Archive | August, 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

13 Aug
Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

Portrait or landscape either way… it still looks like a pretty spectacular place to go bungy jumping. But then again anything in Australia looks Bucket-List worthy especially when you’re on vacation.

 

 

You Make Life More Dramatic For Me … But In A Good Way

12 Aug

Dear AMC,

I know that some people say that television is bad for you and they even try to convince you not to watch it. People like Madonna I guess, but really she’s the “Material Girl,” so you can’t really trust her. Besides I think these people haven’t met you yet. You are definitely “Something More”.

First you hooked me up with Mad Men. I was intensely drawn to Don Draper,  Joan, and Peggy and the drama that followed their lives at the advertising agency.  It was a hold-my-calls type of show. I mean if I had people calling me I would totally hold my calls. It was a put-the-kids-to-bed-early-and-nobody-better-come knocking-on-the-door type of show. It was an awesome escape and so this is where it started.

This … this was the first show that had me hooked. And then I kept coming back for more. And you never seemed to disappoint me either. You’re not like the other networks that have good shows and then a couple of crappy ones. I mean really this other network has Person of Interest and The Mentalist, which are awesome. But then they have something called Big Brother.

Dude. Ridiculous. Shows like that give television a bad name. This is why I’m glad you’re here, because here is where “story” matters.

I don’t know how you do it. But you do. You have me on the edge every week.  I’m the tweaked out nerd logging onto your website for the extra footage, interviews, or the Q&A. I’m the nerd that doesn’t allow people to change the channel even after the episode has finished, because I need to see the preview to next week’s episode. Yeah that’s me … I’m the one.

I mean how could I allow any channel surfing with shows like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, The Killing, and Hell on Wheels. It just doesn’t happen.  It’s not allowed. It’s grounds for divorce. I’m a total drama addict. I can’t enough of your shows. I don’t even trust the DVR … I have to watch them live. Although the DVR is awesome because I could fast-forward through the commercials so that I can get to the story even faster. Although sometimes I feel guilty about doing that considering how big a fan I am of Mad Men. But you gotta weigh the pros and cons.

And to be honest with you I didn’t think I would enjoy watching the dad who wore “manties” from Malcolm in the Middle in a drama. I was skeptical. But dude, Bryan Cranston rocks as Walt … A.K.A Heisenberg. He is meth king and it’s awesome. Yesterday’s episode was Guatacular in every way. I’m drawn to his anti-hero story and want to have him succeed and fail at the same time. It’s complicated. But I’m drawn to him, and to Jesse.

Image via AMC.com

Image via AMC.com

Walt says stuff like:

“The universe is random. It’s not inevitable. It’s simple chaos. It’s subatomic particles in endless, aimless collision. That’s what science teaches us, but what is this saying? What is it telling us, when on the very night that this man’s daughter dies, it’s me who’s having a drink with him? How can that be random?”

“I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No, I am the one who knocks.”

And then Jesse says stuff like:

“…And let me tell you something else. We flipped a coin, okay? You and me. You and me! Coin flip is sacred! Your job is waiting for you in that basement, as per the coin!”

“What good is being an outlaw when you have responsibilities?”

Jesse: You either run from things, or you face them, Mr. White.
Walt: And what exactly does that mean?
Jesse: I learned it in rehab. It’s all about accepting who you really are. I accept who I am.
Walt: And who are you?
Jesse: I’m the bad guy.

Dude I love this. And I can’t thank you guys enough for making Sundays awesome again. But if you can believe it, it doesn’t stop there. Aside from these awesome shows, you decide to have something called Mob Week.

Mob Week!

The Godfather Parts I and II, Scarface, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, The Departed, The Usual Suspects, and Mean Streets.

Dude.

I’m doing cartwheels. Literally. I’m not a criminal, or even a thug-like kind of person. I’m a nerd. A sporty one. I follow the rules. I walk a straight line, but this … this appeals to the hidden criminal inside of me. I thought Shark Week was amazing, but Mob Week rules.

Thanks AMC … you make like more dramatic for me … but in a good way.

Sincerely,

The Guat

Fiction Friday: Customer Service Agents

9 Aug

He lays uncomfortably on two generic faded blue plastic chairs, with a bucket of Pollo Campero next to him. In an effort to reposition himself he slips through the opening of both chairs. He lies there a moment and exhales in frustration.  He rises from the floor and rubs his back in discomfort.

Damn it.

Customer Service Agents. The people who have this title are supposed to help you. Service their customers. That’s what it means, doesn’t it? Pleasant, courteous, and efficient. Efficient is the key word, isn’t it? But here I sit, a victim of the customer service agent circumstance. CSAC … Should be a defense for murder, like duress. But it’s not and here I am: no blanket, no soft pillow. And there she is …

Bastard woman!

Bad dye job, gold tooth, blue blazer, and a chewed up pencil in her Aquanet gravity-defying hair … destroying the lives of everyone in her path. Her official name was TACA Airlines customer service agent 547. And of course she happened to be the most incompetent one. She opened up with the typical “and what can we do for you?” But did she really mean it? No. She could care less, all she was worried about was whether or not the next customer would flip out and ruin her hairstyle. Ticket, passport, and luggage please. She typed away on her little computer. Confirmation number, she asked. I search for the God Almighty confirmation number.

Image by Rick Wilking

Image by Rick Wilking

I know I had it. I’m sure I have it. They can not let you board unless you have it. But I have my ticket and they didn’t say I needed the confirmation number. So that should be enough. But no … that’s why we have confirmation numbers, senor Vazquez, she says to me. TACA policy. We need the confirmation number. I go on a freakin’ scavenger hunt for ten minutes, looking like the unprepared fool and search my belongings and my pockets when finally I find it in my sock, placed it there for safe keeping I guess. She did not take it, but snatched it from my hands and punched in a couple of computer keys. Her computer freezes and I don’t understand why … it’s a Dell.

She sarcastically whispers: sorry for the inconvenience. BUT IS SHE? … IS SHE! No. Of course not.

She could care less. TACA policy asks her to care, but does she? No. Bastard woman! After fifteen minutes of waiting, the TACA computer is back online and apparently there are no more seats on my flight. I’m a frequent flyer of the friendly skies, but this … this has never happened to me and I’ve never been so infuriated with her attitude!

She smiles, says sorry, and asks me to come again tomorrow to see if MAYBE they can fit me in one of their flights. TOMORROW! I’m here two-and-a-half hours prior to departure and it turns out that not everyone has checked in because there are people still in line, but the person sitting in my seat has checked in. How is that possible!! HOW! Blue Blazer does her best to simmer me down. She insists that yelling at her is not conducive to an efficient working environment. I don’t even think she’s aware that she’s in a work environment, but nevertheless she’s spewing off SAT words to sound important. I don’t want words without substance thrown at me. I want my money’s worth.

My ticket said 27D, I’m reading my confirmation and it spells out 27D, but I don’t have that boarding pass. I should have those things, I need to have those things, but do I … No. Did it not say in the TACA rules and regulation policy handbook to be here two hours before your plane departed?

It wasn’t really a regulation and rules handbook per say she adds, but more of a guideline. And no, she replies, you need to be here three hours before.

I could have committed a homicide, just reached over the TACA Airlines counter and strangled her with that pink and orange $1.99 imitation chiffon scarf that was wrapped around her neck … I could have … and claimed I was suffering from CSAC – a new disorder found in airplane passengers. It’s valid. It sounds valid, just like restless leg syndrome. But that would not have been conducive to a healthy work environment. Apparently society frowns upon attacking women in broad daylight. I realized right then and there why there were so many army soldiers with AK47s patrolling the area. Customer Service Representative Protection.

Perhaps history had taught them that there are more people suffering from CSAC. So, I demanded to see her supervisor.

She looks around and smiles at the soldier standing nearby. “I am the supervisor,” she says authoritatively.

My vein begins pulsating and the hairs on my ass begin to twitch.

Calm down, sir. Calm down.

Did she think I was stupid? I didn’t want to be called sir. Sir, is the customer service way of saying dick. If I was a woman, she would have said ma’am, which translates to bitch. Either way, the passive-aggressive message pisses me off.

I try to smother the molten rage inside me and in any other patron that would have been flying the Central America’s Elite Airline. I knew I should have flown American or United. My relatives warned me, but no … I needed a cheaper ticket. I needed the TACA experience … the TACA adventure. Saving money is no longer a priority when it comes to flying. I should’ve known better. I mean really, it’s a big piece of metal that is magically carrying me across continents and oceans. I should place my trust in quality, not price.  I’m worth an extra hundred bucks. I’d pay someone a hundred bucks just to punch this chick’s lights out.

I continued my quest for 27D. I paid for a seat, see here it says CONFIRMATION NUMBER. Alpha Charlie Bravo Tango X-ray 7,1,4 Seat 27D. MARCOS VASQUEZ. Now, how is it that someone else’s ass is in my seat?

I had a reservation. I think her supervisor training failed to cover that aspect so I reminded her of the definition so that me and my chicken could be on their way.

People in the waiting area holding onto their buckets of Pollo Campero stare. What the hell are they staring at? I’m not the only spectacle, transporting fried chicken across time zones. I don’t even want to be an exporter of poultry. I’m a freakin’ vegetarian. But why? Why was I bringing it: MY WIFE. My pregnant wife. It’s chicken, for crying out loud. We have chicken! Popeyes Chicken, Church’s Chicken and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Original and Crispy recipes. What the hell is so special about the Pollo Campero from Guatemala! They’re fed better in the States! They even have a Pollo Campero in the city of Pacoima. It shouldn’t matter that Koreans own the American franchise the recipe is still Guatemalan.

Ugh!

I should have taken American Air or United. I think they have a policy against the chicken. But when your pregnant wife craves something you better damn well bring it, because everything is your fault. I mean she’s pregnant isn’t she? And I’m the man. So I needed to get this chicken to my wife.

Customer Service Supervisor began with her offers for a flight the next day. She messed up and wanted me to accommodate TACA?

Dude.

I wasn’t about to fly to Florida, then Texas, then Colorado to get to my final destination. That chicken did not have enough preservatives for that. My original flight had been non-stop, see here. NON-STOP! I needed to be on that plane, so I didn’t know why Blue Blazer continued to enrage me.

The chicken and I are getting on that plane. My confirmation number is  Alpha Charlie Bravo Tango X-ray 7,1,4 Seat 27D!

The soldier and the rest of the crowd waited for her reaction.

Is that for one or two people? She asked.

The chicken is dead, MA’AM so it’ll just be one.

I’m sitting in seat 42F.

My flight status: delayed.

Remembering You’re A Badass

7 Aug

 

Image via LeFunny.net

Image via LeFunny.net

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

6 Aug

For all you Breaking Bad fans … Foreshadow.

 

When Hank realizes who WW is ... He reads the inscription and has a flashback.

Last season’s cliffhanger, when Hank realizes who WW is … He reads the inscription and has a flashback.

 

“To My Other Favorite WW… It’s an honor working with you. — Fondly GB.”

 

“Who do you figure that is? Woodrow Wilson. Willy Wonka. Walter White …”

 

Walt raises his hands and responds.

Walt raises his hands and responds.

 

“You Got Me.”

The pursuit of Heisenberg ends this season.

Foreshadow.

 

Shark Week And Little Miracles

5 Aug

This weekend I had one of those the door-slammed-shut-so-look-out-the-window life experiences.

Let me tell you … those suck.

Now normally these frustrating learning experiences revolve around my career or struggle for it. But for some reason life decided to expand its parameters and take a shot at me on a personal level too. It knocked me out in the twelfth round. But no worries … I’m a brown belt, right? Only two belts away from being considered a black belt, a lethal weapon, so I figured I could dig deep inside and find something to pull me out.

But the thing about these check-the-window-because-the-door-is-closed experiences is that not only do they make you sad, they make you upset too. You’re a whole ball of emotions and you’re trying to think rationally, but that never works. You don’t have ration when crises take place. You always need to take a breath. So during my breathing moment I remembered the awesome, wise words of Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy.

“…That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I don’t believe that. I think  the things that try to kill you make you angry and sad. Strength comes from the  good things – your family, your friends, the satisfaction of hard work. Those  are the things that’ll keep you whole. Those are the things to hold on to when  you’re broken.”

Yeah he was right. I was angry and sad at the same time, not a good combination to be walking around with in public. These kind of emotions should be held in private over a couple of pints of Ben &Jerry’s. But with two kids, the daylight hours don’t give you the time to drown your sorrows in chocolate. So I grabbed hold of Jax’s words and headed to the beach with my kids in hopes that sand castles and the Pacific Ocean would help me out.

Normally I’m not one that looks for little signs, but that day I was grasping at anything to be grateful for … anything that would help me flip the switch.

Getting green lights all the way to the highway … nice.

No traffic all the way to the beach … even better.

Kids not yelling in the car over who got the better superhero book … sweet.

Hitting the radio stations and finding uplifting dance songs or country tunes on every station … awesome.

Finding the very last parking space in a full lot … priceless.

The journey to the Pacific Ocean appeared to be working its magic, because usually when I’m trying to feel better something happens. Something, followed by something else that usually creates an avalanche-type of situation where one little thing builds on another and soon profanity seems like the only answer.

But not today. Today small miracles were working in my favor.

However you always have your little setbacks. And just as the plastic shovels and buckets hit the sand those thoughts began creeping in … you know those picky kind that try to suck out the good time that you are currently having at the moment. The kind that creep up on you after a phone call or random comment from a stranger, some Debbie Downer moment you worked so hard to avoid. Little setbacks, but then this is when it happened. This is when I saw it.

Now normally I would have thought this sighting to be ironic considering I was at the beach, but instead I just found it as a sign, another little miracle thrown my way. A funny one.

shark-week-2013

Image via DiscoveryChannel

As I was attempting to build the smallest sandcastle in history, my son pointed up to the sky and I saw it. A small plane dragging a banner across a sky.

SHARK WEEK BEGINS TODAY.

Dude. I couldn’t believe it. I shook my head and laughed. Yeah Shark Week. I had forgotten about Shark Week and my mantra … “Live every week like it’s shark week.” Even the crappy ones. Just find a moment a Shark-Week moment to get you through.

So I dropped the shovels, grabbed the kids, the boogie board, and headed toward the water. Nothing like a Shark Week banner to inspire you to get into open waters. Well to be fair we just stuck around the shore. I always remembered the Rogue Sharks episode describing man-eating sharks, no need to get too inspired and head deep into the ocean. The shore proved to be just fine.

Happy Shark Week everyone.

 

This is my first Yeah Write challenge, go ahead and visit to see other writers.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

2 Aug
Sydney Opera House and Bridge

Sydney Opera House and Bridge

 

It took me about 15 hours to get there.

It was cold.

It was overcast.

It was raining.

It was The Masterpiece I waited to see my whole life.

It was awesome.

Even Mother Nature agreed how spectacular this was because it decided to shine its light on it.

 

 

Today I Was Thankful For Elizabeth Gilbert

1 Aug

Survive. Everyone is trying to do it, including me.

But I realized some people are trying to get passed this stage and move on to the next. Apparently there are three stages in life and I had no idea. There’s Survival, Success, and Significance. The Almighty Oprah has spoken and you know if she said it has to be true. Well I don’t know if she said it, but she totally agreed with whoever did and her endorsement goes a long way. Just ask any writer that made it to her Oprah’s Book Club Selection.

Dude.

Anyhow, I’m sad to say that I’ve been stuck so long in the survival stage I wasn’t aware that there were two others. I’ve been hanging on, chugging along, keep on keeping on for some time now. During the day I can escape my survival stage with bucket list adventures, family outings with my kids, triathlons, friends, or indulging in the best chocolate ever.

But I’ve realized that it’s in the quiet of the night when it catches up with me, you know when I realize that I’m still surviving, and not succeeding or feeling significant in any way. Thank God for meditation, a good cup of tea, and the awesome Wish Factor that is humor, These have become my nightly saviors. Namaste Deepak Chopra for bringing some peace. Holla to you Yogi Bedtime tea makers with your little pick-me-ups written on the teabag. And as for you Jason Bateman and Jimmy Fallon … you rock. I think I would have jumped off a cliff if it weren’t for the fact that you crack me up. These have been my survival tools and I thought they were great.

But is that what I want? Do I want to just survive, or do I want to succeed? Or do I want to make my existence significant to those closest to me, you know live with purpose?

Considering that I was in survival mode, these seemed like pretty heavy questions. These were chocolate-worthy Ben & Jerry moments.

elizabeth-gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

And just when I was feeling pretty crappy about being in survival mode Eat, Pray, Love superstar Elizabeth Gilbert saved my day. I really enjoyed her book when I read it a couple of years ago and admire her journey. Not because she’s a successful writer but because she was in a really crappy situation, I mean it sucked. If your life has ever sucked, been in complete disarray, then this is the book for you. Her journey even helps you on your journey. But I’ve got to say if you haven’t really had hardships or felt emotional devastation then this book may not be for you. She may just seem like a crazy, neurotic chic that traveled for a year. You might not “get it,” and that’s o.k. But for my purposes today Gilbert saved me.

I happened to come across one of her lectures online during these heavy life questions, and I found my answer. She went on to talk about how even with all this success, she herself doesn’t have it together and she thinks it’s funny that people accuse her of doing so and come to her for help. She struggles too, maybe not financially because c’mon Best Seller, please. But more on an emotional level and just with every day business and life. It happens. Even though people look like they have it together there are moments, days, weeks where they need a Godiva chocolate and Jason Bateman too.

Dude. Light bulb.

You’re doing the best with what you’ve got and who you are.  And survival stage may seem like forever, but it’s only temporary. You’ll get to where you want to go if you keep at it. Cut yourself some slack because tomorrow’s another day and you get another try. Live your best life and aspire. Yes, aspire. But be kind to yourself when you fall short, be forgiving when failure and disappointments happen in your life’s scavenger hunt, because  you’re a “Pioneer of Continuing On.” Be grateful and thankful for the little things, for the little accomplishments that help you get through it.

Dude.

So today I cut myself some slack just for being in the survival stage.

Today I’m thankful for the awesome Nopales recipe that I rocked out in my kitchen … Totally Food Network worthy.

Today I was thankful for my kids spontaneous burst of laughter over the word booty right before bedtime.

Today I was thankful for my cup of Yogi Bedtime tea.

Today I was thankful for my 500th post. WOO-HOO to me! I am a writer even when I don’t get paid, anyone who writes 500 pages of something can definitely be called that. I’m thinking I’m worthy of business cards now.

Today I was thankful for Elizabeth Gilbert who helped me with my course correction.