We Should Be Thankful We’re All Still Alive

Thanksgiving, gratitude, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherWe should be thankful we’re all still alive…

I overheard that gem recently while shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, Modern Philosophers.

Of course, it piqued my interest, so I had to listen in a little longer to see if these strangers had just survived a fearsome brush with death.

Turns out, they were just bitching about Trump, and saying we were lucky the President hadn’t gotten us all killed in a nuclear war with North Korea.

But that did get the Deep Thoughts flowing.

Gratitude really is relative.

If you are faced with the prospect of all out nuclear war, I guess you would be thankful just to be alive.

Since I never stop thinking, those Deep Thoughts churned back to the surface today on Thanksgiving Eve.

It started off as a decent day.  It was much warmer than yesterday, so I got in a great run without any fear of frostbite.

Unfortunately, I still had to go to work, which always means the crushing of any good mood is inevitable.

Thanksgiving, gratitude, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs my day forced me into a grumbly mood, I decided to go for a walk.  It was pouring, but I didn’t care because I had an umbrella, I’m not a wicked witch so water wasn’t going to kill me, and I just needed to be away from that which was melting my brain.

Walking through puddles did help my mood, and I used the quiet time to think.

Yes, my job can be really horrible at times, but I am thankful to be gainfully employed.  Despite the headaches and stress, it does provide me with a steady paycheck, which keeps the roof of The House on the Hill over my head and food in the fridge.

As I continued to do laps around the parking lot, I kept passing my new car.  Yes, having to lease the RAV4 has caused some financial stress, but I am thankful that I have a new, much more trustworthy vehicle at my disposal.  With winter on the horizon, I am grateful that I have four wheel drive and a reliable car to transport me through the snow.

Even though I was getting soaked, despite the tiny umbrella I was using to protect my 6’3″ frame, I was thankful that I have turned into the kind of fitness nut who goes for a walk in a torrential downpour.  I am grateful that I have stuck with my exercise program, have greatly improved my health, and have lost over sixty lbs.

Thanksgiving, gratitude, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherDespite the fact that Thanksgiving is not my favorite time, and I’m not thrilled about spending another holiday alone, I’m thankful that I have the memories that cause me to get upset this time of year.  I would not be the man I am today without my past, and overcoming those obstacles has made me a stronger person.

It is so easy to find fault with the world and our lives, but the real challenge is sorting through the mess to find the precious nuggets of positivity.  They are there.  You’ve just got to dig through all your cynicism and negativity to find them.

Forrest Gump told us that life is like a box of chocolates, but I’m going to do him one better, Modern Philosophers.

Life is like a dumpster packed with trash.  You can be pissed off at the world that it’s parked right beneath your window and stinking up the place, or you can dig through it and find the treasure.

Thanksgiving, gratitude, life, philosophy, humor, Modern PhilosopherThere’s so much to be thankful for in the world.  Make sure to take some time tomorrow to contemplate that.

You might even be thankful I suggested it…

Happy Thanksgiving, Modern Philosophers!

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Go Stuff Yourself

Thanksgiving, poetry, humor, Modern PhilosopherThanksgiving time

Is back again,

And that can only mean

One thing…

You must give in

To the deepest,

Darkest,

Highest caloric

Desires of your belly.

Sure, this holiday

Is about gratitude.

I mean,

It’s right there

In the name,

Captain Obvious.

But sometimes,

You have to think

Outside the box,

And since it is

Thanksgiving,

That box to which

I just referred

Is obviously

The most

Important one

Of all…

The one

That contains

The stuffing mix.

On paper,

This Thursday

Is all about

Giving thanks,

But in reality,

It’s all about

The food.

Go feed yourself,

Pilgrim.

Make sure

That turkey

Did not die

In vain.

Let the gravy flow

Like a magic

Brown river

You only get

To swim in

Once a year.

Cranberry sauce

For everyone…

Even the relatives

You’re embarrassed

To acknowledge

In public.

And don’t even

Get me started

On the stuffing.

Just put that

Damn bowl

Next to me.

The stuffing

Should never

Be beyond

Arm’s reach

Unless you want

This dinner

To dissolve

Into a food fight.

I say this

With the warmest,

Most loving

Intent…

Go stuff yourself!

It’s Thanksgiving.

Feed your face,

Pad your tummy,

But make sure

You save room

For dessert.

Apple pie?

Yes, please.

I’m ready to

Go stuff myself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Time Traveling Turkeys

Thanksgiving, time travel, short story, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and it seems that it would be in turkeys’ best interest to develop a time machine,” I announced to my Sunday guest as I fished a fresh bottle of Snapple out of the cooler.

“You’re talking about Turkey, the country, not turkey, the centerpiece of every delicious Thanksgiving dinner, correct?” The Devil asked.

He was seated at what he thought of as his end of the couch, reading the newspaper, and not paying me much attention.  In fact, he didn’t even put down the paper when he asked his question.

As always, he was dressed in an impeccably tailored suit, the cost of which could pay for Thanksgiving dinners for every house on my block.

“No, I’m talking about the tasty birds,” I clarified before taking a huge sip of Snapple.

That was enough to get his attention.  He put down the paper and turned to face me.  Few people know this, but Lucifer loves himself some turkey.

“Why would turkeys need time travel technology?” The Prince of Darkness asked with a raised eyebrow that indicated he was intrigued, yet cynical.

“Turkeys know exactly when the fate of their kind changed forever,” I explained.  “The first Thanksgiving.  Because the Pilgrims chose to make them the main course, their fate was forever sealed as America’s favorite holiday entree.”

Thanksgiving, time travel, short story, The Devil, humor, Modern PhilosopherSatan nodded in understanding.  “You believe that if they time traveled back to the first Thanksgiving, and made sure that chicken or pork was served instead, turkeys could change their future?”

“Without a doubt!” I concurred.  “You take turkey off that menu, maybe they never become a popular food source, and their numbers multiply exponentially.”

“For all we know, turkeys might rule the planet,” I added excitedly.  “It could be a total Planet of the Turkeys type scenario.  If that’s the case, we need to do everything in our power to locate the turkeys’ secret laboratory and destroy their time machine!”

The Devil let out a heavy sigh and picked up his newspaper again.

“You are a very troubled individual,” The Devil stated dryly.  “What happened to you as a child that resulted in your being this strange?”

I growled at his comment and took a giant sip of iced tea to wash down the words I was going to spew at Lucifer in my defense.

Instead, I thought happy thoughts, which included shoveling large amounts of turkey and stuffing into my mouth on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, time travel, short story, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“Hey, you might not worry about a society dominated by turkeys, but if those birds are intelligent enough to build a working time machine, then they are definitely a threat to mankind,” I educated him calmly and without a hint of anger in my voice.

“You might be the ruler of Hell, but I think a world where turkeys enslave humans, and then eat them as a sick form of Thanksgiving revenge, is a Hell worse than anything you could ever create!”

“I know Thanksgiving is a rough holiday for you due to your checkered romantic history, so I’m going to forget this conversation ever happened,” The Prince of Darkness declared.

He was right, of course.  Thanksgiving was a holiday that was directly linked to many of the key past relationships in my life.

Maybe that was what had me so flustered.

Or maybe my gut simply knew that the turkeys were planning to rise up and make us pay for centuries of Thanksgiving dinners…

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What If The Pilgrims Had Run A 5K Instead?

Thanksgiving, health, fitness, overeating, humor, Modern PhilosopherFar too many Americans are fat and out of shape, Modern Philosophers.

Do you know who I blame for this?

The Pilgrims.

Those judgmental bastards with the horrible fashion sense could have ensured that this was a nation of healthy, lean, active individuals, but they chose to go in an entirely different direction.

I had an epiphany last night while in the grocery store.

I was loading up my cart with the fattening staples of a traditional Thanksgiving feast…

Stuffing.

Mashed potatoes.

Gravy.

So much gravy.

Apple pie.

Ice cream to top the aforementioned pie.

Back down the gravy aisle for a few more jars.  You know, just in case.

Thanksgiving, health, fitness, overeating, humor, Modern PhilosopherThat’s when I realized it was all the Pilgrims’ fault.  They had sent this country waddling down the path of inevitable obesity by making an extravagant Thanksgiving dinner a holiday staple.

Winter is hard enough already.

It’s too damn cold, dark, and snowy for anyone to want to go outside and be active.  That loss of activity slows down the metabolism and prevents calories from being burned.

Americans are stuck inside the house for months, trapped with their annoying families, and rather than clearing the treadmill of dirty laundry and running a few miles, they go into the kitchen and stress eat.

All because of the stupid, shortsighted Pilgrims.

They had to go and throw a giant feast to celebrate the harvest and make nice with the Native Americans.

Why couldn’t the Pilgrims have foregone the high caloric spread, and organized a 5K instead?  The Indians were, by all accounts, a very active people, so a running event probably would have been more up their alley.

Were they afraid to get their hideous wardrobes all sweaty?  Were they concerned about trying to run in their heeled shoes with the big buckles?  Did they think the natives would kick their butts in a race, which would then swing the balance of power in the region?

Thanksgiving, health, fitness, overeating, humor, Modern PhilosopherWhatever the reason, the Pilgrims ensured that every November ends with millions of Americans stuffing their faces with, among other things, stuffing.

After that, there’s plenty of leftovers to devour all weekend.  Once a nation has developed a taste for a turkey feast with all the fixings, it just wants more holiday food.

Thanksgiving slides into Christmas, which is all about Americans falling asleep every night with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.  Over the month of December, those sugar plums morph into Christmas cookies, holiday pies, and entire gingerbread villages paved with chocolate and peanut butter.

If the Pilgrims had run a 5K on the first Thanksgiving, Americans would most likely continue that tradition and run that race every year.

Logic dictates that instead of riding the gravy train down the path to holiday obesity, my fellow Americans would choose to run down a healthier road.  That first 5K would lead to other, longer races during the Holiday Season, finally capping off with a Christmas Morning Marathon.

How awesome would that be?

There would be no need to make America great again, because this would be a bad ass nation of lean, mean, running machines.

Thanks, Pilgrims.

Because of you, we’re fat, lazy, and addicted to stuffing.

Thanksgiving, health, fitness, overeating, humor, Modern PhilosopherI refuse to let the poorly dressed ghosts of Thanksgiving past haunt my present.  Sure, I’m still going to make turkey and stuffing on Thursday, but only after I go for a long run that morning.

Today, in direct defiance of the Pilgrims, I went for a nine mile run.  That’s the longest distance I’ve ever run.

Nine miles less than a week before Thanksgiving.  What do you think about that, Pilgrims?

I think it makes me very thankful that I know how to make my Holiday Season healthier and happier.

I hope you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.  Don’t be afraid to start a new tradition of burning off some calories before you sit down to your mighty feast…

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The Energizer Man

running, fitness, weight loss, health, humor, Modern PhilosopherI just came in from walking in a torrential downpour, Modern Philosophers.

Such behavior should not surprise you by now.  After all, you don’t lose twenty percent of your body mass by not exercising on days when the weather isn’t perfect.

If you think walking in the rain is nuts, then maybe I shouldn’t tell you that it was actually snowing when I left for my run this morning.

I ran 3.6 snowy miles before dawn because that’s what you do when you’re dedicated to getting into shape.

We’re currently engaged in a Wellness Challenge at work.  One of the other businesses in our building threw down the gauntlet on a step off.  They formed a team of nine people, and said they could collect more steps than we could over a five week period.

My office formed three teams of nine, and now every day, no matter what the time, you can find groups of employees walking in the parking lot.

It’s really pretty cool to see so many coworkers engaged in a fitness activity at a time of year when the weather is getting a bit intimidating.

We’ve got one more week left in the battle, and my team is currently in the lead.  That could be because I’m collecting 150,000 steps a week.

Because I never stop.

A coworker on one of the other teams saw me walking on my break today, and told me that I must walk in my sleep given the large numbers I post.

Don’t worry.  I’m not a sleepwalker.

running, fitness, weight loss, health, humor, Modern PhilosopherI just run five days a week, and try to get in 20,000 steps a day.

Like I said, I’m serious about getting into shape.

Here’s a picture of my out in the snow this morning.  It was just a dusting, but I intend to keep running even when more snow falls this winter.

I’m seven and a half months into this weight loss and exercise program, and I don’t want to blow it all by having a lazy winter.   I’m going to stay motivated and do my best to keep going through the snow.

We had out monthly company Wellness Meeting this week.  Obviously, I’m the Wellness Rep for my office.

We were discussing this Virgin Pulse program that we’ve been trialing since April 1, and my friend Dani, who is quite easy on the eyes, declared that she refuses to be friends with me on the app because there’s no way she can beat my weekly totals.

Then the HR rep who runs the Wellness Committee told Dani she understands what she means because we are friends on the app and she can never beat my score.  She did add, though, that she uses it as motivation to push herself harder.

Dani just shook her head emphatically and said she can’t keep up with me, so she’s not going to friend me on the app.

I was flattered to be singled out in front of the Wellness Committee in such a manner.  Just seven and a half months ago, no one would have been worried about keeping up with me.

I was fat.

Out of shape.

And rarely left the couch.

Now I’m out walking in the rain because I’m determined to get my 150,000 steps for tomorrow’s check in for our Wellness Challenge.

Was there ever a doubt I’d get that 150,000?

I’m at 153,000 right now.

running, fitness, weight loss, health, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe best thing about all this, aside from looking and feeling better, has been helping my coworkers get active.  I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy giving advice and motivating others to get into shape.

Next year is going to be rough because the cost of the company medical insurance is going up substantially. I’m ready to help my fellow employees take their personal wellness more seriously.

If we can stay healthy, maybe the cost of the insurance won’t shoot up again next year.  At the very least, we will all be in better shape.

I really like that creepy selfie of me out in the rain.  The raindrops were falling on my head, but I didn’t care because I was burning calories and melting fat.

It’s going to take more than a little rain to stop the Energizer Man.  I just keep going and and going and going…

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Free Food Always Helps

humor, comfort food, coping with stress, Monday, Modern PhilosopherI don’t know what day of the week it is where you are, Modern Philosophers, but it is definitely Monday here.

And it wasn’t one of those good Mondays, either.

If those mythical creatures even exist.

It was 20 degrees and gloomy when I left The House on the Hill.  Conditions at work weren’t much better.

I mean, it was definitely warmer since we have heat and all, but there was a definite gloom in the air.

The low morale probably had something to do with the mandatory meeting scheduled for 12:30, during which suspiciously perky members of the HR Staff were going to tell us all about the new, much more expensive health insurance plans for 2018.

Luckily, my pal Original Goat Girl (OGG) got herself pregnant a few months ago, causing her friends and family to throw her a baby shower yesterday.

OGG and Baby Vlad got a ton of nice gifts, but the best part (and I define “best” by how a situation affects me), was that there were leftovers.  Lots and lots of leftovers.

And OGG brought those leftovers to work to feed the starving, gloomy masses yearning to be distracted by comfort food.

Here’s what was left of the spread about twenty minutes after it was put out on the table…

Yes, I’m well ware the photo is extremely blurry.  That’s what happens when I try to focus while also shoveling food into my face hole.

I sent out an email that there was free food.  Two minutes later, there was a line of coworkers snaking through the office, with the leftover spread as the ultimate destination.

I’ve never seen my coworkers move so quickly.

And on a Monday no less.

Free food clearly has magical powers.

It can levitate morale.

Turn frowns upside down.

And even make you forget, perhaps only until the food digests, that your wallet is going to take a big hit in the coming year if you want to have medical coverage.

The food was delicious.

The dictionary definition of “comfort food”.

I spent the afternoon pestering OGG to bring in the leftover cake tomorrow.  Not for me, of course, but for my coworkers.

I just want them to be happy.

humor, comfort food, coping with stress, Monday, Modern PhilosopherAnd to understand, if only for a few minutes, that you can have your cake and eat it, too.

But if eating it leads to the onset of Diabetes, you’d better get your medications before the end of the year.  You know, because those prescription co-pays are going up in 2018.

Hope you all had a decent Monday.  If not, maybe try the free food option next week.  It definitely works!

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First Kisses Are Hell

short story, flash fiction, first kisses, time travel, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“Looks like you’re really making progress on your time machine,” The Devil commented as he returned the blue prints he’d been examining to the living room table.

As always, my Sunday guest was dressed in an impeccably tailored suit, the cost of which was probably equivalent to how much I needed to pay for additional parts to complete the aforementioned time machine.

However, I knew it was highly unlikely he’d ever part with such a precious piece of his wardrobe and allow me to hock it for machinery.

“I’m definitely closer to completion, but I still need Doc’s help with some of the calculations and in securing a power source,” I replied glumly.

Building a time machine required a lot of money, technical knowledge, and scientific skills.  I wasn’t exactly flush in any of those categories, so I’m not sure what had possessed me to ever undertake such a project.

Oh, yeah…it had something to do with my life sucking big time, and wanting to go back to change things in hopes of making it better.

“I know there are so many moments you plan to go back to revisit once the time machine is ready, but I’d now like to propose a philosophical time travel question for your consideration,” Lucifer remarked with a devilish grin on his handsome face.

“I like those kind of questions,” I responded excitedly as I fished a bottle of Snapple out of the cooler.  “Hit me with it, Big D.”

The Prince of Darkness gave me a look, which I took to mean that he didn’t like being referred to as “Big D”.  I made a mental note to use that nickname again later when I wanted to get under his perfect skin.

short story, flash fiction, first kisses, time travel, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“If you could travel back to your first kiss, what, if anything, would you change?” he asked as he stared at me intently.

I cringed a little at his stare.  It was making me uncomfortable, but I was too into answering this time travel question to let it throw me off my game.

I took a long sip of Snapple as I tossed around some Deep Thoughts in my brain.

“I’d change the person with whom I shared my first kiss, and I’d definitely make sure it happened years earlier,” I told him.

Satan smiled.  I definitely had his attention.  “So your first kiss wasn’t absolutely perfect?”

I shrugged.  “I wouldn’t say that.  It just didn’t happen until my senior year of high school, which I know now was a clear sign that I’ve never understood how to act on my feelings, or to be comfortable around members of the opposite sex.”

“Better late than never,” The Devil quipped with a soft chuckle.

It was a very judgmental chuckle.  Seventeen years old for a first kiss was way beyond late bloomer.  I considered myself lucky I even got that smooch before heading off to college.

“So who should have been on the receiving end of that monumental moment in your life?” he asked as he popped the top off a bottle of Snapple.

“Cathy {last name redacted by the blog’s lawyers},” I answered without any hesitation.  “I fell for her on the first day of fifth grade, and even though we were in the same class through eighth grade, I was too afraid to speak to her, let alone ask her out.”

“First love is rough,” Lucifer agreed.  “But even more so when you don’t act on it, or even give yourself any hint of a chance by, I don’t know…starting up a conversation just once over a span of four years.”

He didn’t actually say the words, but The Prince of Darkness had just called me a giant loser.  And I had been one.  Four years of longing for Cathy, and four years wasted because I had no idea how to approach her, or what to even say to her.

For someone who would grow up to be a writer, I clearly had not yet realized that I had the ability to use words to my advantage.

Or how to say something as inconsequential as, “Hi, Cathy”.

What a dork.

short story, flash fiction, first kisses, time travel, The Devil, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe sad thing was, I hadn’t changed much since fourth grade.  I still have a hell of a problem figuring out how to approach members of the fairer sex, and even when I finally, miraculously manage to get one interested in me, I seem hellbent on scaring her off.

“Maybe I’m better off leaving that first kiss alone,” I finally spoke after playing out the various scenarios in my head.  “With my luck, I’d screw up my romantic future, and find myself sitting here a virgin.”

Satan waited a very long time before speaking.  “I was going to disagree with your virginal version of the present day, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that you might be right.”

So from now on, I’m going with the story that it’s a damn good thing I never kissed Cathy back in grammar school.

Maybe I need to rethink this whole time machine thing…

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