One Reason I’m Opposed to World War 3

As much as I would hate it, it almost seems inevitable that there will be a World War 3, given the egos and irrationality possessed by both presidents of North Korea and the United States of America, and when this happens, it will likely affect me in a very negative way. I have always been opposed to war, but when I turned eighteen, against my beliefs I registered for the selective service, not because I feel the need to defend my country, but rather because it’s the law, and I would much rather take my chances on the slim possibility that a draft is implemented rather than behind bars where my proclivity for sarcasm and eye rolling would likely turn me into the prison punching bag. So at eighteen years old I did what was required of me by law, and I thought that I would never have to think about it again, but then eight years later I started working at Fedex and my chances of getting drafted doubled.

Back when I first registered for the selective service I had a different last name than I do now, so when I began working at Fedex and had to prove that I had in fact registered, I procured all of the necessary paperwork to show that I had changed my name and was still the same person, already registered. I signed some papers and waited in an uncomfortable chair while someone behind a desk typed relentlessly on her keyboard and before I knew it she handed me a paper saying that I had been registered for the selective service, for the second time, which means now if a draft does happen, my social security number is in the system twice, seemingly making it twice as likely that I get selected, and for those of you that know me at all, it is abundantly clear that I’m not at all suited for war.

Can you imagine someone like me on the battlefield defending our country? I have a great respect for the men and women who do that, but I would make a terrible soldier. Let’s just set aside the fact that I’m out of shape, my infinite fears would render me completely useless on the battlefield. When I worked at a grocery store and my job included blowing up balloons for children I would break out in a heavy sweat and start to feel dizzy as I inflated the balloons, afraid that the balloon would pop. When I go to NBA basketball games I wait outside the arena, outside of earshot of the fireworks that go off before the game because I’m terrified of loud noises. Now imagine me surrounded by gunfire, dropping my weapon to the ground, freeing both hands so that I can use them for the more pressing task of covering my ears in hopes of stifling the loud sounds all around me. With the ceaseless shots all around me, chances are I would be willing to take a bullet just to make it stop, so clearly being drafted would not be beneficial to me or the well being of our country. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that because clearly I’m not cut out to be a soldier.

The Gigantic Flying Cockroach

It was like the start of a typical horror movie, my wife and I sitting in our living room late at night, she watching something on TV while I read a book, just a regular Thursday night, but then it wasn’t. We heard a noise outside our door, very faintly, but loud enough to rouse our interests. We looked at each other then towards the door and as if on cue, something hit the door, sending the dogs into a barking frenzy and my wife and I into a state of worry. Since we’ve moved in, someone tried to kick in our neighbor’s door one night, so my mind immediately went to the extreme, jumping to the conclusion that this was now happening to us, so like any tough guy I went to the door to confront whomever the intruder could be, bringing along with me my forty ounce stainless steel water bottle as if that would serve as some kind of protective weapon. I looked out the keyhole but saw nothing and gradually our minds were eased and we almost forgot about the incident entirely, that is until it came time to take the dogs out to use the bathroom before bed. Concerned that maybe someone was lurking outside waiting to attack, my wife asked me to accompany her outside and like the chivalrous gentleman that I am, I begrudgingly agreed.

She opened the door to go outside and immediately a cockroach the size of a tennis ball flew up off the ground and began emitting a disgusting sound somewhere between clicking and whirring. My wife immediately shut the door, however the dogs had already run out before her so they on their leash were trapped outside with the monster. She opened the door quickly to let them back inside and then the debate began as we tried to figure out what we were going to do. The dogs have peed on our carpet before, so I was all for letting happen again if it meant we wouldn’t have to go outside and face the gigantic flying cockroach, but my wife wasn’t having it, suggesting instead that I use the broom to reach from the doorway and smash the bug, but given the size of this thing I wasn’t convinced it would do any real damage but would instead just anger it further so I declined. We spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to come up with a solution to our problem, when finally, my wife, the voice of reason, decided that we should hit it with something which in effect would make it fly away.

She stood with the door cracked, hoping not to draw any unwanted attention from the creature before she made her move, reached her arm back and hurled a little piece of dog food toward the roach, which she missed completely as it sailed overhead straight into the neighbor’s door. She shut the door quickly in case they came to see what had hit their door, and initially she felt bad about it, but after thinking it through further we decided that maybe it was a good thing to happen, that perhaps the neighbors would open the door and the largest insect in the world would go into their apartment, either that or they would scare it away. The minutes ticked by and still nothing happened, so we had to once again jump on the proactive side of getting rid of this thing. With the door once again opened a crack, my wife aimed a squirt bottle of water through the opening and fired a single shot, which unlike the piece of dog food, hit the intended target. This enraged the cockroach which quickly began flying around the landing outside of our apartment making that terribly disturbing sound again, probably swearing in its own language that it would have its revenge on us. I wish I could tell you that I realized how ridiculous all of this was and I decided to step up and be a man, walking right over to the insect and killing it without fear, but unfortunately I haven’t changed. We put the dogs to bed, and took them out first thing this morning when the cockroach had left its security post outside our door, so it all worked out okay, and hopefully I’ll never see that gigantic flying cockroach ever again.

A Childhood Nightmare

IMG_2022There were times as a child when I fell asleep just seconds after my head hit the pillow at night, but there were also, the unfortunate occasions when sleep didn’t come so easily for me. I’m not shy about the fact that I’m potentially the most fearful person in the world, but while it may shock you, the truth is as a child, I was scared of even more things than I am now as an adult. I would lie awake at night, a boy of six or seven, stroking the silky edge of my cotton blanket, something that soothed me as I thought about all the potential bad things that could happen while I was sleeping. I worried about the house catching on fire and waking up to a bedroom full of smoke with no way out, or not waking up at all and just burning to death as I slept, but there was something I feared more than fires, and that was being kidnapped. I’m not sure the reason for my fear of somebody taking me from my home, but it was something I thought about often, despite the fact that I had very few qualities that one might look for in a potential kidnapping victim, but I was scared nonetheless.

One night I had a dream, which to this day is the most terrifying dream I’ve ever had, and it revolved around this crazy fear that I had. I was with my mom at a car dealership. I’m not really sure which one but let’s just say Honda because that’s the type of car my mom owned when I was growing up. Up to that point in my life I don’t remember ever visiting a car dealership, but I felt comfortable with my surroundings like I’d been there many times before. My mom was looking at a car, but when I turned around again she was gone, and I was terrified. The fact that I found myself alone knocked the breath out of me, and I looked around trying to figure out where my mom had gone, and then I saw him. A man with a black mustache and thinning hair was holding a knife and looking at me with a smirk on his face. In retrospect he probably wanted to kill me, given that he was holding the knife, but I thought he was going to kidnap me, and I was determined not to let that happen.

I don’t know how long he chased me, but I ran up and down the rows of cars, crouching down behind them, trying to hide myself from the potential captor. I woke up crouched behind one of the couches in the living room, apparently having run around in my sleep, which is the only time in my life that I’ve ever sleep walked, at least to my knowledge. At least I was safe and back in my own home again, where I could go back to my bedroom and stroke the silky edge of my blanket and hope that no fires or kidnappers would get me that night.

The Gunfight in Jackson Hole

Jackson HoleIt was about just after six o’clock on a warm summer evening in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I was standing nervously behind a rack of sweatshirts in a local gift shop on the main town square. I was seventeen at the time, too old for such antics, but my fears that have plagued me for most of my life had me behaving like someone of a much younger age. It was a family vacation, a two week long road trip that would take us through various points of interest on our way to Yellowstone National Park, and though this was only the second or third day of the trip, I had already abandoned the family, extricating myself from activities that they, like most people found enjoyable and entertaining, but I did not.

It’s a long standing tradition in Jackson Hole to have a staged gunfight on the square every evening in the summer, an even so popular that masses of tourists gather around each evening to experience the wonder of the old west, an era that I’m grateful that I did not have to live through. At the first mention of gunfight, my eyes began darting around looking for a way out. I wanted to be normal, to enjoy the theatrics and the loud pops of gunfire that Americans have come to equate with patriotism and the great country in which we live, but I could not. A couple of actors walked out on the square as I stood by, shifting my weight from one foot to the other, nervously anticipating the loud noise that was now inevitable and getting closer by the second. It doesn’t matter that I know the noise is coming, in fact I think it makes it even worse, knowing when something bad is about to happen and have no power to stop it, like a very non masculine psychic.

The first blast came from a pistol in the form of a loud POP, and it was worse than I ever could have imagined. Whether the noise was amplified by the surrounding Grand Teton mountains or it was something done cosmetically to the guns in order to bring wonder to the crowd I do not know, but it was abundantly clear that I had to get out of there, which is why I took shelter in the nearest place I could find, the gift shop. In retrospect I probably should have ventured further away from the square, but I mistakenly assumed that being inside a building, any building would at least dull the sound of the ensuing gunfight at least a little bit, but unfortunately I was wrong. The gunfire was so loud inside the gift shop that I began to wonder how people up here survived the cold Wyoming winters with walls so paper thin. I don’t remember how long the show went on, but I’m sure it felt much longer to me than it actually was as I tried inconspicuously to cover my ears, the almost adult afraid of something that children and their families were taking in with smiles and laughter just a few feet away. I wish I could say that was a turning point for me, that I was humiliated so much by my fear of a harmless noise that I stepped from that gift shop a new man, someone who went on to enjoy live reenactments with guns and even fourth of July fireworks shows, but that would be a lie. If anything I’m worse than before, every earth shaking boom or pop sending me further and further away from the person I would like to be.

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I Hate Fridays

I love Fridays, but mostly I hate them. It is the worst day of work, but the best night after it. I generally sleep in later on Fridays, later than any other day of the week, seeking blissful comfort and shelter for as long as possible before I subject myself to the torturously long day ahead, but today I woke up an hour early, and I wasn’t even slightly happy about it. I’ve talked about the animals that live within my walls and the rats beneath my bathtub, but never before have these creatures roused me from my sleep, that is until today. When I woke up I heard a sound that I thought was rain against my window, but it sounded kind of funny, a little more dense than the rain I’d become accustomed to hearing, so I rolled over onto my stomach and peered through the blinds, revealing to me that rain wasn’t actually falling after all, however the noise continued. It took me a little longer than I’d like to admit, to figure out what was happening, but then it hit me like a gallon of bricks in the pit of my stomach; something was inside the wall. I wanted to go back to sleep, I really did, but this was made impossible by my increasing fear that whatever was trapped in the was was trying to get out and the ever increasing volume of the scratching made me think that it was getting pretty close.

Desperate to go back to sleep, I needed to make the scratching stop, so I pinpointed the exact place on the wall, behind which I imagined the cowardly and disgusting creature cowering, and with a thud slammed my open palm against it. The scratching stopped, miraculously, but then before I could ease back into the wonderfully unconscious state of sleep, it started back up again, and again I hit the wall, harder this time, as one tends to do when a temper is lost. As I was hitting the wall, my wife told me to be careful because perhaps the wall had been made thinner from the scratching coming from within, and my forceful hand might slam right through it, which would be disastrous for everyone involved, except for perhaps the raccoon, who I would give full run of the apartment with no questions asked, because really, what am I going to do? I quit hitting the wall and began instead thinking about the possibility of the creature breaking through into my bedroom on its own accord.

How would I defend myself? I thought about the pellet gun in my bedside table that has no ammo. Would a raccoon get scared and leave just because a gun is pointed at them or are they too stupid to realize when they are in danger? They do eat garbage so I’m guessing they aren’t that smart, so my unloaded gun attempt to frighten it probably wouldn’t work. I had no other means of protecting myself, so I thought about the worst thing that could possibly happen; the rabies infested raccoon could bite me. The more I thought about this the more worried I became, but then I realized that if that happened I probably wouldn’t have to go to work today, my least favorite work day, so it started to seem more appealing. The raccoon didn’t break through the wall or bite me and I still had to go to work, but with my luck I’m sure it will happen first thing on Saturday morning, completely ruining my weekend.

Vacation Day 4: Fun, Fears, and Food

IMG_3843This morning after everybody got up, which was a few hours after my 6:04 wake up time, we piled into my mom’s car and drove a few minutes down the road to Fort Morgan, which coincidentally is the name of the place where we are staying. Who knew there was an actual fort? It was used in the war of 1812 and that is all that I learned during our fairly short visit there, but it was fun to walk around and argue against my brothers who thought it would be a good place to hide out if a zombie apocalypse were to break out, which is completely stupid because although it used to be a fort, there are a lot of openings, windows and doors leading to the outside, and even if you did barricade yourself inside, you would have to risk leaving every time you wanted food. Basically, although I’m the only one that dropped out of college, I’m the smart brother. The person selling admission tickets at the front told us that we could come back tonight when they would be reenacting some battle complete with a gun show and cannon fire. Given that loud noises is possibly my biggest fear in the world, it wasn’t an issue that I had to think about before taking a hard pass.

This afternoon we went to play putt-putt golf, and I don’t know what it is about being at the beach and playing miniature golf, but the two seem to go hand and hand, and we apparently aren’t the only ones who think this way, because the course was crowded and we had people waiting behind us at each hole, making me nervous and throwing me off my game. I started the game with a hole in one, but my luck quickly deteriorated and by the time all was said and done I ended up in next to last place, my brother’s girlfriend the only one of the five of us that played worse than me. I guess it’s time to check miniature golf off the list of sports I’ll never become a professional in, along with every single other athletic activity I’ve ever attempted. After golf, we went to the wharf in Orange Beach, a place with restaurants, shopping, and various forms of entertainment, and it was here that my wife and I, along with my mom and grandmother, rode the ferris wheel. I don’t love heights, but lately I’ve been trying to branch out a little bit in terms of doing things that I’m not completely comfortable with. As the ferris wheel descended at what seemed like a dangerously rapid speed, I immediately regretted my decision, but once we plateaued and began our descent, it wasn’t so bad. I think it went around four or five times total, and by the end I was actually enjoying looking out at the scenery below, and was a little bit sad when it came to an end, although my hand still firmly grasped the bar in the middle of the pod, as if this would save me if it broke free of the ferris wheel and went careening to the ground.

For dinner we went to the Shrimp Basket, where upon arrival we were told our party of seven had a forty-five minute wait for a table. About an hour later we were seated at two separate tables, which wouldn’t have been too big of a deal if they’d done this initially instead of making us stand around for an hour while parties of three and four who’d arrived after us were seated, but no, they made us wait and then without asking seated us separately. Once understanding our frustration at the situation, the waiter moved some tables together and we were finally seated together. I got the shrimp and grits, which I immediately regretted after ordering, because I feel that the Shrimp Basket is known for it’s fried seafood baskets, with fries, and here I was ordering a meal that I typically get at a more up-scale place, but when the food arrived, I was pleasantly surprised, and all the regret faded away instantly. The grilled shrimp was absolutely delicious and full of flavor and the cheese grits that they rested on was also very good and the perfect creamy texture I’ve come to expect when I order grits on the gulf coast. I’ve been here four days now, and this was the best meal I’ve had so far. I can’t wait to see if anything will top it over the next three days, but it’s going to be pretty tough.

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Rats in the Tub

Saturday afternoon I sat in the living room of my apartment, writing and watching the dogs scratch themselves. I heard a noise coming from somewhere else in the house, a scratching sound, but unlike the one made by the dogs ridding themselves of the nonexistent fleas. I walked down the hallway and the noise grew louder. It was coming from the bathroom. I opened the door and turned on the light, and to my horror, the scratching sounds were coming from the bathtub, accompanied by an eerie squeaking sound. I summoned my wife and brother-in-law to the scene, and they confirmed what I feared. We have rats in the bathtub. Fortunately they seemed to be inside the lining, with no apparent way to escape, but it’s still a very eerie feeling, living in such close proximity to the disgusting rodents.

I awoke in the middle of the night in the early hours of Sunday morning and in a sleepy haze, went to use the bathroom. I quickly woke up when I heard the scratching once again, this time louder than the previous day. It sounded like there were even more rats, and that they were closer than ever before. They had somehow escaped their prison in the lining of the bathtub and were now actually in the tub itself, was what I thought. I contemplated throwing the shower curtain aside to confirm my theory, but my fear that the rats might have climbed up the curtain and just be waiting to jump from it onto me, kept me from doing so, so I quickly used the bathroom then shut the door, a vain attempt to keep the rats from getting to me.

The next morning I woke up and the noise persisted. My wife had taken a shower, confirming that they weren’t actually in the bathtub, but knowing that I would have to spend more than a couple minutes in the bathroom and not wanting to be in such close quarters with the rodents for an extended period of time, I put on my shoes and drove down the street to Walgreens, and did my business there. It was probably a wise decision, given that rats eat trash they would have probably loved the smells I was producing and figured out a way to get closer to it. I didn’t want to, but societal rules dictate that normal human beings must shower on a regular basis, so later that morning I took a shower, washing quickly and glancing at the drain every few seconds, convinced that the rats would tunnel their way up through it and begin feasting on my toes. Clean and unbitten, I escaped, feeling pretty happy knowing that I wouldn’t have to put myself in such a risky situation until the next day. I am now terrified every time I go into the bathroom, and we have told our apartment’s management about the problem, but I’m not very confident that they will take care of it. They haven’t even fixed some of the electrical sockets that weren’t working when we moved in almost a year ago. We’re about to sign a new lease, because moving is so much more of a hassle than not, so I guess it’s time to accept my fate. I now live with rats, and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.