Sound Off Sunday · Words On Wednesday

2015-06-17 The Monday Curse, River Refresh, and Sound Off Sunday

The Monday Curse

Several weeks ago, it seemed as though I was cursed to have some sort of unfortunate circumstance befall me every Monday.

This sequence of events began on Monday, April 6, when I totaled my mother’s car in an accident. On the following Monday, my grandparents were in an accident and totaled their car. After that, our living room television died the next Monday. Finally, on Monday, April 29, I missed work with a stomach bug of some kind.

After such a run of bad luck, the first Monday in May came and went without a hitch. I had dinner with some old friends, and it was overall a pretty great day. As far as I could tell, the Monday curse had been broken. For a few weeks, I was still cautious about avoiding any unnecessary risks on Monday, but nothing terrible happened for a while.

Fast forward to Monday, June 8. Like any Monday, I roll out of bed around 6am and regret that the weekend is over. Everybody gets ready for the day, and we roll out of the driveway just after 7. Everything is going swell, traffic isn’t terrible and we’re just cruising down the interstate. A pickup truck pulls up beside me on the right and hovers there for a moment.

Before I can look over to check why he might be driving right next to us, I hear a loud pop and feel the steering wheel shudder. Suddenly, the van is rumbling violently and making a terrible grinding noise. Did we hit something? I didn’t see anything in the road. Is the driveshaft or something else dragging the ground? I let the truck get by me and pull off the road as soon as I can.

Carefully stepping out of the way of traffic, I take a look at the passenger side of the van. The front tire is completely ripped to shreds. Luckily, it appears to be just the tire, but I wasn’t looking forward to changing a tire on the side of I-26 before work. I text a coworker to let our boss know I’ll be late, get my wife to call my mother and let her know the situation, and get to work changing the tire.

Because I’ve seen the results of changing a tire without the park brake on, I lock the van down and grab the jack out of the back. After jacking the van up high enough, I start trying to take the bolts off. These things are stuck on tighter than… some analogy for comparing how tight they are. Regardless, I’m trying to push on them as firmly as possible without hurting myself.

After a few minutes of this with no success, I decide that my hands aren’t going to accomplish anything. I arrange the tire iron such that it’s almost perfectly parallel to the ground, to the left of the bolt so that direct downward force should be sufficient. I grab onto the side mirror to stabilize myself and push off, putting most of my weight directly onto the iron. What do you know, the iron twisted and loosened up the bolt enough that I could continue with my hands. Repeat four times, and the wheel falls off.

With the old busted tire off, I take a look underneath the van for the spare. The donut is suspended underneath, with some plastic piece holding it from the center. I try spinning the plastic piece, assuming it’s some sort of screw system keeping everything in place. When that doesn’t seem to work, I start rotating the tire itself. Several frustrating minutes later, the spare doesn’t seem to be any more loose or any lower than when I started.

Eventually, the thought occurs to me that there may be some sort of locking mechanism inside the van. I open the back door and sure enough, there’s a little plastic cap with the depiction of a tire on it. Popping the cap off, I see a little plastic lug nut in the floor of the van. I attach the iron and start spinning. No clue how long it’s going to take and not wanting to keep checking beneath the van, I just start spinning and figure I’ll check in a little while.

After a few moments of cranking the bolt inside the van, I hear a thunk from below of the tire hitting the ground. I reach below, fiddle with the locking mechanism, and get the spare completely detached. At some point in the past few minutes, my wife has called my mother and informed her not to come up, since we’ve got the situation under control. I decide to call back to make sure she did stay home. Apparently she’s already passed us heading west on I-26 and will soon be turning around to come back down. So much for saving her from making the trip. She has, at least, been excused from her first job for the day and should be free until closer to noon.

I wiggle the spare into place and start bolting it down. As I finish with the spare and start retracting the spare locking mechanism underneath the car, my mother pulls up behind us. Thankfully, she’s going to take the elder child down with her and buy a new tire for which I’ll repay her later. I load the busted tire into her trunk, send el niño off with her. With everything squared away there, my wife and I head on toward work.

Hopefully, this is a one-off inconvenience and the Monday curse hasn’t returned. Maybe the rest of this week will go peachy, and the next couple of Mondays will be decent. If it’s back, however, I advise everyone to avoid me as much as possible every Monday. You don’t want to encounter the misfortune that seems to follow me.

River Refresh

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, but tubing down the river on my birthday really seemed to help.

Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve been just overwhelmed with life. Seems like I can’t get past the bills, the grind of work, frustration at home, and a bunch of other nuisances here and there. Recently, it’s gotten so serious that my whole outlook on life has changed.

I wouldn’t call myself an optimist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve been so nihilistic lately. Everything is just atoms, little bits of matter combined with other little bits of matter. Nothing really makes a difference, we’re a bunch of water-filled, carbon-based sacks of organic material. We ride around on this rock, floating around a big ball of fire, and then we die. Regardless of religious beliefs, life just felt so pointless.

We’re always chasing the almighty dollar. It buys what we need, everything from housing and transportation to a movie ticket. We work all the time, spending time away from family and friends, doing stuff we often hate, to get a little bit of money to get by. We save up for retirement that we might never make it to.

Obviously, this was really starting to wear on me. I couldn’t get out of the negative, existential thinking. Not in any way suicidal or depressed, but rather exasperated. I didn’t know what to do about it.

On Saturday, I went tubing down the Green River for my birthday. I have no clue how this simple activity had such a profound effect on me, but I came off the river a changed man. Just drifting down the river, head back in the water, and sunlight beaming down on me, it felt like everything was going to be ok. No worries, no concerns, nothing to bog down my head. For the few hours I was on that tube, there were no bills, no work, no social obligations, nothing. Just some water, some trees, 4 guys, and a frisbee.

Now, I feel like I’m back to my old self. I can appreciate experiences, I’m not just dead focused on atoms and bits. There’s no doubt, I’m still going to hit existential crises and get frustrated here and there, but hopefully I can avoid the rut I’d fallen into before.

Sound Off Sunday

I’ve been contemplating the addition of “Sound Off Sunday” to my blogging week.

For quite a while now, Fridays have been called “Rant Friday” by those close to me. This concept came about when every Friday for several weeks straight, I would get on a tirade about something irritating and harp on it for several minutes. After a friend noticed that it seemed to happen specifically on the last day of the work week, “Rant Friday” was born. It became customary for me to soapbox about one thing or another every Friday to keep the tradition alive.

You may ask, “What does ‘Sound Off Sunday’ have to do with ‘Rant Friday’ anyway?” Let me tell you about this thing called alliteration. According to dictionary.reference.com, the definition of alliteration is “the commencement of two or more stressed syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group.” Obviously, “Sound Off Sunday” has alliteration much like my existing “Words on Wednesday,” where “Rant Friday” does not. I’d like a platform to express these rants, but in a way that parallels what I have already going on, simple as that. I can’t take credit for coming up with the idea; B Kelley came up with the name and it was suggested to be a weekly podcast by Traci Ricketts. As soon as I heard it, the concept stuck.

In any case, this isn’t going to be exactly like Words on Wednesday as it is operated now. My goal with WoW is to publish a post EVERY Wednesday. With Sound Off Sunday, that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. Rant Friday honestly hasn’t been quite as regular in the past few months, so I can’t guarantee I would have material for inspiration every week anyway. Besides, some weeks I have trouble finding the time to write up a Words on Wednesday, let alone add another regular weekly post to the mix.

I may start writing up my Rant Friday discussions in a paragraph format, just to see if they translate well from casual conversation. If they do and I like what I see, I’ll create this “Sound Off Sunday” as a [wordpress thing not tags] and make them public.

Logo

As with Words on Wednesday, I’d like to have a logo for Sound Off Sunday. When crowdsourcing for ideas, Josh Johnson came up with this gem: “2nd one. [Referring to ‘Soundoff Sunday’ vs. ‘Sound Off Sunday’] Silhouette of some guy shoulders up yelling into a microphone with special characters coming out @#$#@%@%^  in a thin lined circle but the characters are breaking out of the circle (with shrapnel)”

Great idea, the only problem is I don’t have graphic design skills. Blogging isn’t important enough to sink any money into, so paying an actual graphic designer is out of the question. I could try to hack something rudimentary together on my own, but that will probably look terrible. The logo isn’t urgent since I’ll need to write up a Sound Off Sunday post before I’m even able to make it an official addition. However, I do need to explore some options. If anyone is willing to put something together for me, for nothing more than my kudos, that would be great. Problem is anyone with any sort of skill in the field is likely busy doing things for money. In the word of Winnie the Pooh, “Oh bother…”

The whole thing is still in its infancy, but I am genuinely wanting to pursue the idea. It might fail horribly and die off within a few weeks, who knows. I think it should be fun to try, at least.

Meta:

Words: 1982 | Characters: 10710 | Sentences: 115 | Average Word per Sentence: 18 | Paragraphs: 32 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade

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