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10:17 am

 Notorious Procrastinator- Think About It.
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Notorious Procrastinator. That's my rap name, I've decided, and tomorrow I'll start writing all the songs that will make me famous some day.

Things to do around the housekeep piling up. The holidays ruined me, my sleep schedule was all thrown off, I ate too much and didn't exercise, and my neighbors won't let me go to sleep until after 1 AM every night. Despite having lodged six official written complaints to my apartment management, the complex's security service (which charges ME to come out if it's not an 'emergency') and to the neighbors themselves.

I leave for boot camp in eight days. Having gotten sleepier, fatter and lazier since Christmas, apprehension is setting in. Oh well...sicne my work hours have been cut to three a day (yeah, I'm paid by the hour), maybe I'll find more time to get caught up.

I stopped for lunch at the mall outside the recruiter's office yesterday. Someone saw my little Army backpack and had to get into a conversation that started with 'So, do you think it's a just war or not?'. Sigh. Only people who don't think it's a just war want to initiate conversations about whether it's a just war. The premise of her argument was that once Saddam was captured, the war was over and all of our troops should have been brought home. After that bit of strategic brilliance I just sort of mentally shut down and was on the 'uh-huh' autopilot.

But every time she stated an opinion, she'd follow it up by tapping her temple and saying 'Think about it.'

I just remembered, during this ordeal, that 'Think about it' is the most hated phrase in my list of Top Ten Most Hated Phrases.

Every time someone tells me 'Think about it', what I hear is 'I know you haven't thought at all about whatever topic we're discussing You wouldn't, of course, bring any research, insight, or personal experience to the table. So I'll give you time to think about it. If you can manage the knock the rust off of those squeaky old brain-gears, you will obviously see that I'm right, because I *have*-unlike YOU- thought about it. So, think about it. I'll babble some more about my obviously superior and well thought-out stance to reinforce your creaky thinking process while your poor tired brain tries to sort it out. Oh, you have an opinion now? Okay, let's hear it...Wait...THAT'S your opinion? That's not right...Think about it.'

1:32 pm

 Best Christmas Ever
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I was 27, Shelly was 24. We were two kids living on artistsí salaries. We worked at a small screen-printing and embroidery shop, the sort of family operation where none of the profits go back into the company and employees are paid as little as the employer can get away with. Our Christmas bonus was a hundred bucks each, which usually used to catch up on bills.

That year, weíd decided to buy each other something for Christmas. We were going to spend our entire hundred dollar bonus on something pretty awesome for each other. A financial stretch, but it would be sweet and romantic and all, and one day we could look back on that one Christmas when we were really poor but made a big sacrifice for each other.

That same year, we had a new screenprinter working with us, the brother of another long-time employee. His story was pretty wild. He and his wife were both 19 years old. They were 14! when they were married. I didnít think that was legal, even in Texas. His wife was pregnant at 14, and somehow through mutual parental consent , they tied the knot before the birth of their first baby. Yeah, the first. By the time they were 19, they had five kids.

We'd met a couple of the kids. Cute kids, but real ragamuffins, bless their hearts. With an unemployed wife and five kids, you can imagine the financial state of that household. They had less money even than Shelly and I. Christmas must really suck for those poor kids.

I donít know whose idea it was, but in any case we both knew from experience that being a poor kid with a disappointing Christmas is just about the worst thing ever. Shelly and I went to ToysíRíUs with our combined 200 bucks, 40 for each kid. When our new screenprinter got into his truck to leave work that day before Christmas vacation, he opened up the door to a cab filled with packages from Santa Claus.

Best Christmas ever.

What was yours?

12:00 pm

 Learning to Fly
 3 comment(s)

In my dream, I was late for a rappelling class. The instructor was a cranky old bald German guy with a tattoo of Texas on his forehead. You donít want to make that guy any crankier by showing up late. Also, I was a finalist on American Idol, and Simonís favorite. But thatís another story.

It was too crowded in the hall to make the class on time, so of course I did what any respectable dreamer with a deadline would do. I floated up above the crowd and just started flying to my class.

Well, the pedestrians were pretty amazed. Most wanted to know how I did it (no time to explain!), some of the jealous tried to pull me back down to the floor, so I had to fly right below the ceiling.

So, yeahÖnot really worth mentioning my flakey dream in a post except that it occurred to me that Iíve been learning to fly in my dreams for a few years, so effortless flight was kind of a breakthrough.

Sounds pretty weird, I know- probably needs some further explanation so bear with me.

I used to have these dreams a few years ago where I would be trying to run. Muscles aching, heart pounding, 100% effort, but it always felt like I was trying to run underwater and the most I could manage was a fast walk. Everyone else was outpacing me without effort.. Never did figure out what those dreams were about, if they were supposed to have any subocncious meaning or what. But eventually they just kinda stopped.

Or, transmuted, more like. Later on it was dreams about being able to run normally, but having to hurdle obstacles to keep going. Only, the most I could manage was a little froghop, like I was trying to jump with ankle weights, not nearly high or far enough to clear the obstructions. Eventually though, I must have gotten better at dream-jumping. I do remember having dreams where I would jump over those obstacles and get more hangtime than an NFL punt.

Same thing during another weird dream phase or whatever, with hovering. I could hover an inch or two off the ground with a Herculean degree of concentration and willpower. I would later go on to higher heights but couldnít get any forward momentum. So last night was kind of a big dream breakthrough, progress from inhibited running to airborne after enough experience and effort.

If someone else tells me Ďyeah, Iíve had those same dreamsí Iíd feel a lot more normal. If not then at least I hope I supplied an interesting read and a moral.

Whatever it is youíre trying to do and failing at, whoever it is that is outpacing you without effort, just remember you have to frog-hop with ankle weights before you can fly.

12:41 pm

 Indoor Pool
 3 comment(s)

The maintenance in my apartment complex is atrocious. Which is confusing because they employ more maintenance people than any complex Iíve ever lived in. Two days ago I put in my fifth! request to have my dishwasher repaired or replaced. Despite assurances from maintenance that it has been repaired, it does not work and hasnít since move-in.

On Wednesday ( Nov 22) I discovered that the drip pan or whatever you call it for my AC was full, and Iíd developed a leak in my hall closet from it. I discovered this after it dripped for a few hours into a box full of old letters and cards (Iím a goob, I keep all that stuff). Only, I couldnít get maintenance out to repair it because the office was closed and maintenance was nowhere to be found. When I was finally able to contact the office (on Saturday) I was told theyíd send someone out Monday, which means for most of a full week I was catching water in an empty three-litre Ozarka bottle and emptying it about every eight hours.

Maintenance came Monday, emptied my drip pan and said ĎOkay, sir, is fixí which I took as assurance that everything was kosher.

This next bit seems unrelated, but wait for it, it will connect.

My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I salivate over a first edition copy in decent condition, but Iíve decided that 30,000 bucks can be put to better use. I have, instead, a clothbound 35th anniversary edition I bought in í95.

I left for work at 7:30 AM, went to dinner a movie afterward (PS- The Fountain-oh, irony- reviewed in previous post),arrived home at about 8PM. Immediately I heard the drip in my closet. I opened the door to a puddle that covered the floor-too much for all the towels I own to soak up-and a leak more vigorous than the first that splashed into four boxes full of books, documents and software.

A little research tells me that my 35th anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird is worth approximately 600 bucks. Or, would be, if it hadnít been waterlogged. Iím not going to look into my leather bound Complete Works of William Shakespeare and Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

Maintenance tells me they can have someone come out tomorrow. They are not, of course, responsible for damages caused by the ineptitude of their employees.

9:43 am

 The Fountain
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Not so much a review, I ain't gonna rate it ( I'm looking at reviews that are all A's and F's) just a little blurb about my experience.

What I knew going in: Jackman, Weisz. Cool movie poster with a gnarly tree and a bald Jackman inside a transparent bubble floating in a cosmos of gold stars. Tagline something like 'What If You Could Live Forever?'. Nothing else. No trailer, no preview, no review. Okay, looks interesting anyway, I like the cast, I'll put it on the list. Oh, and a coworker denounced it (despite not having seen it) as sacreligious; okay, I'll bump it up.

What I knew going out: Pretty much the same as above. Jackman plays sort of a modern-day Ponce de Leon (and sort of a Age of Explorers-day Ponce de Leon as well as a floaty bald guru in the lotus position) looking for fountains of youth to save his queen (as the Spanish explorer) his wife (as the modern day medical explorer) and some other nearly inscrutable thing (as the bald floaty guy).

Bottom line: Pretty. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. A disjointed ending, and it never answered (didn't really pose it, either) the question presented in the tagline.

I see that a review from the Atlanta Constitution-Journal calls it 'a metaphysical mess'. I can't disagree with that; I can see how it could be a metaphysical mess to the uninitiated.

Me, I'm no scholar of the mystical. It's a subject that interests me, something I like to learn about, but I'm just a dabbler, and not even a dedicated dabbler. I find it fascinating that spiritualism is still a major force in the movements of an increasingly logical and scientific world. I still avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk and I'm a little weirded out by the fact that in six months in my apartment complex, I haven't seen a cat that's not black.

It was, as the Constitution-Journal reports, a little messy. It was an interesting piece for about the first 3/4, I felt like I was learning something about Mayan mysticism, saw a touch of science, Zen and Hindu thrown in for flavor, and it was a pretty film.

But it started to fracture for me toward the end. Anywhere I guessed the movie might have been going for the first 3/4 was lost, the last bits of the movie seemed to be a montage of very pretty metaphysically inspired images that made little sense to a mind unenlightened as mine; they didn't work to resolve any loose ends.

If you're uninitiated or put off by metaphysical weirdnes, you probably won't get it and/ or you'll hate it. If you're a dabbler it will engage you for awhile before it shoots off into a space beyond your reach. If you're a scholar of the spiritual or a mountaintop guru, you're way more enlightened than I am and maybe you'll give it an A.

If your reaction to this little note was 'wait a minute, what about the story, the plot...what happened? How did it end?'...Well, that was kinda my experience of the mystical half or so of the movie. But if I understood it, I guess it wouldn't be mysticism.

As an aside (prompted by the elements of the Mayan religion) if you make your plans by the Mayan calendar, leave (if I recall correctly) Dec. 23, 2012 open, as you will be busy with the projected end of the world. Live it up.

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