How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

I’ll give you a hint. . . One. . . Okay, sometimes Two. . . But “which ones”? I find the problem lies in the fact that I ONLY have two “free ones” to aid me in “saluting” those that find a way, come hell or high water, to really mess things up for the rest of us during the course of any given day. It occured to me recently, that I am going on my third straight week of trying to be NICE. . . I am starting to get a little edgy. Any time that I focus on my “Children’s Book” or “Animated Film” pursuits, I tend to gravitate away from what is at the “root” of the majority of my humor. . . Sarcasm.
Please don’t get me wrong, I think there is plenty of room for sarcasm in ANY one of the many of my artistic endeavors. However, when I write for children (or people that can’t handle it when I use the ‘harsh-side’ of my brain) I tend to “tone it down” a couple notches. It’s actually quite remarkable that I am able to “dial it back”, when all I REALLY want to do is “let everyone have it”. You should be impressed with this ability (as I am sure you are). It’s a gift. . . But enough about me. . . I’m kidding. This is ALL about me. I would like to share something with you, so that you could better understand me. . . Let me start by saying, “I DON’T HATE EVERYONE or EVERYTHING”. (Wow, that felt pretty good ) I am also not even HALF this EGOTISICAL in “real life”. (That didn’t feel “half” as good)
The reason I felt the need to “purge” myself of some of these feelings is because I am about to “hunker down” and really throw myself into my “Children’s Book and/or Full Length Animated Feature Film” writing. There is a distinct possiblity that by doing this little “pet project”, I may appear, to some, to be a little bit “crass”. Those in the “industry” that I hope to be working with, one day soon, may (at some, imaginary point) READ something that I have written during the course of this “pet project” and thereby (unfairly and without justification) deem me “DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH”
I want to be like STEVEN HILLENBERG (Creator of SpongeBob) or STEPHEN SPIELBERG (Creator of a LOT of Money) But I CAN’T fail. . . I WON’T. . . To me, it is just inconceivable that I was BORN with this “talent”, so that I could DRIVE A SCHOOL BUS . (keep in mind, I won’t much longer if the “higher ups” read this and think I don’t consider my job, the TOPS) There are “plenty” of people out there that would be “eager” to have my job (scratch that – “A” job) Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am NOT “plenty of people”. . . I fully understand that HOLLYWOOD is filled with talented people that never “made it”. . . I truly feel “sorry” for them and wish them “all the best”. . . It can be difficult to draw unemployment or fake a disability claim. . . (Good Luck with that) .The POINT is, they aren’t “ME”. I grew up “knowing” that I was going to do something “BIG” 
. . . I’ve “worked” my whole life, knowing that it was “temporary”. (Especially, if my bosses read THIS) When I added a “family” to the mix, it became obvious that I was “working” for a REASON. . . It also crystalized in my mind, that NOW I needed to pursue my “DREAM” with a renewed vigor and zeal. No longer thinking “The Future is MINE” but realizing that NOW, “The Future is ‘OURS’ “. . . NO stupid, not YOU and me. My wife and kids and me. . . sorry, to get your hopes up. But the fact is you will ALL benefit, should my hopes and dreams be brought to fruition. Because, as much as I entertain my family and friend (yes, “friend” in the singular… and in actuality – my wife) I want to provide the WORLD with AS MUCH OF ME AS THEY CAN STOMACH. . . A bold endeavor, for sure, but if there’s anyone out there capable of filling the world with “THEM”. . . it’s “ME”. Sure, there are people out there who don’t “GET ME”. . . Even a couple (I believe they live in Missouri) that don’t even “LIKE ME”. . . but that’s. . . OKAY. Because I’m good enough. . . I’m smart enough. . . and dog-gone it (I really almost went for it there)  
What I REALLY wanted to let EVERYONE know, before I finally get my “BIG BREAK”, is that it couldn’t happen to a “Nicer Guy”. . . I’m sure you will all be pleased with the outcome. I hope to provide you and your families and friends with endless hours of entertainment and joy. I am NOT an “OGRE”. I DON’T “HATE” EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. I am REALLY easy to work with. Just ask anyone I’ve ever worked with. (on second thought, let me know who you’re going to ask and I’ll tell you what they were going to say. No sense in bothering them) THAT’S exactly how considerate I am with my coworkers. . .
You know something? (obviously, you don’t or you wouldn’t continue reading this crap) I REALLY wanted to show you just how much I “CARE” about people by making a LIST of “Things That I LOVE About People”. I put a LOT of thought into it. However, when I got to #2 on the list, I developed something that I have never before experienced in my LIFE. . . “Writer’s Block”. . . As a matter of fact, it put me into a really “foul mood”. . . I was actually starting to get a little worried. I went nearly TWO WEEKS without being able to come up with “anything” more for my “List”.Then – just yesterday, something happened that “inspired” me. During the course of my “working day“(the part of the day when I go out and actually earn “money” to support my family) I received a “GIFT”. I arrived at a school loading zone (remember, I am a school bus driver – not a predator). It was the second school pick-up and my last of the afternoon. I was sitting there waiting for the school to “release” the students to my custody so that I could deliver them to whoever cares about them. . . (I said I was in a “foul” mood) I sat there in the loading zone, facing the street, watching the people go by. Some driving by. Some waiting in cars to pick up their little “heathens”. (Oh yeah, I was LOVING life) At one point, I noticed a woman “jogging” with her dog on a leash across the street. The neighborhood I was picking the kids up in was in an area filled with “Prime Real Estate” (well, by Bakersfield’s Standards) Though, because of “redistricting” (bussing kids from poor areas to wealthy ones), a LOT of the kids that attend this school live in neighborhoods across the city – neighborhoods that the “Richies” in this one would scarcely think about driving through, let alone “look at”. (like mine)
Anyway, “Little Miss ALL THAT” was jogging pompously (you can do that, I SAW her) across a side street. I had “just” enough time to assess that I was repulsed by her very existence, when it happened. To my delight (and seemingly in ‘slow-motion’) she suddenly (and wonderfully, without warning) tripped over her own feet(clad in expensive ‘kicks’) and proceeded to do a “face plant” onto the sidewalk. I can only tell you the utter “joy” that consumed me at that precise moment was. . . Indescribable. She arrogantly peeled herself off the the sidewalk and rose to her feet (any ‘normal’ person would have laid on the ground writhing in agony – and indeed, if it HAD been a normal person, I might have felt a twinge of actually “giving a toss” – It was quite a “header”), while her dog looked at her as if to say, “You sure you’re up for this?” After a quick status check of her “podometer” and her requisite “vital sign arm band thingy”, she picked up the dog leash and gave her dog a tug (almost breaking its “well-dog-groomed” neck), her nose fully-engaged in “upward thrust” and was off on her merry little way again. (Apparently, no-less humiliated by the experience) There was even a parent sitting in the car next to the sidewalk she’d just used as a landing pad for her face, who took the time to “NOT LAUGH” and ask if she was okay (or comment on her form – I can’t read lips) She ignored his attention and trudged along. . .

I carefully monitored from across the street thinking, “I don’t care if you’re embarassed – acknowledge the guy’s existence! He didn’t laugh at you! He’s obviously the ‘Patron Saint of Sympathy’ !”

But she just “kept on -keepin’ on” like her feces didn’t retain its malodorous properties. . . At THAT moment, I knew my day was getting better. . .

“At least THAT wasn’t me,” I thought thankfully.

. . . Does that make me a “bad person”? Taking delight in the misfortune of others? . . . I don’t think so. . . Because those whose misfortune I revel in, tend to be on the “fortunate” side to begin with. So what if I didn’t know this “clumsy RICH jogger”?! I know her “type”
. . . So “I” have come to the realization that I am not EVIL. . . Do “You” still need some convincing? I’d love to help you out, but we’re still talking about “My” dilemma. Witnessing that clutz really isn’t what got my “creative juices” flowing again. . . but it got me thinking. . . Why do I have to be so nice, when the WORLD isn’t nice to ME?. . . Doesn’t really seem like a fair or equitable trade. I mean, I think I remember the “GOLDEN RULE” being of some sort of significance in my upbringing, but what could that POSSIBLY have to do with me at “this” stage of my life? The WORLD has already done its best to “Beat the Tar” out of me. . . Isn’t it only fair that I return the favor?. . . with “interest”? So, I decided that rather than knock myself out trying to come up with a “List of Things I LOVE About People”, I’d work on a “List of Things I TOLERATE About People”. . . This list netted 3 Items (none of which I will share with you at this point) It also “ate up” another entire week of my time (I REALLY tried to put some thought into it). But being the eternal optimist that I am (isn’t it obvious?) I had an “epiphany” (an overused word for an idea or realization – which, by the way, has not happened to ANYONE since the 1940’s) I decided that I would make a “List of Things I CAN’T STAND About People” and call it a day. . . But I couldn’t do that. . . WHY? Because there are WAY too many things for ONE LIST. . .

So. . . I’ve decided to start off with a FEW. . . and go from there. . . I will update the LIST when it appears some of you decide I haven’t thought of enough. . .
Things I CAN’T STAND About People (in “no particular order”, but “categorized” for Quick Reference)

  • The stupid “I Go ~ No, You Go Dance”  – This occurs when you find yourself traveling in one direction, then come across someone traveling from an “opposing” (not opposite) direction, trying to occupy the “same space” that you are at the “same time”. This occurrence is NOT limited to being in a car (at say, a 4 way stop) In fact, it happens to me quite often while walking in “ANY and “ALL PUBLIC PLACES”. (A GREAT example is the MALL – Which, is precisely #1 on my list of “WHY I HATE THE MALL”) You will be strolling along and see someone walking in your direction, with NO CLEAR sign that in a matter of seconds you will be staring awkwardly at each other’s feet, paralyzed like an idiot, because neither of you had “any idea” WHERE the other was walking; and NOW you’re at standstill until “someone” relents and says, “You First”. I personally REFUSE to engage in this idiotic “dance”. If I am in my car, I ALWAYS have the right of way. I will “look off” the other driver or consequently rip their bumper off with the grill of my car to let them know, “Oh, but I insist”. If I am “on foot”, all I really need to do is throw a “hip check” or “push them to the ground”. . . I hate to “dance”.
  • the ridiculous “Endless Goodbye”  – Tends to happen in “Overly-Occupied” locations. Say you are at an amusement park with your family. (If you were with mine, it would be weird) You are “Mindin’ Your Own”, buying your kids some over-priced Amusement Park-style Crap, when you feel a ‘tap’ on your shoulder. You turn to “take a swing”, until you realize that “right here“, a good “150 MILES AWAY” from your “place of business” stands a fellow “Co-worker” of yours. With his/her family in tow – all dressed much “nicer” than you and your family. After exchanging cursory pleasantries, you introduce them to your family, talk about meaningless ‘work-related nonsense’ – while your spouses “size each other up” – then stand and stare at the ground, trying to think of a way to get away from someone you “Hate at the office” – LET ALONE in a “Social Situation”. Finally, luckily, one of your kids harpoons one of your other kids in the eye with a “Silly Straw” or pees their pants. . . thus giving you “the opening” you need to get the hell away from this person. . . You say, “Goodbye, Nice Meeting You, We’ll Have to Get Together Sometime, See You at the Office. . . okay then. . . goodbye” (etc.) . . . So that’s it. . . Right?. . . NEVER!. . . Seeing how you “ran into” this person 5 minutes after the gate opened, you end up running into them 37 (possibly 82) more times, before you leave the park that day. . . “Hey, Guys! Great Park, huh? We’ll Have to Stop Meeting Like This! You Again?. . Ha! Ha! Oh Crap, Here They Come! Go This Way!” (etc.) When you have the misfortune of seeing the person at work, the following week, you have to “compare notes”, tell them how “great” it was to see them for a WEEK before you can go back to secretly “loathing” them.
  • the annoying “Take a Frickin’ Picture!”  Another “event” that can take place while you are in a vehicle or simply having a conversation with someone “Face-to-Face”. I haven’t decided which one irritates me MORE, but they both have a place in my “What is WRONG With You?” file. (which is apparently starting RIGHT NOW) I call it an “event” because the perpetrators of this particular activity seem to enjoy the practice of “Gawking” (Like they purchased tickets for “Looking at YOU” and they are “non-refundable”). It can even be subtle sometimes. . . Have you ever had a conversation with someone, that for whatever reason, becomes “fixated” on something other than “What You are Saying”? (Ladies, I don’t necessarily mean what you think) I am talking more about something obscure. . . Something, that you-yourself are unable to identify. Like. . . “your hair” or “your teeth”. They MAY even get “bizarre” with it and decide that they want to survey “your wardrobe” during the course of a “discussion”; NEVER seeming to take any interest in what you are saying. They seem like they are “taking in the BIGGER picture”. Usually after talking to someone like this, I run to the nearest available restroom to do a “nostril/teeth/fly” check. When I find that I wasn’t talking to them with a “side of beef”  wedged in my teeth, a booger hangin’ out of my nose or any “dangling participles”, I am usually even MORE bewildered. (and often, disappointed) WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?”, I’ll question myself. . . when, in all likelihood, the better question posed would be, “What was wrong with THEM?” – The other time that I notice this practice (though, they seem to have “perfected” it , with little-to-no “practice”) is when I am driving. Actually, when I am in my car, the first in line – “sitting” in a left-turn pocket at a STOP LIGHT. Since, I am waiting on my left turn signal to change (by LAW, I am not allowed the “right of way” – stupid rule) I have time to fidget with my radio, look up my nose in the rear-view mirror or anything else that suits my mood at the time. HOWEVER, I have noticed that when cars turning onto the street that I am waiting on pass in front of me, The driver of the vehicles (and sometimes the passengers) STARE at me as they turn. . . I KNOW that I am not the only one to have experienced this phenomenon. I am unsure sometimes if we have “met” at another intersection at some point or if they feel “slighted” because of my “devilish” good looks. . . whatever the reason, it drives me NUTS. Perhaps, they think that I am unexplicably going to stomp on the gas pedal, thus “screwing up their day” by killing them in a freak “Oops, I Didn’t See You There” accident. . . Believe me. . . I “see” you there. . . I just don’t make a “BIG DEAL” about it. . .
. . . SO? . . . SO. . . You can imagine my surprise (well TRY, for the sake of  ‘understanding my ramblings’) I was genuinely mortified when I thought I’d lost my “Creative MOJO”. In all my years of doing “artsy-fartsy” stuff, I had never experienced being a “Creative Cripple”. (I am sorry – become “Creatively Challenged”)
So how many fingers am I holding up? Well, that is actually debatable. How many have I “freed-up” in the last year, since I started writing “this thing“? (“pet projects” now seem more like installing new rain gutters or making shelves for a hall closet)
Let’s start with “Which Fingers Are Available?”
. . . I’d say that my “ring fingers” are already taken. I’m married, so that is my left ring finger (I have the right one on reserve, unless I lose the other one in an industrial accident) I typically use my “index fingers” for pointing out things that are WRONG with people, picking my nose and (of course) for “indexing” things. I have kids, so my “little fingers” are usually pretty well booked with “pinky swears”. I guess, I could use my “thumbs” to give everyone a good old “Thumbs Up” (or down – probably “down”But instead, I think I will hold onto them for when I need to occasionally “Thumb my Nose” at the occasional Societal Idiocracy, Ideology and Imperfection. . . In addition, it is also “widely recognized” that “thumbs” are not considered “fingers”. (and yes, I have begun researching who decided that, so I can “thumb my nose” at them) . . .Which leaves me with “2 digits”. . . I think you knew where this headed from the “Get Go”. . . Though “those 2 fingers” are reserved for no ONE in particular, they are “At the Ready – All the Time. . .
Though my “heart” will ALWAYS be with the pursuit of my DREAM to be a “Children’s Book Author and Illustrator”; and even though I will continue to do everything I can to “Take a Crack” at being the “NEXT BIG THING” in “Children’s Television & Film” – I will ALWAYS be “ME”. . . and I will always “Thank God I’m not YOU”. . . I very much DISLIKE the words “Rants” or “Observations” when referring to a “BLOG”. I don’t think that’s what “I” do. . . That is probably why I very rarely refer to “this” as a blog. A “Rant” has always seemed like “Complaining for NO Reason” and an “Observation” has always been something one does when they try to assess whether or not they have sufficiently blown their nose, by examining a kleenex or kerchief or if it’s going to take another swipe of T.P. after the “Thunder Down Under” (a reference to “commencing with the poo”).
 More often than not, there IS a point to my shenanigans. . . There is a REASON I think you need to “SEE what I SEE”. . . Maybe in time, you guys will finally “GET IT”. . . I’ll keep “Coughin’ Up the Good Stuff”. . . AND. . . I’ll add to my “LIST”. . . But every once in a while, I need to “Take Care of Some Business”. . . 

Thanks for reading. . .

‘Til Then. . . Go Figg’r!

Peace Out – Later

D A N  

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