Some Things Stay The Same

Some Things Stay The Same

Earlier this evening, I was looking through some old file folders trying to find a particular piece of paper.

Going through old files can be interesting, when one stumbles upon something that one forgot about. Like two old performance reviews from my last job.

Now, I will admit that when I started this particular job, it was very much outside of my skill set/comfort zone. I took the job because it was a chance to work at the same place as Julian, because it was a fairly new company when I started and there were growth opportunities, and, quite frankly, because the job paid about eight-thousand dollars more per year than the job I was then currently working at.

The first review was for a six month period (the second six months I worked there). If I got a review for my first six months, I don’t have it. But, the second sixth month period dealt with my work in a position that was different than the one I was hired for.

It was a reasonably good review, though in the area of communication, on a scale of 1-5 (five being the best), I received a 2.

I can hear you gasping from here.

Yes. I received poor marks in communication. But, not for the reason you might think.

I wasn’t poor at communicating. Rather, it was because I communicated too much.

Now, I know all of you who’ve followed me for any length of time know that I can certainly write a long, rambling blog post. Sure, it may be well written, even though it’s long. Apparently, in an office environment (I came from a primarily retail/customer service background, so an office setting was a very new thing for me), long, rambling emails are not as well received as long, rambling blog posts. Creativity in an email is frowned upon in an office environment.

I received a 2 on my communication skills, with a comment to “tighten and condense my emails.”

This particular rating came as no surprise as I had really freaked out my supervisors when I wrote a long, rambling email and, in a burst of creative energy used an analogy about a haircut — something along the lines of “It’s like when you go get your hair done in a new style. The hairstylist cuts and styles your hair, and, when you leave the salon, your hair looks perfect, but, once you’re on your own, at home, you can never get your hair to look the same way again.” (That was the short version of the analogy. My recollection is that the analogy was much longer, much more involved, and written with much more flourish.)

I’m fairly certain that one particular supervisor has a permanent scar on his psyche from my long, rambling analogy about the hairdo. Sure, it still gets brought up from time to time, and laughed about, but, I think he still gets a little bug-eyed when he thinks about it too much.

So, with regret, I put away the analogy, and became quite good at short, sweet, to the point emails. It was a good learning experience though. Fortunately, on my blog, I can tell long, rambling hairdo stories any time I so chose. However, if the day comes when I’m back in an office setting, I may have to be reminded to “tighten and condense” again.

The second review, which was for my third six month period, I received a 4.5 on my written communication skills.

I did, however, get another low rating — a 3 rating. This time it was for the following review question: “Is the Leader impartial when faced with emotional situations?”

Sadly, my  emotional behavior was a bit unprofessional. According to my review, “At times of high stress, John tends to let his emotions dictate his professional demeaner” (sic). Translation: John can be a fucking basket case sometimes. This was not a surprise to me because John has always let his emotions dictate his demeanor, for as long as he can remember. And, because you’re all my friends, and I feel I can be honest with you, John is still a fucking basket case sometimes (and, sometimes John is a fucking basket case more than “sometimes”, he’s a fucking basket case “frequently”).

The review also references, as an example, a particularly unprofessional emotional meltdown, when I stood in the middle of the office, and had a very loud meltdown, referring to a fellow employee as a “fucking witch.”

(As an aside: John has, more than once in his life, called someone a “fucking witch”. In the grand scheme of John’s life, “fucking witch” is actually a rather mild insult. John still has meltdowns and uses foul language. Some things stay the same.)

Now, here’s a chance to see if you’re paying attention to the tale, and to see if you can figure out why I’m amused by the two reviews.

Think about it. It might not jump right out at you.

I’ll give you a minute to think about it ….

Did you figure it out?

Well, in case it’s a bit obscure (because I have rambled on a great deal, and if this were tighter and more condensed, it might just leap right out at you), I’ll tell you why I was so amused finding these two reviews. (And, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t notice at the time. It only dawned on me this evening as I was reading these reviews, and reliving some delightful memories of my job).

According to my reviews, writing long, rambling reviews gets me a 2, on a 1-5 scale (according to the review sheet, a 2 is “below average”). And, according to the reviews, a 3, which equals “average” was my rating for a loud meltdown in which I loudly used the term “fucking witch.” So, seemingly, calling someone a “fucking witch” is not as serious an offense as writing long, rambling emails about hairdos.

Perhaps it has to do with the number of people who were able to laugh at me.

I got a 2 for the email, which only a couple of people saw and read, whereas, the loud, foul-mouthed meltdown was heard by many. So, maybe I got the extra point for providing the entire office with some entertainment for a brief part of an afternoon.

(In case you’re wondering — I really am laughing at the whole thing. I did write long, long, long emails, and I deserved to be called to task for it. And, I did have a meltdown, loudly, and publicly, and, probably deserved a harsher punishment. I was lucky to have worked for that particular company — which no longer exists, except in memories — and, I was exceedingly lucky to have met and worked with some truly wonderful people, several of whom I’m honored to call friends. It was a wild, stressful, wacky ride. I was lucky to have been a part of it all.)

The Annual First Day of The Year List Of Things I Resolve To Do But Will Never Do

The Annual First Day of The Year List Of Things I Resolve To Do But Will Never Do

I used to make New Year’s Resolutions. For about ten years, the first thing on my list was “Quit Smoking.” It wasn’t until a year that I didn’t have it on my list that I finally quit smoking (which, incidentally, will be ten years ago this coming August).

I used to make a list of things I felt I needed to do in order to improve myself. Because, isn’t that part of the human experience, this notion that we’re constantly in need of being improved upon?

Every year I’d make a list, and, every year I’d accomplish very few of the resolutions. “Being neater and more organized” was on my list for at least twenty years, and I’ve made little to no progress in that particular arena. Same for things like “dust more often” and “vacuum more often.” I used to worry about the dusting and vacuuming, until I realized that we’re lucky if we have one visitor a month, so why bother? I mean, we only dust and vacuum because we don’t want others to think we’re slobs, right?

Working out, going to the gym more, getting into better shape has been on my list for more years than I can count. Every year, I feel good about it, but, after the second or third day at the gym, I’m all:

over it

 
 
I used to make a list — sometimes written, sometimes just a mental list — with good intentions to do as many of the things on the list as I could. It seemed that if I could do these things, I’d somehow be a better person.

Then one day it occurred to me, I don’t really care. I am who I am, and you’ll either like me, dusty house and all, or you won’t. I don’t need some list that usually, around June, would start making me feel guilty, because I’d yet to accomplish any of the things on it. So, I stopped with the lists, the resolutions. I’m more impulsive than lists allow — I’ll simply do, or stop doing, something because it just seems to be the time to do, or stop doing something. Besides, I usually lose the list.

This year, though, I thought I’d come up with a list of sorts.

I’ll leave you to decide which things I’m serious about, and which are simply added to make the list longer.

  • Write a blog post every day.
  • Write one scary story each month.
  • Write one poem each month.
  • Vacuum more often.
  • Dust more frequently.
  • Walk more.
  • Take more photos.
  • Comment on at least 10 blog posts each day (instead of only clicking on the like button).
  • Eat less cookies.
  • Smoke more weed. (It is legal here, after all).
  • Eat more fiber.
  • See a therapist.
  • Read a book a week.
  • Keep the surface of my desk clean for longer than one day.
  • Listen to one album every day.
  • Write more.
  • Sleep more during normal sleeping hours.
  • Buy more notebooks to add to my empty notebook collection.
  • Buy more pencils.
  • Shower every day.
  • Try to sound less self-centered.
  • Eat more fruit.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
  • Find a pair of glasses that make me look smart and sexy.
  • Curse more.
  • Try to be less bothered by fact mom watches Fox News.
  • Be more reclusive.
  • Try to like people more.
  • Eat less cheese.
  • After one month of eating less cheese, spend rest of year eating more cheese.
  • Pretend I have some sort of life.
  • Tell Julian more often how much I appreciate all he does to help make my life better.
  • Be more patient.
  • Dream more.

I think that’s a long-enough list of things to ignore, don’t you?

Thumpity, Thump, Thump

Thumpity, Thump, Thump

Dear Abby,

Is anyone else bothered by the part of the song “Frosty the Snowman”, where Frosty goes ‘thumpity, thump, thump; thumpity, thump, thump’? Usually when snow goes ‘thump’ it is splitting apart, smashing into pieces. So, if Frosty were thumping, how could he then go over the hills of snow, in one piece, before he melts?? Please advise.

Crazily Contemplating in Colorado.

frosty

Dear Crazy:

It’s a song about a snowman who magically comes to life. You believe he can come to life, but take issue with the fact he can go thump and still remain intact? Get a hobby, and stop overanaylizing pointless crap. Worry about solving world hunger instead.

Poetry from the Spam Filter: Twelve

Poetry from the Spam Filter: Twelve

spam

.

Another entry in my ongoing series of taking the complete, unedited text from an email caught in my WordPress spam filter, and formatting its gibberish into poetry (one email equals one poem — I do not combine them in anyway). Except for formatting the email to look like a poem, I make no changes to text, spelling, content, etc.

Strangely, they seem to make sense when you read them as a poem.  And, as a public service, I offer a reading of the poem as well:


.

cheap
Thanksgiving 2013
jeremy scott
Car on the road,
illnesses Know.
Even the best cars also need maintenance and repair,
like a man who will inevitably get sick,
car trouble is not terrible,
the key is these problems would endanger human life and property.
With such a car service, we can in the music in which way I’m comfortable assured drove…

black friday
2013
jeremy scott
I was the Northeast, in 1995,
when I am 24 years old,
just graduated from a university
Coal Ministry medical professionals,
was assigned to Xuzhou, a state-owned enterprise to work.
Worked for two years,
arrived at 1997, March,
when militia units trained in militia training,
I met my wife later
decades have passed since the adoption Yan,
but Yan first met mining case
So far in my mind is still so vivid.
Perhaps it is fate,
and I adopt Yin in training
was assigned to a class,
her hair fluttering, beautiful eyes shining Smart light,
first saw her in the Verge,
I almost thought it was to see the college sweetheart They really like..

Thanksgiving 2013
sunglassess Into the wee hours,
she told me she liked me,
but has been when I was a younger brother.
Then, pulling luggage went away,
leaving me still confused heartache,
I spent a lot of talent sorting out a clue.
Impression, seem to remember my colleagues said that Donna had a middle-aged man to divorce..

black friday 2013
sunglasses discount
Into the cultural community, is entirely accidental,
when China needs to build a simulated coal mine museum,
they found a famous museum scientist fee Hutchinson help planning.
Charges Hutchinson advocate using real people in the museum and other auxiliary display forms,
in order to increase ornamental and interesting museums,
he put an analog simulation miners who mine production opportunities available to me
and suggested that I be super-realist sculpture.
This year, I am 54 years old,
although life has been close to dusk,
but the super- interest in realism,
the museum displays arts yearning,
that I can not be closed..

MomStories: “You Know, The Other Dead One…”

MomStories: “You Know, The Other Dead One…”

(MomStories are a collection of tales about my mom.  Many have been posted before, on various old blogs I inhabited, and some are parts of old journal entries. Each MomStory is a memory — its as accurate as memory can ever be.  Some tales may be funny, some sad, some shocking — but, they’re told with the greatest love and respect.  Mom is ninety years old this year, so I know that our time together is getting shorter.  MomStories is a way for me to capture the moments I want to remember — the good stories, and the not so good.  Once she’s gone, stories are all I’ll have.  And, while it’s nice to say things like “I only want to remember the good”, I’d much rather remember my mom in her entirety: good, bad, warts and all. My mom, like all the rest of us, is a complex human.  And, I chose to remember her in all her complexity. Original publication date: December 26, 2010.)

flourish1

Tonite is Bettye LaVette Thursday.  We are off to see Ms LaVette this evening, and I’m quite excited.  I love, love, love Bettye LaVette.

Mom, Julian and I went out for a quick bite of dinner, then Julian and I are off to the concert.  On the drive home, I was describing the small theatre where the concert is.  It’s nice, small, and civilized: seats about 300 people, serves dessert and cocktails, and there’s not a bad seat.

Mom speaks up: “Oh, that sounds like that little theatre I went to downtown.  You know, that little one.”

Me: “Um. No, not…”

Mom: “That little one downtown that I went to.”

Me: “The one where the do The Christmas Carol?”

Mom: “No. The other one.  I went and saw that one singer.  That female singer.  She’s dead now, but they play her all the time.”

Me: (silence, because I can’t even begin to think of where to start on the list of dead female singers)

Mom:  “That one dead female singer.  Not the anorexic one.  You know, the other dead one.”

Me: (silently laughing hysterically.)

Thankfully something else caught her attention so I didn’t have to respond.  Though I will probably spend a while trying to figure out who the, you know, the other dead female singer might be.  Apparently there are only two, and one is Karen Carpenter, so the other shouldn’t be tough to figure out.

(UPDATE: I spent a good two years, off and on, trying to determine the answer to this particular question, and, it finally occurred to me that several years before, mom had gone to a little theatre downtown to see “Always, Patsy Cline”….the other dead one.)

I’ll leave you with some Patsy Cline:

MomStories: Different Morals

MomStories: Different Morals

MomStories

(MomStories are a collection of tales about my mom.  Many have been posted before, on various old blogs I inhabited, and some are parts of old journal entries. Each MomStory is a memory — its as accurate as memory can ever be.  Some tales may be funny, some sad, some shocking — but, they’re told with the greatest love and respect.  Mom is ninety years old this year, so I know that our time together is getting shorter.  MomStories is a way for me to capture the moments I want to remember — the good stories, and the not so good.  Once she’s gone, stories are all I’ll have.  And, while it’s nice to say things like “I only want to remember the good”, I’d much rather remember my mom in her entirety: good, bad, warts and all. My mom, like all the rest of us, is a complex human.  And, I chose to remember her in all her complexity. Original journal date: December 2, 2005.)

flourish1

On the way to the restaurant, mom is telling me about a friend of a friend of hers (both of whom are British).

“Her husband died a few years ago, but she met this German guy and they’ve been living together for a few years now.  They spend half the year in Germany, and half the year in Florida.  The English have always had different kinds of morals.  Not just now, but they always have.”

I’m not sure if the questionable morals of the English related to the shacking up, or the fact he was German, or because they spend half a year in Florida.

I was rather curious (but not curious enough to actually ask) just how any of this meant the morals of the Brits were different, not just now, but ‘always.’   I thought it might make for an amusing few minutes, yet, was terrified that it would somehow relate to abortion or immigration, as those are mom’s two Hot Button Topics of the moment.

flourish1

(While this was a journal entry in 2005, mom’s Hot Button Topics have not noticeably changed, though, of course, anything Obama is now included in Hot Button Topics).

The Short Story That Went Nowhere

The Short Story That Went Nowhere

I can’t say with any certainty, but, I think I can surmise that a fair amount of writers have a story sitting around somewhere — it might be a few pages, or a few hundred, but, they have a story sitting around, a story that’s not much more than a lot of words.

Oh, sure, it started out with good intentions, with the writer’s fire and passion burning in the mind, but, then, as suddenly as it started, it runs out of steam, because you realize that it’s a story that’s going nowhere.  It might have a good character or two, maybe even a small plot, but, there’s not really anything there, holding it together.

So, like any good writer, you put the story aside, because, sometimes, the flame of inspiration strikes, and you find what your story was missing, discover a way to make it work, to turn it into something other than a word salad.  Sometimes the story sits around for a few days, or even years, before it’s missing parts are discovered.

And, then, sometimes…well, sometimes, it’s just a bunch of words that are always going to be nothing more than a bunch of words.  You realize that no matter how much you like the parts of it, the story just is not going to go anywhere.

And, that’s what this is: the beginning of a story I wrote in 1992.  It’s been sitting in various drawers, various file folders, various boxes for more than twenty years now.  I think it is time for me to admit defeat.  I simply don’t know what to do with it.

It started as a sentence, an opening sentence that just popped into my head one afternoon. It is handwritten in a spiral notebook, wide ruled, and takes up the front and back of two pages, and the front, and half the back of a third page.  So, it isn’t long.  It was supposed to be funny, but, the problem with writing humor is that you’re constantly writing to set up the next joke, the next wisecrack.  Trying to find a plot among all the supposedly funny stuff never happened for me.

Yet, I have an affection for it.  It is one of those pieces of writing that pours out, with no thought, not even forethought. This story simply happened. Though I suppose I cannot really call it a story, since there’s not really a story to it. It is more of a character study — a glimpse into the life of one man.

Don’t expect perfect prose, or fastidious grammar.  I just want to put this story to rest — get it out of my system, and, who knows, maybe it will still find some life somewhere down the road.  It’s just a fragment, but, it should live somewhere other than a dark file in a dark drawer. Maybe letting it be in the light will spark the seeds to grow.

So, light up a cigarette (if you’re one of the ten people left who still smoke), grab a small cup of coffee — the story is really short, remember?  Relax, and read about a man — a man named Jesus.

But, not that Jesus.

****************

jesusIn an attempt to atone for a less than virginal past, my mother named me Jesus.  Jesus Michael Delaney, to be exact.  Which, I suppose, isn’t so bad, when you consider my twin sister’s name is Immaculate Mary Delaney.  Even all these years later, I’m still convinced that if my mother had ever had another child, a boy child, she’d have named him Joseph, just for the pleasure of hollering down the street “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, get your asses in here!”

I suppose being named Jesus wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d been Hispanic, and my name was pronounced “hey-soos.”  Even if we weren’t Hispanic, but some other ethnicity, it might not have been so bad.  But, honestly, what chance do you have when you’re a tall, skinny white boy with pale blonde hair, and bright green eyes?  Not much of a chance, I’m here to tell you.

Maybe public school would have been different, and I’d have liked my name better.  Instead, my sister and I were sent to Catholic School — our mother was atoning, remember?

Needless to say, when Jesus is part of the curriculum, comparisons are bound to be made. More than one nun commented “I would have thought that being named after Our Lord would have encouraged you to be more like Our Lord in behavior. I’m sure that The Savior is most disappointed in your actions.” It’s one thing to be compared to an older brother or sister, like many of my fellow classmates, but, being compared to Our Lord, well, I was pretty much doomed to failure.  I mean, who can compete with someone who has risen from the dead?

More than once, a nun pointed out that being named Jesus, and being in hell (where I was certainly going to end up, if my behavior did not improve) would not be pleasant. Sister Ignatius went so far as to point out that if I did not reform my evil ways (which mostly had to do with talking too much, not following the rules, and being a bit of a smartass) that I would be the first person named Jesus, in the history of the world, to end up in Hell.  I’ll be honest: that statement put the fear of God into me — at least when Sr. Ignatius was around.  Any person who knew the names of everyone who had been sent to hell was obviously someone to be wary of.

I was convinced that Sr. Ignatius was in league with Satan.  I figured if she knew the name of everyone in Heaven, she’d have an “in” with God, but, as it was the name of everyone in Hell, well, that only meant that Lucifer himself had told her.  And, I knew if I wasn’t on best behavior around her, she’d personally hand me over to the Devil.

Sr. Ignatius also had this habit of closing her eyes, muttering under her breath, and shuddering slightly every time Jesus or God was mentioned. When I grew older, I realized she was probably having a little moment of religious ecstasy, closing her eyes, muttering something like “Praise Him!”, and that the shuddering was some expression of her love for God. At the time, however, back in fifth grade, I saw her reaction as one of horror, much like a vampire upon seeing a cross. Her muttering and shuddering at the mention of Jesus and God was proof that she was in league with the Devil, and couldn’t bear to hear the name of Jesus or God. So, I watched my step around her. And, I tried to say Jesus and God around her as often as I could. Maybe if I said the words enough times, she’d shrivel up like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Of course, the nuns were the nicest about my name.  Although, in seventh grade, Sr. Anne sent me to the principal’s office on the first day of school because she thought that the name on her list was a mistake, and that I couldn’t be named Jesus, and, when I insisted that it really was Jesus, she sent me to see the principal, to be taught some sense.  All in all, though, the nuns were nicer than my classmates.

There is something innately cruel about children, and I include myself in that statement, as I was not always as nice as I should have been. Maybe, it is because when we are young we have no sense of other people’s feelings.  We know how it feels to be on the receiving end of taunts and insults, but, we don’t make the connection between the hurt feelings we feel, and the hurt feelings we inflict on others.

Or, maybe, we’re all just a bunch of obnoxious brats.

Anyway, my peers were not all that kind when it came to my name.  Crucifixion jokes seemed to be the most popular, with requests to see the holes in my hands and feet.  A few times I was even tied up, left hanging by my arms, to emulate my being crucified.  Inevitably, if I didn’t come back to class after lunch, one of the young novices, who assisted the nun’s in the classroom, and Mr. Johnson the school’s handyman/janitor, were sent to look for me, because, after awhile, the teachers realized that if I didn’t come back from lunch, I was hanging up somewhere.

The fact that my sister was named Mary caused quite a bit of comment as well.  The Immaculate part never got many laughs, as my sister was, actually, rather Immaculate in actions (being sweet, kind, sincere), and Immaculate in appearance (never a wrinkle, spot, or lint anywhere on her).  But, the fact that my name was Jesus, born of Mary — and, being as Mary was my sister, well …. I’m sure you can imagine the remarks.

By this point, I think I don’t need to say that I really hate my first name.

I wish I had figured out earlier in life that I could have just gone by my middle name, but, I can be slow sometimes, so it wasn’t until the ninth grade that I started going by Michael.  Not Mike, because that’s what singers use.  Nope.  Had to be Michael.  When I was 21, I had my name legally changed — dropped the Jesus completely.  My mother was through atoning at that point; in fact, she was spending a good amount of time doing things she was going to have to atone for at some point, so she didn’t argue about my name change.

I’m not sure she even really noticed, or cared.  She only ever called me Jesus when she was mad, anyway.  When she wasn’t mad, she called me Mikey, which I hated almost as much as I hated being called Jesus.

My full name still appears on my birth certificate, so I can prove it when I mention it to people.  I don’t mention it often, but, for awhile, I went through a phase where I used to say “Yes?” when people would curse, “Jesus!”  But, I outgrew it fairly quickly, as it took too long to explain, and, by the time I was finished explaining, the joke was no longer funny.

****************

And … there you have it.  The Short Story That Went Nowhere.