Smell Ya Later! (RideSharer’s Lament)

This is a true story, absolutely 100% free of exaggeration, embellishment or embroidery.

 

“This morning, a young man requested a ride.

When I picked him up, I just couldn’t decide:

Was his sense of smell deadened from years of abuse?

Or did he think cologne was a valid excuse

To forgo all societal bathing conventions;

I hope that seduction was not his intention,

As women aren’t usually too enthusiastic

When the scent of a man makes their bronchioles go spastic!

 

I wanted to tell him ‘Get out of my car!’;

I honestly doubted I’d make it as far

As the corner engulfed in that odious stench;

But I sucked up my misery, cuz I am a mensch.

I drove him uptown, each minute an hour!

No unit of time could diminish the power

Of that foul perfume, as it dug in its claws –

Surely this bastard is breaking some laws?

 

I tried to engage in some light conversation

But found that I couldn’t ignore the sensation

Of icy-hot knives stabbing into my nose;

Such was the force of the scent that he chose.

My eyes watered freely to try to assuage

That odious odor’s relentless barrage

But I suffered in silence, counting each second

While outside my window sweet SWEET fresh air beckoned!

 

After what felt like days, at last – we arrived!

I honestly couldn’t believe I’d survived.

He set out from my car with a smile and a wave,

Not seeing the under-dash finger I gave.

I wish that I’d mustered the courage to tell him

That even folks living in China could smell him!

I hate that his scent trailed me all the way home,

But at least this ordeal spawned a half-decent poem!”

Two Roads Diverged On A Yellow Sign

Two Roads Diverged On A Yellow Sign

Two Roads Diverged On A Yellow Sign
 

I wanted to share this picture with you.
 

It isn’t meant to be an arty photo or anything.  I took it on my iPhone, no fancy filters or editing or even basic principles of photo composition were applied.  It was taken off the cuff with very little thought, because something about it appealed to me and to where I’m at right now.
 

I feel like a lot of previously disparate elements of my life are starting to come together, and I’m finding myself choosing a direction for what seems like the first time.  Much like that clear blue sky and those fluffy-puff clouds did, it gives me a warm, happy feeling in my chest.
 

Not much else to say here — I just wanted to share a little piece of my day.
 

 

 

The Kids Are Alright!

Back when I worked as an educational tour guide, my bread and butter was leading high school trips to New York City.

Molding young lives...
Molding young lives in New York’s Financial District…

It goes without saying that there are lots of awesome things to do in New York, so you can imagine that no two trips were ever the same.  But there WAS one quintessential New York experience that groups requested more than almost anything else: a trip up to the Bronx for a Yankees game.  I love baseball, and Yankee Stadium is so inextricably woven into the mythology of the game that I can’t help feeling a thrill of excitement every time I find myself under its big, bright floodlights.

On one trip, I took a particularly sporty group of Toronto kids to see a game.  They were a great bunch, and I was thrilled to be able to share the experience with them.  But this time around, I found my excitement clouded by a sense of unease.

For one, our tickets were for “The Bleachers”, the one area of Yankee Stadium in which you couldn’t buy a beer.  I’m sure the teachers who booked the trip thought it was a great place to seat a bunch of minors under your protection, but unbeknownst to them, the Yankees fans who buy bleacher tickets generally get their whole night’s drinking done before they get to the stadium.

Combine that with the fact that the Yankees were hosting the Toronto Blue Jays that night, and you’ll understand what I was feeling.  My uneasiness deepened as I brought up the rear and realized that one of the students had unfurled a Canadian flag.  In the rest of the stadium it would have earned him some loud, good-natured ribbing.  In The Bleachers, though, the ribbing took on a more sinister overtone.

So-called 'Bleacher Creatures' getting their jerk on.
So-called ‘Bleacher Creatures‘ getting their jerk on.

The kids were too excited about the game to notice the rumblings around them, at least at first.  I’ll spare you the details of what was said, since I don’t like to speak ill of those who are too drunk to know better.  Suffice it to say that eventually the kids (particularly the girls) started to feel decidedly uncomfortable. I felt sick for them; they’d come here to experience one of the best parts of life in New York, and instead they were getting a taste of the worst.

I gave them what I thought was a pretty good pep talk about rising above the negativity, but I wasn’t sure that they’d take my advice.  Not entirely convinced of the power of positive thinking myself, I went up for a chat with the very large security guard at the top of the aisle.  I figured that if things got ugly, it would be good to have him on our side.  He said, and I quote: “I effing hate Yankees fans.  I got your backs.”

But to my surprise, the kids took care of their own backs.  I saw a few of them put their heads together for a minute, then pass the word to the rest of the group.  I watched in amazement as they rose to their feet, put their arms around one another and started singing “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” at the tops of their voices.

The drunken rumblings around us stuttered and then died.  A chuckle from a few rows down echoed outward, and soon most of the crowd was laughing, and a few were even singing along.  A skinny middle-aged woman staggered over to us, put her arm around me and said “You kids are ALLLLL RIGHT.”

Photo Credit: Chicquero.com
Photo Credit: Chicquero.com

And they were all right.  They had a great time at the game, laughing and joking with everyone around them, all bad feelings forgotten.  And our Canadian flag flew unopposed for the rest of the night.

As we walked back to our bus after the game, the aforementioned security guard (who insisted on accompanying us to our bus ‘just in case’) said “That was pretty cool.  But I still effing hate Yankees fans.”

Mindfulness Meditation Practice: CONNECTIONS

totally KELLY swirl meditation
(Image created with Photo-Kako)

I used to think meditation was sort of ridiculous.  I had this idea that you had to ‘turn off your brain’, which for me was just the most impossible thing I could think of.  My brain has always been a non-stop whirlwind of half-remembered ideas and snippets of song lyrics and noise, always noise.  To even weed that down to just a few thoughts at a time seemed hopelessly out of reach, never mind the stillness required for mindfulness meditation.

Eventually I came to the understanding that meditation can mean different things to different people.  There are thousands of legit mindfulness meditation techniques, and probably hundreds of thousands of adaptations people have made that work for them personally.  The important part is that you’re finding a way to clean up your thoughts and give yourself a break from that whirlwind.

I’ve developed (or more accurately, borrowed and adapted) a few helpful mindfulness meditation techniques that I’ll be sharing on this blog, but I’d like to start with one that helped me get out of a particularly foul mood a while back.

Image courtesy of Gene Shepherd
WAH-wah! (Image courtesy of Gene Shepherd)

I actually have no idea where that mood came from.  I was out running errands, having a perfectly normal and non-upsetting day, but then when I started heading for home — BAM.  Absolutely black mood.  Life was terrible and everyone hated me and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

I thought about trying meditation, but everything just felt too dark and bleak.  The idea of blanking my brain wasn’t at all appealing — in fact, it was actually sort of frightening to picture nothingness while in that frame of mind. To counteract that desperately lonesome feeling, I decided to focus on the connections in my life.  On each breath I would think about one person in my life, one person I have a connection with, and let the thought of that person and their concern for me fill my mind up right to the very edges.

On my inhale I thought about my mom, who’s the world’s kindest person and loves me more than oxygen.  On my exhale, I pictured all of the dark thoughts leaving my head as a cloud of black smoke.

Mom And I On A Boat
Georgian Bay boat ride — we’re OK!

On my next inhale I thought about my dad, who actually thinks I’m funny and inspires me every day to accomplish even an 1/8th of what he’s accomplished.  On my exhale, I pictured all of the dark thoughts leaving my head as a cloud of black smoke.

The old man and I mugging in a wine cellar.
The old man and I mugging in a wine cellar.

On my next inhale I thought about my brother, who lives to annoy me but would also take on an army if they looked at me the wrong way.  On my exhale, I pictured all of the dark thoughts leaving my head as a cloud of black smoke.

He teases because he loves?
He teases because he loves?

By the time I was halfway up the hill to my house, I had run through about 60 people with no end in sight.  They weren’t all close family and friends of course; some of them were simply coworkers I got along with, shopkeepers who joked with me, old friends I only see on Facebook.  People whose lives I’ve affected in some small way.

The difference was unbelievable.  Every exhale cleared a little of the blackness until I felt light as air, buoyed by the reminder my life is inextricably connected to other people.  Putting your own concerns aside and considering your effect on the world around you is a powerful mood-lifter!

Mindfulness Meditation ConnectionsTry this mindfulness meditation technique, and let me know how you do in the comments!