What’s The Hook Up To Anyway?

By now I’m sure at least eight of you are wondering, “What the hell’s going on with your ‘100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself” series, Hook?

Right?

Right?

Well anyway, I started this (hopefully) life-affirming series to be slightly selfish and work through my lingering issues surrounding Rockin’ Ronnie’s death but also to help anyone dealing with grief or depression of any variety. (Lord knows there are millions of reasons to be depressed and disillusioned with life these days.) But a funny thing happened along the way…

I got better.

Mind you, I’m far from completely sane but as John Astin used to say:

“I’m feeling much better now!”

So much so that I’ve decided to stay the course and continue my blogging hiatus. It doesn’t appear that the Summer of 2019 is going to be very hot or summer-like in Niagara Falls, but hopefully the hotel will be bustling with activity – and if I’m lucky some of it may even be quasi-normal. So between work and living my life, as “unique” as it is, I’m going to be a busy man-child.

Heck, I already am.

My daughter and I just returned from our fifth trip to NYC in two years; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two are required viewing if you love next-level theater and have a few hundred dollars burning a hole in your change purse. And Niagara Falls Comic Con 2019 just wrapped up, so I’m mentally and physically drained of all my nerdy power.

So to sum up: I’m feeling good (though my IBS continues to attack me with all the tenacity of a squirrel on my backpack), there are fewer dark days than ever and I’m looking forward to time with my family and the crazy bastards I call my work family more than ever.

It’s all good and so am I.

Come to think of it, maybe this hiatus itself is a Reason To Not Kill Yourself.

#30: Take A Break!

 

A super image for a super mood…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #31.

Dearly beloved members of the First (and Only) Church of Hook,  we gathered here today to acknowledge and pay tribute to all forms of organized, and even unorganized, worship and its place in our lives.

I shall now pause for a moment, as 90% of you click away and see what’s new on YouTube and any of the other “Tube” sights that shall remain nameless….

All done? Good, then we’ll continue.

#31: Religion.

I realize religion is one of those hot-button topics that people usually advise other people to avoid at social gatherings so as to avoid someone getting a shrimp fork in the temple, but you know me, right? I don’t give a toss who I offend, and it usually works out pretty well. For me, at least.

So that’s why I’ve decided to forgo my personal feelings on religion and acknowledge the positive effects it can have on a person who is struggling with life’s many challenges.

My wife once had an Uncle Johnny who swore belonging to a church saved him from remaining on a path of self-destruction. Indeed, I’ve heard the stories over the years about the path he was once on as a young husband and father and he surely would’ve never have made it to his golden years if he hadn’t found an anchor to keep him from drifting away.

For some the bonds of family are enough. For others, it can be something as seemingly-simple as a dedicated exercise regiment, organized sports, writing, painting, or even underwater basket-weaving.

But for millions of mammals the secret to a happy, stable life involves chewing a thin, bland wafer and drinking an even blander (that’s a word, right?) cup of crimson liquid that’s supposed to be the blood of God’s only son.

 

Hey, if it’s good enough for Prof. Farnsworth and Sheldon Cooper…

 

Fun Fact: As a kid because I was worried I’d become a vampire, so that “Blood of Christ” never touched my lips. And I was disappointed beyond words when I came upon the realization that being a vampire would actually be pretty cool, and nothing happened when I finally took a swig of that religious concoction. That misunderstanding aside, I attended quite a few church services throughout my early life until I decided it just wasn’t something that appealed to me.

The hypocrisy I witnessed made me sick (sinning like a motherfucker all week cannot be washed away with a few Hail Marys in a church at the week’s end) and so I continued on my path without a Sunday consumed by a couple of hours praying and singing in a monkey suit followed by lunch at Swiss Chalet.

Actually, I miss the chicken.

But all religion can save lives. I’m sure there are congregates of the Church of Satan that would surely be worm food right now if they hadn’t been compelled to devote their lives to the red-skinned guy with the horns and tails. And yes, that’s still a victory for the pro-religious camp. Short of stalking and murdering innocent victims, every pastime that gives a lost soul something to focus on is worthwhile.

So picking up a bible, the Quran, whatever Satanists read, or any other religious text may be just what you need to keep you from severing that vital connection to the world. Feeling as though you’re a part of something larger than yourself can be humbling but also deeply fulfilling.

I was concerned when we first lost Ronnie that his immortal soul may have been in jeopardy but after consulting with a few friends and a religious authority or two I was assured that my friend is at peace at last. On a side note, I was deeply relieved when I didn’t burst into flame after entering a church to meet with a priest.

So in conclusion, religion may not be your bag but it when you look past all the BS you may just find what you’re looking for.

And that’s as inspirational as I can be these days so take it or leave it.

See you in the lobby or between the pews, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #32.

As some of you are aware, I am one of the few mammals alive that hasn’t been enraptured by the cultural phenomena known throughout the Multiverse as Game of Thrones.

I know, I know, it’s crazy, right?

Nevertheless, I’ve yet to become a fan of a program that has elevated incest, dragons, medieval brutality and the most depressing wedding of all time. However, GoT has inspired the title of today’s post and for that I will be forever grateful.

#32: Summer Is Coming.

It certainly doesn’t feel like it in my home base of Niagara Falls where the phrase, “April showers bring May flowers” has been replaced by “April showers bring May showers… So batten down the hatches, you poor bastards”, but the dog days of summer will soon be here.

I hope.

The weather in Niagara has been completely dreadful since last October but nothing lasts forever, and while it’s definitely far too brief in Canada, summer can only be delayed by pollution and Mother Nature’s mood swings, not cancelled entirely. Eventually, we’ll all be seeing the unmistakable signs that the fairest of all seasons is here once again. What are these signs? I’m so glad you asked…

  • The birds will begin chirping at 4am, waking me from an agonizingly-brief slumber.
  • My neighbors will stare at their dead grass, then at their hoses and sprinklers, before considering the water rates in Niagara Falls (which are ironically high) and then they’ll just let the grass die so they can afford another month of unlimited wi-fi.
  • A few kids will get their bikes out of the garage – until Mom and Dad get visions of the rugrats getting wiped out by a driver or whisked away by a pedophile. Then the bike will go back in the garage, right next to the sprinkler. Cynical realities, I know, but realities nevertheless.
  • There will be at least one old guy in shorts, black socks and sandals on every street, coffee shop or store walking around declaring, “How about this heat, am I right?”

As a bellman I’ve always been especially, ridiculously even, fond of the summer. Or as I like to refer to it, “The Only Season That Determines Whether or Not I Eat For The Rest Of The Year”.

Summer’s when it all happens in Niagara; it’s when the city is humming with life rather than rotting away like a decaying corpse.

Summer’s when travelers gather in large numbers to watch, and this is an exact quote from a guest, “A shit-ton of water piss down on a bunch of ancient rocks in a hole that was formed when a meteor bigger than my lady’s coochie came down and wiped out the dinosaurs.”

I love my guests from America’s inner cities.

Older folks and those with breathing issues may hate it, but summertime is filled with a wonderful sense of nostalgia for many of us. First kisses. First sip of beer with your dad on the porch. First time driving on your own when you hit a hobo and have to convince your drunk friends to help you hide the body. Lots of memorable firsts.

In short, summer truly is the season of life. So milk it for all it’s worth, kids; seize the day and all that jazz.

Breathe in the summer.

Live.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

This may not be the most upbeat pop song ever but it’s status as a definitive summer song is irrefutable.

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On This Day…

There’s so much I want to say to you that I didn’t say while we were both sitting in that hospital room surrounded by a cacophony of beeping devices, moans, soft, desperate pleas for help and the occasional chirping bird outside the barely-cracked window.

Why is it that animals avoid hospital grounds, I wonder? Maybe they’re not so dumb after all?

But I’m getting off-track, as we both know I do.

On this day I can’t help but miss you, yes, but mostly I’m haunted by you. By our issues, I mean, not you personally. (There are enough spirits in our home as it is.) I want to burn away all these questions that still reside in my consciousness.

But I know I never will. But isn’t that how it always is with parents and children of any age? There’s never any real resolution, just never-ending queries and angst.

Still, I want to ask you… So much.

Why did you let it happen?

Why did you let it go on for so long?

It actually physically hurts to type the words. No wonder I didn’t speak them aloud. I just sat there and shared a series of awkward smiles with you as time slipped away. Eventually you became too weak to even speak beyond an incoherent whisper. The fear in your eyes as we tried – and failed – to communicate is burnt into my memory. (I hope that fear is long gone and you are at peace, I truly do.)

And then that morning arrived when I walked into that damn room and you were gone while still lying there. I kissed the shell that held your soul and wished you a safe journey. Of course, the first thing I actually did was crack open the window in the room. Death does not smell like potpourri, that’s for sure.

(Mom would approve of my gallows humor, so relax, everyone.)

And then our time together, a time that had lasted over four decades and weathered some pretty monumental storms, was over. You donated your eyes to science so I had to answer some extremely uncomfortable questions about your lifestyle and sexual history, but I think you did that just to see me squirm one last time. Just like that time you asked, “Is she a good wife to you in bed, Bobby?”

There will never be another like you, that’s for damn sure, so on this day let me just say that in spite of it all I bear you no ill will, just good thoughts and love.

See you in the lobby everyone…

 

HOOK”S NOTES:  Yes, I realize this post is early but the words and thoughts, fractured as they are, just came to me this morning so here we are. Thank you for indulging me.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #33.

Once upon a time, back when the world hadn’t fully embraced technology and people still spoke to each other face-to-face, a young man crossed paths with a young lady as they were both toiling away at a local department store that wasn’t a Wal-Mart.

Gripping tale so far, right?

She caught his eye instantaneously but her attention was elsewhere and what he did next certainly didn’t help his cause.

“Why don’t you smile more?”

Yes, the young man actually predated the whole Brie Larson “Captain Marvel doesn’t smile enough” fanboy movement. To be fair, what he meant to say was, “I bet you have a lovely smile, you should share it with the world. By the way, you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, we should totally get married.”, but it definitely didn’t come out that way. And so it began…

#33: The Chase.

It took some time (to say the least) but eventually the young man conned convinced the young girl to go out with him. They dated off and on for awhile; remember, the young man was an idiot and so he stumbled along the path to lifelong romantic coupling, but eventually they built a life together.

And now they have a home, a van that’s constantly breaking down, a nutty dog, and last but not least, a daughter who is actually raising them, not the other way around.

It may not be a romance that gets your blood pumping but everyone needs a goal to pursue, to “hunt”, to chase. If I hadn’t chased my eventual spouse and begged her to love me as no one as ever begged before, I never would’ve become the magnificent, fully-formed, productive human being and bellman you all know and love.

And I’m humble too, wow, right?

For some it’s fame, literary recognition and acceptance, or even a world wrestling championship belt; but whatever you desire from life, pursuing it can define you. It’s not about whether or not you actually succeed, just how you go about it.

The chase can give us focus.

The chase can keep us alive.

So get moving.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

You know it had to be a Flash GIF today, right?

 

POSTSCRIPT: If it’s not apparent by now I’ll spell it out. I’ve been running out of steam for awhile now and so I’ve made the decision to roll these posts out at a pace that befits my mental capabilities.

So you can expect the next installment in 2026.

But seriously, I owe it to Ronnie to do better and so I will. Eventually.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #34.

There are those of us who feel an ordered existence is the key to true happiness.

Others thrive in a chaotic environment. I can only assume people like this are truly happy living in 2019.

#34: Chaos.

Personally, at 49 years of age I’ve had enough chaos to last me a lifetime. That said, my job as a Niagara Falls bellman is all about the unpredictability of life and travelers that drift in and out of my path. One day I’m forced to steer clear of rock stars like Pink in a bid to respect their ill-fated attempts at maintaining a private life, the next I’m feeding the need of someone who thrives on social interaction like O.J. Simpson.

Paul seems to have made the most of the chaos in his life.

The hotel issues a daily itinerary but I literally never know who or what I’m going to be dealing with from one minute to the next.

And at the end of the day, I have to admit that I prefer it that way. Granted, I entered the hospitality industry with a full head of hair that has since gone the way of the dodo, but what can you do?

Anarchy isn’t so great when it sweeps an entire country like Venezuela (to say the least) but it can help us feel alive when applied in small doses.

The pandemonium of a failed union will ravage your gut with an ulcer if you let it but the bedlam of a hundred and one dalmatians licking your face will have you laughing until you cry. If they don’t grind your bones to dust, that is.

I recently went in search of “Batcave GIFS” for a post about the importance of the concept of a home in our lives and stumbled upon this little nugget of chaos that inspired this post. I wanted to express my disappointment at not being able to turn my basement into a “Hook Cave” (wives, man) but this hidden gem of delicious chaos from my favorite Sixties television program made me forget all that. Instead I was reminded that on a TV production set, and life in general, anything can happen, and that’s a good thing.

 

 Nowadays Adam West would have to take series of classes before he’d be allowed back in the Batcave.

Embrace the chaos of your life, within reason of course, and the positive results may shock you.

See you in the lobby, friends, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #35.

We’ve already touched on the life-affirming benefits of travel so perhaps it’s time to discuss the place you return to when your travels come to their inevitable end?

#35: Home.

Now before you get all worked up, my friends, I recognize that I’ve previously discussed the importance of finding a space to call your own, but a space is not a home and so this counts as an entirely different entry, okay?

A home isn’t necessarily a brick and mortar structure (or a shipping container or a tiny house) that takes twenty-five years to pay off, it’s a feeling, a feeling of:

  • Serenity. (Unless you have a family.)
  • Peace.
  • Isolation when necessary.
  • Acceptance.
  • Love.

The last two are the most vital, of course, but let’s talk about the first one, shall we? I recently had an exchange with my daughter that turns the idea of finding serenity in one’s home on it’s ear. I came in from work late one night, had a shower (I always smell like luggage when I return from an eleven-hour bellman shift) and headed to the fridge to grab some grub. My kid had this to scream say the second she heard the refrigerator door open:

DAUGHTER: Nobody better touch the homemade mac and cheese Mom specifically made for me or I’ll castrate them!

ME:  Well, I’m the only one in this household with boy parts… So I assume you’re talking about me!

DAUGHTER:  You’re darn right I am! And by the way… Ewww!

To me, this is serenity encapsulated. Sure, it sounds more like a wake-up call for anyone that’s pondering whether or not to have a vasectomy, but familial chaos that can only be found in one’s home is worth living for because you know the person yelling back truly loves you. Deep down. Like, deep, deep down.

 

Home can be a feeling of knowing that no matter what you’ve done, or who you’ve decided to love or how you’ve chosen to live, you will be accepted. Unconditionally.

Home can even be a place where you chill out and enjoy a snack while you try to remember where you left your helmet.

Home can be the place where you know you will always be loved no matter what.

Sometimes we forget just how important is to have a place to call home to look back on or return to when the world closes in on us, as it tends to do. I once knew a man who, when faced with the prospect of being locked away from his home forever, took the only way out he could see. That’s how important a home can be; some of us would rather die than be denied the chance to walk through its doors again.

So cherish your home, wherever and whatever it may be. Never lose sight of it’s value. And for God’s sake, if you do, do whatever it takes to get it back. Ronnie was an integral part of my home and though I’ll never get him back, I’m grateful for every other part of it that I still have.

See you in the lobby, friends…

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