Out Of Gas

Word List and Challege Rules

Edited by Mr Prinz

We rode up that same gravel road as we do every late summer. This weekend of the year we always make a point to take this abstergent journey to soak away the heat of the season, and prepare for the coming winter. It started as a short vacation for a young couple, but through the years it had evolved in to an yearly instauration for our interconnection.

She loosely hugs my sides as she leans her head back to glutch the dusk and catch a glimpse of the noctilucent clouds through the tree tops. She claims that their wisp-like appearance was the first thing that she fell in love with about this place, but I know better. I could be a makebate to get an admission of her first true love of the trip, but along with that comes a story.

On the first trip, we spent the initial night in our tent on the side of the road because though the night sky was full, the motorcycle’s tank was not. My youthful exuberance obscured my preparedness for the trip. But that first night was what took a weekend trip and turned it into something engraved in the enchiridion of our lives.

As the motorcycle sputtered to a stop, it struck me that the spare gas can was sitting by the garage door. My heart sunk. With no gas and no hope for any other evening travelers, I convinced her that we should make camp among the tree line and search for fuel in the morning. She wasn’t ecstatic, but there wasn’t much choice.

I removed the chockablock camping bag from the bike and I put her in charge of finding some music on the radio while I started unpacking the massive tent, which looked amazing in the store. The floor model had plenty of space for us to sleep and store all of our gear if the weather did not favor our trip; that tent was designed by a sadist. An hour and half later, I had most of the frame up while I cursed in frustration and she laughed while drinking another cup of whiskey from the saddlebag. I left the collapsing tent and walked over to steal a drink.

She puckishly sat next to me as I sipped whiskey. The childish grin faded into a contented smile and we sat there. The short silence was broken with my apologies for ruining the night. She met them with joyous expressions of seeing my engineering degree at practice, and how at its worst, it has no claims on the misery brought on by her internship at the firm. I knew I wanted to get away from work for the weekend to enjoy some time with her. I didn’t know that she needed reprieve from her current existence as an unpaid syndic for a corporation that she loathed.

The stories flowed as she questioned every life choice she had made and expressed the fear of where they were leading. As the ignorance youthfulness allots, I knew the apprehensions she spoke of and the fears poured out from me as well. After what turned out to be the last lamentation of the evening, she released a frustrated sigh and her eyes looked hopeless. At that moment, the radio leapt from its previously passive role in the evening as the familiar drum beat and guitar riff of Radiohead’s Creep drew an ironic laugh from us and broke the tension. The heaviness of the conversation lifted with our glasses as we screamed along, “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here, I don’t belong here.”

The radio station moved on to another song and faded into the background. We slumped down against the tree, alone on the side of the road, and looked up through the tall pines to the sky. I could not hope to subitize the stars in the sky that night, and the immensity of the universe around us, and how these two displaced souls now sat in union with it, but all was right now since we had displaced ourselves. The fears were still there, but we now shared the burden of them with the skies and trees at the side of the gravel road, by a empty motorcycle, a collapsed tent, and a radio with impeccable timing.

The details of the rest of that first trip are bagatelle. We enjoyed ourselves, but what mattered was that we knew we did not have to fear the return home to our chosen lives. Every year since then, as the end of summer approaches, she grabs the radio and I grab the gas can and we head down that gravel road to once again sit as agemates to the universe.

Rapture Toto Please

A real dilemma exists:

You are a hard-core Evangelical  Christian and your pets don’t have souls according to your beliefs. With the rapture set to happen any day, you begin to worry about their safety after you are gone. Poor Toto won’t be able to feed himself, and will die. If only you had a non-christian friend that would be stuck on Earth after you and your family are gone. They could care for the pets for you, but you loathe the thought of associating with a non-Christian.

Well don’t worry. There is a service that has your soulless family members in mind. After The Rapture Pet Care offers a network of Atheists and other heathens that have refused Jesus from their life to take care of your pet. Now you can sleep soundly at night knowing that your pet will be cared for by someone you fundamentally hated during your time on this planet once you are gone.

Be sure to ignore the dichotomy of a Christian based organization that has a volunteer base that is not Christian and don’t try to wrap your head around the idea that the organization is actively not converting their volunteers to Christianity so they will have pet care after they are gone. The only resolution that one can accept is that God told them to allow these non-Christians to not be raptured so His soulless creations will have proper care during the end times.

Tastes like it

I am buying Extreme Dill Pringles at the convenience store by work. The following exchange happens:

Cashier: Do those actually taste like dill pickle?

Me: Amazingly so.

Cashier: I like things that taste like they are supposed to.

Me: …

Cashier: You should try the ranch-something ones. They are really good.

Me: Do they taste like a ranch?

National Ridiculous Association

After the NRA sent out an email showing a potential correlation of increased gun ownership and drop in crime, the next part of the email shows why I can never fully support that organization.

Speaking of Brady Campaign’s Paul Helmke and Dennis Henigan, we wouldn’t want them losing their grip and falling off the far left edge of the planet.  An electronic search reveals that the two of them have submitted over 200 essays to the leftist www.HuffingtonPost.com website since January of 2006.

It goes from stating facts and extrapolating an opinion, to mudslinging two people and a media outlet. Way to take the high road. People wouldn’t be as scared of gun ownership if we didn’t have proponents acting in a manner that scares rational people away from sharing an opinion with them. The author of that email makes me ashamed to be American, a gun owner, but not an occasional reader of the Huffington Post.

If you believe

After reading today’s xkcd, it really does make me wonder that we have been to the moon. I don’t think people really do understand how difficult it is to plan to send a group of people into space, not die, make it to a giant rock that is equivalent to about 40 round-trips from New York City and Los Angeles, make it safely around that rock without accidentally flying into it, or missing it and getting stuck in a path with no return, and making the trip back home which is about the same distance as circumnavigating the sky of earth 9 times, getting through the earth’s atmosphere without being incinerated and landing safely. With all of the complexities of shooting a tin can at an object further away than most people can truly comprehend, and supposedly repeatedly making it, we can’t figure out how to stabilize the world economy (much less our own), stop fighting endless, pointless wars (drugs, terror, etc.), distribute non-pill ways to cure and prevent common disease, cure serious diseases (other than erectile dysfunction, baldness, tiny eyelashes, et al.) or anything else that could genuinely benefit humanity.

We need to resurrect Mother Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Junior and similar candidates to run the world. Then we might actually accelerate as a species to something other than our own destruction. Resurrecting dead humans seems more likely than world peace at this point.

Alright Now

It is amazing to see life to flow in cycles. After a crappy year or so, life turns back around and everything goes well. Despite all of this year’s misfortunes, I have a feeling that all is going to be okay.

Two summers ago, I tried to get up to my grandparents’ farm as much as possible on the weekends, even if it was just to be by myself. The place has a serene solitude to it that is excellent to facilitate perspective on my world. I can grab a cushion, lay on the swing and enjoy the constant, cool breeze eminating from the hills. With a camera making attempts at capturing the hummingbirds, a book to help focus my mind and relax, or to just close my eyes and relax my mind (and usually fall asleep); I always went home and felt a quiet happiness. The farm is my happy place.

Last summer, I had just lost my job in the Spring, started a new job with no sense of comfort and no matter what I tried, there was no quiet happiness to be obtained. Once Autumn had rolled around I felt uneasy and wished I could force the previous Summer’s placation of the soul. It became apparent that the more fervently I tried, the further the goal would be pushed. Disarray became constant.

This Summer, I had two cousins (one being my Godson) to have a chance at death in a carwreck. I was on my way to my parents’ house to return a weedeater when I received the frantic call to get to the site by my parents’ house to relay information to everyone who wasn’t there as of yet. After being redirected by a *insert expletive* cop despite my protests of need to be there, I finally arrived at the scene and saw the aftermath. I walked up and saw several ambulances, a flattened car, but no cousins. I did see a sheet draped over a gurney with a lumpy passenger, which almost made me sick. A second later I figured out that it was just covered in supplies for the EMTs.

After I saw my aunt and uncle in the back of an ambulance with one of my cousins, I tried to find information, but the police and EMTs were tight-lipped. I called my mom to find which hosptial they were headed, and rushed down there to sit with the rest of the family.

A night of being shuffled from waiting room to another with the 30+ people was filled with speculations fraught with worry and forced optimism. The morning brought true hope when both were out of surgery and placed in a room not large enough for the family (Granted, I don’t think such a room exists). There is something to be said for actually seeing the person versus a doctor’s words.

Some context about me, I usually only help when asked. I don’t like to inject myself into a situation, because I can never be sure if I am actually needed. Why I proceeded to spend most of my free time at the hospital with the boys is beyond me. It was never a conscious decision.  It only became a choice once they were home and there was nothing for me to do except entertain. It is strange to think that I have spent 4-6 evenings per week for almost 14 weeks with them.

The upside of this whole situation is that I really haven’t had a chance to make my own plans this summer. Every Monday through Thursday night I am at their house where the meals are always amazing and there is always a glass of bourbon to be had. Weekends have become time to get caught-up around the house or to get out of town. The ability to get up to farm keeps presenting itself, and I keep taking the opportunity. The farm is once again a great place to relax and forget the world. My tent is always in the back of the car, waiting to be used on a whim.

Not This Again

While failing to be witty via email with a friend, I type the line:

In a Python-esque accent: Not this again.

Which received the response:

Snake or Monty?

After explaining the Monty Python reference, that strange part of my brain started working. It is the part that most of my really bad ideas come from. To show the path my brain took:

  1. Snake accent?
  2. Speaking like a snake
  3. Harry Potter parseltongue
  4. Harry Potter in bad woman’s accent saying, “Not this again.”
  5. Eric Idle giving drag tips to Alan Rickman
  6. Monty Python/Harry Potter fan fiction!

I know you are as thrilled as I am to see this come to fruition. Now Dumbledore’s sexual orientation won’t be the only one in question.

This I think I believe

After challenging a friend to contribute an essay for This I Believe, I have been trying to write my own. I decided that my pessimistic views already had an outlet, so I would choose to write about a positive belief I maintain. This has proved a difficult task. Apparently, I don’t have any positive beliefs that aren’t obvious.

After cycling through all of my philosophical and spiritual ideas, I know that I don’t truly believe any of them. With the word of belief being so watered down, I don’t want to hold it so lightly when I transcribe my thoughts. Anything that I hold in high esteem can be eventually disproven, for they are all theories without true empirical data to back them. It would be nice to discover that the “God” element is “Love” which every cell is made from, but that is already under doubt with scientists trying to prove that love is nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain to help maintain a species – a survival instinct.

Once I had thrown all of that out, I moved onto the important things in my life that I do believe. Food has always been important in my life because I am decent at whipping up a meal that can keep a group of people happy. Once I had expounded on that thought, I began reciting a Jim Gaffigan bit in my head and specifically the line:

“I hate that guy.”
“Cake in the conference room.”
“I should see how he is doing.”

Not wanting to attempt to recreate that genius, I moved on to other topics. Without any fruit available from the tree, I am left thinking that I don’t have any true beliefs; just a series of ideas and hopes. But not to leave the task alone, I will share one idea that I do hope can evolve into a belief one day in way more than the 500 words alotted.

One thing I think that Hilary Clinton was right about was that it does take a community to raise a child. I remember hearing it bounce around the media outlets when it was said, and it passed just as quickly. It seemed to be just another slogan to bolster a political career, another catch phrase fad to warm the hearts of a skeptical America. An idea that had foundation and creedence, but the effort required would mean change which meant work. I have seen what America thinks of drastic change. It is great as long as it stays an idea. Once the need for work arises, daily life squelches the idea into a conversation topic that provides a soft place to rest your head and nothing more than that. Look at the Green Movement.

I am a product of many different parents. None that I love more than my natural, birth parents, but those responsible for my upbringing are a diverse bunch. With a father that worked more than eighty-hour weeks to keep food on the table and a mother that created and sold countless arts and crafts to pick up the fiscal slack, babysitters where a necessity for me and my three sisters. Each caregiver teaching me something new that I still carry with me today.

For the convenience, family is a great source of child care. I remember spending hours with my maternal grandmother to split pea pods, green beans and prepping many other fruits and vegetables for meals or canning. It is amazing how something that is such a tedious, menial task can be so enjoyable when I was young. I always had a sense of pride from helping my Mamaw create these edibles, and her canned green beans always tasted infinitely better than store-bought anyways. She is the person that I ask these days when I am planting my own backyard garden. I only hope I inherited at least some of her growing ability.

Other than Mamaw, the Cronin kids ran the aunt circuit while growing up. My mom’s younger sister Dodie was the first to take on the task, and the hours of fun that I had growing up as her and her husband Tommy’s surrogate child. The things I remember the most from stays with them (other than the swing in the backyard, ice pops and the neighbors’ pool) was my aunt always testing me on many topics, but mainly math and how both of them were so generous to not only me (spotting me the quarters to play poker, then letting me win and keep all of the winnings), but everyone they knew. That eternal generosity at their own expense still amazes me to this day, and I occasionally strive to give as much as they have.

From my dad’s side of the family, my Cronin crew had also spent many days with my aunt and uncle, Gayle and Barry. With them having two children of their own at the time, me and my sisters had a new family with playmates about the same age. What was great about the Overstreet family, outside of video games, movies my parents wouldn’t let me watch at home and a male peer to cause havoc with, was that my uncle Barry ran a vending business. Coming from a home where candy was reserved for holidays for the sake of health, teeth and whatever other crap a child doesn’t want to hear, staying at a place where there was mountains of soft drinks and candy bars is the Holy Grail of destinations. All of this sugar-infused joy did come with a small price. At the end of each day, an exhausted Barry would come home with a ton of coins that had to be sorted and one-dollar bills that all had to face the same way so the bank would accept them. But for me, seeing this money, and getting to hold it was awesome. I got to see what Barry’s work had gained for him that day. Later in life, when I helped Barry run the vending route for a summer, I fully came to understand why he was exhausted at the end of each day and those bags of coins and stacks of one-dollar bills don’t seem to equal the amount of determination and work he puts in to his route each day.

As I got older, my mom’s youngest sister, a scant eleven years older than me joined in the rearing of me and my sisters. In her high school years, my older sister and I were taken on a date with to see The Little Mermaid. (Little did I know that the VHS of that movie would be the bane of my existence in a few years when my youngest sister, Danielle was learning that she could sing.) This is the same aunt that first showed me the Star Wars Trilogy that she had on VHS and took me to see all three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies in the theater for my birthdays and between her and Papaw, taped all of the Star Trek: TNG episodes which meant marathons whenever Pete’s Dragon wasn’t in the VCR. My sisters and I would fight over who got to go to U of L with her on a late night so she could meet her deadline at the paper, which would carry the fight on to see who got to spend the day with her at 84 WHAS radio and get to see all of the local newscasters from the radio and television news between doing tedious, menial jobs that seemed amazing at the time, like erasing four-tracks for the next batch of radio commercials. Once, I even was interviewed by Terry Miners on the air after my aunts news report. I had arrived in this world; I was on the radio.

Outside of family, we had several baby-sitters that we stayed with while my parents were out making it possible for us to continue on in the world. Some of them I remember better than others, but all taught me something. Like the family we would occasionally stay with that had the father we never saw, but was always there asleep due to his third shift job. It never occurred to me that it was possible to stay up all night, much less that people had to work during those hours. My own third-shift experiences in college proved to be quite horrible for anyone wanting to stay connected to reality.

The most memorable surrogate family I had in my childhood lived right up the street from my house. Every weekday in the summer, my mom would drop us off and the adventures would begin. The mom, a dedicated, evangelical vegan taught me about the people that aren’t right in this world; the people that stand off on purpose. I don’t care what you do to it, you can not trick me to think that tofu is meat. You can however, home school your kids and scare me with the thought of having my sisters as classmates every day. You can also take the unexpecting Catholic children to the occasional Saturday service at your local Seventh Day Adventist Church and expose me to a whole different way of religion. The forced naps, and strange cuisine aside, I couldn’t have asked for a more eye-opening series of experiences. The world was never quite the same after the time spent with that family.

With all of this, but yet so much more all occurring before my teenage years, I entered those teen years as an amalgamation of experiences that gave me a solid starting point to be who I am today. My inquisitive mind open to all experiences that lay before me, I feel that I had a great point of view to shape and reshape my world view as more unfolded in my life. I hope that many more children have the opportunity to have so many parents to impart such diverse lessons that can help create a more open-minded, well-rounded society.

Ninja skills

While personally absent, someone was trying to tell another that I was intelligent. So much so, that I was in an organization for smart people. Not being able to remember the name of the group, it came out that I was a member of Ninja.

I thought my years of training in the clandestine life had kept such bits of information secret.