Enthusiasm and Confidenc

I made a personal discovery last night. Last night, I decided to play soccer after work with the Meetup group that I’m a part of. When I played last week, I did well. I even scored a goal. But last night, for the first half of play, I was bad. I didn’t warm up, I was sluggish, and my heart wasn’t in it. I lacked confidence. My play improved in the second half after I gained some confidence by completing passes and moving around better with the ball.

I like to analyze myself after soccer – think about what went well and what could be improved. This issue of confidence was something that turned itself over and over again in my mind until I struck upon the solution. I did not enter the field with the same level of enthusiasm as I have on previous occasions. All day long, I was on the fence as to whether or not I wanted to go or stay home. I’m glad I went.

 

I hate the word “confidence.” I hate it because people have talked to me about my confidence from time to time. I’ve been told on multiple occasions that I have low confidence. I think that’s bullshit because I have very high self-esteem. Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was all about self-esteem: practice, discipline, achievement. To be told that I lack confidence to achieve what I want makes me angry. I see confidence as something that people ascribe to you rather than something which you control. So to me, it becomes all about gaming the “confidence” concept, which I neither have neither the tolerance nor patience to deal with.

I’m trying to break “confidence” down to other skills, skills which you can practice. Things like boldness and talkativeness. After last night, I’m going to add enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you want to do it, you get excited about it, and when you’re excited for it, you get other people excited and they want to join. BOOM – Confidence.

 

It is 2017 and it has been a long time since I have been enthusiastic for anything. I can count on one hand the things I was excited for in 2016. I can probably say the same thing for 2015. 2013 and 2014 were exciting years. I need to build the enthusiasm and raise the energy level. I’ve been a passive observer, biding my time, for long enough. I’m not getting any younger. Time to get excited again!

2017 Resolution

One of my resolutions this year is to do more journaling. Specifically, I want to post more to WordPress and explore some of the other bloggers on this site.

 

In reflecting back on the past, I have discovered that the catalyst of my social success was blogging and commenting on other people’s sites. The voice I developed online translated to a voice I spoke in real life. Sadly, I’ve noticed in recent years that I do not say much anymore. I mistakenly thought that it was because I had nothing valuable to say. I kept thinking of one of Dave Walker’s “Dullest Blog In The World” entries from March 11, 2003 –

 

“Not Saying Anything

I was at a meeting and became aware that I had nothing of any interest to add to the discussion. So I said nothing, and the discussion continued.”

 

My life was gradually becoming more and more passive, imperceptible at first, like gaining weight, but then one day you wake up and realize, for better or worse, this is who you are. If you want to change it, you need to take steps to change it. Start with small changes and watch the small changes grow.

 

Thus, I’m returning to blogging so that I can exercise my voice, set a place for my opinions, and receive feedback from strangers. Personally, I happen to enjoy hearing what other people have to say, positive or not. We are our own worst critics, so I doubt internet words can hurt me (a very conceited and self-centered viewpoint, but this is my blog and what did you expect?).

I don’t take the internet seriously at all. I’m rarely online, and when I am, I’m bored easily. I’ll scroll down the feed on Facebook for a total of 3 swipes, eliminate the notifications I get, and give up. I’ll check my dating apps to force myself to send a message or 2 and give up. It is all so blasé. I miss the dynamism I once had for the internet, the thrill of getting a new comment or response, and I think blogging will rekindle that.

 

So that’s my resolution for 2017 – More Blogging.

I Was Lost

This story is based upon several writing prompts from the Midtown Writer’s Group that came together to form the story. The prompts are in italics.

 

I thought I was on the correct floor, but I was lost. The car park was identical for as far as my mind could grasp. I was a child who lost his mommy and it didn’t help that my car was a rental. If I searched my mind hard, I might remember what my car looked like.

I hit the panic button on my key fob as I walked the corridors of P3. I got no response from my car, but at another car there was a knock on the door. It was the tail of a dog beating against the glass. The cocker spaniel didn’t bark. Instead it just smiled, panted and wagged its tail. I walked on: P3? Or was it P4?

 

My phone vibrated due to a text message. “Well, why don’t you come on home?” the message said. I texted back, “But I’m lost – lost in the parking ramp. I’ve been here for hours. No lie.”

Maybe my car was stolen? But how would I know that? I know! The rental company has GPS in all the cars. I could call customer service and they could find my car.

I called customer service. I was on hold for 10 minutes before they told me they needed me to put the key in the ignition to activate the GPS. That doesn’t help me. There have been better days.

I continued pacing around P3 and returned to the dog, still knocking the door window with his tail. I could tell we both wanted out. I opened the car door to let out the dog. When I did that, I set off the car alarm. Like most car alarms, nobody cared. The cocker spaniel took off across the car park, darting under and around cars, blissfully barking with joy.

The din sounded like an urban choir, between the barking and the car alarm. I just stood there with the door open. It was the smell that got my attention. The dog must’ve eaten cheese, because the car reeked. I shut the door and continued searching for my car, this time on a different level. I had already caused enough trouble on P3. Now to try P2.

 

It was almost time for dinner and I still had not found my car. After hours of desperate search, and a dead key fob battery, I had not found my rental car. In the great maze of concrete and motor vehicles, the cocker spaniel found me and chased after me, jumping and barking all the way. The dog stopped, panting. Then it raised its leg and began to pee on the lot sign. I was in Orange Lot East. Didn’t I park in Purple Lot West? Shit. Which way was west?

I started walking towards the daylight that I saw in the distant concrete horizon. As I walked, I heard sobs echo off the concrete pillars. I couldn’t quite make out the cries in the distance, but it sounded like a woman. I went down the ramp to P1, hoping to find level, natural, earth-based ground, instead of this disorienting concrete prison. Sometimes the echoes faded and got louder. I didn’t care. I was almost free and so was the dog.

Finally I heard the screech of the owner, “Pebbles! PEH-bbles!” spoken with a heaving sob, followed by a, “Here boy! Oh Pebbles, where are you?”

It was all a game to this dog. He let out one low and quiet bark, and charged off towards more parked cars.

I got another text. It read, “I’m coming to pick you up. Where are you?” I texted back, “Haven’t you been listening? I. Don’t. Know!”

The dog owner pulled alongside me just as I was putting away my phone. Her make up was running all down her face and her red hair was as frantic and frizzy as she was. “Excuse me, sir? Have you seen my dog? He’s a little cocker spaniel.”

I looked up, past the woman, past her car. In the distance of my 1,000 yard stare, I saw the curly hair of the puckish pet curled up in his hiding spot behind a tire many aisles away. I looked at the woman. I looked at the dog. Did I want to get involved? If I helped her, and she offered to help me, did I really want to sit in the rotten, foul-smelling car of spaniel butt-cheese? Wouldn’t it be better to just walk to Purple Lot West? But where is that?

The crying woman drove away, “Why can’t anyone help me?! PEH-bbles!”

 

I finally reached the edge of the car park, but a biting wind rose up and hit me in the face. To my right was an enclosed land bridge connecting the neighboring lot, an elevator bank, and a map. I went in from the cold and looked at the map. I sent a text, “I found a map. I’m in between Orange Lot East and Red Lot North.”

“I’m sorry. Something’s come up. I can’t help you. Call a cab,” was the responding text message.

I crossed over to Red Lot North when there arose a familiar knock at the glass door. The dog was lying down right at the crease of the door, wagging his tail. I remembered from the map that similar skyways connected all of the parking ramps. I called the elevator and went up to P3 and got out.

When I got out, I saw a security officer riding in his security cart with the yellow light flashing. I stepped out to wave him down, but he drove right past me and drove down the ramp to P2. Why can’t anyone help me?

Walking, walking, walking. Walking vaguely westward, I think. Why are these parking ramps always so large? Am I lost again? They say that humans travel in large circles if they get lost. Gee, that car looks familiar. Why do so many cars look alike? Is that my car? No, the key doesn’t work. Great, I’ve set off another car alarm. I bet a person could go crazy in a situation like this.

After an eternity, I finally reached the other end of Red Lot North. Echoing in the wind, I could hear red-headed lady’s voice, “You let him get away! How could you let him get away?”

“I’m sorry ma’am. I’ve called for backup. Please remain calm.” The security officer’s deep voice was calming and provided a baseline of sanity to the treble of craziness I was responsible for and currently involved with.

I crossed the bridge to Purple Lot West, but for some reason, P3 crossed over to P2. Whoever designed this had no sympathy for people who get lost. I stopped in the shelter, closed my eyes, and tried to use my imagination to remember what my car looked like and where it could be. It was so long ago since I went in to the mall to return those clothes, that I think the value of the money in my pocket is worth less due to inflation.

I used my imagination to travel further back into time, back to when I first parked. Was I happy because I got a good parking spot or was I angry or sad because I had to park far away? No, I was neither. There were no feelings for the parking spot, only the annoyance of returning the clothes. I opened my eyes and started walking.

Once again lost in the concrete labyrinth, I heard a bark. “Oh no,” I thought. There was another bark followed by a heaving echo. The dog was throwing up. I turned the corner of a row of cars and there he sat, wagging his tale in front of pile of vomit several cars away. I approached the dog and he jumped up and down. I glanced over and Pebbles had puked right next to my rental car. I was in shock. My jaw dropped. I looked at the car and I looked at the dog. “Good dog,” I said, “Good boy, Pebbles.”

I instinctively tried the key fob, but the battery was dead, so I turned the key in the door and, like magic, the car alarm did not go off. I opened the door and the dog jumped into my car ahead of me. I got in, shut the door and pet the dog as it sat on the passenger side seat. For a brief moment, I thought of taking Pebbles home with me, but then he let out a big cheesy fart that destroyed the new car smell.

I pulled out of my parking spot and followed the exit signs out of the lot. After exiting Purple Lot West, I pulled alongside 3 security carts and the woman’s car. I rolled down my window and yelled, “Ma’am! Is this your dog?” pointing to the cocker spaniel in my seat.

“YES!!” she screamed, “Where was he? How did you catch him?”

I was tired and didn’t want to get into it. “It’s okay,” I said, “He’s happy to see you. Come on over and take him.” Pebbles went back to her owner and I went home. The lady even gave me her number, but I’m not sure what I would do with it. Maybe I have a friend who would like her?

Encountering A Fellow Traveler Dream

Last night I dreamt that I was travelling somewhere in North America. In my dream it was Wyoming, but now that I’m awake, that doesn’t make sense. It was probably Colorado of the not-too-distant future. I know this because there were mountains.

I was staying in a modern style townhome complex built into a mountain, full of stainless steel and glass, where part of the mountain extended into the living rooms and bedrooms. After I dropped off my stuff, I walked down the mountain a short ways to a tram or bus stop, caught the public transportation, and headed into town.

My goal was simply to walk around the pedestrian areas, visit some museums and perhaps see a movie. It felt like early- to mid-spring; chilly, but not unpleasant. While at an art museum, I went to the outdoor cafeteria. Walking along, I thought I recognized someone enjoying a coffee while sitting on a curb. I walked up to her and called her by her name and she responded. She was a Canadian friend of mine whom I’ve never met in real life. She is well travelled and I was very happy to run in to her.

For the rest of the dream (the entire day), we walked around town, talking about movies and politics and ideas. I remember walking by a movie theater that was playing a movie I wanted to see. I asked her opinion of the movie. She had already seen it and had no interest in seeing it again, thus we continued walking.

We caught the bus and trains together. We even caught the same tram together back up the side of the mountain at sunset. I was excited to show her the place I was staying in, but she decided it was time to turn in and we separated at my stop. The sun had already set behind the mountain, but I stood there watching the colors change in the sky. I was thinking about this wonderful day I had spent with Liz. That’s when I woke up. 

A Dream of Drug Busts and Drugs

In real life, I stayed home on Saturday night. It was cold outside and I was out of money, but I wanted to go out and meet someone, somewhat like I did last weekend. Instead, I just stayed home and watched SNL, sometimes flirting with women on online dating with no consequences or results. After SNL, I went to bed.

 

I dreamt that I lived in a house on either Lake and Garfield or Lake and Aldrich in Uptown. It was Saturday night and I was staying home for the same reasons as I listed in real life. Only, instead of going to bed, I was suffering from insomnia. I had the same roommates I currently have plus Katie and her boyfriend, Tony. My roommates were all out, so I had the house to myself. I spent my evening haunting the creaky old house, turning TVs on and off, going from room to room, playing some music on the piano or bass, but always listening to the parties going on around the bars of Lyn-Lake and being too broke to go out.

Around 3:00 in the morning, people started returning to the house. I was sitting in a below ground patio or sunroom watching TV because I was bored in the house and I wanted to cool off in the cooler sunroom. I remember Tony coming home and telling me about how great it was being out and how he went to this rave and stuff. He brought some folks back to his room and the commotion continued. I just sat in the basement sunroom and watched black-and-white cowboy shows on broadcast TV.

After awhile, Tony came downstairs with some girls and they took a seat in some chairs. I continued to sit on the couch. Then some cops came in through the screen door, some with submachine guns, and asked to search the house. I said, “Sure,” because I was feeling apathetic and reasonably sure they wouldn’t find anything. They left the room and I heard them rummaging around the house. I started getting up from the couch, but then another cop came in through the door and started shooting the floor with his submachine gun. I sat back down. He had a shocked expression on his face when he looked at me and said he was sorry.

“Am I under arrest?” I asked. He told me no, but also ordered me not to wander off too far. I went outside into the autumn air and watched as the police brought the entire neighborhood on lockdown. Some stray drunk girl told me that this was a mass drug bust by the police. I saw search lights, pat downs, arrests, and maybe even a helicopter overhead.

“Oh look!” the girl said, stumbling around, “Tiger Woods!”

I looked up the alley behind It’s Greek To Me and the Jungle Theater and there were men in towels coming out of a sauna that I didn’t even know was there, and sure enough, there was Tiger Woods.

The people that weren’t being arrested were continuing their Saturday night party in the street around the cops. They were too drunk to care. In the parking lot of Dulanos, I ran into Jazzy. She was definitely on something because she was beside herself with happiness.

“McScarry! You’ve gotta try this!” she said, swishing around a screw-top water bottle of juice.

“What’s in it?” I asked.

She giggled and said, “Drugs.”

Normally I don’t do drugs, but I’ve always had a crush on this girl for years and years. I took her screw-top bottle, opened it, and drank. It tasted like mango-peach with a strange side taste, slightly metallic. I put the top back on and handed her bottle back.

We embraced and started making out in the parking lot. It was intense and enjoyable. I began to think that I hadn’t made out with anyone like this in a long time. I also began to feel the drugs begin to kick in and I felt lighter and lighter. I was beginning to feel happy, really happy. I pulled back from making out to look at Jazzy in the face, but the drugs were really just waking me up.

 

I laid in bed for awhile after this dream, thinking about what this dream meant. I was sober. I did not drink anything yesterday and I did not go out. My subconscious was definitely punishing me for not going out last night.

Taking Home A Stray Human

Something unusual happened to me this weekend. On Saturday night, after winning at poker, I decided that I would go out. That is pretty usual. Normally, I would hang out in Dinkytown, but that night, I had an urge to go to the CC Club in Uptown. I hadn’t been there in a long time, but I felt the need to be around some youngsters, occupy a barstool, and observe my surroundings while enjoying a few ales. It took awhile for a stool to open up, but when it did, I ordered my drink and decided to watch.

I occupied a nice piece of real estate. I was at the corner, where I could watch people enter and exit, but also at this corner I could pay attention to the other people inside. My corner was on a main thoroughfare, yet it was isolated from the common bar service. I had a nice slice of peace to ponder my future and to briefly look at who these other people were.

I seldom people watch. I think it is a bit of a creepy activity, but on Saturday night, I was in a particularly open minded. I also felt rather passive. Usually, I would try harder to meet new people, like try to strike up a conversation, but I was in a learning mood; a reading mood. This is probably because, when I went to poker, I was expecting to lose all my money. Instead, I ended up tripling my money by winning a small tournament.

 

What I’m trying to say is that I ended up taking a girl home. Now, before you start saying, “Hubba-hubba” or doing the audience “Oooo” when people kissed on a ‘90s sitcom, just know that we didn’t go there. I thought about it, I probably would if the opportunity presents itself to us again, but like I said, I didn’t feel like participating in my life at the time.

She was a beautiful Jewish woman with black hair and green eyes. I’ll call her Asher. Asher came up to me, sat next to me and started talking. Asher was about my height and had dreadlocks and was about 25 years old. The problem was that she was pretty strung out on drugs or drunk or something. Maybe both; maybe everything. She was struggling to hold on to coherent thoughts and talking was a challenge for her, but I was patient, letting her try to speak.

Asher’s mind was filled with regret over a friendship she ended last summer. She was struggling to reconnect with her childhood friend, despite having had a huge fight at the beach. They haven’t talked since, but she felt ready to reach out again. Tragically, her friend was also her dealer and her dealer had descended into a dark path which she was unwilling to follow. Her friend was also sort of trying to convert her into being a Christian.

I could tell that Asher just needed someone to listen. Being a friend of drunks, I realize that they tend to repeat themselves once they are near memory blackout. This was how it was for Asher, but her words and thoughts were like scattered puzzle pieces and I had to deduce the picture from what was revealed. I have to admit, I enjoyed working on the puzzle. She was very pretty and I wanted to help.

While at the bar, several other guys noticed her and one or two of them really started to creep and leer on her pretty hard. One guy pretended to be her boyfriend. He wanted to know what my business was and I told the truth, “My roommates have their girlfriends over and I see no need to be at the house while that is going on.” He stopped being defensive after that and went away.

1:15 rolled around and AlcoDroid warned me not to have another drink. I told Asher that I was going to go home, but then the bombshell was dropped, “Can you take me with you?” I could not refuse.

Crossing the threshold of my house with Asher, I felt as if I had brought a stray dog home with me from school and I was waiting for my mother to take it to the pound. But instead of a stray dog, this was a human being; a human stray. But she was cute and I liked having her around, despite the fact that she was keeping one of my roommates awake. We went downstairs to piece together a conversation. Asher seemed to really like me. I must’ve looked really appealing with those drugs she was on. We had a few more beers and around 4:30, I set her up with a blanket on the couch. I also left the door of my room open in case she needed me, but she didn’t.

My roommate had to work at 10am. Asher and I were both awake by 8:30. I invited her out to breakfast, but she wanted to shower. Unfortunately, her shower went long. Like, an hour long, and my roommate was pretty pissed. He had to go to work without cleaning up. Later, I apologized and did his share of the housework to make up for it.

That morning, Asher seemed to still be under the influence of drugs. Under her breath she would say things like, “Wow” and “Jesus.” She was confused, but also had a lot of love in her heart. She confessed that she was tired of being on drugs and wanted to be sober again. She asked if I could be her sober sponsor and I said that I would. She would be going into treatment.

I took Asher to stay with her aunt. She had a couple of bags of stuff with her. We never had breakfast, but we did stop for coffee at a coffee shop in St. Paul. Her aunt lives in St. Paul and I got lost. A good part of my morning was spent following the driving directions of a person high on drugs, which sounds pretty glamourous after having typed it all out here.

 

Okay. I’ve written it out – my experience with a stray human. Somehow, I’m reminded of a quote from Edward of Cowboy Bebop, “If you see a mysterious stranger, follow him!”

 

*In Other News* – My grandfather also has a thing for drug addicts. He married one as his second wife and it still angers my father to this day.