Stardust

“Anything can be open to interpretation. It’s what drives people mad.” JSM

One winter afternoon in 2012 I was running some numbers through a spreadsheet on my computer at work, doing the ol jobby job, and a random thought slapped me across the face; and it hit me hard. I’m not certain what brought on the subconscious inquiry, but it happened regardless.

I’ll go further with the thought in a moment, but it was one of those eye opening experiences that sent a shudder through my body where I sat. Goosebumps rose and fell across the neck and scalp. I placed my hands on the arms of the swivel chair, relaxed into the leather and stared at the ceiling lights above my office floor.

I pondered for quite some time before returning to my duties. When I sat in silence and thoroughly considered the variables, I felt relieved afterwards. Some inner peace returned.

I’ve come to enjoy those kinds of experiences.

Each experience from person to person is diverse and complex, and no one experience is equal or identical to another. Our individual experiences are like snowflakes. My divorce was probably not the same as another couple’s split-up. My educational experiences, most certainly different. My upbringing. My childhood. My religious history. My odd jobs and employment. My thoughts and beliefs. Your experiences are not mine, and vice versa. Perhaps we’ll have similarities which puts us in that area of middle ground, yet they’re still vastly different.

So when the thought smacked me in the head and directed me to stop what I was doing and think about it, I really stopped and thought about it. However, the experience was mine and it may not mean a thing to anyone else.

Though, I’m hoping it will in some way or another.

While I was hammering through my work routine, the random thought directed me to the calculator and a sheet of paper. I snatched up a pen and dug up old records on the computer and opened multiple windows on the screen for easier viewing. I compiled data on the sheet and punched in numbers on the calculator and when all was said and done, glancing over the results a third time, adding in miscellaneous variables just in case, subtracting and adding as needed, the total I accumulated was circled at the bottom of the page.

400.

Seems like an arbitrary number not knowing the context.

The number produced was the estimated total of people in my community, and beyond, in which my employment positively affects the lives of others. Without the work I do, even on an administrative level with minimal interaction(s), the immediate livelihoods of roughly 400 people are somehow affected.

When I considered the size of the number after the math, I couldn’t help but think about it in greater detail.

Then I broke it down into minutia.

Even if the work only affected twenty people, and the work or lifestyle of even six of those twenty, positively affects the lives of others in some way, the number still has the potential to grow, and grow and grow. Perhaps even to the point of branching out indefinitely.

There was a strange sensation of comfort when returning to my responsibilities. When I had the opportunity to dig a little under the surface of my calcified mind and discover something I’d never considered before, it subtly manipulated my train of thought. What I do in life, can in some way shape or form, work towards the benefit of others.

After work, engaging in the chores at home, I brought the thought to a more personal level.

How many can I affect in a positive way within my immediate circle of friends and family? Eleven? Twelve? And if I have a positive impact on “their” lives in some fashion, how many are being affected outward from there? Again, the number can branch out to infinity. The positive energy can be projected beyond the boundaries of self, and others will feed from that energy.

Negative energy will garnish the same results. Project the negative, and it too will be fed upon.

I believe the infinite universe, stardust and cosmic explosions has tightened up and restricted our concepts of individual importance.

you_are_here_galaxy

Hey, the above picture may be truth, but should it detract us from feeling important?

Once I put some thought into it, I realized that while I may be small within the infinity of the cosmos, despite a feeling of uselessness, being a singular nothing among seven billion others struggling to maintain, devoid of purpose, searching aimlessly for the point of the routine, I could still project positive energy and keep affecting the lives of 400 people and those within my circle. I had control of my immediate universe around me and that was the extent of it. That’s where the focus should be.

I’d rather believe and think and feel as though I have some importance to others, even in a small way, than a pathetic insignificant speck of dust floating through space with no reason for being. Despite the size of the universe… Sorry. I’ll pass. It’s a pill I can’t swallow and I only speak for myself.

Perhaps that’s what I needed to understand. I had to dissolve the me-me-me mentality and change up my thinking. I had to get out of the box. I had to look at life with a “greater good” philosophy, despite my situation.

At the Island that night, contemplating options that didn’t exist, my anger was about to take care of the problem for me. The greater good never once crossed my mind. I was locked into self gratification by projecting negative energy.

I’d feel a bit better later that night.

*****

Sitting in the driver’s seat, I clenched my fists and felt heat spread across my face and neck. My ears hot, my heart thumped, my fingertips tingled, and I was at a crossroad of thought.

If you leave this driveway, there’s no turning back. You’ll feel better for five minutes. Wait. Put the car in park. Stop moving.

Why don’t you stay put, turn off the ignition, go inside, sleep it off, and try to negotiate something tomorrow morning.

I’ve always talked myself down from the edge. Once I give myself the moment to breathe, think, and be away from the problem, I come to my senses and relax. I impulsively follow the bad idea, prepare myself to follow through, then change my mind at the last possible second. I allow the red of anger to blind me momentarily, before seeking the logical venue instead.

That, and I’m not violent. Quite passive to be honest. I’d rather be a lover than a fighter. I can bring myself to anger, but I rarely act on it. If readers were expecting a violent interaction along this leg of the journey, my apologies.

Most of my violence is all in my head.

I slammed the door to the safe house and breezed by the computer. Another email. “What is it this time? Do I have to leave tonight? Can it wait till morning? Should I try sleeping in my car?”

Instead, it was a brief follow up statement attached to the original message. I sat down slow, clicked it open, and came to some realizations upon reading it.

The contents were a justification of my eviction.

“I have a six person family, children included, in need of help before winter hits. Things are bad.”

Things are bad? Hey, I have a family too.

But your family is extended and people will help with the kids when needed. The kids will always have a place to be.

You have to prove you’re a good providing dad.

Winter’s going to affect me too. Why should I be tossed out before the cold season with nowhere to go?

But… it’s a family of six. With children. Get it now? Don’t put your situation above anyone. Their needs take precedence over yours. Keep packing and get ready to couch bounce again. It’s time to think of others for awhile.

“I understand. I’ll be out by the end of the weekend.” I hesitated before pressing send, but not for long. I hit the button, closed the laptop, and attempted a solid night sleep.

It eluded me. I tossed and turned. I felt better, but all I could vision was a future where I would never again land flat on my feet.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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Hindsight

“Always look forward.” JSM

I don’t have many pet peeves. Only a few.

I try to abide by the live and let live philosophy. People are, who they are, and I shouldn’t be frustrated with those varying things I can’t control. Right? Why be upset with the uncontrollable? It only make us upset, and it’s still out of our control.

The peeves I do struggle with however, are like fingernails down a chalkboard.

People who chew with their mouth open (smack, smack, smack), hypocrisy and fakery, hoax videos and prank articles, the plague of the selfie, arrogance and elitist mentalities, being forced to wait twenty minutes when told it should only be two, not served promptly at a restaurant (or fast food for that matter), and last but not least, what I call hindsight comments.

“Jere, you should’ve done it this way. Hey, it should’ve been done like this. Jere, you know what you should have done… instead?”

For instance, “Hey boss. I took out the trash.”

“Did you grab the one in the back corner by the garage door, before they picked up?”

“Crap! Nope, I forgot that one. Walked right by it.”

“You should’ve grabbed it.”

The brow furrows low, I cock my head to the side, and squint my eyes.

What’s done is done. Why bother saying that?

I can’t turn back the clock. Telling me I should’ve grabbed it, after the fact, is a useless and meaningless statement.

-Scrape-

Most of my pet peeves I can ignore, unless it’s right up in my face. The ones I can’t ignore, the ones that get under my skin, become obvious and I force myself to remain calm and quiet.

At times a challenge. Live and let live.

I’ve learned quite a bit from hindsight. Looking back on the path and wondering if it had branched off just a little bit along a different crossroad, would the current adventure be different? Would it be the same, but with small differences? Would my baseball hat be blue, not solid black? Would I still be wearing a hat? Would my push mower be self propelled? Would I still be engaging in the same hobbies?

I think on that stuff often.

Because I enjoy the current path and journey, I can’t (and don’t) dwell on the subconscious realm of hindsight anymore. I visit it from time to time, reflect, and be thankful.

Looking back, I knew my stint at the Island was a temporary gig. I never signed a contract, never a formal agreement issued or an arrangement of permanence. I never dropped a deposit for rental. It was an unused piece of property on the outskirts of town which was available for my emergency situation. A last resort. A literal empty safe house hooked into the grid. I had comfort, heat, and was able to piggy-back off a neighboring WiFi signal and I transformed a bad situation into a livable one. A home for the three of us. Shelby makes four.

And I had pride knowing I did 99% of it on my own. That was a personal goal I’d set. I needed to prove I could be a single father and a solo entity. Statistics, numbers and stigmas be damned. I knew I had an uphill battle before me and the Island was designed to be my beachhead. A fortress of which I had sole control. My starting point to establish a base of operations and proceed forward with the new life. A place to conquer my demons and right my personal wrongs in silence and solitude.

Hindsight helped lead me down a road, which eventually guided me to a light bulb moment. I came to an abrupt conclusion one day. It was startling and intense at first, but when I settled into the idea, it became easier to digest.

What about this… what if it’s not about everyone else? What if it’s not ‘them’, the hateful world, and the haunting memories of the old life? It may be all about you. What if it’s just you? What if you’re the problem? What if it’s nothing more than the result of being your own worst enemy? Perhaps it’s time to swallow that pride, and rethink some things.

What do you need, to change about you? Stop trying to control, that which is uncontrollable. The emotions are irrelevant. Why hate and fear a scorpion when it’s natural tendency is to sting?

I had to rise above the victim mentality. Difficult at first, but once I absorbed it I felt better.

Then, I was better able to view the world, and the people around me, through a new unblemished lens.

Now, when pondering the things that once made me angry, instead, it produces a smile and a chuckle.

Still many moons before finding the light bulb. The email eviction from the Island, was only the tip of the iceberg. In six days I’d be homeless.

*****

Don’t lose it. Keep it together. Suppress it and bury it down. DO NOT REACT IN ANGER! Breath, relax. Don’t puke.

I read the words over and over again. I read them until they blurred together, and were no longer coherent. None of it made any sense. Six days? Are you kidding me?

I minimized the window and dived into the ads for apartments and local housing. Have to stay in the school district. Have to stay close. Think about the kids. It has to be at least a two bedroom apartment. No pets allowed. No pets allowed. No pets allowed.

Oh shit! What about Shelby?

Apartments frown on specific dog breeds. Many insurance companies won’t allow certain types and sizes; no matter the animal’s temperament. The dog could be a gentle and loving creature, the best dog on the planet, and still not allowed. An ankle biter, high pitched “yippy dog” may be acceptable, but not a lazy Mastiff who weighs shy of one hundred and fifty pounds.

The Mastiff used to be classified as a war dog. They don’t necessarily have the best positive image.

I was up against a wall. To the point where sending my best friend to the kennel was the only viable choice, and it was suggested at one emotional moment.

No. I can’t send her away. There has to be another option. I have the money needed to migrate elsewhere, but can’t find a location accepting of my dog. Talk about fairness. Talk about irony.

Pets… So important. Just like a family member. Inseparable. There was no chance in Hell I was sacrificing my dog for a place to live. I’ve sacrificed personal meals to feed my dog, not a chance of sacrificing her for my own needs.

Not–A–Chance.

During that six day stretch I felt helpless and defeated and the time continued to tick by regardless. I found myself sitting on the bed when not packing boxes, checking for updates on housing options every hour through various websites, scratching Shelby’s ears with a trillion ideas running around in my confused mind, yet deprived of all focus.

My possibilities had evaporated. I couldn’t find what didn’t exist. To stay on task and maintain the goals now, was searching for a needle in a haystack the size of a barn.

When all seemed hopeless, a glimmer of light peeked through, and some of that focus returned. It was a darker light unfortunately. My anger reemerged, and the need to “feel” something different and opposite of what I was currently enduring, washed away the hopelessness, fear and pain.

Why is this happening?

Just something else I couldn’t rectify in my mind. Might as well add it onto the pile.

I won’t go into much detail of where my anger led me that night. All I will say is that it involved a car, a lightweight blunt object, a fistful of hate, and a bad idea.

My existence had brought me to the cusp of lunacy.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

Real Life

“Life, is like washing a floor. Once the dirt’s swept up and tossed in the trash, the scuff marks scrubbed clean and it’s sparkling pretty beneath the lights, some asshole tracks in fresh mud.” JSM

-Introduction-

Hi. I’m Jeremy. You can call me Jere if you wish.

stick-man

Opened up my stats this morning while waiting for the kiddo to finish getting ready for school, just checking out various behind the scenes stuff, and I realized I had fifty five posts in this thing called, Tales of the Chronicles. This installment makes fifty six. I actually shook my head and did a double take to ensure I wasn’t imagining it. Fifty Five. Never would have believed it. My, how the time flies.

I title this installment, Introduction, due to the idea that not many know anything about me other than what I post here, or on my social media. Since March 2016, I’ve portrayed myself publicly as a person who’s the mirror opposite of who I am today. At this point, most know Dr. Jekyll and are unfamiliar with Mister Hyde.

Chatting with a buddy yesterday, I mentioned, “I guess describing myself as a bit ‘off my rocker’ has served me well. At least I’m enjoying the experience.”

Now, that TotC is starting to pay off a little, I need to tell the readers some stuff about me, outside of what I call, Tales.

Yeah… I’m a bit eccentric in my day to day life. My friends and family know me well. Earlier installments suggest my hobbies are unorthodox and strange, and yet without those focal points, those activities I engage(d) in, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. I had to find something to grab hold of and not let go. An anchor point.

The world is a cruel and heartless place sometimes. Bad things happen to good people and if not for the things that truly define our happiness, the world gets tougher, and more brutal.

For me, it was a step by step process; learning what it was I wanted to do, and try. And I’m still learning and trying. No denying that. Through unconventional methods I came to grips with what my personal definition of happiness and success is all about. I refused to believe I was meant for a constant stream of never ending bad luck and unfortunate happenstance for the rest of my days. I’d be damned if the world got the better of me. I’d be damned if I allowed others to control my outcome.

Am I happy? You betcha. Never been happier. It took an estimation of half a lifetime to get there, but absolutely. I am happy. (Whew, had some close shaves while looking for it)

Am I successful? That all depends on the subjective interpretation of success.

In a material, educational, and financial sense? No. I’m not successful and that’s just fine. What I do in my life is not money centered. Am I happy with my “40 hour jobby job” and does my job take care of my family’s needs? Yes, I am happy with my employment, but my employment does not define my success or determine my definition of happiness. It’s an activity I’m forced to participate in.

If the pursuance of individual happiness is the true definition of success, than yes, I am successful. Finding that buried treasure in the back of my mind formulated my happiness.

I prefer happiness. I prefer having the opportunity to find myself and be who I am. Unfortunately, the road to find who I was, and what I wished for, was long, tiresome and seemingly endless.

In my personal opinion it was the journey along that road, which led to where I wanted to be. Now that the road has a gentle breeze blowing steady around me, has branched off elsewhere to parts unknown, is straight and narrow, the sky seems clear, and the walk has become a comfortable stroll, it continues on and on and I don’t wish it to find an end this time.

And I don’t see an end.

I like this path of life. I’m enjoying what makes me happy.

What makes me happy, is writing.

I write. A lot.

I write every day. Sometimes four hours each evening or as little as one if feeling drained, and on the weekend(s) I can go all day if left alone and the coffee IV is hooked up to each arm. I try to keep a blog entry between fifteen hundred and two thousand words per installment, with the exception of the shorter poems I’ve spliced in, and last night I browsed through every scrap of material I’ve stored away and I sit at just over 475,ooo collective words across multiple projects over a five year period.

I am not published.

I am learning.

I am seeking that, which I’ve subconsciously always desired.

When I mention 475,000 words I can be honest and say, head held high, that the words I have on paper are not perfect words. Far from it. Open admission. I’d be a fool to think that. In many cases, what I write is noticeably flawed and I’m big enough to admit it. The best part of my journey along that tiresome road was my eventual understanding of what defines my shortcomings and my faults, as well as what makes me happy.

I know when something is too big for my britches. I can see when I’ve lost sight or have the inability to bring what I visualize into action. I know when I’ve hit a wall, can’t rectify an issue or see beyond my personal veil of ignorance. I own my mistakes, make strides to learn from the situation, I listen to those I respect and have the advice I seek, and I continue with each challenge towards self betterment. I try, try, try and try again. Today, when I fall down, rising to my feet is easier than before.

In the beginning I never contemplated the gratification of applying words to paper. In fact, I ignored the impulse for a period of time and forced myself to fight it off.

Who the hell do you think you are? Why would you want to attempt something so meaningless and difficult? Stick with the dream journal, buddy boy. That suits you just fine. Keep it simple stupid. “That” is a world where you do not belong.

This is coming from someone who doesn’t know what world they belong in.

I really didn’t know. Towards the end of the rocky road journey, and the beginning of the new adventure, if someone asked me, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I probably wouldn’t have had an answer. Only a half shrug, mumbling “I dunno” in reply.

“Everything I do, I do for my children.”

That’s where it all began. The kiddos.

The best thing to do for them is set a good example. The absolute best example you can set.

Apparently my anger, confusion and the emotions that manipulated my mind during that period of turmoil, distracted me from the little clues I left myself. Over time, from my late teens to that moment five years ago, I was mindlessly jotting notes and one liners and storing them away for no particular reason. I’d write something, and hide it. No order. No “system” or process. Just ramblings, notations, names, doodles and thoughts.

At the end of the difficult path, I had to force everything to make sense. My mind sought logic within the illogical. If I retained and hoarded everything for a purpose, what’s the bigger picture? What connects it all together? Where, or what, is that one unifying thing I keep overlooking? How does this crazy madness I’ve concocted, fit into some semblance of sanity?

That was my immediate problem. I couldn’t make sense of what was happening to me, and around me. I felt so off balance, bouncing throughout the multiverse, phasing in and out of the Twilight Zone and blaming everything and everyone for my troubles, I couldn’t find the opportunity to see inside myself and search for personal recognition. I sought self awareness, but never intentionally looked for it.

It just fell into my lap one night, something in my mind clicked back on, and my path changed.

I’ve never looked back. The experience has changed me into the person I want to be.

This was the toughest of all the installments for me thus far, and I’ve deleted it three times and started over. My difficulty stems from the fact that I’ve broken character, and have lowered my shield a bit for everyone. I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable. That is not easy for me.

For quite some time I battled between what I wanted to do and what I should focus on exclusively.

Kids, Nancy, job, dog, save money to pay bills, shop, spend money, keep an eye on my children’s small pets, chores.

Splicing in the dream to find happiness, within all that chaos, was a fight I almost lost.

When ‘they’ say, “sitting down to start is the most difficult part” they ain’t just a whistling Dixie.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way. I’ve sent my work to the wrong people. In some cases, a manuscript or two have been sent away for critique, and a year later I still haven’t heard back. That’s fine and dandy. In fact, those manuscripts have undergone so many radical changes since then, it’s become a whole new project. Night and day.

What made all the difference in the world was what I call the five beta readers. Four of the five agreed to give my work a read through and each reply was positive and uplifting.

The fifth reader was a happy accident.

I sent a copy of my project to a family member and in turn, he handed it off to his friend. The friend of the family enjoyed it and made it a point to say at a BBQ one afternoon, “When are you going to stop working on that online blog thingy, and get back to work on that project of yours?”

Don’t worry, old man. I’m working on it every day.

The five beta readers renewed my spirit. I was given some good hard positive critique, and I’ve been diligent in applying what I can, to strengthen it and make it better.

One reader’s reply, “I liked this. I’m guessing you’re getting an editor, right?”

That was a bridge I never considered. In fact, it brought on a flutter of butterflies in my gut when I pondered it. A casual read by a group of people is one thing. Hearing positive replies from a handful was enough to make me feel good about what I was trying to accomplish, but an editor was a different step.

One day, while believing my foot was nailed to the floor and I was running circles around myself, I reached out to one.

As far as a simple introduction is concerned, that’s it for now. My name is Jere, I love writing and I’ve been engaged in this hobby almost every day since discovering I wanted to give it a try. Creativity and creation has outweighed all the bad in my life and has permanently covered over and buried my negative past.

However, back to the matter at hand. I have an email to re-read and if my eyes aren’t playing tricks on me, the contents say I have six days to leave the Island. Once the nausea and dizziness fades away, I may do something about it I’ll regret.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

The Seeker

“Truth belongs to the seeker, though more tempting to keep eyes closed. It’s wandering inside, attempting to hide behind falsities superimposed.

Conviction blazes the trail. The light to guide the path. Without conviction and sight to find truth in the plight, we’re trapped in the aftermath.

Reality is merely a legend, a myth, buried beneath sands of time. The path there is subjective, with changing directives, for the one who seeks the sublime.

They call you delusional, crazy, insane, pointing fingers and placing blame. Keep the chin up high and the eyes on the prize. Learn how to play the game.

The rules, a challenge to follow, and always in disarray. Constant movement and motion, like waves of the ocean, with a current that leads us astray.

beach

However, the rules can be easy, by changing the terms of the game. Tear the rule book in half, then sit back and laugh, and go against the grain.

The enemy of life is time, it’s mightiest weapon the burden of proof. Continue the climb, and seek the sublime, without conviction there is no truth.” JSM

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

Conspiracy

“When facing a storm, regardless of it’s strength, feel confident knowing it will eventually pass.” JSM

-Blindside-

Imagine if you will, sitting in your office at work. Generally engaging in your job related tasks. A normal day. A work day not unlike any other day of the week.

Perhaps you’re daydreaming about the future, thinking about what the family wants for dinner that night, or deciding what book should be pulled from the shelf for some light reading when the chores are finished. Conjuring up images of your vacation from last week. Listening to music, or your favorite podcast through the ear buds.

Wondering how the kids are doing in school, or what your significant other is up to.

Maybe you’re contemplating taking the dog for a walk. Maybe you’re single, living life as a solo entity, pondering the night activities or where you want to go for entertainment when the work day is complete.

Either way, you’re doing your thing at the job site and being yourself. Living your life and completing the responsibilities and obligations. Managing to the best of your known abilities. Everything is seemingly normal. Plodding along through the work day at the regular speed and doing your best to be your best.

Sure, work isn’t always fun. It has it’s issues. It sucks sometimes. We may clash with a disgruntled co-worker, deal with an unhappy customer or find ourselves embroiled in disagreements with the boss and butting heads from time to time, but the company considers you a valued member. They need you and you need them. You feel safe and secure knowing you’re important to the overall construct. At least, that’s what you’re led to believe over your many years in employment.

However, behind the scenes, a conspiracy is afoot.

You hear a whisper through the grapevine. A rumor from around the corner near the water cooler. A secret you were never meant to hear. You’re now privy to knowledge that was never meant for your ears.

At first you shrug it off. It may be nothing. A figment of your imagination. Perhaps I heard that wrong.

The next day, you feel the stabbing glares from others in the office. The whispers become louder. The chatter escalates around you in corners and muffled by the petition walls. Cliques form, and people you once considered work place friends are now giving you the evil eye and the cold shoulder. You walk by a co-worker and they shut off the monitor to their computer, denying you visual access to what’s on the screen. You walk towards a group of peers to chat about the show last night, and they shuffle away from you as you approach them.

OK… something’s not right.

The office grows tense and uncomfortable. At this point, you know something’s wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it and dare not speak a word. What happened to everyone?

People you’ve spent time with out of the office. People who’ve visited your home and enjoyed holiday parties with. People you’ve considered to be on the same page, the same team, and even in some instances, close friends.

The one thing the co-workers forgot however, is the fact you have the ability to remotely access the company computers from your office space, and dig up the information that’s been hidden. Guess the boss man should have reconsidered my administrative access. Let’s see what ol Jesse in accounting was looking at, at 3:15 yesterday afternoon. What are you hiding from me, Jesse, old buddy?

Once inside the system, the back and forth email pops into view. A twelve person chat where the topic of conversation is… you. The eventual outcome of your job position. The steps that will be taken to either force you to quit, or be fired, and more than half of the office is in on it.

Startled, anxiety spreading through your veins like wildfire, you erase every shred of evidence that showed your activity. You return to work and attempt to muscle through the remainder of the day, and pretend all is normal.

Now, everything changes. Now, you have that secret information that wasn’t meant for you. The conspiracy has been discovered. A secret revealed. You’ll become an eventual victim and there is no escaping the inevitable fate. You’re doomed to watch the events transpire around you, helpless, and all alone. One person against a corporate empire.

What do you do?

Do you transform and become like those attempting to do you harm? Do you fill yourself full of poison and strike at them like a wounded and cornered scorpion? Do you confront at all? Do you continue on, and merely hope for the best? Do you ignore and pretend you never saw it? Do you make arrangements to leave, or do you wait to get the pink slip? Do you seek justice? Do you seek clarification? Do you pray, or scream at the sky?

I did a little of it all. I transformed. I screamed and prayed. I sought to make it right in a non-aggressive manner, and in order to accomplish a daunting feat such as that, emotion goes straight out the window. I hoped for the best, but expected the worst. I ignored it to a point until the day I confronted. The only thing I didn’t do, is wait for the pink slip.

I arranged for new employment. I left the office of my own free will and found something much better. Especially when I discovered the C.E.O. of the company was responsible for the conspiracy in the first place.

Dealing with an event such as that, changes you. You see people in a whole new way. You embrace the concept that what you had, was coveted by others and in order for the office staff to climb the ladder of success, your elimination is essential to the collective. You come to understand that at any given moment, people will turn on you, especially if they see a prize or a reward once the workplace obstacle (you) is out of the way.

office-backstabbing

It doesn’t stop there though. Oh, no, no, no, no. It’s never that easy.

After signing the contract for the new job and settling into the new office, the C.E.O. of the old job contacts you through Skype.

“You need to return. The company needs you and your skills. The whole thing wasn’t meant for you. The email auto corrected from Jesse. It was all a big misunderstanding. Will you come back?” Excuse after excuse, backpedaling and redirection, offering more money and practically begging.

“Not a chance in Hell.”

I don’t watch reality television anymore. No… I’m sorry, I lied. I watch various reality shows depending on the season, but I like to say I don’t. My two favorites are Masterchef and Survivor. This current season of Survivor is number thirty three. I’ve watched every episode since day one. I’ve won money off Survivor betting pools and have always been envious of the competitors, knowing I wouldn’t last a week out there.

As a viewer, the best drama on the show (other than the games) is the tribal council blindside. A player who feels safe within the tribe and solid in their position. “Knowing” that (s)he is secure, and has the numbers, alliances, and advantages in the game.

Then at the end of the vote reading, that player who once felt safe, is voted out of the competition. Completely blindsided by the folks (s)he trusted.

And the tribe population always says, “It was for a better, stronger, more unified tribe.”

Each time I see a Survivor blindside, I fist bump the air above me. It pumps me up. They never see it coming, and if they do, it’s too late to do anything about it. Sometimes it’s filmed in such a way so the viewer is blindsided as well. We think one thing and the opposite happens instead.

When the voted player’s reactions are shown, it’s always one of surprise, bewilderment and head shaking confusion. Eyes filled with tears. At the end of the show, I eventually sympathize. I know what it feels like.

My blindsides through life have been brutal.

The Island eviction, was no different.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

-The Vault and the Blade-

“Life is complicated. Simplify it.” JSM

-The Present-

I struggle with the exact age when recalling times of my youth.

For example, my bedroom in the childhood home was small. Small enough to warrant my father building stilts to raise it up from the floor; like a bunk bed without a bottom bunk.

Four thick reinforced legs supported it. A ladder was fashioned to the foot of the frame work and my mattress sat within a constructed box. Over the years, I had to be cautious not to smack my head on the ceiling when waking up for the day.

My clothing dresser, bean bag chair, toys, and shoe boxes of Garbage Pail Kids sat beneath the bed in the available space.

I can’t recall if I was eight, nine or even as young as six when he built the elevated bed.

Therefore, on the day I received the present in my preteen years, I’m not sure if I was ten, eleven, twelve. Regardless of the exact age, I was young.

Sitting at the dining room table at my buddy’s house around Christmas, I received a present. A gift I kept concealed from my folks and sister because I never wanted it taken away or messed with; or even used for that matter. No one touched it but me.

Through the holidays and birthdays of my youth, I was accustomed to receiving toys: Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe vehicles, M.A.S.K. figures and Hot Wheels cars.

This present, however, was unique. It was part of a combination set. Being the friend of the family my piece of the set was smaller, and my buddy received it’s larger counterpart.

What was given to me was a knife. I named it my throwing blade. Here is it’s first ever picture.

blade

The coolest part, on a personal level, were my initials engraved in the steel. I always got a kick out of that. Seeing the letters, added to it’s uniqueness. My rough guess is, I’ve been in possession of this knife for at least twenty five years. It accompanied me on the Appalachian Trail hike in high school.

The parts and pieces included a black leather sheath, a cleaning cloth, and a fancy black tassel that dangled from a hole in the handle. The kind of tassel one might see attached to the top of a bookmark. The tassel and cloth has long since disappeared, but I still have the sheath I can attach to a belt if I wish to carry it around.

I taught myself how to throw it, mostly in the woods and the open fields of Maine, and my targets were always large thick trees or cut stumps. I wasn’t very good at it, at first, but when I did hit my mark and make it stick, I always believed I could be good at it. Positive reinforcement. One out of six. Try again. Line up the sight… let’s shoot for two out of six at this distance.

Feeling cocky and overly confident one summer afternoon, I brought the blade to a tournament. A county fair in my local area had a demonstration consisting of hatchet throwing, archery, target practice with knives, and intricate wood carving. A blade exhibition.

I watched a man throw two axes, one from each hand, at side-by-side targets, and before the hatchets struck their individual bulls-eyes, the man also released two throwing daggers.

He fired them from his side, like a cowboy withdrawing his six shooters, and each small blade struck the ax handles where two bulls-eyes were painted on the wood. The crowd hooted, hollered and clapped, and I stuffed my hands in my pockets, whistled a song, and casually strolled away. I can’t compete with that. Best to be an observer for today. Let’s go watch the Paul Bunyan look alike carving a bald eagle from a wooden post with a chainsaw.

I returned to the fields and woods and kept practicing.

Today, I don’t think I could take down a running deer for food, or bring down a bird flying overhead, but I could possibly deter a home invasion or an attacker if I had it close by.

In the present moment though, the blade sits in it’s black box on my bookshelf.

The sturdy wooden box that houses the blade, I’ve named, The Vault. Within the Vault I’ve kept, saved, and stored important knick knacks and trinkets from the years gone by: My class ring, my wedding ring (in case I’m ever desperate for a few bucks), a laminated business card, a five dollar bill from Honduras (given as a gift from a friend in the military) a key, a second key-which I have no recollection of what it unlocks-and a piece of jewelry I found on the ground that I’ve never had inspected from a jeweler. It could possibly be nothing. Tucked under the blade’s velvet bed are two pieces of paper with important phone numbers.

During the days of BizzaroTech, I also included in the Vault a folded up sheet of paper given to me from Bill. “Open it when the time is right,”  he once said to me. I ended my relationship with that company, stuffed the paper in the Vault, placed the Vault in a closet and ignored it’s existence, until moving day.

Luckily, it’s one of the few items that were never lost during the multitude of moves. I always found the black box and managed to keep it close by.

From my point of view it’s a treasure, and I will never part with it.

I removed the Vault from the bowels of the filing cabinet during that evening of Island cleaning, but I had yet to open it. With Nancy at the fireplace, digging through the archives of the old life with me, the Vault sat out of eye sight on the floor, nestled within the shadows underneath a nearby shelf. It would be many more days still, before opening it again.

*****

We sat on the hard wood floor and lit a small fire. Starting with old college documents and employment training manuals, we eliminated and erased unnecessary files of my old life. It was a nice moment. Quiet. Peaceful. Serene. Neither of us talked much, but when we did, it was in the form of trivial surface questions. Yes and no answers-then back to minutes of silence and watching the flickering flames.

The piles were slowly condensed and separated by importance. When the fire dwindled down to ash, the items remaining on the floor, and filed away back inside consisted of: financial statements, medical information, my childhood Polaroids, kids drawings and varying notebooks. In a segregated folder I housed my strange sketches, map pieces and doodles. Before she left the house, I returned my dream book back to the top of the shelf and hung up my work certifications.

During the time spent together, we made small talk and chuckled at each others funny quips. We both worked for the same company and discussions were trivial at first. It took some time before we were comfortable discussing topics of our personal life. I invited her back  the following day and our second encounter was sitting outside on the porch, and enjoying the warm weather. Shelby took to her quite easy.

Once she left the property after the second visit, I climbed the stairs to the top floor and entered my daughters bedroom. I flicked on the light and chuckled out loud at the color scheme she picked. Of all the available options I give her, she chose this color. Unbelievable. Each wall and the ceiling was painted dark purple. I glanced around the space for dirty clothes, and clutter, adjusted the blankets on her bed then returned to my computer feeling like a million bucks.

I’ve settled into my new digs. Painting walls. Cleaning and unpacking, making this house a home… finally comfortable with guests, making new friends, finding snippets of the old life that make me think and ponder and question.

New Email. What’s this?

The contents of the mailer were succinct and after reading it, my head swam and the nausea returned.

“Sorry to inconvenience you, but the arrangements have changed. You’ll need to be out of there in six days.”

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.