Category Archives: self pity

Pyrrhuloxia

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The desert cardinal.

It sings and behaves almost exactly like its scarlet cousins.  It never flies away from seasonal changes or difficult weather, and it also tolerates drier conditions than its bright red family members.

Why do you need to know that?  Because I am a birdbrain.  I connect things that are totally unlike each other.  I am a surrealist.  And for me, being a cardinal is all about never flying away when the winter comes, never giving up.

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There was a time in my life when I wasn’t entirely sure of who I would become.  Let me say clearly, “I am not now, nor have I ever been a homosexual.”  And if I had been one, like a couple of my friends turned out to be, I would not be ashamed to be one.  But there was a time, in my high school years, when I really wasn’t certain, and I was terrified of what the answer might be.

And it was in high school that I met Dennis.

Now, to be honest, I noticed him while I was still an eighth grader, and he was in my sister’s class and two years younger.  It was in the locker room after eighth grade P.E. class was ended and sixth grade P.E. was getting dressed for class.  I was returning to pick up a book I had left.  He was standing just inside the door in nothing but shorts.  The feeling of attraction was deeply disturbing to my adolescent, hormone-confused brain.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with that feeling.  But I felt compelled to find out who he was anyway.  He was the younger brother of my classmate Rick Harper (not his real name).  In fact, he was the book end of a set of twins.  But I came to realize that it was Dennis I saw, not Darren, because they were trying to establish their identities by one of them curling his hair, and the other leaving his straight.

Nothing would ever have come of it, but during my Freshman year of high school, I encountered him again.  During a basketball practice where the ninth grade team was scrimmaging with the eighth graders, the seventh graders were all practicing free throws at the side of the junior high gym.  While I was on the bench, he came up to me from behind and tapped me on the shoulder.  I turned around and he tossed me his basketball.   “Play me one on one?” He asked.  I almost did.  But I remembered that Coach Rod had warned us to be ready to go into the game when he called on us.  I had a turn coming up.  So, I told him that and promised I would play him some other time.  He grinned at me in a way that gave me butterflies in my stomach.  Why?  To this day I still don’t really know.

Dennis’s older brother and I were in Vocational Agriculture class together that year and both on the Parliamentary Procedure team preparing for a competition. We were at Rick’s house.  After a few rounds of practice that convinced our team we would definitely lose the competition, David and his brother trapped me in a corner.

“Hey, Meyer, how’re ya doin’?” Dennis said.  Darren just stared at me, saying nothing.

“It’s Beyer, not Meyer,” I said.  Of course, he knew that.  The Meyers were a local poor family with a bad reputation, and it was intended as an insult.  And it also rhymed, making it the perfect insult.

“Still one of the worst basketball players ever?”

“I try.  I’m working on it really hard.”  That got him to laugh and ask me to give him a high five.

“Goin’ to the basketball game later?”

“Yeah, probably.”

I knew then that he wanted to be my friend.  I wasn’t sure why.  He was picking me out of the blue to make friends with.  We didn’t move in the same circles, go to the same school, or even live in the same town.  He was a Belmond boy, I was Rowan kid.  And he didn’t know I was only a few years past being sexually assaulted and not ready to face the demons my trauma had created within me.

Later, at the basketball game, he found me in the bleachers and sat down beside me.  In my defense, I am not a homophobe.  And neither he nor I turned out to be a homosexual.  He just wanted to be my friend and was taking difficult steps to make that connection.  He was the one taking the risks.  I greeted him sarcastically, and looking back on it, somewhat cruelly, because I was filled with too many uncertainties.  I never meant to drive him away.  But I will never forget the wounded look on his face as he scooted away down the bleacher seat.

He tried to talk to me several times after that.  He apparently never lost the urge to befriend me.  But as much as I wanted to accept his friendship, it never came to be.  I have regretted that ever since.

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Dennis passed away from cancer early this year.  It is what made me think about who we both once were and what I gave away.  I went on to actually befriend a number of boys through college and into my teaching career.  I never chose any of them.  The friendship was always their idea.  I went on teach and mentor a number of fine young men.  I like to think I did it because I felt a bit guilty of never really being Dennis’s friend.  I hope somewhere along the way I made up for my mistake.  I hope Dennis forgives me.  And I wish I could tell him, “I really do want to be your friend.”

The pyrrhuloxia is a member of the family of cardinals and grosbeaks.  And it does not migrate away from troublesome seasons and bad weather.  There is dignity in being a pyrrhuloxia.

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Filed under autobiography, birds, feeling sorry for myself, finding love, forgiveness, Paffooney, self pity, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Secret Meaning of “Donuts”

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I am diabetic. I am not supposed to have donuts for breakfast any more.  Hence the obsession with donuts.  I am only guessing here, but I think it may have something to do with the fact that the very name of donuts tells you what to do.

“What?!” you say.  “What goofiness are you talking about now, Mickey?”

Well, I’ll tell you.  I had a donut for breakfast this morning… with nuts.

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The name “donuts” is literally a command.  It tells you to “Do nuts”.  So I had nuts with my donut this morning.  Peanuts to be precise.  Of course that’s what is wrong with the whole scenario.  It doesn’t mean “peanuts”.  It is commanding you to do something nutty.  Maybe more like eating a donut when you have diabetes.  No matter how good that particular donut tastes when you eat it, an hour later you are going to suffer.

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So here’s the result of my being nuts this morning.  I have come to the conclusion that the root of all evils in the modern world is “donuts”.  Especially when it is pronounced “doo nutz”.  Yes, eating a donut subjects you to the command, “Do nuts!”

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And we all know how bad Trump’s diet is.  Could he be imbibing donuts?  Horrors!  That explains Twitter, cabinet firings, tariffs for the fun of it, random protestations of “No collusion!”, and even “Covfefe”.  Although Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary is an evil beyond even the power of donuts.

And how did Trump even get elected?  Do people in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan glory in eating donuts before voting?  How about disgruntled Bernie Bros?  And one also suspects that middle-aged white women can’t resist a good donut… or an evil one either.

Could it be that I am down on donuts because I ate one and now I am writing this with a pounding high-blood-sugar headache?  Well, yes.  Eating one inspired this post.  It was a chocolate donut with green, mint-flavored frosting.  And it was evil.  It is taking out its evil revenge on the blood vessels in my brain.

So, I implore you if you are reading this… no, I’m not going to tell you not to “Do nuts”… I am going to tell you, “Please, for the love of God, keep donuts away from me!  Eat them yourself if you have to.  But be warned!  They have a secret meaning.”

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Filed under angry rant, conspiracy theory, feeling sorry for myself, goofiness, humor, satire, self pity, wordplay

And The Rain Comes Down…

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And The Rain Comes Down…

Through the wet broken window,

And a dark-colored screen,

I increasingly look down,

On a darkening scene,

On world without rainbows,

Feeling soon I will drown.

“Geez, Mickey,” you will say, “Why-ever would you write such a gloomy pessimist’s poem?”

“Because I prepare myself for the worst.  The worst in this case is that the President of the United States says the solution to school shootings is putting guns in the hands of teachers.  He wants those of us whose hands were made for using chalk on chalkboards, and hearts were made for talking to kids, learning who they are, and guiding them toward a better future, to pick up a gun and accurately take out a threat coming in with legally purchased weapons of war that can shoot more rounds faster than any weapon that the school system will be able to put in my hands.  It is a terrible idea, and he is going to make it happen just because he stupidly can.”

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One time at a middle school I taught at, a child did bring a gun to school.  It was a handgun concealed in a back pack.  He apparently meant to shoot his former girlfriend.  But, as kids will, he told friends about it.  They told a teacher.  The principal called the police and confiscated the back pack.  Not only did the target survive without being shot at, the perpetrator, after his brush with the law and time served, was able to right his boat again and sail on into adulthood, a job, a wife, and kids.  He even told me later that he was grateful to have been stopped from ruining his life, even possibly ending his life.  The problem was solved without a shooting because of teacher skills, being able to talk to kids, being approachable to talk to about problems and unsettling rumors, and knowing where to turn for the proper help at the proper time.

Of course, we were lucky on that one.  Stopping that shooter was not 100% guaranteed.  And it happened in the 90’s during the assault rifle ban.  He was immature enough and excitable enough to have killed many with a more powerful weapon.

If it were up to me to become a weapon-toting defender of the innocent, I am fully aware of how little chance I have to be successful at such a thing.  I am a lousy shot.  If I had to face down an AR-15 with the cheap school-district pistol, I would become one more obvious target that any shooter will obviously take out in seconds.  That’s the best possible outcome for the school, because my missing shot would probably hit some poor innocent bystander.

And, of course, conservative Facebook friends won’t stop insisting that teachers need to be armed.  A good guy with a gun can defeat a bad guy with a gun, you know… assuming the SWAT team doesn’t shoot the good guy, mistaking him for the bad guy.

So, even though I don’t like it, I guess I have to be prepared for schools to become battlegrounds.  Every day a shootout at the OK Corral.  I just hope Wyatt Earp is on my side.

And it really is raining outside today.  Cold, February rain… and it depresses me.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, Depression, gun control, humor, Liberal ideas, photo paffoonies, self pity, teaching

Mickey Viewed From the Inside

Yes, this post is a self-examination.  Not the kind you see Donald Trump enacting every weekend, where he says any crappy thing that occurs to his craptastical very good brain to cover what he doesn’t want us to believe about the truth on Twitter, basically for the purpose of continuing to say he is great and we are poop.   I do not like myself the way Trump likes himself.  I am an old bag of gas that is in pain most of the time, in poor health, and the subject of endless persecution from Bank of America and other money-grubbing machines that are convinced any money I might accidentally have really belongs to them.  But this is not a complain-about-crap fest either.

This is a self-examination that attempts to honestly examine where I am in my quest for wisdom and my affliction with being a writer.

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If I am being honest about the type of writer I really am, I guess I am most like the Weird Recluse in the bottom corner.  I can’t claim to be as good as Kafka or Dickinson, but I am definitely better than some of the crap that gets published and marketed as young adult literature.  The business of publishing is more interested in how many books they can sell, rather than literary merit or good writing.  Some of the crap that is out there and being made into bad movies (which I have not seen because I don’t go to movies that don’t pass the fiction-source smell test) is actually a form of brain poison that will mold young people into sexual predators and professional poop makers.  And people will take poison happily if it has been deviously marketed well.  So far, in the money test, I have made only $16.43 dollars as an author (plus whatever I have made from I-Universe that doesn’t cut a check until it reaches at least $25 dollars).  Nobody is buying my books because nobody has read them.  I have sold a few copies to friends and relatives.  Some of those books are just sitting on a shelf somewhere unread.  I have a couple of 5-star reviews on Amazon, and that is it.  I will die in the near future not having known any measurable success from my books at all.

I have entered novels in writing contests and done well enough to make it into the final round of judging twice.  I have not, however, made a big enough splash that anyone really noticed.  I have paid reviewers to review my books online.  One of those charged me money, and then reviewed a book with the same title by a different author, a book which was nothing like my book, and then, when forced to correct their error, only read the blurb on the back of the book to write the oopsie-I-goofed-last-time review.  They were not worth the money I paid them, money that Bank of America could’ve sued me for instead.

The only thing I have done successfully as a writer is, I think, this goofy blog.  By writing every day, I have managed to give myself considerable practice at connecting with readers.  I have practiced writing humor and written some laughable stuff.  I have plumbed my soul for new writing ideas, and found a creative artesian well bubbling up with new ideas daily.  I can regularly manufacture inspiration.  I am never truly without an idea to write about.  Even when I write a post about not having an idea to write about, I am lying.  Of course, I am a fiction writer, so telling lies is what I do best.  I am also a humorist, so that means I can also tell the truth when I have to, because the best humor is the kind where you surprise the reader with a thing that is weirdly true.  Like just now.

So, somewhere ages and ages hence, I hope there will be a trove of old books in a cellar somewhere that will include one of mine.  And some future kid will pick it up, read it, and laugh.  The golden quality of that laughter is the only treasure I have really been searching for.  It is the reason I write.  It is the reason I continue to be Mickey.

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Getting Old is Heck

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I am sometimes forgetful.  You shouldn’t go for a walk on a country highway if you forgot to put on any clothes.

Cold weather makes my joints creaky and my bones ache.  My head gets fuzzy, and it makes it hard to think when my blood sugar gets low.  (By fuzzy, I mean on the inside like interference in your TV picture, not fuzzy on the outside.  I am fuzzy on the outside because I had to give up haircuts due to psoriasis on my scalp.)

Yes, as we get older, we get crummier and crummier.  I am literally crumbling now as psoriasis flakes my skin off all over.

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And as we get older… and poorer… and dumber… we have to learn how to do things to get happier.  My health problems lead easily to depression.  Not just a little generic sad, but deep down at the bottom of a deep, dark black pit of gloomy depression.  So, I have to take matters into my own hands.  Yes, I act a little goofy on purpose.  I draw a funny picture.  Laughter produces serotonin in the brain, the chemical that is missing when you fall into debilitating depression.  Scraggles is the result of major dark back in the early 80’s.  I also go to Walmart and buy chocolate.  Eating chocolate produces serotonin in the brain too.  I ate a whole 98-cent box of M&M’s this morning.  (Of course, as a diabetic, they had to be peanut M&M’s because peanuts have niacin in them at levels that boost your body’s insulin towards working more efficiently. M&M’s make me happy.

Of course, I am not out of the woods yet.  The mood of your family impacts your own mood.  My children have been ill for most of January and all of February so far.  And that puts them in varied states of depression and needing chocolate.  It is a good thing that Valentine’s Day is near and Walmart is over-stocked.   And it helps that it’s cheap.

I am old.  Being old is not easy.  Being ill is worse.  It really is heck.  But I don’t give up.  I don’t surrender.  I have fought back for too many years to give up now.

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Filed under angry rant, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, humor, insight, Paffooney, self pity

The Old Man In Winter

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Handling the cold of winter is definitely not my favorite thing.  House-bound more than usual, creaky in every joint, hounded by a nagging cough that sounds like the barking of a dog who is 140 in dog years and about to die, I just don’t love this time of year.  And in Texas, we don’t even get pretty white snow to use as a distraction.

You see me here with my long Gandalf hair and my bristly author’s beard.  I have been furiously writing about werewolves and naked teenage girls.  But don’t get excited. It is not a sexy sort of thing.  Rather, it’s a comedy about feeling monstrous because of physical and emotional differences you have no control over, and, of course, prejudice against those who are different.   So I am keeping my head warm in cold weather by thinking too much.

There is evidence all around me of this.  I have so much indoor time on my hands due to weather that I am caught up in silly old man ideas and obsessions.

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I am taking pictures of frost patterns for cartoonish reasons.

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I can’t help but spend time on the computer doing things like making use of the vast storehouse of useless knowledge that I keep in a back room inside my head.

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20171231_150717It seems I am rather good at it, too.  Who knew that a life spent as a teacher would make you into the sort of Jeopardy genius that could earn a million dollars on a show that you will never ever have a chance to get on, and if, by some miracle, you did, you would get a first round question about the atomic weight of molybdenum and you’d say, “What is 42?” because that is the element’s atomic number (and the answer to life, the universe, and everything) instead of 95.94, the correct answer, which you knew, but you got nervous and went for the jokier answer.

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And, of course, I can’t help but reflect on what I am missing out on as an ESL teacher, teaching English to kids who speak Vietnamese, Mandarin, Spanish, Farsi, and Tigrinya.  The world of languages that are not our own is fascinating, as well as frustrating.  We live in a time when communicating with others is the most critical life skill we could have, especially since the world is now run primarily by stupid people, and the evil people who love them.

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This old man is scaring me.  And he has nuclear weapons.

So, I struggle through the winter of 2017-2018 with layers of old sweaters, jackets, undershirts and long-johns.  And I am not lovin’ it.  But I am keeping my head warm.

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Uber New Year

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Who knew that being an Uber driver required the skills of a swashbuckling hero?

But that is exactly what it is.  I am approaching the end of my first $100 dollar week.  And I have already been on a harrowing ride through the world of ride-sharing for money.

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The key to successfully picking up and ferrying passengers to the site of their choosing is a matter of being personable and at ease with driving and talking.  Of course, I have talking skills.  My whole 31 year career was a matter of learning to effectively talk to kids all day long.  And you may not believe this, but adults, people who actually have money and the freedom to choose their own path, are easier to talk to than kids.  I have learned about people’s families, people’s jobs, opinions of their bosses, opinions of the government and taxes, and even some tell me about their love lives, both directly, and second hand.  If there are two in the car, then they forget that the driver has ears and can hear (within the limitations of really old ears).

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One recent passenger was absolutely convinced that no Uber driver actually knows how to drive.  That passenger sat in the back seat and sent a barrage of traffic warnings and worries forward for me to deal with at the same time I was watching the road ahead.  It was almost exactly as harrowing as driving with my wife as a passenger.  I felt like a child again, driving for the meanest teacher I ever had growing up.  (Sorry, Ms. Rubelmacher, I learned a lot from you.  Don’t give me detention for writing that.)

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But why did I say “Swashbuckling hero” if I am only going to talk about talking to passengers?  And why all the Batman gifs?

Well, I am talking about driving in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, ain’t I?  Do you know what Texas drivers are like?  On Saturday I picked up a coach headed for a retirement party at a Luby’s on the border of DeSoto (a southwest Dallas suburb.  That was a twenty-two dollar trip from east-central Dallas catty-cornered all the way across the city in a diagonal direction on the tollway and then I-35 South.  I had three cars cut me off for driving too slow (by which I mean the speed limit.  Hey, Uber monitors that through their app.)  The Uber Navigator told me to keep right at a time when keeping right nearly threw me off 35 onto an intersecting highway, so I had to make a quick two-wheeled Starsky and Hutch turn through the corner of the median to stay on course.  (Fortunately, Uber can’t monitor that.)  Dallas drivers are a combination of speedy predators in WASP rockets, Texas killer grandmas in Cadillacs, and Elmer Fudds going too slow in classic cars from the 50’s.  They provide you with a booby-trapped obstacle course to drive through, and go so fast that the speed limit becomes dangerously too slow.

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So I definitely appreciate Batman for providing me with all the animated illustrations to use for portraying the high-risk life of an Uber driver.  It makes driving this way easier to pretend that I am one half of the dynamic duo driving the Batmobile in Dallas downtown traffic.  Yes, it’s true, I am saying I pretend to be Batman.

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