...The Conclusion

To catch yourself up, make sure you read the previous post first : )

So my trip to Florida was enjoyable, albeit short. The weather was overcast and a bit rainy, but the temps were in the 70's, I had no agenda, so it was an overall success. My poor dear grandmother fell at the beach and broke her wrist on Christmas Eve! We had to drive her to the hospital with her mangled arm in a makeshift splint, courtesy of the Baywatch life guard guy. She pulled through and celebrated Christmas with her stylish cast and swelled up hand. She's a trooper!

Anyway, enough of that. I get back to Ohio and get the same out of state call again. I just missed it, so I quickly pulled up the number and dialed. It was the moment of truth... the conclusion to my cliffhanger that I thought about often when I was taking my evening walks in the warm salted Sarasota air. Was it Hot Server Guy trying to call me? The call went through. Two rings. I heard the click.

By the way, I'm typing this entry on my brand new laptop! It's a hottie and looks amazingly like this. I purchased it for two "solid" reasons: 1) my old laptop was 6 years old and struggled to open a web browser. Completing my freelance editing work will be a snap with some slick new hardware, and 2) I really wanted to buy this game and enjoy the killer graphics! Of course, the former was the true reason... at least that's my story, y'hear.

So I'm on the phone, the cables worm to life, the satellites bow to their masters, the switchboard operators patch me through, and fiber optics bridge me to... my prince in waiting?

Nope. Another guess? How about a fooking marketing research firm?

** Ding-ding-ding **

"Tell him what he's won, Johnny!"

"Army's won an all expenses paid vacation to Chumpsville!"

The good news is, I took my name off their call list. The bad news is, they made a point of saying they are exempt from the no-call list. Up yours.

I'm not shocked it wasn't Hot Server Guy, but it would have obviously been nice to hear his voice. But he may still contact me... it's an infinite universe. Anything's possible.

Mean time, I'm going to play some Far Cry : )

My brain is attached to an idiot!!

For the past two days, I've been getting an out of state call from the same number. When I don't recognize a number, I usually let it to go voicemail to find out who it is. Well, this was from a state in which I don't know anyone, so I was suspcious... some kind of telemarketer? A Mazda rep calling for a customer satisfaction survey?

Four phone calls in two days and no message. Mom's all, "just answer it already and you'll know who it is." Well, I could be all direct about it, sure. But I prefer to be obtuse. Truthfully, she said that right after the last call, so I've been waiting for the mystery caller to ring me again so I can enact her Napoleonic strategery.

I was in the shower just now thinking about all kinds of things -- this is where I dream up some Mental Manufactory ideas, if that gives you any comfort or concern. In fact, I want to create a karaoke shower stall booth because EVERYONE sounds good singing in the shower. I think I'm onto something big, but that's for another post.

Anyway, in the midst of either lathering, rinsing, or repeating, I have this mental montage. What if it's Hot Server Guy calling me! Think back with me. I left him my phone number. Check. And he mentioned it was his last night working before going back home. Check. To this neighboring state, perhaps? Question mark. And why leave a message on your first call because it would be awkward, right? Yep.

IDIOT! Now I'm DEFINITELY answering when this number rings! And not to be all Debbie Downer, but I'll be honked off if 1) mystery caller gives up, never to call again, or 2) it ends up some long-lost friend or whatever. How dare you try to reconnect when I'm hopeful you were a hottie hot hot! I'd rather you were a donation collector from the Benevolent Order of Antelopes. Now get lost again!

Anyway, you likely won't get any conclusion to this tale until I return from Florida next week, so I leave you with this cliffhanger. Dum-duh-dum!

To be continued...

On the road again...

Army here, reporting in amidst the packing of saddlebags and gifts as I first head back to my ancestral homeland of Ohio. There I'll enjoy a gift exchange with family before my next journey to Florida!

That's right, Christmas is in Florida this year! Well, I guess it's everywhere for those who celebrate it, but I'LL be in Florida for some 70+ degree weathered goodness : )

So I'll be loading up Andrew, with Pops as my copilot, and down south we shall travel to see our family in Sarasota. Our arrival is a surprise for the grandfolks! AJ is our co-conspirator inside agent.

As you can imagine, my blogging will be sparse until next year ticks over.

Happy holidays, dearest readers, and safe journeys for those taking to the roads, skies, and waters to be with loved ones.

I'll rock with you peeps again in the year of Bond (get it?). Gosh, I'm still so funny!!

What the #$*! do we know!?

A while back, I read that Not So Single Guy had experienced a movie that literally rocked his perception of self and the world to its core. It challenged his assumptions on issues of love, religion, consciousness, reality, physics, emotions, and perception. In short, the movie challenged everything he knows and left him thinking... what the #$*! does he know?

Thus the title of this movie, which came from the evolution of its making, as the directors constantly faced new ideas and new ways of thinking. As you can already tell, I rented this movie and watched it already. Just now, in fact. The psychologist in me was too intrigued, and I was amazed how many of the ideas I had formulated about what I think God is, how religion and spirituality are not one in the same, and how we are active agents in our own lives making choices and (in a sense) selecting emotional paths, were all reflected in this movie. And of course, they brought up so many ideas I'd never considered, ways of thinking we'd just assume were silly or new age, or too stuffy and academic. This movie brought out the interconnectedness of everything in a very accessible way -- it was a mixture of a fictional story with a backdrop of conversational interviews with people from various fields of physics, psychology, anaesthesiology, and theology. It's relatable, and in that, I think it causes anyone open enough to it, to start asking questions. To engage in conversation.

The interviews on the B side were an insightful companion piece to the movie, that brought out the intentions and thought to its creation. The directors touch on the control and the surrender of the process. Very fascinating stuff!

I especially liked the dialogue on our perception of time. As many of you know, I am intrigued by time: our perception of it, how it is explained by science, and the ways in which we use it to confine and liberate ourselves. In the movie, one of the interviewees talks about how we can only experience the past through memory and we have no control over it. Yet our actions can affect what happens in the future; we just have no conscious experience of what the future will be.

Think about that. We live with this duality in ourselves in the present now, as you sit here now reading these words. Think back to a past moment that caused you to stop and ask yourself if your life is more than you think it is. It was a defining moment in memory, yes? Yet that is the totality of your access to it. You cannot change what you have already done. But more importantly, as you close your web browser and step away from the computer, there is possibility for change everywhere, in how you choose to treat a coworker, how you respond to a friend's words, or in the route you take on your way home. I feel, if we are to change anything in this world we do not like, we start by changing ourselves. And that involves shaking things up, asking questions, and being open. I think that's a powerful gift we all possess. But what the #$*! do I know?

Mustering An Army

I went to dinner this evening with a good friend, V-Dub. We hadn't seen each other in a while, so we planned a dinner and movie (which is getting nixed until Sunday. We're going to see Blood Diamond).

Anyway, we decide on Chili's and I'm stoked for the chicken club tacos. I know Ramblergirl will be excited to read that they do indeed contain her favorite magical ingredient -- bacon! Everything is better with bacon... especially at Chili's : )

There is this totally hot/cute/gorgeous server working, and I immediate say to V-Dub, I hope he's our server. I must have saved up some good karma, because sure enough he was! Very nice guy, tall, great arms, nice chest (viewed through his fairly tight shirt), sweet smile, awesome hair... as Feyonce and I would say, he was perfick!

We tried to guage his vibe with our gaydars and homometers, and the signals were mixed, which to me was no shocker. I live in the realm of ambiguously straight men. They flock to me in bevies and droves. V-Dub keeps coaxing me to say something to him. The prospect terrified me for various reasons:

1. uncertainty of his orientation
2. awkwardness of putting that out there
3. possibility of rejection, or far worse, the flattered-yet-not-interested brush-off
4. i'm a big ol' puss in these situations
5. he seems to me to be out of my league

But that didn't stop me from flirting with him. He was quite busy, so I played the empathy card to garner a connection and when he apologized for neglecting us, I asked to speak with his manager. We joked that he probably has a fake name on his name tag. When I worked at The OG, mine said "Luke." V-Dub noticed that every time he came by, Hot Server ignored her and her need for a refill and paid attention to me. A good sign for me. Also, he started squatting down at our table to chat with us... and I didn't observe him do that with any other table. The evidence was mounting. Had my observational skill and detective work paid off?

At the end, we talked a bit more and turns out he's a grad student at the university. I told him I worked there, and the three of us had some vague social connections. I had to do something. After more encouragement from V-Dub, I decide to take a more subtle approach. When I got my credit card receipt back, I wrote him a note that said:

Hot Server,
If you are interested in hanging out sometime, feel free to contact me. If not, I completely understand. Take it easy, man.
(insert phone number and email)

I slipped the note to a noticeable angle behind the credit card slip and we casually got the hell out of there. V-Dub's all, let's go watch him pick it up! So we pretend to converse in the parking lot while watching for him to stop by our table. He came back and grabbed it quickly, but I noticed him look at it. As we circle back to my car, she notices him through a window and said, "he looks really excited!" We saw him pass the window as we got into Andrew, and sure enough, he was more smiley than he had been before.

I was impressed with myself. That was a big step for me, and I figure what the hell, it's an opportunity I took advantage of. If he calls, great. If not, no big whoop. But who am I kidding, I hope he calls me! He was a dreamboat <-- how awfully 80's of me.

Mental Manufactory: Drive-In Theater with Stadium Parking

Intuition is truly born in moments of ah-ha and eureka. I only have to offer up Exhibit A as a fine example of said stroke o' genius -- and that invention of mind is this installment of the Mental Manufactory.

Feast your eyes and brain on the concept at hand -- the drive-in theater with stadium-style parking!

Yeah so, the drawing is not quite to scale, and it looks more like an abandoned rock quarry site... but follow me on this one. The olden days drive-ins are outdated and busted. And we can't likely bring them back because of the dichotomy of automobiles on today's roads. It's a mixture of SUV's and subcompacts, along the spectrum from this big ol' ridonkulous tank to this bitty thing that looks like the Little Tike car from my childhood that my family couldn't afford but I really wanted. Result? Obstructed view of the movie screen. Now, you could raise the screen, but then everyone gets cramps from neck craning because of low profile windshields, etc. Let's save the neck pain for generous hickey recieval, shall we?

And the sweet icing on this delicious cake? Pneumatic tubes (like at the bank) that deliver your snacks from the concession stand. Place your order, swipe your card, and receive your popcorn via those clear plastic capsules with the cool twist open tops. Now, we have to work on transporting soda-pops, but just give me a little more time. I'm sure your mind is sufficiently blown away at the moment.

If this idea's a-rockin, that's cuz it's shockin!

Imitation is Flattering

A good friend of mine sent me an email recently with updates on his world. Amidst it all was his latest artistic creation, which he calls Ripping Off Army. I call it full-on genius...

I love it! Take a bow, Benny! He had other ideas, like These Are Me Drinks, but alas they never saw the light of creation because he didn't have a "D" to photoshop into the picture.

He also had a good idea for a new header for my website links on the left column. So I have ripped him off and given credit where it's due. Be sure to check out "These Are Me Links." Clever! Why didn't I think of that??

Buried Expectations: Red Planet

Recently I had this urge to paint after being inspired by an episode of Six Feet Under. I followed my impulses and let expression take over. I reached for certain colors and brushes. The canvas changed before my eyes. How exciting! What would my mind and hand create without much censorship? Well, the answer is, crap.

Trust me when I say this wasn't a creator's self-deprecation... the painting was garbage. I have at least one witness to back me up. I can only partially blame it on the lack of various paint colors. Sometimes, reality fails to meet an expectation. I left the work abandoned in my computer room, scolding it every time I laid eyes on it. It was the burdensome Gregor of Kafka's The Metamorphosis and I became its embittered caretaker. Well, not really, but it sounds rather dramatic in those terms!

As it turns out, a metamorphosis was exactly what I had in mind. I would paint over the bad work and make it good. I bought a new supply of colors (specifically warm colors red and orange) and set out to cover up the past. I got this image of explorers on Mars uncovering something that should have been left buried. I'm not sure what it was, but I decided I had to keep some of the old work revealed, peeking from the depths like a secret, viewed only from a satellite's perspective.

That's my pretentious way of saying in mixed a bunch of colors together and let loose. And overall, I'm pleased with the results. I ended up covering up a bold color contrast that didn't look right... so there are many applied layers of paint. But that works well because the flaws create textures. Flaws aren't so bad.

Sea Change

This has been a surreal weekend. It has involved flashes of moments in my memory -- opportunities to pursue, relationships to reflect on, life to examine, and enjoyment to be had.

Friday night I forced myself to go to a poetry slam on campus. I had mixed intentions to perform, as the theme was social justice and my more refined pieces do not relate to that theme. I flipped back through my writing journal to an entry I had made for the purpose of spoken word. Like everything I write, I'm usually ambivalent about it at first. It feels forced, broken, and incoherent. It comes out of me in a rush of ink and quickly I will close the book and turn off the light for bed. I had written this piece months ago. As I read back through it, I felt it was so much stronger. Maybe because it had a venue now, the words were clearer. I think it takes time to process, to step away, and come back to it from a different place. After showing up to the slam, I assessed the crowd of mostly undergrads (two of them were my students) and decided not to perform. It was short, with only six performers, but I enjoyed being in the moment of expression.

Afterward, I called Ted. I have been thinking about him for a long long while, at quiet moments or at times of sexual frustration. Recently we have been communicating more. I invited him to the slam but our schedules mismatched. I asked him to my place for a chat. He broke up with a guy recently. Ted proceeds to detail a story of this guy being too pursuant too quickly and not wanting to grow the friendship first. I listened with mock reflection, finger poised on my chin, nodding dramatically. "Fascinating. Doesn't this all sound awfully familiar to you?" He was living our past relationship from my end of it. Ted was the pushy take things faster guy for me. Had he come around? Grown to a center of more even-keeled relationships? He certainly looked as good as ever. The sexual tension was palpable, hidden beneath sarcasm and wit. Perhaps we have a second chance.

Saturday involved a unisex baby shower and a birthday party, both involving Feyonce and her Non-boyfriend. The shower allowed me to catch up and enjoy the company of many of my work friends. And to see Smartens and Rasmatic as the excited parents-to-be. They will be fun parents. I got to chat more with Feyonce and Non-boyfriend at the birthday party. We kinda ditched early for some Jupiter's pizza. We had a great time talking about travel, people, and our usual blend of salt, sass, juvenile humor, and wit. I love those two!

And today, a dear friend and I went shopping. We haven't had our old one-on-one days together, and it was like those times again. She bought these soft comfy bed sheets made of microloft that are heaven to wrap yourself in. Back at her place, we stripped the old sheets and tucked in the new. Nestled in a warmth, we lay there and talked about life, drifting on the brink of sleep and wakefulness. It felt safe and blissful.

The backdrop of these events was the final season of Six Feet Under. I ran through every emotion as I watched the characters I have grown to know play out their final chapter. Never has a television show affected me like this. The characters are full, even the minor ones. They are flawed. They feel real. A true testament to the producers, writers, and actors. The series finale left me in awe. The last scene particularly. The show was magic to me.

This weekend was magic. And I'm not sure how these words express it, if words ever truly can recreate emotion and context. Perhaps it was a "had to be there" experience. But I can say that it got me thinking about changes. The place where sea and land meet is a constant change - tides flow in, brush against land, and pull back beneath the surface. Does the same water ever return again? And if it does, it will meet new land, as sand is recycled, squished between toes, shoveled with empty shells.

Has Ted come back to a changed me as a different person himself? And why does my writing sound and feel different with the passage of time? Maybe it's a new perspective. Different facets have been unearthed and exposed. We are the sand that is changed, and we are the water that makes the change. Tomorrow is a new me. And a new you. That fact leaves me tickled with anticipation. And afraid of the cold rush of transition.

P.S. Be sure to check out the song "Transatlanticism" by Death Cab for Cutie. My mind is blown.