Friday, May 31, 2013

What Does This Dream Mean??

Last night, I had a dream. I call it "The Pisser, Water Bottle, Doug Benson Dream"

I was going to New York with my friend Shaggy, who isn’t really a friend I guess. In fact, I haven’t seen him in 4 or 5 years, but we were in a couple of plays together. He’s gay…and yes, that matters to the story because he spent the whole time we were in New York hitting on me. But not in a classy, cool, one-liners sort of way. He hit on me by finding excuses to stand behind me. “Oh, did your ticket not print out? Let me stand behind you real close and look at the screen over your shoulder.” That sort of hitting on me. Hitting on my like a pirate might hit on me. 

So, we end up getting tickets to this great comedy show. Lots of stand up, improv, skits, etc. We need to catch a bus to get there. So, we’re hanging out in the lobby of some school. There were city buses and school buses and kids were everywhere. Shaggy had our tickets. He inches up behind me and says, “We’d better get going. The bus should be here in a few minutes.”

“Great,” I say, trying to get away from him, while my actual, dreaming self is wondering, Why don’t you tell this dude to stop touching you?  Then I remembered he paid for the tickets to everything. What a guy won’t put up with for money. I felt like a receptionist on Mad Men.

Shaggy runs out to catch the bus, I take a quick stop at the rest room. I spend an inordinate amount of time in the pisser. I’m not dropping the Cleveland Browns off at the Super Bowl, either. Just following the white brick road to see the Wiz. But it took forever. I just kept peeing, on and on and on like I was trying to put out a California wildfire. I'm looking at my watch, freaking out, knowing I'm going to miss my bus.

When you gotta go, you gotta go!

Finally, I get done and as I’m about the leave a little kid in a wheelchair is trying to get into the bathroom. He’s all alone and I try to help him out, but this bathroom is ancient and there’s no way to get him squared away. There's no rail, no stall, nothing. After spending, again, too much time trying to figure this Rubik's cube of a dilemma, the kid's father comes in and thanks me for trying to help. I get on my way. 

As I run out of the bathroom I run into my sister BoosterGold (I don’t know why she’s there…she lives in Durham) and she tells me I've missed the bus.

And yet, somehow I’m now sitting in the theatre at intermission. I have missed a lot of the show, but I’m looking forward to the next half. I go to the concession stand and order a bottle of water and some twizzlers. The girl behind the counter asks me to hand her the water, but I don’t know what she’s talking about. She comes around the counter and underneath me there is a stack of water bottles, all used and empty. 

She says, "they are clean but they have to serve water in those bottles instead of open cups. Theatre rules."

"That's fine," I say charmingly, leaning on the counter.

She takes one at random, goes back behind the counter, pours some water into it from a glass pitcher, hands me the bottle and the twizzlers and says, “That’ll be $28.”

“Jibba whuuuuu?”

This is not the image from my dream. We can't photograph dreams yet.
Jeez, what year do you think this is???

“Yes sir. $28.”

“Why is it $28?” I ask, naturally aghast.

She says, “this bottle of water is all-natural, sparkling.” She shows me the bottle, and sure enough there’s an all natural, sparkling label on it. “The all-natural sparkling is $9.95.”

I say, “this is just tap water. I don’t know how much this water would have cost in a new bottle, but it’s an opened bottle with tap water poured in it.”

She seems to not understand me.

Intermission is over. The show is about to start. I should let it go. I haven't even given her the money. But its the principal of the thing.

“I’m not paying $10 for a bottle of water.” (Notice I don’t seem to care about the $18 bag of twizzlers. I really like twizzlers.) We argue for a little while, and finally she caves and will give cancel the sale. I HAVEN'T GIVEN HER THE MONEY YET! The cash is still in my pocket. I’ve wasted all this time when I could have just walked away. 

Oh Twizzlers. Why can't I quit you?

She swipes her card, says it’s almost done, and asks if I want a receipt.

“Yes,” I say. <forehead slap>

She says she has to get the manager.

I actually wait for the receipt, for a refund that I’m not getting because I hadn’t paid anything. I sit and wait for the manager to come from the back. Meanwhile, the show is going on. I hear laughing and cheering and I’m angry at OTHER PEOPLE for them putting me through this. 

Finally, the manager comes from the back and says, “Hey, you have a message. Doug Benson wants you to talk about this on stage.”

He flips me some magazine. On the cover is Shaggy, smiling like he’s just won the lottery. I open the magazine and have NO idea what to say about it. While I’m looking through the magazine the manager says, “Doug wants you to call him.”

I wander away, trying to figure out what to say about this magazine. I don’t get Doug Benson’s phone number from the manager. So, naturally, I spend the next half hour asking people for Doug Benson’s number. No one has it. Then, the show is over and everyone wanders out of the theatre wiping tears of laughter from their eyes. I finally see Doug Benson (yes, I’m going to keep identifying him by his full name) and I run up to him.

“Doug Benson,” I say. “You wanted me to talk about this?”

He grins at me and smells of marijuana…the good stuff. He says, “nah man, I was just fuckin’ with ya.”

Then, he walks away.

"Hello? This is Doug Benson...
Nah, I'm just fuckin' with ya!"

And then TheWife comes out of the theatre. I tell her about the concession stand, but I pat my shirt pocket to say, “but I didn’t spend that money.”

That’s when I notice that my shirt is actually a bathrobe, tucked into jeans.

“You let me leave the house in a bathrobe??” I ask her, like it’s her fault.

She seems hurt. She says, “I thought you were dressing like a Jedi.”

I consider this and it makes sense. So, all is forgiven.



What the hell does this mean???? Help a brother out.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fun in the Sun: Ninja Challenge Part II

Part I of the article is >>> HERE <<<

The hour drive was great. I listened to some old Never Not Funny podcasts that I had. I laughed the whole way into (and past) Raleigh to the little town of Fuquay-Varina. What's to say about Fuquay-Varina?


Anyway, drove there and got out of the car and was greeting by a woman in a green cape. She smiled, I nodded and I would have said something charming but a guy dressed like a Teenage Turtle Ninja Turtle walked by and I couldn't stop staring. There was no way he was going to make it through the obstacles with that thing on.

For the next 15 minutes or so I was all eyes. There were some great costumes there, but mostly there were just beautiful people. Men who were carved out of granite, or marble or quartz; women so hot I'm surprised they weren't surrounded by actual flames. It was a fun time.

Look Ma, I'm a ninja!

Then, it was time for my race. I lined up with perhaps 50 - 75 people. There were a lot of teams out there. The NinChillas was my favorite. Their logo was a chinchilla dressed like a ninja. Most teams only went as far as wearing the same colored t-shirt, adding the name of their team to it, and putting a clever nickname on the back. One team used their real names interspersed with vegetables like "Johnny AsparaGriffon." I was a little jealous of the teams. They were definitely having the most fun. There were even some couples and a few pals just hanging with each other. But, I also caught some solo folks and we chatted while we waited for the countdown. And then, it was time to run!

This was a fun one. Easy to do, helped a
few people over the other side. My Good
Samaritan work for the week. 

Once running starts, there was no more fretting about being alone, how hard the course might be, what I would do when it was over, etc. It was a blast! Most of the course was your typical obstacle course fare: walls to climb over, over-unders, tire runs, and a shit ton of hills. These hills made Julie Andrews seem like a crazy person when she sang about her stupid hills. These hills were like, Super Hills. Drew Hill would have hated these hills. Benny Hill was buried in this hills.

I think you see where I'm going with this: These hill had eyes! That's what I'm trying to say. I may be statin' the obvious, but afterward I caught a dose of the hill street blues. That's how big these hills were.

By the way, BEFORE the correction, I had said Sandy Duncan instead of Julie Andrews...but don't people confuse the two all the time? I know I do!

There were a few obstacles that I hadn't done before. Naturally, if you're going to be on a ninja course, you have to throw some shuriken. The old throwing stars, as we here in the States call them. We got to throw them into a target about 20' away. Yes, I hit the target the first time. What did you expect?

We did a waterwalk. That was fun. Check it:

You just run over these floating planks. They were attached to each other with some string. But, mostly, they just floated there. You ran over them fast or they tipped and you were dunked. I watched people do it for about 45 seconds before it was my turn. It looked easy. What I didn't count on was that those people weighed about 73 pounds each. So, I get ready to do my run, I leap onto the first board and there's a slosh like some giant's butter churn and I am hauling ass trying not to get dunked into the water. I sprint and leap across this thing with as much grace as I can muster while saying over and over, "shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!"

It's such as spectacle that when I got to the end everyone behind me cheered. A guy in front of me gives me a high five and says, "those things are NOT for big guys." No shit!

There was also something that I call a chimney. I don't know if that's really what's it's called. You have to shimmy up two walls, feet on one and back on the other. That was the final obstacle and it was a mother! I'm a tall man, and I was wedged between those two walls like the Grinch. It was tight. But I managed to pull it off.

Wanna-be Santa's start out here.

And at the end, there was beer and celebration and bananas and pretty people stripping off dirty clothes. But the best thing at the finish line was victory, accomplishment and, quite frankly, an incredibly fun experience. I'm already putting next year's Ninja Challenge on my calendar.

But first...The Tough Mudder! November, here I come!

Alone Ain't Bad: Ninja Challenge Part I

It's the morning of the Ninja Challenge, a 5k obstacle course set up in Raleigh NC. I signed up for it a long time ago using a LivingSocial deal for the low low price of $35. Not too shabby. I was excited about it. Have been for awhile. I put the call out for some folks to join me and even got a few nibbles.

Unfortunately, much like the Tough Mudder of 2012, I am getting ready to eat breakfast at 7am on a Saturday, and my one-man team will be headed out to the course without support. This time, there won't even by TheWife, who seemed incredibly excited to have the house to herself on this cool Saturday morning.

I got some water boiling, adding just a dash of salt, and while I waited for that to boil I threw three thick cut slices of bacon on my grill pan. As I stood there watching the pot that never seemed to boil, I was feeling a little unmotivated.  For the first time in awhile, I heard The Manipulator's voice.

"Why bother?"

For you long-time readers of the blog, you know that Alan Rickman seems to play the role of the Manipulator in my subconscious. For you Rickman plays the role of the Manipulator in my subconscious. There, you're all caught up.

Don't know what he's like in person, but his voice is a real dick!
So, I say back, "yeah, why bother?"

But, as I'm cooking that bacon, watching the grease dance in the pan like goat men dancing around Baccus, I realize that alone isn't particularly bad. Alone is a step up

"This is a terrible analogy."

It's not an analogy, it's a simile. Or is it...the other one?

"You're going to make an excellent writer someday."

Shut up!

Being alone isn't bad. At least I'm out there doing it. I stick my tongue out at an imaginary person in my head. I mean, I actually stick my tongue out, because I may be just a little crazy. But, the water was boiling so I poured in a half cup of steel cut oats and set them to their 10-minute simmering. As I flipped the bacon one last time, making sure it was semi-crisp...I like a little chew to my bacon, thanks...I realized that many of my friends were still in bed. Some of them will complain to me later on that their backs hurt or their knees are bothering them or they still haven't lost as much weight as they wanted to or they're actually gaining weight. I'll encourage them to join me and they won't and we'll have that same conversation next year.

Me? I'm an over-weight, pre-diabetic black man in America. If anyone is expected to be lounging in bed on a Saturday morning it's me. Instead, I'm pouring perfectly cooked, al dente oatmeal into my green porcelain bowl, serving up a few cuts of bacon, and looking up parking and packet pick-up information for a 5k obstacle course.

And the truth is, I won't be alone. I may run into some friends there. I suspect WonderMan will be there. Probably BeerWench and her husband, BeerWench's Husband (damn it, I can never remember his name). Of course, I won't be running with then, because those fuckers run like gazelles. If I see them it will be in passing.

But one day...

Actually, I'll NEVER be as fast as them, let's be honest. But that's ok. Because I'm faster than all the people who were still in bed this morning.

I spent the next 30 minutes eating one of the greatest breakfasts of my recent history.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Back to Qigong

I have missed this feeling!

This week started my month long quest to start my day spiritually. The past few years have been amazing, so before I start to sound as if I'm whining about "some missing part of my life" I want it to be known that I am an incredibly happy man. My married life is more wonderful than I ever imagined. I've never loved anyone more than I love TheWife. It almost hurts. Weird, right?

School is also going incredibly well. I've won three different awards in the past semester, including some monetary ones. I've also won a scholarship for a summer program in Prague, including airfare and a per diem. My GPA, even after my second 19-hour semester (including French III and the ever-hated Calculus) is a 3.78.

Even my social life has been good. I've got some amazing friends. The love I feel for Bestest is powerful and I miss her on the few days a week that I don't talk to her. My family is doing well, my sister got a kiss from Robert Downey Jr. Another finally has a job that she loves. I mean, ACTUALLY loves! AND lost a bunch of weight on top of that.

The world isn't perfect, but there ARE a lot of puppies and rainbows out there right now. Hell, even Amanda Berry was found this week. What the what?

The world is not falling to shit, my friends.

But what has been missing is my spiritual connection to things. I used to meditate a lot. I have done so perhaps 5 times in the last couple of years. But, this week I started a new dedication to my spiritual and emotional health.

I start with the qigong exercise  Draw the Bow. Then, I do a very mild meditation, sitting cross-legged on the floor and concentrating on my breathing for 5 minutes. It's very mild, but the feeling I've had over the past couple of days has been amazing. Starting my day from a centered state has done a lot for how I feel throughout the day. It's a feeling I've missed more than I knew.

Here's a video of the stance for anyone that is interested. This is not me or anyone I know. I just found it in case some of you are interested in the technique.

I'll continue to report on it over the next month. But, for the first week, I'm feeling pretty good. Now, I just need to keep doing it long enough so that I can make it a hobby!

How do you start your day? I'd love to hear tips that have made a difference for you.