Monthly Archives: October 2011

Robots

Robots

A friend of mine sat on a lawn chair in the pool area of our apartment building, leaning forward with his head in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  He hadn’t taken a puff of his cigarette for a few minutes so his cigarette looked more like a long ash stick than an actual cigarette.  I approached him cautiously and said, “Hey Frank, what’s up man, rough day?” startling him out of deep thought, he jumped and once he realized who I was he mumbled, “Oh, Rob, hey man, what’s up?”

“You don’t look so good, what happened?” I asked.

“Oh my girlfriend blew up last night.” He said.

“Another one?!?” I asked amazed, “Isn’t that the third one this year?”

Yeah another one and, no, fourth one this year. Remember I had two in January. That was a disaster also,” he said throwing his hands in the air and slapping them down on his thighs, “I thought that if I have two on opposite cycles of the month then I wouldn’t have to wait around for them to, you know, be in the mood.  It worked out great for the first month but I couldn’t afford the maintenance, then when I kept getting their preferences confused, like which on likes wine and which one likes beer, they both exploded…. But I didn’t even see it coming this time.  I don’t get it Rob,” he continued, “I read the manual three, even four times and followed it exactly.”

“What model did you buy?” I asked.

“The Edu…educated Showpiece 5000,” he replied with a stutter.

“Holy shit, Frank, no wonder!  Why you messing around with such an advanced model?  You got a 5000 series with an education package?” I exclaimed.

“I know, I know, but I’m just sick of the dumb ones,” he said sucking on his cigarette,  “I didn’t realize that the education packages think so much, I just thought it just makes conversation and advice better.”  He explained, head bobbing low, “I didn’t realize that I actually had to put so much effort into them.”

I hate to say it man but that’s advanced material,” I responded, “I’ve never bought higher than a 3000 series, I like to keep things simple. Actually I’m happier with the 2000 series actually, they don’t analyze my behavior so much and it is much easier to persuade them to do what I want them to do, ” I trailed off realizing that my words weren’t really helping.

“Now I have to start all over,” Frank mumbled head in hands again. “Build the whole relationship from scratch, if only they didn’t cost so much money.”

“Well, just try being single for a while then,” I replied.

“No, no, I’ve tried being single before, it messes with my mind man,” he said with wide eyes, “suddenly everything in the world has a sexual connotation.  This one time I walked into a grocery store to return something and the cashier was talking to me in plain English but I didn’t get what she meant.”

“What was she saying?” I asked

“She said something like, ‘This is past the return DATE sir, we have to GO OUT to the warehouse and speak with my manager. Most likely she will approve it because we like to keep up good RELATIONS with our customers.  COME along.’ Then she had me follow her to the back and all I could focus on was her….”

“I hear ya, you don’t have to give anymore detail…” I interrupted while tapping him on the shoulder, “but hey, lets go grab a drink, take a load off.  I’ve had girlfriends blow up on me before too, it always sucks at first but, hey, it’s a learning experience, that’s why you try different models.  You’ll get it down…”

“yeah you’re right,” he responded as he got up to head off to the local pub with me.

While walking out of the pool area we saw smoke flowing out of a second floor apartment where a couple was arguing on the balcony.

Suddenly the man on the balcony yelled, TAKE COVER!!!!” instantly we jumped under the nearest table just in time to hear a loud BOOM BOOM BOOOOOM.  As the shards of plastic and metal wires rained over us, I said, “See, you’re not alone.”

The Move from Fantasy to Reality

The Move from Fantasy to Reality

When I was a kid I would plow through fantasy books.  The nice thing about many books of that genre is that they come in whole sets.  After reading one book one day I could read another book in the series the next day.  When forced out of my book world to eat dinner, socialize, or go to school, I would wiggle in my seat in anticipation of what was about to happen next in the story. Instantly, once released from my waking life necessities, I would grab the book (which usually wasn’t far from grasp) and nestle into my pillows once again back in fantasyland.

Unfortunately, I eventually grew out of this genre.  Suddenly it didn’t take me away anymore.  All the far off lands sounded familiar.  The main character of one series strikingly resembled the chosen one from another.  Still I kept trying and kept reading to get my self back into that wonderful wash of fantasyland emotions.  In revisiting books of by gone days I could feel moments of the saturation, but sadly they were just moments.

In my searching moved around to other parts of the books store I found the fiction section and thought, “Finally!  With all these to choose from I should be quite happy to devour the contents of these shelves.”  But no, they didn’t stick.   The stories had characteristics of fantasy in that they weren’t real, but they were fantasy based on this concert jungle I already walked around in. I may as well have been watching soap operas or cheesy chick flicks. In my withdrawal state of despair I thought, “what else is left?  Reality is so boring, I don’t want to read about reality… or do I ”

It was then that I wandered into the Philosophy aisle.   Philosophy, the mother of all sciences, the root of ponderance, and driving force of figuring out what the heck is going in this life. Suddenly reality wasn’t so boring. I pondered existence, behavior, the simple things, culture, and habit.  I noticed references to it everywhere in history, advertising, phrases….it was everywhere.  The world finally had some color again.

By then I wasn’t a kid anymore.  I could not just pull out a book and read through calculus or finance classes.  I had to pay attention to the practicality of the world. Groom myself for employment opportunities and speak in simple terms to avoid being misunderstood.  After all of that, the Philosophy topics I had to leave behind were no longer interesting.  Once again, I found myself needing something to look forward to, some happy excitement to break me out of my Eeyore resting phase.  So I decided not to find it in just books… but to actually live it instead.

Reading Out Loud

Reading Out Loud

In fifth grade we would play a game called “popcorn” where the students would take turns reading out loud and when that student had read enough they would yell out “Popcorn!” and the name of another student, who would start reading where the previous student left off.  The process would repeat until the entire section was complete or the teacher got tired of hearing the word “Popcorn!” yelled in as many different ways as the class could come up with.

Once the “cool” kids (who were really just bullies) got a hold of the popcorn torch, I pretty much lost all chance of getting to read out loud.  One day my eagerness to read out loud caught up with me.  I couldn’t contain my excitement for the story and was reading silently along, eager to see how the story would unfold, when I started whispering the words only loud enough for me to hear.  Unfortunately I was so lost in reading that I started reading out loud along with the “cool kid”.  The girl looked up at me, confused.  She and I made eye contact; I shrugged my shoulders as if to say “opps” and blushed as she continued to read.  Luckily, no one else seemed to notice.  The awkwardness only lasted a second because I once again found myself engulfed in the story.

Disconnecting

Disconnecting

I once had a close friend whose method of disconnecting from things, eras in life, and people was much different than my own.  He would put a lot of time and energy into building something awesome, then enjoy the fruits of his labor for years, only to one day kick it to the curb calling it a worthless piece of junk.

Nothing he called “junk” was junk at all.  He simply couldn’t see how to bring the object, habit, or person into his next phase of life with him.  Since he couldn’t form a plan to mix the old with the new, he automatically thought that the old must be gotten rid of.  Labeling it as worthless was the only way he knew how to depart from it.

The gap in his reasoning evolved from his belief that by that point in his life he should know how to handle life.  To save face from not knowing that more options for dealing with the situation existed, his ego assumed that his default method of departure was the only way to handle it.

Respectfully departing would involve feelings of loss, disappointment, evaluations of love, and many other emotions that, in order to save face, he had a strong urge to hide.  These, more positive, goodbye emotions were replaced with disrespect.  In justification for his actions, he pushed aside the good aspects to focus on the few things he felt resentful for.  Since objects and people are never perfect, flaws pointed out can hold a lot of weight, especially when other people feel as if the flaws are the result of some sort of personal failure.

If something is junk, well then obviously someone wouldn’t think twice about getting rid of it.  But a pattern of calling once-cherished things junk just to avoid facing the loss…is, well, sad.  But people do what they do and it picking up the pieces gives them more things to do.