Orgone, take me away!

These $5.99 hockey pucks will ward off the evil. Buy yours today!

Tina, our two dogs Talulah and Josephine, and I drove back from NC to Chicago yesterday. We’ll be here for work projects and return to NC in July. While away, our house will be occupied quite often with guests.

Our car was packed to the gills. I bought some used cross bars to attach our Thule to. They are third party and I don’t have any reason to trust them. They were a little challenging to install. My fear was that we would reach 80 or 90 mph at times and the whole thing would rip from the roof and the thing would cause a massive accident and carnage all over the highway.

Between that and the weight in the car, the back suspension was sitting low. It’s a new car and it’s an SUV, so it feels a little top heavy when driving.

All these factors caused me to white knuckle drive especially when it started raining in Ohio and Indiana. Tina asked if I wanted her to take the wheel for a while. I told her that would make me more nervous.

Continue reading “Orgone, take me away!”

raising hell from an ignorant stance

Last Fall, Tina and I traded our CX-5 for a CX-30. We were thrilled by its feature set, but a little taken aback that its size was soooo much smaller than the CX-30. We figured with an additional roof cargo box, we would be fine, but the damn car was just too small.

I started looking around for a new car, and landed on a Kia Telluride. Hoooboy, that’s a cool vehicle. And it got a 97 percent approval from Consumer Reports. We test drove a couple and man they are awesome. Problem was that the value of my car was only $25K and a used 2020 we were eyeballing was $42k. I just couldn’t justify forking out that amount of money.

So we stayed looking at Kias, which I swear to Lord God Yeshua Christ that I thought I would NEVER EVER consider. We ended up test driving a Sorento, which is labeled a mini Telluride, and it is… it’s got three rows of seats, but it’s just a tad smaller than the Telluride. Then we drove a Sportage, which had cooled seats, a steering wheel warmer, and a panoramic roof window with sun roof.

Since we already started the process and found that the car ticked off all our boxes even size, we thought, “Let’s trade our CX-30 in for this guy.

Tina, badass that she is, negotiated our trade value up a couple more thousand. But then that painful process of “Wait here while I talk to my manager” started and it was after lunch time. I looked at Tina and I said, “Let’s just go. Let them work out the details. I’m not sitting through this bullshit again.”

So we left. My phone blew up with calls and texts from our salesperson, managers and the cleaning staff. One text read, “Why did you leave?”

I wrote back, “We were hungry. And we’re not sitting there waiting for everything to get ready. I told you we were buying the car. Get your ducks in a row and when you’re ready for us to come pick it up, we will. I’d like curbside pickup, please.”

“I don’t know what that it is,” she wrote.

“It’s where I do everything from afar and you hand me the keys when I get there. It’s the pandemic, I don’t feel comfortable in your facility. I don’t want anything but the car. No upgrades. No paint protection or leather protection. Nothing.”

So they basically got everything together and they sent me a piece of paper with the total cost without the taxes and fees. At the top of the paper, they wrote: “DSRP” which was $900 more than sticker. But I assumed at the time that DSRP meant $900 in extra add ons.

When we paid, they did not tell me they didn’t charge me that extra fee. And after I slept on the purchase, I got infuriated that we paid more. So when we went to pick up an extra key and drop off our title for the trade in, I sat down with a sales manager and asked him what the $900 extra on the sheet was all about. He explained it was for add ons. It wasn’t just air. Nitrogen in the tires that helps them stay inflated better.

“I can give you a list of the things it included,” He said.

“Great. I’d like that.”

He said he’d have our sales person send it over. I never got it.

So when I got a call that I needed to sign yet another piece of paperwork, I got mad at the inconvenience and I told the woman who called that I was pissed off at Bob King. She said she’d relay my message.

In five minutes, I got a call from another manager and he asked me about coming in to sign this paperwork. I said, “Is that why you called?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Well, I just talked to another woman and we straightened all that out. I also told her that I was pissed at you guys for fucking us with our car sale.”

He assured me that they had not and he could show me the paperwork.

So I flipped out and said, “I’ll see you in five minutes.”

I drove down and he met me at the door. He walked me to the overall manager and I sat down. We immediately got into a heated exchange. When I showed him the paper that had “DSRP” written at the top, he said, “That’s a piece of paper.”

We went back and forth for a while. He had written “smile!” on his facemask and I said, “Are you smiling under there?”

“YES I AM!” He barked.

“Bullshit,” I said.

“Then why did I have a conversation with David and he told me that we had paid extra?”

“I don’t know. But you did NOT pay more. You think because I’m a car dealer I screwed you? Screw you, sir. You’re an idiot. I’m going to sue you. Get out of my office!”

I was floored.

I reached for my phone and I found voice memos and I pressed record. I looked at him and I said, “We need to reset. Let’s reset. Start over. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for patronizing you and for coming into your office and raising hell.”

He calmed down too. And he showed me exactly what the invoice we paid said.

Fuck, man. I lost my shit on someone who was showing me proof. And because I was delusional and arguing from the stand point of complete ignorance, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

But said and done, I could not argue with the evidence.

And I sit here and I think about all the times that people argue without evidence for some cherished delusion they hold dear. Even when you think you have written evidence. Someone can point you at information that proves you wrong, but you keep arguing from a delusional perspective.

We left best friends. The guy totally was like, “Man, I’ll never think of this issue again. It’s water under the bridge.” We shared stories that we’re both adopted and he got this close to a political conversation, but I said, “Man, I think we’re all bigger than that.”

He agreed. He pointed out the window and he said, “Across the street there’s a school and on days when I’m particularly upset with the world, I walk out and look at those kids playing in the field. I see how diverse they are. Kids from all over and it makes all things better. The media makes us all enemies. But those kids are proof that we can all get along.”

Can’t we all get along?

silence is ear-piercing screaming shrieks

Yesterday as I worked on photo editing, I was listening to NPR stories about Adam Toledo and some Deliverance-level jackass who shot up a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. I started crying and held my head in my hands at one point.

“If I were in Chicago, I would join the protests,” I told myself. I’m tired of all this bullshit of black people getting shot and then mass shootings of innocent people in supposedly safe environments taking their lives and freedoms away by force and mental illness.

And I say fuck those people who think destroying public property in retaliation for woman’s babies getting murdered left and right by the people we trust to protect us.

In North Carolina, I leave stuff out in my garage and in my yard. Two days ago, I left bags of mulch, pea rocks, a new mailbox and new mail post by the street for a few hours. “What if someone steals this stuff?” Tina asked.

Continue reading “silence is ear-piercing screaming shrieks”

Use this time as an opportunity to change

Reposting from Kottke:

Olga Khazan, writing for the NY Times in an essay adapted from her book Weird, tells us that if we’re not satisfied with our personalities, we can change them.

After all, the person who emerges from quarantine doesn’t have to be the same old you. Scientists say that people can change their personalities well into adulthood. And what better time for transformation than now, when no one has seen you for a year, and might have forgotten what you were like in the first place?

It was long thought that people just are a certain way, and they’ll remain that way forever. The Greek physician Hippocrates believed that people’s personalities were governed by the amounts of phlegm, blood, black bile and yellow bile that flowed through their bodies.

Modern science, of course, has long since discarded notions of bile and humors. And now, it appears the idea that our personalities are immutable is also not quite true. Researchers have found that adults can change the five traits that make up personality — extroversion, openness to experience, emotional stability, agreeableness and conscientiousness — within just a few months. Much as in Dr. Steffel’s case, the traits are connected, so changing one might lead to changes in another.

Put more succinctly: “Remember that your personality is more like a sand dune than a stone.”

Blame everything on cataclysmic events!

September 11, 2001 wreaked havoc on New York City, Washington, D.C. and my head. Lots of people have stories about where they were and how and when they saw the news. But rarely do people talk about how their lives were changed. Mine changed for the worse.

That date sent me into a tailspin. At the time, I was ending the second year in Chicago. I worked at the Merchandise Mart as a graphic and web designer. That morning on NPR, one of the journalists was explaining an accident in New York City that a plane had run into one of the twin towers. I tiredly shuffled into my living room from my kitchen slash bedroom in my studio apartment to turn on the TV. I turned it on to see smoke rising from one of the towers. As I stood there looking at it, another plane from seemingly nowhere hit the other tower, and I screamed.

I picked up the phone and called my mom. She was watching, too, and one of her first words was, “They are at it again.”

“Who?” I asked.

“The muslims.” As if I should just know that we had a culture war. But at the time, my little 25 year old brain wasn’t familiar with previous attacks by muslims on U.S. soil.

Like a good little robot, I showered, dressed and went to work. On the train standing with my hand above my head holding a bar, no one seemed to know about it. At one point, I bemoaned the planes hitting buildings under my breath. Someone heard me, and I said, “The planes that hit the twin towers in New York City. It’s scary weird.”

They responded, “What?”

“Didn’t you hear the news?”

Anyone within the sound of my voice looked my way. I said, “There were two planes that hit the twin towers in New York City this morning. No one knows why.”

People gasped, but we didn’t have little computers in our pockets back then so everyone had to wait to get to their computers at work to get more info.

The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is a HUGE building and on the front it says, “One World Trade Center.” As the news unfolded that it was a terrorist attack, we evacuated the building.

It rocked my world. I didn’t know how to cope with the idea that our country, where we are free and civilized, where we feel safe and not vulnerable, was now struck with agonizing dread and worry.

I went from an infrequent bar goer to a frequent one. The Shamrock, a little hole in the wall across from the north side of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, became my after work destination almost every night of the week. I picked up pool. I smoked cigarettes. And even after leaving, I would have a couple more beers when I got home. It was, in a way, the worst months of my life.

This week, I had a realization about the pandemic. It wreaked havoc on my head, much like 9/11. I was doing okay at first. But then my best friend’s wife decided early on that she was going to leave him over a stupid argument they had.

It compounded the stress I already felt from the impending threat of dying from a disease we knew very little about. Then we sold our condo in Chicago. Stress upon stress sent me into a drinking binge that seemed to never end. I didn’t drink all day. But I drank every day.

And no matter how much I tried to talk myself out of it, I kept it up like a marathoner. What was I training for other than dying from complications with liver damage?

We bought a scale last October that measures body fat, metabolism, muscle mass, water weight, sperm count and brain activity. It turns out that I had gained weight over the year. I picked up more visceral fat (which is in your tummy and around your organs) and my brain was working at 1%. It was a wakeup call.

Belly fat is often seen as a beer belly. It gets ahold of your internal organs and is very difficult to get rid of.

I also noticed that my resting heart rate was getting higher and higher for longer periods of time. My Fitbit watch measures that.

I started working out with Tina. During the pandemic, we quit our gym membership and Tina subscribed to a body pump website. She bought weights and tried to keep up her routine the best she could. I did the class twice at the gym before the pandemic, so I decided I would try to keep it up. Since last October, I started doing it more frequently and over the course of time, my body fat number has gone down and my muscle mass number is going up.

I still have tons of work to do. I don’t want to quit drinking. But I need to get myself back to a level of moderation that looks more like pre-pandemic Jeremy.

Tina and I are not drinking from Monday to Thursday every week and we’ve started intermittent fasting thanks to a podcast we listened to with David Sinclair, a biologist who specializes in aging. His findings point to the idea that the longer you make your body hungry the more it has a chance to attack the cells that cause cancer, aging, and inflammation.

I discovered during the pandemic that my running injuries were not healing, and I think that I never let my body heal, because it was always trying to process the beer I was guzzling every day after five o’clock (somewhere).

Goodness I’m glad for technology that takes me into the parking lot and kicks my ass. If it weren’t for my watch and my scale, and a desire to perfect my inferiorities and weaknesses, I’d be a miserable fat mess.

I write this out, because it’s words like this that also encourage me. When someone posts that they are working out on social media, I always look at it and think, “I need to work out more.” And then I do.

Or someone posts, “I’m two years sober.” And I think, Shit, I need to slow the fuck down.

Or someone posts, “I’m an idiot.” And I think, “I am, too!”

Thanks to all the idiot drunks working out and sharing about it. You inspire me. I hope I inspire you.

Reigniting love and respect for David Sedaris

In my light reading world (as opposed to heavy reading like science lit), I’ve taken a short break from reading Stephen King to David Sedaris. I read Calypso in February, which is a 2018 release. New to me.

Sedaris fell off my radar probably 10 years ago. I don’t remember which book, but I didn’t find any of it funny or entertaining.

By chance, I was checking what was available now on my iPhone’s library app, Libby, and Calypso was available. “Why not?” I thought. “I used to love the guy as an early 20 year old before I moved to Chicago.

My college mentor, Brian, listened to NPR every morning. I know this, because I lived in his home for a several weeks one summer while I interned at a local weekly newspaper called the Black Mountain News. It was a paid internship and as my mentor was singly focused on his students’ successes, he declared, “I will make damn sure you take this opportunity.”

So I moved in to their guest room with a pullout sofa on the first floor. His two young girls at the time, probably 5 and 3, enjoyed having me there. I was privileged with witnessing their routines: breakfast, playtimes, dance offs to videos that Brian had cobbled together of dance scenes in movies and bedtime routines. He was the film professor, after all, and why wouldn’t he have the dance scene from Pulp Fiction playing before dinner so the girls could sweat a little and he could relax with a cool glass of sweet tea with mint that he plucked from the side of his little white house on a hill.

The bedtime routines were magical. The girls would bathe together in a tub on the second floor. That was followed by a reading from usually a somewhat atypical book for children, then a Bible lesson, questions and answers, and then I would leave, to listen to Brian sing to the girls from the bottom of the stairs.

Continue reading “Reigniting love and respect for David Sedaris”