Hacking Life Hacks

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Over an illustrious career of being extremely lazy, I have cultivated a series of life hacks to save time. I hope they help you as much as they help me.

1. Turn your underwear inside out for days of extra use. Use body spray to eliminate problem odors.

2. Sleep in your work clothes, that way you can sleep for an extra hour. Shoes are optional, of course but I choose to leave them on.

3. Eat dessert first, in case you run out of room after dinner.

4. If you are ever spacing out when someone is talking to you, throw in a, “I know what you mean,” every once in a while. Seeming interested is better than actually being interested.

5. For extra energy, do meth.

6. If you can’t afford meth, get a BIG can of coffee, brew some up, then put said fresh brewed coffee where the water goes in your coffee pot and replace spent grounds with fresh ones. Repeat no more than three times. After the third time, your coffee buzz will distort the space-time continuum and you will inevitably travel through time. The double coffee technique has treated me well, use it wisely.

7. The same rule that applies to underwear also applies to socks. You’re welcome.

8. To get out of doing things you hate doing,  pretend you are terrible at them. People feel bad when making others do things they suck at.

9. Collect rocks, buy gold spray paint.  Eventually someone will buy your “gold nuggets.” If you feel like this is somehow cheating the system, remember that if some poor soul is willing to buy a gold spray painted rock, they won’t have money for long anyway.

10. If your spouse is giving you grief, run an add in the classified ads for a replacement. Casually leave it on the counter circled in red ink. There, that should keep ’em on their toes. Wait – never mind that last one. It will probably get you punched, or left stranded somewhere,  or both.

Use these life hacks in good health my friends, I know they save me minutes every year. Until next time remember:  always cheat the system.

Prime Real Estate

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Imagine that your mind is a neighborhood. Every resident in your neighborhood is different. They all have different ideologies, different personal philosophies, and all in all are wholly different people. Like most real neighborhoods, some of your neighbors are nice, and some of them are real dicks. So I guess the question is, who takes up real estate in your mind?

In the neighborhood of my mind, there are a lot of great residents. Unfortunately, many of them are soft spoken, and they don’t have as big a yard as some of the assholes, like Doubt for example. Doubt drives a lifted Hummer, and has 3 car, boat deep garage in my psyche. That mother fucker knows everybody and has something to say about everything.

Fuck that guy. I say that, yet I secretly want Doubt to believe in me – he does not.

Even though Doubt has the largest home in my mental neighborhood, it doesn’t mean that his next door neighbor Pride does not have an equally large yard. Pride though, does not have a lawn. Pride has a garden, that must be cultivated every day or else it will wither and die. He knows that if he allows doubt to come over, he will more than likely trample the garden that Pride has worked so hard to cultivate.

Pride is married to Courage, and boasts that he would be nothing without her. It is because of Courage that Pride is so strong.  Together they make up all that is good to strive for.

Doubt has a friend that lives with him, his name is Fear. Fear likes to tell me that I will get hurt if I listen to Pride; that it is safer to stay inside and never, I mean never try to take control of my life. I don’t like him either, yet there he sits, watching me from the porch of Doubt’s large home.

Note that Fear does not have perminent residence in my psyche. He is not welcome, and stay a tennant at sufferance.

Both in the world, and in my mental neighborhood, there lives next door to me a resident that I cannot stand. I know next to nothing about them, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. All I know for sure, is that this resident never acknowledges me, and is rarely home. In the world, I do not know their name. In my mental cul-de-sac my neighbor’s name is Envy. Envy only shows up once I give in to the advice of Doubt and Fear, and feel like giving up on the world. He says, “look at all of that guy’s stuff, you will never be that successful.”

Also, fuck that guy.

At the end of the street, in my quiet mental neighborhood is a little old lady. For a long time, she kept to herself, not acknowledging doubt, envy, or even pride. Instead, she always left cookies on my doorstep with little notes like, “please pick up your trash, we all have to live here,” or, “your yard is so lovely when you pull the weeds,” you know, polite but informative. The little old lady is named Hope and her house is by far the smallest on the street. She lives right next door to doubt, and over the years she has been buying real estate from doubt, expanding her property in my mental neighborhood.

Hope as also gotten louder over the years, and from time to time I see her conspiring with Pride. When she does, her notes are nurturing and her cookies plentiful. Together they remind me that I’m doing fine,  and not to give up.

Never. Give. Up.

At the neighborhood BBQ in my psyche, Pride is happy to be there, and Envy rarely shows. I want so badly for Doubt to believe in me, even though I know that his homestead in my mind is getting smaller, he will never move out. Most of all, I cherish Hope. It is her constant reminders to clean my yard, and to never give up that keep me pushing forward.

Fear is never invited, but in the fashion so becoming of Fear, he shows up anyway. What a dick.

Lastly, in the duplex at on the corner of my psyche and reality lives all the people who fill my head with negativity. I do not acknowledge them, but there they stay. The only time I even notice them is when I make a big decision. Only then do I notice that they have been there hanging out with Doubt and Fear the whole time.

The moral of this crazy tale, is be choosy about who you allow to occupy your mind. It is prime real estate, and if you are not careful, you may end up living next door to a bunch of assholes.

These are the tenants in my head. Now I ask you, who do you live with?

Image courtesy of freealbumlagu.blogspot.com

Finding Time In The Daily Grind

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There is a question that I meditate on just about every day. In the hours and hours that I spend away from my family, trying my best to earn a living I can’t help but wonder if there’s a way for me to be a better father. I can’t be alone in this feeling, I am sure of it.

We all spend our every waking moment in an attempt to make a comfortable life for our family, and somewhere in the meantime we have to find room to let them know how much they mean to us. And still, somewhere in there, we have to find time for ourselves. What is a parent to do?

I folks, am no answer man nor am I in the running for father of the year, but perhaps these suggestions will help you satisfy that need to improve your dad game.

1. Low tech
I beat this dead horse about every single week I think, but who doesn’t love the classics. As often as possible, try to put away your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or just about any other device you can think of. There is a time of course to incorporate technology into quality time with your children, wife, and other family or friends, but in my experience it seems that it ends up being just another distraction. In a previous post entitled Be Here, we talked about making time for those you care about despite feeling as though you didn’t want to. I keep bringing it up because it is that important.

Believe me they will remember that extra effort. One of the worst feelings I have had in recent memory was when I saw a picture my daughter drew of me with a phone in my hand. That is how she sees me, teathered to this thing, and I’m trying to change that.

2. Get up
I work about 60 hours a week, give or take. That is an exhausting schedule, and I know a lot of you out there work just as much and more. So, in that mere two to four hours that you have to get ready for work, do homework with your kids, and exercise you’re pretty much spent. What I suggest, just let some of your tasks to work for you. I like the DVD set p90x from beachbody.com. It is a relatively short exercise program, that is mildly entertaining. What’s more, my kids think its cool, and are more than happy spend 90 minutes rolling around on the ground with me.

My wife is exceptional at this practice.  She and my youngest daughter share household responsibilities like a game. In the process of this “play time”  my four year old has learned to fold and put away her own laundry. I think this is amazing, and she feels like she’s spending quality time with her mommy. Everybody wins.

3. Going somewhere?
I’m really trying to get better at this, like most things in my life. But there are often times that I have to leave the house once I get there at night for groceries and other goodies. A lot of the time I really want to go alone. This however, serves no purpose in the building of children without separation anxiety or abandonment issues. So, in being more present I try to take at least one kid with me every time I leave…Almost everytime I leave.

4. Pencil me in
Like most everybody in the modern world, I work on a schedule. My schedule is the master, dictating every move I make during the day. As awful as this may seem, it is necessary to keep all the different stuff we have to do straight. Remember that smart phone that we were talking about earlier? Well, pull that bad boy out and schedule in some time for yourself. I have found the only way this works is if you take it seriously. Let’s face it, there are not enough hours in the day so unless you take the time to make yourself a priority as well, not just your people, you will never do so. I know personally that it’s only a short matter of time before I become bitter about not having any me time.

5. Relax
If you are anything like me, you take yourself too seriously.  I am so worried that I am going to fuck up my kids, alienate my wife, and fail at life that I never stop to enjoy the ride. True, I am happier now than I have been in years, but that does not mean I am not caught in the minutiae of existence in the age of information. Stop. Breathe. Repeat. Continue being. You are doing just fine.

Image courtesy of moillusions.com

Apotheosis

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a·poth·e·o·sis
əˌpäTHēˈōsəs/
noun
noun: apotheosis; plural noun: apotheoses
the highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax.
the glorification of a being to a devine level.

Apotheosis is, by some rights the goal of all things; to be the absolute best at one’s special talent or talents. To be so good at what you do that you are worshipped for that skill or talent. Having reverence for greatness is part of the human condition – it is what we do, hence all the different forms of stardom throughout time.

But I am talking about apotheosis  in the literal sense. How someone becomes a deity – someone who is worshipped, someone who commands worship. This is the heart of the other half of my fantasy story:  what happens when someone is successful at becoming a God?

It has happened a few times in history, take guys like siddhartha gautama known to us as The Buddha, or America’s sweetheart known by his friends as Yeshua Ben Yosef but to the ages as Jesus Christ. Mythos aside, if these people existed, they were people before their rising to the status of worship.

Coming back even more recently, you can look at historical figures like George Washington who even has his own apotheosis featured in a work of art in a place named for him (featured at the head of this post). Does that mean he as become like a God in the eyes of the peole? He is certainly revered  like one.

Now, now all of you flag wavers and defenders of a God and liberty, I could really care less what people believe and I mean no offense.

Geez, so sensitive. They are just words.

The thing is, and maybe someone can illuminate this subject for me, but it seems that under the correct circumstances anyone given enough time reaches some degree of this. Twain, Shakespeare, Homer, Plato, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, Lady Gaga, the list goes on.

The reason this idea has burrowed into my neocortex like a tick is that I am sort of writing a story about it, and have been for a while. Well, not the whole “God” part per say, but historical and mythological figures in the wild, and some science fiction fantasy reasoning as to why they are still being talked about thousands of years later.

More than anything though, I have been looking at the title for this post in my cue for three months, and I was afraid my head would explode if I didn’t finish it. There, now please return to worshipping Christina Aguilera, and I’ll go back to my Harold Ramis shrine.

Image courtesy of templestudy.com

Broken Glass Part 4 – 7:32 pm

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The drive to Elizabeth’s house was a short one since she only lived a couple blocks from Gabrielle. The two of them were not the best of friends, but they weren’t exactly enemies either. In recent weeks in fact, they had become increasingly more civil the more time they spent together.

We drove down Sierra Boulevard, the street lights and stop lights playing against the black asphalt like the lights of the dance club. I had one hand on the wheel, and one hand in hers, feeling the electricity course between the two of us as she ran her nail up my forearm while. With her other hand, she ran her nails up the inside of my forearm ever so gently sending a chill up my spine beneath my red flannel shirt.  Rancid played in the background the gravel tones of Tim Armstrong a distant ring in the distance.

            …Never fell in love, ‘til I fell in love with you. I never knew what a good time was, ’til I had a good time with you…

Elizabeth’s modest single story house was brightly lit by the porch lights a dim blue and white.  There was the slightest hint of honeysuckle in the air. She came out the red door like she was on a wire, electric with life and energy.  She always seemed to be wound that way, just happy and effervescent. Skipping down the driveway, she made no apologies what emanated from her. Elizabeth was not very tall, what she lacks in height though, she made up for in personality and stunning good looks.

Lights seemed brighter around her; the street seemed to glow in her presence clinging to her skin tight white thermal like a lover’s hands. Liz’s lavender corduroy pants sat low on her hips, clinging equally tight. She reached the car and stopped for an affected bow as Gabrielle exited the front seat to allow her into the back. Elizabeth, with a mocking smile to gabby, broke into an infectious grin that took us all.

“Miss Mendoza,” Liz said through her smile. She stood and grabbed the rope-like braids of blond hair that you came down just over her chest.

“Why hello Miss Slatter,” Gabrielle said as she returned the mocking bow with an affected courtesy. “You look cute tonight, where did you get this?” Gabby gingerly touched the arm of Liz’s thermal as they spoke.

“Yeah,” she said, “I got it at the plaza. We should go sometime—a time when we’re without these monkeys,” she said gesturing to Burns and me.

“I’d like that Liz. I’ll bring the Boones and we’ll ditch these bozos for the day,” Gabby said with a smile that never reached her eyes.

As quickly as she sprang down the driveway, she jumped in the back seat straddling Burns, bestowing on him a million tiny kisses.

“Hi,” she said “I missed you Burnsie.” Finally ceasing her barrage of overkill mush, she rested her head on his shoulder still straddling his seated body. “Oh, hi Clay,” she said absently over her shoulder at me, but after our history, it is what I came to expect.

Gabby got in, and shut the door, eyeing Liz and then me as she fastened her seatbelt. “Now what?”

Her attitude always seemed to change a little bit around Liz.  I know it was because of the history we had together, and no matter how slight the carnal knowledge of her, it didn’t seem to cease the filter she saw me through. Liz and our tryst seemed to always come to mind, and hell, why wouldn’t it.  It was the second person I had been even slightly sexual with, and Gabby knew that.  She had really liked the idea that I had never had any sexual encounters before her, and Liz was a reminder that this was no longer the case.

“Well,” Liz said her voice a chorus of pleasant notes, “I am thirsty. Did you bring any Snow Creek Berry? It’s the pride of Boone’s Farm you know.”

“No,” Burns said, “but we can fix that pretty quick. Besides, I want some beer anyway. I plan to be obliterated within the next four hours, what do you think Clay?”

“That sounds good. You got any requests Gabby?”

“Just some cloves,” she said, as she picked up where she left off scratching the inside my forearm ever so gently, delivering that slow drip of her special brand of dope.

“Cool, one more stop then,” I said as we made for the Texaco.

Everyone knew about the gas station on Slover. Owned by a young immigrant guy from India, he’d sell anything, to anyone. That was the spot for, beer, smokes, and of course Boone’s Farm for the girls.

The gas station was dimly lit. The smell was a mixture of gasoline and garbage and one of the windows have been broken out and replaced with a piece of plywood on which was spray painted with the words, “yes we are open.” I parked at one of the pumps and me and Burns left the girls in the car while we went in for provisions. Through the glass door, the chime of the entry bell marked our arrival as I made for the cooler doors.

“What’s up Reggie,” Burns said as we walked by.

“Hello my friends, how are you doing today?” He was polishing the glass surface of the counter that carried the lottery tickets and hid the extra cartons of Marlboros that he had under the counter.

“Good man, just thirsty,” Burns confessed as we reached in the cooler to retrieve a 12pack of Budweiser each for us, and a Boone’s Farm Snow Creek Berry each for the girls in the next door over. He went up to the counter first, and gave Reggie a charming Burns grin and a twenty dollar bill.

Behind the counter sat the short young Indian man who we knew only as Reggie. I was pretty sure that wasn’t his actual name, but who really knows. Reggie looked at the twenty for a long moment before he hit the No Sale button on the register and slipped the twenty under the drawer before he closed it.  We all knew that a 12 pack of beer and a bottle of Boone’s Farm cost less than twenty dollars, but it was the price you had to pay if you wanted to buy.

I never felt more like a child than I did coming in here to buy booze.  My friends were all at least old enough to buy cigarettes and vote, but me; I was the only 17 year old in the mix.  Back, years earlier, I had skipped the 1st grade so I was used to being the youngest, but that did not mean I wasn’t self-conscious about it when it came to buying beer and wine, or even clove cigarettes for my girlfriend.  At any rate, I cautiously approached the counter as I always did, even though I’d been buying beer here since the previous summer.  I gave a dim smile to Reggie.

“How’s going Reggie?” I said my voice a bit too quiet.

“Very good thank you, anything else today?”  His accent was thick with the memory of his former life, not incoherent, but colored bright with the east. I thought it was awesome.

“Yeah,” I said clearing my throat, “a pack of Djarum and a pack of Camels.”  As I spoke, I reached into my back pocket to get my wallet.

I handed him a ten and a twenty, smiled, and turned to walk out the door, knowing full well there would be no change.

“Thank you my friends,” he said in the way he always did, “I will be here until 12am—please comeback if you need anything at all.”

“Thanks Reggie,” Burns said to him as he exited right behind me, the chime of the door echoing behind us on the glass and metal fascia of the store.

We had that familiar pep in our steps, the one that usually followed getting away with something, and we grinned a practical rictus at one another as we narrowed the distance between us and the Chevy.  As we approached, I realized that there was a figure standing with his arms leaned on the passenger door having a conversation with the girls.  I couldn’t tell who it was, but the dirty blonde hair hanging in his face, and the baggy cargo pants and red hoodie gave me a pretty good idea of who it was.

As we reached the car, my breath caught in my throat, and I was certain that my night had just taken a turn for the complicated.

My Life Version 2.0

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My real life is such a contrast from my work life. I work in the shadows, and I live in the sun – at least, that is what it feels like at times. This feeling really makes it easy to appreciate home.

Some days go by without me uttering one single word, others, I do not shut up. Granted, those days I am talking to myself, or rather, to my Evernote, but in any case I do not shut my face hole all day.

Oh, but how I live for the weekends. To wake up when I want, to go where I want, and the wrestling. I wrestle tiny people from sun up, until they finally power down. They do not sleep, they simply cease to fight…until next time.

I am really trying to be the person I admire these days. I always admire those fathers who don’t ever seem worn out, that always have time to play with their kids. To be clear: I am not this dude. I am always tired, but I don’t have to let them know that.

My kids are awesome, and they deserve an awesome dad. Your kids are awesome, give them the best version of you. You will be glad you did.

FYI:

If you are reading the serialized novel Broken Glass , the next chapter should be available by Monday. Until next time friends.

I Wonder

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Alright, so yesterday wasn’t exactly a great day. If you read that gem of an entry yesterday, you would surely know that my feelings about finance were once again in questuon. It wasn’t bad, but it was bad enough that by the time I got home I didn’t want to look at a single person, let alone those I love. I phoned in my responsibilities as a husband and a father, ate dinner, and help my son with his homework. All of this, done grudgingly mind you.

It was at that point, after the homework and before bed that I was reminded of something that I had written to you good folks but mostly (again) for myself entitled Be Here. In keeping a promise to my son, I agreed to play at some Lego heroics.  Our game ended up a kind of a build an adventure game, which I got immersed in. He and I, and let’s be fair, my youngest daughter created what I can only describe as a Dungeons and Dragons sort of epic.

General Bone Daddy The Undead and Admiral Chicken Wing saved Batman from the clutches of Lord Scorpion-face and his force filed to end all force fields and reclaimed the treasure using the armulet of spring to melt the ice. It was wonderful, and as a nerd parent, I was very proud.

By the time we had finished playing I’d completely forgotten what it was that had me so unraveled when I got home. If it was always that easy, I would never stop playing with them.

Kid can be the greatest of all teachers, and a constant reminder to not take ourselves so seriously. Just be glad that there are people in the world that can’t wait for you to be near them, to help them defend the world from evil. Sometimes it is they (the little ones) who defend, but not from evil, instead from the bitterness that comes from this rat race we live in. I wonder on mornings like this who the teacher is, them or me.