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You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.
So here I am to try, and to fail, so I can learn.
Paul Fail. For The Win!

10 February 2012

#FridayFlash: Ritual

#FridayFlash: Ritual
©2012 D. Paul Angel
695 Words


Morning, 6:34am. Lecture 14 at 9am, Lecture 28 at 1:15pm, and then 2 hours and 20 minutes of Office Hours. Blanket thrown back left to right and then the edge returned after to be perpindicular with the bed. Slippers on, first the right foot, then the left. Still just cold enough for a robe; left arm through, then the right. Tie the robe with a half hitch, ending with the loop pointing to the left.

11 steps to the kitchen. Coffee filters in the drawer, grounds in the freezer. The scoop isn't on its peg. Dammit. Retrieve it from the gadget drawer.  Supposed to be on the peg.  Have to remind wife.  Again.  Four scoops of coffee, water in the carafe until the meniscus is touching the middle of the bend in the "5."

With the coffee brewing it's time for the first treat of the day. Coarsely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. Right hand takes a handful, left hand places the bag on the counter, resting it against the tile backsplash so it doesn't spill. Transition the cheese to the left hand and then eat over the sink.

Inhale deeply with satisfaction.

Cheerios next. The orange scoop. One full cup, then a second partial cup, but only up to the scuff in the plastic. Milk in the medium crystal glass, poured until just below the top of the vertical decorative cuts. Mouthfuls of cheerios with the left hand, swigs of milk with the right hand.  The Cheerios are gone, but there's just enough milk to reach the lowest most of the horizontal cuts in the glass.

Second treat, Oreos. Five of them. The first eaten whole. The next two each have a cookie removed and then are pushed together on the fourth to make a triple decker. The last whole is consumed with a swig of milk. The two free cookie halves are eaten, one at a time. Then, the triple decker is eaten, washed down with the remaining double shot of milk.

Audible satisfaction.

Coffee poured into the Starbuck's Venti travel mug. Two shots of Bailey's and a shot of Jameson make the coffee the third treat, which is now only a Guiness away from perfection.

Walk to the lecture hall, briefcase in left hand, coffee in the right.  Arrive 7 minutes early. Open the briefcase on the desk. Water bottle out onto the podium next to the notes.  Niether will be touched, but are still required.  Just in case. PowerPoint cued, clicker ready. Chat with students till 1 minute after 9am.

Begin the lecture. Finish, uninterrupted, with 22 minutes for questions. Leave class for office after exchanging 3minutes of pleasantries with the lecture hall's next Professor. Grade papers for Sections 5A (Lectures 10-13) and 5B (Lectures 24-27), then continue research.

Lunch: an orange, cut across its equator. Two more cuts across its latitudinal axis, 90 degrees apart. The eight slices arranged on the paper towel, itself aligned parallel to the edge of the desk, into a grid that's 3x2x3. Next, a sandwich cut in half, diagonally; with 4 slices of turkey and 2 slices of ham; 1 leaf of lettuce, 2 slices of tomato and 1 slice of pepper jack cheese; with mayo on the top slice and coarse ground deli mustard on the bottom. One 20oz Coke Zero, 4oz to start the lunch, then another 4oz after the orange, 2oz after each half of the sandwich, and the remaining cup after the 17 Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.

A knock on the door.

Panic.

Not posted office hours, no meetings scheduled, and lunch time! Handle turns, the door's unlocked! Panic swells: hands clammy, adrenalin surges, heart races. Door swings open and...

Student face appears.  Relief.

"Oh, hey, Professor? Sorry to interrupt your lunch. I just, I- I get the rituals the tribes use, and I understand how they use them; I just, I just don't really get why those Tribes developed all those rituals in the first place?"

"Because their primitivity demanded it, of course. Unlike ours, theirs was a world beyond their comprehension. That is why civilized humanity has effectively dispensed with ritualitic mechanisms."


02 February 2012

#FridayFlash: The Dragon in the Woodshed


#FridayFlash: The Dragon in the Woodshed
©2012 D. Paul Angel
817 Words


The morning started cold with a wet, icy fog.  The wood had been delivered and was in a decent sized pile just outside the fence.  I still had to move the wood already in the shed before I get the new wood in, but my Dad's call had made my tasks seem pointless.  I knew I only had today before the rain started again, but all I wanted to do was crawl back under the covers, cling to Kathy, and cry some more.

Instead, I was outside, bundled up against a chill I had so rarely felt before, moving pieces of wood with the enthusiasm of an automaton.  I moved one of the last pieces and saw a flick of movement out of the corner of my eye.  I was used to seeing the odd newt or snake, but this seemed more colorful than those.  I lifted one of the logs and saw a Dragon.

People may think that Chinese Dragons are highly caricatured, but, I can honestly tell you they are not.  Photo-realistic was the first word that came to my mind, truth be told.  He did not flinch even a touch now that he was uncovered, but simply stared me in the eye; bidding me to speak.

"Hello," I said, proud of myself for not pointing out that he was a Dragon.

"I seek asylum," he said in a deep, resonant voice that did not match his foot long body.

"From what? Who?" I muttered, suddenly very confused and feeling the enormity of talking to a Chinese Dragon in my woodshed.

"From the year, of course."

I suddenly realized what he meant by that and that he wasn't just a dragon so much as the dragon!  My earlier confusion was now whisked away in a dreamlike bewilderment as I wrangled with my second new reality of the day.  "What happens if you stay?"

"Well," he said, lifting his chin up and looking at me even more intensely as slow coils of smoke wisped out of his nostrils, "Your Mom won't die."

"We don't know she's going to die!" I screamed far louder than needed.  I was worried Kathy might've heard before remembering she'd run to the store earlier.

"Of course you do," he said, "Why else would your Dad be crying and also tell you that coming in a couple weeks might not be soon enough?"

Without knowing how I was sitting in front of him, the strength in my legs  just simply gave.  "How do you know that?" I asked knowing full well the answer.

"I know everything that is to happen to everyone.  Every twelve years I come through and the World is that much worse.

"Which is why I seek asylum.  I stay here.  The calendar runs forward and the Snake arrives.  He doesn't care what happens to anyone.  I honestly think he enjoys it.  So.  What's your answer?  Another year with your Mom?"

"But, if nothing changes she'll still be suffering?"

"You have to be alive to suffer."

"And what about the good things?  Won't good things happen?" I searched my mind, trying to find some known goodness that was just ahead that I could point to.  "What about Alyssia getting her cat next week?"

"She'll get her cat, just not for another year."

"But, how would that even work?" I was mentally spent already and confronting a seemingly endless number of paradoxes was beyond me.

"What is, will stay. There will be no change except the length of days.  It would be beyond your understanding even if you weren't emotionally crippled.

"Right now? I wouldn't even bother."

"I just-"

"And your poor Dad. He cried just telling you the news.  You wouldn't spare him any further pain?  How often have you heard him cry?"

"Never," I answered truthfully.

"OK, after the year, then what?  She dies when The Snake shows up?"

"Maybe.  Maybe not."  The Dragon moved back and forth a bit considering.  "Say there's a one in a million chance she lives.  Slim, but still better than none in a million, right?

"And, of course, there's Kathy."

"What about Kathy?" I asked horrified anew.

"Well, she finds out about you and Tina.  I know divorce doesn't happen in my year.  But..." the Dragon trailed off before lifting one of his talons to aloofly inspect it.

"There's nothing between me and Tina!" I shrieked.  Again, I was soon relieved to remember that Kathy was gone and would not have heard my sudden outburst.

"No, but you want there to be.  Look, Seth, you have a choice. This year is either going to suck for you and everyone you love, or you let it percolate and hope it gets better.

"Won't get better.  Might, possibly get better.  Those are the options that you, and only you get."  His eyes beckoned mine with a deep, piercing stare, "So, what's it going be?"