Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Way back before the nature of the marketing empire came out, I used to go to meetings every Thursday night... Now, I won't disclose the name of the company, because even though I left angry, it's not my place to drag 'em through the mud here 'cause that's not what I'm here to write about.

Stay with me here, and you might recognize 'em anyway. This company provides a service which has been life-changing for lots and lots of people -- alas, they are in a business to make money, not just to help people make these changes. There is a cost to attend the meetings; once you've met your pre-set life-changing "goal," you get to attend the meetings for free.

Can y'all see the "Catch Twenty-Two" there? The person who leads and teaches at the meetings has to get paid, but the more people learn, the less they have to pay. A really great leader who teaches people how to meet their goals isn't bringing in enough money for the company because there are way too many successful people in the group who have met that goal and don't have to pay anymore.

A great leader got "let go" because there were too many "freebies" in her groups.

She was awesome, and I'll never forget her -- she made a tremendous difference for me, but my experience just wasn't the same after she left.

One of the things she told us was this: "If you had a bad week, you need your meeting; if you had a good week, your meeting needs you."



I had a few rough moments today. Now that I'm not at work anymore -- sittin' here in my car with the windows down and a bit of a breeze blowin' through -- now that it's just me by myself with the computer and the car, it seems further away and less important, but I said I'd try to write more, so here I am.

We sold a car yesterday, and the kid took it home and tried to put a stereo in it. He's struggling. He's calling, a lot. We had to haul it back in once and change the starter, then he took it back home and tried again; there have been fuses and relays and phone call after phone call -- I'm sure he's a lot more stressed-out than any of us are, but it just seemed like every third phone call I answered, there he was, poor kid.

Boat confusion. Using Go0gle to answer questions over the phone for someone who could just as easily click over to Go0gle without calling me. The creepy guy. Several phone calls from people who weren't sure how the phone is supposed to work -- please, you have to say something else besides "hello" forty times, or I'm gonna hang up. The other creepy guy. That woman from the transmission shop who thinks she has to "talk to a man" every time, even if he turns around and asks me to look up the parts on the computer. The guy who thinks he's a pimp. The girl who flipped Miss Messy in the forehead yesterday.

Seriously, what the feck was that about? I know, I know, you've got fifteen-year-old-girl-hormones and Chemistry homework to deal with, but if you can put up with getting a text message every twenty seconds while you're supposedly doing your homework, there's nothing wrong with a kitten sniffing the edge of your Chemistry book. Just like the ol' man with the Chihuahua said, "This is that kitty's house, you're in her house, you better be nice." Bitch just flipped her right in the forehead while I was on one of those phone calls where somebody wasn't sure what to say after "hello," and it was a hard, full-on middle-finger-from-thumb, hard-thumping flip. I was so mad I wanted to scream. Or just reach over there and flip her in the forehead. I think of her like family; but I really wanted to hit her when she did that.

I'd parked on the very edge of the parking lot this afternoon, right out by the street, and when I got ready to leave and there was a white Chevy truck headed South down the street as I got in my car. He had both windows down, and as I walked toward the street to open my driver's door, I noticed he was leaned over toward the middle of the seat and NOT looking in the direction the truck was going. As he got closer to me, I could see the toddler standing in the middle of the truck, between the driver and the baby carrier car seat in the passenger side. I was reaching for my phone when I saw the paper UD tag...

A black Honda ran the stop sign to pull right out in front of me by the crummy trailer park and I found myself imagining being the next car in line behind some numnutz who ran a stop sign and got smeared under the front bumper of a Freightliner. I couldn't see a driver at all; no head over the seat, nothing visible in the mirrors, and let's be reasonable, a Honda Prelude is a pretty small car -- how small do you have to be to be invisible in there? Ten, eleven years old? The black Honda ran the stop sign at Peoria Avenue too, but there was no Freightliner there either.

When I put on my left blinker to turn into my neighborhood, there was a silver foreign SUV behind me that darted to the right, off in the grass to pass on the right -- they ended up having to slow down anyway because there was another car in the intersection. One of these days, if I can just do it in something I don't care about, I'm gonna make a right turn in front of some jerk like that and sell off a car... Just not in the SHO or the Mark 8...

I still really like the ol' three-hundred-dollar Mark 8, I've put just over 33 thousand miles on it now, and I just really like it.

I dashed in the house to grab a quick bite to eat and pick up my Bible -- I really thought about skipping tonight, keepin' my nasty attitude at home instead of being out among other people, and then I thought about the wise words of that wonderful leader from several years ago; "If you had a bad week, you need your meeting; if you had a good week, your meeting needs you."

I tossed a quick snack in a bag and filled an icy glass with some orange caffeine and headed back to the car.

Out I went, out on to the highway and into the evening rush-hour traffic, where there are way too many people doing way too many things that shouldn't happen with the car in gear. If you want to talk on your phone while drinking coffee and working a crossword puzzle, there are many, many far more appropriate places to do that than in your car. If you'd like to talk on the phone and ignore everything outside your car, please do it with your car in "Park." For the love of the planet, turn the car off, and I guess since I'm trying to be a little more humanitarian, crack a window so you don't smother. I know, I know, I shouldn't have to tell people about that whole crack a window thing, but hey, if they're not smart enough to put down the phone long enough to use turn signals and check their blind spot before moving over into traffic at highway speed, you never know what they might need a little extra help with.

Of course, there's always the other extreme -- some move all over the place like drunks, some won't move over at all. Sure enough, I ended up behind two of 'em, side-by-side just like a parking lot. When we came under Highway 11, they were still side-by-side, and I saw my chance, so I went for it...

I'm not crazy, I didn't do anything any more dangerous than staying parking-lot-close-side-by-side at highway speed, and I didn't get anywhere close to any other cars. I've only did it once before, in a "Service Loaner" Ford Escort way back when the SHO still had factory warranty -- and it took everything that little car had to pull it off, I made it, but there was no more car left...

On Southbound 75, where the Highway 11 ramp comes on from the left, there are two extra lanes for a short distance. It's a generous bit of merging area compared to most in the Tulsa area even though it's crazy to send 'em on in the passing lane to begin with.

There were several car-lengths between the two cars side-by-side and the next car ahead of them on to the South, and there was nothing coming down the ramp from Highway 11, so I decided to go for it. Not eating my dinner, not talking on my phone, not fixin' my hair -- just belted into my comfy seat with both hands on my well-worn leather wheel, I hit the blinker and pressed my toes down just as soon as I could pull to the left into that short bit of spare passing lane. The pedal didn't touch the floor, and I never felt like I'd used up all the car had; it just dropped a gear, wound up, dropped another gear, and took off, just as quick and easy as ya please, right blinker on, moving back over, and making the pass with room to spare. For a car that somebody gave up on and sold to a salvage yard, it sure is sweet that way. The person in the car blocking the passing lane may not have even realized I didn't come from Highway 11.

In that moment, with that ol' 4.6 opened up to a smooth roar, I forgot everything I'd been grumbling under my breath about all day and it was all just gone and I didn't have a nasty attitude to worry about anymore. It's a good thing too, 'cause my Wednesday Night group probably has more important things to worry about than what kind of rotten grumpy day I had.

It's a lot like what I love about The Twenty -- when the roar hits me, there's nothing else on my mind, nothing else to bother me, nothing. Nothing else.

Now, just as soon as this weather levels out...


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Monday, April 19, 2010

For April 19th.

Fifteen years.


Really? Fifteen years?

Fifteen years ago, I was a senior in highschool. I was in Band, the regular second hour class for juniors and seniors, along with fifth hour, I'm not sure which name had been hung on that hour, "Pep Band," Jazz Band," or something like that -- I had it to fill in that hour for the second semester after making up a semester of history that I'd flunked in tenth grade. There wasn't an actual Band involved, it was really more like Study Hall in the Band Room -- homework, practice time, or when the Director was gone, there might've been a little horseplay involved... It's been fifteen years, I'd say that surpasses the statute of limitations for "Snitching On The Sly."

I remember one classmate who had a different "extra hour" of band getting extremely pissed off at me when I started putting my mouthpiece in my purse; in fifth hour, my friends and I occasionally messed around with drums and xylophones and the piano. Sometimes we'd warp the hell out of that massive gong and then have to press ourselves against it to stop the ringing 'cause we thought we heard a door start to open. We did not put our mouths on things... Apparently the other groups played around with everything, including my bass trombone, and uh, Ewwww! I've never been interested in putting my mouth on things that other people put their mouths on -- I was just a little creeped out by the invasive nature of someone pulling my horn out of the case without my knowledge, but I might've got over it were it not for them using my mouthpiece instead of getting their own. How many times did I pull that horn out for rehearsal and unknowingly end up with someone else's germs? Bleh! Mouthpiece in purse from there on out...

I did not have any sort of Math class that year, having already met my requirements by squeaking through Honors Algebra II by the skin of my teeth the year before. My two computer classes were just interesting enough that I didn't get bored. Art class was pure gravy. Senior English was a challenge, but the teacher was great, so everything went fine.

My brother had already choked the mouthy punk who wouldn't leave me alone in third hour. My Best Friend and I were still on good terms then. My parents took care of my truck, and the gas, and the insurance, and the giant Uniden cell phone in the big leather bag that took up the entire middle seat of the truck. I had probably just had my first tiny peek at the green SHO that would be my graduation present -- but I still had my heart set on the red Mustang 5.0 convertible beside it...

Andy and I had been dating just almost six months, and the prom was three days away.

I was eighteen and not worried about anything except makin' room in my purse for that bass trombone mouthpiece.

Not worried about anything.

I remember leaving the band building to come into the school through the back side of the cafeteria, and there was a crowd between the tables, all staring at the TV. Those TVs were never, ever on, except for "Channel One" (the silly video tape that got played once a week in imitation of a "satellite feed") or to play whatever video the popular people had put together. There was never any random TV-watching on any of those TVs, so it had to be something big coming in on the national news.

The first thing I saw was a building with the side blown open.

The first thing I thought was "Great, one more thing for the news to fixate on and repeat over and over again just like that stupid OJ police chase," television had started to seem a little repetitive with that being all over the news all the time.

Yeah, eighteen-year-old me might've needed a pop upside the head once in a while.

When I realized it was in Oklahoma City, everything shifted and I felt a little sick inside.

I guess it didn't really sink in 'til I got home and sat down in the living room with my parents and Andy to really watch the news instead of just hearing bits of what I could catch in the cafeteria in the five minute breaks between classes.

There was a daycare center there, there were babies and toddlers, little kids... Little kids were hurt and killed, deliberately, violently.

I cry every time they read the names on the news or the radio on the anniversary of the bombing.

In 2000, I was in Oklahoma City for a convention of Automotive Recyclers; I ended up hangin' out with two guys from other yards in Texas and we drove over there to see the memorial before there was an actual museum. They were just getting the sod put down among the chairs. The chairs and the reflecting pool were stunning, but it was the statue of Jesus and the fence... The chain-link fence covered up with every sort of memento anyone could attach to a chain-link fence... It was the fence that brought me to my knees.

As Robert Earl Keen says, "That morning in late April, Oklahoma, '95," we do not forget.

We do not forget.

See that we do not forget.