Well, I’m finally back on track at the office after another snow storm hit the Fields yesterday. Aside from being plowed in, there wasn’t much action going on in town. Driving in a level 3 snow emergency will get you a ticket around here. It’s not worth the risk. For my gracious Southern readers, I’ve provided a few photos. This won’t seem like much to Yankees. In fact, it gets much worse around Lake Erie. Just ask Cleveland and Buffalo.
The first is the view from my freshly-shoveled driveway Wednesday morning. I couldn’t sleep that night. So, I gave it a cleaning at 3:30AM, only to have to do it all over again at 10:30AM.
I hear we’re supposed to get more over the weekend.
When I look to the west, the county road needs to be cleared off again. That means the snow plows will be around soon to plow me in.
This would cripple a Southern city for days.
The last is of my poor mailbox, which finds itself deeper and deeper in snow the farther the season progresses. I need to dig around it every time there’s a storm, or the mailman won’t deliver anything. Wasn’t there some credo that he’s breaking? Regardless, he gets the best I can do on any given day.
I wonder if he’d be amused to see it encased in a snow castle?
For right now, this is all snow-shovel powered. The type of snow blower I need is going to rack me about $800-$1,000. I suppose I’ll have to use my tax return to fund it.
I forgot I wanted to write a post about this article from December. It fills me with an impish joy only the antics of my fellow Ohio residents could supply. There won’t be any disagreement out of me, even if the study is a bit flawed. To do Ohio justice, calling large corporations with several layers of a phone system rarely leads to happiness. Not considering such actions provocation on the part of companies is a bit naïve by the survey team. Also Time Warner, AT&T, and Comcast (so I hear) can go play Frogger on I-80. I’ve just finished my fourth calling session with AT&T in the past 24 hours. Do you really think I’m going to be a cheerful bear after that?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear with nine interstates full of out-of-state traffic zipping by me at 80, 85, and 90 MPH?
No, I’m not. It’s hard enough to keep the state’s population policed.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear after hearing the general rage-spit about the 2004 elections, or more recently John Boehner of whom I had no ability to cast a vote against?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when the coastal regions act like we’re some kind of step down to their genteel way of life?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear, when the industries we worked so hard to maintain are now shipped to China and Mexico with little left to show for it but dilapidated factories and unemployment?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when my own country deems my area too unimportant to fix health and safety issues on their body of water?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when the four seasons end up to be Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction?
No, I’m not.
Do you think I’m going to be a cheerful bear when the rest of the country thinks this state doesn’t measure up their standards of courtesy?
The fuck I will.
With all that said, yes, Ohioans are fairly edgy overall. I think the economic, environmental, and social stressors are getting to them. It has made people a little crunchy around the edges. There are deep divides in the political, religious, and philosophical canvases of which no one is really interested in closing. What else would you expect from a state that gave you William Tecumseh Sherman and Marilyn Manson? It has led to practice of staunch individualism with mediocre results.
I do get mad about the state of which I’ve lived in for over 30 years. I do make insulting remarks when I see preventable failure withing state lines, but it’s more in the form of wanting improvement out of a developed location. Outsiders simply want to make comments to feel better about their situation and birthplace. That’s why you see a seemingly double-standard when it comes to criticism.
If it weren’t so hacked up and shattered, I think several people would have chosen to stay. People get mad at other people. Other people leave to find better people. People get mad that other people left. It’s a vicious circle, or maybe a little like a downward spiral.
What does one do when Canada camps out on your front stoop?
A) Shovel the stoop in hopes a snow caterpillar (i.e. drift) arrives.
B) Perform a nude interpretive dance of “O, Canada”.
C) Throw boiling hot water into the wind with the intent of having your flesh seared.
D) Play chicken with the plow truck.
E) Wet the street down to make an impromptu ice rink… for cars.
The answer is F) you stay inside and make sure the pipes don’t burst.
The Fields are no stranger to winter weather. There have been multiple times where temperatures have reached -23.3° C (-10° F) or less in my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. This is where someone chimes in “well, here’s it’s (lesser temperature) every winter!” We all know that person.
You know what? Good for you! Do you want a cookie? If I’m grumbling about -24° C weather (with a hearty -38° C wind chill), I’m not all that interested in your location right now. I’m more interested in busting up that snow drift at the end of my driveway, courtesy of the street department, to get to my mailbox. Better yet, I’m trying to think of places that I could do a nude interpretive dance of “O, Canada” without receiving a blue ribbon in frostbite or hypothermia. As I type, I hear another plow truck. The shovel just hit something very crunchy. I think he might have broken up more of my curb. 😐
All of this can be used for good though. If I ever get out of here, which could simply mean my house right now, I know that relocating further North is out of the question. I’m through with Winter. I can’t be shut up more than 24 hours in my house or I start to feel all weird. It’s that kind of weird you get when you buy a completely inappropriate gift for someone and no one else finds the humour in it. I should be doing something right now. Adventure! At the very least, things at the office. OK, so maybe it’s just things at the office but still. There’s a potential for adventure. I’ll leave my office door open for that.
Maybe I could be a beach bum in some Caribbean island, and spend the rest of my days scaring children and making people give me pocket change by following them around talking gibberish? I’d make a little hut out of corrugated metal and share it with a coconut named Nigel, who would always correct me by saying “‘Sir’ Nigel, if you please.” I’d also scavenge a small radio that would play hokey lite rock where I would sing out of key to Jimmy Buffet and Christoper Cross. Yeah, that’s the life right there.
The Tubes are as 80s to me as the fake-animal-print clad David Lee Roth, and provide Hallmark wisdom in a way only the era could deliver. I did tip my hand too much in the previous post about the strip club experience. It’s not easy talking about such personal memories, being that the Internet is so vast, but if I were on my deathbed would I appreciate not saying anything? This post isn’t going to candy-coat anything. If you are the type to either be easily offended or insulted, I strongly advise you to visit another day. I’m not the type of person to tolerate bullshit either, and this won’t be up for debate. This is simply a story of how my life played out on one Saturday afternoon in April of 1997.
I was 18, and it was a few days after my best friend’s 18th birthday. His rambunctious mind could only think of one thing, and one thing alone: strippers. He was always after ideas sexual in nature: Playboys (for the articles, my ass), video pornography, John Valby aka Dr. Dirty et al. They revolved around him in an electron fashion, only drawing closer to the nucleus with each passing moment. There seemed a sort of Christmas excitement that ran across his boyish face when he talked about it, and he spoke of it for weeks. I knew that day was coming, even though I already had deep reservations about it. Most people don’t give me enough credit for my intuitiveness, but it’s definitely there. Maybe it’s for personal use only? Regardless, I was being muscled into his quasi-wingman as we ventured to a larger city for the venue.
There was a feeling in the pit of my stomach the whole way there. It was not something that sounded great in the first place, but like usual, I felt coerced by societal norms (e.g. “this is what you’re supposed to be like: dumb and horny,” or “why not? Are you in the closet?”). We ended up in a strip mall in Toledo, where I handed over a matinée price of $7.00 to a short man with greasy ginger hair kept in a long pony tail. The insides were painted black, lit with black lights. UV light accented all the fluorescent materials present with a thin veil of smoke drifting from the seats to the stage. It wasn’t too long ago that people could smoke indoors.
The first stripper was a petite blond with cropped hair to match. Her gaunt figure danced upon the pole to a three-set of Beatles songs. “Sexy Sadie” was her stage name, and the bits of metal from her piercings held tightly to her b-cup breasts, glinting every now and then when she’d spin. After “Helter Skelter” was over, she bounded right up to us. Being that my friend was the cause of all this, I let him buy her the brink which turned out to be apple juice. Even though we weren’t of legal drinking age, there wasn’t any alcohol on the premises. I suppose I could see why. Drunk men and naked women could present a problem. My friend and I were also required to have a drink in front of us at all times, and we chose fountain beverages for the free refills. I still remember vividly how bright and pink my plastic daiquiri glass was. It was cheap, exactly like how I felt.
After a few minutes of light discussion, we were hit up for some additional dancing at the booths across the stage. Fortunately, my friend could not turn the offer down and went promptly over there with her. I was left to watch the other two women perform their sets. I began to fidget, trying to keep a calm exterior about myself and pretend I was enjoying it. There were a few other men around, smiling at me. They were having a good time. I wasn’t, not in the slightest. I felt like I was being used, not only by the dancers but by my friend. He didn’t want to go alone, but I didn’t have that many friends. I didn’t want to cause a rift because I would feel awful in a strip club.
The air felt thicker and denser as time inched along. I felt snake-like coils move around my face and head, whispering offers of faux-affection for $40 a turn. I was even startled when an African-American dancer slid her green-tipped fingers down my shoulders. She approached me from behind. So, I never knew she was there until I was jumping an inch out of my chair. I know they meant no real harm, though. They were just trying to earn a paycheck.
So often had I pined for female ardor, it made for many a lonely night. This sadness brought to me by my peers was heightened with whispers of high school girls not quite out of earshot, providing quite the venue of criticism from weight to attractiveness to creepiness. Everyone did it though. There were several males who would make themselves feel better at my expense, but it always stung worse to hear it from the girls. I could be jumped or clotheslined or socked right in the face, but it was their words that would ring in my ears for years. Admittedly, that day in April was the first time being in the presence of naked women. It wasn’t real though. None of it was real. All of it was a delicately-wrapped lie for a price, a group of women trying to sweet talk me only for what I had in my wallet. I didn’t have a whole lot of it to start. It hurt; it hurt like the Devil. I felt ashamed, and tried to overcome a burning face at the notion of having to buy my affection. What the Hell did I ever do to require buying love?
Were they whores? Were they sluts? Only if you include the audience and me. Whether it was for money, lust, or my desperate need for belonging, we all sold ourselves at some price. My area of interest just happened to be the size of a planet, instead of a Marlboro-tainted skin shop. Those buyers and suppliers were not on my list, as I had other business to attend to. After my friend got his inaugural lap dances, we folded tent and left. Rarely have I ever felt relieved as I did that day, with the slight wind at my face and a drive through the fields of Ohio.
The Fields are receiving a guest tomorrow. He’s not very welcome, but he arrives like a brazen relative at a holiday function. For decades, the river upon which the Fields rest has been prone to bouts of flooding and sees fit to do again soon. I remember the largest in quite some time was no more than six years ago. The city looked like a third-world country. Debris was laying everywhere as the river purged its contents beyond its normal boundaries. Ruined housewares lined the streets while bulldozers scooped them up into dump trucks. Scavengers poked around these mounds in a crass attempt to profit from mass misery. I remember feeling sick in the pit of my stomach watching them creep about town eying each pile as if it were the cover girl for Playboy. Filthy, wretched bottom-feeders.
The local government has not made much progress since then, and several floods have happened in the meantime. The next is predicted to be on the larger size, but not the worst we’ve had. This clarity of its detriment is unquestionable. It drives out business and lowers the value of the area, yet the movers and shakers haven’t done much of either to take care of it. It’s a likely case of self-interest. Washington D.C. has not come to our rescue as it would have every American believe. The Feds are so wrapped up in their own affairs they can’t see half-past the Beltway. They don’t care about some hick town in Ohio, and have demonstrated just that. We obviously don’t have the means to do much of anything, and not even our representatives are speaking up on our behalf.
So, we sit and wait. There’s not much else to do but watch the water rise and hope it doesn’t damage anything important. We watch our property values once again drop, because of apathy. We watch people get hurt because they don’t know how to cope with driving in these conditions. We watch another page in a sad chapter unfold. I’m often badgered into appreciating the luxuries of a first-world country. What about this? Will a hot cup of coffee fix my house? Will a dinner out bring our economy back? Will modest, personal transportation mend a fractured community? No, it won’t. There’s a pecking order of concerns and its time for others to admit that serious problems aren’t being addressed.
…and people wonder why I have a beef with this town.
Even though the video is pitch black, the audio confirms life exists beyond my domicile. With all of the creaking, chirping, and squeaking going on outside my window you’d think wildlife is in need of an oil can. This is fairly common for a Summer’s night in the fields, though, and it’s quite welcome. The alternative is disheartening. I’m strongly adverse to another winter here, but where would I go? Who really wants an outsider? Having the experience of more than one out-of-state relocation, I can tell you few.
At this time of night (4 A.M.), my brain would be faltering and sleep would consume most of my thoughts. This is not the case tonight, as I really put the nose to the grindstone yesterday morning and invested 5 hours of sweat equity into the house with an additional 4 hours of life maintenance (e.g. mowing the lawn, doing laundry, etc.). At least I have a new chandelier, new ceiling fan, mowed lawn, and clean clothes to show for it. It’s a pretty basic work and reward situation. Writing, on the other hand, is a little less straightforward.
I’ve got professional writer’s block right now, but it hasn’t to do with any of my stories. I was going to dedicate a few hours yesterday evening for writing a profile for the family business, but instead fell asleep for 8 hours. Now, I’m wide awake playing personal schedule catch up. While adhering to a schedule is not my idea of fun, there are times when I know I need to move the ball down the field. That’s the mark of an effective person: identifying priorities.
You see, we’re sending in a proposal on Thursday to work on a project with the state of Ohio. The government is making its usual feel-good laundry list of demands and the owners, my parents, have realized they can’t complete it all themselves. Being the good-natured son and dutiful employee I am, I’ve finished some components of the request to speed things up. Coming from a small public accounting firm background, this is another day at the office: a client needs to be done in five days and there’s not even a draft on the partner’s desk… HAUL ASS, PEOPLE!
The biggest block to this profile I have is a crossover… a holdover from the personal realm. Company profiles are tethered to advertising and advertising is indelibly linked to sales. In sales, the concept of “talking up” the product or service rears its oft-deceitful head. Ever hear the expression “could sell freezers to Eskimos” attributed to a phenomenal salesman? Yeah. Deceit brings in money, and this isn’t even speaking on a fraud level. This is everyday business.
I’ve struggled with this concept for decades. My personality is one to reject boasting or otherwise hustling anyone in business. My ethics bind me to a position of letting the quality speak for itself. For years, I thought if my work proved itself strong, it would be self-evident to others. They would naturally choose to work with me. As good and right and egalitarian and logical and ethical and solid as that was on paper, it didn’t translate well in the trenches. Often the client has little idea of what is quality and what isn’t. This is hard for me to accept, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t the truth.
Who do they pick? They pick the lesser quality work with a company that dazzled. Even if the client eventually figures out the work is sub par, I’ve noticed clients will work with a lower-functioning business if they feel comfortable with the team. It blows my mind; I, personally, look for results. If someone isn’t performing, I put in the energy to find someone who does. That’s how I do business.
Now it’s my turn with sales. Even though I know it isn’t shuck and jive, it still feels like braggadocio. It’s hard for me to refrain from erasing the sentence I’ve written several times before. I’m getting in the way of myself. I’d love to instantly come up with lines that are comfortable to me and effective with my audience, but I don’t know if that common ground exists. This is absolutely why I didn’t go into sales or do well at the record label. My ethics are just too strong.
My garage has been filled with a colorful bolt of obscenity on which I make my work clothes. Manual labor always gives me license to swear like a longshoreman, and I stock those warehouses full of blue cargo every single time. This is doubly so, when something goes awry. More often than not that’s the case. I’m a regular comedy of errors.
Here I was, minding my own business, cursing out an 11th hour glue failure when I stare out at my slightly ajar mailbox. That’s my postman’s way of telling me there’s mail delivered, because he’s too lazy to shut the lid properly and pull up the red flag. He’s a real peach. Peaches can be lazy, right?
The bulk of my mail over the past few years has been just that. Advertisements from the Hooterville pennysaver, car dealerships (go pound sand, Kia!), and continuing education programs all make their way to my trash bin. If they’re not advertisements, they’re bills. Of the two, I’d rather receive advertisements.
Today was a special occasion, as I found something that was neither ad nor bill. It was an actual piece of mail from someone else. Naturally, I stared at it for a few seconds to make sure it wasn’t one of those advertisements that look like regular mail. Nope, it was from someone I know.
The 4 x 6 envelope itself didn’t reveal as much as the return address. Two names cozily in balance with an “and, per se, and” knotting them together stared at me. It was a wedding invitation. There’s nothing inherently wrong with weddings. I have my own cheeky commentary regarding a person’s third, fourth, or fifth marriage but not as an institution. In fact, I don’t mind if gay couples want to share in this institution. Unfortunately, most of Ohio was not happy about that Supreme Court decision and can’t share my sentiments.
Seems like just about everyone’s married, moved, or both these days. It has occurred to me that this area has some weird diaspora flavor to it. I can count the people I’ve known since childhood that are still here on one hand. The ones that left were replaced by people from smaller towns that think a population of 40,000 is “big.” It’s all about perspective, but I digress.
Hit me! No, that’s not right. What are we playing again? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’m not much for gambling. In fact, I’m a terrible gambler. The only time I went to a casino was in Atlantic City six years ago and lost $100. My companions said it would be an excellent experience. Right. That money was sorely missed, as it could have gone to more hoagies at Wawa. It’s not a sophisticated meal, but I liked them. Stop laughing.
When I started this post, I thought the title was amusing. It still is, but doesn’t tie in well with the rest of the entry. Blow it. I’m keeping my title. So there.
I get ideas for stories at inconvenient times: upon waking up, eating a meal, but more often than not in the car. There was a case of waking up last Thursday, where I desperately tried to type out an idea on my computer while battling my recovering motor skills. I could feel the memory slip away with each stroke of the key. This was all very reminiscent of Guy Pearce’s character in Memento, where he’s desperately trying to write himself a note about a conversation with Carrie-Anne Moss. The dream got a little mangled in the transition.
As mentioned before, driving’s the most common time for my ideas. The fields of Ohio are perfect for long drives at night, which are a frequent hobby of mine. There’s an appreciation for the quiet and I’ve gotten used to the thick blanket of cover across the sky. It’s often cooler outside, and the air is quite enjoyable brushing up against my face. The lack of other motorists is also an undeniable perk.
A driver’s mental workload is reduced over time, when the route from point A to point B becomes a routine. This allows me to concoct wild thoughts, and that probably makes all you more nervous. It’s OK. I’m an excellent driver. Yeah, definitely a good driver. Definitely. Yeah.
The latest nugget of joy came at a different time of day, but was the same in principle. Without giving the meat of the story away, it started with the anxiety of crossing the Canadian-American border on my next trip. I’ll be visiting Niagara Falls for the first time in my life, and decided to party with the Canucks. During my commute, my mind began working off of this anxiety to create a rather interesting scenario. The thought struck me at my core, and that is important to me.
As luck would have it, I was able to get to my laptop and spill the beans on a Word document before the gossamer floated away via distractions. Writing for me is like making gold leaf. It starts with a lump of gold, or an idea I think very valuable, then I hammer it out into pages. After a while, it starts to look like a story.
Does anyone else run into this? Has anyone thought of a subject that strikes them so hard in the gut they simply must write it?
As I mentioned before I left, I’m not a huge fan of going through the motions at TSA checkpoints. I’ve seen checkpoints pre- and post-9/11, and they’ve never made me feel all that safe. If anything, they only create more stress. My observations of their conduct have given me the impression they’re not truly there for my safety either. This is above and beyond talk of privacy violations.
I was body scanned at Port Columbus Int’l on my way out to the coast. This was the more updated version, as it was now “only an outline.” Apparently TSA realized what a bad idea the original body scanners were. If I’m not mistaken, pictures were posted to the internet even after TSA denied it would happen. I suppose they didn’t understand the human nature of their employees.
After removing my belt, pocket contents, and shoes for the x-ray machine, I was ordered to line up near the scanner with two other people. No more than a few seconds later, the TSA “technician” yelled at us to get back. Considering the screening process is already very stressful, I could not contain a sigh as I walked back to my original position. This caught the ire of the short blonde with control issues who gave directives to us in the first place. With a passive-aggressive flair much savored here in Ohio, she let the two passengers in front of me go through a metal detector. She then looked at me and pointed at the scanner, as if I was such a naughty boy for sighing. Too bad she never got much of a reaction out of me.
You see, I was going to go through that scanning machine whether she let those passengers go or not. I don’t look innocuous enough. Her actions would only have an impact, if I had any chance of going through a lesser invasive and less time consuming process. That just wasn’t going to happen.
The way I see it is I prevented two of my fellow countrymen from performing more humiliating exams in front of these little dictators. In vocalizing my disappointment through a completely protected First Amendment way, I gave Blondie McEgotrip a contrast on who was going the extra mile to make her job more pleasant. Without that contrast, she wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I’m actually very happy about this, because I made something positive out of her little negative attitude.
As stated above, I’ve never received the impression from the Federal government or TSA that all of these measures were for my safety. Of course, that’s what they tell you, but it doesn’t feel genuine. Instead, every time I’m there I get the distinct impression I’m guilty until proven innocent. Also, it feels like the interest lay in avoiding embarrassment in Washington and protecting the assets of corporate airlines. After all, if they truly cared about a citizen’s safety, they wouldn’t use violent pacification as a foreign policy. That seems to fuel quite a bit of aggression against us.
During these trips, I’m reminded of a random conversation I had with a traveler outside of Logan Int’l airport. She had a motto: TSA Fearever. That has stuck in my head ever since.
For decades, the allure of self discovery has crept into the minds of many. I’m no different. No, I’m not that self-assured pariah that thinks he’s got his finger on the pressure point of life, the universe, and everything. I’m the same way as many, many others. I’ve had quite a few moments of revelation from reflection. A bit of it was good, but most of it… honestly… is down right sad. It’s a major bummer, to put it quaintly.
If it constantly depresses me, then why in the world would I do it? Maybe I like beating myself up with introspection? Well, maybe I don’t like it, but I’ve been conditioned to perform it. Maybe I’ve been programmed to hold myself down to “know my place” in the world? God, that’s rich. Convince someone to sabotage their whole life in order to gain authority is clever, and best of all: it’s free! I’ll have to hand it to the elite, that deserves a round of applause. That’s better than Huxley.
Anyway, back to the point. I’m introspective quite a bit and, as one may guess, ran into another realization. This one isn’t so bad though, not so bad I’d lock myself in my study and play Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” until I thought he was pouring wine over my pitiful head. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the realization that I bury myself in my work because I fear any relationship would turn into a romantic Chernobyl. This would all be due to my meddling, of course. That one was rough to admit.
No, I’ve come to the realization that I’m an Anglophile. Now, most people by now know what an Anglophile is. If I didn’t, I’d fancy it being sexually attracted to the acute and obtuse. Instead of writing sonnets for lovely young maidens, I’d be reciting proofs to the isosceles’s daughter underneath her bedroom window. I’d be out in the pouring rain, holding up a Tangram to a full-figured rhombus.
OK, I’m having too much fun with that.
I love the English. There! I said it. I said for myself, because I didn’t say it before and I’m writing it down to burn it into my head. Not only am I an Anglophile, but I’m a Hibernophile and a Scotophile, too. Naturally, I’d want to know why. The mere thought that I’m a British fan boy isn’t enough of a taunt.
I didn’t have to go very far; it’s my environment. It’s the area in which I was born and raised, and not in the sense that the two are similar. They’re not. This is the Midwest, and I reserve every right to call it the “Midwest.” I’ll have none of that “Great Lakes” crap; I grew up in a cornfield.
I will say that I give people the latitude to enjoy their life, as they please. If someone adores Midwestern America, then good for them. I find it horribly stifling. What is with green bean casserole and Betty’s Salad, anyway? Pigs-in-a-blanket is not so bad, but casserole? Give me a tin miner’s pasty any day.
I’ve had people people try to scare me with horror stories of chavs and Birmingham and whatnot. My response is: IT’S BETTER THAN THE RUST BELT! Not only is this the Rust Belt, but it’s the rural part of the Rust Belt. Industrial city problems with country town salts. Some people enjoy that stuff, but I’ve had enough of truck stacks and Stars and Bars license plates. YOU’RE LIVING IN OHIO! THE SOUTH DOESN’T WANT YOU!
*Deep breath* OK, so that wasn’t so bad I suppose. It doesn’t change much, but it’s good to know why I prefer BBC America to Bravo. Maybe I’ll write some shoddy Ripper Street fanfic and find a place to order scones to make me feel better.