The Last Ride of the Crazy Train

short story, humor, Modern PhilosopherHolly watched in pained amusement as Aaron gyrated in front of the bench on his side of the slushy, snowy path.

If she had to guess, she would have said that her best friend thought he was dancing, but it looked more like he was having a stroke and a seizure simultaneously.

She sipped her coffee, returned her mask to the ready position, and patiently waited for this assault on eyes to mercifully end.

That finally happened when Aaron finally slipped on the slush and landed on his ass.

Holly’s first instinct was to rush to his aid, but that would mean invading the six foot perimeter around the world’s worst dancer, and that would be a violation of his very strict social distancing protocols.

So she sat and waited for the litany of curses to ring out.

What she heard, however, was loud, raucous laughter.

“Are you okay?” she asked, more about the laughter than the fall.

short story, humor, Modern Philosopher“I’m perfectly fine,” he insisted as he got to his feet and wiped the snow and slush off his jeans.  “In fact, I’m more than fine.”

“Are you drunk?” she quipped.  “Is there something other than Snapple in that bottle?”

Aaron lowered his mask to playfully stick out his tongue at his best friend.  Once he had returned his mask to the ready position, he sat down on his bench, and took a long pull from the aforementioned bottle.

“I’m perfectly sober,” he assured her.  “You know I don’t drink.  I’m annoying enough as it is sober.  I’d never subject the world to an intoxicated version of me.”

“On behalf of the world, I thank you,” she replied with a roll of the eyes.

“You’re probably wondering why I was dancing…”

“Oh, is that what you were doing?”

Holly was proud of herself for being on a roll with the wise ass remarks.  That was usually Aaron’s realm, so it felt nice to wear the crown, if even for a moment.

Aaron ignored her remark.  Not because he was offended, but because she was right, and he didn’t want to encourage her to point out his flaws.

He could do that himself.

“I’m just excited that this is the last weekend that the Orange Menace will be our President!” he shouted with glee.

short story, humor, Modern PhilosopherHolly glanced around to see if anyone else was within earshot of his outburst, but the cold weather and slippery conditions had given them the path all to themselves.

“I didn’t think anything Trump did could evoke such a positive reaction,” she teased.

“The last ride of the crazy train is just a few days away,” he squealed with delight.  “It will be a delight to not have to check the news every night to make sure the world isn’t about to end because the lunatic in the White House is in a pissy mood, or thought he was the little dictator that could.”

Holly chuckled and sipped her tea.

“It will be nice to have a boring President again,” she agreed.  “But I’ve known you a long time, and I am well aware of your rule about no dancing in public.”

“The Footloose Proclamation is for the safety of others,” Aaron explained with a chuckle of his own.  “It’s a proven fact that my dancing frightens small children and can cause heart problems for those with cardiac issues.  But since you were the only one around, I figured it was okay to bust a move…”

He made a move to stand up like he intended to dance again, but Holly vetoed that idea with a firm hand signal indicating that he was to stop and remain in place.

“I’m happy that you’re happy then,” she told him.

short story, humor, Modern Philosopher“This is one of those rare times when someone walking out of my life actually puts me in a better mood,” he beamed.

“Unlike some of your exes, however, I don’t think this is the last time you’ll ever see or hear from that clown,” she warned.

“That was tough love, Holly,” he moaned.  “Now I kind of wish there was something harder than Snapple in this bottle.  Not that any alcohol in existence could ever make me forget about the things that madman has done…”

Holly simply nodded in agreement.

Posted in Humor, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Ominous Shadow

short story, US Capitol, Modern PhilosopherThey sat in silence on their benches on opposite sides of the path down by the river.

It was cold.  Fourteen degrees by Holly’s last check of the temperature.  She didn’t like the quiet, but she could tell by Aaron’s mood that he needed a little time to process his anger.

Aaron stared out at the river.  His ever present bottle of Snapple sat unopened next to him on the bench.  There was something in his eyes that screamed to leave him alone.

Well, a different something than the usual stay away message.

Holly had waited for as long as she could, but now her coffee was empty and she could no longer feel all of her toes.

“Is this about your birthday?” she finally asked.

“Of course it’s about my birthday!” he exploded up off his bench in response, arms flailing, cheeks red, but invisible under his mask.

“I thought you said you wanted to keep it low key,” she reminded him.

short story, US Capitol, Modern Philosopher“And do you define ‘low key’ as trying to destroy American Democracy by leading a coup and storming the Capitol?” he growled back at her as he returned to his seat.

Holly sighed and shrugged.

“It’s not like we had any control over the actions of the Orange Menace and his Cult of Rabid Mongrels,” she pointed out.

“It doesn’t matter,” Aaron persisted angrily.  “You don’t try to overturn the democratic process simply because you’re a delusional sore loser who can’t accept defeat.”

“And you most certainly don’t do that when you are the man entrusted with protecting the republic, its citizens, and the Constitution.  There is so much that pisses me off here, but it didn’t help that these animals chose to riot on my birthday.”

Holly nodded like she understood.  Aaron was very complicated, so it didn’t surprise her that his anger was boiling over on so many different levels.

“You’ve spent your life dealing with a birthday that was in the shadow of Christmas,” she added to show she got what was bothering him.

“Not only that, but there was a girl in my class with the same birthday, so I didn’t even get the special day to myself,” he grumbled.  “To make it worse, my frugal stepmother would never send me to school on my birthday with treats for my classmates.  Hell, I was lucky if I got a cake at home.  But the girl who shared my birthday always brought in cupcakes, or brownies, or some other awesome treat that made everyone love her, and give me dirty looks.”

Holly made a sad face that Aaron could not see because of her mask.

short story, US Capitol, Modern Philosopher“And now, your birthday will be forever linked to the madness in the Capitol,” she said sadly while wishing she could give him a hug.

“Oh, it’s going to be worse than that!” Aaron predicted.  “The way this lunatic and his followers work, he’ll probably institute some sort of Hunger Games as punishment for the states that did not back him in his overturning the election.  They games with begin every year on the anniversary of this failed coup, so my birthday will forever be Hunger Games Day.”

Holly nodded again.  When the rant started to go off the rails, it was best to stay clear of the tracks and just allow Aaron to get it all out of his system.

In addition, she knew this wasn’t really about his birthday, or the fact that he believed the country was headed down the path that had befallen Panem.  He was truly upset about the events of Wednesday afternoon, and this was how he processed it.

“He’s only got ten days left in office, and I doubt he could organize a Hunger Games in that time,” she tried humor just so he remembered she was part of the conversation.

“Fine,” he conceded with a wave of his hand as he finally opened his Snapple.  “Then maybe he’ll just institute The Purge.  After all, that bullshit they pulled at the Capitol had a definite Purge vibe.  You can’t deny that.”

short story, US Capitol, Modern PhilosopherHe was right.  She could not deny it.

Something truly horrific had happened in their country on Wednesday, and it was like something out of a movie.

A movie directed by a hack, reality TV vet.

“Thank goodness I had your cake,” he said with a smile that she could see because he had lowered his mask to sip his iced tea.  “Even though I was freaking out over what I was watching, I had a little bit of you right there to offer me some comfort.”

Beneath her mask, Holly beamed and blushed.  He had found the silver lining in the madness, and that silver lining had been her…

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Treason With A Capital Trump

Capitol, politics, Modern PhilosopherIt certainly wasn’t the birthday I expected, Modern Philosophers.

Of course, it turns out this might not be the country I expected it to be, either.

I’m not sure what I want to write about the events that took place in on Wednesday, but I can’t just not address them.

Friends from other countries have reached out to ask me what the hell was going on in America, and I had no idea what to tell them.

I think we all knew this day was coming, but we had also convinced ourselves that we were overreacting.  That lunatic in the White House and his cult of brain washed followers were horrible people, but they wouldn’t do anything this outrageous.

They couldn’t, right?

Not in America.

To be honest, I was expecting some chaos on Wednesday, but more of the playing up for the camera variety.  You know, lots of screaming and chanting of the same slogans and lies.  The waving of the flags.  The demands for recounts and a new election.

As deranged and deluded as the man in the Oval Office had been behaving, he was still the President of the United States.

Capitol, politics, Modern PhilosopherAnd that title comes with certain responsibilities to the Country, its citizens, the Constitution, and Democracy.

Even if the person entrusted with the job wasn’t doing any part of his job, I at least expected him to honor his Oath of Office.

I knew his mad dog followers would be foaming at the mouth to obey his every command, no matter how ludicrous or illegal.

In a million years, however, I never expected the man who refused to be President to give the order to march on the Capitol and destroy everything this country stands for, simply to settle a petty grudge.

Boy was I wrong…

I’ve seen movies with more ridiculous plots and pathetically stereotypical villains, but I never expected what I watched on my television on Wednesday night to be more than a soon to be forgotten work of fiction.

At least in the movies, the forces that besiege Washington, DC are highly advanced Alien races with technology that we cannot combat, or paramilitary/terrorist types that are better trained than our defenses, who are totally caught off guard by the attack.

Capitol, politics, Modern PhilosopherThis mob that breached the Capitol looked like the type of characters that would welcome Alien invaders with open arms, or be the first to die when the highly trained militants attacked their objective.

I wasn’t really sure what I was watching, how it had been allowed to happen, and why it hadn’t been thwarted immediately.

I watched in horror as the mob violated the Capitol, but then I was even more outraged when the news replayed coverage of the rally from earlier in the day.

The man who was supposed to be watching over this country had actually instructed his rabid followers to attack Democracy?

How is he still the President?

Why hasn’t the 25th Amendment been invoked?

Why is CNN interviewing people who are assuring us that the man who won’t accept defeat can’t just launch a nuclear attack on a whim?

What the hell is happening in my country?

Three days later, I am still appalled, upset, frightened, and confused.  I was raised to believe that this was the greatest nation on the planet, but now I’m embarrassed by what we’ve become.

Capitol, politics, Modern PhilosopherI’m still not sure what I want to write about the events of January 6th, but once I am able to focus my thoughts again, I will do my best to put something down on paper.

Until then, be well, stay strong, and God Bless the United States of America.

Posted in Humor, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

What The Birthday Boy Wants

short story, relationships, Modern PhilosopherHolly pounded her boots against the blacktop to both shake off the snow, and to get the circulation going in her feet.

It was bitterly cold along the river, and the six inches of snow did absolutely nothing to make it any warmer.

She took a huge gulp of her coffee, and then broke the silence.

“There’s really only one item on the agenda today, so can we get to it before the frostbite gets to me?” she pleaded.

Aaron sipped his Snapple, smiled, and then returned his mask to the ready position. 

Even though they were seated across the path from each other, Holly could sense his excitement.  She just ignored it because she was too cold.

“My birthday is this week,” Aaron stated with nonchalance.  “Is that what you were referring to by chance?”

She rolled her eyes at her best friend.

short story, relationships, Modern Philosopher“I assume a party is out of the question?” she asked rather than answer him.

“Unless the Coronavirus is eradicated by Wednesday,” he quipped.  “Otherwise, the huge gathering that such a celebration demands would be a major violation of social distancing protocols.”

And when Aaron said it would be a violation of protocols, he was obviously referring to the strict set of rules he’d established.  Rules that quite often went beyond what the Governor and the CDC required.

Holly tapped her boots on the blacktop again because she really wanted to keep all her toes once this meeting was done.

“Is my homemade birthday cake still allowed?” she asked.

She really hoped it was because she enjoyed nothing more than baking Aaron’s favorite cake for him every year.  It touched her that he requested that over any other possible cake option on his special day.

“Most definitely!” he declared with a fist pump to emphasize his point.  “No pandemic is going to prevent me from enjoying your world famous chocolate peanut butter cake on my birthday.”

Holly was thankful for her mask since it kept him from seeing that his compliment had made her blush.

short story, relationships, Modern Philosopher“What about dinner?” she pressed on because talking kept her body warm.  “We don’t have to eat in the same room, or I can just make the meal of your choice and leave it on the porch with your cake…”

Aaron shook his head vehemently.

“As much as I appreciate your offer, I’d like to keep my birthday low key this year,” he told her solemnly.

He took a sip of his Snapple, and Holly used the break in the conversation to study him.  It wasn’t like Aaron to downplay his birthday, even with a pandemic raging.  Since his birthday fell so close to Christmas, he’d always made a big deal of his day so that it wasn’t forgotten amidst the celebrations of the Holiday Season.

Then it hit her.  “This doesn’t have anything to do with the bold prediction you made on your last birthday, does it?”

He hung his head, which told her she was on target.

“You got me tipsy…”

“It was your birthday.  You needed to cut loose a little,” she clarified.

“And I stupidly boasted that I would do whatever it took over the next year to ensure that I was no longer pathetically single on my next birthday,” he continued without acknowledging her clarification.

short story, relationships, Modern Philosopher“I’ve told you a million times that you have to stop defining yourself by your relationship status,” she scolded him.

“You can tell me that until you’re blue in the face, and for the record, you look a little blue right now.  Do you wan to borrow my scarf?”

Holly pulled her hood over her head in an attempt to get warm.

“You can tell me that as often as you want, but I’m still going to think of myself as a loser who no one wants to date,” he grumbled.  “I don’t care what you argue to the contrary, Holly, the constant in this equation is me.  I’m the quirky weirdo that no one wants to love.  I’m doomed to be single forever.”

Holly no longer had to worry about the cold because her blood was boiling.  She hated when Aaron got down on himself like this, but she hated herself even more for never being able to find the right thing to say to convince him otherwise.

“None of that is true,” was the best she could mumble in frustration.

“And to think, you could have put an end to this problem, but you turned me down after one date…”

He lowered his mask to reveal a smile, which was something of a relief.

“One horrible date, many, many years ago,” she corrected him.

short story, relationships, Modern PhilosopherAaron shrugged.  “Still, it’s all on you.  You didn’t think we had chemistry.  You later confessed that you almost bailed on me when you excused yourself to use the restroom.”

“I never should have told you that,” Holly countered with a chuckle.  “In my defense, I did come back to the table, and gave you every opportunity to redeem yourself.  You can’t fake chemistry.”

Aaron laughed and took a long sip of his Snapple.

“I left enough of an impression that you still wanted to talk,” he reminisced.  “Something about my unparalleled wit and sense of humor…”

“I never used those words, but I do remember thinking that I enjoyed talking to you, and stimulating conversation wasn’t easy to come by,” she told him.

“Just not the right kind of stimulation,” he teased and stuck his tongue out at her before returning his mask to its proper position.

“It took a while, and I remember some awkward moments where you tried to hit on me,” she added.  “But we finally found our groove and became best friends.  Girlfriends come and go, but best friends are forever.”

“Agreed,” Aaron conceded with a nod. 

“Especially best friends who make the world’s greatest chocolate peanut butter cake…”

Posted in Humor, Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gargoyle On A Cold Snowy Roof

gargoyle, relationships, Modern PhilosopherI crept carefully out of the attic window, and stepped out onto the snow covered roof.

Thankfully, the snow had stopped, but that didn’t make my journey through several inches of the stuff any less treacherous.

The Gargoyle sat silently on his perch at the edge of the roof.  I knew he heard me approaching, but I guessed he didn’t make any sudden movements out of fear of startling me, and sending me plummeting to the driveway below.

When I had finally made it close enough to the place where he kept watch over my home, I cleared my throat to get his attention.

Gary, as the Gargoyle had told me to call him the first time he’d revealed that he could speak, turned slowly and adroitly to face me.

The look on his face told me he was not pleased to have a visitor.

“What are you doing up here?” he demanded in his gravelly voice.

“I thought you might be cold after the storm, and I wanted to check on you,” I lied.

Gary snapped open his wings as if to inform me that I was a horrible liar.

gargoyle, relationships, Modern Philosopher“I’m a magical creature made of stone,” he stated the obvious.  “I’m not affected by the weather.  Unlike you, who is the king of the klutzes, and could slip and fall to his death at any moment.  Care to try again?”

I shrugged.  I didn’t know why I’d lied to Gary.

“I just wanted to talk I guess,” I finally admitted.

Gary stepped down from his perch, and motioned for me to sit.  It was completely clear of snow since he’d been standing on it all day keeping vigil.

I took him up on his offer, but made sure to keep my back to the street so I didn’t see how far away the ground was.  I wasn’t afraid of falling because I knew Gary to save me if I did, but I still didn’t need to see how high up I was.

“I know you’ve heard things…”

It was a well-known fact that Gargoyles had excellent hearing.  He heard anything that when on inside the house, or anywhere on the block for that matter.

Gary nodded.  “I heard a second voice consistently for the first time in ages.  I heard happiness and domesticity and affection.  Then, I heard only your voice again.”

I hung my head.  He’d summed up the problem so succinctly, that it actually made me feel even worse.

“What am I supposed to do?” I asked with the desperation of a man who would wander out onto a roof covered in half a foot of snow.

gargoyle, relationships, Modern Philosopher“The happiness and affection was clearly mutual,” Gary pointed out.  “Perhaps just wait and see if the other voice returns to the conversation.  A new year brings new hope.”

It wasn’t much to cling to, but it made me feel better.  And eager to leave it all behind.

“Can we go for a quick flight?” I asked hopefully.

“I thought you’d never ask,” he replied.

I climbed onto Gary’s back, and we quickly rose towards the afternoon sky, and for the moment at least, put some distance between me and what ailed my aching heart…

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Travel Blog: My Driveway

travel, Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’m going to come clean, Modern Philosophers, and confess that I’ve always been envious of travel bloggers.

They see the world, their photos are exciting, they eat well on their journeys, and they have the time and money to go on numerous adventures.

As for me, I’m not really a fan of planes, trains, and automobiles.  So that not only limits my ability to be a travel blogger, but it also prevents me from being in any future Steve Martin/John Candy flicks.

But because it’s a new year, I’m eager to step out of my comfort zone and try something I normally wouldn’t.

Welcome to my first ever travel blog post! 

Today, I’m visiting my driveway…

travel, Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherRemember, because of my fear of various kinds of travel, I really couldn’t go very far as I was limited to foot travel.

On top of that, as you might be able to tell from the photos if you look closely, we had a snowstorm last night, so getting around wasn’t very easy this morning.

I wanted to postpone my first travel blogger post until I could venture somewhere further from The House on the Hill, but my producers had already pre-sold the advertising for the post, and had really built up expectations among my followers.

As a result, I was forced to move forward with a trip to the driveway.

travel, Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherNow don’t get me wrong, my driveway is THE PLACE to visit this time of year, Modern Philosophers.

It’s both trendy and exclusive.  There was no one else at this particular resort during the time I had booked for my vacation.

It’s not that I’m some sort of elitist, or anything like that, but I am a card carrying member of the Introvert Party.  I’m a big fan of having alone time, and I’ve had more than one vacation ruined because I get very shy when strangers are around.

For example, I’ll have my heart set on spending the day at the pool, only to arrive and find it packed with people.  Since I really retreat into my shell at the mere sight of strangers, I end up sequestered in my room reading a book because it’s the one place I know I won’t be bothered.

I can do that at home, so why spend money to travel to do it?

Also, during a pandemic, it’s nice to know that no one else will be around.  Management was able to guarantee that my visit would be COVID-19 free, and that peace of mind was really important in my deciding to spend my time in my driveway.

travel, Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs for amenities, my driveway had EXCELLENT workout facilities.  Working out and staying in shape is very important to me, so I was thrilled to learn about the driveway’s exclusive Winter Wonderland Workout.

As you can see from this photo, I was provided with a piece of state of the art workout equipment, free of charge.  Since there were no other guests at the resort, I had the workout facility all to myself, which meant I got to work at my pace.

It took me almost an hour to complete my workout, but man oh man was it worth it!  Even now, as I type this post, I can feel the burn in my arms, legs, shoulders, and lower back.

Unfortunately, my driveway did not have a masseuse on staff, but if that’s my only complaint about this adventure, then I am a happy man.

My driveway also offered a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.  On some vacations, I’m literally a stranger in a strange land.  I don’t speak the language.  I don’t know my way around.  I’m not sure what to order off the menu.

In my driveway, though, I felt like I was at home.

travel, Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherMy driveway also offered some amazing sightseeing opportunities.  Maine in winter is like something right off an award winning Winter Wonderland postcard.

There was an eerie silence, probably because everyone else was hiding from the driving snowstorm, that made me feel like I was in a Stephen King novel.  Having grown up a huge fan of Mr. King, that was a sweet, little bonus that had not been promised in my driveway’s promotion materials.

Even though I didn’t take advantage of them (I was exhausted after my workout), my driveway also offered adventure packages like sledding, skiing, and trying to drive a car up a steep, snowy incline.  Basically, there’s a little bit of everything, depending on your level of adventure seeking.

In the end, I would definitely recommend my driveway.

travel, Maine, humor, Modern PhilosopherI would especially recommend my driveway after a snowstorm if you are looking for a workout that will totally challenge you, and leave you feeling sore all over.

So next time it snows, stop by my driveway, I’ll make sure the management leaves out that state of the art piece of workout equipment for you.

Just try to keep quiet.  I’m told the natives don’t like noisy strangers…

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Just One, But It Doesn’t Count

Happy New Year, short story, Modern Philosopher“Aaron, why are we sitting here on New Year’s Day when it’s freezing, and you admittedly hate this holiday?” Holly demanded from her bench on the opposite side of the path.

“I got you a coffee,” Aaron barked from his bench.  “Isn’t that enough for you?”

Holly lowered her mask, took a long sip of coffee to both warm herself and wash down any bitter words she would have hollered back at her best friend, and then returned her mask to the ready position.

It was New Year’s Day and, as expected, it was bitterly cold down by the river.  Holly shivered and carefully weighed her next words.

“Coffee isn’t enough,” she growled back.  “I refuse to start off the new year by bickering with you.  Not after the year we just survived.  Now explain why you dragged me down here, and maybe I’ll stop acting so out of character.”

“Isn’t the fact that your best friend asked you to be with him explanation enough?” he countered with a sadness in his usually commanding voice.

Aaron took a long sip of Snapple, and stared at the bottle like it was the most interesting thing on Earth.

Holly knew him well enough, however, to understand that the long stare was his go to move to avoid direct eye contact when there were tears or a lack of self-confidence welling up in his eyes.

Holly mentally reprimanded herself before she replied.

Happy New Year, short story, Modern Philosopher“I’m sorry for snapping,” she said sweetly.  “You know how uneasy I get when you break from routine.  It makes me very nervous when you aren’t totally predictable.”

“Like there’s a disturbance in the Force,” he added with a chuckle.

Holly had to laugh.  It was a relief to have the tension suddenly banished.  They never fought, and mere bickering between them made her nervous.  She didn’t have any relationship stronger than the one with the weirdo sitting on the other side of the path, and it was one she never wanted to lose.  Regardless of how he pushed her buttons.

“So spill it,” she urged.  “It’s not getting any warmer and I’m almost out of coffee.”

Aaron shrugged and looked across at his best friend.  “You know I’m usually perfectly fine riding out a holiday alone, watching TV, and getting some writing done.  But today, for some reason, the solitude of it all got to me.  I just didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts because they kept drifting off to sad places…”

Holly’s first reaction was to run across the path and give him a big hug to remind him that he wasn’t all alone, but she remembered that such behavior would be a serious violation of Aaron’s strict social distancing protocols.  So she restrained herself.

“Then I’m glad you called,” she assured him with a warm smile that he couldn’t see because of her mask.  “Do you want to tell me about the sad places?”

He shook his head and took a long sip of his Snapple.

It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her.  He just didn’t want to drag her into the maudlin chaos that dominated his thought process.  Not on a holiday.

Happy New Year, short story, Modern Philosopher“I also felt stupid because I made this big show of saying I refused to make any New Year’s Resolutions, but now I feel compelled to do so,” he confessed.

“Well, if you can feel safe acting stupid around anyone, it’s me, right?” she asked and winked.

He chuckled and his body relaxed.  Clearly at ease now, he let out a long sigh.

“I just wanted to make a vow to not be this sad next New Year’s Day,” he shared.

Holly felt a tear well up in her right eye, but she fought it back.  If she made a big deal about his letting down his guard like this, he’d never do it again.

“I’d say that’s an excellent statement to make today,” she agreed.  “And it doesn’t even count as a resolution.  Just a promise made between friends.”

“Best friends,” he reminded her.

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Don’t Put So Much Pressure On 2021

Happy New Year, humor, Modern PhilosopherHappy New Year, Modern Philosophers!

I wanted to kick off 2021 by getting one of my contractually obligated philosophical posts out of the way.

Before we go too deep down the rabbit hole of how 2021 needs to be better than its predecessor, I wanted to point out that it isn’t fair to put so much pressure on the new year.

Trust me on this.  I know from experience the extensive damage that can be caused by the weight of unattainable expectations.

Everyone expects 2021 to be the polar opposite of 2020, and I totally get the wishful thinking, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Pinning a new calendar to the wall and flipping it to January is not the same as wiping the slate clean.

New Year’s Day is not like Opening Day of the baseball season.  All of the previous season’s statistics don’t vanish.  The players and teams don’t all start from scratch with exactly the same standings.

With that in mind, the Coronavirus hasn’t miraculously vanished simply because our planet has completed another journey around the sun.  We can’t just go outside without wearing a mask, and head to a huge gathering to celebrate the new year.

The horrors of 2020 are still with us.

Happy New Year, humor, Modern PhilosopherTrust me, I wanted to shake the Etch-A-Sketch last night and find a blank screen awaiting me when I awakened.  Sadly, a quick check informed me that my newly broken heart had not yet mended.

Did I immediately curse 2021 for not being any different from 2020?

Of course not.  That wouldn’t be fair to the new year.

When I was growing up, and so much pressure was being put on me to achieve the goals others had set for me, I really did try to live up to those expectations.  However, once I realized that what was being asked of me was unattainable and not what I wanted for myself, it began to have an adverse effect on me.

I lost faith in myself.  My drive and ambition vanished.  I thought myself a failure.

Even today, the scars from that experience are painful reminders of what will happen when too much pressure is applied.

So I’m going to give 2021 some space.  I’m not going to expect anything special from this year.  I’m certainly not going to project my wants and needs onto it.

What I might do, though, is try to make changes in my life that could lead me down a different path over the next twelve months.

For example, perhaps I won’t wallow in my broken heart.  Maybe for a change, I will try to do something to rectify the situation, instead of sitting alone in the dark and muttering “Woe is me!” as I expect someone else to fix what’s wrong.

Happy New Year, humor, Modern PhilosopherOr maybe I’ll find the positive in my situation.  There is someone out there who I care enough about to be this hurt.  That’s an improvement over thinking I’m all alone in the world.

I’m not going to rely on 2021 to change my life.  I’m going to change it myself…

Are you putting too much pressure on 2021 after your experiences in 2020?

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No More Resolutions

short story, New Year's Resolutions, humor, Modern PhilosopherAaron waited until Holly pulled down her mask and sipped her coffee before he broke the silence.

“Before you ask, I will not be participating in whatever ridiculous shenanigans you have planned for New Year’s Eve.”

He lowered his mask, smiled smugly, and took a sip of his Snapple.

From her bench on the other side of the path, Holly shook her head.

“You waited for me to take something to drink before you sprang that on me,” she correctly deduced.  “Thinking that if I couldn’t immediately reply, that meant I had somehow forfeited my right to protest.”

“Something like that,” he replied with a wink as he returned his mask to the ready position, and placed the Snapple bottle next to him on the bench.

As usual, they were the only ones on the river path this early on Sunday morning, but they still maintained all proper social distancing protocols.

As a result, Holly was forced to scowl at her best friend from her bench on her side of the running path.

“I’m not engaging in any shenanigans this year,” she informed him.  “I’m going to be responsible, listen to our Governor, and not host a large gathering.  Of course, it’s not the Governor’s wrath I fear…”

short story, New Year's Resolutions, humor, Modern PhilosopherAaron’s eyes lit up, and it was obvious that he was smiling, even with his mask covering the lower part of his face.

“You fear my wrath!” he exclaimed excitedly.  “That might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me, Holly.”

Holly shrugged.  “I am here to help you maintain your sanity.  And as paranoid as you are about the virus, you do have managed to keep me from catching it with your over the top behaviors and insistence on following such strict protocols.”

“Quite frankly, I’m stunned that the Governor hasn’t named me to the state’s Coronavirus Task Force at this point,” he quipped.

They both had a good chuckle at that, even though they both knew he was only half kidding about that statement.

“So no New Year’s Eve party this year,” she brought them back to the original topic.

“Excellent call,” he agreed.  “I don’t get the big deal about New Year’s Day.  Hurray!  The planet completed another revolution of the sun.  Big whoop.  It’s not like that minor accomplishment magically clears the slate, and everything starts anew.  2021 will still inherit the worst possible preexisting condition from its predecessor.”

He took a long drink of his Snapple to wipe the taste of that thought from his mouth.

Joe Biden, Modern Philosopher“There is some good news, though,” Holly insisted on bringing a little bit of sunshine to the bleak conversation.  “Twenty days in, we get a new President.”

“Now that’s worthy of shenanigans. Of course, they still won’t be allowed because of the virus and all, but it’s a much bigger deal than circumnavigating the sun.”

Holly nodded her agreement.  “Are you going to make any New Year’s resolutions?”

“Of course not,” he snapped before she had even finished getting out the question. “That would lend credence to the misconception that the world somehow magically restarts on January 1.  It doesn’t.  Life just goes on, and we inch another day closer to death.  I suppose you’ll make resolutions, though.”

Holly nodded and sipped her coffee to fight off the December chill.

short story, New Year's Resolutions, humor, Modern Philosopher“Just my usual one,” she sighed.  “I’ll resolve to figure out a way to put up with you for another year…”

Holly laughed hysterically.

Aaron did not.

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Sometimes You Just Need To Run

running, mental health, Modern PhilosopherIt has been a considerable while since I last suffered through a long, dark teatime of the soul, Modern Philosophers.

I’m not sure what changes I made in my life to fend off the dark clouds, but I knew that they would return eventually.

After all, such storm front are relentless.

Therefore, I was not surprised when I could not bring myself to get out of bed this morning.  Christmas is the time of year that most seems to attract the dark clouds, and I suppose it wouldn’t be the Holiday Season if they didn’t make an appearance.

Of course, this morning’s misadventure with my emotions was directly related to the Holiday in question.  I woke up ruminating about the one thing that had gone wrong and ruined what had the potential for being my best Christmas in ages.

I was more upset that I’d come so close to breaking my Christmas Curse, than I was that I’d spent the day alone again…naturally.

I’m not sure if you understand how the dark clouds work, but once they gather, they only increase in number, making it nearly impossible to escape their wrath.

And with my overactive mind, I simply made matters worse because I couldn’t stop thinking about what had me so upset.

running, mental health, Modern PhilosopherSomething about this photo perfectly sums up how I felt this morning.

I was facing an uphill climb, over slippery, rocky terrain, and all that awaited me at the top was dark clouds.  It was intimidating and I didn’t think I had any fight in me.

But somehow, I convinced myself that I needed to get out of bed and go for a run.  Something about the crisp, Winter air would clear my head.  Maybe I could outrun the dark clouds.  Perhaps the snow clouds already outside would prevent the dark clouds from following me.

Running is far from my favorite activity, but this morning, it was a godsend.

I bundled up, headed for the river, and did not dare look skyward.  If I didn’t see the dark clouds over me, then there was a chance they weren’t there.

I focused on my breathing and setting a solid pace.  I let the music from my phone fill my head.  I didn’t allow my mind the opportunity to wander back to the topic that had me afraid to crawl out from under the covers this morning.

And I just ran.

I didn’t break any records.  I didn’t run any further than usual.

running, mental health, Modern PhilosopherI just gave my brain something else to keep it occupied for forty-five minutes.

And I even got to chat with the ducks, who seemed extremely pleased that the river was no longer frozen, which meant they could splash around and go for a swim.

Thankfully, when I returned to The House on the Hill, the dark clouds had cleared.  Maybe they’ll be back, but it’s comforting to know that my running shoes and I will be prepared for them should they decide to return…

Posted in Fitness, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments