Late Night taco Bell

If you are under 30 and read that title, you have two very conflicting reactionary emotions. The first, always first is disgust. Taco Bell serves beef that is more ‘filler’ than actual meat, has the historical cleanliness of a port-a-john after a weekend of use at Coachella (dirty hippies). The second reaction is a feint but growing voice that says ‘man, I could really go for a grilled stuft burrito(thats not a spelling mistake- stuft).  That voice painfully grows as the night progresses. Unless a miracle happens you find yourself driving in the dark of early morning to the closest TB, and not-so-silently cursing at yourself.

That scenario played out last night for me. I was innocently playing one of the few online games I play when the craving began. I mused to myself “wouldn’t it be great if I had some taco bell right about now” and nearly immediately pushed it from my thoughts and put my head back in the digital frontier I was currently dominating. Yet a short while later it was back. Like a dark whisper from Hecate herself. So I went, compelled for some of the most oxymoronic food: terrible and wonderful tied together eternally.

So there it is. I have a propensity for late night snacking, and generally that involves some very regretful mornings. What I am constantly surprised by is the amount of others that share my late night habits. I have found there are two or three types of people who share the drive-through(or if all else fails- entering the beast of the restaurant) after midnight.

The first is the most relatable, for me at least. This group consists of the nerdy gamers, loners, social ouctasts etc. We as a constituency of Taco Bell are more or less socially disinclined. We share the tubes of the internet but rarely seek out external affairs. So when we stand in that line we are quiet and focused on our compounded shame- that of our late night interneting(or for the extremely nerdy Dungeons and Dragons, god forbid) and the incomprehensible fact that we are at taco bell about to have a very, very bad morning the next day.

The next group is the drunkards. That same compulsion while I am sober seems to consume someone after they have had a half dozen beers. They are never alone, surrounded by a bevy of other drunks who are so enamored with their idiotic conversation and their imbibed laughter nothing else, save a gordita supreme, can excite them. They are loud, obnoxious, and most of all pathetic. If there was an officer at any TB after 1am they would find a half dozen drunk drivers and take them off the streets. I would love to know the statistics of how many people were killed from drunks driving to and from a TB run- I wouldn’t be surprised if the number was well over a hundred. There are 11,000 alcohol impaired deaths a year in the US, I’m sure 100 of those could have come from the unending need for someone to grab a crunchwrap supreme.

The third group I have seen that has been growing in the years since I have owned a car. They are the families. Usually there is a parent or two and at least two very young children. The kids are around 3-4 years old and are wide awake well past midnight. I wish I could explain this phenomenon but I am speechless. There are a few scenarios I can envision why parents would take their kids out at midnight+ for some cheap food, and they are all situations of plight. I envision parents working until the late hours of the night with their children waiting for food once they get off work. Fruits and vegetables are too expensive for the extremely impoverished and the parents too exhausted after a sixteen hour day to even attempt to cook a meal. So the group heads to TB for the cheapest, only convenient food available. It’s a sad scene I wish I didn’t have to imagine, but my empathetic (or hopefully chimeric) mind can be very convincing.

So ends the epics that was my Taco Bell run. All of these thoughts blur through my head as I order my slop. As my stomach copes with my regretful decisions I deal with my ever-active mind. Off to the pool so my technologically influenced pale skin can get a small iota darker before I have to head to work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA-eSCdL9sI

Edit: I liked the song, but never watched that video. It gives an oposite impression I was hoping for. Oh well.

Very recently I had the opportunity to meet a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. We shook hands, I laughed at his jokes and then the conversation was over. The interaction was brief but it had some indelible marks on myself, and my motivations. While some may be happy with excess, abounding responsibilities and of course power, I think that my motivation lies internally. I don’t care how others perceive me or my role in life, as long as I find a measure of happiness out of it.

The CEO I met with made statistically more money than I will make in my lifetime in a single year, which is fine by me. That amount of excess has never made sense to me- who actually needs ownership of a jet, island, or more houses than digits on your combined hands. Unadulterated greed like that will always be unsettling to me. The fuel he put in his jet instead of taking a first class flight across country could have fed thousands of the most destitute. Yet if you can read this, you are guilty of similar greed. Amy Winehose died yesterday and while in life she was cracked out or drunk nearly any hour she was around consciousness it was a surprise and people were sad, and Casey Anthony was found guilty a few weeks ago and then there was a rallying cry of outrage: “how could she get off, the murder of a young child will have no vengeance”, yet very few people are bothered with the irrelevant deaths of 16,000 children due to starvation. You can read this because I assume you spend money on electricity, a computer, internet, etc- money that technically could have been spent feeding these children. We are all guilty of greed to some degree but we individually usually can’t influence the outcomes of thousands a day. You and I can bear the burdens we carry, but I would hope that if you or I were given such an excess of say, $5 million a year we would do as much as possible to help others.

That was quite the ramble. I start out talking about happiness and find myself lecturing about starvation. Lets see if I can’t make a conveyable point out of the next paragraph.

Getting back to personal ideas of happiness.If I were to quantify what would make me a happy, enjoyable person for myself and my loved ones I would say it would be the ability to do something new/exciting at least monthly. Small joys during the week are great: sharing a joke with coworkers, a well prepared dinner(by myself of a chef), a successful night of insomniatic interneting(or even a square eight hours of sleep) but I think there needs to be something more in any given 30 day stretch of time. If I knew what this would entail I would list it, and pursue. Amazingly I would like to think that I am not too dogmatic in my hobbies, exploration is a must. I certainly cannot achieve all this currently as I am a full time student and an upper-level retail peon, and neither pay remarkably well currently.  When I complete school I can step into any multitude of fields and  be well equipped to pursue anything I have listed.

It’s all about my individual measure of happiness and motivation to achieve my own set goals. Not the goals, or perception of necessary goals that society places on people. I think that is the difference between a full and happy life and a shallow, tepid life. Define and set what genuinely makes you happy. Push aside any external forces attempting to influence your persuasions and decide: what makes me happy. It may make for a paradigm shift in your life if you realize you are unhappy, or it may just solidify your path. Anyway your introspection goes at least you will know how you will be happy. I have recently done this, and am moving forward with life. Change for the better. Be happy and enjoy life.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzJY96m3lkg

A little fiction

…I could not tell if it was alive. For long moments I held my breath; It was a frightening surprise to find this creature curled in the far corners of this cave. I had gone looking for some quiet and solemnity but had found something for more disturbing than I had ever wished to see. It, or perhaps he, was a huddled mass of tightly pulled skin over a set of small bones. I stood there rigid with fear for long moments until the beast took a shallow breath- it was alive, if just barely.

He is despondent, indeed. Even in the caliginous light that this dark place delivers I can see he is a pitiful creature. Hidden from the world of illumination he is translucent, every vein and artery is visible on his decrepit body. His curled frame is contorted so that his face is not visible, I can only see the jagged spikes of a spine protruding from his maligned back. He must be in pain, I pause to wonder if I should offer aid, but there is a very tangible sense of evil that surround this creature. It was noticeable from the very moment I found it, even the dim light of the cave seemed darker around this thing.

A rock beneath my foot slipped and I stumble slightly, making a faint noise. With impossible speed the creature lunges toward me, toward the intruding noise. His claw-like hand barely misses me as I duck to the side as nimbly as my frightened frame can move me. I would not have expected this being to be able to move in such a seemingly gravely ill state- but his attack was fearsome. The creature lashes again, this time blindly in all directions. I backed off from the horrifying sight as quickly as possible, leaving what I hoped were inaudible footsteps. On the creatures first assault I had seen it’s eyes- they were two fearsome beads of cloudy white. I doubt that this ancient thing could see at all, hopefully I could escape the furor of it’s blind attack and rid myself of this place.

As my heart rockets out of my chest, head bangs in desperation I make my way out of the cave. The dim light slowly grows brighter- despair into ever growing hope. As I reach the entrance I pause slightly. Pity overcomes, his pain becomes mine. That creature is cast to the depths, mulling in loathing and despair not anger and hatred. As pitied as he could be, I can see no reason to go back. He has been so conditioned to his current state there is no hope, no light at the end of any tunnel for him. He his destined to his end in the depths…

Retail is as Retail does.

****As a prologue I have a few people looking at this site as an example of future blogs, or the possibility of writing for a commercial endeavour. It is a small, personal blog that has no real impact or marketability- or even meta tags. I can provide some more poignant examples on request, and you are free to look at my resume. Contact me with any questions.

 

I think it’s no secret I work in retail. I began looking for a part time job a few years ago in Tallahassee and I found that my personal interests and like didn’t mesh well with corporate america. Apparently you can’t make a decent salary gaming in your man cave(unless you play like this guy, and you do it in Korea). Even my fledgling computer knowledge (I think I had A+ certification by this point) couldn’t get me a job at the penultimate electronics shop: Best Buy. No- my lifetime of nerdiness and above average social skills (for a nerd) wasn’t enough to be a Geek Squad tech, or a sales associate. The only job even remotely offered was a spot on their newly minted music shop selling guitars and keyboards. Unfortunately a decade behind a saxophone didn’t translate into the sale of cheap Chinese guitars. So I was forced to search elsewhere. I did what I now see everyday- I trolled the shopping plazas and mall asking for applications. The only call back I received was from my current employer.

I was grateful for some money, but it was difficult. I had to sell, I had to ask more probing questions and become more knowledgable about products I hadn’t before cared for. By this time in my college career I hadn’t bought  a single article of clothing in at least three years. I took the challenge in stride at least, I became aware of the merchandise like I had never before and was now slightly cognizant of peoples’ opinions and what they may be inclined to buy.

Still, it wasn’t the most natural thing to me. I was distant to my coworkers and tasked constantly, often at the bereavement of management.  I moved away from customers after that time, and excelled at opening boxes and restocking shelves. It was technical, and came easily to me. It still does- I haven’t been a stock guy in a year but I still average the same units/hour I did when I was full time. I made the monotony of the task entertaining; I would time myself, refine technique, compare strategies all to pass the time. Now that I am management on the sales floor I do the same but instead of applying it to boxes of items I apply it to customers and their habits and shopping expectations.

I say these past paragraphs for a reason. As much as I’m sure you are tickled pink to know about my part time retail career I do have a salient point to all this. We are all more or less adept enough to adapt. There is a measure of versatility to this but it seems that even the most silent introvert can change to become someone more robust. It is in the human condition to evolve, in fact I would say it is the cornerstone of our existence. Science generally agrees that we evolved- humanity was and is by necessity malleable. Flexibility is an endearing trait that we all have to some extent. Our tolerance to change is amazing, even if it doesn’t seem all that noticeable. We may think that our usual office chair is a safe haven away from change, but when thrust into a new situation humans adapt, and do so quite well. I have recently been experiencing these changes personally, I keep trying to do new things, be another person. An introvert to an extrovert, silent to outspoken, brooding to accepting. So the tide ebbs and flows, so shall I for the bliss of the human existence.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Lets do stuff.

Yesterday I went out and did something. I never do anything. On any given night you will find me more easily at home reading, typing, watching, listening, or any combination of the four than out on the town. I went out, after a small amount of coercion, to Vertical Ventures– an indoor rock climbing wall. As a kid I was a boy scout where I was first initiated into climbing. We started off trepidatiously enough but gained some loftier clout by climbing some small yet daunting rocks somewhere in the Green Mountain State. Then the DeLorenzo’s moved down to Florida where the mountains are nonexistent as are any rocks. My best efforts were stymied by a combination of my introversion and the local geography.

Years passed, and I was introduced to another source of climbing my freshman year at FSU. A friend convinced me to go to a meeting of the climbing club. I went, and felt completely out of place. There were the usual faire of hippy-esque climbers, at least one very white guy with dreads and an unmistakable scent of something ‘herbal’ in the air. The place wasn’t much; it was a small industrial warehouse with plywood walls pocked with footholds. It wasn’t what I had remembered as a scout. I remembered a focus on height and difficulty of paths going up. In Tallahassee there were short walls with a primary focus of bouldering. An unusual setting for me, surrounded by people most unfamiliar. I never went back after that first visit- I never ventured beyond the easy confines of my dorm room for most of that semester. I should have.

That was a turning point for me. I would my way down deeper into nerdom, away from society. Maybe that little climbing wall and the people that inhabited it weren’t the best fit for me but I never bothered to look beyond. I feel it is time for a change.

So here I am. Five years after that fateful climbing experience I am more than willing to expand my horizons. I have been enamored with the individual pursuits- I am somewhat well versed in cooking, knowledgable with teas, and by all means a computer geek. It’s time to move beyond the comfort of a chair and an internet connection. This leads me to you.

Lets do stuff. I don’t care what- lets go on a duck tour of Boston, a camping trip in Alberta, a tricycle ride to Cuba. It’s all fun to me. I am starting some youthful pursuits a tad late in life but it is no concern to me. I want to be well traveled, versed, and exciting. It sounds like a shallow pursuit of an intangible goal and it is, but  by definition such a goal is unreasonable. I will be actively pursuing stuff to do, and including my friends and family as diligently as possible. If you feel similarly ask me to do anything, my answer should be a resounding yes.

Let’s go truffle hunting in France, kayaking in Alaska, paraglide over Hawaii, or cliff dive in Acapulco.

 

 

I've got an extra trike or two for the trip to Cuba.

It’s like a meth head needing his fix.

I don’t often spend a ton of time in free wi-fi areas, I do some trivial surfing and blogging at a B&N, Starbucks, Panera, and hopefully someday Brueggers but some of these people seem to sit and bunker down for the long haul. My mac has one of the most exceptional batteries I think available- and the technology to keep the battery going for much, much longer than any windows machine I have come across. As I sit on the second floor of B&N I see plug hunters scouring the walls for their next fix of the juice. It’s maddening for me; I see a dozen people all with heavy bags lumbering through this store with what is supposed to be the mobile counterpart of the home computer. They spend more time charging their power hogs than they can away from it. What is the point of buying something that has such a short life away from its umbilical chord?

I know a mac is much more expensive than most other windows netbooks/laptops but I feel for good reason. Even if you want to stick with a Windows box you can get better battery life out of one of many other laptops. There are alternatives that provide similar life to a macbook, and will leave you open to any chair in an auditorium during a lecture or the most comfy chair fifty feet away from the closest 3 prongs on the wall.

I bought a mac, I’ve now talked about it in the past three articles. I feel like it sounds like I am harping on the brand a little too much. I like a mac because it is a good machine, not because of the culture than surrounds it. It is well built with a well supported OS, not a pop culture icon. That was not the case for the gentleman sitting next to me. He bought into the icon that was the Apple brand and Ithink hilariously, not the product:

Picture is blurry, I’m no professional stalker, or P.I. but you get the point. A Viao macbook.

6am panera time, yeah!

I have now been awake for 24 hours. Insomnia is not uncommon for me, and I am usally pretty productive during the dark hours when you are usually asleep. It’s often good- I get to take care of some of the most innate things when I should be sleeping. I can manage to read a book without interruption (I just bought and started reading The Nasty Bits – I love my Bourdain) and I was able to catch up on some of the most vital and necessary internet surfing known to modern mad(lolcats). Now I am sitting in Panera enjoying the classical music they pipe in, adding a splash of class to what is essentially a large overpriced cafeteria(Wesley Chapel really needs a Brueggers bagels!) when the breakfast/lunch rush hits. For the moment I am safe and secluded with my coffee and bagel and only a half dozen others in the place, all of which are the employees.

Yes, waking when all others sleep has its benefits. I think I see the world in a slightly skewed perspective. The dreary eyes of a customer flit by me, the self important businesswoman speed walks in and demands a muffin and soy latte- all part of the corporate race. Here I am putting one trepidatious toe in the corporate world with my small retail job and these individuals have delved head first into the deep watery depths of capitalist America. It is something that I fathom everyday. I am by most legal measures an adult, yet I haven’t bothered to become a productive member of society. My paltry life is subsidized by many things- part time retail, google ads and a fledgeling webservice business can only grant me part the adult experience. Yet, I don’t necessarily feel wholly compelled to take those next few steps forward. I know I should, but a stagnating part of me wants to circumnavigate the 25,000 miles without care or discretion to my loftier adult plans.

I have mentioned this yearning to others before, probably on this very site as well, and I often don’t get a very expressive response. When I mention it in person I either see the naïvety of youth(or of wealth) as they elate their similar plans, or I see the calm and submissive look of a compromised individual. There isn’t a lot of middle ground, there is always a compromise in most idealistic minds. Millions plan on traveling, exploring, discovering even if it’s just personal discovery only to be disappointed with the perils of reality.

I hope my opinions aren’t sacrosanct. I hope there are people out there who lie in between my two defined extremes and are completely happy with their lives. I just can’t personally imagine a domestic and anchored life yet. Even as I type that I know it sounds stupidly youthful. In a few short days I will be 23- youth has escaped my clutches. Prove my wrong or provide me with a different view, I would love to argue with more than just myself.

On a more tangible note, my first gen iPhone has finally died. It had been on the downslope for a short while now; it’s home button was slowly becoming less responsive and unless I wanted to turn my phone off and reboot every time I wanted to do something different it was time for my phones’ burial. RIP the old girl, she will be sorely missed. The worst part of the story is that the newest iPhone is rumored to come out in a few short months but I am forced to get a new phone now. I’ll get the $50 iPhone and replace it in a years’ time, probably. For the meantime if you need to contact me call me through skype/message me through facebook/google+(if you want that I can inv just comment with your email).

Sitting here in Panera listening to Weird Al watching the windows laptop users viciously hunt for power outlets is giving me a small sense of comfort. If a few minutes I’ll be heading into my ‘office’ and taking that small swim in the capitalist pool for a few hours today.

I’ll leave you with some music- an older cover of an old song:

Crazy (Gnarls Barkley Cover) - Ray Lamontagne

One hour until funtimes begin!

That’s right, one hour from when i frist started typing this I will be working. Misleading? Of course. I am working a floorset tonight- I’ll be working diligently until 3 am tonight. I will be missing some festivities that will be happening at my house tonight ( I wonder- am i ruining the surprise by writing this; will Thomas read my blog in the next two hours? We shall see!) but that is of little consequence- I shall be diligently folding clothes!

For the meantime I will be field testing my shiny new MacBook Pro here in B&N. I have managed to find an open desk, and it is perfect even if it doesn’t have a power strip nearby. My last laptop had a maximum charge of three hours before it would keel over and demand it’s next fix of the juice. Sitting here at 75% battery life I still have another 5 hours of my current level of computing left. I was doing some tests last night and tried to see what my max battery life is- and with the brightness down, no illuminated keys browsing the net I apparently can get 10 hours out of my 65 watt lithium pack. It may be a crude estimate of how long my battery will last but I find it compellingly mesmerizing. My fathers’ Subaru gives you a similar estimation and I find myself driven to push the clutch in and just coast reaching an estimated 99mpg.

Back to the present. There are few things that are as nondescript as a chair in a public place that bring me some small measure of happiness, and clarity. At one level I feel like a jerk: I’m sipping on my $4 latte stealing a seat(an entire desk, actually) felling like a bum- my milk and coffee surely doesn’t pay for any small measure of this places’ rent. On another, less sympathetic and more selfish level I really enjoy the ability to sit back away from my girlfriends’ midget dog and my adopted miscreant of a cat and focus. It’s odd especially for my notably introverted self that I would find this bookstore more comfortable, but there you have it. I read an article that relates to all this and which started my thoughts on the matter. This post on gizmodo started me up, I found the comments incredibly hilarious.

It’s time for work, I’ll be driving home while you sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.

Thunderstorms and Oolong.

The gentle tap of thunder hits my ears, the simple but cultivated fragrance of a well brewed oolong tea rests under my nose. It is a mundane simplicity that I wouldn’t forfeit for much of anything else. Someone else may find more joy in the more exiting peaks of life, but this simple chair under a fading thunderstorm contains an existential amount of happiness, to me. I find an exhilarating amount of joy from sitting enervated contemplating and musing on the simplicities of life, and how easily they can be forgotten- trampled by lavishness.