The smell of shoe polish

by Lorin Michel Sunday, November 10, 2013 9:09 PM

We were watching the House of Cards last night, on Netflix. Now that we have our smart TV we can stream direct, and it’s great, as is the series. Just a brutal representation of politics. Kevin Spacey’s character, Francis (“Frank”) Underwood, is the majority whip in the House of Representatives and he is ruthless in his pursuit of winning, matched only by his ice-cold wife, played by Robin Wright, who runs a big non-profit organization. Last night, we were deep into episode 7, the maneuvering and posturing and deception of it all, and Frank decided he needed to spend some time away from everything that was happening. In the next scene, he was in his basement in his nice pants and a white t-shirt and stocking feet, a wooden box at his side, his undoubtedly expensive shoes lined up in front of him, one shoe on his left hand. He was polishing them one by one. It made me remember my dad.

For all of my formative years, my dad worked for a company called Liggett & Myers. He started as a salesman when I was little, and then, over the course of the next 30 years, proceeded to work his way into management. It was the reason we moved so often when I was still in grade school and high school. He would get promoted and consequently transferred to another district, always on the east coast. His position required him to wear a suit and thus dress shoes. Like Frank he too had a box filled with small flat tin cans of Kiwi polish, in black and brown since those were the only colors of shoes he wore. Mostly wing tips.

Sometime over the weekend, since he traveled throughout the week and was often gone from Monday to Thursday, he would sit down with his shoes and his shoe polish box. He would spread newspaper on the floor, select his tin, open it up and taking a rag, probably made of an old t-shirt, proceed to dip the rag into the polish, and holding one shoe at a time, rub the thick goo onto first the toe of the shoe, then the sides, and finally the back. Setting aside the one he’d just applied polish to he’d take up its mate and do the same thing. The polish would sit on each shoe for a predetermined amount of time. I suspect it had to do with how long it took him to apply polish to however many pairs he was polishing. With another clean, soft rag, he’d buff away the excess and then use a brush, leaving each shoe with a high shine. Or maybe it was the brush first.

I wonder if polishing shoes was something all men knew instinctively how to do once upon a time, like shaving, or if they were taught by their fathers. My dad’s father died when he was 11. I don’t know if my brother ever has cause to polish shoes or if my dad showed him how.

I remember the smell of the polish. I can smell it now and watching Frank Underwood polish his shoes last night in a fictional television show, I could see my dad.

I’ve been missing my dad lately. His birthday would have been this past Thursday, November 7. He would have been 75 if my calculations are correct. He died 11 plus years ago, in May of 2002 quite suddenly. I’ve written before of how I can still hear his voice, both when I think of him and when I speak with my brother, who sounds remarkably like our father.

When Kevin and I went out on Thursday night, my dad was on my mind. When I think of him now, many years later, it’s still with sadness. I wish he was here for so many reasons, one of which is just so he could be a part of what Kevin and I are doing in Tucson. I think he’d truly enjoy the process. And he’d be very proud. No matter how old you get, there’s still something satisfying about doing something that makes your parents proud.

I suspect my brother feels the same, wishing dad could see the success he’s made of his life lately. I’m sure my sister wishes he could be a part of her kids’ lives, to be proud of the parent she has become.

It’s funny how seeing something like a TV character polishing his shoes can make you remember something from long ago. How it can make me remember my dad polishing his shoes.

I’m missing the smell of shoe polish today, and also remembering a simpler time when living it out loud was so much less complicated. 

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live out loud

Chilling out

by Lorin Michel Thursday, October 31, 2013 12:16 AM

This morning I woke up with a headache. I think it came from the window being open all night and the cold air stuffing up my nose and my head. Kevin was already up and Cooper had taken up residence on his side of the bed. I listened to the sound of the city, the cars rushing by out on Campbell, swooshing air, invisibly filling the room. The wind had already come up, the palm tree fronds were rustling. I could see the pink of the flowers just outside the window. Cooper stretched. I shivered. I reached for my phone, always next to the bed, and hit the weather button. 52º. I shivered again because I’m always cold. When it’s 72º, much like Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally, I’m still cold.

The entire day stayed cool, never getting above 65º which I realize for folks on the East, is not cool and is in fact just the opposite. But 65º and breezy is cool here in the West. I actually had a sweatshirt on today over my shorts.

The whole week is supposed to be like this. Cold nights and cool days. The sun stays warm but never warm enough to heat up the day. I love this time of year. This is what fall is like here and while fall is over in the East, all the leaves having fallen to the ground where they were raked up and burned, fall in the desert consists of simply lower temperatures, brighter mornings and earlier evenings that are exceptionally dark.

I chilled out all day in my sweatshirt. I worked but it was a quiet day. Few phone calls, few emails. Lots to do but when it’s quiet it’s easy to push everything aside and concentrate on more fun things, like thinking about the holidays and gifts to buy. We’ll have a houseful for Thanksgiving this year and we are excited. Justin will be home, Roy and Bobbi are coming, as are Diane and Gene. Perhaps Justin will scare up a friend.

Bobbi and I talked today about reviving our Christmas card franchise. Years ago, in the early 1990s, Roy, Bobbi and I would do hand-made Christmas cards for all of our friends, family and co-workers. We would come up with a concept. I would write a story or a poem, Roy would illustrate it, Bobbi would design it and we would have it printed. We’d spend hours over several weekends assembling cards and preparing them to send. Each year people looked forward to those cards; many still have what we did long ago. There was a children’s book about a tree and a star; a carousel poem that took the form of a scroll. There were many cut-out mobiles that people would hang and leave up year round. We haven’t done one since the late 90s. But we’re thinking of doing one this year. We’re going to brainstorm this weekend to come up with a concept. I’ll write, Roy will illustrate, Bobbi will design and Kevin will program it online.

As the weather turns, these are the things that travel through my mind. Creative thoughts and ideas for gifts and cards. What to cook this year for Thanksgiving; what we’ll do for Christmas. When it will be cold enough to wear jeans all day and big fuzzy socks at night in front of the fire sipping wine, watching old movies on TMC. I need nothing more than the change of seasons to settle my soul.

During the Tang Dynasty, a poet by the name of Han Shan, which translates to Cold Mountain, wrote: “Swiftly the springs and autumns pass, but my mind is at peace, free from dust or delusion. How pleasant, to know I need nothing to lean on, to be still as the waters of the autumn river!”

It’s falling toward winter, even here in the West where it will dip down to the low 40s tonight, and I’m celebrating the idea of chilling out.

In which Justin gets a job interview

by Lorin Michel Sunday, October 27, 2013 11:59 PM

Justin graduates in December, after four and a half years of college. He started in the fall of 2009 at the University of Arizona in Tucson, in the College of Theater Arts, studying technical production. He quickly became enamored with lighting design and electrics and because the program at U of A isn’t as strong in that area as he would have liked, he transferred after two and a half years. Because he’s getting a BFA, his new school, State University New York at Fredonia required that he be at the school for at least two years. The end of December completes that obligation, though obligation seems much too harsh a word. He has been so happy in New York. The program has been everything he wanted. He was able to concentrate heavily on the electrics side of lighting and because the school is much smaller than the U of A, he has also been able to do more hands-on work.

For the past three summers, he has worked at a theater on Long Island, near the Hamptons. The first year he was an intern, earning $100 a week. The second year, he was a second year intern, earning $150 a week. Then they asked him to come back during their winter season, which runs over Christmas and New Year’s, and they hired him as an assistant master electrician (AME). This past summer he was also an AME, earning about $350 a week. He loved it; he may go back this winter season if they need him.

In the mean time, though, he’s been hard at work looking for work starting in January. As soon as he went back to school this semester, traveling across the state from the tip of Long Island to upper Western New York, near Buffalo and Niagra Falls, he has been ready to be done. It’s what I remember about my last semester of college as well. From the time I went to my first class in that January, I was already done. Trying to stay focused on classes and studies and papers and exams when the mind has already departed is difficult. He’s been having much the same issue. He’s doing well – all As and Bs according to the mid-term grades – but he’s done. His heart isn’t in it.

About a month ago he started focusing on his job hunt for after school. He drafted a cover letter that could be modified depending on the job and created a spread sheet to track jobs he’s applied to, when and status, including follow-up. He scoped out job boards for his industry and he’s sending out nearly one query a day. I get emails with a simple request: “Hi, mom. Can you look at the attached cover letter? I’m applying for a job at a cruise line and wanted to know what you think and if you see anything I should change. Thanks. Love you!”

I love those emails.

Yesterday I got a text that one of the places he had applied to, out on the North Shore of Long Island, at another school, wants to interview him. This week. For a real job.

Our little boy, the one with the glasses that were often too big for his face, with his fine auburn hair and his skinny little legs, has blossomed into a strapping young man with glasses that fit his bearded face perfectly, his fine auburn hair now a curly brown over his pierced ears, and his skinny legs no longer skinny. He’s a man. And he is ready to start his career.

Hopefully my next post on Justin will be titled “in which Justin gets a job.” Stay tuned. In the mean time, today I’m celebrating the tenacity and proactive approach of my kid. I’m very proud.

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live out loud

I am 1 plus 6

by Lorin Michel Sunday, October 27, 2013 12:10 AM

Guest post by Cooper

I have a black spot on my tail. No body knows where it came from but when I first went to see Dr. Y – she's my vet. I like her but not really cause she does stuff to me that I don't think people should do to dogs. Just sayin' – she said it was a gland. I don't know what that means, a gland. Somebody else and I don't remember who and maybe it was my teacher Danielle – I really, really don't like her so one day I bit her. She hasn't been back ­– said that she thought maybe I had some chow or something in me. I would like to have chow. Chow is like breakfast right? Anyway, I have a black spot on my tail; also on my tongue. Otherwise I'm mostly gold and red and white. My mom says I’m handsome.

I'm 1 today. That means I’ve been here with my forever parents, mom and dad, for a year. Mom likes to say furever. I think that's kind of dum and besides that's not how you spell it. I had a lot of parents before mom and dad. I had a lot of houses. I guess I never really had a home. Didn't really know what that was. I do now. I like it.

I'm actually not really 1 though mom does sometimes tell me I'm her puppy. Dad usually says I'm a nutbag. I like nuts. I was kind of fully-grown when mom found me. I had been five the last time I went to the vet before Dr. Y, but there was something about the date that mom and dad said made me closer to six. Dr. Y actually looked at me the first time, and especially some of the stuff under my fur and my teeth, and said "gosh, Cooper! How old are you?" like I actually knew and like I was going to tell her. I didn't know her enough to tell her something like that.

One year ago, mom and dad picked me up and brought me home. I didn't know what to think. They seemed nice enough. They gave me a nice blanket and new toys and these really kewl bowls that were up off the floor so it's really easy to eat and get a drink.  I still have those bowls though most of the toys got eaten. I have new ones. There's always water in my bowl. I like that, too.

Yesterday mom said that tomorrow - that's today I think though I'm not real good with time unless it's time for a walk - would be my birthday. Dad said that no, it's really my anniversary since they don't know when I was actually born though I'm pretty sure I was. Dad says sometimes he thinks I was hatched. BOL! Hatched!

Maybe that's why I like chicken so much.

Me, on my birthday, with three of my guys

I am 1 plus 6 today. I hope I get something really special to celebrate. I think I heard mom say she got me my very own piece of chicken. That would be the best anniversary-not-birthday present ever.

I have a black spot on my tail and white toe socks on my back feet. Dad says I'm a mystery boy wrapped in an illusion. I don't know what that is but I like a good mystery. That's what mom says, that she likes to figure stuff out and since I'm a momma's boy, I'll bark it too.


I like it here. I think I'll stay.

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Is that wasabi on your peas or are you just happy to see me?

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:50 AM

I am a big fan of hot and spicy. I put Frank’s Red Hot on eggs and in certain soups like cream of potato. I like horseradish in my bloody mary’s and in cocktail sauce. The more it singes my sinuses and raises the roots of my hair, the more it makes my eyes water and me cry out for my momma, the better. I like wasabi, Japanese horseradish, for the same reason though I use that more sparingly, and usually only when eating sushi or serving ahi tuna with soy sauce. Lately, though, the wizards who create snacks have decided that there are enough like me in the world to justify making certain spicy delectables, and so they have been diligently creating wasabi-coated pretzels. Now Trader Joe’s is offering wasabi almonds and my personal favorite, wasabi peas.

I must confess to actually liking peas in general though I rarely get them because my husband is not a fan. When I was young, we always had peas with mashed potatoes. Certainly it was a Thanksgiving staple, but we also had them together several times during the year. Somewhere along the way, I learned to mix them, which made them both taste so much better. I have no idea why. Sometimes I would drop a bit of Italian dressing on them and stir them up. They looked horrible but they tasted fabulous.

Roy came to Fritini one night armed with a bag of wasabi peas from Trader Joe’s. We had tasted them before somewhere; I can’t remember where. But he was excited to find them; we were excited to eat them. He poured them into a bowl and we sat around eating wasabi peas, drinking martinis and enjoying both immensely.

Trader Joe’s wasabi peas list as their ingredients green peas, corn starch, whole flour, rice flour, sugar, palm oil, sea salt and wasabi. It’s the last ingredient that gives them their kick. I suspect the flours and the corn starch are mixed with the wasabi in order to make the lush white-green coating that clears one’s sinuses with each crunch.

Interestingly most wasabi is not truly Japanese horseradish but rather hot mustard dressed up to look Japanese. The green paste we all know and some of us love that comes with our sushi and is mixed with soy sauce is probably extra hot Western horseradish mixed with soy sauce, hot Chinese mustard and a little green food coloring for show. The reason for this is that real wasabi is very hard to find and even more expensive to buy when it’s found.

Real wasabi is called wasabia japonica and is a close relative to watercress. I’m not sure how much time they spend in each other’s garden but they share a plant-line. Wasabia japonica is a root that is grated or sliced and used for cooking. It’s hard to find because it’s hard to grow and it’s expensive to buy because it’s expensive to grow. Real wasabia japonica takes about 18 months to reach a height of 14 inches, requiring a near constant stream of cool not cold water, shade but not too much and a temperate but not too temperate climate. It’s grown most successfully in Japan and New Zealand. It’s a scaly little root that requires trimming and grating. It’s then gathered into a ball to sit amongst itself and develop some real heat.

I doubt I’ve ever had real wasabi, based on this description. Upon further reading of the Trader Joe’s ingredient list, after wasabi they have in parentheses mustard powder. It’s probably why the wasabi peas from Trader Joe-san are only $3.79 a bag. They still make my hair stand on end, my eyes water. And real wasabi or not, that makes me and my sinuses very happy.

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Weekend in the rear view mirror

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, October 22, 2013 12:34 AM

When I drive, I use my mirrors constantly. My eyes glance from the rear view mirror to each of the side views, watching the traffic, seeing what’s behind me, what’s beside me. I even have the small fish-eye mirrors attached to each side view so that I can also see the entire side of the car when I need to make a lane change. These mirrors virtually eliminate any blind spot and anyone who drives an SUV knows that there are blind spots nearly as big as the car itself.

It’s interesting to see what’s behind. When I’m driving it’s mostly cars and trucks and motorcycles, if I’m on the freeway. If I’m on a side street, it is still cars and bikes but also pedestrians. On a canyon, it’s the road and the scenery drifting away, replaced by the most recent. I like the idea of seeing things that have already been from another angle. There’s something oddly comforting about it, if for no other reason than because it provides perspective. This thought occurred to me today as I thought about the weekend past.

Monday, as usual, dawned much too quickly and too early. This is nothing new as it happens every week. I suspect you, dear reader, feel much the same especially if you work a traditional Monday thru Friday type job. I actually work a nearly Monday thru Sunday job, with Saturdays sometimes off for playful behavior. Such was the case this weekend.

We actually took most of Friday afternoon as well, when we went out looking at house stuff. We are fairly obsessed with house stuff these days, especially given the current budget number we have in front of us for what said house stuff might cost. Correction: we’re obsessed with finding cheaper house stuff so that we might actually be able to afford to do what we hope to do.

We looked at doors and more tile. We went to the bank. Eventually we came home and made dinner and discussed our findings. On Saturday, we took some play time and went to a classic car show. Kevin and I are car people and we love to go to shows where they have everything on display from horseless carriages to new Porsches. This one had it all.

I like old European sports cars like Porsche 356s and Speedsters, MGs and Austin Healys. I also love the big, fat American cars of the 40s, and the big angular cars with their pointed fins of the 50s. But it’s the huge Cadillacs and Packards and Fords and Chevys with their pillow like white walls and their cavernous and plush interiors that intrigue me. They screamed decadence and ego. And while I’m not much for either, I do love those old cars.

We went to Lowes on Saturday afternoon, after the show, and I think it is now my favorite store on the planet. I realize that it’s all home improvement, and I further realize that when we walked in the front door, the first two rows up front were crammed full of all things Christmas. A little too early in my opinion, the near end of October notwithstanding. But Lowes has appliances and cabinets, tile and fixtures, faucets and lights. Home Depot has the same but there’s something about Home Depot that always seems scrambled to me, messy. But I love me some Lowes. It’s more ordered.

Saturday night we went to our first college football game since we were both in college. It was different than a pro game but still fun.

Sunday was consumed with a bicycle ride, and a nice homemade breakfast and some football and some work. It was a good weekend.

As seen in the rearview mirror it was a great two days, full of information and sunshine and fun. It’s receding now, already, getting further way, being replaced by Monday morning coffee and Monday afternoon phone conferences, soon to be a Monday evening dog walk, and dinner and some mindless television. It’s a regular Monday, a regular day, after a lovely weekend, and as it fades into the scenery I remember it fondly and celebrate it gladly, even as I drive forward into the unknown.

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I hear the sound of my husband’s motorcycle approaching

by Lorin Michel Friday, October 11, 2013 10:53 PM

Kevin and I are motorcycle people. We love them. He had bikes in the past, before I came into the picture. I always wanted one. I had friends in college who had bikes, sport bikes – or crotch rockets as they’re affectionately known – and street bikes. Cruisers weren’t really all that popular until the last 15 years or so. Two of my guy friends in college, Kevin (no relation) and Mac, had the same street bike. It was a Kawasaki 450, if memory serves. One of them was black, the other blue.

I tried to have a motorcycle when I was married the first time, but husband number one was more interested in fast cars and particularly in Porsches. I was OK with that as I’m also a car person. I love old cars, new cars, sports cars and classic cars. I love our current 1987 Porsche turbo. It’s my second Porsche. My first was during HNO (husband number one) and I had to sell it when we got divorced because I couldn’t afford the maintenance. I wish that I had the foresight to keep it. I babied that car; it would still be a great car. The turbo was not babied until we got it. We think of it like a rescue.

A number of years ago, when Maguire was still young and Blockbuster Video was still in business, he and I went for a Sunday morning Rover ride to return whatever we had rented. On the way home, stopped at a light on Agoura Road, two cruisers pulled up alongside of us, each being driven by a guy; each with a chick on the back. They looked comfortable and cool. They looked relaxed. They looked like they were having fun. When I got home I told Kevin that I thought we should get a motorcycle. We had one the following weekend, a beautiful silver Suzuki 850 Intruder. But it was too small, so within the year we upgraded to a Suzuki 1500 Intruder, but we never really fell in love with it. It was awkward, oafish. One summer, in 2007, while Kevin and Justin were in Illinois visiting Kevin’s family, I was standing in the kitchen perusing Motorcyclist magazine and there was an ad for a Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500. A gorgeous bike with sleek lines, and built for two. It came with foot panels for the passenger and hard saddlebags, and a backrest. When Kevin got home, I broached the subject of maybe looking at one. We found a used one shortly thereafter and bought it. Metallic black, with lots of chrome and white-wall tires.  We’ve had it ever since.

Today, he had to run some errands and as he often does when it’s a beautiful day, he took the bike, roaring out of the driveway and down the street, the powerful growl of the engine disappearing into the desert as he rounded the corner and headed east.

I worry when he’s out by himself. He’s a great driver and beyond careful, but people don’t always see motorcycles and that leads to stupid accidents. When he goes off without me, he promises to text me whenever he arrives at his destination. I usually get nothing more than a simple “here.” He texts me again as he moves from place to place, keeping me updated so I know he didn’t go splat.

Kevin, returning home this afternoon

Sitting in my office this afternoon, the windows once again open, the cool of the day once again drifting in and around the room, I listened for the sound. Low and powerful, a lion’s purr, it’s very distinct. Whenever I hear it, I can’t help but smile. He has returned safely on this fine piece of machinery, one of the finest we’ve owned. Sleek as a cat and ready to cruise, it’s joy on two white-walled wheels.

I hear it now. I hear him approaching. I smile. Soon, I’ll be smiling broadly, enjoying the view as he pulls into the driveway, safe at home. Definitely worth celebrating. 

And the desert smiles

by Lorin Michel Monday, October 7, 2013 12:07 AM

I’m in Tucson and looking out at the sun dancing in the Catalina foothills. It’s been a simply glorious day here, not too hot, a gentle breeze tickling the palm trees and running headlong into the millions of saguaro and prickly pear cactus that refuse to budge. Birds have been singing and the butterflies are everywhere in all manner of sizes and colors, from the smallest yellow to the largest orange and black. Occasionally there is one of ghostly white with gossamer wings. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white-winged butterfly before. I wonder if perhaps the intensity of the sun has faded away the color it once had.

This morning we went for a walk along the expansive and dry Rillito River. The city has created pathways and bridges for walkers and cyclists that runs nearly the length of the river, a bed that I’m sure has water in it at some point during the year but never has during any of the times we’ve been here. There were plenty of people walking their dogs, others walking dogless like us. The number of cyclists was impossible to count. People on mountain bikes, others on road bikes; some out for a leisurely tour, others working up a sweat. Some were young, others older, still others old but all were happy and friendly. Good morning. ‘morning!

The sun crested eventually, dripping heat down upon us. We retreated to the air conditioning to watch a little football, do a little more work. Our entire weekend has mostly been about work and that’s OK. We have work; this is good. It is infinitely better than the alternative.

We relaxed. We enjoyed. We reflected.

Monday is knocking at the door already. It’s a faint knock but insistent. Tomorrow evening we’re thinking of going to the movies since we didn’t get a chance to do much of anything this weekend, at least not much of anything fun, not much of anything that was nothing. Sometimes nothing is what’s needed in order to recharge and re-energize. I did do a little bit of nothing later today. By nothing I mean simply enjoying the moment and not being involved in anything stressful. By nothing I mean something fun. I talked to a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while and it was delightful.

I’m standing at the window watching as two big bear-like dogs, Newfoundlands I think, are strolling with their owners. Plodding along, also enjoying the something that is nothing.

The last bit of sun is kissing the highest point of the hills; the rest is bathed in shadow, now flat and dark. The temperatures are starting to fall again. Soon the city will sleep and us along with it, before getting up to work another day, another week. Still, as the silence begins to settle, I am struck by the calm of it all. The desert, for all of its harsh reality is a beautiful place. It is filled with color and hope; with life. As the night begins to settle and the sun wanes, I think I can see it smiling. 

Thus the schizophrenic life I lead

by Lorin Michel Saturday, October 5, 2013 12:45 AM

It’s Friday night, Fritini, and I am half way through my preferred Fritini cocktail of a Manhattan, straight up, ice cold with a twist. I have had a very busy day, careening from one job to a phone call to another job like a pinball flippered around in an old game. I wonder sometimes if I’m winning this game of life. I get tired. My eyes water after a yawn and my muscles start to cramp after each particularly long and therapeutic stretch. My hair droops; as does my skin. My exhaustion has always gone right to my skin. And then I look around at the miracles surrounding me and I know that I am in fact winning the game. I have a husband whom I adore and who adores me back. I have a nutbag dog. I have a wonderful home. I have the strength of family and endurance of friends. I have work. I am blessed.


I often feel pulled in too many directions. This is nothing new I realize. Everyone is always pulled in too many directions at once. In the primitive days of torture it was called being drawn and quartered, a particularly nasty way of destroying a spirit not to mention a body. I don’t usually feel pulled limb from limb but I do feel pulled in a myriad of directions. With a little duct tape I just put myself back together and move on.

I can be working on web content for one of my hospital clients and then I get a phone call about skin care packaging and then I need to attend to an article that’s due at noon. It’s enough to make the head spin. Mine often is like a top. It’s why between jobs and clients, I turn to the mindless chatter of the intertubes. I use my surf time to clear my head. There is perhaps nothing more schizophrenic than the news and politics of this country, and since I’m a news and political junkie I often peruse those types of sites during my surf time. These people can all talk out of both sides of their mouths and think nothing of the contradictions they spew at a rather alarming rate. Either they’re completely unaware of their idiocy or I’m too highly attuned to other schizoids. It’s fascinating to read.

Each week I am torn between writing work and making a living, and writing work that will hopefully someday make me a living. I love what I do. As I said, I am blessed. I am just not always able to keep up with it all. I bounce. I pivot. I sometimes don’t know what planet I’m on or what city I’m in.

Occasionally I am jolted awake in the middle of the night and for a split second I have no idea what day it is. It’s a very odd feeling. It makes me worry that I’m losing my mind. I know though that others have the same issue, so I think it’s more a function of overload. The mind just can’t always process what it needs to process simply because there is too much present and the mind is moving north, south, east and west all at once, pulled apart; drawn and quartered. Schizted out.

Interesting to equate my life with torture when I know that the life I lead is anything but. I may need therapy.

I have finished my Manhattan and have started cooking dinner all while working on this blog post, checking emails and thinking about the many different things I need to do this weekend, the many different directions in which I will be pulled.

I am not schizophrenic but I sometimes worry that I lead a schizophrenic life. As I gaze down at my outfit, I realize that I am dressed to mirror this fear. I have a Tucson, Arizona t-shirt on over a pair of Los Angeles, California sweatpants. It’s the perfect metaphor for this life I lead, being in one place with my heart in another and vice versa, one worth celebrating on this Fritini. 

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Tell me what day it is

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 2, 2013 10:49 PM

Because I’ve spent a great deal of my professional life writing advertisements, in the form of print ads, radio and television commercials, I pay an inordinate amount of attention to the advertisements of others. I don’t read a lot of magazines anymore so I don’t see print very often, and I don’t listen to much commercial radio these days because I have satellite. But I still like television and television is still filled with commercials, some of which are really pretty good.

There is an Audi commercial running now for a diesel version of their A4 that depicts a woman about to pump gas and everyone from the occupants of the other cars on the road to the attendants inside to a dog being walked is screaming (the dog is barking), in slow motion, to stop because she’s about to put diesel into her gas tank, to which she calmly replies “I know.” It’s funny. BMW has a similar one running.

Naturally I love all dog commercials.

And some of the insurance companies do some good spots, too. Nationwide has a spot where thieves are stealing various pieces from a home – a camera, a flat screen TV – and right behind them is this ninja chick replacing everything as soon as they take it. It’s very affective.

Geico runs some that can be fairly hilarious. I don’t much care for the ones with Maxwell the pig though the first one they ran with him, many years ago, was hysterical. It was a riff on the three little pigs and how they went “we wee weeeeee” all the way home. Now he’s just overused.

They currently have one where they talk about how Old MacDonald was a really bad speller. He’s onstage, and given the word “cow.” He stands there in his overalls, with his straw hat and begins “c-o-w (pause) e-i-e-i-o.” It’s a riot in a very stupid way, as is one of my current favorites. It’s particularly appropriate today so allow me to share.

A camel is walking through an office, lowering his head as he saunters about, squeezing his way along. Happy as can be, he exhorts his fellow co-workers, asking them in a dorky kind of way: “What day is it?” Nobody will indulge him. “Mike, Mike, Mike.” Nothin.’ Finally, one woman reluctantly agrees and he becomes positively giddy when she grunts out “hump day.” “Wooo hoooo!” he fairly sings as he continues on. Every time it’s on I have to watch it. And every time it makes me laugh out loud.

Well, camel, it’s hump day and I share your enthusiasm, albeit for different reasons. You’re excited because you think it’s a day celebrating you and your humps. I’m excited because it’s the middle of the week and it’s celebrating the downside of the week yet to come. I love Wednesday. I especially love Wednesday night. Both seem like mini-milestones to me, a hump we have gotten over, and I suspect many of the people who work a regular Monday thru Friday kind of gig agree. Wednesday always looks so far away on Monday morning and then, suddenly, here it is. Get through this and there are only two more days of regular work days to go. That’s so much more doable than five.

It makes me giddy, too. I guess Mister Camel and I have a lot in common after all.

Hump daaaay. Woooo hooooo! Laughing it out loud.

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live out loud

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