“Perseverance and confidence is essential to finding clarity.” JSM

 

Tales of the Chronicles

Have you ever had something happen so profound, so jaw dropping, mind blowing, eye opening or gut wrenching it stops you dead in your tracks? Something which seems yanked straight from the realm of the Twilight Zone or a seemingly alternate universe–and the moment it happens–the experience instantaneously transforms your entire thinking process?  Literally changes who you are? In that fraction of time you can adopt the idea that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The only way the incident can be reconciled in your mind is because–there it is, RIGHT THERE, staring you in the face.

I’m certain everyone has in one way or another. I’m almost positive it’s happened to numerous folks at multiple times, to include myself and those around me, and could be happening to some right now.  Perhaps: celebrating a new life born, or suffering a great personal loss.  A life changing injury, illness or a scary medical procedure. An unexpected change in employment, graduating from school or finally retiring from a job. A religious experience. An eviction.  Succumbing to bankruptcy. An unexplainable moment alone while surrounded by the majesty of nature, or an epiphany in the middle of the night that wakes you from a dead sleep. Everyone experiences something that falls just outside the realm of perceived normalcy.  Those paradigm altering moments in time where one stops and says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

I enjoy my outlets and hobbies. Having an outlet is important while pushing through the priorities of life as long as it’s constructive and at least somewhat healthy. Hobbies take many forms: Some go to the bar after work or join a friend for a drink at home.  Some work in the garden.  Some read books or watch television.  Some work in the basement or in a garage tinkering with vehicles.  Some folks sleep for their outlet. Some do puzzles, color, draw or construct ships in bottles.  Regardless of the outlet, everyone has them.

My outlets are diverse, random, necessary, and in some cases a little strange to some. I’m convinced right to the core of my bones that without my hobbies and my personalized coping mechanisms, I’d be a much different person and probably far, far away from where I am today. Therefore I embrace the strange and the unorthodox. I welcome the bizarre with wide open arms.

I have no desire to write an opinion piece. I have no intention to share in regards to an opinion of things. I will never claim to be an expert with worthwhile advice of any kind. Being an expert indicates one knows all there is to know about a subject. I can’t ever declare having expertise in anything as I am continuously learning every single day.

My experiences in college were short lived due to circumstances beyond my control, and unfortunately it will be many years before I can consider returning to former education. I have no formal degrees hanging on my walls at home or in my office. I have work related certifications, but all the knowledge I garnish along my journey stems exclusively from internet research, reading books when and where I can, articles on social media from sites and friends I trust, learning through the wisdom of those I respect and through my personal life experiences.

Most would consider me an honest average working man with a family, loyal to a few, a terrible liar who loves a great story, wearing his emotions on his sleeve and living like everyone else; doing the best he can within the options provided. This is true. I consider myself a meat and potatoes kind of guy, utilizing simple philosophies and striving to practice what I preach.  I consider myself an easy going man with a simple plan, and I’m always trying to project a lighthearted attitude.  But it was years before I could develop these current character traits.

These are the events that led me from point A, to point B.

I’m kidding. I won’t do that to you. I can’t put you through that.  This isn’t an on-line diary or a place for folks to read about my day-to-day activities. No one’s interested in that stuff about me. I plan to try my best to keep this as far away from journal material as possible.  While there may be some autobiographical components I will make every attempt to steer clear of daily activities. No pictures attached from social media of my dinner, or our trip to the amusement park, or comments about my kid’s academics or the walk on the pier with my girlfriend. I’m fairly private, don’t share much about my personal life (unless it’s a crazy story that sparks fun dialogue among my group) and there’s plenty of journals and pictures of other dinners and families out there already. I don’t see the point in sharing what already exists within the realm of the internet.

Despite all that, my life isn’t unlike many others. I work the forty hour grind.  I do my best for my children whom I adore, spending time with my buddies when possible, enjoying the geeky world I’ve created with my girlfriend of five years, and taking advantage of moments. My existence is simplified, structured, and as easy as I can make it and I’ve shaped it to be a certain way over time.

Because of this self-proclaimed simplicity, I can’t bring myself to allow readers to engage and peruse facets of what I consider to be material and activities of a “normal life”.  I’m just one person out of billions doing what needs to be done. No one all that special.

But since this is my first post, I’ll quickly get it all out of the way.

I wave my nerd flag high with pride and make attempts to be unique. I recently hit the peak of the hill at forty years young and consider myself a big kid at heart. I enjoy table top games, superhero shows and movies, and nightly news or sporting events are never on my TV. I have an aging dog with arthritis; a large female mastiff who is like a child to me and when she’s gone from the physical world it will be a sad day for many. I enjoy road trips into the mountains of Maine during autumn’s peak of color, finding a bed and breakfast I’ve never stayed at and soaking in an outdoor hot tub during a light snowfall.

Traveling around our state, watching rock concerts with my companion whom I call my guardian angel (I’ll introduce Nancy later). Walking around antique shops, comic book stores, and eating at restaurants that serve brunch and strong coffee. I love science fiction to a fault and any television, movie, or book franchise with the word “Star” (Stargate, Star Wars, Star Trek). I have a bucket list a half a page long and attending a nearby Comic Con in Rhode Island was recently crossed off that list.  If left alone, I could spend a weekend in a book store and never get bored.

I’m drawn to our nearby ocean off the eastern coast wishing with every visit to one day have my own boat. Binging Netflix during a blizzard while trapped inside, nowhere to go, and all the munchies needed is an organized event in my universe. Living in Maine and forced to endure all four seasons takes preparation and proper planning sometimes, and I love a massive snowstorm. Knowing in advance I won’t be going anywhere for a spell.

Depending on the mood, at times I melt into my chair and play video games online with total strangers, distant friends, or with my kid(s). I have an outlandish addiction to specific television shows and to this day will watch specific ones all over again, from the beginning to end.

I pay bills and have a tendency to get a little behind as a single dad with a solo income, but Nancy and I make a wonderful team. I love a good pizza with a tangy sauce devoid of veggies, and I’m known to put the needs of others before my own. I rent a decent home in a small historic town (though deemed a city) in central Maine and have a couple hundred friends on Facebook but only really communicate with about fifteen.

I work with adults with cognitive and physical disabilities in a quality assurance and administrative capacity with direct support as needed, and my job is a rewarding one. I’ve raised my oldest child to college, enjoying every moment possible with my youngest, been through divorce after a decade long marriage, and have watched friends come and go.  I’ve experienced death and love, moments of great elation and debilitating sadness, been a provider and caregiver during a cancer battle with a loved one (a battle fought and won). I’ve shaved a head in the privacy of a hotel room due to chemo and radiation side effects, and I’ve started over from complete scratch with nothing but personal trinkets, clothes and books.

Not unlike so many others.

All the unmentioned stuff about me, the in-between stuff is the day to day routine: chores, work, responsibility, kids, priorities, trying and failing sometimes, lounging on the weekend when needed, and existing overall. What I call “blah” stuff.

So why write a blog?

All tales have a beginning. The Tales of the Chronicles (TotC) has an origin story steeped in tragedy and regret, but before I explain all that, I have to go back in time. Not a long ago past, but in regards to a faraway memory that teeters on the cusp of almost no longer being memorable, lies the subtle origin of the Chronicles. Before this memory becomes enveloped within the shadows of distant recollection and swallowed up in the abyss of disregard, it should therefore be the one I start with before it’s too late.

Some memories are meant to last a life time. Some are destined to dwindle away and vanish into the archives of the mind forever and only conjured up when triggered or needed. My memories which I deem important ones, the ones that deserve to endure in my mind’s eye and the ones that have helped mold me into the person I am today, are the ones I speak about and share with others.  In turn, my hope is that you as the reader will help share my story and above all else, I hope it helps someone, somewhere.

A few weeks ago, shortly after a movie date with a close friend who I always have wonderful conversation with, the dialogue and concept of starting a blog came to light. The more I thought about it and pondered the idea, and the more I talked it over with my friend, the more I wanted to do it. It was time to share something about me. The idea of writing a blog was something I had never considered before, despite their popularity.

Now here we are.

In this fading memory which I try to keep as a nearby reminder, I recall the weather the year and what time of day it was. I recall the interaction with the man in complete detail, unfortunately the exact date and day of the week completely slips me by.  All I know for certain is that it wasn’t the weekend or a Friday.

While I remember the dialogue with the stranger, his name has become lost among the other names I’ve encountered over the years. Those directly involved in this part of my life may remember his name, but I do not. So for the purpose of this intro, I’ll refer to him as, Bill.

It was summer fifteen years ago and the time of day was shortly after punching back in from a lunch break. I was employed at a steel mill within walking distance of my apartment, and recently trained on operating a forklift and working with light iron.  My job was dangerous, filthy, and loud and the kind of employment that made you stink to high heaven at the end of the day. The kind of job that required steel toe boots, a hard hat and ear plugs; work gloves and coveralls, regardless of the temperature outdoors. The only thing that made it enjoyable over the years and semi tolerable was the group of buddies I worked alongside.  One being a close friend from high school and I’m proud to say our friendship continues to this day.

I was alone at the time on that scalding humid afternoon, re-measuring a section of angle iron, when a customer caught my attention. “Are you, Jeremy?”

(Something must be shared before I continue this memory with Bill. My friends, co-workers and family call me, Jere.  Pronounced ‘there’, but with a ‘J’.  Variances of that are acceptable as well.  Some have spelled it Jer or Jerr, but only folks on the other end of 1-800 numbers and professionals, like my kids’ teachers or my superiors, call me Jeremy)

I held the small section of iron and rolled it around in my hand, “You must be here for the angle piece. Is this what you’re looking for?”

Bill was a tall fellow. His hair slicked back and greying, reminding me of television evangelists on Sunday mornings. My guess on his age was mid-fifties, and the customer before me had the wide smile of the Joker of Gotham. He wore blue jeans and a dark sport jacket, with a plain white shirt underneath almost buttoned to the throat and held a work order in a gloved hand.  He had salesman written all over him.

It was the strange smile that caught my attention.

Bill grabs the piece of cut steel and double checks it with his own small tape measure to ensure it’s sized to specifications and nods his approval; smiling that seemingly animated smile. Diverting his attention elsewhere and glancing around the area he says, “So, Jeremy.  What do you do around here?”

While I only wished to get back to work and end the conversation, he wouldn’t be the first customer to ask such a question. I politely spelled out my responsibilities in vague detail, described some of the projects we worked on, the history of the building, and engaged in the small talk as needed.

What he said at the tail end of our conversation before parting ways, and what he offered me the evening of the next day started a cascade effect which has led to this moment on my journey in life.

He shook my hand and thanked me. The smile splayed from ear to ear with a mouth-full of shiny white teeth and he said with an almost robotic tone, “Your customer service skills are pretty impressive, Jeremy. I might be able to offer you something that could be beneficial. My name is Bill.  Here’s my card.  If you’re interested call me at either number, home or office.  I’d like to discuss something with you if you’re willing.”

Then he walked away without any further ado.

Sound customer service has always been my “thing”. I appreciate a happy customer. Happy customers equal additional business. At that moment in time as far as I was concerned, Bill was just another satisfied shopper. I stuffed the business card in my pocket without giving it a second look and continued my day until it was time to go home.  Didn’t mention a word of the interaction with Bill to anyone.

That night after dinner and tucking the kid in bed, I finished up some chores and came across Bill’s information lumped into the pile of miscellaneous items and loose change on the dresser. I almost forgot about the entire interaction that afternoon.

Expecting the best possible outcome, the next day at lunch break I gave him an apprehensive phone call and we arranged a time and meeting spot of my choosing to chat for a bit. The entire thing was completely out of my comfort zone but my gut told me to go for it. When the gut speaks, you listen. What could I possibly lose?  His business card was flashy and filled with color and dazzle and he appeared to be a nice guy.

Still feeling a bit uncomfortable, having seen plenty of crazy movies in my youth, I decided on a nearby Subway sandwich shop within my walking distance for our meeting place.  He arrived before me at the end of their rush hour, this time wearing a black tie, and Bill paid for both our dinners.

After awkward pleasantries and casual conversation he drank the last of his drink, wiped his mouth and set the tray to the side. The stranger looked down to his seat beside him, reached under the table and revealed a small black briefcase.  Smiling his creepy smile, he set it on the surface and snapped it open.

Bill cocked his head to the side, “Jeremy. If I could offer you something that could change your life forever, what would you say?”

I know right? Straight out of a fantasy novel, TV show or superhero comic. No lead in and right to business.  I actually tried to blink it away, thinking I misheard him. My lifestyle has always been robotic and fairly routine and his words threw a giant monkey wrench into my thinking. What he asked was one of the last things you would ever think of being said, and so openly.  Hearing something like that after five minutes of conversation about the weather, the food, my accomplishments in the steel industry and my jobs of the past in retail, made my stomach drop to the floor and my ears burn.   As I pondered his words, my eyes shot around the room looking for the correct answer and I couldn’t find one. I was dumbfounded thinking of all the ways the conversation could go based solely on my reply, and the Joker’s smile never left his face.

*****

Since every tale has a beginning, middle and an end, I will conclude this portion of the story for now and more is on the way. I hope you consider returning and continuing with the next installment of my newest outlet in life, and joining me in an adventure that has yet to find a conclusion.  A conclusion I sincerely hope I never find.

Welcome to the Tales of the Chronicles.

“Beware the temptress smile and the siren’s song. Malevolence takes many forms and some seemingly innocent.” JSM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to

  1. So glad you are storytelling in a blog Jere!! xoxoxo – can’t wait to read more… 🙂

    Like

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