Thawing The Brain Stem

humor, stress, money, dating, Modern PhilosopherIt’s cold, Modern Philosophers.

I don’t know why that still surprises me after fifteen years in Maine, but Snow Miser and his icy minions seem to sneak up on my every year.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I went out running in shorts and a tee shirt.

Sure, I still go out running in that same outfit, but now it’s because I’m having a panic attack, stripped down to my boxers and undershirt, and sprinted out screaming into the freezing night to get away from the Stress Demons.

Because Stress Demons are real and scary as @#$%.

They also work for Snow Miser, my eternal nemesis.

My brain tends to frost over this time of year as well.  I have a well established case of Post Traumatic Snow Disorder, and remain under Dr. Jekyll’s care for this issue.

Last year, I wrote a series of posts dedicated to the 182 Days of Terror, which is how I classify the period from October 1 through March 31.  Those 26 weeks are when Snow Miser’s wrath is at its worst, and I spiral into a funk of malaise to pack on the pounds and lose all focus and ambition.

There’s something about Winter in Maine that disrupts the steady flow of my Deep Thoughts.  It’s as if in the meadow where my brain once functioned normally, the local children have gathered to build a thought snuffing snowman.

It’s no wonder I’m a mess over those 182 days.  My brain has been replaced by a snowman known as Parson Brown.

I’d like things to be different this year.  I’ve spent the last seven months losing over sixty pounds, and I refuse to let all that hard work go to waste.  Plus, it just wouldn’t be fair to the ladies.  Winter is hard enough as it is.

So the part of my brain that freezes over and forgets how to exercise and eat healthy is going to have to remain thawed out this time around.

I’ve also got the RAV4 to transport me this winter when I’m dashing through the snow, so the part of my brain that causes me to freak out every time I get behind the wheel should be able to take a long Winter Break.

If I can keep those two key elements of the Winter of My Discontent under control, Dr Jekyll might not need to keep me so heavily sedated until April Fools’ Day to combat my Post Traumatic Snow Disorder.

Which is a good thing because one of the items I’ve been stressing over is the increase in my healthcare premium, and the corresponding decrease of benefits.

I honestly don’t know if I will be able to afford my weekly visits to Dr J, or the cost of my multitude of PTSD medications.

humor, stress, money, dating, Modern PhilosopherI ran eight miles in the bitter cold this morning to make sure I stayed on target with my fitness plan, and to give my brain eight miles to obsess over my finances.

I came to the witty realization that if I had a dollar for every calorie I’d burned on my run, I’d be financially stable and fit as a fiddle.

How can I get someone to pay me for burning calories?  It would solve all my usual Winter problems and give me some extra time to flip off Snow Miser.

I’m going to have the interns research this.

It’s weird, but when I started this post a few hours ago, I pictured it taking an entirely different direction.

I guess my brain thawing plan is working because this turned out much more positive than expected.  You’re welcome, dear readers.  Hope you enjoyed the great thaw!

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The Windblown Ice Balls of Bitter Change

Maine, bitterly cold, winter, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe subtitle for this post, Modern Philosophers, is:

Holy $%^&, It’s Cold!

Maine doesn’t really mess around much with Autumn.  Summer slowly dies off, the leaves change color, and the air gets chilly enough to force you to wear a hoodie when you’re outside tossing around the football.

Then the temperature plummets, the winds howl, and the first blizzard of the year carpet bombs the state with little or no warning.

Last week was something like Fall.

This morning, however, the first snow of the season reminded us that the only time Mainers really use the term “Fall” in November is when it follows “Snow”.

When I woke up, it was 40 degrees and there was no precipitation.  By the time I got into the shower, rain was pounding against the bathroom window like it was desperate to get inside The House on the Hill.

Fifteen minutes later, I found out why the rain was acting that way.

It was snowing.

In about half an hour, the weather had changed that drastically.

Luckily, I was prepared to take on the snow with my new RAV4.  After a decade and a half of trying to drive through snowy winters in Zombie Car, I finally had a vehicle designed to deal with this kind of weather.

Maine, bitterly cold, winter, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe drive to work was a delight.  The snow wasn’t sticking, but I felt safe and confident with my four wheel drive.  Zombie Car didn’t have a working defroster on the rear window, but the RAV4 has that feature plus a back wiper.

I had the heat blasting and the wipers going on both ends of the car.  And the heat was definitely needed.

The wind was gusting over 40 mph and the temperature dropped into the mid-twenties.

With the windchill, it felt like the low teens.  I’m pretty sure my face froze on my afternoon walk.

Now I get why they refer to it as “bitterly cold”…

The weather made me feel bitter about living in Maine.  Not only was it ridiculously cold, but the high winds also made things stressful.

We’re less than two weeks removed from the Great Halloween Blackout, which was caused by high winds and torrential rain, so we were all worried about losing power again and having to get through the frigid night without any heat.

Thankfully, as of this writing, the power is fine, nothing has blown off or fallen onto The House on the Hill, and Cali and I are curled up on the couch with the heat basting.

As for the ice balls mentioned in the title of the post…

Well, Modern Philosophers, those were in my shorts the last two mornings during my runs.  Wednesday, it was 29 degrees when I left the house.  Yesterday, it was 21.

Maine, bitterly cold, winter, humor, Modern PhilosopherPraise Zeus that Friday is my rest day because I would’ve been battling arctic blasts and snow had I run before work.

As you can see from the photographic evidence gathered after yesterday’s run, I was not at all impressed with the weather.

Can you see how the cars parked on the street are covered in frost?

I was dealing with the same conditions down under, and I’m not talking about Australia.

All I can say is that I definitely run faster when it’s this cold.  It has nothing to do with better conditioning and having seven months of running under my belt.

The increase of speed is simply a matter of survival.

As I sit here with my purring kitty while the winter wind relentlessly rattles the windows of The House on the Hill, I can’t help but appreciate how soothing it is to know there’s no reason for me to get up off this cozy couch, that there’s a ton of great shows on the DVR waiting to be watched, and a whoopie pie in the kitchen with my name on it.

I survived the first bitterly cold snowfall of the season, and now it’s time to let the ice balls thaw and do absolutely nothing strenuous to celebrate.

It’s a long winter, after all, and I really need to pace myself before I shatter something valuable…

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The Dark Road Home

money problems, Monday, turn back the clocks, humor, venting, Modern PhilosopherMonday will never make My Top Five Days of the Week list, Modern Philosophers, but today was even Monday-er than usual.

When I left the office at the end of an exhausting ten hour work day, it was pitch black.  I’d forgotten about the time change yesterday, and the utter darkness caught me completely off guard.

Alas, it was a fitting end to the day.  Less than a week after finally regaining power, I was back in the dark again.

Both literally and figuratively.

We found out today that the cost of our medical coverage for 2018 was going to skyrocket, while the benefits were going to decrease.

This at a time when we’re all putting in mandatory overtime to try to catch up on all the work we fell behind on during the blackout.

It felt like something of a “kick ’em while they’re down situation”, which was only made worse by the realization that some of us might not be able to afford to pay for the medical treatment necessary after getting roughed up like that.

I try not to grumble too much about money during our adventures together in Blogland, but you all know I recently had to get a new car.

Zombie Car, I sure do miss your zero monthly payments right about now!

So I’ve been scrambling to figure out how to pay for that new vehicle, and working the maximum amount of overtime allowed along the way.

money problems, Monday, turn back the clocks, humor, venting, Modern PhilosopherEven with that, I’m barely keeping my head above water.  Now if you fill the tank with the additional cost of my medical insurance, there’s a good chance I’m going to drown.

After all, I’m a horrible swimmer.

You know I’m stressed about finances when I tell a friend that I miss my ex-wife because having that second income and someone to help me make the big decisions such as “Should I just decline the insurance and pray I stay healthy for a year?” was a big help.

I never go to the doctor, and I’m in much better shape now than I was six months ago, so it is tempting to go without the coverage.  I’m going to do some research on what the tax penalty is for not having insurance.

I do have some money tucked away in my Health Savings Account, so I would be able to cover minor emergencies should they arise.

The long, dark tea time of my soul (a little nod to the amazing Mr. Adams!) was not at all improved when I stepped out into the rain and realized it was now middle of the night kind of dark at five o’clock.

Of course, since I’m big on finding the silver lining lately (that quest might be the only thing keeping me pseudo-sane these days), I will say it was nice to be able to climb into the RAV4 for the dark, rainy drive home.

Yes, the same vehicle that has me deeply in debt was salvaging the day.

This post is apparently sponsored by Irony.

money problems, Monday, turn back the clocks, humor, venting, Modern PhilosopherI do feel much safer behind the wheel of my debtmobile, so the evening commute was stress free, but rich on brooding.

If only everything was free, and I were rich.

Ah, the wordplay.

Someone recently suggested that I use the blog to make me happy, so tonight’s post was all about venting and exorcising the bad vibes from my overcrowded mind.

Thanks for reading and making me feel like someone is out there listening to what almost made my head explode.

Not that anyone would’ve seen it happen.  You know, because it was so damn dark…

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Fall Back…Into Hell

daylight savings, turn back the clocks, short story, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“I heard you forgot to turn back the clocks,” The Devil chuckled as he made a big play of checking out the expensive timepiece on his right wrist.

As always, my Sunday guest wore an impeccably tailored suit, which I was certain cost more than my take home pay for the month.

“Luckily, my FitBit and smartphone had my back and adjusted themselves.  For once, I was a fan of technology taking control,” I quipped.

“Before long, The Machines will run everything,” Lucifer announced quite ominously to mess with my head.

I ignored his evil intentions, and instead, reached for a Snapple out of the cooler.

“Once I got out of bed, I realized there were only two clocks in the house that needed adjusting,” I explained.  “The alarm clock on my nightstand, which I never use anymore because my phone has an alarm, and the one on the microwave.”

“Remember when there used to be clocks in every room of a house?” The Prince of Darkness asked with a heavy sigh of reminiscence.  “The times, they are a changing.”

“You’re not going to start singing or continue to make horrible time puns, are you?” I demanded like someone not in the mood for such nonsense.

“Of course not,” Satan answered with a devilish grin that made me doubt the sincerity of his reply.  “It’s clear that this Daylight Savings debacle has you in quite a mood.”

daylight savings, turn back the clocks, short story, The Devil, humor, Modern PhilosopherI didn’t want to linger on this topic, but he had struck a nerve and I now felt compelled to prattle on like a lunatic until getting out all the words made me feel better.

“I hate messing with time,” I stated quite emphatically for the record.  “Unless, of course, we’re talking about time travel.”

“That’s a given,” The Devil agreed as he grabbed a Snapple for himself.

“Winter is already a miserable and difficult time,” I said as I channeled my inner Captain Obvious.  “So why pile on by making it pitch black at four o’clock?  There’s nothing more fun than driving home from work on snowy, icy roads in absolute darkness.”

“It’s an archaic practice that dates back to a time when Americans needed more daylight to harvest the crops,” Lucifer proved that he had once paid attention in History class.  “The Republicans can’t repeal Obamacare, so don’t hold your breath expecting them to get rid of Daylight Savings Time.”

I laughed.  There was always time to poke fun at President Trump and the Republican Party, even when we were messing with the clocks.

“If I’m looking for the silver lining in all this, I could say at least I had power today to make turning back the clock on the microwave possible,” I offered with a smile.

daylight savings, turn back the clocks, short story, The Devil, humor, Modern Philosopher“I almost forgot about the Great Blackout of 2017,” The Prince of Darkness purred.  “Was it the worst Halloween ever?”

“It was a dark time.  A lonely time,” I told him.  “Silver lining, though, it left me five bags of candy to eat myself.”

“And now you have an extra hour today to eat what still remains,” Satan reminded me.

He made an excellent point.  Turning back the clocks was kind of tolerable as long as I could stuff my face with leftover blackout Halloween candy…

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Adventures in Dating: The Street Pie Incident

dating, relationships, getting to know someone, awkward dating stories, humor, Modern Philosopher I thought I’d change it up a little, Modern Philosophers, and replace my usual dating advice with a post about a dating adventure.

This is about The Reluctant Redhead.  Just to clarify, she isn’t reluctant about having red hair.  Her reluctance is directly related to her willingness to put her heart out there to be crushed again by a horrible dating experience.

Gee, doesn’t that sound like someone else we know?

A little background first.  The Reluctant Redhead and I started talking about this time last year via a dating site.

At one point, she surprised me by leaving a small care package on the front porch of The House on the Hill.  I have to admit that freaked me out a little since I’d never given her my address.  We lived in the same town, so she was able to figure out where I lived from the photos I’d posted online.

She thought it was sweet and adorable.  It just reminded me that online dating could lead to strangers showing up on my porch unannounced.

The Cynical New Yorker in me scared the Hopeless Romantic into submission.

I pulled away after that.  She met someone else and started seeing him.

A couple of months ago, I realized we had a mutual friend, so I messaged her to say hi and see how she was doing.  We’ve been chatting ever since, but still haven’t met.

Have I mentioned she’s a bit reluctant to put herself out there to be hurt again?

I’ve got my own walls up about dating, so I’ve been trying to come up with creative, low pressure situations for us to meet for the first time.

dating, relationships, getting to know someone, awkward dating stories, humor, Modern PhilosopherShe was going to come over on Halloween to help me pass out candy.  Simple, cute, no pressure, right?  Well, then we had The Great Halloween Blackout and trick or treating was canceled.

A few weeks ago, though, I thought I’d come up with a great idea for that first meeting.

The Reluctant Redhead was baking an apple pie, so I mentioned how much I loved that particular dessert.  Much to my delight, she said she would bake one for me, too.

What better way to meet, right?  She comes to The House on the Hill (invited this time!) bearing delicious gifts.  She’s going to make a great impression by feeding me, and how could such a situation go awry and lead to either of us getting hurt?

I went to work assuming she would come over that night, and we could enjoy some yummy pie and share some witty banter.  The mere idea of that got me through the work day.

Until about 4:30 when The Reluctant Redhead texted that she couldn’t remember which house was mine, so she left the apple pie out on the street next to a telephone pole.

The text puzzled me.

It had to be a joke, right?  Who leaves a perfectly good apple pie out on the street?

dating, relationships, getting to know someone, awkward dating stories, humor, Modern PhilosopherAnd why not just text to ask me for the address?  Better yet, why was she delivering the pie when I wasn’t home?  Wasn’t the point of all this for us to meet, and for her to get to make an awesome impression by hand delivering scrumptious baked goods?

Look at that pie.  Who would just leave it out on the street to fend for itself?  Who would abandon an all-American treat?

Most importantly, of course: Why in the world would I want to date such a monster?

The Reluctant Redhead offered some excuse about having to get home to babysit, but that didn’t explain why she didn’t ask me for my address so she could leave her precious cargo safely on my porch.

Plus, hadn’t she found The House on the Hill without any help a year ago?

I rushed home, desperate to find my pie before it was snatched up by a random passerby with a keen sense of smell, or got peed on by one of the neighborhood’s many cats.

I tried to picture where she’d left it, and as I drove down my block, I saw the package.

She hadn’t even left it on the right side of the street, as you can see from this handy photo I took today…

dating, relationships, getting to know someone, awkward dating stories, humor, Modern PhilosopherThe whole situation was rather curious.  I assume The Reluctant Redhead got a little rattled about meeting me, so she left an offering to the Telephone Pole God, who is the patron saint of nervous daters.

For the record, the apple pie was absolutely delicious.

Obviously, I had one of the interns eat a piece first to make sure it hadn’t been tainted in anyway during the half hour it was a street pie.

When the intern didn’t die after twenty-fours hours, I had one more intern try it.  When she didn’t die, I finally had a slice.

I’m beginning to think that The Reluctant Redhead is either a Witch (the red hair is a bit of a giveaway), or she recruited one of Maine’s many Witches when she baked this pie.

I say this because The Street Pie Incident is the sort of thing that usually scares me off from a potential date.  You need look no further than The Showing Up Unannounced Incident for proof that I will back away if something out of the ordinary happens.

dating, relationships, getting to know someone, awkward dating stories, humor, Modern PhilosopherI think some sort of Love Potion was added to the pie that became a street pie before it was rescued and given a proper home.

Because even though The Reluctant Redhead has acted strangely, ever since I ate that pie, I’ve been very eager to meet her.

It’s a curious world we live in, and when you add redheads to the mix, it just gets weirder.

I will keep you posted as to whether The Reluctant Redhead every makes an appearance.  For now, though, I will continue to check under that telephone pole every night just in case she decides to leave me another treat with a little magic added to better the odds of our having a successful dating adventure…

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What’s Next?

blogging, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherPer a notice from WordPress, yesterday was this blog’s fifth birthday, Modern Philosophers.

And all I can think is…

What’s next?

The blog was supposed to be a temporary distraction.  Rachel, aka The Girl Who Went Away, insisted I start it to keep me busy and out of trouble when she went away to chase her dream.

In my mind, I figured I’d dabble with the blog for a few months, she’d come home on Christmas break and realize she missed me so much, and we’d figure out a plan to be together.

At the most, I’d blog while she was off at school and then stop when she returned to occupy all my time again.

As we know five years later, Rachel never came back for me.

Because of the recent power outages in Maine, I’ve been working in my company’s Admin Building for the past couple of days.  There is a giant framed photo of Rachel in the main hallway, that the company used in an advertising campaign.

I must have walked past it two dozen times this week.  Just a painful reminder that the future I had planned did not materialize.

Since I missed Rachel so much, the blog became almost an obsession.  For the first few years, I wrote a new post every day.  Sometimes, there were even multiple daily posts.

blogging, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherOver the past few years, I’ve lost the drive to keep up such a demanding schedule.

I had no idea what to even write at first.  Then it all slowly came into focus.  The House on the Hill had its own mythology, and was visited by crazy characters, who I could blog about whenever the mood hit me.

I learned how to make social commentary by using the blog’s characters, and suddenly, the challenge was how to parody real life via this unique and ridiculous world I’d created.

When I realized Rachel was not coming back for me, my plans for the blog changed.  No longer was it a distraction, but a way to meet new people.

I’ve made many wonderful friends and met some very interesting people via the blog, and even fell in love with one of them.  We planned to get married and start a family.  With an eye on the future, I got to work on a novel based on the blog’s mythology.  If this silly collection of stories and Deep Thoughts could help me meet my future wife, then it was a sign that this blog held the key to my future.

When Melissa, aka The Sweet Irish Girl, visited for the first time, I asked her to read what I’d written of the novel.  She really liked it and urged me to finish it.

Then she decided to stay on her side of the ocean, and the novel was forgotten.

And so I changed my vision for the blog again.  Now I would use it as a way to showcase my writing skills and land a publishing deal or a writing gig.

blogging, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherI ditched the mythology and crazy characters for political parody, short stories, and inspirational posts about my running and weight loss adventures.

I wanted to show that I could be topical, funny, and motivational.  That my writing had a wide reach and a large audience.

I still loved blogging because it gave me an outlet.  After working all day, I needed to come home to the blog and prove to myself I was still a writer.  Since I didn’t have a time machine to travel to the future, I wanted to write in the present as often as possible to ensure I was a writer in the future.

But no one has offered me a publishing deal or a writing gig.  While the blog still has a very solid and loyal fan base, it’s not growing the way it did back in the early years.

I’m still motivated to get to one million hits, but the passion is no longer there.  It doesn’t seem like blogging is “the thing” anymore, and I wonder if I’m using the wrong platform to introduce my writing to the world.

So that’s why I keep wondering…

What’s next?

blogging, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherHas five years been enough for The Return of the Modern Philosopher?  It’s had a great run, so should I pull the plug before it all goes downhill?

What do you think, Modern Philosophers?

Is this blog the best way for me to showcase my writing?  Is it even a good way to do so?  Is anyone reading this blog that could offer me a dream job?

In the five years I’ve written this blog, so many of my posts have gone viral on social media, and I was certain that would get my words to the right people.

Am I foolish to think that’s even a possibility at this point?  Should I finish the novel, self-publish it, and use the blog to market it?

Should I add videos to the blog and turn it into something more like a podcast?  Should I start sharing pages from my screenplays to see if that attracts any interest from producers or directors?

I’m honestly asking for input here, guys.  Five years is a lot to invest in something that was only meant to be a distraction while my broken heart healed.

blogging, writing, humor, Modern PhilosopherBefore I wrap up this post, I want to say THANK YOU (in capital letters!!!) for all your support over the past five years.  When Rachel made me start this, I had no idea if anyone would ever read what I posted.

Almost one million hits later, I am eternally grateful that you liked my silly stories.

And if one of you wants to make me forget about Rachel and Melissa, fall in love with me and get married, you’d better speak up soon…

Posted in Humor, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments