Winning a Marital Disagreement

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For all of the people out there in relationships that are full of disagreements and conflicting opinions, who believe that no matter what, your significant other will never come around to feeling the way you do on certain issues, there is hope. Until today I never would have believed it and have given up on even trying to sway my wife’s opinion, but rejoice my friends because today it actually happened. Over the course of our relationship, my wife and I have had many disagreements over things, some small, like where to go for dinner or how to load the dishwasher, and some big, like whether Lord of the Rings is the greatest movie trilogy of all time, or if we should get dogs or not. Well we’ve never sat down and watched Lord of the Rings together and we now have two chihuahuas so it’s safe to say that I lose a lot more than I win, but today I won, and it feels fantastic.

The biggest fundamental difference of opinion that we have is far bigger than dogs or movies or how to load a dishwasher to make sure that everything gets clean (Seriously why does it matter how you put a spoon in? They’re not that expensive we could just buy more spoons), but rather where the ideal place to live is based on the weather. My wife was born in California and lived there for nine years before moving to Florida where she lived the rest of her life before we moved to Memphis last year, so her opinion was completely biased based on the surroundings she grew up with. She loves hot weather, so between Florida and Southern California that are two of the consistently warm climates in the country, she didn’t think it could get any better. I on the other hand like the cold. I absolutely loved living in Minnesota during the winter of my freshman year of college where snow stayed on the ground for the better part of three months, whereas the four years spent in Florida were some of the most miserable of my life, so we had to come up with a compromise, find a place where we could both get what we wanted, so we moved to Memphis.

We moved here in July, which was perfect for her so she could go from one hellishly hot place to another, but then fall rolled around and the heat relented and I was suddenly a much happier man, my first taste of cool fall air in four years. Last winter was a pretty mild one save for the week where it was consistently in the upper 20’s, but it was nice to have the cold for at least a little while, and to my wife’s surprise, she survived it. Now that it’s miserably hot again she was really enjoying it for a little while, but lately hasn’t been as happy about it, and today she texted me from work telling me that she can’t wait for winter and said she actually appreciates the changing seasons now, so take that Florida and California, Memphis wins (at least in that respect)! That just goes to show you that changes of opinions or preferences can change over the course of a relationship, so don’t give up hope and maybe, just maybe, you will be as happy as I am today.

My Tumultuous Relationship With the Public Library

The relationship between myself and the public library has been a somewhat tumultuous one over the years, with many more negatives than positives, although this has been entirely my fault, and like a bad couple who seem to keep breaking up and getting back together, so it is with me and the library, thinking each new time will be different, but so far that has never been the case. There was the Little Rock Public library, the one I grew up visiting, a relationship that started off great as I spent summers throughout childhood checking out as many books as they would allow and returning back countless times for more, but as I got older things changed. I would check out books that seemed interesting at the time and then more often than not I would get distracted with something else and end up not reading them, which wouldn’t have been a problem at all had I remembered to return the books. By the time I left Arkansas to go to college in Minnesota I had racked up over seventy dollars in fees from the library, but my mom bailed me out, giving me a fresh start when I decided to venture into the world of checking out books again.

I stayed away from the library for a few years until I moved to Florida, but the allure of unlimited books drew me back in and I fell into my old habits once again. I didn’t accrue as many fines for not returning books, the total being less than five dollars, and I really did intend on doing the right and responsible thing of paying for my transgressions, but as it turned out, the Fort Pierce library didn’t accept debit cards, they were cash only, which posed a problem for me as I have never been one in adulthood to carry cash on me. A kind stranger overheard the dilemma as I stood at the counter explaining to the librarian that I would have to return to pay my fines after visiting an ATM, and the stranger intervened saying she would pay the fine for me. I had hit rock bottom. I tried to dissuade the generous woman from freeing me from my debt, but she wouldn’t hear of it, no matter how much I pleaded, and eventually, against my will, paid my fine. It was at that moment that I decided I was done with the public library system, preferring instead to purchase books so that I could read what I wanted on my own time, building a personal library that would allow me to choose whatever book interested me as soon as I was ready to read something new. Then I moved to Memphis and the library bug bit me again.

Within the first month of living here I got a library card, you know, just to have one, but I stuck to my guns and for more than a year I didn’t check out a single book. I had all but forgotten about my library card, that is until today. The bank I work at can be pretty slow in the middle of the week with the higher traffic days being Monday and Friday, so to pass the time I will often read until a customer enters the branch, which is what I was doing today, but unfortunately I finished my current book with more than five hours left in my shift, and the temptation to check out a book became to much to resist, so on my lunch break I walked across the parking lot to the library and began browsing the infinite selection of books. I did check out a book, but at least it was only one, telling myself that I would read it, then immediately return it before checking out another. Hopefully this time around I’ll be more responsible and my relationship with the public library will be better than ever before. Only time will tell.

Moving to Memphis

IMG_2531I woke up fifteen minutes before six, still tired after only getting a few hours of sleep. Part of me wanted to roll over and go back to bed, but a bigger part of me was ready to leave Florida behind, and start my new life as a Tennessean, so I got up and dressed, told my wife and in-laws goodbye and began my long journey. My car was so full of boxes, boxes of clothes, of dishes, of books and more books, all piled wherever they could fit, in the trunk, on top of the backseat that was folded down to accommodate more boxes, in the passenger seat, in the floor, all piled to the ceiling, blocking all views of the outside world except for the window to my left and the portion of windshield directly in front of me. Sure it was dangerous, but it had to be done, lest I leave some of my possessions behind, like I was forced to do with my Barack Obama lava lamp that literally would not fit anywhere in my fully packed car, aside from my lap, but even as much as I liked our president at the time, the thought of having his five pound lava lamp sitting on my lap for fourteen and a half hours was not appealing.

I drove fast down Florida’s turnpike, passing effortlessly through the tolls thanks to my prepaid sunpass, and scanning the radio for something good to listen to, which when found would inevitably become static in a matter of minutes as I continued on my way. I munched sunflower seeds to stay awake, my mouth becoming dry with nothing to drink. I had brought some beverages along but I was reluctant to drink very much, hoping not to make any unnecessary stops to use the bathroom which would prolong my trip. I was making great time, and there were a couple of occasions where I could have been stopped for speeding, but I must have slammed on my brakes before the cops noticed, or they just sympathized with someone trying to get out of Florida as quickly as possible, so they didn’t pull me over.

I drove and drove without encountering any problems, although I did get followed into the bathroom at a gas station in Birmingham by a suspicious looking truck driver who claimed he needed a ride to Memphis. I told him no, and when he followed me out to my car that was sitting at the gas pump, he realized that there was no room for him anyway, so I got back on the road with my organs still within me rather than for sale on the internet. Mississippi is the most boring state I’ve ever driven through, with long stretches of nothing, steep hills, and not much traffic, and I absolutely love it. It’s a nice change of pace after you get through the Birmingham traffic, and as long as you don’t need gas or something to eat, which you won’t be able to find too easily, it’s the ideal place to be driving. Just before sundown I crossed the state line into Tennessee, excited that I was finally coming to Memphis to live rather than just visiting. I went to my dad’s house where my wife would join me the following day before moving into our apartment the day after. Ready to embrace the city of Memphis, my dad and I went to Central Barbecue for dinner, where I had the BBQ nachos with homemade potato chips. My new life was delicious.

Bad Job Interviews

Given the fact that I’ve held so many jobs over the course of my life, I’ve been to way too many job interviews. Most of the time I walked away feeling good, pretty confident in my chances of getting the job, but there have been a few occasions where I knew that I would never hear from the company again, and those, the one’s that are more fun to talk about despite the fact that I didn’t go on to work there, are what I’m sharing with you today. All three of the following stories happened in Florida, and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not that they happened in the place I hated living most, but perhaps there’s something in the warm air along the coast of the Atlantic that makes strange things happen.

When I first moved to Florida I was desperate to find a job. I got hired as a sign holder for a store closing sale and got sunburned for two straight days before never hearing from that employer again, and the next job interview I had was for the position of busboy at an Italian restaurant, so when I got the news that they were interested in hiring me, I was excited about finally finding a job. I showed up at ten in the morning, an hour before the restaurant opened, and was shown to a table in the corner, where I waited at least half an hour before the owner of the restaurant came out to speak to me. He looked like a character off the sopranos, and by the time the interview concluded, I was convinced that he was in fact a member of the Italian mob. He kept mentioning that he was looking for someone who would be loyal and wanted someone who could keep their mouth shut and just do as they were told. When I asked about the pay, he told me that cash would be slipped to me throughout my shift, depending on how busy they were that day. I played it cool and told him I was definitely the man for the job, and he told me to be back that night for the dinner shift. I never returned.

After my wife and I got married and we returned to Florida from our honeymoon, I was working at Subway, yes the sandwich shop, and desperate to find a job that paid more money and didn’t leave me smelling like baked bread hours after I’d gotten home from work. I got an interview for a customer service position, answering phones in a call center. To this day I have no idea what the company actually did, but nevertheless it was a full time job that paid pretty good, so I really wanted the job. The interview went pretty well until I was asked the final question, and I don’t know whether it was intended to be the last question or if my answer was just so bad that they decided to end the interview then, but more than likely it was probably the latter. I was asked to tell them my biggest weakness, a common job interview question that I absolutely hate. I have plenty of weaknesses, but trying to come up with one that wouldn’t make me sound like a terrible employee proved to be too difficult for me on that day. I sat in front of the interviewer, trying to come up with an answer, unable to do so. Finally, after almost ten minutes of silence had passed I just told him that I didn’t have any weaknesses, and he thanked me for coming in and promised to call me if I were selected for the job. I didn’t get that phone call.

After my real estate career had failed and I realized that I was losing more money than I was making trying to sell houses, I was again desperate to find a job, any job that could provide me with a reliable income, which is how I found myself at a table in Ruby Tuesday, at 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon. The interview was going pretty well until I was thrown a curveball. I was asked if I were a disney character, who would I be, and I answered with the first thing that came to my mind, my favorite character, Captain Hook. “Please explain.” It was a terrible answer and I had no idea how to bounce back from it, so I just told her that I thought of all the disney villains, Captain Hook was the most likable, basically calling myself evil, albeit likable. Either she was not impressed, or was terrified at the possibility of hiring a villainous waiter, and once again, I was excused from the interview and never heard back from them again. It’s okay, I didn’t really want to work at Ruby Tuesday any way. I don’t even like eating there.

For My Mom

IMG_1521It’s mother’s day so I want to use the blog today to talk about mine. My mom is one of the most important people in my life and I love the time I’m able to get to spend with her, whether it’s a quick trip down to Searcy where I only stay for the night or in a remote cabin in northern Minnesota where we get to spend a whole week together. For all that she’s done for me in my life, I will be forever grateful and indebted to her. Some of my happiest memories from childhood are doing things with my mom, like spending the day hiking up pinnacle mountain, or playing baseball in the front yard. How many other mom’s out there can wear a baseball glove on one hand and hold a bat in another, tossing the ball up from the glove and hitting me and my brothers endless ground balls and pop-ups with the other hand. We’d throw the ball back to her, which she’d catch every time, unless it was a bad throw on our part, and start the whole process over again.

A few years ago we took a family vacation to Destin, Florida, and on the very last morning we were there, my mom and I woke up early to walk along the beach, enjoying the sunrise and the waves crashing at our feet. Later that day she slipped by the swimming pool and shattered her kneecap and since has had multiple surgeries and been through unimaginable pain as a result, but on that day as she sat in her hospital bed in Destin, she said “at least it happened on the last day of vacation”, thankful for the time she was able to enjoy, rather than focusing on the fall and letting that cloud her judgement of the entire trip. My mom is the kind of person that always looks for the positive in any given situation, and has been a constant source of encouragement for me. She could have used her injury to sulk and lie around the house doing nothing, it would have been a valid excuse, but she used her time that she couldn’t work studying to complete her master’s degree, something she achieved last year, and I couldn’t be more proud. She has always encouraged me to not give up on things I want to do, to always persevere, but those aren’t just words, she leads by example.

She constantly asks how my writing is going, and even gives me feedback when I need advice. In fact, the book I’m currently writing and am about halfway finished with, never would have come into existence without my mom. I knew the premise of the book I wanted to write, but there was a gaping hole, a “why were the characters in this situation” type of plot hole and I was struggling to come up with a decent idea, but I talked to my mom about it and after thinking it over for just a couple of seconds, she gave me and idea and that was the beginning of my book. Thank you mom for the constant encouragement and love that is never ending. I love you. Happy mother’s day.

Summer in Florida

The overhead sun beat down on the back of my neck as sweat poured continuously down my face and back. My t-shirt was sticking to me, a second skin, and I wished desperately that I could shed it like a snake but the repercussions of the sunburn that I would undoubtedly get, was not an experience I was going to submit myself to, so I continued up the ladder, high above my comfort zone, and tried not think about it. This was summer in Florida. My summers in my coastal town were far different from the tourists that flocked down each July. They relaxed along the beach drinking margaritas without a care in the world. I picked oranges and hoped that I would have enough money for rent this month. It’s a tough job, not one that many people are willing to do, but without a high school diploma or any real work experience, I really didn’t have any other options.

As hard as I tried, I wasn’t fast enough. I hadn’t met my quota for the day, and probably never would, but I continued picking anyway. My only solace was after the sun went down, when I sat at the bottom of my ladder and enjoyed a juicy orange that was warm and far from refreshing, before the boss came around to yell at me for moving too slow. He would have fired me long before now if he’d had any viable options for my replacement, but I was safe for now. At seventeen years old I dropped out of school to support myself, something my parents left me to do when they died in the fire that snatched away everything from my life except the clothes on my back. Most of the kids I went to school with have graduated from college and have moved on to rewarding careers, but here I am, stuck in my hometown, unable to pull myself out of the rut that has become my life.

Sometimes when I’m up here, sweating and miserable, I think of how nice it would be to let go of the ladder and fall backwards. Hitting the ground would be painful; it would probably kill me, but those brief moments as I fell with the wind rushing past me would be absolutely glorious. Maybe I’ll do it one day. My life has become an endless cycle of getting up before I’ve gotten enough sleep, working twelve hours a day, and coming home after dark, too tired to do anything but go to bed. If you’re wondering what I have to live for, the answer is nothing. I don’t know why I continue putting myself through this torture each and every day, with no sign of my life improving at all. If I weren’t such a coward I would let go of the ladder and after the initial thud as I hit the ground, would never feel pain again, but of course I can’t do it. I’ll probably be up here picking oranges until the day I die, which hopefully won’t be too far off.

My Wife is Coming Back

This morning I woke up to rain crashing against the windows of my apartment, but there was no chance that the stormy weather could bring me down today. It’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for almost two weeks and it has finally arrived. Tonight my wife is returning from Florida, and although there will be two dogs accompanying her that I’m not too thrilled about, I’m going to focus on the positive aspects of her return. Since we started dating this stretch has been the longest we’ve ever been apart, and if I’m being completely honest, it’s a miracle I’ve survived. I used to love to cook, but it seems that I’ve apparently forgotten all that I knew on the subject, and have been resorting to some extreme measures to ensure that I don’t starve to death until my wife came back and prepared me some of her delicious meals. I think I’ve eaten more fast food and take out in the past week than I ever have previously in my entire life. I’m pretty sure the workers at Taco Bell know my name, which is altogether embarrassing. For breakfast I’ve relied on microwaveable sausage biscuits, which taste about as good as they sound, and lunches have consisted of sandwiches, when I remember to thaw the bread, and potato chips, a terrible diet that I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads at as you read this.

There are some other things that will be nice once my wife returns, like having someone to talk to about my day rather than sitting in my living room like a crazy person, as I ramble on and on to my lamp that only seems mildly interested anyway. I can’t tell you how great it will be to save my wife next to me in bed again, so that if someone breaks into my apartment while I’m asleep, I won’t be the first person that the intruder sees. Having a shield really puts your mind at ease, trust me. Since she’s been gone I haven’t been able to perform my morning ritual of getting woken up by her six alarms in the morning, and have only been woken up by my one. It’s been terrible not waking up every seven minutes until I feel like I’m going to go crazy.

I joke, but seriously I’m so glad that Leticia is coming home today. It’s tough seeing someone every day and then suddenly come home to nobody. The past week and a half have made me realize just how lucky I am to have somebody like her, and it’s comforting to know that she’s legally bound to me for life. It would have been nice to go to Florida with her, but the time apart was good in it’s own way. I realize just how fortunate I am to have the perfect person to spend the rest of my life with and I need to make sure I remind her how grateful I am for that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fold some laundry so my wife returns home to a clean house and also so the dogs don’t mistake the pile of clothes on the living room chair as their new bed.