no matter how deflating if they didn’t live up to the anticipation.  He opened it up, and lifted a white card out of it.  It had all but one word on the front of it:

 

FIRE

 

 

 

When Leon was a young teenager, he started hanging out with the wrong kind of friends. His grades slipped, he skipped class, and even got suspended for forging his parents signature on report cards.  Only his mom’s though, his dad’s was much too difficult to master.  It was a tough adjustment for him, high school that is.  In some ways he was rebelling against his parents for being strict on him with school.  There was one particular night, Leon and his friend Adam were out causing mischief in the streets.  Adam was really popular, an athlete, and for all intents and purposes, a real stud with the ladies even at such a young age.  On this particular night, Leon and Adam met up with a few other friends to play around in the local cornfields.  They were just kids being kids.  Goofing around. “Check it out Leon, I’m a scarecrow!” Adam yelled, as he propped himself up against a corn stalk. All was innocent, until one of his friends decided to bring fireworks, gas, and other flammable items to start horsing around with.  They started shooting fireworks at birds, targets, and even at each other.  One of his friends doused an area with gasoline. They all stood from a distance and tried hitting this small area with flying bottle rockets to try and ignite it.  Leon tried his luck, but the firework went off early, burning him a little on one hand.  Not enough to cry of course, not right now that is, but enough for him to stop participating.  He would just stay and watch.  Well, as you can imagine, Adam, an elite track athlete, baseball and hockey player, managed to hit the target and ignite the small circumference of gas soaked corn on his first attempt. How olympiad of him. You can see the problem with this right? The fire grew larger and larger, as did their fear.  They couldn’t call the police or fire department, or their parents.  So they just…ran.  Leon has grown accustomed to running from his fears so this is nothing new. 

Leon, at home now, hyperventilating but secretive so as not to tip off his parents of what they just did, stayed in his room caring for his small wound.  Later that night, the fire department showed up at Leon’s house.  His dad answered the door and their questions.  Within minutes “Leon!!” was shouted by his father, and down came Leon from his room.  “Did you know there was a small fire in the cornfield tonight?” Leon’s dad asked.  Leon responded “No?! Why?” The fireman at the door cut in “Son, are you sure you weren’t horsing around over there? There was a lot of damage and it’s better to be honest”. “No I wasn’t, I was playing baseball with my friends” Leon proclaimed.  Leon was holding his hands behind his body so that neither the fireman nor his parents could see the wound.  Unfortunately, Leon forgot his mom had eyes in the back of her head.  As his father turned away any other questions from the fire department and closed the door, his mom grabbed his hand and asked him what happened? He of course said it was nothing.  His father, was not so nice.  He grabbed Leon by the hand and marched him in the kitchen.  His father turned on the range stove and grabbed Leon’s hand that wasn’t burned. “You lied to me boy, and this is going to teach you a lesson you will never forget!” he yelled.  Leon, crying his eyes out and begging for forgiveness was no match for his dad’s strength.  He took Leon’s hand and moved it closer to the burner.  His mom pleading with her husband to forgive and let him go, even trying to wrestle her son away from him, but to no avail.  The flame pierced Leon’s left hand for just a second, before his father let him go.  Leon would never forget that terrible night, he couldn’t.  He has the scars to remind him everyday.  Leon still gets antsy starting BBQ’s and being around open flames.  Although he did eventually forgive his father, whom later told the fire department it was indeed his son and friends. Leon received a small criminal record, and fully understood his mistake.  The burning memory that was etched on his hands and in his mind gave him anxiety that he has yet to overcome.

 

Leon looked up a bit with a confused face.  He looked back down at the card. FIRE. What is this? Some new club or restaurant opening up? It must be that.  He flipped the card over, and on it was a hand written address and time. Everything on the card was written in marker.  A personalized advertisement? Or a really low end promotional company just starting out.  The address was 12 Weichel Street.  Certainly didn’t sound like a business area, more residential.  Leon punched the address into his computer to investigate, and found out he was right.  It was a residential area, apartment building, about thirty minutes from his place.  The time on the card said 7pm.  This must be some sort of scam he thought, but always a curious cat, Leon decided that he would investigate.  He swung his red scarf around his neck, and decided to check it out, just a bit early to be safe. 

 

Slowly driving up to the address, he sees nothing that would impress the eye on the outside. And he hears nothing but the sound of crickets in the night.  It’s quite dark already, and frigid outside. It’s a fairly old apartment building that seems so empty it feels abandoned.  There are no cars in the parking lot. Leon gets out of the car, and walks towards the apartment door.  He doesn’t hear or see much going on at all.  Looking behind him to check if others had followed in his similar venture, but there was nobody.  Suddenly, just as he was about to halt this excursion and leave, an explosion burst a window out from the left side! This sent Leon falling to backwards and to the ground to try dodge debris.  He looked up at the window to see that a small fire had started in this bottom level apartment.  He reached for his phone to dial 911, but just before he hit the dial key, he realized something.  He was the only one around, with no reason at all to be there, and that the authorities may still have record of him starting that cornfield fire when he was a teenager.  He put the phone back into his pocket, and was just about to get into his car when he heard small cries.  Whimpers.  A baby? He moved closer to the window.  Flames were roaring in the apartment, and it was hard to see with the smoke pouring out.  He realized the cries for help were from a tiny black cat inside the apartment.  He looked around and still no one in sight.  Leon looked directly into the fiery apartment.  He stood there staring at it, feeling helpless as the cat continued meowing for help.  He couldn’t just stand there. He had to help, no matter how difficult or scared he might be.  He took off his fall jacket, and approached the window with caution.  Using his coat, he brushed off the remaining glass to avoid getting pierced in any way.  He lept up onto the window ledge, taking one last breath of fresh air before climbing into the apartment.  Unable to secure sure footing, he fell to the apartment floor.  He was in Hell.  Huge fiery waves everywhere, he could barely see.  The heroic version of himself he saw just seconds before seems more of a Delusion now.  Hovering in a corner was Leon, taking cover from the Demon like flames grasping for him.  And on the opposite end, he faintly saw the cat, hovering in much the same manner.  Cowering from the flames, fear in both their eyes.  He was running out of time, and had to make a move.  Leon’s eyes opened up, and saw a path to the cat that was not as buried in flames as the rest of the apartment.  Even though Hell’s fury and Damnation was all around him, he knew he had to push through the fear.  He rose up to his feet, and darted towards the cat, picked it up, and ran back in the same way.  He pushed the cat up and through the window.  Leon looked around to see if anyone else was in the apartment, but the firestorm was getting too strong.  He leapt through the window, and jumped to the ground outside, tumbling right beside the black cat.  Still no one around, Leon decided it would be best if he took the cat home and not stick around for fear people would accuse him of any wrongdoing.  The cat kept meowing, understandably, as Leon wrapped it in his red scarf.  He placed the cat in the passenger seat of the car before driving home. During the car ride, Leon checked the name tag of the cat: Picasso.  No other information was on the tag or collar.  He was an all black cat with just the tip of his tail white.  It looked like his tail was dabbed in white paint like a paintbrush. “Picasso huh?” Leon asked the cat.  Picasso responds with a “Prrrrrow”.

 

They arrived at Leon’s home, and Picasso makes himself comfortable.  But not for long as Picasso keeps scampering away as Leon tries to grab hold of him.  “Hey, get back here. Stay” he commands.  But Picasso keeps running around.  Finally he manages to pick him up, and give him a thorough bath to wash off all the soot, smoke, and ash.  Picasso shakes his body to dry off, giving Leon an unimpressed look.  The noise of sirens can be heard in the background and fills the night.  Leon wonders what just happened to his dull and predictable life.  He held up the card he received in the mail.  Who sent him the card? Was he being set up by someone? He tried to remember any incidences in his life in which he may have ticked off the wrong person.  None came to mind.  When you live a mundane life like Leon, those incidences are far and few between.  So who sent it? Why? In any right, even though it was a Friday evening, Leon did not want to go to The Bar, or any bar for that matter. He had enough excitement for one night. Deciding not to let the night to go to waste, he wanted to try cooking a dinner that he never tried before, and hang out with his new feline friend Picasso.  He went to the store and bought a brand new BBQ, and cooked outside in the cold.   Yes, he even lit it himself.  Picasso looked at him curiously from the window.  Leon made steak and ribs, and for Picasso…chicken! It was a delicious meal, and well deserved for both Leon and his new friend.  Before stepping inside his apartment, he finds a round shaped rock on the ground.  It was almost perfectly circular in shape.  He aims at a ‘no parking fire zone’ sign across the street, and hits it dead on.  That night, in bed with Picasso lying next to him, Leon had a Dream he was a fireman saving a woman from a burning house and being a hero.

 

It was Winter now, and Leon had begun to make some changes in his life.  He joined the gym in the new year, he was reading more, especially about travelling, and even tried yoga.  He had not been to The Bar in a long time, too far to remember in fact.  He was certainly happier, but there was more in store for Leon.  He came home from one of his sales jobs, and checked his mailbox.  These days, he didn’t leave it until it was overflowing, but checked it regularly, as most people do.  He placed a new postcard he received onto his refrigerator with a magnet.  It was from a friend who had just got married, and thanked Leon for attending back in the summer.  It was a honeymoon postcard from Australia.  As he read through the mail, he found to his astonishment, another envelope with no stamp or postage markings at all.  He held it up, and a sinking feeling came over him.  He took a few deep breaths, and opened it.  This time, the card said something different. It said:

 

WATER

 

 

 

When Leon was a little boy, 9, he was happy and bustling with excitement.  Like any 9 year old boy would be .  His parents would have to fight him to try and come back in the house.  He loved being outside, playing games, running around, adventuring out into the wild, and yes, playing in water.  He was also quite funny and charming. Rumour has it he charmed the nurse while in the hospital as his sister was born. His dad, adamant that a person should be a strong and able swimmer because he himself didn’t have the opportunity to learn, enlisted Leon into swimming lessons.  There, Leon would learn the tools necessary to become a good swimmer.  Unfortunately, Leon ended up failing his lessons after his multiple attempts at the ‘dead man’s float’ went awry.  His dad, with a motto of failure is not an option, tried to get Leon to join again.  But Leon had grown tired of swimming lessons, and wanted to try karate or hockey instead.   Those didn’t happen either.  Nonetheless, Leon’s love of water didn’t deter him from having recreational fun in the pool, and when his entire family decided to go on a picnic at a local water park on summer’s day, he was thrilled. On that day, his uncle decided to take him into the wave pool.  He had been before, but perhaps not as far out.  His uncle held him, and they waited as the rather large pool was still calm.  Gradually, the waves came on, and they kept coming.  Big waves.  Leon panicked, as wave after wave pounded his skinny little frame until he lost his uncles hand.  A final wave took him under.  Leon’s arms and legs were frantic, as his uncle desperately tried to grab him, which he finally did.  He held Leon in his arms as he brought him back to shore.  With an on looking crowd, Leon gasped for air and finally came to.  Leon, in his own eyes, was lucky to be alive.  His uncle, Jim, injured his back in his desperation to not let Leon drown.  Jim, was a gym buff, and in great shape, but later confessed his back would never be the same after that day.  Leon’s violent movement during his near drowning experience, and Jim’s effort to control, hold, and save him, forced Jim to retire from the gym entirely.  While Leon, distraught and frightened, retired from the water entirely.

 

Leon looked up a bit, even more confused than before, and looked back down at the card. WATER.  What is this now he wonders.  He flips the card over. On the back is an address. 101 Father David Bauer Drive and a time of 7pm. He thinks to himself, but can’t pinpoint where that is.  He grabs his laptop and types in the address.  His heart sinks a bit, and he takes a distressed gulp.  The address is a swimming complex.  Who keeps sending these cards? The Devil? God? What was this all about? Maybe it was just a promotion from the swim complex to sign people up for lessons. That’s it. It has to be that. But as he looked at the card closer, the word WATER, just like FIRE before, was written using a marker. The address and time was hand written as well. Is this some sort of cruel joke? This can’t be coincidence.

 

Leon took the card, grabbed his keys once more, said bye to Picasso, and ran out the door.  The curiosity got the better of him in this case, and he wanted to find out more.  Driving intently through the streets he arrives at the address.  Parks the car at the furthest parking spot because he doesn’t risk the possibility someone hitting it due to their negligence.  He swings open the door to the recreation centre and asks the front desk the location of the pool area, showing the card and asking questions.  The girl points to the left while continuing to chew her gum and type away on her computer.  He slowly approaches the clear glass windows surrounding the pool area.  His face pressed against the glass, looking at the many swimmers.  All of whom seem to be cheery and having fun.  A feeling of sadness comes over him; a sadness that stems from fear.  His hand grazes the glass as though he wants to feel the water.  Just as he does, a face appears right up against the glass, startling Leon.  A smiling man in his 50’s, wearing a blue rubber swimmer’s cap and a silver grey beard, waves and points in the direction of the door which is just to the right.  The man looks like an aquatic priest.  Leon looks behind him thinking this man has clearly waved at someone else.  But the old man reiterates that it is indeed Leon he is talking to by pointing to him, and again in the direction to the right.  Confused, Leon walks to the door where he meets the man. “Ahhh you must be Leon” reaching out his right hand.  Leon reluctantly shakes his hand, and says “Who are you? How did you know my name? Wait…did you send me this card?” Leon reaches for the card in his pocket “Tim Woodman. Pleasure. But we have lots of work to do Leon” brushing off his attempt to be shown the card.  “But wait…what’s…I don’t understand” Leon cries out.  “You always fear what you don’t understand Leon.  It’s my job to help you understand. Come!” Tim shouts and waves his hand in a motion to follow him, as he starts walking down the corridor.

 

Tim throws a pair of swimming trunks at Leon. “Tim listen, I know you mean well, but umm, I don’t swim, and I’m not about to start. You see when I was 9…”  “Get changed, change rooms on the side there” Tim responds.  Leon looks at Tim, and Tim looks right back. Tim can see the fear in him.  He walks towards Leon and puts his hand on his shoulder. “Listen, Leon I’m not going to force you to jump in the pool with me. That goes against what this exercise is about.  What I will tell you is right now, you have an opportunity to make a change here.  Isn’t that what you want? See those happy kids out there? That was you one time wasn’t it? Well, sometime between then and now, you’ve lost that. Now you’re no fun Leon am I right? Don’t you want at least some of it back? You’ve come this far down the path, don’t you have the Desire to see what you’re capable of?” Tim’s longwinded talk has awestruck Leon.  Leon, looks down at his feet, and looks back up at Tim, and responds “yes”.  “Good, now put those trunks on” Tim says as he scoots into his office.  Leon holds up a skinny pair of swimming trunks, lime green. “Hey Tim, you wouldn’t happen to have a bigger size do you?” he asks.  Leon goes into the change room.

 

Leon walks out slowly, almost a crawl, from the change room and into the pool area. Tim greets him and asks, “OK here we go. Wait a second, where did you get that nose plug?” pointing to Leon’s nose. “I asked the girl at the front desk if they had extra. Why not right? You can never be too safe” “It’s ridiculous!” Tim shouts, and pulls the nose plug right off Leon’s nose. “Ow! What did you do that for? You didn’t have to do that? Is my nose bleeding?” Leon cries, as he holds his nose in some discomfort. “My goodness what a fuss you’re making” Tim says as he shakes his head.  “Come on, let’s begin at the shallow end. We gotta start from below the ground up it looks like” Tim mockingly says.  You can do this Leon, and I promise if you don’t want to do it again, you don’t have to.  But if you want to continue past today, you will arrive here on the first rainfall” proclaimed Tim.  Leon grudgingly agrees.  Tim guides Leon out into the water, slowly, and submersing him into the water. It looks like a religious ceremony, a passage if you will, the way Tim was carefully treating Leon.

 

On a mild spring morning in April, Leon peeked out his window and saw rain coming down for the first time this year.  He knew exactly what this meant.  He arrived at the swimming facility that night, and with that, embarked on swimming lessons with Tim once a week, for 18 consecutive weeks.  Not once did Tim talk about reimbursement, or, anything to do with that mysterious card.  They went through basics like breathing and the doggy paddle, safety to the backstroke, and yes, even the deadman’s float. “Why do we even need to learn the dead man’s float?” asked Leon.  “It’s one of the most important skills as a swimmer.  It could help you survive long durations in the water if need be. You never know Leon, you just never know” Tim responded.  Alas, after the 18 weeks, Leon was equipped to handle all types of swimming.  Each lesson acting as a cleansing for his fear of water.  He was quite content at conquering this feat.  Yes, it involved going through a  number of embarrassing moments, that included being scared to venture in the deep end, while kids were doing backflips off diving boards into it. Wearing the fluorescent ‘floaties’ for the first while too wasn’t exactly discrete, but Leon managed to work through this, and he was happy. “How can I ever thank you Tim? This has been incredible” Leon pleaded with Tim.  Tim simply said to just keep going, and don’t ask him about the card.  That the card was a miracle, it was Divine intervention, and to treat the message as such.  Leon nodded, shook his hand, and then hugged him.  Leon knelt down as Tim pulled out a beginners medal, and placed it around Leon’s neck. A tear came down Leon’s face, but he quickly brushed it away. 

 

Elated on his ride home on that warm, rainy April evening, Leon smiled the entire way.  He took out his umbrella as he stepped out of the car, and danced in the rain.  Picasso looked on from the window.  One could only imagine what he was thinking while watching Leon serenade his umbrella.  Leon cooked another wonderful meal for dinner: a French dish called Tapenade on baguette, and Moules a la creme. For Picasso…Sardines! That night, he felt like he was an Olympic swimmer who had just won Gold.

 

It was now the heart of summer, late June to be exact, and Leon had become a totally different person.  He was healthy and in shape like never before, he got a tattoo and meditated daily, he went on weekly adventures hiking or rafting, and was even looking into joining a marathon.  Even Leon’s daily life had changed significantly.  He was trying and learning something new everyday.  Things like learning how to change the oil in his car, keep track of his finances better, stay in touch with relatives who he had previously lost contact with, and so on.  Leon was a new man.  A giant of a man than he was just a year ago.

 

He had just come home from an afternoon jog, and grabbed all his mail.  You can probably guess where this was going.  Another envelope had arrived with no postage markings.  This time, Leon wasn’t confused, or scared at all.  Picasso, or Pica as his cat was now referred to, head-butted Leon as if to tell him hurry up and open it.  He ripped open the envelope with eagerness, to see a card with only the word:

 

 

 

AIR

 

 

 

Walking home one evening from from a party, Leon decides to take a different path, one less populated.  He was intoxicated from drinking at a local college party.  A road less travelled was probably a good idea tonight, so to not be noticed by any sort of police or night watch.  He was headed back to the dorm room on campus.  Leon, 22, almost kicked out of school the year before, was in even more danger of being kicked out this year.  He was walking down a country side road, and up ahead was a bridge overpassing a small river.  Stumbling but still coherent, he approaches the bridge and notices someone standing on the ledge.  Leon stopped immediately, and focused his eyes.  It was a man, probably in his 40’s, looking as though he was about to make his final jump in this world.  Leon could hear the small cries, and mumbling voice of this man.  “Wait! Wait! Don’t do it!” Leon shouts.  The man turns his head quickly. “Stay back!” he says, with his hand out in a stopping motion. “Ok, Ok. I’m not moving. I’m Leon. What’s your name?” he asks.  “I don’t care, don’t make me care.  I’ve made up my mind” the man proclaims.  Leon takes a gulp, and looks down at the bottom of the river.  It’s a big drop.  Leon has never been good with heights to begin with.  He wouldn’t dare do anything like bungee jumping or skydiving.  He’s never even flown on a plane.  Leon has never been outside his local area, never once taken a trip anywhere, an all inclusive trip or any of that. No Leon was a bit of a hermit that way. 

 

The height alone from the bridge causes Leon to step back from the ledge and close his eyes.  He tries to put his fear aside. “Why are you doing this?” Leon asks the man.  “Because I don’t deserve to live. I’ve wasted my life” the man responds. “You still have time to make a difference though! You can make up for that lost time.  This, this just takes that opportunity away!” Leon pleads.  “No. The opportunity doesn’t belong to me anymore, I’ve had my chance it belongs to someone else now. To you Leon. I can’t save my own, I’m beyond saving. But you, don’t let this go to waste” the man exclaims.  The man turns back and looks down to the river, rises, and proceeds to jump. “No!!” Leon shouts as his diving attempt to grasps fails to hold onto anything but air.  Leon can’t watch, in fact as soon as he got close to the ledge where the man was, Leon closed his eyes and fell back.  Leon sobs uncontrollably.  He wishes so much he could have saved him.  Why is this happening? As the tears stopped, Leon finally gathered himself to be able to see his surroundings again.  And what he saw was a piece of paper on the ground, folded up.  He crawled towards it, and opened it up.  He could barely make out the words with the tears still blocking his vision.  He wiped them with his shirt sleeve, and looked at the words.

 

“If you stare at the possibility of Death right in the eyes, and not be afraid, you may just fall in love.”

 

Leon stares at the card. AIR.  He gets up and walks toward his dresser, opens a drawer, and finds a piece of paper.  He unfolds it slowly. It’s the same paper, the suicide note he found that awful night on the bridge.  He carefully folds it again, and slide it back it in the drawer.  Flipping over the card, he notices this time, there is no address.  However, there is something else in the envelope.  He wrestles the other papers from the unmarked envelope and to his astonishment realizes there are plane tickets to Normandy France.  Now a normal Leon response, judging from his prior experiences, would be fear, anxiety, confusion, and an inclination to say no.  This time, was different.  The flight was for July 14th, and it was already late June.  Picasso head-butted Leon as to say ‘Go for it Leon, and take me with you.’  Leon looks at Pica and smiles.  Before, Leon would be hesitant, but as we know now, this is a new Leon.  He immediately picked up the phone, called his boss and puts in his two weeks notice.  He was done with this life.  Realizing his passport was non-existent, he went to the government office to get one.  France would be his first stamp of destinations.  Hopefully, one of many in years to come.  He also visited the post office, to drop off a letter.  Unmarked except for the address it was going to be delivered to.

 

It took him nearly the entire two weeks to get rid of all the stuff he wasn’t coming back to.  He sold his grey, drab looking car, got out of the lease on his apartment, quit his job, and told his friends and family he was going away.  He packed minimally, and found a little carrier for Picasso that looked like a picnic basket, so he could come along on cargo. “Don’t worry Pica” said Leon. “I’m not having you for lunch” Leon smiled.  Pica not impressed, looked the other way.  “It’s all I could find!” Leon pleaded. 

 

The day was finally here, and both Leon and Pica were smiling on the trip to the airport. He arrived at the check in counter of the flight.  A charter directly to the airport in Rouen Normandy.  The slogan of the flight was “The journey, is your Destiny”.  A mild mannered woman with a big nose helped Leon and Picasso check in.  “Well you chose a wonderful day to travel to France Leon” she said.  “Why’s that?” Leon asked. “Oh it’s Bastille Day in France” she responded.  “What’s Bastille Day?” Leon asked her curiously.  “It’s France’s Independence Day!” she answers delightedly.  “Hmmm, will there be fireworks?” Leon asked with enthusiasm.  “Hahahaha…Leon, you have no idea…hahaha.” She snickered like a witch.  Leon looked at her a bit confused but proceeded to check in and board the plane anyway.  Pica, stuck in cargo, was less than impressed with the travel arrangements, especially lying in a picnic basket.  Leon takes his seat, it’s seat 7.

 

Leon, only a bit nervous about going on a plane for the first time, seemed more at ease than he normally was.  Is it because the previous letters have all seemed to just work out perfectly, and he has confidence he will be ok? The only movie they will be showing is the Wizard of Oz later on in the trip.  Leon shuts his eyes as the plane takes off and with a sigh of relief, they are in the air.  Reluctant to look out the window at first, Leon finally looks.  Breathtaking.  His smile is from ear to ear.  The blue skies and fluffy white clouds seem heavenly to him.  He sits back in his seat, and slowly, falls asleep.

 

Leon, who has slept through majority of the flight, slowly awakens from his slumber just as the flight attendant passes some altar wine.  He accepts of course, although confused as to why it’s altar. He is a bit groggy, but manages to get a glimpse of the television screen showing a movie.  It’s the Wizard of Oz, right at the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West is flying on her broom in the sky, spelling out the words “Surrender Dorothy”.  He suddenly hears this chilling laughter, but not of any passenger.  He looks out the window and thinks he sees something fly by the plane but can’t be certain.  Just as soon as he witnessed this, an explosion rocks the side of the plane!  It is chaos and passengers are in a panic as the plane slowly starts to descend.  The oxygen masks fall from the top compartment, and Leon, careful to pay attention to the safety instructions at the beginning of the flight, puts it on.  He is calm, calmer than most on this possible fatal impending crash.  A fire breaks out in the middle cabin, and Leon lowers his head.  The plane is dropping at a frantic pace.  People are screaming, and guided to sit down and lower their heads.  Is this it for Leon? Is this what his whole life has led to? He fights these thoughts in his head.  All of these life changes and alterations, all of the conquering of fears, was it all for nothing? This can’t be. Is this how the story ends?  The pilots do their best to try and flatten out before impact. Leon can see it’s water they are flying over.  Flames and smoke engulfing the cabin.  Then, just blackness as the plane smacks the water at a tremendous speed.

 

The wreckage of the plane is scattered everywhere.  Bodies, luggage, seats, everything broken up and placed in different parts of the English Channel, like a jigsaw puzzle.  Time stops for what seems like hours.  He conquered all individually, but can he conquer all of it together.  Fire, Water, Air. Waves push against parts of the plane, and start to carry luggage and carnage away.  But Leon, he has life still.  He pushes through the water gasping for air and screaming.  He is alive.  The lone one.  He looks to see if anyone else is there, swimming across different areas.  There is no life.  Bodies float by him like icebergs.  “Help!!” he yells. Twice. Three times. Until he quickly understands that this screaming is all for not.  “Pica!” he shouts.  Leon is crying now, uncontrollably.  The boring life he left behind has turned into a disaster of epic proportions.  How long until help arrives? The coldness of the water sends chills down his spine, enough to last his next life.  He realizes he has to conserve energy and tries to hold and cling onto parts of the plane to stay afloat.  He climbs on top a section of the wing and scavenges the water to find something to row with.  He sees something lying partially on the water and on the wreckage and picks it up.  It’s a broomstick with the bristles still on fire, burning away just as he grasps it.  He looks at it with look of absolute shock, mystery, and confusion.  He throw it back in the water. Where is his Deliverer now?

 

A woman walks into the kitchen in her apartment.  She opens the fridge to grab a drink. On her calendar posted on the fridge, it lists the time of when Leon’s flight is supposed to come in, and the Gate.  Music from her CD player fills the room. When she turns to flick on the television, we see that it is D.  The television comes on, and the language is completely in French.  She doesn’t realize, but news headlines of the crash are on the screen.  She bobs her head to the music as she checks through her mail.  She finds an envelope labelled D, but no postage marks or where it’s from.  She slowly picks it up, astounded. She open it up, and the card inside has one word:

 

 

 

LOVE

 

 

 

The story of D’s relationships is rather complicated, yet all end the same way.  A broken heart.  She always seems to get hurt.  One was a man who hit her.  Another was a man who cheated on her.  Another, also cheated on her.  The only stable male in her life, was Picasso her pet cat.  She told him repeatedly that they would get married.  She’s had a painful childhood, much more painful than the average person. Yet she was strong.  Stronger than the very same average person.  So strong, that when D cried, she actually looked like she was smiling.  So one day, while on her extended trip to America, she decided that she would leave her love in the hands of another.  She went to The Bar, on the rooftop patio one night, and sat in the corner just waiting. While at her table, she took out her lip balm shaped as lip stick.  She placed the lip balm on the table, closed her eyes, and spun it as hard as she could without flying it off the table.  Slowly the lip balm came to a stop, and it was pointing at a gentleman sitting at the bar.

 

As her smiling face looked at the card’s word LOVE, she slowly turned her head to the television.  Her face turned from joy to horror.  “No!!!” she screamed.  Helicopters flying overhead showing the crash site, and bulletins quickly showing tag lines of no survivors.  She ran out the door, jumped into her car and sped to the coast line nearest to the crash.  Tears pouring down her face and impeding her vision to drive, she almost crashes into multiple cars and pedestrians.  She finally reaches a harbour nearest to the crash.  She can see it from a far. She looks up in the sky to see the words written in smoke “surrender D”.  Baffled, but determined, she gets out of the car. D runs for the coast line, and with people trying to impede her, jumps into the channel and starts swimming.  She swims with intent, speed and power.  She doesn’t believe the headlines.  She swims what seems for hours until she finally reaches the crash site. It is evening now, darker, and she screams out “Leon!! Leon!”.  She frantically looks for any sign of life.  There isn’t anything that would be evidence of that.  She dips underwater to see if anything is underneath, perhaps caught onto pieces of the plane.  To no avail as she rises up for air.  “Leon!!” she shouts once more.  Splashing the water in frustration and anger, along with sadness.  She begins to sob.  The pain is too much.  Her sadness, this time, shows in her face.

 

Her tears eventually pull back, and D finds herself alone in her thoughts, floating in a sea of nothingness.  A sea of once was.  However, out of the corner of her eye she sees a floating body.  It’s a man lying on his back.  It is Leon! She swims towards him and yells for him.  She swims right to him, shakes his body, and says “Leon, please be alive…Leon…I love you.”  Leon’s eyes slowly open up and he smiles. “I just wanted to hear you say it” he responds.  Leon had been doing the dead man’s float for the entire time to conserve energy.  Even when she was yelling for him, he had to maintain concentration, and try to see if she truly loved him.  “Did I pass the test?” Leon asks D. “Yes! Yes you did” D responds with a smile and hugging him.  “Pica?” she asked.  Leon shook his head in sadness.  “You just haven’t figured out how to call for him” she responds.  D puts her lips together and make kissing sounds.  Low and behold, Picasso’s head pops out of the picnic basket just a short distance from them. They both smile at each other.  Leon looks at her, stares into her eyes and says”I know who you are now.” She smiles, laughs, fighting back tear of joy. “Ya? Who am I?” she asks him.  Leon starts to tell her “You are my….” Before D suddenly cuts him off with a “shhhh” and kisses him like no other man she has kissed before.  Picasso pushes the picnic basket towards them using his paintbrush tail, and is greeted with kisses and head-butts.  Leon, D, and Picasso began to swim back towards the coast.  Fireworks would light the skyline for Bastille Day.

 

Together with Picasso, Leon and D cooked the most delicious meal they’ve ever had on the rooftop of her apartment.  Salmon Crepes, and Creme brulee for dessert.  For much of the rest of their lives, they would fight through their fears together, they would grow together, and most importantly, they would live out their dreams together. On this night however, they both wouldn’t sleep a wink ;

  

THE END

Time

I was just passing time when I realized there’s no time like the present. So you’re just in time, because I’ve decided to write about time.  Not on your time, but mine.  That way when I’m killing time, it’s not your loss it’s mine. It’s time to get serious.  I keep track of time all the time, and it’s about time I stop. You see, there’s no time like the present. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m running out of time.  So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tell you one at a time, one day at a time.  I’m going to take the time and enjoy the time.  You never know when time will catch up to you, when it will be the end of times.  Time will tell if this will happen, if this is going to work.  After all, time flies when you’re having fun.  So many things to do, so little time.  But I promise you this, the time of your life. Guaranteed. It will be time well spent. You see time heals all, and even though it was the best of times, and the worst of times, my time is now. It was only a matter of time until the past timed out.  I took my time-out, just in the nick of time. I haven’t spent my time wisely, until this moment in time.  3rd times a charm right? Don’t want to make that mistake time and time, and time again.  I’m going to take my time this time. You know what time it is? It’s about time. Time for what? Time to get moving because time is of the essence. Is this about time or something else? Perhaps another time, since time is on your side not mine. No more break time, no more half time.  Nothing short of the NY Times. No more wasting time. It’s time…

 

Try Not to Suck

I’ve come to the conclusion that in this world, there are two types of people: energy takers and energy givers.  I’m now in the business of hanging with more energy givers. I’m tired, literally, of dispensing my energy to people who simply take, take, and take.  Those people, may still of course be my friends, but associating with them will be in moderation, or at least in the company of vast amount other friends who are givers. That’s right, no more hanging with people like CharlizeTheron ala Snow White and the Huntsman or Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat.

These people suck the life out of you.  You become miserable and upset, it’s depressing.  I much prefer to be around people who are positive, and share that positive energy with others.

My true self is being happy, being funny and witty, and smiling a lot.  But when you surround yourself with people who are the exact opposite, and you can’t bring them back up, you start to become them.  Nightmare.  I know enough about myself to realize I tend to mirror what’s around me. If there’s negativity, no matter if I’m in a great mood, I’ll mirror that negative state of mind.  So I’m calling all energy givers out there, I’m your guy.  I want to be part of the team.  Sure we might lose sometimes, like when we turn on CNN, or when you see all your banking fees, but hey, at least we can have breakfast on the deck and start to feel better.

Spontaneity. I swear it wasn’t planned.

“Being spontaneous is being able to respond with confidence; calmly trusting that, whatever the outcome, you will have a positive if challenging experience that will lead to greater self-awareness and success.”

This has been a challenge of mine for the life of me, but I am trying to understand this idea more and more as time goes on.  The problem lies in my inherent need to plan. I am, after all, a teacher.  Meticulous planning comes with the territory. Naturally, this type of planning spills from the faucets of predictability, and drains into other facets of life.  I’ve always been one to try and grapple with the horns of the future. Give god a helping hand if you will, not that he needs my help. I just figure he has more important people to worry about, so why not try and save him some time.  I’m a firm believer that if you want something, you have to go get it.  You simply cannot sit back and let it come to you. So what are we talking about? Spontaneity in traveling? In dating? In finding love? In my career? I think there’s a time and place.  I want to be more spontaneous, but I don’t want to combust. So I’ll meet you half way. I think that sounds fair. I will let it play out, and not fear what might happen.  But you need to meet me half way too.  You have to give me a fighting chance. Yes, I’m talking to you.  I’m not about to jump out of a plane with no chute, pretty sure that’s not spontaneity, that’s stupidity.  But I’ll tell you what, I will jump out of a plane…with you.  Take a chance…spontaneity.

The Unspoken Speech

So my sister got married…

Instead of the big indian wedding that most indian girls are supposed to have, she preferred a secret ceremony in California in late August. Yosemite park to be exact. Only close friends, and one family member (me) knew about it.  Of course, she only recently got engaged and had invitations for an ‘engagement’ party sent out this fall.  What was supposed to be an engagement party last weekend, to most people’s surprise, was actually the wedding party. My parents only found out a few weeks prior, that they had already got married.  I’ll never forget the text she sent me the day she told them. She said ‘don’t come to mom and dad’s, I’m telling them tonight’. I reluctantly obliged 🙂

The following is a wedding speech that I prepared after the fact.  I felt it might be better to have the speech on here, where more people could have access to it. She’d like that. Much like her wedding, I wanted this speech to be done in a unique way, understated and bold at the same time, full of heart and wonder so the memory would last forever. So here it is..the unspoken speech.

<start by tapping a fork against a glass to get everyone’s attention>

Hey Everyone! Could I have everyone’s attention?

<pause and wait for Rick and Kir to finish filling their drinks and telling their jokes about me going up and doing a speech. Probably crack a joke about the last time I made a speech which was at Jane’s wedding>

Thanks so much for being here, braving the elements. Dad do you need your winter hat buddy? You look a little cold. My dad still rocks the same winter hat he got when he first came to Canada and realized how cold it was. <I hold up the winter hat> Straight off the boat winter hat.

<pause for laughter or crickets>

Listen, mom and dad, in the spirit of this surprise wedding from Smita and Mark, I have some big news….you sitting down? It’s true, I got married in Las Vegas last weekend!! Oh thank you. It’s been a whirlwind. I’m so happy. I’m kidding! Look at my mom’s face.

<wait for small applause and laughter, or crickets. Wait, are there crickets in the fall? Might actually just be silence, which is so much worse. Crickets would be a godsend in a bad speech compared to silence>

I’m going to keep this short and neat. Much like my whiskey here. When my sister and I were young. She would follow me around everywhere. This had a lot to do with age. I was the older brother, I had to take care of her. We fought. We argued. We grew older. Smita became the wonderful woman you see before you. Strong, independent, smart and savvy. She, for as long as I can remember, has always been the type to do things her own way. She moved out long before me, traveled much more than I did, and just in general seized each day. I could never do some of the things she’s done in her life, I wish I could. So much so, that Smita isn’t following me anymore. I’m proudly following her. No not the Twitter way Johnny! Even though she’s younger, I can say I look up to my sister. It’s astonishing really. Life takes these unexpected turns, but Smita doesn’t seem to really get phased by them. Takes them in stride.  I’m learning more about her each day. So when she told me she was going to be with Mark for the rest of her life, and that she was going to get married in California in a small ceremony, it didn’t so much as surprise me, as it did put a smile on my face. “Wedding in the mountains? Of course you are” I thought to myself. That’s my sister for you. And Mark, he’s just a great guy, and perfect for her. Proud to call him my brother. But what’s special about these two, is that they carved their own future, paved their own path. And I admire both of them for that. Love them even more for that.

So let’s have a toast to the new ahem not so new bride and groom. <pause> Yo, don’t invite us to California or anything. We hate the hot weather <pause for laughter among the younger crowd, they’ll get the joke>

If you could raise your glasses everyone. Take a look at the love that both Mark and Smita have for each other, share that feeling in this moment in time with the friends and family that are closest to you. And wish them happiness forever.

Salut

Some words are better left unspoken, but that doesn’t mean they have to go unsaid. Sometimes, they are written. The unspoken speech.

 

 

The Mountain

Sick and tired of his 9-5, a man in a suit decided his search for love and happiness would go beyond dollars and cents.  It just made more sense.  He got up from his cubicle, took a picture off his desk of a mountain, and headed for the airport.  He grabbed the first flight out to this mountain.  He got off the flight, still in his suit, greeted by a wise elder.

Eternal love was on top of a mountain he was told.  Eternal love that would mean eternal happiness.  Nothing else matters he thought, because with eternal love, he would be able to achieve anything else he set his mind to.  Upon the decision to climb this enormous and treacherous mountain, countless people begged him to reconsider.  Friends, family, and co-workers. Defiant in his will for happiness, he went against the wishes of many, and followed above all, his heart.  He learned very early how difficult this climb would be.  He trekked for days, weeks, and months. Battling everything from elements of weather, to his own demons.  He persevered on, and conquered that mountain.  He planted a red flag atop of it and declared victory.  Yet as he sat atop the mountain, he was alone.  Where was this love that people spoke of? He searched night and day to try and find this eternal love that he was promised if he reached the top.  Where was it?

Weeks had gone by, and the man fragile now, stood by the edge of the mountain.  He looked down at the view from such a height.  He knew that he could not live much longer without food, shelter or warmth.  But they promised me happiness he kept thinking to himself.  And with that, the man stood tall, closed his eyes, and decided that he would jump.  Maybe this was the happiness and love they promised. It was in the heavens, and that he had to jump to attain it.  That love and happiness was not part of this world, but another.  Just as he was about to jump, he heard something and his eyes opened.  It was faint, so he listened closer.  And through the echoes of the mountain, the words became clear. The words were ‘don’t jump’.  With all his might he yelled ‘why not?!’  He listened closely again, and there was a reply, and he could tell it was a woman’s voice.  The words were ‘I want eternal love, I want to be happy! I want to climb up!’  The man, still in his suit and tie, paused for a moment, and thought to himself.  He yelled back ‘You want me, come get me!’.  He waited and waited until finally he heard back from her. ‘Wait for me?!’ she asked. He pondered the question, and the possibility that she may never make it up, she may never try.  His heart saddened at the idea that they both may never achieve this lifelong love and happiness. His head sank, and then lifted up again. Now the man truly understood the test of The Mountain…

 

Crossroads

I never thought I’d be here, at this juncture, at this exact moment in time.  For that, I’m thankful that I’ve made it this far, and am able to continue this journey.  I will make it a point to always cherish the relationships and friendships built along the way.  I realize now more than ever, the importance of the little things in life.  Most people don’t make it here, or don’t even know when they’ve arrived.  I’m fortunate enough to have chosen my own path in this life, and not to have had it chosen for me. So I will never take for granted this very idea, and this moment in time. For I am right here, waiting, at the Crossroads.

 

RIP EDWIN

 

 

 

Tin Man

TIN MAN

a short story by

R.K. Gandhi

Intellectual property of R.K. Gandhi

A man with a tweed blazer and fedora steps out of his flat one morning, takes a deep breath of fresh air as if it were his first, or last, in a very long time.  He begins walking down the street of his old neighbourhood with a newspaper he has clutched in his hands. This man’s name is Michael, and his lean body walks with a sense of purpose and direction.  Michael is your average height, with dark brown hair, with greys on the side and front.  He does however, have above average bags below his eyes, which are under his round framed spectacles.  He walks for miles, unfazed by his surroundings and others around him.  He stops off at the local floral shop and purchases a potted flower. It’s a daisy this particular time.  He tips his hat to the florist and continues walking to his destination.

Finally Michael arrives at a bench at the local train station.  It’s fairly busy this morning, with commuters bustling around him.  He dusts off the bench with the newspaper, and sits down.  He places the potted flower right next to him.  With a sigh, he checks his watch, and it’s 7am. Right on time he thinks to himself. He unfolds his paper, and begins to read.

This story begins where most stories leave off, true heartfelt happiness between the main character, in this case Michael, and everyone else who is fashionably and fastenably tied to him. In case you are wondering, fastenably is not a word, but do please look it up in the dictionary when you get a chance, for it will make the idea of me creating the word much more notable and boost by battered ego significantly. Quite sad I know. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes! Fastenably tied!

Michael and his typewriter were inseparable. In fact, he had a typewriter in every room of the house. His mother, for the life of her, could never pin point his location; the sound of keystrokes echoed and bounced off walls. She would peek into every room in the house, sometimes twice over without finding him. Until finally she gave up being the detective, using such contraptions as the stethoscope and telescope to locate him. This after realizing that even the attic, tree, and roof were considered writing rooms for Michael. The best way to find that little mouse she said, was by luring him with food of course. Supper!

Year after year he’d pitter patter away on his typewriters, whenever he had a chance. In every room, each piece of paper with new ideas and a different storyline. He felt that the wide array of wallpapers in each particular room represented a specific mood. His parents room, a room with withered wallpaper, yellow and brown, quite antiquity, was a somber room. 2 years being the last time Michael’s parents made love, they would feel much of the same sadness. Next was the sister’s room. Neat, tidy, vibrant, picturesque in that French maroon warm type of way. This made Michael feel secure, strong, European. His sister, Hanna, didn’t mind the old fashioned typewriter being in her room since it added to the allure. It was right beside a record player and a stack of records. Aesthetically pleasing, the record player was operationally and occupationally deemed unfit for work. It filed a grievance, so Hannah provided it with a place to stay for a lifetime. The record player and its representatives were very pleased with the settlement.

Quite the writer Michael had become by 6. Writing novels and winning a Pulitzer (it was actually Twizzlers but it rhymed and tasted better than any award) for his political short work ‘Assassination Monkey’. Assassination Monkey was a masterful story of a much heralded monkey who was chosen as leader of his people. Once chosen though, things went terribly wrong. He became a dictator of the Stuffed Animal world. Foolish and arrogant, monkey made the monetary system solely based on bananas. Teddy bear, Froggy, and Dog were some of his loyal servants but had grown weary of such an economic system. It was they who rumbled about overthrowing the government, but who was responsible for the kidnapping? Quite a thriller. When asked by the Pulitzer committee (mom and dad) why Michael had written this piece, Michael unbearably started crying, replying ‘I can’t find my monkey, I lost my monkey’.

Shortly after, he wrote yet another piece, a classic heist story entitled ‘Breaking the Bank’. Fascinating tale of suspense about a young man out on his luck, pushed into a get rich quick scheme with the wrong people. Big crime, but an even bigger score. A very emotional piece about the depths of how low a man will go to get what he wants. Again when asked about his ideas by the committee, Michael broke down crying, admitting it was he who broke the piggy bank in an attempt to purchase, above all, more Twizzlers.

By age 10, Michael received every major newspaper in the country at his doorstep, informing each of all the mechanical errors, even correcting them with a black marker and delivering the papers back to them. They were not impressed. Michael had grown distaste for fiction, he found it to emotionally draining, what with ‘Monkey’ never found, and his criminal history of theft. No, Michael grew fond of the news and daily events. He became editor for the school newspaper, reporting on all the school’s happenings, and often adding his own political satire. Not of U.S. or World politics, but school politics of course. Never really gifted in school, Michael succumbed to less than average grades; except for English, in which he failed repeatedly. And by 16, Michael had quit school to work on his freelance writing. The financial equivalence of volunteering, he did find it just as rewarding.

Then the war came, and this changed everything. Michael was peaceful for the most part. However, he did have a temper when the ink ran out on his typewriter, or when ideas ran out of his head. Michael decided that in order to report the most accurate and decisive news from the war, he’d enlist as a translator. That way, he’d only have shoot off his mouth once and a while as opposed to his gun. The problem was, he didn’t know how to speak any other languages except English, and of course his unique brand of verbatim sometimes used in his writing; if you recall ‘fastenably’. Michael, using is divine skills in writing, forged an immaculate resume and application thereby making him completely fluent in Russian, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Polish, along with two languages from the Hobbit, Elvish and Aramic. He couldn’t resist drawing parallels from the book to World War II.

This is a short excerpt from his journal…

Once we heard the storming of the beach was going to happen, I decided that I needed to be there, writing it as I saw it. I waited 3 days on that cliff and nothing. Until finally, I saw the first few boats in the horizon. A German officer suddenly appeared behind me, climbing up the cliff. I drew my gun, it was backwards, so I turned it around. It was upside down. I flipped it upright. Fortunately, he had his hands up before I even drew it. He showed me his typewriter hanging from his shoulder. He slowly walked up to me with his walking stick, sat down and pulled out paper. He was older, a white beard, and deep voice. I gave him a funny look, a look that was kind of a mixture of a guy from a Western movie and a shit scared clown at a rodeo. I was a clown of a cowboy. What I did notice in between my hard squint, was a patch of a hobbit on the pocket of his military jacket. ‘Gandolf?’ I asked. He replied ‘Bilbo?’ So, I decided to do what any other man in that situation would do. Speak Aramic. He acknowledged. Unfortunately, we could only recite quotes from the book, so the conversation was constantly off topic, with lots of awkward laughs. So we sat together, typing the histories of our nations together. I tried to take a peak at what he was writing, but he kept covering it up like I was trying to cheat on a test. Sucker, I can’t even read German, I just wanted to see the date.  He had no idea what I was writing either. Looks like we both forged our translations skills, looks like we’re both creative.

Michael decided not to go back home right away, and explore France after the war.  Not an ideal getaway, but seeing the human spirit lift up through the chaos and madness of war intrigued him.  It’s like a near death experience, the very next moment, the one you realize you’re still alive, is probably the best moment in your life.  Well, that was his logic. He wanted to see that moment in everyone.  Yes, there was aching pain, loss, suffering.  But when the war ended, there was a realization among the French that life was more precious than that final cigarette in the carton.

More to follow…

 

Poker Game

I sat down at the poker table, and cashed in for chips.  This is where my life had taken me, after months of solitude and being upset.  Work, wasn’t the same.  I wasn’t the same. The poison of such sadness had seeped into every facet of my life.  Nothing was cheering me up.  I look to my right and left, and it’s as if I was at the World Series of lost souls.  Just seeing all the different faces at the table, each one battling their own demons, each one looking at me with conviction and judgement.  Which one cheated? Which one had the gambling problem? Which one was the alcoholic? Which one had the broken heart? That was easy.

Each hand I lost was further plundering me down the hole of depression. The lowest of lows.  Yet I wanted to hit rock bottom. Scotch on rocks please. Once you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. Either with the wings God gives you, or through the purgatories of life. I order more drinks.  Old man winter at the end of table smiles as he takes another one of my hands. You’ve lived your life old man, why take another. I take a deep breath and look at my stack of chips. Once a castle, a fortress covering up to my eyes and hiding all my tells, is now but a crumbled wall. They were nothing more than a large step away from capturing the flag, and kingdom.

And then it happened. Rock bottom. The text message that I was dreading, but I was waiting for. Secretly hoping for. I forced her hand, but I wanted to.  I still have chips, but I pull away from the table to gather my thoughts.  This is it I say to myself. I can’t get any lower.  I take a break, and walk into the bathroom. I splash some water into my face. Look in the mirror, and see nothing that resembles the man I was just a few months back. She was gone, and now, I was ready to put it past me. I realize, I will never be that man again, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It’s time to move up and move on. Fuck it. I down another scotch, and sit back at the table. I’m not these people. I’m better than this, better than them, better than…I better man up.

Finally, I get a hand I can play, and I can see myself winning. Old man winter, death, the devil, whoever the fuck you are. You’re going down. I go all in. The cards fall, my eyes widen, and I win. It’s a huge pot. Just then, another text message. This time, from someone else. I look down to my phone and then look back up the table. The guy beside me smiles and says ‘looks like you’re back in the game’. I give him a stare, a smirk, and think to myself, yeah, I guess I am.

 

 

Vices

We all have our own way of dealing with issues.  We all have problems.  We all have, our vices.  There was a time where I would look down at the various ways people would deal with their problems, handle life, or ways they chose to have a good time. That there were better vices than others. Cigarettes. I know now, that as long as the vice you choose doesn’t hurt anyone else or yourself, than that is just the choice you have made. I don’t have to agree with it, but I also don’t have any say it. Everyone is given a list. Choose your weapon, pick your poison.  Gambling.  I can’t be angry or judgmental, just because an individual has chosen something that I necessarily wouldn’t put at the top of my list.  Whether that’s drinking, or weed, or being reclusive and isolated, or working out. It doesn’t matter.  Drugs. We’re smart enough to realize that all of these things, all of them, are masking the underlying issues.  That’s why they are vices. I would argue, that a person who needs to drink to take away their anxiety, party until they blackout, or smoke weed before bed,  is equal to the person who has to run for miles and miles to do the same. To just get away.  Shopping. Yes, maybe the runner gets into shape, and that is beneficial to them.  Maybe the person who drinks is more sociable. But I’m not talking about indirect benefits or spill-off positives. I’m talking about the vice itself. Ice cream. I’m aware of these vices among people now more than ever.  I am not the person who has the right to pass judgement.  There is no pecking order when it comes to these things.  You’re put into a room, and there they all are. Scattered on the floor. Chocolate. It’s a choice that you and others simply have to live with.  Is there hope that you yourself, and others, eventually break the shackles and are released from the grips of such vices? Absolutely. We all have that strength. Sex. Time usually heals all, along with the self-awareness that grows with age and maturity at any point in life. Until then, we just need to be more patient and understanding of each other. We all have our own way of dealing with issues. We all have problems.  We all have, our vices. Writing.

The Ex

These are all the many reasons people go back (or don’t go back) to the Ex…

The memories, the roller coaster of emotions, the heat of the moment, the heat of the summer, the ferris wheel of ups and downs, the wonderful smell, the taste, the family of people around you that made it so enjoyable, the games you played both good and bad, the times you had both good and bad, the prizes you won together and the losses shared, the pain of knowing the day had come when it was finally over (at least for now), the trip itself, the fun and excitement, the unforgettable smiles and laughter, the tears shed, the merry go round of familiarity, the clowns that got in the way and the suckers you downed, the youthful love, the drinks you drank, the foods you ate, and of course the rides, the many, many, rides.