1.21.2016

Age of Ages

To a very young child, 44 seems impossibly....well....old. And it might be.
I'm finding, though, that as I age, what I used to consider old...well...isn't.

I have friends in their thirties who tell me I'm old. Or worse yet, think that they are so old.

I laugh. Because they're idiots. And they laugh too. Because they think I'm crazy for laughing.

They're not actually idiots; not in general, that is.  They're idiots for A) thinking someone is or isn't old and B) thinking that in the grand scheme of things, it actually matters.  I mean, sure, I may have ridden this ball of fun around the sun 44 times....45 if you count the fact that we start counting our age at zero instead of 1 (like somehow the 9 months in the womb doesn't really count as aging).

I don't think its your age that makes you old. In all honesty, I think it's your attitude. I know some 90 year olds that seem so young and I know some nine-year olds that seem impossibly old for their age.

But...I concede...I may be starting to act old sometimes. And maybe that's a mindset too. But I'm noticing things that I didn't notice before.

And I'm starting to say things I didn't really say before.

Such as "the kids these days..."

In my mind, kids these days basically means anyone from age five to age twenty-five. I've starting thinking of things in terms of a 'generational thing.'

What's funny is...I'm not really so sure that's because I'm "getting old" (regardless of what the kids these days think).

I think more that it comes from the fact that I'm paying attention now in ways I didn't before. And that comes from being able to slow the fuck down.

In my younger days....I was always moving (except when I was being lazy). I had pockets of brilliance where I stopped and observed the world and universe around me. Maybe more so than most because I'm pretty sure my mind is wired with a philosophical bend. It used to take me quite some time whilst being still to actually get it. Now the insights come quicker. My mind is used to getting quiet more quickly. I am slower to speak. Preferring instead to observe.

It's unnerving to some, I suppose, but to me it seems perfectly natural. The natural progression.

It feels good to be completely honest. I think, though, the best part is that most people don't really know (or care) how old I am. The age really isn't a factor.

There are some things that concern me, though, with the current youth. Mainly the overdeveloped sense of entitlement and the underdeveloped lack of respect.  I know that might make me sound old. And I'm ok with that. Because...those two things are (in my mind) the main reason that people just seem to have forgotten how to be kind to one another.  Well, that and unnecessary lane changes on the highway (but that's a story for another time).

Speaking of a story for another time...,since you managed to make it this far in my random mental meanderings, I'm gonna give you a little something for your perseverance.

Below is the first chapter (unedited) of "The Treachery of Rainbows." It's the book I started during the National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo).  I post it with no caveats or apologies. It's a rough draft. It's going to change, but I figured I'd give you something.

Enjoy!
-AT
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*Chapter One*


Shane sat on the parkbench. At least that’s what it was called. Far from being a park, the area was in one of the sanctioned atriums of the city. Shane felt solace when he came here. He was alone on most days. Very few of the other Adjusters knew about the atrium and citizens wouldn’t have access to this sector, even if they were aware of it. Shane was sure none did. Any location search pulled up zero check ins. He was in fact breaking the law by not checking in. However, his position of adjuster afforded him some leverage in regards to the legal system.


Shane was from the past. Not literally, but he longed for a simple time when the tech wasn’t such a part of the life. He can remember his parents talking about those times. The times when phones were bound by cords to a fixed location and cameras were a separate device. Such a notion would make the citizens of this time physically ill. It wasn’t their fault. For the most part most of them were born in to the system. The nano tech was administered in the womb. It had proven to be a safer way to keep the fetus healthy until a decision was reached by the regents if that child would be able to contribute to the corporate structure or not.


Again, Shane was a man out of time. The nano tech had not yet been introduced in the rural area his parents retired to. They were so far in years, that a birth was beyond a risky proposition for his mother, it was most assuredly a death sentence. She believed in something bigger though, she believed that the human race was better than the technology.  She made it to his first birthday without tech.  That’s when the annual bureau sweep discovered the unregistered child and Shane became part of the system.


A familiar buzz came from the left breast pocket of Shane’s crimson tunic. He waited until it was at a fever pitch before pulling the device out and holding it to his ear.


“Dammit Madio, what took you so long? Why didn’t you engage aural nanos?”  The voice on the other end of the call was noticeably annoyed.


“I didn’t want to.” Shane’s reply was calm and unnerved his conversant.


“Where are you?”


“On break.” Shane knew that Central wanted to know where he was, not what he was doing. A smile crossed his face, but ever so slightly. Even the Atrium had surveillance cameras and if they ever did manage to work out where he took his breaks, that subtle act of insubordination would most assuredly put him in the ranks of the citizens. And if that happened, he wouldn’t be of any use to anyone. A quick glance at his  TIF-N confirmed that the privacy net was still on. Even while engaged in communications with Central, they would be unable to ping him.


“Break’s over. We have a NOD.  Sector 17.”


The smile faded quickly. NOD’s were nothing to smile at. They were the most severe of the adjustments that Shane had to deal with. Each NOD, Naturally Occuring Distraction, could serve to take the citenzry away from their tech. And citizens without tech were dangerous.


“What is it, sir?” Shane was all business, as he was talking, he was making short work of the lunch he had packed. Placing it back in his satchel as he headed toward transport.


“A rainbow.”


Shane stopped. A chill crawled up his spine.


“Sir?”


“You heard me, Madio. A rainbow. At least 4 confirmed sightings. And Climate Control is at least 15 minutes away from an environmental solution.”


“Fifteen minutes is too long. We’ll lose a dozen more citizens by that time. I’ll be there in 2.”


“Godspeed Madio.”


“Thank you sir.


The comm went dead as the transport pod opened.


“Sector 17. Level Nine Clearance. Authorization Bose Altec Sony Sennheiser.”


“Authorization confirmed.Welcome Agent Madio. Standby for transport.”


Shane pulled the visor over his eyes just as the first sparkle of the particle beams danced on the grid inside the transport pod. Adjusters always wore their visors. Shane was the odd man out. He chose to look at the world through his own inferior human eyes every chance he could.  


A ball of light filled the pod. When the light was gone, so was Agent Shane Madio.



1.18.2016

Mindfully Fine

I haven't named this post yet. Of course if something witty comes to me in the course of this mental exercise in which I seek to clear the cobwebs from my brain bucket and actually get a title up there, then I will be a liar. 

Or at the very least viewed with a wary eye. I mean, how would you know if I wrote something as the title before or after I wrote the declaration that I had not yet titled this post? You wouldn't.

And it doesn't really matter does it?

No. Not so much.

You know what does matter?  Friends. And getting the heck out of my apartment.  I found out that both of those were true this week. The week was jam packed. It went something like this... Writer's Club meeting on Saturday....Mom's B-Day lunch on Sunday...time to breathe on Monday...Bowling on Tuesday...Writer's Workshop on Wednesday (which then turned in to Writers eating dinner at City BBQ)...Adult Bingo on Thursday...Bowling on Friday...D&D on Saturday...Brunch with my college roommate from back in the dizzay on Sunday.   Somewhere in there (Thursday after bingo, I think) was an hour-ish long phone call with a good friend in NY.

It felt vaguely like....I had something of a life back again. 

And it was frickin' glorious.

You see...I sometimes do this thing where I tell myself (and others), that I'm really OK being by myself a large part of the time (when I'm not at work). And I guess...sometimes I am. But then, as this week proved, sometimes I really need to just be out and doing stuff. Any stuff. I think that's more true in the winter when the daylight is at a premium.

So...yeah. I may be hanging out more with peeps. Sorry in advance. 

And...I got some insight this week...well...a healthy dose of insight, actually. Just to bring every one up to speed and clear up any confusion.

December sucked for me medically. Lots of tests and doctors visits (and at least one more upcoming) that I really wasn't expecting and therefore probably reacted poorly to.

Here's the Cliff's Notes version:
  1. I don't currently have liver cancer. 
  2. I probably have Fatty Liver Disease.
  3. I have Type 2 Diabetes.
I'm fine with all of the above. 

Please read that last sentence again. I'm fine with all of the above.

And for you married folks, that's the single person's use of the word 'fine,' not the married version of the work 'fine.' If you don't know what that means, you haven't been married long enough. 

You see...the first one I have no control over either way. Either I have cancer or I don't. I don't currently have it. So there's nothing for me to spend any more energy on.  

The second two came about in a seemingly calculated comedy of errors but ultimately are the result of me falling off the exercise and healthy diet wagon and waving a fond farewell as it ambled down the Oregon Trail. 

Yes, #2 won't really ever be reversed. And yes, #3 is the low side of what even gets counted as diabetes. 

I know that I can manage #2 and #3 with a lifestyle change. My diet is now focusing more on lower carbs. And I'm exercising, slowly but surely building that back up. 

In short...I'm fine.  

It was kind of a mindfuck at first. Honestly, though, it was kind of my own fault.  At one point last year I had the thought, "I'll probably never really get my shit truly together with the exercise and diet unless I'm forced to."

And guess what? Now I'm forced to. Every morning, the needle prick in my finger tip is a reminder of the power of thoughts.   Would this have happened if I didn't have that thought? Possibly, but damn it makes you think, doesn't it?

It makes sense, doesn't it? We are made up of the same elements as stars. And our thoughts are energy. That energy has to go somewhere. And the universe has to have a balance. So, when our thoughts go out in to the universe, something has to give. Something comes back.

Something always comes back. 

If you're keeping score, the title for the blog just came to me. NOW it is no longer untitled. 

For all of the kind words and well wishes as I struggled to get my shit together the last few weeks (years?), thank you. Whether I say it or not, each and every person I count as friend is like a pillar of strength.

I'm gonna knock this thing out of the park. By this time a year from know, you won't recognize me. 
I'll be that Sexy Writer in Apartment 2.

Mind your thoughts, and don't worry about me my friends--I'm fine.

-AT

1.16.2016

Terrible Customer Service--Thanks for Nothing Barnes and Noble

I don't expect that anyone from Barnes and Noble or Barnes and Noble.com will even actually read this or do anything about this, but I need to get this off my chest.

I just had quite possibly one of the worst customer service experiences in quite some time.

I was looking for a book. The D&D Player's Handbook  On the B&N website, the book is listed at $29.95. I selected it and chose "Reserve in Store." The price jumped to $49.95.

I called the store to see if there was a problem.

"No sir. The retail price is not the same as the web price" was the answer I was given.

Do you price match your own web site?

"No sir, it's not our company's policy to price match the web site."

I went to their Chat on the web site to confirm and was told basically the same thing.

I called the customer service number. And the agent that answered the phone was very apologetic at first.  She told me that the business model was such that the web site and retail stores were different entities and that they did not price match.

I said, "That's ridiculous. I know of no other retailers that won't price match their own web site."

I was told that I could speak to their supervisor.

I've worked in Customer Service long enough to know that  was the equivalent of "Go screw yourself, I'm not giving you a different answer."

So I pressed, "So...what you're telling me is that Barnes and Noble is willing to lose a customer over this rather than make my experience right, rather than correct this situation?"

Before I could even finish, she started talking over me and went in to ostrich mode. I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. That's the policy.

I work in support. I train my team to be customer-service focused. NOTHING that Barnes and Noble did in these THREE interactions indicated to me that they actually cared about me, as a customer.

And you know what? That's fine.

I don't need them either. Amazon takes care of my online orders. And Half Price Books will take care of my brick and mortar needs. I'll wait. It's worth it to have the sense that someone actually gives a shit about customer service.

And Barnes and Noble can go fuck themselves.

-AT

1.11.2016

Lard Ass

I had intended to write this post anyway. I almost wrote it last night before I went to bed, but it had been a long and kind of not so fun weekend at times, so bed won.

I spent some time yesterday afternoon prepping the Chromebook to be my travelling notebook for writing. The reasons for that choice vs. the MacBook really don't matter. If you're that interested in my rationale for that choice, let me know-we can chat about it.

And then I woke up this morning to news that David Bowie had lost his fight with cancer. Bowie is amazing. His music spans generations and cultures and somehow always remains relevant. He even had his own bank for fuckssakes. So...I got a little sidetracked this morning and this post still didn't get written.

At lunch today, I pulled "The Treachery of Rainbows" off of my jump drive and pulled it in to Google Docs. And I started reading it.

And dude. I'm digging the story. I mean, sure ...I wrote it...but I still enjoyed reading it. The words looked foreign to me. I hadn't touched it since November. And I honestly felt like I was reading someone else's words.

I don't know if I can properly convey how insanely cool that is to me. It got me excited to continue working on the piece again.

Again--a very cool feeling.

With all the other shit going on, getting excited about writing is something that honestly makes my heart sing. As cheesy as that sounds--it really does. I'm bouncing on the walls because I want to go somewhere and keep writing.

So...the post about how I'm fat. And I need to lose weight blah blah is really going to have to wait.

I need to get through the rest of my day so that I can go home after work and write.

It's what writers do.

-AT

1.06.2016

GFY 2015

Almost a full week in to the new year. I managed to avoid the bullshit of 'This year WILL be different..." because...no it won't.

Not if I can help it.

And apparently I can't.  GFY is short hand, if you're wondering.  G is for Go. Y is for Yourself.  And the F is an f-word, so to speak.

So to 2015 I say GFY.

Oh sure...there were some good moments in the year. It didn't all suck wind.  After all, in August I finally found my nut sac and pulled the trigger and went to my first writing group meeting. And they've accepted me in to the group (I even have an official Bio up on the site--check it out). It's almost like I know what the fuck I'm doing.

I signed up for and actually pounded out 24,000 words in the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It's probably a good first act in to the book I started. So, that was progress.

But dude. The year ended hard. Had a physical in September. Normal screens and blood work were done and all that happy horse shit. I needed to start taking a vitamin D supplement and my liver something something was high and should probably be re-tested.

Only I never got a phone call for that test. Well...that's not true. I got the phone call in December. With the admonishment that they'd been trying to reach me since September (they hadn't). So..more tests on the liver. Long story short--it's not cancer (and yes...the thought not only crossed, but parked it's nasty ass firmly in the forefront of my brain). So. Yay.  Bad new is...it's probably fatty liver disease. I'll know for sure on the 28th when I actually meet with the liver doc.

Oh...and I now have diabetes. Yeah. I know. Shocker. Fat guy with diabetes. I don't know what my A-obi-wan-whatever is yet, so please don't ask. I don't know which type it is.  I meet with my doctor tomorrow to go over all that happy horse shit and figure out just what kind of 180 my life will be doing.

I'm OK. Really. I know it could be worse. I know I got lucky, relatively speaking. I know that these things I have are treatable.

And that's cool. But that's not entirely what has me fucked in the head about it all. Aside from a really rather shitty exchange with my primary care physician, my mind does this thing where if you don't give me AS MUCH INFORMATION as possible on something, I'm going to fill in the blanks with my own thoughts and ideas. And I'm a writer...so I have some pretty jacked up thoughts and ideas.

So...yeah...that's all.

Am I going to make any resolutions? No. Have you met me?  I'm a great starter. Not so fantastic on the finish. I started 2 marriages...couldn't really see either one of those through. So no..not going to make any resolutions.

Am I going to get in shape? Yes. Am I going to eat better and healthier? Yes. Am I going to (god help me) drink less or even cut out alcohol altogether?

Yes to all of the above. But it's not a resolution. It's a matter of survival. I still have a lot of shit left to do in my life and I'll be damned if 2016 is my last year on this little stinking space ball.

Keeping it real. That's all.  Like I said--I'm fine. Just dusting off the cobwebs. I haven't really done anything in this or any of the 5 blogs I have since I started writing in NaNo back in November.

There are a few more blog posts queued up that aren't so....raw.

That being said. I need to close this one up and get on with getting on.

-AT


In The Bag

There are a few common threads throughout this blog if you read it long enough. One of these threads has to do with my obsession...er...ques...