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Adios

Dear Colombia,

My sister, Keely, is a wonderful person. You shouldn’t deport her. She’s funny and smart. She works with orphans. She is the wind beneath my wings because she knows that children are our future. See, her secret is to teach them well and let them lead the way and, in doing so, show them all the beauty they possess inside, thus giving them a sense of pride to make it easier. But in your infinite wisdom, you’d prefer she didn’t spread goodwill throughout your country. You’re not really into the whole “working with orphans” thing. You don’t see the point of “helping kids with developmental problems.” Allowing one to use one’s very expensive education to “better the lives of others by offering free physical therapy” isn’t your racket. Interesting, Colombia. Very interesting.

Love, Josh

P.S. I do find it a little funny. Thanks for the material.

———————————————————————————————-

As funny as it is, before I get into the aforementioned postscript material I’m obligated to come to my sister’s aid the best way I know how: with my words. Being a natural complainer who is unwaveringly intolerant of all things stupid, I will take up this cause for one entire paragraph. Why? Because in her own blog my sister the transcendent one has refused to go on complaining about being deported. Blaming the government would be counterproductive. Like a duck, she lets the water, or the orphan tears, run off her back. That’s nice and I respect her position. However, someone’s got to address this. I’m not saying that my banter is or will be any good, but it’s all I have.

So she didn’t have the correct paperwork. She had a tourist visa when she should have had a volunteer visa. But isn’t there some leeway for a do-gooder from Colorado? It’s not like she requested a volunteer visa as a front for selling Colombian mail-order brides. In fact, she went the other way; she positively expanded upon the activities typically expected of a tourist. I mean, what is a tourist visa anyway? It’s just the government giving permission for one to lollygag. So by helping orphans and personifying the greatest love of all, she’s being punished for not puttering. No, Mr. Colombia says. No, no, no. You promised us you were going to dilly-dally and you, Missy, are not. We want tourists, tourists who take pictures of crazy Colombian toilets and fill rolls of film with photos of every McDonald’s they encounter. We expect tourists who mock the misconceptions about our drug problem by posing in front of a Welcome to Colombia sign with a handful of baby powder. You are trying to teach about the greatest love of all? Please leave. Don’t let the puerta hit you on the way out.

C’mon, Colombia.

(This is where I’d lean in, whispering into Colombia’s ear.) She can be like that sometimes. She’s always going a step beyond. She did, after all, decide long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow. Maybe she had it coming and needs to learn that she can’t go around selflessly helping other people willy-nilly.

The doctor's robe. The glowing aura. Need I say more.

She couldn’t even lie about her good deeds to Mr. Colombia when he questioned her. Of course, it’s hard to lie when you’re a do-gooder. But it could have been as easy as this:

Mr. Colombia: What is your business here?

Keely: I’m learning to salsa dance and I’ve fallen in love with a Colombian man without whom I am lost. I am drinking a lot of coffee. Also I took fifty three pictures of the Iglesia.

Mr. Colombia: Which one?

Keely: The one in the city.

Mr. Colombia: And that is all?

Keely: Yes.

Mr. Colombia looks at her suspiciously.

Keely: I do have one question. Where can I find Columbia Studios?

Mr. Colombia: (smiles) You’re just the kind of moron we want here. Enjoy your stay in Colombia.

Mr. Colombia emphatically stamps her visa.

Instead she probably shared her whole plan, talked about the special equipment she built for the orphans. She must have gone on and on about the greatest love of all happening to her. Defiant, she marched up and said, “If I fail, if I succeed at least I’ve lived as I believe. No matter what you take from me, you can’t take away my dignity.” Yeah, yeah.

———————————————————————————————-

Los Stupidos.

Come to think of it I’m might need to thank Colombia because I’ve been looking for something to hold over her head for a while. Back off. I’m not trying to be mean. In fact, I can write this because I love her dearly. But you have to understand that I am a selfish person and she’s been making my brothers and I look like a bunch of sideshow doofuses for 29 years. Granted, some of that is our fault as the level of stupidity to which the three of us have fallen is truly staggering and could fill a year’s worth of blogs. (Frankly, we’re lucky we have all our limbs.) On the other hand, Keely—or as we call her, The Mailman’s Kid if the mail man was a bongo-playing, Matthew McConaughey-resembling ex-Peace Corps worker who dabbled in organic chemistry “just for fun”—has always set a high standard. But now I have a comeback. Next Thanksgiving when Mommy and Daddy are scowling at me for slapping my brother with a piece of breast meat I can simply point across the table at Keely and say, “El Deporto.”

Of course, they will respond by pointing at me and saying, “El Stupido.” Then they’ll make me go to my room. Darn.

Los Stupidos II.

If any of my three readers are worried, fear not. She will almost certainly find a way to make the best out of Colombian Deportation 2011. She will convert this turd of a situation into glittering fairy dust. She told me the other day that she’s going to spend some time in Peru while she waits for the correct Colombian visa. Figures. She’s going to visit Machu Picchu where she will almost certainly make a discovery of particular worldly significance—a new species of flower, the petals of which can be used in lieu of gasoline in any internal combustion engine and whose only emission is love. She will stumble upon a band of never-before-seen Incan orphans who need help with their motor skills. She will write a book about her experience. It will be titled, Thanks, Deportation. I’ll open the book’s cover and hear the binding crackle as it does on any new book. On the dedication page I’ll see my name. It’ll say:

To my brothers, Josh, Jack and Andy, For every right, there is a wrong. Thanks for being my wrong.

You’re welcome. I’m going to chase my tail for a while.

-MC JLight

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Andy Jesus, a.k.a. Mayor McMoron

I had the opportunity last month to spend a couple of weeks with one of my favorite people in the world: my youngest brother, Andy J. We went to the beach, ate ice cream, swam at all hours of the day. Nothing complex, just good simple time spent with family. Wind whistled through the trees, bullfrogs burped out on the pond. There were lightning bugs and giggling. So serene. And it was this serenity, this pure medium, that allowed me to realize a certain truth… Namely, that my brother is indubitably a moron.

I love him dearly. It’s not his fault. After all, he is thirteen and male. When you’re thirteen and male you don’t leisurely eat ice cream. No, you take it as a challenge. You dominate the ice cream. You consume over a pound of the stuff (17.5 ounces to be exact) in one sitting. You don’t just go swimming; you wrestle-swim. You Kung fu in the water. You Jujitsu in the water. You leave your swimming partner with an ache in his most sensitive areas. You don’t just go to the beach; you make the beach your bitch.

And why do you do this when you’re thirteen and male? Why do you shoot BB’s through windows and blow up hot dogs with firecrackers and run around waving some poor girl’s underwear over your head that inadvertently ended up in your laundry at camp? Simple. Because it’s cool. Coolness is the sole justification. Coolness. People will blame this behavior on hormones or caffeine. Freud would say that the young man is trying to achieve some libidinal pleasure. No, no, Siggy. He’s trying to be cool.

“That’s domination, fish.”

Coolness is bliss. Upon performing an act of coolness you, at that moment, have reached the pinnacle of life in this or any other universe. At thirteen you have usurped the laws of physics and chemistry, thus creating a momentary ether in which you are the center. You glow fluorescent shades of blue. You emit never-before-smelled pheromones. You’re not a man, you’re The Man. This is coolness. But, like any high, it’s fleeting, so you become a chaser. You seek out other opportunities for coolness. You are relentless and, if nothing else, original. You realize that sledding in and of itself is not cool, but sledding off a six-foot, coccyx-shattering jump is. You discover that simply lighting the charcoal is a sad substitute for incinerating the charcoal with a gallon of gasoline. Who cares if the burgers taste like a trucker’s leathery hand because in doing all this you are striving for the ultimate, hoping that all these acts will somehow weave together, like an Arthur Fonzarelli spider web, and become law. You’re hoping to become the lifetime sheriff of cool.

photoProblem is, cool is not universal. Cool is in the eye of the beholder, but the thirteen-year-old beholder is too encased in coolness to know it. He sees coolness in having an indoor water fight using pitchers and pitchers of water. For his father, however, this event produces the polar opposite of cool; it produces red. It produces your-are-so-uncool anger. It produces go-to-your-room-for-a-week-and-only-come-out-to-help-me-tear-up-the-carpet anger. Anger, if anything, can thwart coolness.

And the thirteen-year-old male idiot does get his fair share of anger. It sometimes piles upon him like sticky tar. For a while he doesn’t understand what the big deal is, but then the reasons behind the anger soak in. He grows older, too. To some extent he starts to understand how to function in the world. He learns that coolness isn’t the only force in the universe. He learns the rules. But—and this is the scariest part about the male, cool-seeking moron—the urge for cool never… goes… away. Never. You just learn how to manage it. You dole it out in smaller doses. You get better at lying and making excuses.

Keeping it cool.

You know when the time is right. But the search for cool never leaves you. So, at 19, you create a floor-to-ceiling barrier of phone books in your dorm hallway while everyone else is sleeping. At 25, under the cover of darkness, you jump into bushes for no reason at all. You, at 32, take utter joy in stealthily whipping your friends with a towel. As a father at 40 you tow your children on sleds behind your truck, sending them whipping along the frozen streets, but you make sure their mother doesn’t see. At 45 you have to fight the urge, when walking with someone next to a swimming pool, to push them in. Doesn’t matter if it’s your wife, your mother, or your boss. And, at 55, you sneak off on the 4th of July with a Black Cat and a hot dog, knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that blowing stuff up with firecrackers is the coolest thing ever.

Keep it cool.

-MC JLight

That was the day that mother told me I was too old to listen to rap music. Mid spring, 2002. I was twenty-four and moving out of my apartment. Mother was helping. We got into my car; I turned the ignition. When the engine started the radio was blaring a song by my friend, Snoop Dogg. He was extolling the virtues of a gin and juice cocktail. My mother, needless to say, did not appreciate his music. Mommy quickly flicked the volume knob and broke the news to me. It was so traumatic, so perverted that it has stuck in my head ever since.

In her sweet, irritation-laced voice she said to me, “Josh O’Dell, you are too old for this. You don’t need to be listening to such scary music.” Ahhh. But I love it so much. Scary? It’s not scary.

Since then I have not stopped listening to my beloved musical genre. If anything I have listened to it more even though I’m now thirty-two. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll ever retire my library. I can’t envision a scenario in which I’ll say, “Oh, what silly music. What was I thinking?” Of course when I have kids I’ll have to listen in private because no one likes a toddler who tells his grandmother that he’s got ninety-nine problems but a ______ ain’t one. She really might hit him. (Check your Jay-Z lyrics.) (Mom, I would never let my kids listen to Jay-Z. Not until they’re eight.)

I love rap music because of those satisfying moments when I am in the car bobbing my head to Biz Markie’s rough beatbox or the knotty rhythms of Dangerdoom…. In those moments I am cool. Possibly the coolest I will ever be. I’m not kidding. At that moment, when I’m spitting verses I am part of the musical collaboration That’s when I’m MC JLight, standing on stage with my hand cupped around the mic. I am a badass. I’m Steve McQueen with rhythm and gold fronts. And not even you—the staring lady next to me at the stoplight with your finger halfway up your nose—can tell me different.

The coolness factor is a big deal because those of you who know me well also know that my everyday alter ego, Joshua O’Dell, is patently uncool. He crosses his legs because it’s comfortable. (Sorry, it is.) He eats granola. He can’t tan to save his life. And, worst yet, he listens to NPR.

I like many other genres, but nothing is cool like rap. Classic country is twangy-cool. I’m going for urban-cool. Jazz is very cool, but I can’t participate in it unless I want to break out the old saxophone, which I don’t. Grunge is cool if you’re into sitting in a corner, thinking about why life sucks. Bluegrass is moonshine-cool. Metal just makes me weep—very uncool. There’s all that emotional, whiny, songwriter stuff. That’s sensitive-cool or don’t-watch-me-leave-you-but-listen-to-me-describe-the-rain-drops-for-five-minutes cool.

I love rap because, to put it bluntly, I’ve got beats in my bones and I’ve got a sweet booty that deserves to be shook. And it’s always been largely about the beats. Lyrics are cool, but the rhythm is the skizm. Rap allows for the baddest moves on the planet, e.g., break dancing, pop lock, cupid shuffle, stanky legg, lip gloss, Bugs Bunny, scuba hop, lip gloss, Aunt Jackie, running man, a-town stomp, SpongeBob, chicken noodle soup, the robot, the cabbage patch. I can do every one of ‘em.

Without rap there are so many things that I still wouldn’t know. Without Snoop Dogg I wouldn’t have realized that I need to have my mind on my money AND my money on my mind. Without Young MC I couldn’t truly bust a move. Without Busta Rhymes I wouldn’t know how to speak gibberish. If not for Freestyle Fellowship who’s going to tell me that the potato is hot? And without Black Sheep I wouldn’t have the option of this or that.

Besides, I grew up listening to this stuff. And it was okay back then, i.e., Mom knew I was listening to it. So it was okay until I turned, what, eighteen? Twenty? After that I was supposed to skip straight to Larry Welk? I mean at this point it sounds like I ought to keep rapping seeing as I’m so removed from being a grown-up. If I suddenly stop listening to it I might get the urge to sit in an office or eat a tapa.

Now that sounds scary.

-MC JLight

Me and rejection sailing together. That's me on the left.

Ahoy. Let me first say that I’m not looking for any pity here. Read this with a hint of derision in your mind’s voice. This is me trying to do something I’m very bad at, incidentally something that should have been included in the Parade of Stupidity (see previous blog): turning negative experiences into positives. Blah, blah. Oh boy.

This is going to be contemptuous and silly and dopey, but it makes me happy. Plus, I don’t have anything better to do. And, yes, perhaps I should keep these things to myself. But what’s the good of having a blog if you can’t subject people to your every self-pitying whimsy. Let the voyage begin.

Raise the mainsail and waggle the jib. Tie the halyard with a double mummy Oprah knot and take two shimmies on the rudder. Make sure the stanchion is bubbling and turn the wheel to a heading of east-northsouth at a speed of 8 million knots. Very soon I’ll make the jump to hyper speed. Set your sextants to stun.

I’m sailing a majestic boat. I’m wearing a pair of Top-siders without socks. I’m sporting sunglasses with Croakies and on this trip I’ll develop the most bodacious tan on this side of the Tropic of Capricorn–which is saying a lot because I usually go straight from whitey white to daddy-please-don’t-hit-me-with-the-belt-again red. This voyage will almost certainly be awesome. I’ll keep a journal, a memoir of my journey because that’s what you do. Should my mechanical pencil run out of lead I will slay a mighty squid and use its ink. I will not, however, write in my own blood because I get queasy around needles.

A double mummy Oprah knot. Just in case you were wondering.

Day 3: Navigated successfully through the Straight of WeRegretToInformYou. It looked a lot friendlier than it actually was. Once between its canine-shaped rocks I experienced a what I’d thought, until that moment, to be a fictional feature of the S.W.R.I.Y.: pockets of halitosis gas bubbling from the sea floor.

Day 25: Running out of freshwater faster than I anticipated. Could have something to do with the long shower I took after being pooped on by an entire flock of ThankButNoThanks Birds. They came out of nowhere while I was eating cheese and crackers on the deck. Ruined the rest of the day. After my long shower I sat in a dark corner chewing on a toothpick.

Day 49: Been doing repairs after I threw my knife at a small WeLikedItBut Nymph last night. Some people say they don’t exist, but I saw it clear as could be. Doesn’t matter that after I tried to attack it the darn thing disappeared and my knife gashed the jib. All I have is a needle and thread to repair the hole. Hoping it will hold.

Day 72: So thirsty. Thought I saw fresh water on the deck, but it only turned out to be a puddle of WeGaveYourStoryaSecondReadingHowever. Didn’t realize it until I was getting splinters in my tongue.

Day 99: Get it? I’m sailing in a sea of rejection. I’m tired of this metaphor.

I’m getting rejected a lot lately. It’s kind of a daily thing. Job opportunities, writing submissions… it doesn’t matter. I know rejection is part of the deal considering my interests and career (?) path, but it’s still not that fun. So I’m looking for ideas. I’m not quite sure what to do with all of them. Unfortunately almost all of them have been delivered via e-mail. If they were printed I could use them to make some lovely wallpaper. As it is, though, I just catalogue them in my psyche.

What else to do? I could always write the infamous writer-writing-trying-to-overcome-rejections story, but that’s just a big cliche. Besides, I’ve already written a silly blog about it. Maybe there’s some sort of business opportunity to be had. Maybe I could be a rejection consultant. Start some kind of service where I counsel people on how to compose more humane rejections. Businesses could use it: Thank you for applying, but we’ve decided to go in a different direction. It may not be the right direction, just a different one. Heck, it may just be the wrong direction. We don’t even have a map! Not hiring you may be the biggest mistake we’ve ever made! You don’t want to work here anyway. There’s asbestos in the walls and all our male employees have mustaches.

Fed-up girlfriends could use it too: Dear Kenny. Don’t think of this as a break-up. It’s an opportunity. I’m giving you the time necessary to become the professional Xbox player that you so long to be. I’m only holding you back from realizing your dreams. I don’t deserve someone with your digital dexterity. You’re welcome. I will love you always and watch you from afar. Yours, Mona.

Realize the dream, Kenny.

Insurance companies: Dear Mrs. Huffington. Unfortunately we must deny your claim for medical services rendered on January 15, 2010. But please take solace in the fact that we didn’t even review your claim. It’s nothing personal. Furthermore, your money will be a vital part of helping one of our lucky executives to realize his dream of owning his very own sail boat. Ahoy.

Ahoy.

That’s good stuff. Rejection still sucks.

-MC JLight

P.S. I’ve gone to the dark side. Follow me on Twitter @THEoriginalJLO.

For a nothing-doer I’ve been awfully stressed lately. When I get stressed I get cranky and there’s only one thing I can do went I get cranky: rant. It’s about to happen. Don’t judge me. I hope you’ll keep reading.

Without further ado, I present to you my first annual List of Things that Might be Stupid or The 2010 Parade of Stupidity.

Humidity. Humidity, I’m pretty sure, is stupid. Think about this: I’ve walked outside my apartment during the summer and my glasses have fogged up. I’ve had to flip on my car’s defrost because of the humidity… DURING THE SUMMER. So stupid. Sometimes I feel like I’m wearing a wetsuit and hanging out inside a giant mouth. It’s disgusting. Things get sticky. I chaff in certain places that I don’t like to talk about.

People Who Don’t Know When It’s Appropriate To Have A Loud Cell Phone Conversation. On a bus, in a quiet restaurant, at a golf tournament, in a doctor’s office, in a movie theater, in a napping lion’s enclosure, while you’re in the pool, when you’re in line somewhere, in a public restroom, at your arraignment, in a movie theater, in a movie theater. This is a short and very incomplete list of places and situations in which people do not need to start yelling into their cell phones. But without fail, someone always does and doing so is very, very stupid. Quite stupid. Sure, things come up, but not that often. Please don’t interrupt my bus ride by screeching into your cell phone about the totally hot guy you met at the party even though you were totally hammered, the guy who totally held your hair back while you puked and who’s so totally sweet. I don’t care. To deal with you he must have been totally hammered too and totally doesn’t remember you and totally lost your phone number and he totally wouldn’t call you anyway because you’re a total loser. Shut up.

Shut your trap, Buddy. No one cares.

Here’s the underlying problem: The convenience of cell phones has slowly conditioned us to believe that because they can be used anywhere, they should be. No, no, no. Save some conversations for the house.

My Hair. It’s always been a little stupid, but I don’t realize it until it gets longer than usual. That’s when I remember why I always cut it so short. I have what you might call a puffy problem. And the humidity (see above) doesn’t help anything. The longer it gets the closer I get to being able to safely ride a bike without a helmet.

The NBA. Overwhelmingly stupid and frustrating. Where do I begin with this one? How about with the officials who don’t really enforce rules anymore. Instead, they kind of, sort of call certain fouls on certain players, but only if the foul is really obvious or really imperceptible depending, of course, on the player committing the foul or receiving the foul and they bend certain, but not all of the rules to favor certain players and often they forget the rules completely to ensure that the game is exciting and they always look good doing it, making sure that they gesticulate wildly so as to show everyone how athletic they are and how, if they wanted, they could be playing basketball too and, most importantly, they ensure that at the end of the game the viewers know their names even though it’s ludicrous to know any official’s name in any sport. There’s no other sport in which the casual fan can notice and name so many officials. Officials are an apparatus of the game for God’s sake. We shouldn’t know anything about them. What’s next? Are the commentators going to start talking about the baskets before the game? Maybe discuss where the iron’s origin. Or, better yet, let’s make every one different so that the players have no idea how big it is. Maybe they can’t even get the ball through it. And they can also change rims after each quarter to really keep the players on their toes.

I’ve become so angry that this doesn’t even make sense.

I love basketball. That’s why I love the college game. The NBA, however, isn’t basketball anymore. It’s a player popularity contest and a showcase for officials who are given way too much leeway.

Soggy Apples. Nothing worse than being eager to sink your chompers into a nice crunchy apple only to find that the stupid thing is actually filled with apple sauce. Mealy texture, apple flesh falling apart before you can even chew. When this happens I sometimes pretend it’s a pear just to make myself feel better. This, however, does not take away from the stupidity of the situation.

Get after it, Pal.

Golf. Usually stupid. How else do you describe the act of trying to hit a little ball into a little cup? Twain was right, golf is a good walk spoiled. I’d like to go further by saying that golf is a good walk that quickly becomes an angry, obscenity-laden slog. Even more stupid, I continue to play it.

There are way too many good angry golfer pictures to choose from.

Parents Who Refuse to Recognize the Messes Generated by Their Children. Let me begin this rant by saying that I love ankle-biters; I am by no means anti-child and I understand that they specialize in making messes. But, parents of the world, if you go to, say, a restaurant and your child makes a mess of cosmic proportions at least recognize that some else will be cleaning it up. A simple “Sorry about the mess” will do just fine. I’m not asking you to get on your hands and knees and coral all the Cheerios on the floor. Just say thanks to the person who does.

P.S.-This segment is brought to you by a family of four who I waited on last Sunday, the children of which made a colossal mess by throwing rocks all over our outdoor dining area while the parents simply enjoyed their mojitos then quickly scooted out the door after leaving me 10%. Truthfully, the tip doesn’t matter. What matters is that I spent thirty minutes sweeping rocks back into the garden. An oopsy-daisy would have made it all better.

Moving. S-t-u-p-i-d. People say that a good friend will help you move. I’d never do that to a good friend. I say you should only ask people who you really, really hate.

Moving. Is. Stupid.

Pat Robertson. He insinuated that the people of Haiti had it coming because they don’t share his religious beliefs. Enough said.

Rants. They don’t make you feel any better. They only get you more worked up about the things you dislike and make you notice other things you didn’t realize you disliked in the first place. Dammit.

You’d think that someone who does nothing, such as myself, would have more time to write a silly little blog. And you’d probably be right. But doing nothing is often very hard work. There’s a lot of thinking and planning that goes into it. Do I continue making kissing sounds at Dave the Cat for another hour or should I philosophize about why Velveeta is not per se a cheese in the classical sense. (Yes, I have thought about that. What, exactly, constitutes cheese? But that’s another blog.) In fact, I go so far as to say that doing nothing is often back-breaking and time-consuming—my nothing is so intense that it requires two compound adjectives.

Jealous Cereal.

Take today, for instance. Today I thought about cereal for a while. Let me begin by saying that I adore cereal. In Spanish there’s fourteen-ish words for love and I’d use them all to explain my affinity for cereal if I hablaed Espanol. For now, “love” will have to do. I started the day off with some Kashi Strawberry Fields, which has a hint of sweetness and some nice red (dried) berries and flakes don’t get too soggy in milk. Delicious. There’s the Beatles reference, too, which doesn’t influence the taste necessarily, but does put me bouncy mood. Second course consisted of some banana nut Cheerios. This may sound gross. Personally I remember the fake-banana -flavored stuff that Dr. Gary Vance, DDS would use to numb my mouth just before sticking a needle in my gum. This was always followed by the drilling of and/or yanking at teeth. But banana nut Cheerios do not taste like fake banana. If they did, I wouldn’t eat them. They taste like heaven… heaven wrapped in glorious sunsets and served atop a shimmering rainbow. I love you, Cereal.

But then I couldn’t help but think about all the other things I love to eat for breakfast. Donuts, for instance, make me light-headed. Don’t get me started on omelets, especially when they involve bacon. I made an Italian omelet once with mozzarella cheese and homemade marinara sauce that made me weep. Biscuits and gravy make me want to Sweat to the Oldies with Richard Simmons. (I’m not sure what this means, but I think it’s really, really good.) So it’s not just cereal. I like breakfast… a lot.

Oh, Cereal. Don’t be jealous.

By this time it was almost lunch. Lunch is the lovely intermezzo between the opening tympani of breakfast and the fat lady that is dinner. Lunch, for me, means sandwiches. Holy crap. Sandwiches. I like sandwiches with mayo and lots of black pepper. I like good bread. I like rich cheese and fresh veggies and mustard and… turkey. Dammit, I love turkey. And bacon. I like a Reuben sandwich and I don’t know if they named it after the guy from the bible, but it makes sense given that one of the name’s etymological roots is a Hebrew word meaning, he will love me. A Reuben sandwich will love you and love you good. (This information came from Wikipedia, which we all know can be suspect, but it works so I’m going to run with it. Regardless of its accuracy, trust me, a Reuben sandwich will love you.) I like crunchy chips with my sandwich and an orange soda. I used to make sandwiches out of nothing but hamburger buns and BBQ sauce. I called it a BBQ sauce sandwich. What’s not to like? I like sandwich’s cousin, the wrap. The wrap is a one-handed sandwich. I once made a wrap out of yellow mustard and Gold Fish (the cracker).

Reubens: so loving.

Okay, so I like lunch too. Who doesn’t? Cereal, it’s not a denial of what we have together.

While I’m thinking about dinner I snack on some hummus and veggies. Hummus is a weird thing, but I love it. Wait, I should use a different word. I don’t want Cereal to think I’m cheating on it. Rephrase—I rely on hummus for intellectual stimulation…

No, no, Cereal, it’s not that you’re not intelligent… We just have a different relationship… No, don’t leave… Of course you complete me… How many times have I told you that we’re soul mates… Yes, but I’ve said it different ways… Do I have to actually use the term “soul mate…” But that was just one time… I don’t have a problem…  You’re just being emotional… Come sit down.

Oh, Cereal. Sure I love dinner, too. What do I love so much about it? I love… Sorry, I enjoy casseroles. Come out with me some time and we’ll get a nice chicken mole enchilada. Gnocchi with a Caprese salad to start. No, you don’t pronounce the “g.” Oh, Cereal, now you’re just getting nitpicky… It’s not hoity-toity, it’s part of the language… Yes, I love simplicity… You’re simple, Cereal. Maybe once in a while I’ll eat an entire large pizza with Canadian bacon and pineapple and jalapeños. Sure you can have bacon for dinner… It’s not gluttonous… You can have bacon for any meal… Oh, the Canadians have just as much right as anyone else. Well, now that you mention it I also like a buffalo burger… Yes, bison, tatonka. I’m being unreasonable?  Fine, how about this: I love butternut squash ravioli with fried basil leaves. That snooty enough for you? I love lightly seared Ahi tuna. I love raw tuna for that matter. You won’t even try sushi. Sure I like Velveeta… And bacon.

Bacon.

Don’t bring dessert into this… Because it’s unfair… Well, there are brownies and ice cream and homemade ice cream. Cobbler in the summer… I’m smiling because I like cobbler… It makes me feel nostalgic… I’m beginning to think you don’t understand me, Cereal. What about cake? Everyone loves cake. And there’s banana pudding. My mom makes the best banana pudding… Oh, this has nothing to do with her… Leave Sheryl out of this… Pecan pie and popsicles and bread pudding and cookies and panna cotta and tiramisu and…

What?

Why’d you have to go there, Cereal? I don’t have a problem… Well, yeah… But doesn’t everyone love to eat?… Of course you’re enough for me… Most of the time… Twelve step program? Isn’t everyone a little skinnier in high school? It’s not a coping mechanism… What do I have to cope with? I’m needy? You’ve thought this all along? I’m just craving attention? The blog has nothing to do with it… Sure I eat to make myself feel better. What’s wrong with doing nothing?

I guess I’m bored… It might make me feel a little better… Yes, that sounds nice. Let’s go with the Honey Nut Cheerios. Not too much milk… And a big spoon… Have the Lucky Charms on standby.

-MC JLight

When I’m in the middle of doing nothing—I mean, when I’m really doing it well—I’ll sometimes Google little questions that I’m looking to answer. Are soul patches cool? Turns out they’re not as cool as they used to be. Where did Waldo go? Somewhere in the South Pacific. How much money should I save each month? More than I currently do. Am I too old to get pregnant? Yes.

Here’s one that I did today, just cause I worry about this kind of thing: How old is too old to change careers? I asked Google this for several reasons. First, honestly, if I got a real job, even my dream job, I’d consider it a career change, as I am currently the VP of Jack Squat. Second, I’m extremely worried that my chosen career path is evaporating before me. And third, because I feel like I’m starting to get past the age where anything is possible.  You know, I’m not sure I can go back to school and I doubt if people want to hire someone my age as an intern and I’ve got to earn money somehow. So basically I wanted to know if all hope for me is gone… And Google seemed like the place to go for this vital info. Besides, my Magic Eight Ball was broken. It just kept saying, “Ask again,” so I threw it into a lake.

The first link that popped up directed me to a message board on which a man of my exact age came a-wondering if he was too old to become a journalist. The responses poured in and were all very positive. Of course not. You’re only as old as you feel. Never say never. One person mentioned many famous people who started careers later in life.

But one response stood out. In it the respondent questions the asker’s negative language, which, strangely, is a lot like mine, e.g. I won’t go back to school. I can’t find a job that makes me happy, etc. He suggested that the wannabe journalist ought to rework his vocabulary. Agreed. For many people, positivity has worked miracles in the past. Our forefathers’ positivity helped found this great country in the face of insurmountable Red-Coated odds. Positivity has helped countless sports underdogs (notably the 1997 Denver Broncos). And who hasn’t used a little positive thinking on a road trip through Nevada when there’s fifty miles ahead until the next rest stop and fifty miles have past since you stopped at Taco Bell for a bagful of bean burritos.

So me and the wannabe journalist should go with positive stuff. I will…. I can… Fine. Sort of. Perhaps I’m a Negative Nancy, but I usually reserve I will for certain things that I will do. I will take out the trash. I will eat some ice cream. I will take you to the airport. These are things over which I virtually have complete control. The wheels stop turning, though, when I try to be positive about tasks of less certainty (I will drive this ball down the middle of the fairway) or, even scarier, goals that depend on the willing participation of others (see below). Those scare the dickens out of me

Most applicable to my “professional” life is something like this: I will sell/publish this or that screenplay/story. **Silence, cricket chirp, cough.** Oh boy. Again, I may be a Debbie Downer, but how can I even begin to utter such a sentence. My brain starts working overtime: I have little control over such an event, I might jinx myself by saying it, I’m setting myself up for disappointment. C’mon, the only way I could convince myself that it was possible for me to write a novel was by getting a few words of it tattooed on my body as motivation. Because who wants to be the guy who had a small portion of an unfinished/unrealized novel permanently etched on his skin? Not me. So what’s next? Do I need to brand myself? (This is the kind of situation that leaves me wanting to eat a carton of fudgesicles and veg out on the couch watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. He makes me feel better.) Moreover, if I can’t utter the aforementioned difficult sentence, how am I supposed to get anything done, much less take myself seriously as a writer?

But wait. You’re saying there’s another word between will and won’t. And you’re right. There’s also that lovely word: try. I love this word. I fall back on this word. It’s cuddly. It’s theoretical positivity. It’s exact middle. It’s hoping for the best without being cocky. I like that.

But Yoda had to step in and be a jerk. In The Empire Strikes Back he clearly says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” He took a choice, the best choice, away. I can’t even try to be positive. I can’t try to not try. I have to do or not do. I have to either be negative, which is nearly impossible for me (even though I’m a quasi-pessimist, I don’t like quitting), or there’s that other thing…

Crap.

-MC JLight

My friend Benjamin recently posted the following as his Facebook status: “kinda wish plants would have sex in private and not all over my car. yellow.”  He’s referring to the amazing amount of pollen in North Carolina. It’s all over the road and on every car in town. On today’s run I saw clouds of the stuff. Little particles swarming like Africanized honey bees. I saw a car actually emit pollen from its exhaust. Seriously.

Benjamin - irritated about plant sex.

Sound like a good time? It ain’t. I have what doctors refer to as “allergies.” Which means the abundance of pollen, or male plant sex dust, in the air gives me fits. Honestly it’s the only thing worse than the heat here. And I think they’re doing it on purpose.

Personally, this is the first time I’ve seen plants have sex so haphazardly. No regard for personal boundaries or religious beliefs. Just frivolity. Usually they’re so docile, so Martha-Stewart-ish. But right now it’s like the floral version of spring break. Female plants parading around with belly rings and too-tight bathing suits. Male plants ‘roided-up and glossy, their sexual awareness heightened by a mixture of Red Bull, hormones, and tequila shooters.

When parents around here give “the talk” I doubt it’s even necessary to use the old birds/bees euphemism, namely because the flowers here don’t need birds or bees to make little flower babies. Instead it should go something like this:

Well, little Kenny, when the male part of the flower really loves the female part of the flower it departs its pollen in heavy sheets onto a tall man’s 2002 Toyota. Then the tall man comes out of his house and inadvertently inhales the pollen. The rush of histamines makes him so dizzy that he bumps his head on the car. The yellow devil dust gets in his hair and on his favorite Broncos t-shirt. After a long sneezing fit, buckets upon buckets of snot, eyes so itchy they might fall out, and a lot of cursing, the tall man gets out of his car and a gust of wind blows the pollen off of him and onto the female part of the plant. And that’s how baby plants get made.

Think about it. Little Kenny can go to school the next day and brag to his friends about his new-found knowledge of the Tall Man and the Toyota. Or the Sneeze and the Snot. He can tell the story of an angry man with snot raining from his nose and how that man makes baby flowers. Sure it may lead to years of confusion and a few therapist bills, but it will stick with him.

That isn't magic fairy dust.

Hell, parents of North Carolina, you could even use this copious plant sex as a deterrent. Let’s say you have an allergy-prone teenager in the house and you want to deliver the old Wait-Until-Marriage Sex Talk. Don’t. Talk is cheap. Action speaks volumes. Just sit the kid outside on the patio and tell him or her to breathe deep. As he’s sneezing uncontrollably, crying, writhing in pain, and begging for a Zyrtec you jump out and say, “And that’s what happens when you mess around with gratuitous sex like those hornball plants. Keep your hands to yourself until there’s a ring on your finger.”

I’ve come to blame the tree-hugging liberals of North Carolina and, specifically, Chapel Hill. (Even though I am mostly liberal myself.) I imagine they parade around encouraging the trees and flowers to explore their bodies, to do what feels natural, to make love, not war… Blah, blah, blah, achoo. Colorado allergy season was nothing like this. They somehow keep their plants in order. Granted, there are plenty of liberals in CO. I mean Obama carried the state in 2008. But there’s also the Focus on the Family influence. While I may not agree with everything that organization stands for, at least they keep plants from sexing all over the place.

Yes, I need a hobby. More nothing to come…

MC JLight