Going Postal

 

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Damaged books, hurrah!

The United States Postal Service and I have an uneasy association. We’re entangled in a dysfunctional relationship predicated on the idea that I’d like my mail delivered in approximately the same general structure in which it was originally sent, and they don’t give a flying fuck what I want.

Most of my friends know about my self-imposed mission to straighten out this quasi-government agency, and I’m guessing, more than a few of them have some concerns about me because of it. I complain about my experiences with mail delivery all the time. I’ve contacted the Postmaster General more than once, and I’m often seen firing off a smoking, hot email to a regional USPS Vice President from my iPhone.

I’m certain I was a mail carrier in another life and a shitty one at that. There is no other explanation for my current problems. In a previous life, I was probably one of those guys that hoarded other people’s mail, hiding it in huge stacks in my house, which was so full of crap there were paths throughout the rooms, like a paper infested rat’s maze. Instead of cheese at the end of the puzzle, there were only ads about cheese. The California Milk Advisory Board’s marketing campaign, “It’s the cheese. Real California cheese.”

Like a lot of people, I have one of those smaller mailboxes known as a “Gibraltar Box.” Go ahead and look it up, I’ll wait. It’s the kind of box that sits curbside so mail carriers can shove the mail from the comfort of their little mail trucks. Now imagine that particular box having 10-days worth of mail in it because you were on vacation. Most of us get a lot of junk in the mail in addition to bills and other items, and in an election year, well, enough said. But now imagine the contents of that box also included a plastic envelope measuring 15” x 22,” you know, the kind of mailer that clothing is often shipped in, and in this case, contained a rather expensive jacket. Now you have an idea of what the mail delivery looks like at my place. Every. Single. Day.

What is left to do after you’ve spoken nicely to the carrier, moved up the chain to the Regional Manger, then the Regional Vice President, and finally to the Postmaster General herself? To their credit, they’ve coached the poor performance,  but seem to have a rogue on their hands they don’t know how to handle.

I’m inclined to rehome a nest of birds about to fly the coop, and see what happens when the carrier opens that door. Then again, who am I to step into the Karma he’s creating for himself? I wish all good things for him in his next life. I just wish he wasn’t delivering my mail in this one.

*Disclaimer: I’ve never been a mail carrier although one year I was hired at the Christmas holidays to sort. I declined when I saw where the work took place. Nobody can function in that much government gray, which actually explains a lot.

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No front page, no problem.

So…About The Current State Of Politics…

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I almost never jump into the fray when it comes to politics. It’s not that I’m uninformed, uneducated, or disinterested. It’s because the vitriol and hate that accompanies the political clusterfuck in our country hurts me to the core. I’m just sensitive that way.

I can’t wrap my head around how supporters of a particular candidate can threaten to hurt, maim, or kill their fellow human beings based on a differing opinion. When did all this ugliness start? This is not the political process I learned about in school; the civic duty my parents participated in, and taught my brothers and me about. Maybe it was around the same time some mega churches started telling their parishioners how to vote. I don’t know about you, but I like a little separation of Church and State with my politics. I don’t want the blood from the meat mixing with the mashed potatoes if you catch my drift.

Let’s face it; we have one candidate who degrades women, minorities, and anyone who doesn’t agree with him, and another who’s been embroiled in one scandal after another for most of her political career. This is our choice. I have never wanted to be so uninvolved in my life. I don’t want to vote. I don’t want to participate in this hateful, disgusting display we are showing the rest of the world. It’s embarrassing.

And yes, someone please tell me how my vote counts. How I’m not allowed to complain if I don’t vote. Then please remind us all how the Electoral College always, really votes the will of the people. Those guys always have their constituent’s best interest at heart, right? Well, they do if they’re voting themselves a raise. Did I just read Social Security benefits were going up by about $5.00 in 2017? Wow. Generous.

People who work for the newspaper, The Arizona Republic have been threated with death and arson for endorsing Hillary Clinton. When did we become so un-American? How does politics have the ability to whip people into such a frenzy that we’re willing to annihilate our neighbor’s rights, and actually threaten to kill them if they don’t side with what we think and believe?

Maybe we should force Clinton and Trump to govern together. Both of them are smart. They both know how to get things done. Make the two of them sit together in a room and figure out what’s lacking in our country, and then come up with a plan to fix it. Not in four years, right now. Equal power. Equal input.

And if the two of them fail, as surely they will, We The People will find someone who can take care of business. The time for status quo has come and gone. We need a new political process in this country. One that doesn’t require billions spent by special interest groups when people in our country are hungry and in need. When our National Debt is beyond our ability to ever repay it.

It’s time for politicians to lead this country with love, or at least to act as if. And this is why I usually refuse to jump into the political fray. There’s no redeeming social value, actually, no value of any kind. Certainly there is no love. Nobody who truly loved their country and its people would spew such hate in order to serve it. Disclaimer: In all the jobs I’ve held, politician is not one of my former titles. But I’m certain I could do a better job. So could you. Perhaps this is our call to action.

Also, I’m going to subscribe to the Arizona Republic. I am a writer and a journalist at heart. You may not agree with what they write about and publish, but they have a right to run their business without death threats. It’s how we do things here in America. First Amendment. Freedom. Rights and all that jazz.

But hey, this is all just my opinion. You know, that thing we used to be free to share without being threatened. I’m interested in yours. Share it. I’m listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WANTED: Home and Llamas

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It seems like no matter where I go in the world, I’m always looking for home. Not that I don’t have a place to live, I do. Currently, I reside in a great house, on a good block in a swell neighborhood. My stuff gathers there. My hats are hung inside. But it’s not home. It’s like a temporary way station until I find the real place. The place I finally put down some roots and refuse to yank them out again. Like I’ve done eight times in the last 10 years.

When I finally land, it will be in a house where I love waking up to greet the sun on the back porch. I’ll sit outside with a stellar cup of coffee contemplating the forecast of an amazing day. The kind of workday that keeps me busy enough to stave off any boredom but not so demanding it feels like a grind.

In the evening I’ll gather with friends who are likeminded and entertaining. People who like organic food and care about the environment. My friends are super smart and they laugh easily, but also care deeply. I never have to worry whether anyone has my back because they all do, and I reciprocate in kind. We often discuss serious issues, but instead of just complaining about the status quo, we all commit to take one small step to change our little piece of the planet for the good of ALL.

Some of us have different political views, but we love each other enough to listen carefully and respond thoughtfully. There is no blame or vitriol. Nothing ugly happens here.

My home will be the place I always think of when I’m away. The place I always long for because it’s where I’m happiest. Where my comfy bed lives in a large room just waiting for me to get horizontal and grab a good book. It’s a place where I grow some veggies and flowers so I’m always surrounded by living things and beauty.

Home. The scene where I laugh the most, and dance across the living room floor pretending I’m a rock star because, in my house, I am. Also, there are llamas in the yard, just because.

What says home for you?

 

 

 

The Java Jive

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Yesterday was National Coffee Day and I was more excited about it than I ever was as a kid at Christmas. Probably because I wasn’t working as a barista (job #51) and taking orders from people that left me shaking my head and simultaneously standing on it.

It’s so hard to maintain your poker face when a customer approaches the counter with a bit of side-eye, gauging whether you’re up to the challenge of their special brew. The order is delivered so slowly and articulated so clearly you wonder if the coffee snob in front of you is a former English teacher or just thinks you’re an idiot.

“I’d like an iced, half caf, grande ristretto two pump hazelnut, soy skinny latte, light ice please. Got that, Dear?” Likewise, the accompanying food order: “Bacon, egg and gouda breakfast sandwich, but no bacon and no egg, toasted lightly, last time it was burnt beyond recognition,” has the ability to leave one practically in shambles.

My short stint as an Assistant Manager/Barista broke my poker face for good. I knew it was time to leave when someone stood in front of me and started with, “I’ll take a 10-pump…” the rest of whatever he said is a blur. I remember only the words that came out of my mouth. “Are you kidding me?” It couldn’t be helped. It was an involuntary response. I gave my notice within hours.

So now I celebrate on National Coffee Day as if it were the biggest deal in the world, because for me it is. I drink coffee until just shy of the shakes and I savor every sip, made to perfection by me. Think I’d trust someone else to make my cup of perfection? Not a chance. By the way, in my world everyday is National Coffee Day. One day is simply not enough. Don’t you think so?

Am I Relevant?

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Here is my truth. Yesterday, I had a major crisis of confidence and a mini-meltdown. I held it quietly, invited no guests, and offered no refreshments. I thought about how I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to create the career of my dreams, and in all honesty, it may have been a waste of my time and efforts.

It’s a feeling that’s close to hitting bottom as they say, only without a barrel of alcohol and lots of drugs; the accompanying feelings are pretty brutal.

A writer spends the majority of her time alone in her own chaotic head. This is the deal you sign when you decide to forgo social relationships and office banter (and money) for sitting at home in your jammies with a laptop, gallons of coffee, and a loyal dog, if you’re lucky. Then as a writer, there’s an expectation that you develop social relationships with millions of people, most of whom you do not know, literally boatloads of people who will love and champion your work. It’s all about being relevant.

There are books to consult and consultants to read, all of whom can help an isolated writer develop and grow a “massive platform.” Right. Makes all the sense in the world.

The other day I spoke to a friend who is seeking a mid-life career change and has immersed herself in some kind of coding camp. When I asked how it was going she told me she was struggling, and that she had so much to “Catch up on to stay relevant in this market.” It reminded me how we all fight so hard to stay, or even find our way to being relevant in a society that is so faced paced, distracted, and fragmented.

Our friends at Merriam Webster define it thus:

1
a :  having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand

b :  affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony>

c :  having social relevance

It must be the social relevance I’m missing. I know there are people out there who are really good at finding people who think they are the Golden Ticket. I know because I follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I read what they write and analyze it like it’s a treasure map that contains a piece I’m missing. Then it occurs to me, maybe it’s not me.

It’s not the work. I have enough confidence to know that the recent writing I’ve done is good, my best so far. I don’t have the answer for how to hook a million strangers into reading my stuff. I’m lucky to coerce the ones I do know into reading it. But this idea of relevancy is freaking me out, big time. Human beings should not have to prove that we are relevant. We are so because we breathe, and think, and do the best we can at whatever we do.

Even when we’re having a mini-meltdown in our jammies.

 

 

Granny Is A Hotrod And Why We Should All Chill Behind The Wheel

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When did driving become such a Mad Max movie? I feel like the odds of airbag deployment rise with each venture out of the garage. Let’s face it, the traffic is horrible everywhere. I used to live in Los Angeles, which is gridlock city. Now everywhere looks like L.A.

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote when I lived in the City of Angels. Let’s review these Road Rules, shall we? Surely they won’t apply to anyone reading this, but feel free to print them out, and place them gently on the windshield of the asshole who cut you off at 60mph without so much as the courtesy of a one-blink turn signal. That is, after you’ve followed him into a well-lit parking lot and seen the asshat walk away. (For both open road and city driving)

Road Rules

  1. Please do not text and drive. Other people die when you’re stare at your phone rather than pilot your 2,000-pound weapon.
  1. Leave room to pass safely. Remember the old adage/rule/law about leaving enough room to pass so that the vehicle being passed didn’t have to slow down? Pretend that person you’re preparing to pass is an EX, as in ex-girlfriend, ex-husband etc. Think Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards kind of room. Then, put on your celebrity sunglasses and fly like the wind before cutting back over.
  1. Use a turn signal. They’re not just for dangling bottle openers anymore. They were actually installed to give the poor bastard behind some clue about what you’re up to.
  1. Just drive. This isn’t the time to: Clean out your nose, read the paper, have sex, watch TV or dial up everyone you know because you’re bored. Unless of course, the traffic is completely stopped, in that case, let your conscience be your guide.
  1. Keep food items simple. While it’s true that fast food joints come out with more cup holder chow all the time, there aren’t enough Shout Wipes in the world to handle that 70-mph, In-N-Out burger that imploded on your slacks making you look like a complete slob to everyone who sees you. Just nasty.
  1. Don’t tailgate. If the driver in front of you can’t see your lights in their rearview, you’re way too close, like depending on the speed, maybe up to six car lengths too close. There’s nothing to be gained from ‘drafting.’ If you’re so worried other cars will squeeze in you’re probably too high strung to be driving anyway.
  1. The ‘California or rolling stop,’ isn’t a real thing. Stop, means stop, just like no means no. Otherwise that big, red eight-sided sign would be called a Stoptional.
  1. Try and stay in between the white lines that designate a driving lane. Drifting in and out while texting, or sleeping forces other to pay more attention. Nobody wants to do that.
  1. Don’t throw trash out the window. The planet is in enough trouble without you adding to it.
  1. If you’re still smoking, here’s a consciousness check: just because your window is down and you dangle an arm out, your car still reeks and everyone knows you smoke whether they say so or not. Smoke if you choose to, but take responsibility for it by not throwing your butts out the window.
  1. Don’t make rude gestures. The other day, a granny gave me the bird because I didn’t burn rubber off the light change. If flipping people off has become that mainstream, I’m finished with it. We rebels need some new material. Next thing you know, yuppies will be covered in tattoos. Besides, the chance someone pulls a gun and blows your head off is 1 in 6.*

*Yes, this is a statistic of my own making based on my discovery that one in every six people I meet in any city is completely crazy.

These are just a few things to brush up on before heading out among the masses. Lastly, a thought to consider: Instead of just looking out for number one, if we could all look out for one other person, the chances are, we will all get home safely.

*Disclaimer: I used to drive a taxi, (job#18) so I know about this shit. I hope you can take my word for it.

I’d like to hear your road rules…Holler.

My Disease Is Not Fatal But May Require More Than Magic To Cure

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I love learning about people who are able to turn their passion into vocation and use it to create the life of their dreams. Don’t you? These people have figured out how to find the love and apply it to every, single thing they do. It’s intoxicating, really. One could almost say, magic.

I imagine this must be the case for author Marie Kondo who wrote, “The life-changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.” She talks about skipping recess as a child in favor of organizing shelves of books and tidying. While the other kids played, little Marie was already working on a plan that would change the lives of millions of people and her own. The jury however, is still out when it comes to me.

I recently picked up a copy of this book. I was drawn to it for two reasons, A) The title told me it was “Life changing,” and I’m all about changing my life on a regular basis, and B) The hilarity factor. Anyone who knows me very well understands that I am afflicted with a disease coined by those closest to me as, “Flat Surface Disease.”

I’ve been tormented by the sloppies all of my life. I’ve tried every known remedy. I’ve had the “In, Out, and Hold,” basket. (10 points plus a free set of hanging file folders to the person that can remind me which class taught that useless philosophy) File cabinets, boxes, labels, label makers, sharpies, binders, and a variety of other magical organizing accouterments have made their way into my life. And have become resting places for receipts, junk mail, notes, phone numbers and recipes torn from magazine pages. I have my grandmother’s calendars with her notes about the daily weather and who came to visit. She’s been dead since 1979. See a pattern?

I still have hope. A New York Times, #1 bestseller, the book sold 3 million copies according to the little circle on the cover, which is actually printed right on the book so I guess they either stop counting at 3 million or change the announcement circle in the next printing.

Maybe this will be a life-changing book that can at least help me overcome this one malady, although it seems results can vary. People have written to the author to tell her how all kinds of changes have occurred for them after reading her book, everything from weight loss to starting a new business, serious life changing stuff. Kindo practically guarantees it. “If you adopt this approach—The KonMari Method—you’ll never revert to clutter again.” We’ll see. I’ve never walked by an empty flat surface in my life without wanting to use it as a placeholder for something. I’ll let you now how it goes, as soon as I remember which pile I put the book in.