life

A Southpaw’s Year In Review

My, but this has been quite the year, hasn’t it? I realize a post of this nature may be premature–after all, there are two weeks until 2018; but I’m a stickler for breaking the norm, so sue me.

What is there to say about 2017? In terms of development for this blog, it was an important year. So many events happened that unexpectedly shaped the type of content I write, some of them tragic, and some of them lighthearted. All the same, though, they played a part in Thoughts of A Southpaw’s evolution, and I am glad to have been able to document them for the sake of my readers, be they weekly or occasional.

You understand, much of the time–I will admit, not all of the time–this blog is meant to help you guys think or cope or laugh, or smile a little on a bad day. It’s For the People, By the People, Of the Pe–okay…I’m getting a bit too Founding Father on this thing.

Let’s run over 2017’s Top 5 most popular posts, starting with–

  1. Small Town Losses (This was a heartfelt one for me, and a lot of other people. A tribute to a great person.)
  2. Meet My Cousin: William Shakespeare (I was genuinely surprised as to how much this post blew up. I was just fooling around one day, and–well, there you go…)
  3. Prom and Punch (Another surprise, but this one, I think, had some certified funny moments…maybe…)
  4. Sunshine Comes Around (Boy, this was a hard post to write, and I can only hope it helped some people get past their own dark moments in life; so, in that, I see this as one of my most important posts.)
  5. Graduate (A happy post that attracted a lot of attention on Facebook, which, again, surprised me. Three cheers for graduation, too!)

All of those posts I feel had a significant role in forming the current Thoughts of A Southpaw, as well as what it might become in future years. They each had their own tones and messages–even though it seems like a few have no messages whatsoever–and for that, I see them as unique on this blog, reflecting the perspectives of my readers.

Perspective. That’s a big thing I’ve learned. The views and tastes of my readers influence the output of this blog. It’s one of those things that always keeps the posting interesting; it brings something new every time.

What else have I learned? Things. Stuff. Nonsense.

I am still learning how to write an effective blog post, as I believe there is no one way to write anything, and we are all constantly refining our approaches towards a project.

Here, then, to 2017, a year of great changes and introspection. May there be many more years ahead as significant as this one, and may there be many more readers to experience them.

Together, we’ll see what 2018 has to offer…

As they say, though, C’est la vie, whatever will be, will be.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

Yo, Dude…It’s Finals Time!

You heard it right, my dudes! As of next week, finals are coming to a theater near you–or me, or…whatever…Either way, they’re here, and I am mentally preparing myself to crush them all to smithereens.

Weird word, smithereens, isn’t it?

I’m only legitimately worried about Philosophy, that one thinking class; but, see, I feel like the rest will be easy, save for Math. Still, that’s a given.

College has been a fun ride so far, though. These past, what, five months have gone by in a flash, not even kidding; the last thing I remember was taking my picture on Orientation Day.

What have I learned?

Uh, lemme think about that:

  • There’s the never-park-in-college-parking-lots rule.
  • Remembering to do homework the night it’s assigned, otherwise you’re screwed.
  • Always pick the 12 inch meatball sub at lunch.

Oh, and one more…

  • Study and study and study and study

Those four things should cover such a long time span, sure. 

Yeah, but it’s been fun, more fun than I probably might have had at a community college, not dissing those who attend them, of course. I almost went to one–almost being the keyword there.

A big woo-hoo to the Community Collegiate. Seriously.

You guys are gonna be laughing at us when we have to pay shit loads of student loans.

Here’s hoping I won’t end up in those shoes, ’cause I got my own neat pair of kicks. They’re called Brooks, and, uh, they’re the biggest thing since shoelaces.

Yeah. I know. Lame. Cut me a break, willya? I am a mentally deprived individual!

Keep in mind, too, these finals can suck the brains right out of your head. Each one’s a big-ass vacuum with sharpened pencils for teeth, oh, and a brain tank, where your brains float around in copious amounts of Mountain Dew.

Might have to start wearing a tinfoil hat. Never know where those Freaky Finals’ll be next.

At least you’ll protect me, right, guys?

Ahem.

Right, guys?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

P.S: I found another friggin’ coffee picture! Credit goes to zazzle.

I Am Becoming A Caffeine Addict (Also 150th Post, Dudes! Yeah! Cheers! Cowabunga!)

Yes, you read that right. I have officially written 150 of these things, most of them bad, some of them good; but the point of this milestone, you see, is that I have been able to write 150 posts because I have such a huge follower base.

Gee, I’m pretty sure we’re near 100 followers now, in total. Crazy stuff. Wouldn’t have anticipated it a year ago, but there are those things you can never sense until they’re right on top of you, am I right? Eh?

But, to the topic of this post, quite a serious one, if I may say so:

Caffeine Addiction.

I’ve been attending CAA meetings lately. For those who aren’t familiar with the acronym, it stands for Coffee Addicts Anonymous, maybe you haven’t heard it; and, honestly, I wouldn’t blame you. It’s situated out of my parent’s basement, so…small reception, heh.

I wasn’t always addicted to coffee, no, as a kid, I hated the crap. It tasted like black licorice combined with tar–although, that may have been due to my Dad’s preference for black coffee.

I’m more of a creamer man myself. That’s right, ladies. I’m buddy-buddy with Coffee-Mate.

The addiction started off harmless, like a Daddy Long Legs, then, it…oh, it’s difficult to say…it took over my mornings, filled my stomach, and–and, it made me have to use the little boy’s room quite a few more times than usual.

Oh, man, I need a breather. I can hardly talk about it without feeling the urge.

Quick, someone grab a liter of Prune Juice!

[One hour, and one big, big, big burp, later]

All right, we’re good now. I have quenched my thirst with the worst possible drink–oh, wait, that’s orange juice, duh.

We may now proceed with open questions from the audience:

How many, uh, coffee cups do you consume a day?

Tough question, pal. I’d have to say three…dozen.

What is your favorite type of coffee?

Whatever’s in the pot, babe; and, hey, shoot me your number. We’ll get together, have coffee.

How long is it going to take you to realize no one is actually asking questions?

No comment.

What a twat that guy was, huh? I made sure he was kicked out of the auditorium, so he’s not gonna be bothering us any longer. There are just no decent people anymore, ‘cept for you guys; you guys are cool.

Like coffee. Coffee’s cool, unless it’s hot.

Use that for your next pick-up line, guys. You can credit me later–with a check for 100 grand, addressed to Thoughts of A Southpaw; but, really, it’s no biggie.

Otherwise, keep it rocking, my people.

150 posts strong, and still rolling!

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

Photo Credit: Tumblr, I believe…

 

 

 

How To Grow A Serial Killer

Meet Bill Sykes, a nice, caring, six-year old boy, who lives in a Catholic-oriented house on the brink of foreclosure, due to insufficient payments.

Bill has schizophrenia, but has never been diagnosed.

Ronald and Rebecca Sykes are Bill’s parents, each of them having fallen out of love with each other since they slipped those brass rings on their fingers.

Ronald is a construction worker who is paid a measly wage of $10.00 an hour. He works on and off, as winter can be a cruel blow of the hammer to his usual routine.

When Ronald works, he works until six at night, at which point he drives the fifteen miles home from the construction site. He gets home, releases the family dog, an anorexic Rottweiler named Harold, feeds him the scraps of that night’s dinner–usually fried chicken bones from KFC–and steals a beer from the fridge and plops in front of the television and watches reruns of Star Trek until he passes out, drunk.

Bill often cries in the middle of the night, has spasms that contort his body in positions extremely uncomfortable for a six year old, has visions of the Devil stalking around his small bedroom with its circus elephant wallpaper.

When the cries begin at midnight, they do not wake Ronald from his alcohol induced slumber.

Rebecca was raised prominently Catholic in the cornfields of Kansas, and was trapped, her whole childhood, within a fierce matriarchy founded on heavy-handed religious doctrines, such as shouting the verses of the Bible aloud while having her bare back and buttocks whipped.

She married Ronald in 2009. It was the definition of a shotgun wedding; and she became pregnant with Bill in 2010, giving birth to him on December 14th, 2011, after a four week delay.

Rebecca is a nurse at the local hospital. She works the night shift, from 9:00 p.m to 5:00 in the morning; and when Rebecca comes home, she strips off her uniform and climbs into bed and recites her favorite verses of the Bible before heading to sleep.

When the cries begin at midnight, they do not wake Rebecca, due to her insistence on listening to the audiobook recording of the New Testament with her noise-blocking headphones.

Let’s take a closer look here:

Bill has had his case of schizophrenia for about as long as he has been alive. The Devil visions are frequent–they worry him to the point of clawing at his walls and knocking his head against his bedroom window.

This schizophrenia is heightened by the religious pressures of Rebecca, who, most of the time, has the right intentions, but is not in the right mind. An ideal evening to her is having both Ronald and Bill read out of their paperback copies of the Bible before dinnertime, shouting at them, threatening to whip them, if one verse is used out of place.

Of course, this frightens Bill; in fact, it frightens him so much that he has nowhere else to pour his emotions but outside, in the woods beside his house. On particularly tumultuous nights, he goes out to these woods and slits the throats of a few rabbits snug in a log, or, in the bushes. He hangs their carcasses on the limbs of the nearby trees and flaps their mouths to the tune of The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round; this occurs for a number of hours, neither Ronald nor Rebecca care or notice.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

Consider what you have read so far. Consider Bill and Ronald and Rebecca individually, not as a wholesome family unit. Consider how each person contributes to one terrifying truth:

Something is wrong with Bill.

Take Ronald, the alcoholic who is responsible for the quickly foreclosing house. Does he know about this future? Undoubtedly. Will he do anything to prevent it? Unlikely.

Here we have bad social conditions, involving a house that is cleaned every few months, and which is in danger of slipping from its owner’s hands.

We also have an alcoholic. Ronald averages four to six beers a day; most of those hours are spent being angry at the world and those around him, specifically, Bill and Rebecca.

Let’s look back at those three words.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

Ronald fits into all three of them. He refuses to act on the approaching closure of his house; he is blind to the sufferings of his six-year old child, Bill, who tells his teachers that the Devil has told him to do bad things; and he is off at work most of the day, but the time he is at home, he is unconscious.

Rebecca focuses on her Bible; she feels it her duty to ensure her religious rules are enforced from morning to night, the oppressive mental state of her son be damned. She is more of a mother to the strangers she treats at midnight, than she is to the child she should provide for, care for, and listen to.

Inaction.

Ignorance.

Absence.

She, too, fits into all three of them.

Why is this important? Why focus on the strange hobbies of a mentally disturbed child in a dysfunctional family?

The question we should be asking is, Why Not?

The bit I left out–the piece that ties this all together–lies in the future: Bill’s future.

See, by the time Bill turns 20, he is still living with his parents. No, he is not attending college, and, despite having a powerful enthusiasm for all things natural, as well as an above average IQ, he does not secure a job as a National Park Attendant.

His mother tells him it will take time away from his Bible studies.

At 22, then, Bill headlines newspapers around the country–

BILL SYKES CAUGHT, ACCUSED OF COMMITTING 23 MURDERS

His victims are all young women; however, there is nothing, not hair color, personality, or their names, tying them together, save that they are all nurses.

He strangles all of them.

In court, a few days after the release of the newspaper article, amid masses of reporters, even Bill’s own parents, all wondering why such a kind, harmless young man would commit such atrocities, the Judge asks Bill why he did it.

Bill answers, “The Devil told me to do it.”

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

 

 

Innocence Still Matters.

I’ve been upset about my innocence for a long time–you know, that look in your eyes that just screams inexperienced and optimistic; you haven’t hit the harsh realities of life yet, and instead you’re going along as if everything is doodlie-doo, happy times.

Now, I’m not saying I dislike that I’m innocent, only I am, in a way, aren’t I? Perhaps I’m really tired of people underestimating me, seeing me as a kid who doesn’t know what life is, when, truly, life is what you make of it.

Sure, sounds cliche, but it does have relevance. Life is never the same for anyone; there’s always going to be differences, just as there are no people exactly alike. My life so far has been life. These past eighteen years were not spent in a vacuum, and there is no Real World, once you leave school.

C’mon, people, the world is the world. Known that since friggin’ Galileo’s time, and even beyond then…yeah….

I am innocent. I will not deny it. But am I the lesser for it? No. Do I not have as full a grasp on life as others? Sure. When you’re eighteen, you don’t typically know much; however, you still know enough to be–well, you, and, hell, that’s all you have to be.

No one’s making the rules here.

You are you, and there’s not much to change that.

It seems, though, if someone has not gone through the ringer at least a few times, has not accomplished the necessary requirements attributed to being an adult, then they, or their voices, are not worth the time of day.

Take kids, for example, the people we want to keep innocent in this world–but, that’s it, isn’t it? No one wants to listen to kids, to see what insights they have to offer; and, in doing so, they are missing out on valuable perspectives that could well change the world.

Innocence, and age, for that matter, shouldn’t be this restricting factor, or an inquiring face to turn away; no, are you kidding? Both of them have importance–both of them are crucial to understanding what the hell all us humans are trying to accomplish in these lives of ours.

Everyone matters, not only a few, because to limit is to inhibit further knowledge.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

 

Shutterstock

I Scared Kids On Halloween…

Yes, I know what you’re all thinking. I am such a heartless Scrooge, or, you know, whatever they call the equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge on Halloween night. Has that ever been a thing?

Wouldn’t you know it, though? It was my first time scaring people on Halloween, rather than choosing to tread the streets in search of king-sized candy bars and gummy Krabby Patties.

I had not originally planned to scare anyone; in fact, the only thing I had really planned was sitting on the porch and looking creepy–if you got a good look at the canvas mask on my head, then you’ll know that it is no beautiful spectacle.

It was an accident that I scared anyone. See, I was sitting on the porch, candy bowl lying on my gloved hands–one kid pointed out the illusion didn’t work if my bare hands were visible–and attempting to master a Robot Pose, one of absolute stillness, no breathing, either.

These three girls, otherwise known as my first victims, came running up the steps, and they were quite the sight. One was a princess, another an astronaut, I think, and the last was dressed as Spider-Man–hey, why not?

They approached the porch warily, still wondering whether or not I was an animatronic; and eventually, they all decided I was a fake, a dummy set out to hold the candy.

Spider-Man said, “If that thing jumps out at me, I am going to die.”

Of course, where I had at first decided not to do anything, hearing Spider-Man tempted me.

Now, you’re all thinking, jeez, what a major asshole; he wants to scare kids?

In my defense, I did not know how badly I was going to scare them.

A little preface:

Before these girls appeared, a trio of middle schoolers had come to trick or treat; and, my God, were these middle schoolers mean: not mean in the general sense, but, you know, mean. They thought me an animatronic at first sight, and one of them stepped on my bare foot to see how I would react.

Yeah. Little jerk.

While grabbing their candy, the middle schoolers asked me how much candy they could have. I gave no answer, as it would have ruined the illusion; and so, one answered with, “oh, infinite amount?” and scooped a handful of candy into his freaking pillow case.

Uh-huh.

I started holding up two fingers to other trick-or-treaters to signify how much candy was allowed. Each time it was a slow movement, since I had to move my hand from underneath the bowl and raise my arm, two fingers pointing–but, I gotta say, the slowness did not inhibit the amount of fear I instilled into those girls.

They were reaching into the candy bowl, heads bowed, when I moved my hand and held up the two fingers. Spider-Man grabbed a Reese’s PB cup, glanced out of the corner of her eye, and screamed–well, to be fair, the three girls all screamed at the same time and ran from the porch, without so much as taking their candy with them.

Their parents on the street laughed at their distress, asking them if they got their candy, while I laughed quietly beneath my mask.

The parents persuaded the girls to go back and get candy–thankfully, my mom came outside and calmed each of them down with three pieces of candy.

Boy, was that experience both exhilarating and tragic.

Tragic, because I probably scarred those little girls.

Exhilarating, because I probably gave those little girls a genuine Halloween experience.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

It’s Halloween Again! Yes!

So, folks, this is going to be a quick post, only because in a number of minutes I will have to stand guard on my front porch and deal out candy to the brave little kiddies who dare step up the sidewalk.

I will be silent.

I will be still.

I will be terrifying.

I will…probably be cold; thankfully, though, I have a sweatshirt on beneath this orange suit.

Whaddya say? Pretty sweet get-up, or what? My mom made the mask–feels creepy.

Those other two are my brother and sister, yes, and how truly adorable they are in their odd costumes, eh? It’s a sort of tradition to take a picture of all of us dressed up; and my God, I cannot express enough how much I love this holiday!

So, that said, I wish all of you a Happy Halloween and hope it will be as scary, or, as pleasant, as you want it to be.

Get out there and Trick Or Treat, people! Time is a-wastin!

Still, remember to have fun, huh? Don’t get too fat off candy either.

I know I might.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Love?

Jesus, well, this is late, isn’t it? Sorry, folks, was busy with stuff. Can you blame me?

Oh, boy, what are we writing about tonight? College? Work? Nah–I’m kind of getting tired of those things; instead, let’s talk about something that’s been on my mind for a while.

Love.

Fun topic, you could say, even an intelligent topic.

God, what do I say about love? That it can hurt? That it strikes you when you least expect it?

To say those things would be, I think, to state the obvious. Hell yes, it can hurt. Love can rip you apart twelve thousand times, and still be able to pack enough of a punch to send you groaning back to the beginning; however, that’s not to say it can’t also feel great, feel fulfilling.

I had an experience with love once, true as it could be, I suppose. It was that kind of love that brings you to an understanding of yourself, of what you want most out of life–it brought me peace and conflict and heartbreak, all in the same roll of the dice.

See, I didn’t love this girl at first; no, it progressed over time, like all things do. My first impression of her was–well, how do I explain it? uh, impressed and, at the same time, intimidated. Funny how those two can parallel one another, yet still be relevant to a whole.

Yeah, the love didn’t come into play until I got to know the girl, what kind of a person she was–how she inspired me to do better, to be better. By then, I was, as they say, head over feet, or did I screw that up?

She became a person I looked forward to seeing everyday, the someone we all strive to impress by being the best of ourselves, when, really, we probably look like a fool chicken flapping his feathers in the wind of his own turmoil.

I worked at it harder than I have most things in my life; and, in so doing, I do believe I grew into a better person. Out of all the mess, the craziness, I look back on now, there is at least that consolation: I changed, not into someone else entirely, but into myself.

As you can see, to say this love switched a couple things around in me is a bit of an understatement. It did bring me out of a self-contained shell, for a while; and it did open me up to new opportunities in socializing, and life in general. I’ve even gone so far as to talk about it, briefly, in a few posts.

‘Course, if you read those, it will be immediately obvious how deep I was within those waters; at times, I misjudged the deepness, fell short of the ledge on which to hoist myself out of the whirlpool, and I swirled, it seemed, endlessly.

The whirlpool didn’t come about until the latter stages, when I noticed the cracks in the walls I had spent months building, so I could sit back and revel in such a fascinating discovery: love? an event I had thought impossible for me? how could a girl feel the same for me?

The answer, then, was that she did not feel the same way.

I remember how angry I was, and how selfish I thought myself to be. This new world of emotions had opened wide its door, all of its contents spilling over me; what else was there to do but roll around in them and feel sick, right?

Wrong.

I told myself: whatever you think about yourself now is nothing compared to what you truly are. To deny yourself the truth of you, would be to deny all that you have accomplished, all that you have lost, all that you have done, in this life so far.

It helped, a little, but what struck out to me was…how my feelings never changed.

You’d think there’d be differences in mindset, but, I honestly believe that there are sometimes those certain people of whom, when you see them for the first time, or the thirtieth, your impression of them is never altered.

Maybe that’s poetic.

Maybe it’s bullshit.

Truth is, I can’t answer any of those questions. I don’t understand the tiniest piece of it.

So, can I claim to have loved someone if those feelings are yet buried?

The world is a confusing place, my friends.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

 

When Should You Stop Trick Or Treating?

Is there a finite rule to this? If so, I have never heard of it; in fact, I think of it as more of a guideline than a rule.

That’s what people always say, isn’t it?

Well, I mean, they’re not wrong. Not saying that

Ah, trick or treating, what a fun way to spend the spookiest night of the year. You run yourself ragged chasing down rumors of king-sized candy bars, give yourself a stomachache, and close out the night puking in the toilet.

No? Is that not what you guys do?

Huh.

Though I have spent my life on the safe “treat” side of the equation, I confess an admiration to those who dare to “trick,” and possibly be the fodder for the chainsaw-wielding maniac living just a few blocks off Sanity Avenue. Yeah. Throw your toilet paper. Your ass’ll be regretting it later.

The biggest argument here, I think, is whether or not there comes a time when trick or treating is restricted to those of a certain age. Is it 15, or 23? Nine, perhaps six? Are we inhumane enough to deny a bubbly five year old the pleasures of receiving a nutritious Nature Valley bar on their first Halloween?

My fellow people, I do believe we all know the answer to this question.

And if any of would care to share it, I would love to hear. Seriously. I have no idea.

I have stopped trick or treating as of last year. Why? ‘Cause I walk around enough as is, what with being a dishwasher all weekend, and walking three miles to and from classes on the UCCS campus. My legs are friggin tired, dudes. All I want to do is watch Stranger Things and eat candy in my kickin’ Halloween costume.

So, that said, there is no bias on this side. I am slowly progressing into the Boring-Adults Who-Don’t-Want-To-Go-To-The-Door-With-Their-Siblings-On-Halloween stage of my life; yes, I know, how dreadfully tragic.

Personally, though, from the standpoint of someone who has experienced the thrill of the hunt, I do not think there should be any age limits on trick or treaters, elder or toddler.

We only have one life on this world, so why not spend it doing what you love?

Get out there and break a leg–for some of you older individuals, be careful; I don’t know, dress up as Robo-Cop, or something, get some bionic knees–and remember, it’s all in the journey…

…Unless your journey is comprised of four and a half miles of gravel road.

Then you can say screw it and join me on the couch.

I’ll even save you a bowl of candy.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

P.S: Probably gonna drop to one post a week, due to the stress of college and work and my third novel, so…yeah. Peace out.

 

 

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