Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Today I come clean.
I finally accept that The World and My (so-called) Life will forever undergo change.  I also accept that I’m stuck smack dab in the middle of that universal cement mixer and there’s not one thing I can do about it.  Good and bad, revolution happens.  Oh, I can observe, analyze, compute, project, plan, set objectives and goals, all wonderful gyrations that I can go through to convince myself I’m on staying on top of things.  But those changes just keep on coming and they’re going to keep on coming and keep me forever high-stepping through the morass.  The best I can really do is get better boots!
The way I now see it, I may not ever become that “Phil” I thought I always would be someday when I grow up.  Heck, I’m on the downhill side of my mid-fifties, which should mean I’m already grown-up, but I’ve had to continue to grow and I don’t mean just horizontally.  The problem is I thought I had it all figured out many, many years ago, forty-one years ago in fact, at the ripe old age of fifteen.  But, needing to address constant variations of being, I’ve had to go back to the Drawing Board of My Life again and again.  Transformation ad nauseum!
Things that were so important twenty or thirty years ago have become absolutely meaningless as I’ve hit my forties and fifties.  And, vice-versa, things so insignificant when I was much younger have grown exceedingly crucial now that I’m staring at sixty.  Throw in kids, education, mortgages, tuitions, jobs, family, entertainment, technology, savings, retirement plans, my city my state my country, global warming, recycling rules, let alone the Fate of the World - I could go on and on and on and on.  And I have to; go on and on, I mean.  But for some reason, these new points of focus want to invade my thoughts in the middle of the night, right around 3:17 a.m., the wee hours, slapping me around, prodding me to solve the issues, create some plans, provide some answers, shouting, “Hey, wake up and deal with us!” when all I want to do is fall back asleep.
I read in Sports Illustrated that Erik Spoelstra, the forty-two year old head coach of the Miami Heat, gathered the reigning and remaining championship team before the first day of training camp after losing The King, Superstar Lebron James, in the offseason.  He addressed the players.  “How many times have you reinvented yourself to become somebody new, somebody better?  But in order to do that you have to be uncomfortable.  You can’t stay who you are….Things change and you have to be able to adapt.”
So to me, that’s the new KEY idea I’ve learned: those changes to the World and to My Life are going to continue and they’re going to continue FOREVER.  Really.  Forever.  And I will feel uncomfortable but I have to keep up.  I can pretend I don’t need to, tell myself I won’t, play it cool, act as if I’ve already got everything all figured out.  But that would just be bull-hockey.  Sort of like being on a moving treadmill – you can stand still if you want, but you’ll get whisked along anyway and eventually you’ll get dumped off the edge and maybe even get injured.  And you can’t look too cool getting dumped off a treadmill.
It’s cliché, I know, but what I’ve learned over and over, time and time again, through examples from friends and strangers, through music, through books, through movies, through Facebook for God’s sake, through LIFE:  I have got to focus on the Good Stuff.   The Good Stuff brings really good energy, happiness.  That’s easy to deal with, fun and fulfilling.  And much of the Good Stuff is earned through hard work and I shouldn’t discount that.  The Bad is where I get beat up.  Worry comes and worry goes, stress grows and stress goes.  But I must dig, sometimes dig deep, and I will always find something there to rejoice about, find joy, to fill me with wonder.
How fitting that this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, time to count our blessings, time to give thanks.  That should be all the time, every day.  If things change, that is.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I had an epiphany walking down our pitch-dark stairs one recent morning, 5:45 am.  Isn’t it strange when that happens?  Strange because it actually happens, anytime and anyplace, and because the epiphany can be about the most random topic.
Here was mine, it flashed to me right when I hit that bottom step:  Why do I convince myself to wait for a while before phoning a friend who is going through an issue of some sort?  How many times have I thought, “I’ll call next week, he/she’s dealing with some stuff right now and I don’t want to be a bother and intrude.”
Really?  That thought alone brings some hefty assumptions:

·        First of all, why do I think my friend (insert family member, co-worker, or whoever here) will think I’m such a nuisance?  Am I afraid the person’s going to pick up the phone and yell, “WHY ARE YOU BOTHERING ME?  ARE YOU HEARTLESS?!?!”

·        And am I so all-important that my call, even just a short “Hey, how’re you doing?” is going to thoroughly disrupt my friend’s ability to deal with whatever it is they’re trying to address?  Am I so afraid the person will answer my call, “Well you just screwed up my entire life, but thanks for the call, nimrod!”? 

·        Why do I presume my friend wants to handle the issue all alone?  Will my friend-in-need tell me, “Can you call me back later?  I really want to endure further suffering all by myself, especially without you or anyone else in the entire  universe.”? 

·        Am I such a pathetic loser that I truly won’t be of any help to my friend at all?  Am I certain the reply to my call will be, “You really think you can help me….YOU?!  Help ME?!  Hahahahahahahahaha!” 

As you can see, the assumptions are all mine, and mostly about me.  Not the friend that I want to call, that I should call.  What kind of friend thinks it’s best to keep away from a friend when he is struggling?
No more assumptions, from now on:   I’M JUST GOING TO CALL.  That was my epiphany.
And friends, the same goes for me: bother me, please!  And if I hang up on you, please realize that it’s nothing personal.  I’m just going through some stuff.  But thanks for being my friend, nimrod.

(Additional Note:  I wrote this BLOG three days before Robin Williams’ lifeless body was found after an apparent suicide.  So sad, such a tragic loss.  So full of Life.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Congrats to all, we just made it through “The Two Worst Days in American Sports”.  However did we survive?  If you don’t know, that would be the two days immediately following the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.  Some non-baseball lovers might say the All-Star Game should also count as one of the worst days in sport;  of course, baseball traditionalists would call these same non-baseball lovers ‘non-Americans’, but I digress.  I learned that the two days following the MBL All Star Game are considered “The Two Worst Days In American Sports”, this from folks in sports media, specifically sports radio talk show hosts and a couple commentators from ESPN.  The reason behind their decree is that there are no big-money major sporting events going on!  At least that’s what these folks-in-the-know claim.  In truth, they are partially correct.

Here’s what is NOT happening to report or talk about:

Major League Baseball – Yeah, the Home Run Hitting Contest, the Celebrity Softball Game and All Star game itself are over.  The players all get an additional two days off before real league play resumes.  Of course there’s the AAA All-Star Game and other minor league games, but we all know those don’t count.

National Football League – The NFL Draft is over and so, too, all of the months spent speculating about those collegiate draft picks.   These were the same prognostications that began exactly one minute after the Super Bowl ended.  Now comes the lull before MTAs (Mandatory Team Activities) begin, which these days have morphed into vehicles for disgruntled players NOT to show up so they can let team management know, oh and the sports media world of course, that they want to renegotiate new contracts.  OTAs (Optional Team Activities) are over, which is when team management and coaches really do want all players to participate, but if some don’t, oh well, ‘only optional’ the team brain trusts will say.  Then they’ll scurry back to their HQs to figure out why this or that player didn’t show up, aka “Contract Hold-out Pending”!

National Basketball Association – Like the NFL, the NBA Draft is over.  The Draft is when players from college, high school, all over the world (but mostly from Australia, Serbia, Croatia, and the hottest trend, Canada?) are chosen by NBA teams.  Many of the draftees are traded even before new team hats placed atop their special Draft Night hairdo’s can be fashionably turned sideways.  Picture it now:  An 18-year-old player from a high school, excuse me, an Academy in Jersey, gets drafted by the LA Clippers, ten minutes later gets traded cross-country to the New York Knicks;  six minutes later he’s part of a three-way-trade to the Toronto Raptors;  twenty minutes after that he finds out he’s been traded back to LAC along with a 2019 conditional 2nd Round draft pick and $23.00 in cash for the rights for a 12-year-old Yugoslavian player who averaged 19.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in the Belgrade Elementary League, but OH CAN HE HANDLE THE ROCK!  The free agency frenzy is long past, what - you didn’t hear enough about King James?  Take one Carmelo with food, no Boozer, and Gasol me in the morning! 

But here’s what IS happening in the World of Sports, although I guess none rate high enough to affect “The Two Worst Days in American Sports”, at least by someone’s assessment, not mine:

·         Opening Day of the British Open Championship, a PGA major tournament.  Yeah, but it’s across The Pond, huge minus points!
·         National Hockey League – It’s the free agency period and seemingly every player gets to go to another team so that everyone’s thoroughly confused when the hockey season starts.  1st question: Does the hockey season ever end?  2nd: Do we really care?
·         There’s a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament going on in Ohio – Ohio, really?
·         OMG – the Tour de France is happening in Saint Etienne.  These guys get THE BEST drugs so there must be SOMETHING interesting about it.  Non? C’est la vie!
·         Major League Soccer is in-season.  The teams are from the USA and Canada, but most of the players’ names aren’t.  Still, it’s the World’s Sport and you’ve got to love a team named Chivas USA!
·         NBA Summer Leagues are going on in Orlando, followed by Las Vegas.  You won’t recognize many of the names but the game they’re playing isn’t that familiar either.  However, you can sit and watch a potential NBA star reach puberty right before your very eyes, if that’s your thing.

As you can see, there isn’t much for sports show hosts and ESPN announcers to talk about (yet talk they do).  But maybe they can be prepared for 2015’s “The Two Worst Days in American Sports” - I offer three potential topics about the three major US professional sports:

1)      Analyze every possible statistic ever tracked in baseball and compare and contrast from 1901 to now.  You know, stats like WHIP, OBP, BABIP, RC, Base-Out State, Def Eff, FIP, OWP, WX, and the all-important Pythagenpant.  (These are real, people, and you thought you knew baseball?!?!)

2)      Project where LeBron James will be playing hoops in the year 2040, when he’ll be The 55-year-old King.  Make projections based on the proximity of CVS pharmacies to team facilities, team dietary menus geared for the elderly, local AARP discounts, and basketball stadiums with playing floors that have a slight slant – at least for one-half it’ll be easier to run down the court for alley-OOPS MY BACK!  Extra bonus topic:  What NBA teams will LeBron’s kids choose to play for and how much dough will they make?

3)      Review all past NFL game tapes to identify and decipher the true meaning of players’ tattoos; discuss whether or not bible quotation tattoos really count as tattoos or are players just bored at practice and need something to read.  And why don’t some players get tattoos of actual play diagrams so they know where they’re supposed to be on the field?  They can use some help!  Bonus topic: Should tattoos of actual plays be called “Peyton Tats”?

Of course, TV and radio sports commentators can just do what they always do:  Make up stuff about anything-sports and pretend it’s very entertaining and stimulating news.  Then make up stuff about the original stuff they made up and act like they can’t believe this is all happening.  Then make up more stuff about the new stuff and include quotes from “a close source” and then interrupt regular shows with updates and cool graphics including a title for their made-up stuff that starts with “Whatever was made up-Watch 2015”;  and let the world know, as responsible sports reporters, that continuing coverage will be 24/7 until the stuff they made up reaches a conclusion – which is NEVER BECAUSE IT’S ALL MADE UP!  Then win awards for their great coverage at televised Sports Award Shows.  Finally, get right back to the World Series, Monday Night-Thursday Night-Saturday Night-Sunday NFL football, and, of course, The King’s Next Decision.

You know I’ll be tuned in, I love my sports!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Who’s REALLY Invisible?

I spent a few hours this week attempting to assist my publisher, Dr. Ken Tupper, Owner/Founder of Divertir Publishing, with the cover for my next book release.  We’re trying to find just the right design for my short story collection, Invisible Society Fables, soon to be published (June, I hope I hope I hope or maybe July, rats).  The book is about people who are homeless and others who interact and try to work with them.  Taking classic fables, Aesop’s and others, I summarize them at the start of each story along with their morals, then re-create the fables into current homeless situations while maintaining those morals.  Dr. Tupper and his editing staff voted to donate 100% of their proceeds from book sales to the charity of my choice:  I chose the Midway Shelter in Alameda.  Invisible Society Fables will be the third in their line-up for which they will donate their profits.  I am so proud of that and very grateful, to say the least!  
So, laptop and Internet access in hand (and in The Cloud?), I searched world-wide, really, world-wide, for a cool cover picture.  I ultimately discovered so much in my search, from dealing with copyright infringement issues, to all-out hunting for free public use photography sites, to navigating electronic picture galleries, to experiencing thousands of pictures depicting the plight of homeless people in every nook and cranny on Earth.  It wasn’t all that cool, it was downright disheartening.  Homeless people everywhere, singles, couples, families, babies taking care of babies, grandmas leaning on grandpas, all ages, all colors, all shapes and sizes.  In many of the pictures, I wouldn’t even have known a person was homeless or not if not for their chosen nesting spot on the street/overpass/subway/park bench, the filth, the garbage bags and grocery carts, but mostly the haunting look in their eyes.  Lost and nowhere to go - that’s a telling look, I swear.  
But, here was my most important discovery, maybe more the unearthing of an important question.
I was on that search for cover art, the target idea:  A homeless person on the street with others just passing by, not looking, not seeing, not helping.  Just ignoring.  That attitude makes the homeless person disappear, become invisible right, and that disappearing act will be depicted in the picture?  Yes, maybe, and also no.
Yes, it’s a classic move by many to ignore that dirty, cold, hungry, maybe loud maybe stupefied person sitting on the street, right in your path to work, school, shopping, a night out, whatever.  Maybe if you don’t acknowledge them and don’t respond to them, well then nothing bad is going to happen, you can avoid any issues, literally sidestep confrontation, if you will; and hey, you’re a kind person, you do try to help in other ways anyway.  But, out here, come on, you’ve got to be somewhere, get someplace, train to catch, meeting, pick up, hurry up, gotta, shoulda, havta.  Really no time to help now, but later, for sure, always.  Please just let me pass, I’ll ignore you, please ignore me.  Just be a good person and be invisible for a minute until I pass, okay?  Groovy.
So, in doing that – and, yeah, I do that, too – who really winds up invisible?  The homeless person dealing with a horrible situation or you and me hiding in plain sight?

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My book, Slow Pitch Softball – More Than Just a Game, will be on display in the Independent Book Publishers of America booth:

May 29 to May 31, at BookExpo America, New York, NY – The #1 Book and Author Event in the Country (in 2013, over 20,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries) – This is over and they had a huge turn-out! Many articles and comments about this great event on-line.
June 28 to July 1, at The American Association of Librarians Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV – The oldest & largest library association in the World (in 2013, over 26,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries). NEXT UP!!!

Check it out if you’re around one of those great cities and love books.  Unfortunately, only my book will be on display, I will be at home!!!  Please see more at my website:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Life een Za Coolah for Me

I am serious when I say: Life is so cool.  Fascinating coincidence, bizarre happenstance, serendipitous stuff, quirky twist of fate, déjà vu mind bomb; they seem to happen all the time.  Here’s a recent example:
I’m fishing on the beach on a recent Friday night with a couple friends, the sun’s just starting to go down.  We’ve got our poles baited, cast and set in pole holders, kicking back in our collapsible chairs, adult beverages, sunflower seeds – you know, Miller Time, just like in those commercials.  Life is swell.  Then, two women walking the shoreline pass us and I instantly recognize one of them. 
“Mary?!” I call out.  A dear friend, Mary W., whom I haven’t seen for a few months, maybe a year or so.  She turns, takes a second to recognize me.
“Phil!” she cries when she does, and runs over for a great Mary W. hug.  What were the odds of that?!  I love that!
We spend just a few minutes quickly catching up, introducing our friends to each other.  A very nice surprise on the beach that night.  Stuff like that happens, just pleasant, unexpected moments.  Cool.
Fast forward to the following Monday, I’m at work, rat race, lunch time.  Normally I’d reach for the sports pages, but no home deliveries on Mondays, what a rip-off!  That’s okay, lots of info online.  But I grab the book I so want to finish, about 25 pages to go.  It’s Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.  What a fantastic read and what a gifted writer.  My sis-in-law sent me this one, she’s so great at sending me books I wouldn’t think to read and she always sends me fantastic ones!  I recommend this book to you, funny, quirky, artistic, and a great story.  Anyway, around noon that day I head over to the mailroom to finish the book, quiet there, lots of sunlight and a great view from those 5th floor windows.
You know how sometimes you’re reading a book and you like it so much that you’re sad when it’s over?  That’s how it was for me that afternoon.  I had really enjoyed that book.  But at least I still had the Acknowledgements section to read.  I love reading these sections, especially since I have personally dipped my toes into the publishing pool and I have come to realize how much effort an author puts into every detail of the book, dedications, acknowledgements, the story, quotations, every bit of it.  It all requires painstaking concentration and dedication to detail.  So I’m reading the Author Acknowledgements at the back of the book.
And there, printed in plain black and white, is a ‘Thank You’ from the author, Jess Walter, to my friend, Mary W.  What were the odds of that?!  I love that!
Well, I immediately called Mary W.
“Mary, have you got a minute? It’s me, Phil!”  I excitedly gush.  “You know, I haven’t seen you in a while and it was really nice catching up with you on the beach last Friday.  But today I’m finishing this great book I had been reading and in the acknowledgement section the author thanks YOU!”  Mary chuckles on the other end.
“Jess Walter?” she asks.
“Yes,” I exclaim.  “Jess Walter. Beautiful Ruins.”
 “Oh, yeah,” she replies.  “That’s my brother-in-law.  Isn’t that a great book?”  What were the odds of that?!  I love that!

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Then, we proceed to talk about all of Jess Walter’s books and projects.  I can’t wait to read more!  Mary W. is obviously proud of him and asked me to send her an email that she’d forward to Mr. Walter and put us in contact.  I don’t know, I feel weird about that possibility (read “I am not worthy! I am not worthy!”).  Funny, part of the story in Beautiful Ruins concerns a sort of loser guy who pitches an idea for a movie to a big Hollywood mogul and his assistant.  The mogul tells him he loves the story and agrees to get him in to pitch his idea to a famous film production company, but, in fact, the mogul is only doing it to satisfy a commitment and free himself from some long ago contract deal.  The loser guy finds out and eventually they all end up seeing some brilliant community play in the Northwest somewhere (you’ve got to read the book!).  The guy sits in the audience, stunned at the artful magnificence and emotion of the play and, realizing his own work will never be anywhere near as good, sits with his head in his hands, lamenting, “F*$k me.  I think I’ve wasted my whole life.”  LOL:  I’m trying really hard not to let myself feel like that comparing my work to Jess Walter’s!
But, as my dear friend Mary W. so kindly pointed out to me, I am not Jess Walter.  I am who I am, and my writing style is my own, for all that is worth.  Yes, Life is cool and I do love that!

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Slow Pitch Softball – More Than Just a Game (author: Me!), will be on display in the Independent Book Publishers of America booth:

May 29 to May 31, at BookExpo America, New York, NY – The #1 Book and Author Event in the Country (in 2013, over 20,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries)
June 28 to July 1, at The American Association of Librarians Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV – The oldest & largest library association in the World (in 2013, over 26,000 attendees from 48 states and 82 countries)

Check it out if you’re around one of those great cities and love books.  Unfortunately, only my book will be on display, I will be at home!!!  Please see more at my website:

Sunday, April 6, 2014


            Well, I can honestly say this about my workplace:  my co-workers are very, very trustworthy, at least when it comes to coffee mugs!
            I’ve just started my second year at my latest work-site.  Somehow I have developed this irritating habit of leaving my coffee mug on the water fountain down the hallway.  Here’s how it happens.  The fountain, which puts out deliciously chilled and refreshing water (after supposedly running through a filtration system), is down the hallway and through two security doors, situated right next to the men’s and women’s restrooms on one side of the building.  These facilities are shared by about a third of the entire department, maybe a couple hundred folks tops.  To multitask and save time – I’m such a dedicated employee! - I always bring my empty mug over to the fountain, set it down, use the facilities as necessary, then exit to refill my mug before heading back to my cubicle, all set for the next couple of hours.  Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, I use the restroom and then forget all about my empty mug on that water fountain and head back to my desk, where I, inevitably, am just about to resume my work when I remember I’ve forgotten my mug again!  I end up trudging back over to the fountain and refilling the mug before heading on back.  And I keep doing that, kind of irritating.
            Before I make the connection between my coffee mug and the trustworthiness of my co-workers, allow me to describe my coffee mug.  Coffee KEG is a more fitting title for it.  When I began working in the building I realized I didn’t want the distraction of having to get up time and time again to refill a small coffee cup with water, but I did want to stay well-hydrated, good health and all you know.  I first tried a regular mug – too small, too many trips.  I tried re-using empty plastic water bottles – not much bigger, plus I read about the harmful germs and chemicals that one consumes as plastic bottles are re-used and the plastic starts decomposing – gross.  So instead I decided to purchase a new coffee mug, but not just ANY coffee mug, no sir.  New job and all, I felt I deserved to go all out and find one to completely meet my needs, the granddaddy of all mugs, one that was insulated and suited for keeping cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, one with a lid, in case a felt like I needed a lid (plus, I spill a lot) and, most importantly, one that was big enough to hold enough liquid to quench the thirst of a hard-working, hard-playing, thirsty guy, or at least Me.
My search was futile at first, taking me to five different stores, no luck.  I just couldn’t find the right mug.  They either were too small, WAY too big, too colorful, too boring, to cutesy with printed sayings, no lid, cheap lid, cheap plastic, or made of ugly, industrialized metal.  And, then, I found BUBBA!
(OMG!  I just did exactly what I wrote about above.  I stopped writing for a minute to visit the restroom and refill my mug; I set my empty mug on that same water fountain, used the men’s facility, and promptly FORGOT MY MUG there!  I walked back to my cube, took a seat, and realized I had done the same thing again.  I trekked back, refilled the mug, returned to my cube.  WHY DO I KEEP DOING THAT?!  Are there any sofa-psychoanalysts out there who would care to give me a clue???)
BUBBA!  Found him at a sporting goods store, camping equipment section: BUBBA!  His name was printed right on the mug itself.  BUBBA, the middle section made of molded brushed-silver metal, the lower and upper portions composed of some dark-grey polycarbonate synthetic (I think) which also melded smoothly to form the dark, cool interior.  I just knew that scientific, high-tech material would keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot, and it came with an ever-loving matching screw-on lid complete with drink-flap lever to open and close at my heart’s content.  BUBBA was BIG, too, 48 fluid ounces big, built solidly, like a coffee mug should be, able to take the constant lifting and drinking and refilling, and stout enough to remain firmly perched on my desktop.  With wonder, I picked up BUBBA and held him in my hands – perfect fit, perfect feel.  It was pure karma that I found him, because this was the last BUBBA on the shelf, there were no others like him, he was just waiting for me to find him.  Fit for a Norse God’s succulent, refreshing, cool ale or a Mountain Man’s strong, bittersweet, lip-scorching cowboy coffee, and now it was going to be mine.  But, truly, the best thing of all:  BUBBA WAS ON SALE!!!!!  A match made in heaven, well, actually a match made in a Big 5 Sporting Goods, but you get my blissful drift, right?
So imagine, the day I’m about to leave for a week-long vacation, the mid-Friday afternoon right after I’ve completed all of my work assignments, put my work-space in order, and ready to step out of that building to freedom, ever-loving sweet-Jesus-in-heaven, nirvana-filled vacation – I DID IT AGAIN!  Two final tasks before I departed in pure ecstasy:  use the restroom before the drive home and clean out Bubba for storage in my cubicle overhead bin, to be clean, fresh and ready for use when I returned.  And, for whatever reason, perhaps in my rapturous, time-off-from-work state of mind, I LEFT BUBBA on the water fountain again!
And, this time, I completely forgot, and went on off on my vacation, with nary a second thought for my poor BUBBA.  An entire week away.
So, one week later, recharged but dragging with emotionally draining thoughts of the end of my vacation, I returned to work.  Back at my cubicle, arriving early to pick up a week’s worth of voice-mail messages, I set my work bag down and turned on my computer.  While it booted up, I opened my overhead storage bin and reached for BUBBA, some hot tea would be good.  My heart stopped:  BUBBA was gone!  Oh no, I came to the instant realization, I had forgotten BUBBA at the water fountain again!  A week ago!
I sat down in a moment of shock, my rubbery legs unable to support me.  I took a moment to calm myself, a deep breath, another.  Okay, I thought positively, I’m sure BUBBA’s okay, I had forgotten him there so many other times before – HE WOULD BE OKAY!  But deep in my heart I trembled, I dared think the unthinkable:  BUBBA could be gone forever!  I had never forgotten BUBBA on the water fountain for more than one night, always returning the next day to surprisingly find him safe, sound and untouched, exactly where I had forgotten him the prior work day.  BUT NEVER FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK!  My heart began to race again as doubts about finding BUBBA bubbled to the surface of my brain.  Where was BUBBA?!?!
BUBBA could be anywhere!  Snatched up by another employee who, having seen BUBBA sitting there for days, may have considered him up for grabs, like when people leave ratty Barcaloungers and ripped love seats out on the sidewalk, handwritten “FREE” signs grossly taped on them, hoping some desperate homeowner needed just that exact piece of used furniture to complete their own home décor motif, rescuing that piece just one step away from ending its used-up life as human rubbish.  I was certain someone had grabbed BUBBA!  Who wouldn’t want him?!  He could be someone else’s trusty mug right that minute, off on safari in Africa, maybe a walkabout in the Australian Outback, climbing along on a life adventure up Mt. Everest!  BUBBA could do it all and would handle any adventure or location his new owner took him.  Is he sailing on a one-person sailboat around the world?  Travelling by air balloon to Haiti?  BUBBA would do it!  Or maybe he was being used to water an urban garden, from which harvested vegetables would be used to feed a group of orphans!  Maybe right at that moment he was filled with hot java and handed to a homeless man, becoming his prized possession as he panhandled and filled BUBBA with spare change from empathetic strangers!  BUBBA was versatile, hardworking, rugged, charming, and, dare I say it, beautiful.  So why not?!?!  Oh my gawd, I lamented, where was my BUBBA?
I had to know for certain, I could stand it no longer, I needed to know if BUBBA was really gone!  I grabbed my employee security entrance door card and headed down the hallway.  First door, through.  I would be brave for BUBBA!  And if BUBBA were truly gone, I thought, I would stay strong for BUBBA!  And I decided right then and there that I would not, could not, replace him even if the unthinkable had occurred.  I was fraught with guilt.  If the worse-case scenario came to pass it would have been all because of me, my stupid, feeble-minded forgetfulness, my dishonorable disloyalty to a tried and true friend.  Oh, BUBBA, why oh why had I forsaken you?!  Second door, a moment of hesitation.  Be strong, Phil, be strong.  For BUBBA.  I waved my security card, the door light flashed green and I walked through.  Only three steps to the water fountain, right around that corner there.  Two steps.  One more step and I would know, my world could be forever changed!
I struggled on, took another step….BUBBA!!!!
BUBBA was there, he was there!  No one had claimed him.  No one had picked him up.  No one had befriended him!  My dear old, BUBBA, my coffee keg, was still waiting for me!  I fought back a grateful tear and touched BUBBA’s handle, gently, tenderly, nay, lovingly.  I’m so sorry BUBBA!  But we were together again.  I passed a long, deep sigh of relief.
Just at that moment, one of my co-workers exited the women’s restroom. She looked at me and smiled.  She saw me with BUBBA, my BUBBA.
“Hi, Phil,” she greeted me warmly.  “You know I saw your coffee cup sitting there for so long I thought maybe you had moved to another job or something.  I wondered if you would come back for your cup, it is such a nice one.”
I just smiled at her for a moment.  If she only knew how nice.
“Naw,” I replied. “I was just on vacation.  But I’m glad to be back and glad my mug was still here.  Thank you, co-workers!  The people I work with are so trustworthy!”
“Yeah,” she said.  “Plus I doubt anyone would want somebody else’s used mug anyway.  Have a great day.”
Oh, I would have a great day, my work-friend, maybe the greatest day of my life.  For my life was once again whole, once again complete.  And I would stay hydrated!
I dreamily used the men’s room, washed my hands and returned to my cubicle.  I sat with a contented sigh of one-part happiness, one-part relief, and one-part love.
DAMMIT!!!!!  I forgot BUBBA at the water faucet again!  What the heck?!?!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


(Feb. 10, 2014)

Hi there!  This is my end-of-year blog for 2013.  Yes, I realize that it’s February 2014, but did you really need another Christmas/Holiday/New Year end-of-year ramble in December or in the first of January?  If you’re like me, I was rambled out.  Plus, I think writing end-of-year blogs at the end of the year is cliché, do you?

Okay, maybe not, but here’s mine now anyway.  And I don’t have any musings about how good/bad/okay 2013 was (but there sure was some really, really good stuff there!) and I surely don’t want to pontificate about 2014, because when it really comes down to it:  what the hell do I know?  I know as much about the future as the next rock.   Who wants to hear about my resolutions or goals for 2014, heck I don’t even want to hear them, sounds like a lot of work to me.  Plus, you must have your own 2014 plans to deal with, right?

Instead, I present my list of burning questions that I couldn’t answer by the end of 2013 and that are still wiggling around in my brain’s gray matter as we enter knee-deep into 2014.  Life doesn’t always answer all of your questions for you, you know.  Sometimes you can ask and ask, but unless you figure it out on your own, you may as well be asking the wind (who I have been told is actually quite the blow hard).

Here they are:

Why does my left ear-bud always fall out when I’m listening to something, but the right one never does?
When did the dog inherit all of the blankets downstairs and why does he have more beds in the house than our entire family combined?
Who decided that Christmas and New Years could fall on a Wednesday like in 2013?  Thursdays, people, Thursdays, so workers can get two days off automatically.  Duh.
Why do I always want to go fishing when I have to do something else?
What do you wear on casual Fridays if we all dress casually all week long?
Do people like when I ‘Like” things on Facebook?  Is there any consideration at all when I don’t?
How come beers can stay fresh forever?  Is it just that I drink them too soon to go bad?
Do kids whistle as much anymore?
What if you aren’t losing one sock from the pair in the dryer but actually GAINING one?
How come once I start watching ‘Jeopardy’ I can’t stop watching until it’s over?

Have a nice day.  Only 321 days ‘til Christmas!

Monday, January 13, 2014


     I have read many books and watched many movies that included a character who found his/her comfort zone in some creative activity - painting, sculpting, gardening, singing, sketching, fishing, playing, writing, whatever. But for that individual it always goes beyond just “finding a comfort zone”. Many times the person identified his self in that activity, defined who he truly was in that creative focus. It was the place where the character could release his soul completely, could actually eliminate all outside stressers from his world, physically and mentally, and live only within the concentrated energy of the creation, the heart of the moment. Sometimes being in that “zone” served as a protective skin for the person, maybe from nightmares real or imagined, or life problems that required escape, temporary or even forever. Between you and me: I always thought that was a bunch of hooey.

     I stand, actually sit here typing, corrected.

     Because I have just today realized that I have to write. And, not only that, but when I am writing the sheer simplicity of the action takes me-my-soul-and-I to an entirely new dimension. Bills are put off, work is forgotten, stress is on hold, family waits in abeyance, life, love, all that my world encompasses sits quietly – somewhere – while I put words on paper or onto a screen. And I am myself. I am obligated to myself. And I love it. And I don’t care.

     Even when the activity of trying to write won’t come easily, becomes a task, or just another goal to work toward, I still enter that state of prime me, clear beginner’s mind (primordial me?). And other times, writing comes as effortlessly as inhaling and exhaling, I can hardly get the words out of my head and down on paper fast enough, many times I can’t, it all tumbles out and I’ll lose a word here, a phrase there, a concept escapes, and the thoughts trip all over themselves, like the Three Stooges wearing no ice skates sliding into each other on a frozen pond, and end up all jumbled in a crazy heap, then quickly, silently, evaporate away, never to be seen or heard from again, or maybe not. Writing at times is like a beautiful, swollen, gorgeous swallowtail butterfly, the thought you just created floating, fluttering, wispy, erratic, you can’t quite catch it, it doesn’t want you to catch it, it teases you, is coming to you, no, it’s not, it is, no it’s going, aww rats…..and at others it comes right to you, it wants to be with you, it lands, so gently, so simply, so lightly, like magic, on the back of your hand, it calmly waits and allows you to write it down just……..right. I get all warm in my underwear, giddy throughout my very soul.

    Being your true self caught in the moment of creativity feels like being addicted to drugs, but so much better. Okay, I know there are a bazillion other things that are better than being addicted to drugs, maybe everything else there is in life. But what if the feeling is like being on drugs, but better? They say that drug addicts are always trying to re-experience that initial feeling – rush, high, buzz, rapture, euphoria, floating, ecstasy, bliss, exhilaration - they got the very first time they tried the drug - toked, snorted, drank, shot up, injected, inhaled, dipped and dabbed, dropped, blotted, tripped, A-bombed – but they NEVER can. That fugue state, and I use that term as kindly, pleasantly, and lucidly as I possibly can, that fugue state I am immersed in when smack dab in the middle of a creativity mind-f*#k is existing in the highest state of pure nirvana, I am loving and being loved at the same time. Time crawls deliriously slowly around me while heightened energy crackles over me. I can barely contain my excitement as I find myself wonderfully, completely, at peace. And the greatest thing of all: I can feel that way every single time I write. I so easily get lost in that space. If it is drug-induced then I am addicted.

     So I write on.