Category Archives: Life

Below The Shimmer

Fall leaves captured by a lonesome wind danced  above the ripples of the clear mountain lake.
He had been poised by the edge for some time now.
When it was warmer and he was younger, he could stand here spellbound for hours.
It had been enough to be near the lake’s beauty.
He was always attracted to the sun rays bouncing off the surface.
He was always attracted to the shimmer.
Every so often, he had summoned his courage to wade out and dip below the surface.
The experience always left him wanting. The shimmer never greeted him among the depths.

The edge of an inbound wind bit into his cheeks snapping him out of days gone by, reminding him of past disappointments.                                It would be easy to turn his back and return to his car with the promise of his warm home that lay just around the bend.
Sunset was just hours away.                                                                                   The window to yield to temptation, to take a risk  once again was closing as quickly as the falling temperature.
“I am not old yet he thought.”
He let his cloths drop at the edge of the lake and stepped forward.

An exercise in writing inspired by the Daily Post.

Punishment (Growing up Catholic)

I was raised Catholic in a Polish Neighborhood in Chicago. I also went to a parochial school of the Catholic variety. What occurred at the school was most of the major trauma that would shape the rest of my life. It was there that I developed a very personal definition of punishment.

I fell in love with reading from the minute I was exposed to the perils of Dick and Jane. That series soon lost its luster due to the thin plot lines and it was not long before I graduated to reading more sophisticated material. It was then I was introduced to the Great Books Club, a national program designed to foster reading excellence. The assigned reading material for the club was purposely beyond the grade level of its participants.

I achieved club membership in my first year of eligibility as a second grader and also the next year as a third grader. I was looking forward to making it my fourth year.

Sister Leonard Ann* had been teaching fourth grade at my school since forever. She had actually taught my father and his brothers. I am not sure I ever heard a good story about her.

     She was hateful from year one and by that I actually mean the first year after Christ died. She was that old. I think Jesus sensed she was on her way and feeling the futility of the future turned himself in.

I entered the fourth grade looking forward to the fifth grade. I just had to survive Sister Leonard Ann. It soon became apparent that for that to happen I had to have luck on my side. It also became apparent that I was not lucky.

I had heard about the sister’s teaching technique from my father and uncles. That did not prepare me for the actual experience. Nothing can really prepare you for the book throwing, knuckle smacking and ear pulling she employed outside of daily exposure to a 3 Stooges marathon in 3D. The one thing I had not heard about her was her degree in punishment of the psychological variety.

I soon became convinced she must have been used to interrogate prisoners during the wars. Yes, wars plural. I meant all wars.

It was after the first month of school that the Great Books Club members for the year would be announced. I expected this year to be no different. “.. Walter Praczek, Susan Shirzinski and Alan Vostek. Well congratulations children.”

My face matched the writing paper on my brand new big chief notebook, pale and blank. I had no idea why my name was not called and I was losing a battle to prevent tears from flowing. Glancing around the room the Sister’s shark like gaze fell upon me.

“So tell me Mr. Szybinski* . Why did you not make the club this year?”

“I, uh, I don’t know.”  Then the damn broke and I could see nothing through the refraction of the tears. A few moments but what seemed like hours later the Sister announced that I had indeed made the Club. I first felt relief but that quickly morphed into anger.

Why had the bitch humiliated me? Well, I would have thought, “bitch”, if I used the word.

The vocabulary of a nine-year-old Catholic schoolboy in 1970 Chicago generally did not consist of the word bitch.

The only word I had at my disposal was wench. A strange word for a nine year old boy but I read a lot. Maybe it was Nathaniel Hawthorne. The author did not matter; the point was she was a wench.

The nun I now refer to as The Bitch Who Shall Not Be Named had tried to take away the main element in my life that brought me joy. It was her cruel idea of punishing me for what I can only image to be the crime of existence.

The experience now is pretty much just a story to tell, although from time to time I find when something good happens I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess this experience is not done with me or I it. I am currently writing a story of fiction inspired by my time with the bitch who shall not be named.

*The names have been changed to protect the innocent (me).

This post was in response to the Daily Prompt. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/punishment/, and my need to vent.

The Modern Procrastinator

Bells, whistles and default system sounds emanate from various devices around my person.

They remind me of personal tasks that I must accomplish or my world will reach chaotic mass and implode, or not.

In my situation, not is the norm. I am the most technically savvy and organized procrastinator on the planet.

There is not a device that I own that is not set up to remind me of something that must be accomplished with the future of my world at stake. As a single man, procrastination about cleaning the bathroom ranks just as risky as SPECTRE’s latest plot.

My phone contains location based reminders of items that must be accomplished around my home. Upon entrance to my garage, it shouts out with attention grabbing noises and reminds me of the items that I promised my self I will get done at home. Time based reminders are so passé.

I’ve got location reminders setup for when I reach home and when I leave home. Yes, I have them coming and going. I have reminders set for particular things I absolutely have to buy at a particular store. The problem is that I’m not much of a shopper. I rarely frequent a store unless I have a pressing need. New underwear falls into that rare category. Procrastinator and underwear do not appear in relative proximity in my lexicon.

One of the few shops I frequent with any regularity is my local coffee shop. I really do not need a reminder to buy coffee while I am there. It’s on the same level of the grocery store , I am hungry therefore I shop. Just now I was interrupted by my microwave reminding me I just warmed up a cup of coffee. I ran to it like it was a long lost love. Actually it kind of was.

When all is said and done, it usually has been my devices having a lot of say and I getting nothing done, except of course if coffee or underwear is involved. After work and a round trip two hour commute, most leftover energy is being sapped by the sinus headache I have 70% of the time. I have a very small window with which to accomplish outside chores. If my world is not going to implode as a direct result of not doing the task it probably will not get done within the first 5 appearances of said reminder.

Doing laundry usually involves underwear so that task gets taken care of upon first appearance of it’s scheduled reminder. Currently I look at my device reminders as a record of shame reminding me of all the things I have not accomplished. I am currently scheduling surgery on said sinuses hoping to shrink the size of my archive of failure. This event currently falls within the same priority as clean underwear so I know the status of that task will soon be done.

Work for me is a different story, I am a work-a-holic and procrastinator is not part of the job description. I do not need a reminder that dings and pops up text mentioning something like “work your self to death.”

I seem to have an internal scheduling device that I am not very savvy about. I can’t seem to turn that one off.

Fences

Stimulated by todays DailyPrompt at WordPress.   No humor here. Laughter does not exist in a vacuum…

images – white picket, steel barbed, concrete.

What’s on the other side?”

“Don’t know.”

“Kind of ugly isn’t it”

“Yeah. Wasn’t always this way.”

“Really. What was it like.”

“Wooden, white, actually kinda pretty as fences go.”

“Really.”

“Yea, the kind that reminds you of Tom Sawyer.”

“Sounds nice. What happened?”

“What always happens.”

“Whats that?”

“More things needed to be kept out.”

“Did it work?”

“Don’t know. Can’t tell the difference between either side now”.

Life is Saga

We live therefore we know saga. We all have a narrative. Our lives tell a story. If we really pay attention to our lives we find that they are populated with interesting and even great characters. Myself included. Yes, I consider dust bunnies characters. I write fiction. I could also be considered a great character in someone else’s narrative. I’m convinced i’ve been called a character many times when coworkers and friends talk about their day to their loved ones.

“You’ll never believe what this character said today…”

The word saga has gotten a bad rap. Somewhere along the line modern culture has linked saga with drama. The pop use of drama itself is abused.
“You don’t want to get involved with them. They bring to much drama.”
“OMG , they’re into daytime television?”

A perusal of some olde fashioned writing tools, dictionaries, will reveal that drama is not even in the lexicon of the definition. The following description appears number one among most definitions. “A long story of heroic achievement, especially a medieval prose narrative in Old Norse or Old Icelandic: a figure straight out of a Viking saga.”

I am not naive in the belief that figures straight out of Viking Sagas were not without some drama. On more than one occasion during the saga of Erik The Red, a character must had the following conversation.

“Where ever Erik goes there is always some kind of drama, what with the pillaging and the looting and all.”

“You know it. Where his he now?”

“The town had him exiled again and he didn’t know what to do with himself. I told him to find an island to explore. That should keep him busy for a while.”

In between the looting and pillaging, what we have come to spin as “conquering,” lands were discovered, legends were born and tales told.

Your life is a saga,hopefully devoid of pillaging and looting, but a saga none-the-less. You are the protagonist in your story. Make sure your character is a nice one.  A heroic protagonist would be epic, but a nice person in the least. The world is populated with enough antagonists. By all accounts Erik The Red was not a nice guy.

You don’t get exiled from two towns in Iceland by being a nice guy.

So go live your saga but don’t be like Erik The Red. He brought a lot of drama.

This post happened as a result of  the daily prompt meeting my mind. Fortunately there were survivors.

Image – Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000 Jens Erik Carl Rasmussen (1841–1893) (public domain).
Saga

 

Sometimes, It’s Just Too Much

St. Peter was back at his podium before the gates.

 

 

 

He was just beginning to get back in to the swing of things when the days first shuttle announced its arrival.

Peter felt something he had not experienced in quite a long time, sadness.

The shuttle arrived bourn on the strains of a soliloquy by Professor Snape and supported by the melody of David Bowies “Heroes” leading into the Eagles “Best of My Love.”

Peters view of the shuttle became cloudy and he wiped a tear from his cheek.

“Sometimes , this job is just too much and vacations are way too few.”

 

 

 

 

Lovable Winners (Go Cubs Go)

Sports teams are mostly remembered in the won-loss column. Whether it is fair or not is inconsequential. That is just how it is. Athletes are judged by similar guidelines. How good was the fielder? What was their batting average? How many yards from scrimmage did the running back accumulate? How many league rushing titles did they have? Unfortunately, the same kind of judgments made every day in the real world do not escape those of the sports arena.

Once in a while there is transcendence. Players of all qualities can win humanitarian awards. Sometimes when worlds collide, teams do the right thing.

The passing of Ernie Banks highlighted what he meant to the city and the neighborhoods of Chicago. The memories shared by friends and family highlighted his sunny disposition and revealed that yes he really was that happy.

His passing also highlighted the fact that he was human. In his twilight years he became estranged from his wife. When he passed, another women lay claim to his assets stating that Ernie gave them to her in a new will. The legal fight that ensued may or may not have threatened the last wishes of Mr. Cub.
In the skirmish, the funeral home that performed the burial services waited to get paid and in turn filed a claim against his estate. Many internet comments urged the Chicago Cubs to do the right thing. Perhaps I am foolhardy to believe otherwise but I do not believe some comments on the internet persuaded the Cubs to settle the matter. I think when the need presented itself they did not hesitate to settle the bill for the man who had given so much to the Cubs and the city of Chicago.

We all know the last time the Cubs won the world series was 1908 and most of us can calculate that it has been 106+ years since those games. We don’t need the math wizards behind the mikes to remind us of that every time there is a break in the action and the talk turns to the “lovable losers”. I for one do not put the Chicago Cubs in that category. Their recent play for Ernie in the game of life puts them in the all too lonely Lovable Winners category.

Go Cubs Go!