One Moment In Time

Dragon Cove Photo credit: Brenda-Starr via / CC BY-NC-ND

For just one moment, I felt so loved today. Sometimes that one moment is all you need. On the way home from Ira’s school today we passed a car accident. It seemed to really shake Ira up a bit and he kept asking me over and over again as to when I would be in a car accident. I told him hopefully never. Never wasn’t good enough for him. It will clearly happen some day and he wanted to know exactly when. After literally the 10th time asking me when I would be in a tragic accident, I finally asked him if the possibility of such an event scared him. He ignored the question and went on to explain that WHEN I get into a car accident he wants to be taken care of by a dragon. We saw Pete’s Dragon yesterday and Ira remembered that Pete found his dragon only after his parents died in a car accident. So what I mistook for fear was actually impatience. My child is rooting for a fatal car accident sooner rather than later. And just as quickly as that one moment happened…it vanished into thin air.

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Silently Screaming

aldoaldoz / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

What I am about to tell you is something I would not wish upon my worst of enemies. Such horror. Awaking from a nightmare only to realize you are actually living out that nightmare can have a paralyzing effect on the strongest of individuals. Well friends, here is such a story.

I sleep awkwardly. I always have and it is looking like at this stage of the game that I always will. My rest at night is akin to sleeping in a coffin. Lie on your back and touch your left shoulder with your right hand and your right shoulder with your left hand. That is how I sleep. I wonder what that says about me. Ehhhh, I really don’t want to know. No way it can be anything good.

I was home from college my freshman year. It had been a great summer and as the weeks were flying by I was getting excited for school to start again. I went to bed that night full of hope, joy and thankfulness for the life I was living. This utter feeling of contentment was unfortunately short lived. I went to bed in my usual position…arms resting across my chest. My sleep was a bit contentious that night and as I finally found my way to deep sleep the nightmare began. In the dream my arms began to tingle and I told my friends that I thought I was loosing feeling in both extremities. I could tell by the look on their faces that my fear might for once be justifiable. At this point consciousness slowly comes to me and I awaken in a state of confusion. My arms are crossed as usual. However, I was not sleeping on my back. Rather I was sleeping on my stomach on top of my arms.

Well that’s weird I thought to myself as I attempted to roll over. Slowly the horror began to encroach on my otherwise peaceful state of mind. Have you ever felt that tingling sensation in an arm that has fallen asleep? Of course you have. Some of you may have even experienced complete loss of sensation in one arm. How about two arms? I had never lost sensation in an arm before much less two. Yet this is what happened. No tingling sensation. Literally no sensation at all. The best way I can explain it is imagine what it would feel like to have two rubber arms at your side. In a panic I tried to lift myself off of the bed which I of course could not do. Instead, I simply rolled off and gracefully plummeted to the floor. I’m telling you, it was quite the scene. I managed to get on my feet and immediately ran around in circles silently screaming while my parents slept completely unaware of what was going on in the very next room.

Get a hold of yourself damn it. I finally calmed down, ran up to my closed bedroom door and began twisting my body back and forth. My plan was simple. If I flailed around enough, I could swing my arms up to the knob of my bedroom door and then I don’t know. Maybe one of my flailing arms would brush up against the knob, miraculous turn it and then I could seek medical attention. 5 minutes later I began to think my brilliant plan was destined to fail. While I did manage to flail my arms high enough to occasionally smack me in the face, there was simply no way I was going to be able to open that door.

So I went back to my bed and rubbed my arms with my legs until extreme tingling began. Within two minutes my arms were back to normal, I resumed my coffin like sleeping position, and drifted back to sleep. How could I sleep after such a horrific experience? Sometimes sleep can be life’s great escape and this was no exception. The very act that caused my torment to begin with would now wistfully take me away from the horror of reality.

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The Interview, The Police & The Chase

Nick Kenrick. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Upon graduating from college, like many, I had no clue what I wanted to do.  One thing remained certain, my gigantic student debt wasn’t going to go away on its own.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I received a call from a marketing company.   They were greatly impressed with my resume and simply had to get me in for an interview.  Well who can say no to that?  As I donned my new suit and glanced at myself in the mirror, I felt as if my life was finally beginning.  I would crush this interview.

“Noah, I can tell just by looking at you, that you are a professional.  No need for mindless questions.  I want to get you out in the field with my best men so you can see first hand what this job entails.”

True story.  Not a single question was thrown my way by the manager.  As I had never been on a “real” interview before, I figured perhaps this was a new and innovative way to quickly find the most qualified candidates.  No problem.  I would prove myself worthy of a job that I really, to that point, had no idea what it consisted of.  I hopped into a car with two other guys; one of whom was a graduate from Notre Dame.  On our way to wherever our destination was going to be, the Notre Dame graduate pointed out poignant tidbits.  “Did you know that billboards only have a 2% return on investment?”  Wow.  No I didn’t.  This guy clearly knew what he was talking about.  “What we do is so much more efficient than many of the marketing strategies out there.”

To this point I was still utterly clueless as to what the field work would consist of.  45 minutes later we had finally reached our destination.  This destination was a lower middle class community.  Our mission: sell as many $25 dollar coupon books as we could.  Why?  Why do I get myself into such situations?  Door to door, we begged people to buy this coupon book.  It was a steal.  So many great deals.  How could you say no?!  The guy from Notre Dame told me in a knowingly voice, “See what I did just there?  That person was unemployed yet I didn’t allow that to keep us from making the sale.”  It’s true.  He convinced her she needed the coupon book more than your average person.  Being unemployed meant she couldn’t afford to not buy this book full of wonderful deals.

As I was contemplating about just how slimy this was making me feel, one of my comrades screams, “Run, damn it!!  Run!  It’s the cops!!  Get out of here!”  In a situation such as that, one doesn’t ask exactly why one should run.  One simply runs.  Jumping over fences, I of course managed to tear a hole in my suit pants.  But damn it, I was about to get arrested for…well I didn’t really know what crime I had committed but I wasn’t going to find out.  5 minutes later we had made it to the sanctuary of the Jeep Tracker.  We rolled past 2 squad cars…both of whom eyed us suspiciously.

On the way back, I was informed that you technically need a license to go into communities to sell these books.  However, that costs money and takes time so the company ignores this horrific, big brother, regulation.  Needless to say, I was offered the job.  The manager was dumbstruck when I declined.  He was positive he had closed the deal and was speechless when I walked away.  The graduate from Notre Dame looked devastated when I told him I was going to look for other opportunities.  He was close to my age and I think that perhaps he felt the need for some sort of validation that this job was legitimate and worth having.  I felt sorry for him.  Mostly however, I felt sorry for myself.  I just graduated college.  I couldn’t afford new suit pants!

Posted in Disbelief, Scared, the law | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How a Negative Association Destroyed My Passion For Peanuts

Thomas Hawk / Foter / CC BY-NC

I have been all over the place with this blog. It’s been fun rehashing old memories that have helped to shape the person I have become. But where did it all begin? What was the catalyst that has created a life so full of funny mishaps? I believe I have traced it back to one of the first vivid memories I can recall. A memory not funny at all but one that few people have ever experienced. And so begins the story of a rodeo, an angry bull and a 5 year old.

I would like to begin by saying I love animals. I was a vegetarian for awhile due solely to the fact that I am slightly disgusted when I think about eating meat. That faze of my life didn’t last extremely long due to many factors that perhaps I will delve into at a later date. As such, I am no fan of rodeos. However, living in a rural town in Texas at the tender age of 5, rodeos were definitely a family event.

I remember this catastrophe as if it were yesterday. Vivid, horrifying and astonishing. We had front row center seats at a great arena (great for a 5 year old. In hindsight I have no doubt it was actually a small, dingy venue). Pact to the brim and full of excitement, the audience sat captivated in awe as one mighty bull after another went to war with his nemesis. Before going any further, I should point out that the only thing separating the crowd from the “entertainment” was a flimsy barbwire fence. A fence that came right up to my chair. Snacking on some peanuts, my excitement soon turned to fear. A giant bull was released that was different than the others. This one was enormous, fast and understandably angry.

I gulped down what would be my last mouthful of peanuts for 20 years. The beast v-lined it straight towards our seats, bucking the entire way. As he approached my seat he jumped, turned in midair and bucked. His hoof cut through the barbwire fence like paper and struck me directly in the stomach. One moment I was nervously swallowing down a mouth full of succulent peanuts and the next I found myself sprawled on the ground gasping for air as my chair had been chattered to dust. Moments later a barrage of cowboys came rushing in, pushing people aside to make room for this 5 year old child who had just taken a kick to the stomach by a creature 20 times his size. Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? Multiply that by 100 and you still won’t know what this felt like. I was still gasping for air 15 minutes later when I was laying on a stretcher awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.

To say I was lucky is an understatement. Had I been struck any higher my ribs would have been shattered and had I been struck any lower…well you figure out what would have happened. Instead, I was given a bunch of shots at the hospital and sent home the following day. The local news reported on this and strangers all across the area would show up at our house offering me gifts. It was awesome!! I think my favorite gift was a gumball machine. It was this experience that proved to me just how powerful negative associations can have on a person. Up until that moment I loved peanuts. No longer. I lost all appetite for them and would immediately feel nauseous anytime someone would kindly offer them to me. This hatred towards all things related to nuts lasted for 20 years. I finally forced myself to eat them again one night and surprise surprise, my love of them remained. 20 years wasted. Negative associations can be powerful indeed.

Posted in Disbelief, injuries, Scared, vivid memories | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Well That Was Mortifying!

pjohnkeane / Foter / CC BY-SA

While I’m on the college theme I figure I might as well dwell on a moment that might best be forgotten.   It is easy to reminisce about unforgettable moments of joy and quite easy to forget about experiences that leave you shaking your head in disbelief.  Here is one of those moments.

I attended the University of Illinois and absolutely loved my time spent there.  I truly disliked high school and couldn’t wait to embark on a new chapter of my life where I could make a fresh start.  The handful of people I knew from high school that also went to UofI were not close friends of mine.  So this truly was a new start for me.  What type of start would this be?  I won’t spend any time describing my roommate whom I had the misfortune of meeting for the first time late at night.  Let’s just say meeting someone you are going to be living with for the first time as he is staring at a wall in his whitey tighties in pitch black darkness is yet another one of those memories best to be forgotten.  If only I could!!

Rather, let’s discuss my first day of class.  I was so excited.  Rhet 101.  What better way to start college then to take a course that you know you will excel in.  Arriving early, I had my pick of any seat in the class.  Front row center.  That will be my spot.  Tired, nervous and clearly having just rolled out of bed, my classmates began shuffling in.  I could tell by just looking at my professor that he clearly had a brilliant mind.  Oh how the wonders of his knowledge I would so eagerly inhale.

Being a smaller class, we began with the mandatory introduction of stating your name and one thing about yourself.  “Hi.  I’m Noah and I have a tendency to embarrass myself.”  These were my exact words.  Pretty weak.  Yet perfect for this scenario.  After several boring moments of introductions, my professor finally began his first lecture.  The title of his notes read, “The Joys of Calculus.”  Hmmmm.  Well this guy is brilliant.  I’m not really sure where he is going with this but let’s hear him out.  I’m sure it will tie into writing somehow.  10 minutes later I have been inundated with mathematical equations that I simply didn’t understand.

Hmmmm.  Somewhat bizarre that the other students were looking at a book far different than mine.  Let’s see where this goes.  Must be a logical explanation.  The syllabus is distributed.  Quite a bit of math going on here.  Where is the writing?  With 15 minutes left in class I finally get suspicious.

Rather than sneaking out of class, I raise my hand.

“Yes, Noah?”

“Excuse me, but is this Rhet 101?”

Complete silence.  Then it happened.  First one snort.  Then another.  By the time I got out of my desk (again, located in the first row) and headed for the door, my brilliant professor along with his students roared with laughter.  My first class ever in college.  I tell the class that my name is Noah and that I embarrass myself on a regular basis.  I follow that up by sitting in a class that clearly has nothing to do with writing for 45 minutes before deciding this might be more math oriented than writing.  Rather than leaving, I need to be sure and publicly humiliate myself by asking one of the few questions that truly can only be labeled as dumb.

College was starting out just about as gloriously as high school did for me.

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The Day After The Shot

Linda Gail. / Foter / CC BY-SA

What a magical night.  As stated in my previous post, I had just hit the most amazing shot of my life.  Swarms of people hoisted me on their shoulders and for that one moment, I truly felt as if I had accomplished something.  Granted, we went on to lose the game by 35 points but it was quite possibly my favorite sporting moment in my life.

On my way home from the game, my very being glowing in pride and ecstasy, smoke started steaming out of my feebly ancient suburban.   This was the first time I had driven that car in 2 months.  Everything was in walking distance on campus but as it was a bit of a cold, early spring night, I decided a drive was in order.

It seems as if strange moments such as these happen to me on an unusually regular occurrence.  The following day, I opened the hood of my car only to find myself yelping as I fell flat on my back out of both fear and astonishment.  A squirrel leapt out from atop the engine and scurried past me as he found the safety of a nearby tree.  He just about gave me a heart attack.  Now to figure out why the engine was smoking.  I noticed a pile of leaves clustered around the back of the engine.  I started to grab the leaves when I heard it.  Faint at first, the noise grew and grew until it was unmistakable.  chirp chirp chirp CHIRP!!

4, I repeat 4 newly hatched birds were peeping out at me.  Lord.  Why?  Why, when there were so many trees from which to choose from, did a bird decide to crawl underneath my car, and work her way up to the engine where she decided to lay some eggs?  I can’t even imagine the amount of effort it must have taken.  The smoke that I noticed was in fact from the nest, which apparently warmed the eggs up enough to allow them to hatch the next day.   As an animal lover and an ill equipped kid with no idea as to how to save these birds, the moment of joy I had been feeling from the night before was washed away.  Now, all I could feel was sorrow.

After making several calls to see about saving the birds, the only response I received was from animal control who said that they “would take care of the situation for 50 bucks.”  With no acceptable help, I did the only thing I could think of and gently laid the nest underneath a tree and hoped for the best.  Many years later, while living in an apartment near Chicago, I had noticed that a bird had fallen out of a tree and couldn’t fly.  Every morning I would see the same bird in the parking lot hopping around.  How was this bird staying alive?  One morning, I saw another bird fly down from a tree and start stuffing her face into the flightless bird’s mouth.  At first I was horrified until I figured out what was going on.  The mother bird was feeding her baby.  So perhaps, just perhaps, those 4 birds that began life on top of my smoking engine, were found by their mother and survived their ordeal.  I doubt it.  But you never know.

Posted in College, Disbelief, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Shot Heard Around The Intramural World!

slgckgc / Foter / CC BY

My wife and I were talking about what sports we should sign Ira up for the other day and it of course got me reminiscing about my golden days.  God I was such an average athlete.  However, even average athletes can have moments that are truly inspiring and heroic.  Moments that make others say, “Wow, that was genuinely mesmerizing and I thank my lucky stars that I was there to witness that.  I have just taken part in greatness.”  Well folks, here is one of those moments.

By my junior year in college I decided that I needed something more in my life.  I longed for the days that I was part of a competitive team.  The days where my mates and I fought side by side against a common foe.  Win or lose, we were in it together till the very end.  Purely through coincidence, as I was going through this period in my life a few friends of mine decided to put together an intramural basketball team and asked if I would like to take part.  Of course!!  We practiced and we competed and it was nothing like I thought it would be.  But then it happened.  The shot.  The shot that was heard around the entire intramural world.  You may have even heard about it.

It occurred deep into our intramural season.  As the season draws to a finish, games become that much more critical.  We even had fans that were beginning to show up for our games.  Signs, chants and cheers became a staple of our weekly showdowns.  However, this night was different.  In an otherwise normally boisterous “arena,” a hush came over the crowd.  2 seconds left, we needed 3 points and our opponents had just lost the ball underneath their own basket.  One chance.  One shot.  One dream.  That is what we had left.  It almost felt as if my entire life had come down to this one moment.  The hushed crowd watched as I ran around a screen, caught the ball just outside the 3 point line and let loose a shot so pure there was no doubt that it would find its home.  Swoosh.

Pandemonium erupted as the buzzer went off.  You have seen this moment before.  An athlete hits a shot at the buzzer and runs across the court as his teammates chase him down and as fans rush the floor.  As I was hoisted on the shoulders of the throngs of people that swarmed me I swear, for the first time since I was a child, a teardrop fell as I knew what I had just accomplished.

As is often the case, the moment was short lived.  Like me, the other team was also crying.  Though their tears came from uncontrollable laughter.  You see, I didn’t score the game winning shot.  Rather, we were down by 22 and if you are losing by 20 or more by the end of the first half you don’t get to play the second half.  This was the end of the season and we had never played a second half.  Our foes couldn’t understand the victory that my teammates and fans felt.  We accomplished something that night.  We fought to the very end, shrugged off our naysayers, and earned the respect of…well nobody.  But darn it, it was nice to play the second half for once.  These are the sort of moments I hope my son finds in life.  Understanding the true joy of moments that others might find ridiculous can in fact be some of your most cherished and memorable times in life.

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She Got the Best of Me

Bonita Sarita / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The theater where this happened matters not.  The person I was with is of no importance.  What truly matters is how this event has drastically changed how I view people.  My faith in humanity has definitely been shaken and I oft times wonder if I will ever regain a semblance of the trust that I once felt towards humans.  I struggle to begin, knowing full well the nightmares this will unleash.  The story must be told!!

Not very long ago I found myself at a movie theater with a friend.  I was quite excited as it was a flick I had been longing to see for quite some time.  A large soda, an endless supply of Reese’s Pieces, choice seats and a gigantic screen were enough to send shivers of excitement throughout my very being.  The movie starts, I begin to gorge and I take a large swig off of my ice cold beverage.  Joy.  That is the only word for this experience.

5 minutes into the movie, a women sits down next to me.  The place was pact and she had nowhere else to sit.  I obviously thought nothing of this.  When I was young I often times felt proud about the empathy I felt towards those poor schmucks who went to the movies by themselves.  I felt proud because who else but me would be so thoughtful as to feel bad for strangers.  I truly was a Saint.  I of course grew up and realized that going to movies alone can be some of the most enjoyable movie going experiences one can have.  Regardless, I think we can all agree that I’m pretty fabulous.

So the movie is humming along and I am truly enjoying it when the women next to me really starts to cough quite profusely.  She is hacking and hocking and snorting up something that sounds quite disgusting.  She takes a big gulp and pushes whatever it was back down her throat.  Then it happened.  She reached over to my cup holder, took my large coke in her hands, and proceeded to take a giant pull on my straw.  I was muted from shock, rage and dismay as I too swallow down my tenth handful of Reece’s Pieces.  Did anyone else see what just happened?!!  At this point my mouth is scorching with thirst as she happily takes another swig on my drink.  My $5 dollar beverage was now her’s and her’s alone.  She got the best of me and for that she will forever have my respect.

In closing, I of course checked immediately after the movie to see if she had a drink on the floor or in the cup holder on the other side of her chair.  Negative.  She had no drink.  She had no drink!!!  Do you understand what this means?  She knew my beverage wasn’t her’s but decided to go ahead and claim it anyway at the most opportune time possible.  In this manner, my faith in humanity has been shaken and I am now a truly troubled soul.

Posted in Disbelief, Humanity, Mortal Enemy, Movies, Rage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unidentified Animal


Staying on the wildlife theme, a few months ago I had a terrifying experience.  This occurred after bats had infiltrated my house, the attack of ticks which no doubt carried lime disease and the discovery of a new and exotic animal (the groundhog).  I had once again discovered an unidentified animal in my backyard.  Mabel (my faithful, ill tempered, needy and extremely intense dog) was outside and as she has an insatiable appetite for attacking all animals that aren’t humans, I immediately ushered her back inside.  I decided to get this small, yet dangerous looking creature out of my backyard so Mabel wouldn’t attack it the next time I let her out.  The stillness in the air put me on edge.  It was as if all of the birds, squirrels and cries of joy from nearby kids frolicking in their backyards had been all at once muted.  Why, I asked myself.  Why on earth would I confront an animal that I knew nothing about and could possibly inflict serious damage on a fragile soul such as myself?  Simple.  This was my home and I would not be bullied even if this might mean my sudden demise.  My foe was pretty far away and rather than approaching it, I simply screamed.  I yelled and hollered but the beast just sat there staring at me.  I had found a truly worthy opponent indeed.  I would not be denied my victory however, so I started to throw rocks.  No, I wasn’t trying to hit it…only to scare this brave little animal into leaving.  Nothing worked so I approached it.  Slowly.  Slowly.  Slowly.  A stick!!  That’s what I need.  Something to keep my pray at a safe distance.  There simply wasn’t enough time.  I would engage this animal using the only weapon I possess at all times…my wit.

It was a rock.  I was screaming and yelling and throwing rocks at a rock.  Perhaps I need some new glasses.

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Bat Attack

We recently moved from Chicago to Kalamazoo, MI.  I love it here.  Chicago is fantastic but there are simply too many people.  I blame my hair loss completely on the rage I felt each time it took me 45 minutes to travel 5 miles.  Not much wildlife going on in Chicago besides rats and pigeons.  Kalamazoo on the other hand has a tremendous amount of critters that I have had the pleasure to meet for the first time.   Ticks apparently love to fall from tree branches onto my neck.  The first time I saw a groundhog in my backyard I was positive that I had discovered a new type of animal.  My dog was skunked within two weeks of moving into our house (I had no idea what had happened, she smelled like she had just consumed an onion, I of course let her inside, she of course rubbed herself all over the carpet and my wife of course and justifiably so, freaked out at me).  My favorite however, are the bats that infiltrate our house.  I will allow you to come to your own conclusions.  While I find myself to be quite rugged and manly, this video has really caused me to take a deep look at myself.  Perhaps it is true that people often times see themselves as something quite different than what the reality truly is.

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