George Carlin was one of the most influential comedians of the 20th century. Looking back on it, he is one of the first “blue” comedians that I remember watching and thinking, This guy gets it. His outlook on life has influenced me and my writing tremendously.
In this clip, Carlin discusses God, the planet, and “Your ticket to the freakshow. And if you live in America, you’ve got a front row seat.”
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–Looking for parking and
almost getting hit by a
silver Chevy Tahoe that’s
backing out and
looking the wrong direction
down a one-way lane
–Grabbing a cart that’s
stuck together and
pinching the fleshy-part
in between my thumb
–Pushing the cart with a
behind a black-lady with a
thin white sundress with a
ass as big as her cart is sideways
wearing a bright orange thong,
hair still in curlers,
who’s bending over to grab the
onions on the bottom shelf
–Two screaming kids
hitting and kicking each other while
their mom talks on her cell phone
and to the Deli-counter girl
at the same time
–Getting to the check out line and
having all lanes closed
–standing behind ten
carts piles high and hearing
grumbling, grunts and groans
–Leaving the cart in aisle 9
as I walk out the door
It’s been almost one month since I’ve written anything on my blog. It’s hard to feel creative when there has been so much going on. I’ll give you a brief recap.
My mom took me, my wife and my two year old daughter to Disney World for a week. That trip was followed by another one to Chicago to visit my sister-in-law and a high school friend from Hawaii.
When we returned from Chicago, my wife got a new job after being out of work for a year. This would seem like a good thing, but my daughter’s baby-sitter doesn’t accept kids at her house until 7:15 am. Well, it used to be 7:30 am but she changed it to 7:15 am for us. Regardless, I had to move my hours at work back by one hour and fifteen minutes. So now I’m hitting prime-time traffic hours going to and from work, and my exercise time has been thrown out the window.
Now I can skip working out, that’s not a big deal, but a week after my wife finally getting a new job, our tenants from our rental house decided to move out. Not only did they not give us any notice, but they also trashed the place. They had three Boxers and the house smells like a dog kennel that hasn’t been cleaned in two years.
My tenants also left everything they didn’t want inside the house. They left the refrigerator door open twice, trying to burn out the compressor. And when I changed the door locks, they broke in the back steel door, took their lawn mower and weed eater, then they left the freezer door open and turned the air conditioner on as cold as it could get.
When I told the police about the situation, they said they couldn’t prove it was them. And when I told them that my tenants sent me a text message saying they’d get their stuff anyway they could, and I still had the message on my phone, the police said, we couldn’t prove that it was them who actually sent the text.
Now all these things in themselves wouldn’t be so bad. I caught all their misgivings in the nick of time. The worst part about the whole situation is my tenants had a leaky pipe in the bathroom that they didn’t tell me about. The water leaked down into the basement and molded the whole downstairs. So now I have to get a crew in there to rip everything out and fix it.
When all these types of things happen to you at once, you don’t feel very creative. It’s hard to sit down and think of something funny to write. This has been one of the most stressful times of my life. But one of the things I’ve learned is, it’s alright to take a break. Sometimes you have to regroup. And now that I have things somewhat under control, I’m back to doing what I love. I hope your last month was better mine.
There’s a moment at 6:12 a.m. when I hear my little two year old girl start to cry, that I want to run like a startled deer down the stairs and escape to the forest that is my garage.
The reason behind this fight or flight response is because I’m usually running two or three minutes behind schedule because I chose to lay in bed a littler longer and now I still have to feed the dog, who decided to take his sweet-ass time today. Then I have put on my socks and shoes, get my work bag together—put my lunch in the bag, make sure my keys to my office are in there, make sure I have a pen, and then take out yesterday’s empty lunch container so it doesn’t stink up my bag, which I should have done yesterday when I came home, but I didn’t.
Then the real struggle starts. I have to put on my duty belt, which has four snapping belt-supporters that snap around an inter-belt and one of these supporters doesn’t fit right, so it takes forever to get it on. And I know this whole process is going to take all of the three minutes I have left before I’m five minutes late to work. And for some reason, if I hear that cry and it’s before 6:13 a.m., I feel obligated to take thirty seconds to go into my girl’s room, pick her up and comfort her and ask, “What’s wrong?” knowing she’s going to wipe her snotty-ass-nose back-and-forth across my uniform shirt leaving a trail of slime on my shoulder that I’m going to have to wash off.
After I pat her back a couple of times, and find her what used-to-be white Honey Bunny, I’ll lay her back down and then run out of the room knowing she’ll be screaming before I can grab my keys out of the glass bowl that’s at the end of the hallway.
Sometimes I’ll spin on my heels before I hit the bathroom halfway down the hall and take her into our bed, throw her on my pillow and say to my wife, “Here ya go. I’ve got to leave,” feeling guilty only as far as the end of the driveway. Then I’m over it.
Hey, it’s not my fault some people have to start work at 6:45 am. And you, little girl, just made me five minutes late.
in my foundation
on the past
trying to implant
a quick death.
Then my ray
Have you ever come back from vacation and wish you could turn right back around and leave your old life behind? You get out of your car from the airport and reality smacks you square in the face when you check the overflowing mailbox and it’s filled with bills. Then later, you know you’ll have to pay more money to get the dog out of the kennel. And this is on top of the, who knows how much is on the credit card, because of the, “Hey, don’t worry about it, we’re on vacation,” attitude you had all week.
Taking a vacation is something everyone should do as often as they can. But just know that you’ll never be able to justify affording it, even when it’s free.
Before my wife and I had our daughter, we used to go on three or four trips a year. Now we go on one or two, but that’s only because we stay with friends or family.
We weren’t going to go on any trips this year, but then we got lucky. My mom had a conference at Disney World. She was gracious enough to pay for me, my wife, and our two-year old daughter to go see Mickey and Minnie in Orlando. My mom put us up at one of Disney’s resorts and we had an adjoining room. She also told us to charge everything to the room and not to worry about it. Cha-ching.
It goes without saying that Disney is expensive. How expensive, you may ask? A room where we stayed is normally $250 a night. A soda in the machine is $2.75. A six-pack of beer (Bud or Coors Light) is $15.00. That same beer is $6.50 each at the bar. Lunch for four adults and a baby was well over $100.00 every day. Dinner? A lung or kidney—your choice.
In spite of the cost, we all had a great time. My little girl got to see all the princesses—Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella. She also got to see all the characters—Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy. It was worth all the craziness and price gouging because you get to forget about your normal life for a week. You forget that you have a list of fifteen bills waiting for you at home once you see that little girl smile and get so excited about seeing her heroes in real life. At that moment you could care less about your life at home. You want to soak it all in so you can relive it when you’re old.
Then you ride the bus for an hour to get back to the airport. You go through all the joys for airport security. Your two year old cries for an hour straight on the airplane and you become those people and you already wish you could be back at the resort drinking a $6.50 beer.
You’ll always have bills, and most likely, money problems. It would be nice to shed that heavy coat forever and have a permanent vacation state of mind. When I figure out how to do it, I’ll let you know. Until then, one or two weeks a year are going to have to do.
Need more? Here’s the best Disney song ever.
When I first began interviewing people, one of the first people I interviewed was my late-grandpa. He, along with my dad, had owned a saw mill that made wine and whisky barrels. When the bottom fell out of that market switched gears and started a real estate company together.
At this time, I had grandiose ideas of what being a writer was and how I was going to make a lot of money doing it. So I sat down and began telling my grandpa about my idea of interviewing successful entrepreneurs, learning how they got there and because everyone wants to know how they did it, I’d sell a lot of books.
As my grandpa began to tell me what he thought about my idea, I interrupted him.
Grandpa waited patiently for me to finish and then began to speak, but I interrupted him again and continued to do so several more times during our interview.
Basically, my interviewing skills were lacking. I wanted him to hear about what I was doing more than I wanted to hear about what he had done in his past.
My grandpa finally said, “One of the first lessons you need to learn is how to listen.”
I said, “Yeah I hear you but…”
He then interrupted me and said, “No son, I don’t think you do. Listening and hearing are two different things. In order to listen to someone you have to have your mouth shut and your ears open. Right now your mouth is open and your ears are shut.”
It was a little harsh but it snapped me out of interrupting him. I realized that in an interview you are not the star, the person being interviewed is. Many times I have wanted to jump in and talk during an interview or conversation, but my grandpa’s advice has stuck with me.
In every day conversation, we’re often waiting for a break to say what we’re thinking and often we miss the whole point. When I face a person who constantly wants to talk and not give anyone else a chance to speak, I often think this person needs to hear my grandpa’s advice, and depending on who it is, I may just give it.
I was in a writers group once and a new writer came to our group of five and had an article she wanted critiqued. Her article was for a specific high-protein, low-carb diet that everyone has heard of. The lady’s introduction was great, it drew me into the article. She had personalized her article how she lost weight through this diet and had scientific data supporting her claims that this was the best way to lose weight.
As our group went around and critiqued her article she became very defensive. She interrupted and interjected her opinions. She wasn’t listening to any feedback.
I explained that in order to take in the feedback she had to be quiet and listen.
“But I have to talk in order to remember. I have to be able to write it down,” she said interrupting me.
“You don’t have to talk to write it down,” I said.
“Yes I do. Or I won’t remember. Besides, I hear what you’re saying, but I want you to understand what I was trying to say here,” she said.
I almost threw my hands up and said forget it. I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with her, but I decided to try anyway.
“Ok stop,” I said.
The lady continued talking over me, so I got pushy and raised my voice and said, “Hey! Stop talking. You can’t hear me when you’re talking. Ok? Listening and hearing are two different things. In order to listen to someone you have to have your mouth shut and your ears open. Right now your mouth is open and your ears are shut. So you’re not hearing anything any of us are saying to you.”
The lady immediately stopped speaking. Her eyes welded up, but not enough that a tear was shed. She didn’t say anything for the rest of the workshop except for, “Thank you,” when it was all over.
The next week when our group reconvened the lady wasn’t there. I said, “I hope it wasn’t because of me.”
The group members looked at each other and then one of the girls said, “Actually she emailed all of us and said she wouldn’t be back because you were rude and that this was her first workshop and it was the first time she’d ever let anyone read her work. Then she said something about not having to deal with that kind of pompous attitude, so she quit.”
I was in temporary-disbelief. “What? Are you serious,” I said.
The group of four looked blankly at me and I said, “Oh well, she’ll have to get a thicker skin if she wants to be in any workshop.”
Later I thought about it and realized the advice could have gone either way. I could have listened to what she was trying to say. I could have stopped talking too. But I justified it because that was the way we always did it—the writer has to be quiet when getting critiqued, and I assumed she knew the rules.
Next time, I’ll have to remember that, “In order to listen to someone, you have to have your mouth shut and your ears open,” still applies to me, as well as the person who’s running their mouth.
Looking at the outside of the old orange hard shell case, you can tell that what’s inside has been around for a while. Scratches run deep like a road map of the places it’s been.
Opening the three worn brass latches unleashes a waft of cigarette smoke that gently hits the nose. When the lid folds back, you can see the crushed orange velvet that encases a dark red sunburst 1939 Gretsch, Hawaiian-style guitar.
The floating tortoise pick-guard is held together by a small brass bracket that violently protests when it’s strummed too hard. The neck tapers from the body to the headstock and suits my small fingers as I press down the silky-smooth strings against the ebony fret board. But best of all is the crisp sound that’s made when it’s strummed. It’s harp-like heavenly.
Musicians spend a life time looking for that perfect sound. It only took twenty years for me to find mine.
I went to Subway today and as soon as I walked in the door, I knew I should have turned around and left. There were literally fourteen people standing in line.
The line wrapped around the corner from where the first Sandwich Artist takes your order. I was person number eight past that corner.
As I contemplating leaving when the Indian Owner/Sandwich Artist #1 asked the lady directly in front of me, “And for you ma’dam?”
Wow, I thought, this guy’s got his shit together, and that’s the only reason I stayed. Well that, and the fact that I was playing hookey from work.
During my lunch break, which I don’t officially get, I went to talk to my tattoo artist whose shop is about 15 minutes away from my work. I normally wouldn’t do this, but I knew that I had to stay late to help with some things, so I figured I just wouldn’t turn in an overtime slip and we’d call it even.
I had already been gone from work for about an hour when I walked into Subway. And even though I know no one would miss me, I was really considering leaving right when the owner/sandwich artist #1 said, “And for you sir?”
I ordered a Sweet Onion Teriyaki Chicken sandwich and followed the rest of the cattle line to sandwich artist #2. Who by the way, was a dead ringer for the long brown haired kid who played Mitch Kramer, the nose-touching tortured freshman, in Dazed and Confused.
This kid might have been Sandwich Artist #2 to these guys, but to me he was Mitch Kramer—The Mayo Kid. He put more mayonnaise on a sandwich than anyone I’ve ever seen.
Normally a Sandwich Artist will put on one stream of mayo straight down the middle, then ask, “What else would you like?”
Mitch would grab the bottle, hold it up side down, and then he kicked out his leg like Dave Lee Roth in the Jump video. He then started spraying down thick lines mayo down the center of the sandwich. He did two double swipes—back and forth, then back and forth again—on each of the sandwiches he made. I think he may have even cut the nozzle on the bottle because the white squiggly lines were as wide as magic-markers.
Note to self, no mayo.
The line did move at surprisingly fast pace. The speed of this assembly line of sandwich-making was mainly due to the Mitch the Mayo Kid’s pizzazz. When someone said lettuce, Mitch crammed a whole handful on top of the bread. When someone said onions, Mitch grabbed them with both hands and sprinkled them back and forth like thick falling snow. But when someone said, “Mayo,” you could tell that it just made this kid’s day.
There was a rather large black lady standing in front of me. She was wearing a black tank top with a black and brown printed skirt. Her hair was long and braided and she was about five feet tall and probably four and-a-half feet sideways. She had ordered the Italian sub, which had salami, pepperoni and ham on it.
“What do you want on it?” The Mayo Kid asked.
The lady said, “A little lettuce, extra pickles, thousand island dressing, extra pickles. Oh wait, I said that,” she said as she perused the toppings on the counter and then said, “Oh, and some mayo. Extra mayo.”
This lady was The Mayo Kid’s jackpot, his sandwich score of the day. Mitch sprinkled the lettuce. He then grabbed at least 12 pickles and piled them on. Then the lady said, “Can you give me more pickles than that?”
Mitch grabbed about 20 more pickles and stacked them on. Obviously he had floated off to sandwich Nirvana because he stood there in a daze looking at his condiment counter for a few seconds and then said, “What else did you want with that?”
“Thousand island dressing,” she said, which Mitch applied the same way he did with his mayo in the double-swipe method.
“And extra mayo,” she said.
I think at this point Mitch got an erection. Not that I was looking, but it’s hard not to notice a guy who’s about to make your sandwich shift his crotch. Mitch then did his patented Van Halen kick and almost kicked the owner. He then began spraying the mayo back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. He repeated this process eight times.
This was the most disgusting sandwich I have ever seen. There was at least an inch-and-a-half layer of mayo on top of the half-inch layer of thousand island.
Then the lady said, “Oh and could you put parmesan on that? And some oil too.”
“Looks healthy,” I said.
“That’s the way I like it,” she snapped.
When Mitch finished wrapping her sandwich, he gave her a little nod like a stoic departing sailor saying goodbye to his wife. He then said to me, “What do you want on yours?”
I said, “A little lettuce, and little onions and a little sweet teriyaki sauce.”
I have to say that Mitch showed restraint with my sandwich and made it exactly as I had asked.
“No mayo?” he said.
He looked at me with a disappointed look on his face and I knew he wanted to spray mayo all over the wall, but instead he wrapped the sandwich up and he sent me down the line.
“What do you want on yours?” Mitch asked the semi-attractive lady wearing a red dress standing directly behind me.
“Lettuce and light on the mayo. Light. Real light,” she said.
I watched Mitch only spray one line down the middle like every sandwich artist does at any other Subway when you ask for mayo.
The lady looked to be in her early 30’s. She was talking to her friend, who seemed to be about ten years older than her, and was most likely her co-worker. She was talking about the new red dress she was wearing. “I got it for $30,” she said, “but it’s supposed to be $160. It’s Calvin Klein! And it fits perfectly. I mean look at it. It fits so well. I just had to get it.”
Mitch’s head was down, but his eyes looked up. I watched him look the lady up and down. And when he realized she wasn’t watching him, he sprayed one more line of mayo right down the middle of her sandwich. He then threw the top piece of bread on it and had it wrapped before the lady knew what hit it.
“Thanks,” he said to her, “and see you tomorrow.”
“Ok thanks,” she said. “See you tomorrow.”
I’ll take bets that that red dress doesn’t fit by the end of the month.