Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Threatening Beggar

The heat sometimes brings out the crazies in a big city like Chicago, and Monday was a record-high 77 degrees, a great day especially considering the record-low February we just endured. So people were walking around everywhere in light clothing feeling really good and enjoying themselves. Some of us had the misfortune of being around the unwashed, thawed-out homeless folks, however, and they can make the most beautiful day seem awful. As I left my workplace around 1:30 to go to lunch, there was an angry man with grays in his hair and beard and no shirt on holding his hand out and walking right up on people as if he was going to do bodily harm to them if they didn't give him something, money, weed, I don't know exactly what. Since I don't know what's in the head of people like that, I avoided him and started walking across the street. The guy decided to make me his new friend for the next half-block or so. "What you say to me? I'll kick your ass too!" he mumbled just low enough so that I may not have caught it. I did have my headphones on, but my radio was off, so I could hear him just fine. "What you say? Come on Biggie Smalls, I ain't scared of you!" I didn't respond to him at all, didn't even look in his direction. He did come rather close to me at one point, maybe five feet away, but I sped up my walk and ducked into a restaurant figuring he wouldn't follow me into a somewhat classy-looking public place. He didn't. I only stayed for maybe a minute, and when I left, he had completely vanished.

I really don't like the idea of having to take someone on for no reason than the guy wants some action on this particular day. If I piss someone off with my diarrhea of the mouth, that's one thing. But this fucker was just following folks around looking for a confrontation, starting arguments in his head. There's absolutely no telling if the guy is insane and is looking to start something so he has an excuse to whip out a weapon from his pants pocket. Just because he had no sleeves to hide a knife doesn't mean he didn't have a shank stuck in his waistband. Because I don't know where his mind is, if he had gotten within arm's length, I would have dropped him where he stood with one punch. I have no desire to wait until he does something to defend myself. I'm sure a lot of people would have a problem with my approach because I'd be committing an assault on someone with little or no provocation, but the way I see it, it's either him or me. I haven't been in a fight since grade school, and that's part of the reason why I would knock him out first--because I don't have any practice at defending myself in a one-on-one situation, so "sucker punch" is option #1 on my list. It may not be the politically correct course of action, but it's the one that will keep me from getting attacked by a random nutcase.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I've been running on fumes the last few weeks. Cleaning my apartment for my girlfriend's visit last weekend was a larger task than I expected, and I've felt wiped out ever since. The visit was nice, though. It may have lasted only one day, but it was a very nice day. We did nothing but sit around and watch college hoops all day, and my play aunt made lasagna for us. Holding my girlfriend's body in my bed for the first time was something that felt very natural. Every night since, I've imagined that feeling, and I'm looking forward to many, many more nights in that position, among others. Working one day of overtime a month ago has also contributed to my weariness. I almost feel like I've never recovered from that. And work itself has been nuts because absolutely no one is on the same page there. Two women who are "coaches" led groups of us associates into a conference room Saturday and had four separate meetings informing us of a new method we were to start using immediately. But when I pulled aside the general manager Monday to ask a question about this new method, she expressed surprise and claimed she didn't know anything about it. It drives me crazy that I had to be the one who asked about this because I don't get paid nearly enough to be the watchdog in the office. I can't be the only person there who gives a fuck, but it sure seems that way sometimes.

Something that has been on my mind a lot is the subject of religion. My girlfriend and I discuss it sometimes because she's devout and I'm not. She tries to convey the message that it's OK, but I get the feeling that it's something she worries about. The last time we had a long talk about it, I told her that one of the reasons I'm having trouble getting closer to my God is because it takes a tremendous amount of submission for a man (or woman) to live life in a way that pleases God. Believing that those who wrong you will be punished and judged by Him instead of getting your own revenge, being grateful of your blessings instead of envious of's not something I'm good at wrapping my little brain around. I've been trying, and I've made progress over the last couple of years, but I still feel a little lightheaded and weak when I think of living what I think would be a life that God would approve of. I guess that's the symptoms I should feel when I entertain the idea of submitting myself. I'm not sure how others do it. Giving tithe, attending church devoutly--I feel like my time and money and lifestyle are things I've always had total control over, and surrendering any or all of that control is scary. Then there's people like the slut in Wisconsin, who talked about church and even said she went on vacations with her parents and their church. She and many others are trying to walk some kind of line where they live like demons and then turn over their sins and ask for forgiveness with no remorse. I can't do that either. I would feel like a hypocrite, even more than the hypocrite I've been at times in my life. I don't know who I'm supposed to talk to about this either. There are so many churches and clergypersons, I couldn't possibly pick one to counsel with. I really am grateful for every day I get. But there's this nagging sensation that to submit to a fully appreciative way of living would somehow rob me of happiness or joy. And that can't be true. There has to be a way for me to live in a way that pleases God and myself, and where I'm not a lying hypocrite. I continue to work on finding that way.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Little Progress

OK, I'm still a pig of a man when it comes to keeping up my home, but it's not quite as bad as it used to be. My girlfriend is visiting for one day and two nights this coming weekend, and I've known about it for a month, but I'm just now starting to clean up my place and attempt to make it look like a human lives here and not a feral animal. However, when I think about all the women who visited my place when I had a Lake View apartment between 2002 and 2005, I realize that I've come a long way. "Shelley" tore a hole in her jeans when she walked too close to a broken chair that had a metal piece sticking out that I had neglected to throw away even though I broke it more than a year before Shelley came. In fact, each woman who came there either noticed the chair and was careful to avoid it while cursing me out or never noticed the chair, and instead of just throwing it away, I would just cringe every time one of them walked past the chair hoping they wouldn't slice themselves open. It's funny that Shelley was the one person who damaged her clothing, because she went on to make thousands of dollars by conning me into co-signing her student loan. Guess I paid for the jeans, and then some. "Karen" visited for an hour on Christmas morning 2003 before we spent the day with my family, and she was supposed to be my future housemate and potential wife and all that jazz, yet I still had to kick old newspapers underneath the chair she sat in. And this was three days after "Sarah" spent some time with me for my birthday, so it would have been worse had she not helped me clean up a little. In fact, the first time Sarah came to see me, she spontaneously plopped on the floor and started picking up my junk mail and other garbage and filled a few garbage bags for me. That was her maternal instinct. My apartment was always a little better off after Sarah left, not to mention my cock.

So my place now isn't nearly that bad. There are no broken chairs, and if there was, I'd just take it out because I honestly don't know why I would hang on to a broken chair. There's still some old newspapers lying around because that's my weakness; I hate grabbing a paper and not reading the whole thing, so instead of throwing out the part I've read I'll hold on to all of it and vow to read it when I have time. There's some dust bunnies making families in various corners as I type this, but I'll be zapping the little buggers today and tomorrow. The mop and Pine-Sol is ready and waiting for me to attack the kitchen floor and bathroom. The house won't be spotless for my girlfriend when she arrives this weekend, but it won't skeeze her out either. And most importantly, I'm actually going to make the effort to clean the place instead of kicking some garbage around and trying to hide it, and that's a reflection on how I feel about myself. A few years ago, I felt like a dirty, lazy piece of shit, so that's how I treated my apartment and my relationships. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm certainly making some progress taking better care of myself and the things I care about.