Flying With the Drunk Butterflies

As of late, I have been stressed.

This is all thanks to college and work and my third novel–not to mention, the amount of people telling me I need to be social, and the tumultuous roller coaster ride of becoming an effective adult.

Hang on…let me take a breath…

Okay.

I admit that I’m not as good at managing it sometimes, but I suppose everyone can have their imperfections…at least I hope so. If not, then I’ve been a friggin’ android all my life; yeah, get to referencing some Blade Runner, a movie I haven’t seen yet…

Yay?

What’s made it easier? Well, butterflies, of course–the Cinderella of the Ugly Step Moths.

Now you’re thinking:

Butterflies. Duh! Who would not have thought of them?

Answer: Normal People, otherwise known as, Not The Weirdo Talking About Blade Runner and Butterflies.

Other-Otherwise, not you guys, ’cause if you were normal, you would have switched off your computer or tablet or phone the minute this post popped up in your feed.

OtherOther-Otherwise, we’re all weirdos.

Yay?

Right, butterflies. They’ve appeared in swarms recently. Dunno whether it’s the cold weather, or that the Moths have finally struck down Butterfly City in a great and terrible flap of their mildewed wings.

I don’t mind the swarms; in fact, I rather love how the butterflies seem to swarm me in my “downer” moments, brightening me instantaneously!

On the college campus, during the mile and a quarter walk from class to my car, these butterflies float from flower to flower, springing to the air as I pass beside them. They flutter up to my face, say hello–maybe prepare to take a little butterfly poopsie on my glasses–and are gone before I can blink three times…or is it four?

When I run through the fields behind our neighborhood, it’s as if the butterflies are practicing a chorus line. A voice races to mind, “Presenting, for one night only, The Winged Rockettes–ah, damn, they already copyrighted that.

I almost apologize for screwing with their routines, but then I remember the butterflies are the ones screwing with my routine. But is it purposeful? Or are the butterflies drunk out of their minds on sweet, sweet nectar?

Right now, I’m imagining Dennis the Menace as a moth, and the Cranky Old Man as a walking butterfly. Gee, the things your mind’ll create, am I right, guys? What? No, I’m far from drunk, just buzzed is all…

To the point of this wayward post: amid their flighty antics, the butterflies are inadvertently bringing relief to this ofttimes treadmill of a life. Not to sound weird, but their swarms seem to suck out all the negativity and stress from my mind, and kick their dark asses to the curb.

Maybe the butterflies will enroll in WWE after Broadway?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

What Has Become Of The World?

I woke up late today. Had gotten in at 11:00 the night before, exhausted from work; and so I slept until about 9:00.

When I woke up, the first thing I did was reach for my phone, which was lying beside my bed, and I looked at the screen to see a News update. The tagline that caught my attention was–Worst Mass Shooting in U.S History.

I studied it. Las Vegas? Monterey Bay? Why would someone want attack Las Vegas?

So, confused, I went upstairs and switched on the news; of course, the events were breaking on every local and national news channel. The information piled up, and the overall feeling I received was grim.

50 or more people killed, and at least 500 more injured. One shooter, aiming from a window on the 32nd floor.

A thought came to me: University of Texas.

That tragedy happened before I was born, but I knew enough about it to draw eerie parallels between both of these incidents.

I thought, “What if this guy’s like Charles Whitman? What if his life just went to complete shit, and all he could think to do was take out his frustrations on these hundreds of innocent lives?”

What if?

For close to thirty minutes, I watched the live coverage, listening to the reports of the concert goers, most of them barely able to talk; and when they were, it was through tears.

A report that hit me was from a woman who claimed she had had a feeling that something was going to happen at the concert.

How dark must our society have become that when we attend these large public events, one of our primary fears is, “What if there’s a shooter?” or “What if I, or someone I know, dies here tonight?”

Fear is now unfortunately an integral aspect of living life.

I mean, hell, I go to some concerts, even circuses, and I just get this ominous feeling.

However, just because we’re afraid doesn’t mean we have to let the fear win.

I think, as humans, we can overcome anything. We’ve survived God knows how many horrors this world has thrown our way–and yet…we always find a way to come out on top and persevere.

We are Americans, after all. That’s gotta count for something.

The best remedy to any tragedy, I think, is to let it out–let your emotions, your griefs, be heard, because as long as that sadness–that total obliteration of knowing what’s going to happen next–is pent up inside you, then it will never stop haunting you.

To those affected by the events in Las Vegas, the previous night might not ever stop being as real as it is to you right now, and that’s okay–so long as you yourself are okay, and are persevering amid darkness.

Stay strong, America.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Middle Schoolers Can Write! Seriously, People!

What’s up, my people?

Sorry, was that too out-of-the-gate?

Here, tell you what, I’ll call you folks from now on. Just folks. I promise.

All right, so, guys, I gotta tell you about this sweet class I got going at college. Yes, as you might have been able to divulge from the title, it does involve middle schoolers and stories. Good to practice those reading skills whenever you can.

Further information:

I am scheduled to teach a single sixth grade class, with a partner, for a whole hour. We’re required to construct a lesson plan, and, you know, all the other blah-de-bloo. It is to be presented on November 1st, the day after Halloween.

Lucky us…

Kids, hey, we need you to pay attention! Oh my God, I think–

No…

They’re psyched out on crap loads of candy! Run for cover! 

Well, barring any unforeseen candy psychoses, I think we’ll be all right…for a little while.

Anyways, back to the point of the post, which is sixth graders writing stories.

Personally, I’m in love with the concept, but maybe that’s just ’cause I’m a writer. I dunno.

Some of the more memorable bits of these students’ writings were:

  1. A story beginning with “It was a dark and snowy night.”
    • Golly, what a classic!
    • And they changed stormy to snowy.
  2. A story about Santa crashing through a kid’s bedroom wall, and not apologizing.
    • Christmas Genius at its best, my friends.
  3. A story about a witch going to the grocery store.
    • I mean…hey, a hag’s gotta eat.
    • Props for creativity.
  4. Not a story, but one student telling me all about how he loved playing Dungeons and Dragons with his uncle.
    • He was also quite polite and shook my hand; told me he was making his own board game with his best friend.

That is just the beginning–kidding, that’s actually the end.

Those four things are the only events that took place in the hour and a half I spent at this middle school. Other than that, I sat on the ground and stared at a wall and talked to myself about how Kraft Mac and Cheese is a disgusting choice of food.

Wait, you guys aren’t actually that gullible, right?

Right?

‘Cause I was totally lying about the Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Creepy.

I try to run as often as I can. Sometimes that may be only once or twice a week, perhaps every other week; still, though, I try my darnedest, and I suppose that’s what counts.

I went on a run today. Three miles. Average. Felt pretty good, healthy.

It’s been getting to be damn hard, though, if I’m gonna be honest. The will of wanting to run–well, it has its ups and downs; most of the time, I am forcing myself to do the deed. Makes it sound like an illegal act, or something, when, in all actuality, running helps keep me sane.

I saw a dead rabbit while running. Its fur was matted with water splashed up from passing cars; and it just lay there, eyes empty, tiny mouth agape. Looked like a ruined washcloth with shriveled paws.

This rabbit was on the side of the road, an empty, empty road. Must have been fresh, since the birds hadn’t taken their pickings yet; but I gotta say, I–I didn’t like seeing the emptiness in its eyes.

It wasn’t petrified–how could it be scared for its life when it was likely taken within a few seconds? It was…just…dead. That’s one of the scariest things to see in life, you know, something that’s had its life snipped at the seam–in an instant.

Blammo. And nothing left.

Didn’t help there were crows watching me from roofs, groups of them circling high in the sky. I remember one large crow, its head appearing as if shrouded beneath this black shawl, talons scratching at the fence post on which it roosted. It stared at me as I passed the dead rabbit. Those beady button eyes stared directly at me; and the rest of the crow made no movement at all. The thing sat hunched there, brooding; hell, maybe it was waiting to swoop across and gut its newfound meal.

I don’t know.

But I didn’t like it.

Birds were everywhere when I walked back home, a flock in one tree, three or more crows perched on roof after roof; and, looking around, all I could see were the birds with their noise and their silence.

Felt like Christmastime, all the lights out upon the houses, twinkling, buzzing; and not a footprint to be seen on snowy streets, nor a fracture of firelight from within one of the houses encroached in shadow, only the winged predators dragging their talons across roof tiles.

I would say it was reminiscent of Hitchcock, but what I can gather mentally from that experience is–

Is that it felt creepy.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

The Top 5 Most Important Questions To Ask In A Blog.

  1. Why do dogs dislike cats?
  2. What’s the difference between drinking water and tap water?
  3. Can you call foul in a game if the whole game is foul?
  4. Is art the manifestation of us, or are we the manifestation of art?
  5. Did this post attract you because it was a numbered list? Or was it the picture?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

The Squirrel

I watched a squirrel for close to an hour the other night.

Of course, I should have been intensely studying for the math test that night, but this squirrel, it was more than a squirrel. It was…well, it’s hard to completely explain in a short number of words.

I’ll start from the beginning–

I was sitting at a table on the college campus, math book and notebook cracked open in front of me. Review mode was engaged–let’s put it that way; and as far as studying for math goes, I thought I was doing pretty well.

Now, to step away from the math–we already know I’m terrible at the concept–I want to introduce all of you to the man of the hour: the squirrel that hopped down from a tree to the right of me.

It’s not as if this was a mutant squirrel; no, it was your average, everyday, acorn-loving creature, nothing much to it. I could tell it had come out to scavenge when I first saw it–why, you ask? it was hunting beneath the various tables for scraps of wasted food.

The squirrel got lucky a few times, found two French fries, and, I think, a potato chip.

I wasn’t too interested in what it was eating, though.

Sidetrack a moment from the squirrel.

Picture: a set piece on which all these types of people are walking and acting out their lives, their personalities, within the restricted boundaries of whatever influence the public opinion has over our confidence.

One girl, two tables away from me, was chatting on a phone while studying for, possibly, the same math test. Truth be told, I didn’t check out that specific detail.

Another guy showed up during the middle of the squirrel’s charade–and take note, this guy is important in this story, ‘kay?–chomping down on a pink coated chocolate candy and pacing the ground before a bundle of spiring trees.

Dozens more people passed and went, walked and skated, talked and reflected. Classes were let out, and those students came through this set piece, only to go onto another one within an instant.

Why are they crucial? Why did I observe them so keenly?

Not a single one of these people acknowledged the squirrel’s existence.

The squirrel here is crawling over and under the intricacies of these tables, grabbing at crumbs; and, to them, it’s a ghost. The French fries disappeared, sure, but to where they went, no one would be the wiser.

I had my eyes fixed on the squirrel, and with each group that entered the set piece, I watched to see if any would take note of it. Surprisingly, as I said, it was as if the whole scene was happening underground, no lights, no sense of what or why was going on in the surroundings.

I had to laugh; of course, who wouldn’t in a situation like that.

Every time I kept thinking someone would point out the squirrel and admire its cuteness, my intuition was proven wrong. Sometimes it is–that I don’t deny; it’s pointless to assume I would have predicted any of the reactions.

Then I wondered…

Why was I so enamored with the squirrel in the first place?

The answer came to me when I saw the squirrel, fresh off its second fry, venture carefully towards the girl chatting on her phone. It would take a few bounds, stop, sniff the ground, and tread some more ground, its tail twitching with each movement.

It reached the girl…eventually–and what did the girl do but stare at it and stamp her feet.

The squirrel retreated, scared, unsure, wrecked in all of its emotional faculties. Had it been looking for food? A companion? Someone to give it a good petting? Dunno. All I know is that it ran from her.

At this point, we return to the guy eating his chocolate candy.

During the periods when I was unable to clearly observe the squirrel, my focus had been spent studying this dude. By all accounts, he looked simple enough, just enjoying his chocolate; he was the guy you’d pass on the street without a second thought–that is…until the group of girls walked by him.

A glance was all it took, and I recognized the panic in his eyes as they tracked the girls, this trio glued to their phones, disregarding the guy without a second thought.

He lowered the chocolate candy, moved to speak; although, by then, they were gone.

I winced.

The guy walked a few more minutes, lost to his thoughts–

During this painful moment, another class stormed down from the hill, jabbering, hopping on their skateboards and scooters; again, not one of them noticed the squirrel that, cowering beneath a table, dropped to its paws and hightailed it to the bundle of spiring trees near the recently heartbroken guy.

And guess what?

As the guy pondered and paced, he stopped a second, looked up; and he saw the squirrel, just stood there in an awe of sorts as the squirrel clamped itself to one of the trees and crawled up the trunk.

What else could I do than be mesmerized? Another of these bystanders had seen the invisible critter; now, it was as real as anything else in that small dining square.

Why do I tell you this story? Why do I waste your time with a little human observation?

To me, that most people did not see this squirrel says something about the state of humanity–of existing.

I forgot to mention earlier, but the whole time I was studying the squirrel, none of those people took a notice of me, either. Like the squirrel, I became a ghost for a short amount of time, free to wander, to act, to do, as I wished.

Maybe it’s ’cause I was silent. Maybe it’s ’cause I simply watched.

Maybe it’s ’cause, for one reason or another, I just didn’t blend.

I put faith in this assumption because of the one other person who saw the squirrel:

The guy who had recently been rejected by the trio of girls.

The both of us were not, by any stretch of the matter, different, per say; however, what if, since the majority of this small society had not stopped to acknowledge our being there, we were then able to acknowledge the presence of the squirrel?

Perhaps existing is more than simply being seen by others. Perhaps, as long as you yourself are confident in what you stand for, in what you think, or believe; then, perhaps,   existing is a matter of whether or not you want to stand tall, or sit complacently with the masses.

Perhaps, at this moment, there’s a squirrel scampering at your feet for food, and you haven’t yet noticed it.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

Yeah, Uh, I Wash Dishes Now, Guys…

You guys remember how I had a job, a legit working job? Yeah, well, that went the way of the blue suede shoe–and, if I’m gonna be honest, I am a little glad about it. The atmosphere was startlingly negative; that and the safety stuff wasn’t as strictly followed as it should have been…

But, hey, that’s what we got quitting for, right?

Wrong?

Maybe?

Either way, I’m a dishwasher now. At this little joint called Great Wolf Lodge, maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s pretty much all across the entire United States at this point, and, the way they’re headed with this place–we might have near total world domination on our hands, folks.

I have no say in how that domination crap goes, though, since I just hide out in the back of the separate kitchens and shovel dirty dishes into these monster washers, some sorta industrial machines. The load of work is easy, save for the times when everyone in the lodge decides to eat at the exact same time, as well as Closing Time.

Yes, my friends, I have to spray out the giant monster washer at the end of the night. Trust me, there are no redeeming qualities about that; except, you know–ah, pooh, I’m at a blank.

When I finish I’m covered in this disgusting sludge of onions and carrots and crusty pizza sauce, something like this:

IMG_0223

Yep. Not a pretty sight, or picture.

A perk: I get to nab leftover food sometimes. The cooks could leave out a whole tray of chocolate-caramel brownies, and us dishwashers and servers will pick off whatever we can before the supervisors come running into the kitchen.

Try hiding a mouthful of chocolate and licking crumbs off your lips when talking to one of those guys, huh? I haven’t actually had such an experience, but I can imagine it is no fun–seriously.

We also have this squeegee blade in the big kitchen that we use to slide water and gunk off the counters. Pressing it to the metal and gliding it this way and that reminds me of washing windows, and then I laugh–and the servers and cooks give me funny looks. Hey, that rhymed!

A good thing is, is I can see myself continuing in this job for the next two years, at least. Who ever knows what the future holds, sure, but I have a feeling about this place. I got them good vibrations. You get what I’m sayin, homes?

Just nod your head and smile. It’s fine if you don’t.

Kidding, man, you are so screwed.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Oh, The Types of People You Meet In College…

I like to think of myself as a pretty intelligent dude. I graduated high school, for one; also, I ponder the deeper questions of the universe constantly, such classics as, “How long to cook macaroni and cheese?” and “Do dogs really love us, or are they more affectionate towards the food we give them?”

I’m on the average level of smart is what I would call it. Trust me, there’s no secret Will Hunting/Steve Jobs conspiracy going on behind closed doors. What I know is what I know, eh?

You getting me, folks?

Segway into college, and here we are at UCCS, one of the many centers of knowledge dotted across this gigantic blueberry of ours. Classes are long, packed; sometimes it doesn’t seem as if they have an ending–but, they do, trust me.

Now, this isn’t a complaint about college classes. Hear me out, I genuinely love this unstoppable access to knowledge that you can only find in a college campus; however, it’s some of the people in these college classes that have me confused, even lost, as to their motivations.

I know what you’re gonna say.

Well, why don’t you focus on your own life, not theirs?

Trust me. I am top priority…not in a creepy, arrogant way, but in–ah, forget it.

There are these types of people in my classes–I should say, specific types of people–that I observe when, yes, I should instead be listening to the lecture. You have to understand, though. I got a compulsion to watch people, to figure them out, and not in a stalkerish way, either.

For example, in my Politics class, there’s one dude who talks like he just walked out of a Brain Factory. One of his choice phrases is “pragmatically speaking;” and when he said it in class, I was thinking, well, hell, I forget what that means, but o-kay.

We are training to be scholars, after all, so give a guy a cheer, right?

Then there’s the people who, when an assignment is due–or, when we had to have read something–raise their heads and stare off into the abyss I like to call, The Oh-No-I-Just-Screwed-Up-Big-Time Abyss.

Four pages of math questions? Nope.

A diorama of the Crossing of the Delaware? No–and, for that matter, who’s doing dioramas in college?

I admit, I am in the Oh-No Abyss sometimes…more frequently in the past few days, but, that’s another story for another time.

Lastly, there is the smallest minority of college classes, the ones…who say nothing at all, have no expression, and take their notes like the dutiful students they are.

And I’m pulling your leg, in truth, because we’re all like that, at least I think so.

I have been known to sit and stare and note take–I mean, take notes; of course, all of what I just wrote when I am not drifting off into the treacherous bowels of my own mind and humming, to myself, the songs I heard on the radio that morning.

What’s a few Katy Perry ditties gonna hurt, huh?

The rest of the class is humming Katy Perry–I just know it; and if they say no, then they are all dirty liars.

And, oh, look at that, I created two new types of people in college classes–

Mind-Hogs and Pop Star Wannabes.

Ya do whatcha gotta do, man, ya do whatcha gotta do…

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

The Horrible Writing Experience Of Third Grade

If any of you are writers, or people looking to be writers, have any of you, after a certain amount of time, heard that old phrase: “Gee, you should really think of joining a writing group!”

Do you any of you barf a little in your mouth? ‘Cause I do.

I see writing as a personal game, like playing a match of Uno by yourself–and, yes, I realize that analogy sucks, but it’s the best I could come up with, so there. You sit at a desk, or lie on a couch, all alone while doing the craft, anyways, so why would you need other sitting experts to feed you their opinions on the matter?

Now, before you accuse me of having not attended any writing groups whatsoever, let me tell ya, I have. I will also tell you, it was not that fun; granted, my first experience of being in a group was when I was a third grader in Montana, but…

Yeah. Montana. The Big Sky State; although, personally, I don’t see the difference between their sky and the rest of the friggin’ sky. I don’t know, maybe the gravity’s a little off there. I was eight years old, for crying out loud; I wasn’t that observant.

I attended an elementary school right beside my mom’s resident home…where she worked–she didn’t live there. It was a nice school where I made a lot of friends; however, when I wasn’t making great friends, I was reading books and writing short, short stories. These things were a page and a half, two, if I had a brilliant idea.

‘Course, I got into trouble more than a few times with the teacher, since, apparently, I should have been working on the assignment instead of writing about this kid named Jim, who traveled to the Bermuda Triangle and blew it up.

Yeah, good going there, Jim.

My friends, on the other hand, thought the stories were spectacular, and the ones sitting at the same table as me asked if they could help write the stories. Yes, folks, I had my first collaborative writing session in the third grade. Cheers for me.

The months passed while we were writing these stories, and get this: a total of three students, including me, got to be working on stories together. Jim gained the friends, John, and Jean, I think, because, I guess, my friends felt they had to name their characters  “J” somethings, too. Again, I don’t why. I was eight years old, people.

In November, maybe, our teacher called our class together to inform us of a visiting author to the school. This author was going to teach a writing course for an hour, and he was going to do it for a select amount of students from each class.

In our class’s case, it was three students.

So, the big day arrived, at last. The author was scheduled for that afternoon, and our teacher had yet to choose her special students.

The tension was thick as she paced around the classroom, hand on her chin in that I’m-an-adult-and-I’m-thinking manner, and she ended up picking me–I was genuinely surprised at this–a couple of my collaborative writing friends, and another guy who occasionally wrote sci-fi detective stories, which, I believe, he only wrote to get picked.

I remember, after I was chosen, this one rude girl in the class said, “He’s only getting to go because he writes stories.”

Well, I mean, duh. Did you think I was gonna get picked if I had spent the year working on a bust of the Wright Brothers?

When the time came, the lot of us filed down to the library to see this writer dude; by the way, he was a children’s author–and, so, on getting there, I sat down in the furthest seat from this humming projector screen and watched the other kids find their seats and pull out their handy-dandy notebooks.

Then the writer dude entered.

I can’t remember all of it too clearly, but I know he had a satchel of papers and more papers that he set on the desk; and then he told us how excited he was to see us–yeah, sure, dude, excited to see a bunch of spaced-out third graders.

I was prepared to learn the most helpful writing tips in the world, had my pen ready and everything; and the first thing this writer dude did was to tell us to draw a picture. He didn’t say a word about punctuation, or showing and not telling, but a picture.

I sketched my favorite character at the time, a little dude with a Jack-O-Lantern for a head who I called Super Mask, then I prepared myself, again, for writing advice.

Once more, Writer Dude told us to draw a picture.

For christ’s sake, man, I hadn’t come down there to sketch comic book characters! I had come down there to learn how to perfect my craft–and these funny drawings were not cutting it.

The course ended, thankfully, and I left with two thoughts: one, how pointless that had been; and, two, I wondered what kind of stories were coming out of the girl who had sketched mutated unicorns.

There’s an idea.

So, that one writing course in third grade, in a way, formed my future perceptions of groups, in general. You can call that generalizing, or just plain stupid; but I like to call it thinking smart.

And here at Thoughts of A Southpaw, that is what we do.

Think daily,

A Southpaw