100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #22.

I think that even though humanity is pretty much tearing itself to ribbons theses days over impeachment, whether or not Trudeau is a douchebag, and the Peloton commercial, humanity can still agree on three things:

  1.  Moving to a new living space can be ridiculously-stressful.
  2.  Working for a living can wear your soul to a nub. (Yes, the metaphor works. Shut up.)
  3.  Cats are evil.

So can you imagine combining the stress of a move with the already-soul-crushing chaos of the workplace? I can, because I’m living it. And so here we are.

#22: Workplace Chaos.

The hotel is in the midst of the biggest renovation since Odysseus decided to turn a Greek child’s hobby horse into a hangout for him and his pals. Among all the other (greatly delayed) projects going on throughout this building we’ve moved into a brand-spanking new lobby that reminds me of the Northern Pikes tune, “She Ain’t Pretty” (She Just Looks That Way).

I’m not suggesting our new lobby is a disaster; it’s bright, shiny and has many smooth, sleek lines and cool features. I wish it was my high school girlfriend.

But like many a high school hookup, we moved too fast and now we’re facing the consequences. Of course, in this case the consequences aren’t a bouncing bundle of joy and full diapers. Instead, we’re dealing with desks that aren’t as user-friendly as possible, darkened corners (like where my desk sits, naturally), construction workers drilling through floors without consulting blueprints and a gazillion other minor issues that when combined, make you want to find another version of yourself in the Multiverse whose life you can co-opt.

Any move has it’s challenges. It takes time to acclimate oneself to a living/work space, and let’s face it, most of us consider our workspace a second living space, even though a workspace drains your will to live rather than enhancing it.

But I  just worked against my own premise, didn’t I?

Please allow me to recover if I can. Serving the public in any capacity isn’t easy to say the least. People can be rude; they’ve actually spit on me. (And I wasn’t ablaze at the time.) People can be sneaky; I caught a guy creeping into the hotel through an employee door yesterday so he could steal a luggage cart – even though he had already requested the doorman fetch him a bellman.

In short, people are nuts.

So trust me when I tell you no one survives for over twenty years in the hospitality industry without being able to process a steady diet of chaos. You even learn to savor the flavor eventually. (Even bad pizza is still pizza.)

I observe. Then I mock.

The other day I sat back at my desk and watched as every manager, administration-level worker, construction worker and even a guest or ten, stood around our new lobby and scrutinized every detail from the placement of flashing ceiling lights to whether or not our luggage carts should be chained up to prevent guests from absconding with them. (Guess how I voted?) Workers were scrambling back and forth, managers and owners were discussing just how much all this aesthetic beauty actually costs (the figures are staggering). People with no authority were ordering others around. There were no evil cats around but it was still mass hysteria dialed up to eleven. The cacophony of voices built to a deafening crescendo and all the while I thought: 

“Ronnie would’ve loved this.”

And he would’ve. Ronnie lived for those moments of complete and utter human madness. We’d sit at our desk and drink it all in like a fine wine. I’d return from a luggage call and he’d be all, “Hook, my brother Hook, you should’ve seen it. So-and-so was down here throwing her weight around, slinging orders like a crazed waitress at a greasy spoon. Three bus tours have shown up at once. It was nuts! I love every second.”

You really do get used to the challenge of surviving wave after wave of interoffice political battles, guests on a tear about the simplest of issues, and every other surprise the universe has in store that you could never see coming. In fact, you learn to see that such situations can help us grow, they can even make us stronger if we process them correctly. 

It’s all a matter of perspective, kids.

Ronnie had the right idea. Until other factors became too much to handle he knew the score and we had ringside seats for the never-ending stream of  hotel donnybrooks.

Ronnie’s gone but the chaos remains.

Thank Dog.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

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Random Thoughts On A Winter’s Morn.

The hot cleansing water feels good against his skin, washing the grime and sweat away from his weary form.

His body aches as the rigors of age set in once more.

An irrefutable truth dawns : There are fewer days behind than ahead.

But still he walks on.

He walks through the darkness of a slumbering city to reach his destination, its neon lights shining upon him, beckoning him to enter.

He walks the halls of this grand hotel, his long arms pushing a tarnished brass cart across it’s worn carpets, a series of squeaks and knocks the only proof of his presence.

Around him travelers sleep, make lust/love (mostly lust), insert poison into their veins, splash fire and ice against the back of their throats, their lives a mixture of fleeting pleasure and pain.

He gives them little more than a moment’s thought as memories of a fallen friend, one of his best friends, return with the power of crashing waves on the shore.

Ronnie walks beside him.

Always.

And so he walks on, the thinnest of smiles measurable on his weathered face.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself #23.

It may get a bad rep and even though there are a gazillion different platforms and channels out there now, and nothing to watch at times, television allows us to collectively share experiences that can change our lives and perspectives.

On Saturday, April 11, 2009, a nervous (though you couldn’t really tell) Susan Boyle stood on the stage of Britain’s Got Talent and shared her dream of becoming a powerhouse singer on the global stage.

Simon Cowell rolled his eyes as she swung her hips and gave the world a cheeky grin as she prepared to sing “I Dreamed A Dream”, one of the biggest songs ever produced for the stage.

Piers Morgan adjusted himself in anticipation of a musical disaster.

The audience followed suit.

Everyone waited for yet another live flame-out, as that was once the biggest appeal of these talent shows; we all seemed to enjoy seeing people crash and burn in front of a live audience, didn’t we?

I know it’s unlikely but just in case you haven’t seen/experienced this moment, I’m going to allow you to see the results for yourself.

Well?

 

#23: That Susan Boyle Moment.

I once had a friend, a best friend, who wanted nothing more from life than to be part of a successful rock ‘n roll group that shook the stage to its foundations every night. Ronnie didn’t want his name in lights, he was perfectly content to be a wheel on a bus that traveled from town to town, giving citizens an escape from the tedium of their lives. Rockin’ did indeed rock the stage. He achieved a measure of notoriety; he was a mainstay of the region’s music scene and everyone loved him.

But he never had his Susan Boyle moment. The image of fame he nestled in his heart for a lifetime never materialized. He was a rock star to those of us who knew him best but the world didn’t know his name.

But I do.

Luke Skywalker blowing up the death Star. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Susan Boyle’s walk in the blinding sunshine of fame. These are moments that can have a profound effect on millions of people simultaneously while touching individuals… individually. Okay, that fell apart fast but let’s move on, shall we?

I often return to YouTube to relive this triumph of the human spirit (and pipes) and I still tear up as I think, “What Ronnie wouldn’t have given for this chance to shine bright.” But I don’t feel sad, I feel grateful for having known Ronnie and his gifts at all.

Fortunately, shows like BGT have shifted their focus to contestants’ triumphs rather than the missteps, thus giving the audience a more positive experience overall. So when you’re feeling subterranean and the light is a distant memory, you can always click on a moment preserved in time, a moment that serves to remind us that one person’s triumph is a victory for all of us.

We all want the same things.

We all dream a dream.

And it doesn’t matter if it comes to life or not, it’s the dream itself that’s worth living for.

So thank you, Susan Boyle of the village, you’ve gotten me though some dark days.

See you in the lobby and the dreamscape, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #24.

What do you get when you mix a holiday tale of two army vets turned mega-successful musical producers, a sister act featuring two of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the screen, a former general in dire financial straits and some of the most unforgettable songs of all time?

Well?

Fine, I’ll do all the work for you; the result is one of those films your parents made you watch as a kid instead of letting you do something less mind-numbing because their parents did the same thing to them. And now you do the same damn thing to your kids just to erase the scars inflicted on you in childhood. But guess what? Those scars never fade, friends. Nor should they.

The answer, by the way, is White Christmas, the 1954 Paramount Pictures musical that has since become a holiday television staple, an essential part of every radio station’s Christmas song line-up and irrefutable proof that Rosemary Clooney was once one of the most gorgeous creatures on planet Earth rather than the loopy aunt on Roseanne that we all refuse to believe ever starred in that damn film with Bing Crosby that our parents made us watch under extreme duress.

#24: White Christmas.

Everyone of a certain age has seen this flick (even if it was just playing in the background as they were trying to get the hell out of the family room before someone inevitably said, “Come watch White Christmas with the family!”) and while they may not have realized it at the time (I certainly didn’t) it really is one of those things worth sticking around this plane of existence for.

Yes, you’re right, I’ve lost it. But hear me out anyway.

Films made in the Fifties may not have been perfect but they were clean enough to eat off of compared to today’s Hollywood offerings. Can you imagine Bing Crosby screening Cruel Intentions or Brokeback Mountain? Not that these aren’t great movies; but they’d be considered porn to a Hollywood performer of Bing or Danny Kaye’s sensibilities. 

 

But back to my point. And yes, I do have one, thank you very much. White Christmas brings people together to share not just an incredibly well-crafted film, but an experience. This movie is about:

 

The power of friendship. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye become lifelong performing partners after bonding at the end of the war.

Family. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen are sisters who would do anything for each other, even fake an engagement. (Don’t worry, it makes sense, and it’s funny to see a film where one of the male leads is actually reluctant to pursue a beautiful woman.)

Loyalty. Bing and Danny are vets-turned performers who use their star power to help their old general fill his Vermont Inn when a heat wave hits in the middle of winter. 

The power of raw emotion. Even the most hardened soul will become teary-eyed while watching an iron-willed general addressing his men at the end of the war and when they come out to save him from bankruptcy when Mother Nature proves to be a tougher adversary than the Nazis.

A time when people actually dressed nice. Seriously, pay attention to the clothing in White Christmas; I never see people dressed in suits and dresses unless I’m at a funeral or a wedding. Or court.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories revolve around my family (which consisted of my mother and grandmother) gathering around the ye olde television to watch this film. I really had no clue of the deeper meaning behind what I was watching but it made the women who raised me happy and that was enough. I know a movie, even a holiday classic, can’t solve all your problems, especially problems that make you want to end it all, but it can buy a few hours of peace to catch your breath and sometimes that can be enough.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #25.

Let’s begin with a proverb that has endless variations, beginning in the 13th century, what do you say?

What’s that? You say you didn’t realize this was “The Big Blog of Outdated Poetic Crap” and you’re going back to RedTube? Well, I’ll admit that I can’t compete with such highbrow entertainment (or an equivalent happy ending) but just give me a shot and I’ll offer a full refund if you’re not satisfied.

Let’s begin, shall we? Scratch that, I’m not asking, I’m telling.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

According to some eggheads I consulted this proverb “describes a situation in which a failure to anticipate or correct some initially small dysfunction leads by successively more critical stages to an egregious outcome.”

Yeah, I fell asleep halfway through the explanation too. WAKE UP!

 

#25: The Nail

For centuries now people have put their own spin on this little poetic ditty based on their own experiences and understanding of the basic message. Everyone from Benjamin Franklin to the writers of M*A*S*H to musicians and comic book writers have used For Want of a Nail to make a point.

Here’s mine.

None of us truly realize just how important we are to the fabric our own universe. Having my lovely bride in my life has helped me keep the horrors of my childhood memories at bay. My amazing daughter keeps my desire to dream alive. Meeting people from all over the world gives me hope that we’re not going to destroy ourselves some day, in spite of the best efforts of Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump, and a million other political morons.

I can’t imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t been placed at a Zellers department store for a high school internship, or if my wife and I hadn’t consulted a fertility doctor, or if I hadn’t gone to a job fair for a hotel chain where I’d meet a senior bellman named Louie who eventually directed me to the hotel I’ve been working at for twenty years now. Our lives are a series of dominoes in the form of choices and events involving people we encounter, most of whom are more vital to our existence than we’ll ever know.

Take a moment and think hard about your past. I’m willing to bet that you’ll see more than one instance where a seemingly-trivial event or meeting actually changed your life, hopefully for the better. I’m thankful for the nails in my life (like Ronnie, whose life and ultimate end inspired this path I’m trying to follow) and I hope I’ve been a worthy nail for others.

See you in the lobby, kids…

Here’s my favorite variation, naturally.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #26.

Redemption.

It means different things to different people; to most of us it’s a word we see solely in fiction. “She was a warrior on a quest of redemption for accidentally poisoning her entire tribe of Amazons with the wrong variety of berries in their strudel. She is… Elsa, Warrior princess of Iceland!” I doubt I could find anyone in the so-called real world that is on a genuine quest for redemption.

And that’s why so many of us throw away the precious gift of existence. We’re convinced we can never undo the mistakes of the past and so we strive to “move on”, until the weight of our sins becomes more than some of us can bear.

#26: The Quest For Redemption.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone for feeling burdened by their past; in fact, I applaud anyone who is willing to acknowledge their errors and take ownership of them. I only wish my own progenitors were brave enough to shine in a light on their lives and the wreckage they’ve been responsible for. I sincerely hope that my mother is at peace now but I’m the first to admit that she was never able to accept and understand just how much her mistakes affected those around her.

Being human means you’re going to screw up your life at times. Being a parent means you’re going to screw up the lives of your offspring as well. There is no getting around these truths.

The Big Question is: What are you prepared to do about it? How far are you willing to go?

Okay, technically, that’s two questions. Shut up. And here’s another one, just to really piss you off: What exactly is redemption anyway?  Try wrapping your head around that one, Sparky.

Can a person make up for a lifetime of mistakes with a few acts of kindness?

I’ll be damned if I know, but I do know this: Allowing oneself to be crushed by the weight of one’s errors with suicide is never the answer. No one ever found redemption by taking their own life.

Maybe it’s not about succeeding at atoning for your sins but simply taking that sometimes-painful first step, and then another and another, and so on, on the road to the Land Of Redemption, or whatever you want to call it. Just trying to be better, especially if you know you won’t ever make it, is heroic and worth living for, in my opinion.

What most people don’t realize about giving to others is that it can be addicting; once your heart starts to open you want to replicate that feeling, you get hungry for it.  And it’s the kind of hunger that won’t leave you so large they need to tear down a wall to get you out of bed. Start small, treat people that have been a pain in your ass in the past with kindness. (It throws them for a loop and that can be fun as hell.)

Reach out to co-workers that seem lonely and detached. Give forgiveness where you’ve been denying it. Take a step.

And then another.

And another.

Trust me, it’s worth trying. It may not make the pain go away at first but you’re not really doing it for you anyway. It’s about the bigger picture, my friends.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #27.

A picture of Ronnie popped up on my home computer as I sat down to write this today; I didn’t mean to call it up, it just appeared as though someone was giving me a sign.

Message received and understood, Rockin’.

So here we go.

Again.

Today my wife went out to visit a friend, leaving me home alone like that kid in that Christmas movie whose title escapes me at the moment. “My Career Is About To Peak And I Can’t Even Drive Yet: The Christmas Movie”, was the title I think. At any rate, I ‘ve been on staycation from the hotel all week and I haven’t really done too much except for seeing Doctor Sleep (The Hook highly recommends it, by the way) and taking it easy.

So today when Jackie left I did what most husbands do when their wives go out. No, I didn’t visit any Tube sites, I vegetated on the couch and watched some videos of a non-carnal nature. But then I felt guilty for doing nothing when my lovely bride works so hard at home and so I did the dishes.

Great story so far, right?

But then, as the dishes began to dry in the holder thingie (I’m a stickler for details) I decided to do something I haven’t done in forever. Again, no I didn’t log onto a Tube site, jeez Louise, you people are randy!

I danced. With myself. To Billy Idol (guess which song, you can do it).

Now I’m the first to admit that I’m as white as Brooke Shields when it comes to rhythmic movements set to music, so you can only imagine what a spectacle it was. The dog ran for cover amongst a pile of winter accessories we’re sorting and still hasn’t come out. But it was fun.

I forgot about my IBS, my enduring heartache at losing my best friend, and a million other things, and just danced like a white boy.

It was glorious. We all need to take a moment to bust lose and make fools out of ourselves every once in a while. Go for it. I dare you.

See you in the lobby, kids…

100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #27: Dancing With Yourself.

 

 

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