Friday, December 23

At Least the Coffee's Free

I've posted this one before, but it's a classic -- and here I am again, so why not.


Got a little more shopping to try and finish today -- hopefully they'll let us out a little early.
Happy Holidays, gang.

[Now Playing:  Common - "Celebrate" ]

Thursday, December 22

Nothing's In the Flowers

A buddy of mine who came face to face with this phenomena posted this on a social network that was founded by a guy pretty much because of something like this (if movies are to be believed) a day or so after I once again found myself in this position.


To say this is always the case or that there's never an exception to any rule is probably like the idea of minority students at Utah State University -- You have to assume there are some, but it's kinda hard to tell from the video.

[Now Playing:  Evergreen Terrace - "New Friend Request" ]

Tuesday, December 20

Apocalypse Nao

Every morning at work the team/department I'm a part of has a meeting. Issues are discussed, project statuses are updated, general company info is disseminated -- pretty standard corporate stuff. It's the one time of day when the team is guaranteed to see each other and interact -- but for the most part it's also the only time during the day when I see any of them at all.
After the meeting ended today one of the engineers comes up to me and says, "So, did you have fun at Toys 'R Us last night?"
At first I was a little creeped out, because how would he have known I was there at all?  ..But then I sort of did the mental math and realized he must have been there too. Dude laughed it off like it was nothing, but apparently he waved, said my name, and even repeated it when I didn't initially respond. All of which made me feel like a complete heel, because I didn't hear shit.

My son is generally pretty cool about Christmas. He wants things like every other kid, and I've done my share of spoiling him over the years.. but when it comes to the season he almost always focuses on one or two things and if he gets those he's super happy.

This year though, he discovered a programmable robot by French scientists developed to further the study of robotics called a Nao robot. It does super cool robot things, features a child-like artificial intelligence, and can even dance.

The boy has always dug robots and instantly became sort of obsessed with these things, and naturally asked for one for Christmas. But it's not really something that you can just go and buy. The company that makes them sells them to schools for study projects, for a cool $20,000 a shot. 
To be fair, I also saw one on eBay for $9000 -- but still, there's pretty much no way this thing is happening for Christmas.
My son had a backup choice in place, something a little more feasible (no spoilers, sorry). Things have been tight this year, but if I juggle a few things it seemed like I could probably swing it. Anyways, I spent the early part of last weekend scouting out this item, which I was able to find pretty easily. I couldn't get it yet until a check cleared, but since it was at several stores there wasn't going to be a problem.
Smash cut to last night, and NONE of those places have it anymore. 
Since my financial situation in recent years has left me in a place where I've had to last-last minute shop before, I was somewhat prepared for this problem -- hence the scouting a few days before. So last night was spent largely in the process of running down the string of places where I'd scouted out to see if they had it. But of course as more and more of them didn't, my mood shifted from one of confidence to one of heightened urgency -- which is probably about the point I went storming through Toys 'R Us like a Terminator looking for Sarah Connor and completely blew off my coworker.

But you know what, buddy? In this season of peace and joy it's getting down to GO TIME and I don't really have the time to wave and smile and say "How 'bout them Tebows?"

I'm on a 'friggin mission here to make an 11 year-old smile, and your casual waving your hand and calling my name-itude is interfering with my general kick all other shoppers to the side and claim that thing my kid said he would like to have if Santa for some reason couldn't find a way to negotiate a dancing robot that makes Star Wars references out of those nerds in France!!

And you'll look back at me in shock and probably a little anger, and you'll probably say something like, "Are you crazy, Goddammit? Don't you think that's a little risky just for some toy?" -- at which point I'll look right back into your eyes and say,
Christmas don't surf!!

[Now Playing:  Common - "Cloth" ]

Monday, December 19


Everyone tells you that you're a good listener, and because you are -- you listen attentively and look in their eyes while they say it. But what they're really saying is that you have no game. Being a good listener is essentially the opposite of having moves with the ladies.

It makes you wonder if they value your skills as a listener, or are just appreciative that you bother to listen at all. Because so many of the bad listeners out there – you know, those other guys women try to talk to, the ones who don't really take the time to understand or won’t hear what they're saying end up sleeping with them instead.

Women generally regret jumping into bed with bad listeners. You know this because you’re a good listener.

There's nothing wrong with caring about people, enjoying good conversation, or being a good friend. But the cold truth is that you would much rather be sleeping with this girl than hearing about her last relationship, and you're pretty sure she knows this fact. But you have no real angle to play, and she's equally aware of that too -- so it's this or nothing, pal.

And so a Sunday after a far-too late night Saturday stretches again into evening darkness. Either with or without friends around, you've spent the better part of the weekend with this girl. Not on a date or anything like that – you were just both around. And she likes you being around, because you’re a good listener – and also because she asked if she could have the pickle spear that came with your dinner, and you said yes. In between conversations with others, you catch her sticking her tongue out at you.
It probably means nothing.
Eventually the time comes to sign tabs and go home, but despite the smiling glances and playful shenanigans, there’s no real indication that she sees you any differently than she did before.

So when the group hints that they might go back out to another bar a little later, you say something about maybe joining in. But you don’t mean it, because you’re pretty sure they don’t mean it either. It’s been a long couple of days, and the gang seems pretty beat. But then as you're driving home on what seem like deserted streets, the phone lights up and buzzes in your pocket.

It’s not a text from the gang. It’s a text from her. Because you're a good listener you know that she was trying to choose between one or two places if everyone did decide to kick in for a second shift, so the text you got from her was surely one of many sent in succession to those who had been at dinner.
But you somehow get it in your head that she sent yours first.
You're tired. Close to broke. Your throat is killing you from a flu bug, lack of sleep, and whatever was in that last shot glass. The alarm at your apartment is set to go off early tomorrow morning to remind you that you have to go to work. Going to another bar, which could easily mean another bar after that is every kind of bad idea. Had one of the guys sent the group rally text you’d have likely waved it off with some sort of pleasant apology. But they didn't.

So you turn the car around. One bar becomes two. Two drinks become three. The guys never show; it’s just you and her. Hugs and a smile when you first reappear, her head on your shoulder as the night winds to a close.

Could these things have meant something else? Was there an opportunity there where some well-timed assertiveness might have done you some good? Just like so many times before with other people you more than liked who still only value how good a listener you are (and nothing else)?

You've long resigned yourself to the fact that more often than not, you friend-zone yourself. That even if those imagined moments did exist, even if somehow after spending the night being the guy in her life who didn't just take, take, take that it might have been OK for you to take a little -- you get stuck in this place where after listening to many hours of how she's tired of all the other guys who just want to fuck -- wouldn't suddenly turning into yet another one would be the worst kind of betrayal?
Yes, you want nothing more but to lean in and kiss her -- but didn't we just split an appetizer and sip on cocktails for hours on end discussing how much she hates when guys do that?
Your hope is that she makes the first move. That the attraction was there from the beginning to some level, so much so that even if she does appreciate your being a good listener, eventually she'll reach a point where she's done talking.

But more often what happens is that point comes along and you're supposed to know it. The conversation breaks, and she looks at you quietly. Perhaps steering a lock of hair behind her ear, perhaps not. Whatever the accompanying body language -- there's going to a point where she wonders if you're going to make a move. A point where she maybe wants you to make the move.

If you can see it coming and take advantage of it -- anything is possible.

But if you aren't sure if she even feels that way about you, or if you can't detect it until after the moment has come and gone -- then you're screwed. If there was a moment where you should have done something, but you didn't -- and how could you have possibly not have realized that was the moment..
The most important thing she was trying to tell you all night, and you weren't even paying attention.
..Some listener you are.

[Now Playing:  Rick Ross - "Aston Martin Music" ]

Thursday, December 15


Department Holiday Luncheon: Outlook invites, conference room tables lined up together with plastic sheets spread over them in Christmas colors. Ten dollars had be turned in by Wednesday afternoon because the meal would be catered, but feel free to bring a dessert dish if you want to.
I arrive late, but not so much that it was a problem. People were already eating, scattered at the tables; talking about families, football, and work.
The food is in aluminum trays lined up on a front table. Empty boxes with the name of a fancy chain Italian place are stacked up in a corner. There are paper plates and holiday-themed napkins half-in and half-out of their plastic wrapper.

In a way it's charming. Like a kid's birthday party hastily thrown together by a group of adults who are only loosely aligned with each other because of the kinds of work they do.

People are happy to see you, but there are only slivers of friendships between us. Not because of any animosity, but because all we really have together is work. Some folks on the team have relationships built from years of shared projects. Some knew each other in college, or started with the company around the same time. A few have just been here that long to where everybody knows them.

Teams like this are Gilligan's Islands. We're all in it together, but we have next to nothing in common. Still, people find a way to have things to talk about -- reasons to enjoy the moment.
Someone thought to get cups. No one thought to bring drinks.
The food isn't bad. Antipasto salads, vegetarian options, some sort of baked pasta with cheese thing. I take a little of each. Someone brings back vending machine sodas. Conversations continue over the sound of plastic forks meeting paper plates.

I don't even notice it at first. I'm really just focusing on the food in front of me. But then I realize that there are slices of yellow and orange bell peppers in my food; Peppers I am picking out with my fork and pushing to the side. It should be nothing: I don't like bell peppers in with my pasta. Cook them into the sauce, fine -- but don't put them in the dish, especially if it's just for the color.

It's just like I was telling you that first time you cooked for me and caught me picking them out and then you said..
And just like that.
Just like that.
I mean, what do you say? Where do you begin? Things like this happen all the time. Rings from the bottom of a glass on a countertop.
Wipe them clean, shut up already and get on with your life.
Stranger still, the actuality is that that flash of memory -- it lasts maybe a minute. Probably less. But these are the ones that get you. These are the ones you're not ready for. Because these are the times you can almost see the lines of sunlight against the curtains. You can almost feel your little dog's stare watching every move of my fork from the plate towards my mouth, hoping for something to fall.

Just wipe it away? Just clean the counter? When I can almost smell the shampoo in your hair and the lotion on your skin? Why would I ever want to leave a memory like this? Especially when all I have left of it is the faded shadow of your coffee cup circles on my counter?

It's there and gone in a moment. The scent of it hangs in your mind, but it's a quickly fading breeze that will be gone before you know it, leaving you with nothing but a half-eaten plate in a room full of strangers.
..I should really just learn to like eating these things.

[Listening to:  Company of Thieves - "Nothing's in the Flowers" ]

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