Phoenix Rising

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Okay, so I haven’t yet picked up the huge horror/suspense novel that’s sitting on my bed stand.  Probably because it’s not 700 pages but is actually 1,100!  And it’s not going to be a relaxing read before going to sleep when it’s a two-pound hardcover.  Well…that’s my excuse anyway.

So…instead I grabbed another new arrival, a steam-punk novel (a genre that I’d never tried before) that looked fairly interesting from the cover.  I know…judging by the cover and all…  But sometimes it works.  Maybe not so much this time, but usually…

But let’s start with the standard description to let you know what Phoenix Rising is about:

In a future world where fossil fuels have run out and democracy has collapsed, an outlawed pirate crew fight for survival on their ship, the Phoenix, kept afloat by whatever they can salvage or scavenge on the debris-filled seas. Toby has never known anything other than life onboard the Phoenix and he’s desperate for adventure. But when trouble comes hunting the Phoenix down, Toby realizes that what you wish for isn’t always what you want.

So there I went with the futuristic, dystopian pirate story and found myself finishing it in just a couple of days.  I guess I didn’t expect it to be a YA kind of book, but that’s really what it is.  Toby turns out to be a naive kid, the pirate crew is completely forgettable (toward the end of the book Toby mentions that there are about 40 crew members but, based on the story I hadn’t thought there were more than a dozen), and there’s not really a story that sucks you in.

i guess I just expected more.  It’s definitely a set up for a series (so much so that the book just kind of ended.  When I reached the end, I turned the page and was surprised to find the Acknowledgments rather than another chapter.  So I can’t say that I’d recommend it to anyone.  It’s okay enough that I finished it, but I wouldn’t search for the next one in the series.  And I think it’s motivated me to read something I’ve already read before and know will be great (again).  Just to get some strong writing back into my system.  I need the inspiration and motivation.  Especially since I just came up with another idea for a novel I need to write.  This means that I’ve fallen behind by five now and have a lot of writing to do to catch up with the ideas…

And not one of those ideas are steam-punk or YA.  Hmmm…

Let it Fly…

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I don’t remember the last time that it wasn’t spring here in Fayette County.  We didn’t have a winter at all (seriously, I didn’t pick up a snow shovel once this winter and I don’t even know where that thing might be hidden in the garage right now…).  So we basically went right from fall to spring and I’ve even been weeding out dandelions since January.

One drawback to this is that we’ve had a lot of the spring-type storms all year long.  And that has included strong winds that have really done a number on the area.  The light on the lamppost out front blew completely off (glass, metal housing and all) and, since I’ve never been able to figure out what light switch – or breaker switch – in the house controls that lamppost, I haven’t been willing to touch it and deal with the wiring involved.

Then, out behind the house, the slats of the fence that divides my place from the neighbor’s keep blowing out, no matter how many times I force them back in place.  And, because each time the wind has blown them in the direction of my yard, the neighbor never notices and never takes the initiative to fix it himself.  Oh well…  I can pretend like it’s complicated and that I’m being handy in fixing it.  Over and over again…

But now, after this last windstorm, my neighbor across the street has a new sign that has entered his yard, advertising Yuengling beer, $17.99 a case.  This sign blew over from the liquor store located a block up and a half mile down the road.  And that’s some incredibly impressive traveling if you ask me.  For some reason, this neighbor either hasn’t noticed the sign, or has managed to just ignore it for now.  And I guess I could have walked over and thrown it out for him but I find it kind of humorous whenever I go out and see it, having completely forgotten about it from the day before.

It’s actually working out to be some good advertising.  Most days I never drive by the liquor store because I turn the other way.  But now here I am, thinking that I need to go buy a case each day when I see that sign.  It’s just starting to sound good.  But now that I think about it, I wonder how “accidental” it is that it arrived there…  Because, when you think about it…was that wind really that strong?  And what are the odds it would end up right there where I would see it every day?

I think when I go in to that store to buy a case of Yuengling ($17.99 plus tax), I’ll ask them if I can get paid to put a sign up in my yard.  Maybe for something a little more expensive.  And right where my neighbor can see it each and every day…

Multiple Listings

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I think I just read the book equivalent of a chick flick…

Well, sort of.  But it was a quick read and wasn’t that bad at all (am I sounding a little defensive here?).  But anyway…here’s the standard, quick description for you:

From Tracy McMillan, an author who counts both Oprah Winfrey and Tina Fey as fans, Multiple Listings is a comedic family drama focusing on a single mother whose ex-con father is released from prison after seventeen years and unexpectedly moves in with her, her son, and her much younger boyfriend.

I could give you more, but that gives you enough the overall idea.  It’s more cute than complicated.  As it was written by someone who wrote for AMC’s Mad Men (which I’ve honestly never watched) and for Showtime’s United States of Tara (umm…ditto) the history of her writing it had me intrigued.  So, when a free copy of the book arrived (thank you Goodreads), balanced in its cardboard packaging on top of the mailbox just as it began to rain (thank you fill-in mail carrier), I decided to check it out (ya know…once it had completely dried out of course).

Multiple Listings is written in first person, bouncing between two different perspectives – the woman who is the ‘main’ character and her father.  So it takes both the male and female perspectives, which helps make it not so much of a ‘chick’ read.  But…written from a woman’s perspective, and…basically saying that men are pretty messed up and worthless…?  Yeah, that kind of pushes it in a chick lit kinda way.  Not that it isn’t well written though.

The book seems to make boyfriends out as worthless wastes of time, effort and money.  At least up until the moment that they aren’t, which isn’t for long, and of course any boyfriend who’s a little better than worthless isn’t the same boyfriend that was complained about earlier.

And fathers…?  Those seem to be guys that don’t know enough to keep from screwing their kids up, ensuring that their daughters are going to pick boyfriends who are worthless wastes.  Then of course there are the sons who are simply not yet old enough to be too messed up (and have that youth thing as a built in excuse).  And, if these sons don’t have a father figure to talk to and bond with well…they’re pretty much just wastes of time, effort, etc., etc.  Starting to see a trend here?

Maybe I was just being a little defensive of my gender and was taking things too personal when I read it.  Maybe I’m a little jealous of the author since my writing muse has been a bit quiet and distant lately.  Or maybe I’m making the mistake of finishing this blog entry on trash night and, like it does every trash night, it’s raining…  Sheesh.  A nice, rainy night is just fine for a night in, but not for lugging a few trips of smelly plastic bags down to the curb.  And grumpy doesn’t make for delightful reviews.  I’ll have to remember that when I eventually start reading reviews of my books (note to muse: “Get back here.  You’ve got work to do!”)

But…grumpiness aside, I give a positive review to Multiple Listings (somewhere between a 3.5-4.0 out of 5).  I probably won’t ever read it again, but it had characters that were well fleshed-out, and a fairly focused story (though it did kind of just peter out at the end like it ran out of steam).  And it kept me entertained for a few nights before I fell asleep and that’s pretty much a success.

So…I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to my guy friends, but…if you’re looking for a quick read that’s not too deep, it can fit the bill.

Now I’ve got a 700-page hardcover suspense/horror novel sitting on my nightstand, ready to go.  And that should ensure a few more interesting dreams each night when I set it down.  So here we go…..

 

A Stinky Book Review

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I’ve been blog slacking big time lately.  There really should be a word for that.  It’s probably because a few months ago I discovered a company that was looking for bloggers who are writing book reviews to use for advertising.  So of course I thought ‘I could write a bunch of those and earn myself some advertising dollars!’.  Then, when a week went by and I hadn’t started doing it, I felt guilty and put it off for another week.  Then, I read something that wasn’t that bad, but wasn’t that great, and it didn’t seem worth writing about.  Then, I just put it off for a while.  And so, much later, here we are…

In other words, I really need to get to it.  I’ve got hundreds of books sent by authors who have been hoping to receive a review in exchange for taking their time to package them up and take them to the post office (have I told you that my postal carrier absolutely loves it that she has to get out of her vehicle at least three times a week to drop off yet another book-sized package that just won’t fit in the mailbox?)

I actually received one delivery the other day that was a little different.  Instead of simply sending me one book, this self-published author mailed me a box containing his entire trilogy.  Sure, that was a nice gesture, but…

I opened the box with Graham next to me, waiting for his opportunity to take possession of the perfect cat-sized box.  And, as I pulled the stack of books out of the box, I had a three-word review instantly ready to go – These books stink!

And I was meaning that in the completely literal sense.  Graham actually hopped right into the box and, before all four paws had even hit the cardboard bottom, he’d hopped right back out and dashed off to the garage (where I presume he crashed in his litter for a few minutes to try to keep down his lunch).

Whoever wrote those books was a HUGE smoker, that’s for sure.  And apparently, each and every puff he ever took, he blew out directly into that box.  For years on end.  Phew!

Okay, to be honest, those books wouldn’t have been first on my priority list, but I don’t think I’ll ever read them.  I’m scared to pick them up again, and I can only wonder what each page smells like.  And how could I ever write a fair review when all I could think was ‘This chapter really stinks!’.

I’ve been hoping to receive a copy of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or Lisa Lutz’ The Passenger (books I’ve been wanting to read anyway), but here I have this mini stack of books I don’t even know what to do with.  Throwing them away just seems mean, but it’s either that or leave them on the floor in the corner untouched and unloved where even the cat gives them a wide birth.  Tomorrow’s trash night though so I probably just need to do it – find a pair of tongs to pick those books up and carry them out to curb.  Who knows, maybe they could be well-written pieces of American fiction that just haven’t been discovered yet, but sorry, my eyes are already watering just thinking about the smell of them.  And after all, I’ve got future advertisers to worry about.  If I ever get around to it that is…

Just Not Ready…

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I’m not ready for Christmas.  There, I said it.

I’m not ready for Christmas because…well, do I need to have a reason?  I’m sure that most of you feel that way too, even if you refuse to admit it.  It comes around every 10 months like clockwork (at least it feels that way).  Is there a support group that I don’t know about out there…?

But the thing is, I’m not ready for winter either.  I’ve pretty much reached the point where I’m ready for fall, but that’s about it.  And that doesn’t help.  Sure, things were supposed to happen this summer that didn’t, and June through August flew by far too uneventfully, but I’ve made my peace with that.  But I don’t remember giving fall permission to pull up to the curb, drop off a few overflowing bags of colorful leaves and drive away without even shutting off the engine for a few minutes to come up to the porch to share a beer or two with me.

And, next thing you know, there’s snow on the ground, Christmas carols are playing absolutely everywhere you go, and commercials are showing bright, shiny luxury cars with holiday bows trying to convince you that spending $50,000+ is more than acceptable for your friends and family.  And…where do you even get a giant red bow?  Do the dealerships have them in the back to tape on the roof for a nifty surcharge?

I got Chinese food for dinner last week from a local place that, while their food is good, has the cheapest fortune cookies.  Maybe they have the right lucky numbers for the lottery, I don’t know.  But I know that their fortunes need help.  This one told me – It’s fun being a kid.  Seriously…?

Sure, as Christmas stalks closer and closer, and we feel its peppermint tinged breath on the back of our necks, who of us wouldn’t gladly go back in time and live through it as a kid again?  Heck, going back even ten years’ worth of Christmases sounds pretty attractive, doesn’t it?

You know…  I haven’t actually put my Christmas list together yet.  Think that’s a fair one to put on there?

Oh who am I kidding…?  I’ll be lucky to have a list put together by Christmas 2017.  Ahh…maybe that’s the year I catch up.  Here we go…  2017 has to be my year. 😀

Once a Northern Boy…

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Here in good ‘ol Fayette County the seasons are getting a bit confused.  We finally had our first snow of the season (if you count a dusting that was gone just about as quickly as it arrived) and there’s frost on the ground to start each day.  But then the leaves are still in the process of changing colors throughout the area.  On top of that, if you take into account the dandelions still trying to grow throughout the yard for some sick and twisted reason, you have three of the seasons represented just by stepping outside the door first thing in the morning.   It’s a crazy place to be these days.

I’m not ready for fall to be over.  And that’s not just because I should have mowed the lawn one more time before the temperatures started to drop.  And not just because I have no desire to shovel snow yet.  I’ve always been a northern boy and cold and snow are something to be expected and enjoyed in their own way each year.  I’d never be able to move too far south.  I’d miss having all four of the seasons to enjoy and experience as they all have their finer points.  But winter can wait just a bit…

There’s something too inspiring about fall to let it go too soon.  There’s a change you can see in the trees, a smell in the air, the feel of the cooler temperatures, the tastes you don’t get through the rest of the year, etc.  It feels like the chance to re-start.  And it’s invigorating.

That being said, I’m thinking about winter as I’m writing today.  All because of an email I received earlier this week. To let me know about some opportunities.  There are some upcoming writers conferences that will be going on and I’m actually thinking about traveling to attend one.  And how about this for extremes…?  This winter, there’s a writer’s cruise in Florida and a convention in Minnesota in February.  And the one that jumps out to me…?  Yep, Minnesota.  I never claimed to be normal…

Sure, there are more agents that will be attending that one so it will be better for mingling and making connections.  But there’s more to it than that.  Sure, packing more layers and trying to fit it all into limited luggage can be a pain, but Minneapolis/St. Paul is an artistic area.  There’s something inspiring about it.

Okay, so I used to actually live there and Graham is a Minnesota original (born and raised there before coming to Fayette County) so there are plenty of additional reasons to consider that convention location over ones in warmer climates.  And heck, I can’t even swim so why would I want to meet with agents on a boat off of Miami when even the lakes in Minnesota would be frozen over in February?  That area just fits me better.

So I’m going over the application and starting to study up on the agents who will be there.  Maybe one of them is looking for just the right new writer to mold into the next best seller.  And then, when I take off on my book signing tours, I can see some other parts of the country.  And maybe occasionally escape a cold, northern winter…

Avoiding Reality Probably Works…

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Life is short.

It’s not like I don’t realize that on a regular basis, but sometimes you just need to be reminded of it to get the kick in the backside you need to move on from certain things (like elections) and focus on others.  Like absolutely anything else…

Sure, I voted (though my voting location didn’t give out ‘I Voted’ stickers, what’s with that?).  And, of course pretty much everyone I voted for lost.  I went in to the school where I vote having done all of my research and knowing who I was going to vote for (or against) and only changed my mind about one of them.  And that was just because the candidate was standing at the door and forced me to shake his hand as he told me to vote for him.  Pandering like that just pushes me the other way.  I’m stubborn like that…  Peer pressure, pshaw.

But, with all of the stress and negativity around the election (and we didn’t have recreational marijuana on the ballot in this state.  Every state should have had it on there this time, shouldn’t they?  It would have been absolutely perfect timing) I decided to mentally check out of all of it for a while.  Like, maybe I won’t even watch the news for the next 4 years or so…

And, in that mentality, the other day I was watching complete garbage on tv (don’t judge, I’m completely okay with it so you can’t make me feel guilty).  Would you believe that there was a Russian Bigfoot show on?  God Bless cable, right?  This was a “scientific” take on Bigfoot, so they sucked you into watching the entire hour by promising DNA results of evidence – both physical evidence of hair, and samples from a Russian family that was supposedly decended from a woman who was a Neanderthal.  And how could that not be true when they had anecdotal evidence like a story of her son picking up a table at a wedding reception with nothing but his teeth and dancing around with it in his mouth?  So…everyone across four generations who was agreeable to being filmed had their saliva taken to try to prove that they were mostly Neanderthal, as if it was a happy claim to fame that linked them with the possibility of Bigfoot.  Ahh…you think I wasted my time?  Someone (multiple someones) flew to Russia to film this stuff…

Of course no one turned out to be Neanderthal, and the physical “Bigfoot” specimens turned out to be fur from 1) a horse 2) a horse 3) a brown bear.  Sure, one of the scientists insisted that the results were bogus and must have been tainted.  So he’ll probably appear in a later episode explaining how the “scientific community” is hiding the truth.  Russian Bigfoot Exposed or  something like that.  Check your local stations…

Okay, so it was a complete waste of time, but it was good to escape from the seriousness of things for a little while.  I’d been working on writing my next novel, but I’m at a point in the story that’s a bit dark (or at least focuses on something that’s painful from the past of a character) and I found it hard to concentrate on that kind of mentality when there was a cat trying to sleep on my lap and who kept accidently snoring himself awake and couldn’t figure out what was conspiring against his nap.  So that was a no go.

And, until he gave up on the quest for sleep, I couldn’t even get out the guitar, pick around and try to figure out a song to use to audition for America’s Got Talent.  

Sure, crazy idea, but have I mentioned that life is short?  And I’ve got four years of ignoring reality to look forward to.  So it’s time for imagination to run rampant, dreams to turn into reality, and probably some more bad tv to look forward to watching in the down time.

Who’s with me?

What Just Happened?

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I thought I was in the majority…

Not according to race, or religion or gender or anything unimportant like that. In the one way that matters.  Common sense.

I grew up in a country that used to make sense.  People grew up from children into adults who – while never perfect – at least never went so far against their own common sense as to be dangerous to themselves (and others). Not until November 8, 2016.

The United States used to be a leader.  Yes, that’s the correct wording – it used to be.  No matter your level of patriotism and pride, you can’t deny that the U.S. has fallen behind numerous other countries in education, healthcare, equality, infant mortality rates, etc.  The list where we’re not first (or even top 10 or top 20 anymore) has become staggering.

Now we’re like the big brother who was cool in high school but then, when his “music career” never took off, got hooked on meth, made a lot of incredibly poor decisions, embarrassed his family and now is but a shadow of his former self.  The other countries have grown up, found success and made a name for themselves, while we just took a massive hit of our latest drug of choice, flopped down on the couch, turned the tv to something pointless that may or may not be a comedy – something that we won’t even watch – and settled in for a four year nap.  And the world will grow and develop around us while we’re snoring and drooling into our sleeve, occasionally moving enough to shove a handful of junk food into our craw and think back to the days when we were really something.  When we were cool.

It’s humiliating.

We’re a shell of our former self and we’re not going to get better until we admit we have a problem.  And on November 8th, when everyone came over for the party and we were so wasted that we wandered into the living room telling sexist jokes and soiling the backside of our last clean pair of ripped up jeans as everyone awkwardly watched and felt completely mortified and humiliated for us….?  Yeah, that should be our wake up moment.  Our “I’ve completely shamed myself and need to make changes before it’s too late” moment.  We’ve hit rock bottom.

Now here I am living in Fayette County – a county that voted over 64% for ignorance and hate.  And I’ve never felt so alone.  But I was kind of prepared for that.  After all, I voted behind a guy who had a Trump sticker covering one half of his truck’s rear window and a confederate flag sticker covering the other half (both not-so-subtle racism and complete driving ignorance wrapped up together in one 99-cent purchase).

I know someone who voted for ‘that guy’ because he was scared the democrats were coming to take away all of his guns (regardless of any rational attempt to explain the fallacy of that logic).  And his wife used her individual vote to choose the same guy because her husband was scared that the democrats were coming to take away all of his guns.  And there’s the woman who voted for him because “he’ll get rid of partial birth abortion” even though that was something banned in a previous decade and doesn’t actually exist.  Or the person who made their decision based on Benghazi without knowing either A) what happened in Benghazi or B) what continent Benghazi is located on.  Ahh, democracy in action…

And please don’t get me started on the “Christians” who simply voted straight down the Republican ticket because that’s the party of “Christian” morals and values…  When did “Christians” lose the ability to think (and read, and research and reason…?)  And, most importantly, when did they lose the ability to feel love and compassion for anyone the slightest bit different than themselves…?

So sure…I knew I wasn’t living in an intellectual Mecca around here (pun intended – if you get it, you probably voted on my side).  But I thought I could temporarily escape from my little county of crazy whenever I wanted to, simply by going out into the rest of the United States occasionally once the election was over.  Someplace that wasn’t fueled by rage and fear and complete and total ignorant self-interest.  But apparently not.  It obviously stretches far beyond the borders of what I thought it would.

So who wants to get in the car with me, or hop on that train, or board a plane with me and take off to someplace better?  At least for the next four years or so.  By then, maybe the majority of people will have learned their lesson, grown up and shown that they can once again be entrusted with making intelligent adult decisions.

It’s either that or I’ll have to see if it’s too late to volunteer for a mission to Mars. At least we haven’t had the opportunity to mess that place up. Yet…

Make Someday Today (Or How ‘Bout Them Cubs?)

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It happened.  Last night (or actually very early this morning) it happened.  And it still hasn’t remotely sunk in yet.  But maybe, just maybe, if I type it out, it will seem completely real…

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Okay, maybe just once more…

My beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Ahh…it’s starting to seem real already.

No one one ever said being a Cubs fan was going to be easy.  Actually, those of us who have passionately cheered for them over the years have found it incredibly easy to tell everyone around us just how very hard it is.  We’ve shared our expectations of collapse, of ill-timed strikeouts, of booted ground balls and pitching changes that happened either too soon or not soon enough.   We’ve all shared stories of exactly where we were when that proverbial rug was torn out from under us in each and every one of the years past.  And we swear that none of it ever took us by surprise because we knew it would happen all along.

So when Jon Lester threw a wild pitch into the dirt that bounced directly off of David Ross’ face, and when Ross stood up, only to trip over his own feet and fall over as two runs came in, that wasn’t shock in our voices.  It was a collective of choice words that all translated into “Here we go again”.

And when Aroldis Chapman gave up that game tying home run that screamed low and fierce over the left field wall, all of us screamed out words that meant “Yep, I knew that was going to happen” (even if I need to apologize for being a slight bit more colorful with my word choice than that in the heat of the moment).  We’ve been there before.

But this year…?

Maybe there was some hope that remained.  Maybe there was some belief that it wasn’t actually over yet and that this year could still be different.  That maybe it would just be another story about how hard they made it in the end and how much they put us through one more time before coming through in the big moment.  Like we all knew they would this time.  Sure…  I’d like to believe in that.

Land you know what?  I kept watching.  The game went on with me absorbed, Schwarber to Almora Jr. to a run, then another then giving back one in the bottom half of the inning before…  It ended.  And the Cubs had won.  And I had no idea what to do.  How do you celebrate something you’ve been wanting for years but you never planned for?

So here I sit, basking in the glow of a moment that will stick with me forever, typing and eating left over Halloween candy, and feeling a little like something has changed in the world.  Maybe nothing all that much has actually changed, or maybe all of it is only in my mind, but it does feel like a whole new day.

It’s like there’s just a little more promise hovering in the air.  A little more hope dancing around making it easier to believe in those parts of life that have stayed just a little out of reach for too long.  And my lips are pulled up into the start of a smile through each moment of the day thinking of possibilities   It’s sappy, sure.  And it’s probably me being a bit of a hopeless romantic.  That too.  I’ve been called that before.  But not everything we experience is completely quantifiable.  What fun would that be?

Sometimes it’s just about enjoying what life might have out there for us and believing that someday isn’t as far away as it can feel on certain days.  That’s what I’ve learned as I try to wrap my head around it all today.  Sometimes the Cubs are more than the Cubs.

So how ’bout them Cubs?

The ‘Mart

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SACRAMENTO USA - SEPTEMBER 13: Walmart shopping cart on September 13 2013 in Sacramento California. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores

If I ever lose my mind, I know just where it will be. Rescuers will find me curled up in a fetal position in Walmart, laying between a palate of —– and a bin full of ——–. Okay, the exact product placement may end up be Inc slightly different, but there’s a pretty good chance overall that it will be somewhere in Walmart.

Whenever I’m forced to enter the black hole of disappointment and depression that is that place, I think that I’m completely mentally prepared. I really do. I think up all of the worst case scenarios I can come up with, only to find that it’s much much worse. Or maybe I just go in with the wrong attitude.  Is that a possibility?

As I rush down the main aisle to get through with my visit as quickly as possible, there’s an obese man with a 3-day beard that’s holding half a slice of pizza within its whiskers carrying an extra large selection of pink lingerie, and I avoid eye contact because if would feel wrong on every level.  Then there’s the older woman literally screaming at the top of her lungs (right at the moment when she walked behind me, causing me to physically jump into the air) into her phone at ‘gramma’, the guy with the massively stained baseball cap that stated to the world ‘Don’t ask me shit’, and the woman I assume is attempting to shoplift toilet bowl cleaner by stuffing it down her Scooby Doo t-shirt.  And that’s just in the first 50 yards of this visit.

See…It doesn’t take much to come up with plenty of examples and specific reasons why the place drives me straight-jacket level crazy. Especially when you look back and consider that I even worked for that place twice. Yep, you read that correctly. Twice.  Not in this local store, but they’re all the same, right?

The first time was when I was just a 16-year old kid in high school – just old enough to drive there myself. They offered me a better(?) job than the one I had held at Wendy’s for the past three days (don’t ever ask me about their chili if you don’t actually want to know the truth…) and I jumped at the chance. That summer either wasn’t very memorable, or I managed to completely blot out all of the memories.  But…the second time working there, when I was right out of school and needed something/anything to pay the oncoming bills, I took on the challenge of working at a brand new Walmart.  One that wasn’t even finished yet.  So, without any construction background at all, I was put to work with a few other guys pouring cement floors, building huge storage bins and putting up hundreds and hundreds of shelving units.

And, believe it or not, we all survived. Sure, one blew himself off a 30 foot ladder when attempting to use a nail gun for the first time, and a 60-year old man dropped a 27″ television on my head (no comment about how that “explains” things please) when I rushed over to help him as he was struggling to put it up onto a huge shelving unit.

But what I remember most fondly is when we all tried following the boss’ instructions for building the mounts for all of the shelves to hold into the wall.  And…when we were finished, those brackets that were supposed to look perfectly straight all looked like the letter “C”.  Even though I’m still certain to this day that we did them exactly as we were instructed to.

So…I don’t trust anything in Walmart. I still feel like everything is going to collapse if I touch it, though I also feel like anything I touch might contaminate me anyway so care needs to be taken.  And I’m not sure if I’d rather bump into one of the sticky shelves or into the couple who’s coming down the chip aisle with a hungry, crazed look in their eyes, wearing matching socks, Crocs, camouflage shorts and nearly identical t-shirt pit stains.

I don’t scare easily, but you might end up find me hiding out in the middle of the place where it not as busy (and there’s carpeting), curled up and rocking back and forth.  All if I can’t escape this place within 10 minutes or less.

Fortunately for me, everything you could ever need is within a few feet of the checkout lanes.  See…there’s a box of Crispie Creams and a dvd copy of Anchorman right over there.  Wait…now what did I ever come into this place for anyway…???