Category Archives: self pity

Table Scraps

Jade Beyer, eater of trash, table scraps, and anybody fool enough to break into our house.

While the family dog was watching me intently as I was cooking the breakfast sausages, she decided to strike up a conversation with me.

“You know, beloved father and giver of people food, a lot of other dogs tell me that they get table scraps at meal time.”

“That’s a self-serving comment. And when do you ever talk to other dogs? You’re a house dog that stays inside all the time.”

“I listen to news on the nightly howl, and it’s been a fool moon lately.”

“You mean full moon, not fool moon.”

“That’s not what other dogs call it. It makes their people act like fools.”

“It doesn’t take a phase of the moon to make that happen.”

“So, you will give me table scraps more often?”

“Dogs who eat table scraps get fat and unhealthy and die of heart attacks.”

“Sausages would be worth it.”

“You get enough fat and cholesterol in your diet from eating the burglars that come into the house at night.”

“No burglars came in last night, or any other night that I can remember.”

“Well, that’s probably because in Texas, we elect our burglars to office, especially in the Senate.”

“Euw! I could never eat Cruz or Cornyn. I don’t like the taste of oil mixed with hairspray and arthritis cream. But I could eat Trump, probably. Of all the politicians, he’s probably the only one that looks like he’s made of cheddar cheese.”

“You’d never survive the fat content in the head. Instant myocardial infarction. “

“Well, I don’t know what those last two words mean, but I’ll bet I could survive it. So, when are you gonna start substitute teaching? You get rushed when you have stuff like that to do, and you drop more food on the floor.”

“Well, the school districts are in no hurry to hire me. They seem to have enough subs for the start of this semester, so I have to wait for them to schedule another sub orientation. We could be facing some tough economic times.”

“Oh, that’s not good. No money for even dog food?”

“If things get really bad, we may have to eat table scraps from the floor. And when those are gone, we might even have to eat the family dog.”

“What?! Even if she’s a talking dog and a valuable member of the family?”

“Dogs get eaten before the children do.”

“Oh, I get it. That’s supposed to be black humor. Not funny!”

“It got you to stop thinking about table scraps while I finished cooking the sausages.”

“We’ll see who gets what. I can still give the Princess the beg-eye and make her pity me enough to give me some.”

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, family dog, humor, Paffooney, politics, self pity

Pencil, Pencil, Pen, Pen, Pen…

Yes, students actually eat pencils in class.

My daughter forgot her pencil case in school over the weekend. Now, for normal students, this is no really big deal. But for the Princess, like it is for me as an amateur artist, the pencil case, with her colored pencils and pens in it, is one of the most necessary things for life.

Of course, we did not have an opportunity to go back to school for her pencils and pens. So, panicky, she texted her teacher whereupon the pencil case in question was found and put aside for her until early this morning. She then stole my pens and pencils for the weekend, depriving me and causing me to be the one with the anxiety disorder and heart palpitations.

Of course, pens and pencils were always a critical issue when I was a teacher for 31 years, plus two years as a substitute teacher. Unlike the Princess, students in an English classroom NEVER have a pen or a pencil to write with. I swear, I have seen them gnaw pencils to pieces like a hungry beaver or termite. And they chew on pens to the point that there is a sudden squishy noise in their mouth and they become members of the Black Teeth Club. (Or Blue Teeth Club for the more choosy sort of student.)

A piece of an actual classroom rules poster.

Having students in your class who actually have pencils and pens to learn with is a career-long battle. I tried providing pens for a quarter. I would by cheap bags of pens, ten for two dollars, and sell them to panicky writers and test takers with a quarter (and secretly free to some who really don’t have a quarter). I only used the pen money to buy more cheap pens. But that ran afoul of principals and school rules. A teacher can’t sell things in class without the district accountant giving approval and keeping sales tax records. Yes, the pencil pushers force teachers to give pens, pencils, and paper away for free. I finally settled -on a be-penning process of picking up leftover un-popped pens, half-eaten pencils, and the rare untouched writing instrument apparently lost the very instant the student sat down in his or her desk. These I would issue to moaning pencil-free students until the supply ran out (which it rarely ever did) at no cost to myself.

I also tried telling them repeatedly that they had to have a writing instrument, or they needed to beg, borrow, or steal one. And if they couldn’t do that, I’d tell them, “Well, you could always prick your finger and write in blood.” That was a joke I totally stopped using the instant a student did exactly what I said. A literalist, that one. And it turns out you can’t read an essay that a student writes in actual blood.

But, anyway… My daughter is safely in school now and no longer panicking because she has her precious pencil case back in her possession. And she probably will not ever make that same mistake again. (And she will probably not return my pens and pencils either.)

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Filed under humor, kids, Paffooney, pen and ink, self pity, teaching, Uncategorized

Humor from Beyond the Grave

Being dead is not all down-side. There is a certain amount of goodness to be found in the fact of being already dead.

I know some of this morbid thinking comes about simply because I am facing my own mortality and lingering about in bed most of the time in pain and waiting for a heart-attack or a stroke to put the fireworks into the finale. It is not because I desperately need to get out and drive for Uber to make all the pennies I can for taxes and medical bills and can’t yet do so because of arthritis and diabetes and fear of fainting behind the wheel. I can live with that. It is about preparing and facing the final curtain with as much grace as a fool can.

Of course, the greatest boon that death grants is that it brings an end to suffering. My joints will no longer be on fire and blazing with pain (assuming there isn’t a Hell capable of delivering torments beyond what we get a heaping helping of during life.) I will not have to worry about medical bills and hospital bill collectors any longer. Not that the same can be said of my loved ones. But I myself will no longer have the capacity to think and worry about paying for my many sins of poor health and being sick. In fact, I will be spared a number of things that eat at me while I am alive.

I will not have to watch any more Adam Sandler movies.

I will not have to consider anything that is said on Fox News (unless, of course, Hell is real and they have cable TV there… Because, well, what else would be on?)

And no more of this guy! But I need to check on that no Hell thing. And if there is one, and he is headed there soon for all eternity, I might have to figure out some spiritual hack to get into Heaven.

If there is a Hell, though, it will be like Mark Twain once alluded to. The weather will suck, but the most interesting company to keep will all be there.

And it is a proven fact that writers and other artists make more money after they are dead than they did while they are alive. Think of how much money Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, and John Steinbeck have made selling books since they passed away. Edgar Allen Poe died a pauper like me, but his books continue to be sold and made into movies. And then there’s Maurice Hampton Greenblatt. You never heard of him, right? That is because he never wrote and published anything. (Although it also might have something to do with the fact that he is not a real person, and I made him up for this essay.)

Being dead will be like having written the final chapter in your last book about living life. You will close the book and simply be done… once and for all time. There is a certain satisfaction to be had if your life story has, at the very least, been an interesting story. And there is the whole becoming-a-ghost-writer thing to think about. People will still be able to read my words after I am dead. And who knows? The story may continue. There is a lady who writes classical music for dead composers. She has Schubert and Liszt and Beethoven whispering in her ear. Maybe I can find some goofy kid somewhere to start whispering my stories to.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, goofy thoughts, grumpiness, humor, illness, Paffooney, satire, self pity

Predictions Using Mickey Math

Dr Phool

Mickeys are by their nature pessimists.  When mostly bad things happen to you in your life, you learn not to expect good things, only be pleasantly surprised by them.  And bad things happen only when you are prepared for them if you are expecting only bad things to happen.  In fact, the bad outcome will probably seem good in comparison to the terrible thing you were planning on happening to you.

For example, my car is in the shop being fixed for accident damage that prevented me from earning extra money through Uber for a month and a half.  I was told on Thursday that the car doors were fixed and it was in the paint shop.  It was possible I was going to get it back Friday afternoon.  I was not upset or surprised that I never got the call Friday.  In fact, I fully expected somebody had dropped the car off a lift or painted it neon puce or something and that it will take another two weeks to fix the new damage.  So if it turns out to be ready tomorrow, which I sincerely don’t expect due to Mickey Math, I will still be pleasantly surprised.  I might even go into happy shock.  After all, I clearly remember one time watching a tow truck operator load my malfunctioning car onto a flatbed tow truck, only to see it roll off the front of the truck to further damage it because he had not properly secured it.  That yielded happy shock because the body shop owner who also owned the tow truck ended up repairing my car for free.

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What is the science behind Mickey Math, you say?  Oh, you didn’t say anything?  Well, I will tell you anyway.  In a world where 2 + 2 = 4, if Mickey desperately needs the answer to always be at least 4, you can be certain by experimental proof and past experience that it will surely come out as 2 + 2 = 3.  Life and physics always disappoint Mickey one way or another.  So the science tells Mickey to always be prepared for the worst.

That being said, here are some predictions for the near future figured out via Mickey Math.

  • Since Trump’s tax cut last year retro-actively re-figured withholding deductions on my pension and I owed $1300 in tax penalties for 2017, I will surely pay twice as much in additional penalties this year in spite of the letter from last December telling me readjustments were being made for 2018.
  • Trump is in all kinds of legal peril and the scandals of his presidency will probably lead to the Republican loss of control in Congress.  Therefore the Republican Party will have a governmental coupe (in case Russia fails to swing the elections to them) which seizes absolute power for them and makes Trump President for life.
  • If hurricanes don’t wipe Texas as clean as a marble tabletop, then we will experience our first day of 200-degree temperatures in early January.
  • The baseball Cardinals will not make the playoffs, and the football Cardinals will return to having endless losing seasons.
  • Termites will eat our entire house, and mosquitoes will drink every last drop of my blood.

Now, it is quite possible that things will fall short of most of these dire predictions, but that is how Mickey Math secures happiness from a miserable life.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, pessimism, self pity

Mickey Notes

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Sometimes a Mickey needs to take stock of where he is, where he is going, and what is going on in the world around him.  I think this Mickey needs to make a list of bullet points and hope like hell that nobody gets shot.

  • Mickey is old.  At 61-and-a-half he has six incurable diseases and has been a cancer survivor since 1983.  In modern America, he can no longer afford medicines like insulin that may be necessary to stay alive.  After paying out thousands of dollars in hospital bills and doctor bills, he’s gone bankrupt and probably will not go to the doctor the next time he needs to.  So Mickey is probably right in considering himself temporary at best.
  • The diseases referred to are diabetes, arthritis, COPD, psoriasis, hypertension, and BPH.  No laughing matter, Mickey knows, but not really a crying matter either.  If the economy and the system of government don’t allow you to get real, necessary health care, well… laughter is the best medicine, isn’t it?  And eating right, as much as you can afford to do it, counts for something.
  • Mickey’s car is in the shop.  The goofer who rammed into the driver’s side door in the rain is definitely at fault in the accident.  His insurance, however, holds Mickey 85% responsible because he didn’t have his lights on (although I am pretty sure he did) even though it was almost noon and headlights weren’t strictly necessary in what was merely a light rain.

  • The doors on Mickey’s car won’t open until both of them and the column between them, are both replaced.  So, Mickey is stuck borrowing his nephew’s red car which has a dying battery, mysterious rumbling engine indigestion, and a cracked windshield.
  • Mickey has six good novels published; Catch a Falling Star, Stardusters and Space Lizards, Superchicken, Snow Babies, Magical Miss Morgan, and The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.
  • Mickey also has two completed manuscripts awaiting revision, editing, and publication;  Recipes for Gingerbread Children and The Baby Werewolf.
  • And Mickey has reached 100 pages and 34,000 words on his current manuscript; Sing Sad Songs.
  • It should be obvious, then, that Mickey intends to write fictions furiously until he drops dead.  Mickey hopes that you don’t hope that he will drop dead sooner rather than later.  He promises that his fictions aren’t that bad.
  • Mickey has decided not to waste any more time making fun of the current criminal in the White House.  That problem really seems to be coming to an end on its own.
  • It is probably also obvious that Mickey has been transforming his Paffoonies from grayish photographishes into clear and bright scannishes… er… scans.
  • And when Mickey writes Mickey Notes, he always intends to write something different than it turns out he has really written as he gets closer to 500 words and the end of the essay.
  • Oh, well, Mickey knows how it goes, I suppose, and so he is now done writing Mickey Notes… for today.

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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Mickey, Paffooney, self pity

Uber Crazy

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I have to admit it.  I have been driving for Uber.  I, like many who are doing the same, need the extra money, and can’t manage any other way.  I wanted to work in a grocery store, or something else where I could put in regular hours and make at least minimum wage to supplement my shrinking pension income.  But my health is not sound enough to hold a job where I have to work every day for a set number of hours.  I am only well enough to work about ten hours a week, and then only when my arthritis isn’t crippling me, my diabetes isn’t making me stupid, and other factors aren’t overwhelming me with upset stomach, psoriatic itchiness making me scratch myself bloody in all the wrong places, or having trouble simply getting enough oxygen to stay among  the living.  Uber works for me because I can go do it any time day or night that I feel well enough to do it.  But the job involves a bit of craziness along the way.

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One thing that makes it crazy is the way Uber drivers have, as a group, developed a somewhat sketchy identity.  Sure, they sometimes aid superhero actors who play Doctor Strange and Sherlock Holmes in saving people from attackers (You know, that Bandersnatch Cummerbund guy).  But they also get tried for raping or robbing passengers.  They get into bizarre accidents and shoot their passengers.  How do you convince the female passenger that it is safe to trust you despite the scruffy beard and homeless guy ambiance you are stuck with due to poor health?  Certainly you are aware that you look like a serial killer, right?

man_file_1061878_uber-driver-be-likeAnd back-seat drivers all have visions of the bloody, fiery car crash you are going to put them through in return for their $5.00 riding fee.

But given a chance, I can drive like a master.  I had a daily commute that was 30 miles long (45 stop lights) one way that I spent hours practicing on before and after school for a total of 4 hours a day for 180 days a year for a space of 7 years.  Passengers have gasped when they see the threats coming at us from two lanes over at twenty-miles-an-hour-faster-than-the-speed-limit, but breathe a sigh of relief when I avoid the impact by several feet.  I watch twenty things at once in Dallas-area traffic.

Lately though, I have been limiting myself to food deliveries. I have a car that. due to a faulty heat sensor that has defied recall repair three times, constantly thinks it is suffering from engine overheating, so that, in order to keep going, I must roll down the windows and put the heater on full blast.  That doesn’t sit well with passengers in Texas heat.  But it means I must endure a high-speed Easy-Bake Oven ride while driving.  And today, when I parked at the main office of the apartment complex and walked the meal to the appropriate apartment, which was as it always is, on the far side of the entire complex, I got locked inside.  I couldn’t get back out through any of the security gates because I didn’t have a car to activate the pressure plates at the exit.  And the Spanish-speaking maintenance man who let me in the place was nowhere around to let me out again.  And the next meal delivery was waiting for me to pick it up at Taco Bueno, not getting any warmer while it sat on the counter. I had to squeeze my jelly belly through the narrow opening between the two sides of the security gate.  This I was able to successfully do only probably because the mad dash through the hot sidewalks of the apartment complex had lost me just enough weight to make it.

crazy old driver

Given the option, I would really rather still be teaching.  Uber driving is a crazy way to make money.  But we do what we can actually do in life, and at least I get a funny story or two to tell about later… if I manage to survive the next Uber drive.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, humor, memes, self pity, strange and wonderful ideas about life

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