Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. - Charlie Chaplin

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

sinking feeling

Most of my pure emotion tends to flow out when I'm in a vehicle.  For some reason it feels uninhibited, maybe because I'm encapsulated in my own little world, the whole "bubble effect"; in the big world, but not.  Sometimes I'm alone, sometimes with my wife. 

Not long ago, a conversation about work led me directly into a rant on "people just not caring".  I let it all fly out.  It didn't take much effort at all to go on and on about the topic, injecting adjective after adjective before each name or situation.  This is probably because it was true, what has become a sort of "theme" to my everyday life, at least in much of recent history.

With any project or activity, effort is put in.  We're told that we're working towards a goal, that we're improving something with this effort, with this time and energy.  We're told to "work hard" and commended when noticeable "extra effort" is put in.  We're told "this is important", "that is VERY important", "report this and that, ASAP!", "if this changes too much it's bad, keep taht from happening".  Then, it all comes to a near halt with one or more people who simply, sometimes even admittedly just, don't, care.

Frustration sets in, intensifying more so as the screams of the importance of said project (or whatever it might be) grow louder and the care of the few keeps its steady, monotone frequency.  The only reason in the first place it was deemed important by the worker was, after all, because they were told it is and should be seen as such by the few, the upper crust and some middle crust.     

"You're polishing the brass and buffing the floors of the Titanic."  While the rant I just went on justifies that there is truth to this saying, I hate it.  It's demoralizing and not exactly a candidate phrase for a motivational poster.  On the other hand, looking at it differently, it can be motivation to bail the ship out and get her to float in turbulent seas that only want to drag us down. 

But, seriously who wants to feel as if what they do daily is meant to save the very thing that should sustain your talents, and provide a drive to succeed.  I want to be a deck hand helping the ship to sail port to port safely, to insure guests are happy and, moreover, that I'm contributing to something bigger, to an overall, shared (institutional) pride, and caring, that fuels everything. 

The unfortunate thought that just crossed my mind:  when the Titanic went down, it took over half the people on board with it, including the captain. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I've always loved talking about my family; both the stories from growing up and the genealogy.  I'm proud that one side of my family has roots in coal regions of Pennsylvania, that many of my family has served in the armed forces in war and peace, that one branch of my tree is PA German and stretches back to the mid-1700s, that another leads me back to Hungary, another to Poland, that I did indeed have at least one family member pass through Ellis Island.

This is all great stuff.  Dorthy Seroskie, "Dot", my Granny, my mom's mom, is many things to me, an especially ripe fruit on my tree, ready to burst.  I could write a post a day about her; retelling stories she's told me dozens of times over the years, in addition to just talking about her as person.

Her medical record is a story in itself, that she tells everyone who'll listen:   

Growing up she'd show me her scare from having her gallbladder removed. 

In her late 60s she had a triple bypass surgery, more scares to show the grand kids.

In her late 70s, while I was in college, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and radiation and it hasn't been seen of since. 

In her early 80s she fell from a chair she was standing on to clean the blinds above her kitchen sink.  Fluid gathered on her brain.  The doctors said if it doesn't go away they'd have to relieve the pressure (IE surgery, drilling into her skull).  The fluid went away.  

A few years later her eye sight started to go, glaucoma was treated for via surgery.  But it got worse and was found out that was mascular degeneration, a way of saying she was slowly loosing her eye sight and there's isn't much of anything to do about it.

At 87, about a week ago, she was told she has a tumor on her esophagus.  Over the past few months her stout, round, Lithuanian figure shrank down to a skeleton.  She just wasn't hungry anymore and had pains in her abdomen and then her throat. 

 My mom had requested last Friday that we come to visit Sunday, she needed "(grandson) Ben time".  It was more a prescription than request.  That day Granny didn't get out of bed.  After eating a massive early dinner my parents, me, my wife and Ben walked down the stone driveway that linked to my grandmother's paved driveway, just like I did daily for many years, to go visit Granny next door. 

We spent a little under an hour with her.  We had to speak at practically a yell as her hearing started to fail over all this time.  My mom tried to get her to drink a high calorie "shake", Granny refused saying it made her too full.  "That's the point ma!", my mom shouted, sighing and heading back to the kitchen.  My dad was next, popping up from being on his knees examining the bed frame with me: "Dot, let me lower your bed so you can get in and out easier.  Matt's here and we'll get Tommy, it'll only take a minute.  Can you get up?  Here let's . . ."a quick interruption from Gran with, "No, no, no, you're not lowerin my bed!"  My dad huffed "fine!" and left the room mumbling in frustration. 

It hit me shortly after leaving.  My wife said, "Did you see Granny?  Her color changed, she totally lit up and had energy when she saw Ben."  My folks had left the room to talk with my uncle leaving me, my wife and Ben with Granny.  Gran would go on to say how nice a house we had and how cute Ben is, talking to him in a way only a great-grandmother can; lovingly hugging him with words after not being able to support his 21 pound body with her arms.  This was when her face changed from pale to a more life-like, healthy glow.  The question my wife asked confirmed that it wasn't just me imagining that Ben had a sort of moral healing power that day, with that glint of physical healing. 

I leaned over to hug her, feeling like a giant.  In our embrace I told her to get better, do whatever it takes.  In a near cry she said "I will for all of you".  Then I told her I loved her.  My wife followed me in the same manner and words, after which we stood and kept reiterating how my folks are here to help.  She'd then state as she did multiple times to everyone in the room, "I don't want you's fussin over me.  You shouldn't have to do all this.  I feel bad!". 

I hadn't notice until a year or so ago when my aunt, my mom's older sister passed away, that my family doesn't throw around "I love you" or "Love you!" when parting ways.  I don't recall it being shouted to me when getting on the bus, or at family gatherings, not much anyway.  It reminds me of when I first started saying it to my wife, when we were dating.  I remember telling her that the last girl friend I said it to broke my heart and that I don't throw "I love you" around anymore.  So, it took some time, but of course I said it to her and her to me and then she became my wife. 

That being said, I don't want you to think that my family waits until there is doom and gloom to begin telling each other we love one another.  I think we simply, unkowingly, put a lot of value in the statement.  The way I see it at gatherings we're saying "I love you" with good food, with laughs, with sharing stories, with hugs, by doing many, many things that are seen as normal family behavior. THAT, I believe, is as strong a way of showing of love as saying the words.  And Granny was a great cook, has wonderful, funny stories and is a great hugger.

C'est Moi!

Here I am.  I kept putting posting again off for a good while, nearly a year.  Coincidentally my son just turned a year recently.  Funny how that all works.

There are a few facilitators to bringing me back to finally sit and write again. 

One - I'm feeling "out of it" today, allergies mostly; ya go one day without allergy meds and the next day it's like the first day you've ever experienced allergies.  So, I'm starting slower than usual, kinda made myself considering how fast-paced the days have been lately. 

Two - My aforementioned son's turning one.  It struck me that to put anything off will mean that another year will fly by, or two years, or three and I'll look back and say "Shit, why didn't I 'this' or 'that'?!  I really wish I had!". 

Three -  My grandmother.  She was hospitalized this past Tuesday.

Four - All three of the above are linked.  I'm fussing over feeling bad now but when I'm 87, maybe from a hospital bed, might think or say, "What was a complaining about at 30?  A sniffle, a cough?  Why didn't I tough through that and DO something?".  Maybe it'll be when I'm 55 or 60.  Maybe it will be Monday, after something unpredictably horrible happens to me on Sunday. 

So, now I want to write about my grandmother.  Out of respect to her however, I'll end this post and begin another with a different title. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

on top of mole hills

Lately I've noticed people on Facebook stating what they are thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving day.  A nice thing to do, but I'll do it here in my online cubby hole instead of my online loudspeaker.  Today and everyday I'm thankful for my wife and son.  Here's why.

This week has been trying.  Too many people with issues, too many mountains from mole hills topped off with lack of planning, communication and enthusiasm.  I've never seen anything quite like it.  It can all really smoother that spark that keeps me going through the day; for me it's usually the want to do a job well, putting a good face to my workplace.

Luckily I have my wife and new son to come home to and recharge me.  OK, he can sure drain what energy I may have left at 2am, BUT his "coo's" and smiles trump most all of that sort of thing.  Him falling asleep on my chest as I lounge on the sofa for a bit after I get home, awesome.  Best part, he doesn't even know what he's doing for me, only that dad's a comfy spot to sleep on, dad's doing his job at home for him.  I can only hope I did the same for my dad when he came home from a world that just didn't makes sense to something that was so simple, and so innocent that finding a any confusion to it or any real wrong with it was impossible.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

stupidly scared?

That being said, I wanted to finish it now, but know I can't; it was totally one of those posts spawned from a moment that I can't replicate. This post I started a week before my son was born.  You'll note the line "having a baby in less then two weeks", and we did, he was 10 days early.  I'll save the rest for after your read the post.

I did it now.  I decided to look at the Walt Disney World website.  That may not seem like a big deal and some of you may be asking, "Matt...why?  Where could he be going with this?"  Surrounded by baby stuff, cute everythings starring back with plastic eyes and knit smiles, I had a flashbacks.  My parents took us to Walt Disney World a total of 4 times growing up; I think I was 13 the last time.  We rarely went to any shore or beach.  Never crossed the Mississippi or ate shrimp and grits.  No, we headed down 95 South, flew and took a train to the most magical place on earth.

While part of me has thought how it would have been nice to explore and see more on the "big" family vacations, the other side of my brain wants to go  I think it's that total fantasy that Disney is about.  Made up worlds and characters created to stir up imagination and joy . . . pure, joy.

So here I sit, just moments ago having looked the website, but I got no further then clicking on two tabs then I had to close it out and get on here.  I had all kinds of sad, bummed out thoughts crash in on me.  Why?  This is Disney Matt!  Remember?  Joy!  Pure Joy!?  Yeah, I remembered, then thought about how here we are diving into buying a house, in two days and having a baby in less then two weeks (well, OK I know around then).  All's I see are dollar bills, plastered over day care doors, buckled into car seats, running the length of wiring and plumbing.  I imagine not being able to take my kid to Disney, and that sucks.

I guess I feel I lost something out of all those trips.  I drew, I drew a lot.  I wanted to be an animator or "imagineer" for Disney.  I wanted to create things that brought smiles on and entertained and made memories. 
OK, there is it.  We closed on our house in the hospital, the day after our little guy was born.  The next week we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary.  A week and a half later, my birthday.  Pile it on!  Pile it high!  I've survived so far.  I didn't realize that the scariest thing was going back to work after being on paternity leave for two weeks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

hues and tints in action

When a day starts out with a dark sky and a gray mindset, it's nice to find reward in whatever way I can.  One thing I always tell myself is to not to neglect others or put tasks or my job just because I'm in a crappy mood.  It's not fair to them.  I'm tired, but feeling that whatever energy I have should be expended on something positive, like making someone else's day easier.  It's like some soap added into the wash water to help take some of that gray staining my mindset.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

absurdity well worth it

Having just become a dad only just over 10 days ago, a part of me that went dormant due to work, "real-life", stress and all that great stuff has come out again.  I've become nicely tenderized by the flurry of sickeningly adorable onesy with bear head feet, stuffed animals, baby smells and children's books.  I've gotten goofy (yeah, I know, more like goofier, still not the same as dorky) and want to see my little guy smile at it so badly...all in time, I know he'll be rolling his eyes at me as a teenage in no time.  It got me to begin writing some fun poems that were inspired by family, friends and events that only came about due to "baby gatherings" - pre and post birth.  So here's a sampling, all due to my brother:

I lost my ring at the wigwam build
About an hour ago now
I took it off, dropped it in my pocket
Thinking I'd keep it safe and sound

I lost my ring at the wigwam build
Checked my pants, coat and shirt
Found only, oh no! a hole!
Some lint and some dirt

I lost my wing at the wigwam build
Now my stomach begins to ache,
My tongue is numbing
And my hands tremble and shake

I wost my wing at the wigwam build
Picked through the branches weally well
I doubt it'll ever be found
If this is where it fell!

I lost my wing and hope at the wigwam build
My wegs now dangle from da car twunk
HoooWaah! this woooks like it!
Perhaps my ship hasn't sunk!

I found my ring in my car, at the wigwam build
I couldn't be more happy or pleased
Now to leave this wigwam behind, where are my keys?!

Siiiigh, I wost my keys at the wigwam build . . .

Copyright Matt Mickletz 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

extreme annoyance

Many of us in this crazy economic climate are looking more and more to save a buck, to stretch a buck, to get our monies worth, etc etc.  It's nice to get "2 for 1" or "Buy on get one Free" if we can, at least it's something I like that takes the sting at the check-out.  If I have a coupon handy for $5 off at a hardware store, I'll use it if I need something, if not give it away or just forget about it.  I'm not about to go out and buy something I don't need for $20 to get that $5 off, just to say I did.  How thrifty is that?  Right, not at all!

"Extreme Couponing" and the "Extreme Couponers"can go jump off a cliff.  I haven't been able to pay less then full-price for razors, or my deodorant or dish soap because the shelves were cleared before I could get to the store to pick up these simple, essential items that I don't buy everyday.  Neither my wife nor myself is typically off during a weekday to shop or clip and organize hundreds of coupons.  We go when we have time and/or need food.   
The old "if you take that much food, Billy, you have to eat it!" from Mom, comes to mind.  These people with shelves upon shelves of instant rice, salad dressing, paper towels, my deodorant and dish soap, taking over their children's bedrooms and the garage to store it all.  Is this living successfully or does it really just personify America's gluttony for more, more, more in the form of a plump 30-something house-wife with 2 kids and maybe OCD. 

The idea of "extreme" stuff is what America has become turned-on to. "Extreme Sports", which turned into the "X Games" comes to mind.  The"extreme obesity" of adults and children no-a-days that launched "extreme weight-loss" reality shows.  Hording, a hot topic on the tube, a result of extremes.  People rather seeing seeing their piles rot then give anything away.

When we are finally surrounded by all the cheap and free stuff we can handle, it will collapse, smothering us with the plastic of a thousand Ramen packets. 

P.S. - Yes, I saw the episode where the guy donated the food to his church.  So, OK, one good one in the bunch.