Monthly Archives: February 2013

Tea time

I’m trying out tea time. Ideally I’d like to have it at four o’clock every day, so I can be like “Four o’clock! Tea time!” saying that out loud in a ridiculous British accent, but really ridiculous, like if a British person were in the room with me when I said it, they’d be like, “I do say, you really are a bloody idiot,” but I wouldn’t let any Englishmen get me down, I’d continue, say something like, “Nonsense, I insist,” and I’d point them to my kitchen where, and again, this is the ideal situation, four o’clock, “ding-dong!” I’d get a miniature grandfather clock and put it in the corner, miniature enough that I wouldn’t have to make a standalone space just for the clock, I could put it on a shelf, somewhere inconspicuous enough that if you walked in the room, maybe you’d notice it right away, maybe you wouldn’t, that would be the idea, but as soon as the clock strikes four, you’d know. You’d know what time it is. Tea time.

Hurry up then! I’d snap my fingers in the air. Again, four o’clock, definitely on Saturdays, definitely when I’m not at work and my friends aren’t at work, I’ll invite everybody over, tell them to show up at, “three forty-five on the dot!” in, again, in that crazy accent, and maybe they’d get it, my more astute friends, they’d think to themselves, “Blimey, that Rob, that devil, is he planning a tea time?” and they’d get into it, they’d start thinking their own thoughts in that same quasi-British accent, and they’d throw around words like chums, and mates, and flat, all together, in a really English way, they’d think thoughts like, “Fancy Rob hosting a tea time for his chums and his mates at his flat?” and would that even be a question or just a statement? I always imagine all British sentences ending in a question mark, even if it’s not a question, with one exception: an exclamation point reserved exclusively for times when one is simply shocked by another’s callous behavior, to the point where they can’t hold it in anymore, they just have to shout out, “My word! I never! I do say!”

Maybe it’s a Tuesday. Maybe I actually have to work that Saturday. When we can’t demand perfection, sometimes we’ll have to settle for second best, a six o’clock tea time, seven, eight, (but never later than eight.) Still, I’ll be standing there in the foyer, really just a kitchen, but I’ll call it a foyer for tea time, and I’ll raise my hand in the air, snap, and I’ll present trays of cucumber sandwiches, toasted English muffins, which I’ll call crumpets and scones, and my friends will be so impressed by the cucumber sandwiches that they’ll then look at the English muffins and think to themselves, “Huh. I never knew British people called English muffins crumpets and scones. I thought that was something else entirely. But then again, look at how authentic those cucumber sandwiches look. Rob’s got to know what he’s doing here.”

The earl grey tea will be served piping hot. The cucumber sandwiches will be devoured so quickly that the bread won’t have time to get soggy from the lemon juice. I’ll be dressed semi-casually: jeans, but a proper tuxedo shirt, kind of a throwback to the whole proper English thing. I’ll be playing classical music in the background. We’ll all sit around the drawing room (again, just my living room, but repurposed for tea time) legs crossed over the long way, the hard way, the English way, and we’ll be nibbling on scones and sipping on tea and laughing at this and that.

I do say! You simply must come over for tea! Four o’clock, (see above) at my flat! Bring your mates! Cheerio!

There’s the door

Listen, if you don’t like what I’ve got to say, or the decisions that I’ve made, then there’s the door. OK? That’s my door. I picked it out. It used to be just plain wood, like no paint, so I stained it. So there it is. Cool?

Cool. But here’s the thing. We never use that door. It’s purely decorative. Whenever we need to come or go, we use the side door. Look at it. I should have said originally, “There’s the side door.” It’s not as nice. In fact, that was the original front door when we moved in. But I took one look at it and I was like, no way, absolutely no way is that going to be my front door.

I told my wife, I said, listen baby, we’re getting a new front door. And she put up this big stink, about how we just moved into this place, all, “we don’t have the money to be dropping cash on new doors, we’ve got perfectly good doors right where they are, you saw the doors when we were closing and you never said anything about new doors!”

But I said to her, I said, listen, I’m making the decisions from here on out. If you don’t want to live with my decisions, there’s the door. But I was standing outside. And I was pointing down the block, at the door store. It’s not a store exclusively for doors, it’s a Home Depot. And it’s not right down the block, but whatever, it was in the general direction that I was pointing. And I just took off, went straight to the Home Depot.

And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Home Depot, or maybe you’ve been there, but you’ve only been down the tool aisle, or the light bulb aisle, but the next time you’re there, if you’ve never checked out the door aisle, I really encourage you to see what they’ve got going on. Tons of doors. You look at the aisle and they’re all on these hinges, hundreds of them, and when they’re all aligned, all you see is the ends, like just the wood finishes, and then you open them all up, it’s like an alt-rock poster display case at one of those emo stores in the mall. There aren’t any doorknobs installed, obviously, but you can just put your hand in front of that empty hole, imagine a doorknob, or you can get a piece of paper and cut out a door-shaped rectangle, and you can hold that up to the door, block out all the Home Depot background, just focus on the door. Or even better, you can go home, take a picture of the inside or the outside or your house, and you can cut out a rectangle for where your current door is, and then when you’re at the Home Depot, you take out that little door viewfinder thing and hold it up, you don’t even have to imagine, you get this automatic representation of what it would be like to see this door or that door as your door.

I didn’t do any of that. I already have a very strong imagination. Plus I kind of had an of what I was looking for. So by the time the Home Depot guy in the orange vest came up to me and said, “Can I help you with anything sir?” I cut him off. I didn’t even let him finish that sentence. I simply interrupted, “There’s the door,” and I pointed at the door that’s now attached to the front of my house, the door that I was talking about when I started talking about “there’s the door,” that door.

But yeah, the side door, it has a screen. It’s really squeaky. I’ve tried to fix the squeak. I went back to the Home Depot (just the tool aisle this time) and bought a can of WD-40. I lubed the hell out of those hinges, the whole apparatus, the tube that opens up and prevents it from slamming. But my wife got so pissed off, all of that WD-40, “all over my nice white dress,” the one she was wearing right after I finished with my repairs.

And she was getting angrier and angrier, telling me that I’m not a real handy man, that I shouldn’t have started messing with doors and hinges, complaining about the two inch gap under the new front door, how it sucks out all of the heat and creates that unpleasant draft, how the old front door isn’t meant to be a side door, that the screen doesn’t slam shut all the way because the old front door is too big for that space, that I should have hired somebody to come help me out, that I had no business marching off to the Home Depot by myself and picking out a door and carrying it right home that very day without so much as a call, a text, any consultation whatsoever.

But I just looked at her and I said, “Listen toots, I’m the man of this house. Capeesh? If you don’t like my decision making abilities, or if you have a problem with the decision making process, then here’s the door.” I said “here’s the door” instead of “there’s the door” only because, like I said, we were already standing right in the side doorway, it was here, not there. And I didn’t want her to, if she chose the door over me, to choose the front door, which, I’ve already explained, we never open. It looks too good. A terrific looking door. Even though, yeah, the hinges aren’t super sturdy. And sure, there is a big gap, but I just shove a blanket in there if it gets really cold. You know, I kind of like the gap. Like when the pizza delivery guy knocks, I just say, “Slide it under!” and then I slide him back out the money. It’s great because I never have to open it up. Chinese take-out’s a little bit more problematic though, obviously, with those rectangle boxes. I just shout out, “Take it around to the side door!”

Just, don’t lend Derek any more hats

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just, don’t let yourself get bent out of shape over trivial arguments or inconsequential misunderstandings. Even if you are clearly in the right. Even if you totally lent Derek your hat last week. He doesn’t remember it, but you remember it. You should try to not remember it also. Because whatever, it’s gone. It’s not like he’s going to start wearing it. That would be too obvious. Someone might see him with it, you might see him.

No, just forget about it. He was drunk. You were drunk. You gave it to him to wear home because it was cold out. Maybe he woke up the next morning and looked at the hat and was like, “Huh. This isn’t my hat,” and maybe he just tossed it away, kind of grossed out, like, whose is this? Is it dirty?

But then you called him the next day and you were like, “Derek, what’s up? Anyway, yeah I was wondering if I could just stop by later and pick up that hat,” and that’s when it all came flooding back to him, the way that events sometimes later reconnect themselves, especially the day after a night of heavy drinking.

And Derek looked over to the trashcan and saw your hat, it wasn’t the last thing to be thrown out. He had a couple of bowls of cereal for breakfast, and the last bowl, he didn’t finish it, but he didn’t clean it up right away either. So the cereal sat there on the table, absorbed the rest of the milk and became this slush.

He threw that cereal slush right on top of the hat. And also the coffee grinds. And some tissues. You’d be on the phone, “Where’s my hat?” he’d be looking at it. Even if he were to rummage through all of that trash to pick it up – which was never going to happen – it wouldn’t really ever be the same, he’d have to wash it, you’d have to wash it again, in a machine, hats like that should never go through a machine.

And, whatever, he probably just didn’t know what to say, still kind of spinning from the hangover, still piecing together point A and point D. And he’s like, “Hat? No. No hat here,” even though you weren’t nearly as drunk as Derek was. Because, you know what it’s like to have that debilitating hangover and you know that, based on the amount he consumed, Derek went well past that point where the hangover had to be inevitable. You gave him that hat because you were worried about him. He was passed out on the couch, he drank like all of your beer, asked for a glass of your bourbon. You thought he was out for the night. So when he jolted awake at three, while you were playing video games, and he just made a beeline to the door, his jacket not even zipped up, and it was freezing out, the hat, it was a nice gesture, something maybe that he’d look at the next day and think to himself, “I can’t believe he let me go home last night. I could have been killed.” But then he’d look at the hat and think, “Oh, but I was pretty out of it. No way I’d be able to stop me if I were in his shoes. And look. His hat. I better get him back this hat and say thanks.”

But, let it go, you don’t know where that hat went. The garbage. But maybe not. Maybe Derek’s only going to wear it around the house. Too embarrassed to return it after having claimed to never remember wearing it, but feeling too bad to ever throw it out, it’ll be like his personal house hat. And that might be the worst possible hat-outcome of all, because what, now you can never go over Derek’s? And if he has a party, what, he’s not going to invite you? Because you might find the hat?

Just don’t sweat it man, buy a new hat, an identical hat. Go meet up with Derek for drinks, wear the hat and tell him, “Hey Derek! Sorry about all of that hat stuff. I actually found it. Look. I’m wearing it right now,” and Derek will be like, “Oh, cool man. That’s good news,” faking a smile, all the while thinking, wait a second, if that’s his hat, then whose is … and he’ll trail off in thought, disgusted that he’d been wearing a complete stranger’s hat around his house, always at home, he’d grown really attached to wearing it by himself. And he might rub his hands through his hair like, ew, is my hair clean? And if he does that, then, well, nothing’s confirmed yet, but he probably has the hat at home. And so next time you go over his place, because, he’ll invite you now, he won’t feel bad anymore, just look for that hat. Find it. Don’t take it – remember, don’t sweat the small stuff. But make a note to yourself. Don’t give any more hats out. Especially this hat. And especially not to Derek.

Feeling down? I can help!

Let go of all of that pain and suffering. Inconsequential. Get rid of it. Take a deep breath. Deeper. Empty out your lungs first by pushing everything out, keep going. OK, now take a deeper breath in, as deep as you can, hold your arms above your head to let even more air in. Great. Now let it out, just let it go, everything. Did it work? I should have explained. That was a symbolic exhaling, the breath a representation of the pain, the suffering, all of that stuff I was telling you to let go of. Try it again, this time, you know, just think about it, what I said earlier.

Unburden yourself, let go of, or, not leg go, I already said that, but release, yes, release yourself. That’s kind of awkward. Unburden yourself by releasing, yourself. No. Take the burden, the one that you’re carrying, and let it go? Yeah, let it go. I’ll start over.

Imagine all of your troubles, picture them all in your mind, every one of them. Everything negative. All of the things unpleasant in your life. Yes, even what I was talking about before, the burdens, the unburdening. Is it pictured? Great, now, imagine all of that bad imagery transforming into a light switch. A wall mounted light switch. Just any regular switch. But this one’s giant. Or, giant for a light switch. Not actually giant. Let’s say like football-sized giant. And now imagine yourself trying to switch it off, but it’s really hard, because it’s so heavy, it’s just this really big, giantish light switch. But just when you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, yes, that’s it, keep reaching, there. It’s off.

Did that work? That’s another representation. Some more helpful imagery. Let it all go. Exhale it all out and switch it all off. OK, and now I want you take another deep breath, or, just do the deep breath trick again, and I’m just getting this now, it’s all just popping up in my head so kind of go with me here a little, but take it all in – ffsswwsshhhhHHH! – that was the inhaling sound – hold it in a little deeper, breath it in a little more, come on, just like before, OK. OK, now hold it. OK now imagine a balloon. A big one. Bigger. I know I can’t see exactly how big you’re imagining it to be, but just, however big your imaginary balloon is, make it even bigger. OK, and you’re still holding that breath in, right? And it’s everything poison, negative, all of the hate. OK, now let it go, into the balloon, and fill that balloon up. The balloon was deflated before, I forgot to mention that. But now it’s inflated. You inflated it. You’re inflating it still.

Keep going, don’t worry, it won’t pop, because you’re imagining the balloon to be unpoppable. Right? It won’t pop, trust me. And keep exhaling. More. Good. Now tie it up tight. Now imagine it to be everything terrible that you had inside, all of your fear, your despair, your self-loathing, all of that stuff. It’s turned the balloon black. It used to be red. Just, just trust me, it was a regular red balloon. But now it’s black.

Oh yeah and it’s heavy, like weighed down to the floor. OK, now imagine a machine, something that you can put the balloon into. OK … just, I don’t know like a microwave, but bigger. Just go with me here. Put the balloon inside. Close the door. Activate the machine. There’s only one button. Go for it.

Wait for it. Keep waiting. OK, and that’s it. Ding! It’s done. Take the balloon out. Now it’s glowing. And it’s not heavy anymore. In fact, it’s floating away. But that’s OK. Just imagine a ladder really quickly, and picture yourself climbing up the ladder really fast. It’s fine, you can do it, it’s your imagination. Catch the balloon. Hold it in your hands. Untie it. Suck everything back in.

You see what happened there? That machine, it made everything positive. All of that negativity, it’s been transformed into positivity. And then you just sucked it right back up. And so do that, picture that little thought exercise, it helps, it helps you let go, it helps you with that release, that unburdening. Just let it all flow over you. No, inside you, that’s what I meant. No, outside, then change it around, then back inside again.

It’s all in your head. You know, except if you have really bad back pain. I’ve heard chronic back pain is just the worst. You should really go see a medical doctor or a support group if you’re trying to deal with chronic pain. This is just for like emotional pain. But nothing too serious. If it’s too serious, you should go to a doctor for that too, that might be depression. I’m just talking about like moderate sadness. Not too moderate. Slightly moderate. Just, just go talk to a doctor. I’m not a doctor.

I love the Legend of Zelda

I just started playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii. I know I’m like two years late, but Zelda games, man, they’re so f’n great. They’re too great. You have to space them out a little bit. I finished Twilight Princess, the previous installment of the series, maybe four years ago. And it was all of the video gaming I needed for probably a decade.

Seriously, I just started this new game, and after going through the intro, after finding my sword, after learning about my quest and finally getting ready to start playing the game, I looked at my watch in total shock, unable to comprehend how four and half hours slipped by.

Four and a half hours. And that was just the very beginning of what’s ahead. Yeah, you definitely have to space these games out. My first experience with Zelda was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the Super Nintendo. I was in second grade when the game was released, and I remember the build up, the excitement I felt seeing the ads, reading about the sixteen-bit adventure in Nintendo Power magazine.

Sure, there were two games released on the original Nintendo system, but I was a little too young to really grasp the enormity of the challenge inherent in those titles. Duck Hunt was cool. Anybody can play Duck Hunt. Even Super Mario, sure, when I was a little kid, I could never beat the game, but I’d play the first two levels over and over again, maybe I’d get to the third, maybe not.

Zelda requires something more. It’s a whole world to navigate through. It’s a giant puzzle. No, well, yes, well … OK, it’s a series of little puzzles that are all part of one bigger puzzle, and then there are a bunch of side puzzles that may or may not have something to do with the other puzzles.

It takes time. There’s a lot of opportunity to get stuck, to not know what to do next. You might pick up some obscure tool one day, not knowing what it could possibly offer you, and then weeks later you’ll be stuck in some dungeon, wondering if maybe you dug yourself into an inescapable hole, when you start going through your inventory, wildly throwing random objects at other random objects when something finally clicks, another piece of the puzzle solved.

Sounds fun, right? Of course, any game that big can get frustrating, especially when you get stuck. But getting through it all, completing the story, figuring out all of the clues, finding all of the hidden treasure chests. I’m still not doing a great job describing it.

Whenever I finish a Zelda game, I’m exhausted, like every part of me, like I lost a lot of time out of my life that I’m never getting back. That’s why I space them out. They consume me. They make it so that I’m unable to function properly in the world, a good chunk of my brain always thinking back to the game, to the puzzles, to all that I have left to do.

But it’s fun. Insanely fun. I’ve never played a bad Zelda game. (Probably because I’ve never played Zelda II.) And they keep getting released. I hope they follow me through life, every four years or so I’ll dive into a new adventure, the characters the same but the puzzles getting harder, the virtual worlds growing a little more in-depth.

I hope that someday I’m a ninety-year-old man, playing the latest Zelda game on whatever new console Nintendo has in store for the next generation. And just I finish the last level, just as I defeat whatever incarnation of evil Ganondorf has manifested in his futile attempt to take over the Kingdom of Hyrule, I’ll pass away, a smile creeping across my face as I depart this earth, into the heavenly bosom of the three goddesses, may their light shine over the Hero of Time, his unending quest for goodness, for peace, for the Triforce.