Month: November 2017

Exit 177. What am I going to do with the rest of the afternoon?

When I got home from church this morning, one of the first things that ran through my mind was, What am I going to do with the rest of the afternoon?

A number of options went through my mind.  I had about an hour and a half of grading papers that I brought home.  That had to get done at some point.  But that left much of the afternoon and evening still unaccounted for.  So I started thinking.  I have a project I’m working on in the yard little by little.  I could work on that.  Or I could go for a long walk and play Pokémon.  Or I could go take my bike to get fixed, again.  I need to find a new bike shop, again.  Every single bike shop at my end of town either doesn’t exist anymore or has screwed me over in some way.  The most recent one I’ve been to twice for major repairs, and both times, something went wrong again a few rides later.  But that’s another story, and the bike is at least still rideable.  I haven’t been riding much, though, because either I’ve been busy or it’s been raining.

But I digress.

I decided to do exactly none of these (except for grading, since that had to be done).  I’ve been stressed and busy a lot lately, I have things on my mind that I need to process, and I need a day to myself to relax.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  And it has been a wonderful afternoon and evening.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my USA readers, or to anyone else who wishes to take time to be thankful and celebrate family and friends.

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Exit 176. Go do something else with your attitude, like crush a child’s dream.

I was always that kid who liked to build things out of common household items accessible to a kid.  Growing up, my room was always full of simple pinball machines made of cardboard, duct tape, and marbles.

As an adult, I still occasionally take on do-it-yourself projects that remind me a lot of the kind of things I would build as a kid, the kind of projects that I imagine someone like MacGyver would take on.  A while back, I used two long sticks and a tape measure to unclog the dryer vent.  When I posted a picture on Facebook of the huge pile of damp lint that had been clogging the vent, I said that I would like to thank Angus MacGyver for teaching my preteen self that there is always a solution using common household objects.

Which brings me to last week.  One of my current projects requires large amounts of scrap cardboard.  I thought of the perfect place to acquire this cardboard: Costco.  For those of you who do not have Costco in your area, this is a bulk wholesale store that sells large quantities of groceries and other common items.  Many of them are sitting on wooden pallets, with sheets of cardboard separating boxes that are stacked on top of each other.  So I walked around the store, grabbing as many of the sheets of cardboard that I could without making a huge mess of the stacked items.  I even checked with an employee if it was okay, and he said sure, we usually just throw them away anyway.  That’s what I assumed.

A few people asked me what the cardboard was for, and I just told them it was for a project I was working on.  I thought about what I was going to say if anyone asked me what the project was.  I didn’t want to be one of those snobs who gets all uppity when a stranger tries to make conversation, telling the other person that they have no right to talk to me.  But explaining exactly what I was doing didn’t feel right.  At one point, I considered telling the truth: “I’m sorry, but I’m feeling really anxious and self-conscious right now, because whenever I do a project like this, people always respond by telling me it’s stupid and it’s not going to work.”

For example, a few years ago, I got another clever idea, this time an electronics-computer-type MacGyver project.  I was telling some people about my idea, and one guy just sneered and told me why my idea was dumb.  Now this guy is just an asshole all around, and not just because of this.  We still cross paths occasionally, and I try not to say more than hi to him.  But it still hurt.  And I never did finish this project.

So… back to Costco.  No one asked me what the project was.  Four people asked me on what aisle they could find things; apparently they assumed that someone pushing a cart full of scraps of cardboard around the store must be an employee.  I hadn’t even foreseen that happening.  Apparently they didn’t see my case of toilet paper, bucket of laundry detergent, or four pound bag of chocolate chips in the bucket under all the cardboard.

When I finally got to the front of the line, I checked again to make sure it was okay for me to take the cardboard.  I said I wasn’t using it to hide anything I might be trying to steal.  And while attempting to make small talk with the cashier, I told her what the cardboard was for.

And she promptly told me why my idea might not work.

Really?

You’re not helping.  Just shut up.  Go do something else with your attitude, like crush a child’s dream or something.  But leave me alone.  I don’t need your advice.

Meanwhile, nothing about that experience has helped the way I feel about this.  Notice that I haven’t even explained here what the cardboard is for… and I’m not going to.  I guess I’m just better off keeping my bright ideas to myself.  Maybe that’s ok.

And it remains to be seen whether or not my idea will work.

Exit 175. It’s not too late for a comeback.

I have a lot of my mind right now.  None of it is ready to be a full post on here.  And now I’ve forgotten what I was actually going to write about.

Oh yeah… Two big things happened in my world this week: the end of the Major League Baseball World Series, and Halloween.  My team wasn’t in it, but if you know me, and you know how baseball works, you can figure out who I was going for.  The series went the maximum possible number of games, seven (for my unbaseballed readers, the champion is the first team to win four games, therefore the maximum length is seven games).  After around game 3, I predicted it would probably go seven games, because these two teams were so good, and so many of their games had been close, going back and forth.

I tried to keep my mouth shut.  I have very strong feelings against one of the teams that was involved this year, but I know people who like that team, and even though sometimes I want to feel differently, my rational thinking side still believes that supporting different teams is not in and of itself a good reason to lose friends.  At times during this series, I really tried hard to stay calm and keep quiet and not say anything.  I had the game on while I was handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.  The game was visible from the front door, and a few people asked me how the game was going.  I had some choice words for the dad waiting at the sidewalk wearing the jersey of the team I wanted to lose, but I was good and kept them to myself.

One important reminder to take away from this Series is that there is always hope, no matter how gloomy and pointless things can seem.  Many of these games featured one team taking an early lead, only to have the other team come roaring back later.  I often feel like life has me beaten down… but as long as I’m still breathing, it’s not too late for a comeback.  Play ball.