Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Short Story. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

File under Nostalgia - The Tower of Power

Many years ago, I worked at the Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo.



One of the most amazing things I have ever experience was watching thunderstorms race in off the lake from the 11th floor. The nickname for the building is "The Power Tower", but the second you get up high enough to get a sense of how big a thunderstorm is, the name pales. On many occasions, I have seen lightning at extremely close range from that vantage point. It is mind-blowing to be in an edifice that is engineered to take direct hits from lightning yet know even the lightning is tiny compared to the storm outside.

Awe-Invoking doesn't cover it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

File under Funny - Kitty's Whim and Horses

It started when Kitty wanted to ride horses. So one cold winter day, we were off to ride horses on a whim. Her horse was named Star and mine was called Chico. I can managed to mount a horse and saunter around, but I am far from experienced.

Chico was a majestic, deep brown horse, standing about 16 hands. I got on him like a champ. And I sat there for about 5 minutes smiling and admiring him as he admired me.
Well, no. He was sizing me up.

First, he twitched head to hoof. Then he spun, followed by a serious attempt to throw me. Since I was still attached, he took off like bolt of lightning racing over mud and snow, on the trail and then between trees. His final trick to get me off was to crash to a stop in a shallow pond and roll.

I managed to keep my seat through all of it, including in the part where he rolled over me in 18 inches of water, mud and ice. I somehow fell backwards against Chico's rump instead of being smashed forwards onto the pommel. Then we trotted back to the barn where the rest of the group was waiting.

I was terrified. So terrified, that the grin I had on mounting him was locked on my face. I couldn't speak because I had the wind knocked out of me. The people who were expecting a complaint or possibly a lawsuit were left the impression that I was completely unfazed by the horseplay. And off we went on the rest of the ride. Me, sopping wet, bruised and bloodied; others, happy, dry, and content.

After that, I was in with her.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

File under Funny - College Job

In the early 1990's, I had a "job" watching the computer rooms at my school. I didn't take much effort, either it was nailed down or too old to be of use to the average student. I wasn't required to know anything about computers. Which was good, because I didn't. 

One day, a guy who had interviewed for the very job I currently held came in the room. He knew a lot about computers and for whatever reason wasn't given the job. I think he had a relative at the school and it was a political thing. Anyone but him as show of "fairness". 

His sudden appearance set off alarm bells. He was acting oddly, fidgeting with stuff and moving from work station to work station. Since the room was fairly full, it was a distraction. If someone got up, he plopped himself in to the empty chair and fidgeted before moving on. Final, I asked him what he was doing. 

He muttered something and turned bright red. It was clear he was both angry and embarrassed. I asked him to repeat himself and he shouted "I'm cleaning mouse balls!" 

I nearly died.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

File under funny - Between the Sheets

When the children were old enough, I decided they could earn an allowance by doing chores. My daughter immediately claimed making the bed was a chore. I decided to run with that one and handed out fresh bedding to all of the children. They were to strip the bedding, toss it down the laundry chute and make their beds.

My daughter finished in record time. My boys on the other hand had some trouble. I found them sitting on the top bunk scratching their heads over the sheets.

Thoughtful head-scratching.
I explained the fitted sheet went on the bottom, the top sheet of course went on the top. They didn't look too impressed with my explanation, but climbed off the top bunk and went back to work.

I checked back a little while later and found two happy boys, sitting on freshly made beds. Ah... if only everything was so simple.

At bedtime, I noticed two sheets neatly folded on the desk. The boys were already falling asleep so I did a cursory check. Yes, both boys had fresh bedding that matched what I gave them. Perhaps we had 3 sets of the same sheets. Stranger things happen around here.

The next morning, my wife watched as the boys made their beds and discovered the extra sheets.

She called me in and asked, "What did you do?"

Flummoxed, I shrugged.

She explained to the boys: "That's ok, but when you make a bed, you put two sheets on each bed."

The boys protested. "Dad told us to put the top sheet on top and the fitted sheet on the bottom. So we did."

My wife replied "Yes..." and cracked up. They put the top sheet on the top bunk and the fitted sheet on the bottom bunk.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Almost Ugly, Unicorn Princess Story

Nothing is ever perfect, until it is.

Within the first 24 hours of dating my wife, I did something unusual that has been a part of our lives ever since: I read a book to my wife. It was a passage from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It doesn’t matter what page or passage, it was the one I meant, and it wasn’t a thing I intended to do. Nothing is so perfect, but it left a mark on us that still exists today.
Fast forward many years. My wife brought three wonderful children into this world and I made damn sure that I read to them as I did her. Reading is incredibly powerful. It requires no money, no power, no station or status but it can enrich a mind in ways that exceed all of those things.
I read to my kids and I still read to them even though they can do it for themselves. I read to my wife and I read for myself.
And sometimes, a tiny bit of magic can come from such a simply pleasure.
My daughter was born with a hemangioma. It was a strange, tumor-like structure on the bridge of her nose, about the size of a golf ball. Most of the time, they are very benign. Most often, hemangiomas do not require any treatment at all.
However my daughter, Cat’s hemangioma was different. Located on the bridge of her nose, there was the danger that it could affect the development of her eyes. Cruelly, this would not be direct damage to her eyes but a subtle impingement on her visual perception. Her brain would learn that something prevented sight in that space between her eyes and compensate by ignoring input from that area. If it wasn’t removed fast, she could have a large blind spot that her brain learned not to see. If that happened, there was a chance her sight would be destroyed.
(All that and it was unsightly. Having a child with a tumor on the face has the side effect of pulling every a-hole out of the woodwork to point, stare and lecture.)
As I mentioned before, hemangioma are structures that typically require no treatment. It turned out that our insurance didn’t want to treat it at all. My wife fought an epic campaign to make them understand why it was so critical to have this one, special case treated. She found the best doctor. She worked with him to get the best treatment while battling the insurance company into submission. Our daughter had the best care, from the best people at every step of the way. No BS. My wife, Jennifer really did it all.
At the time, I was doing the best I could to provide. I would work like a dog, come home and did the things that needed to be done. I did my part, the best I could. My place was to support. And I made damn sure that if the kids wanted a bedtime story, they would get it no matter how tired or frustrated I was.
I read The Hobbit in a sing-song voice. I read Watership Down because of the bunnies on the cover. I read The Last Unicorn over and over again as it was my wife’s favorite. Stupid, nerdy stories that were age inappropriate; but they put my family in magical, far-away places.
At the end of the day, Cat’s hemangioma was excised but she was not left unmarked by it. On the bridge of her nose was a scar. And it was more than a red splotch. To this day, she calls her scar “her marker”.
A couple of months after the her treatment, I found Catherine playing with two neighborhood girls. There seemed to be a small row happening on our front lawn. The girls were dressed as princesses, complete with copious amounts of make-up. It was comical, except my daughter standing between the other girls armed with a red permanent marker. The other girls looked very concerned.
“What are you doing,” I asked.
“Playing Princesses…. Unicorn Princesses,” Cat answered.
“Unicorn Princesses?”
“Yes, we all need markers”
“For what?”
“To be Unicorns.”
I took the marker away and Cat blew her stack. It was obviously nap time, but I had this niggling feeling that this was somehow my fault.
After a nap, I asked her what a “Unicorn Princess” was. Surprisingly, shockingly she explained that Unicorn Princesses were princesses that had a red marker on their foreheads where their horn used to be. If the other girls wanted to be Unicorn Princesses, they needed the same marker she had. Otherwise, they would simply be plain-old princesses.
Oh boy, it was my fault. And then some. I was so lucky I happened on the scene when I did. Otherwise I would be explaining a livid, semi-permanent, red mark to two sets of parents. That would be a very ugly conversation, indeed.
That night, situation defused, I read to my wife The Last Unicorn. I started where the trouble and the magic began:
“Molly smoothed the strange hair, and Schmendrick noticed on the forehead, above and between the closed eyes, a small, raised mark, darker than the rest of the skin. It was neither a scar nor a bruise. It looked like a flower.”
I can’t think of any other words that would be so perfect.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five years ago… My tech support hell ended

Five long years ago, I quit my technical support job. I couldn't do it anymore.
Me: What seems to be the issue?
Woman: My monitor is broken.
Me: *click* No, it isn’t. It’s just off.
Woman: Yeah, that’s the problem. That green light is bothering me and when I press that little button, it turns off. The problem is, when the green light turns off, the monitor stops working.
Me: That is the power indicator light. It’s on when the monitor is on…
Woman: Yes, you understand!!! No one else understood the problem.
Me: …
I am very happy where I am now.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

From the doctor’s office

I turned in a form to my doctor’s office. They filled it out for me. It included my height, 172.5 cm.
Someone took the measurement from cm directly to feet by 172 cm/12 inches=14.3333 feet. They crossed that off and replaced it with 4′ 4″.
I want to cry for a lot of reasons. Being short isn’t one of them.