The Apology

This post is going to serve as an apology to my readers and followers. I haven’t posted in way too long and I promised to try to write at least once a day. Well I fucked that one up, it’s been a week or two.

Work has been insanely busy, I’ve been exhausted, and I’ve found the love of my life. Then again, she’s been on me to do some writing. So this is entirely on me.

Today I am rained out. Normally I go ahead ahead and work in whatever kind of weather is present, regardless of how terrible it is. But the jobs I’m working on now are going to be extra dangerous in these thunderstorms and lightning and hail and whatever else the heavens throw down.

So, here I am, in my hotel room in Temple, TX, apologizing to all of you. I’m sorry. There you go. Now I’m going to do some writing and see if I can’t get caught up. I have seen a lot in my absence, so keep a lookout for my next posts.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Blob

There exists a particular chain of convenience stores in the western part of Texas that makes a beef and bean burrito that I can’t get enough of. That and their own taco sauce to top off the wonderful burrito. I know, I know. Gas station food is awful. But I live on gas station food and I’ve learned what’s good and bad. So stuff it.

I was standing in line patiently waiting for the chance to pay for my two beef and bean burritos, that’s right, two, and then and incident occurred.

I felt something brush against my back. That’s a lie, something pushed up against my back hard enough to force me to take a step forward. I turned around to see what it was and was shocked.

A man of epic proportions had “nudged” his way past me. Allow me to paint a picture.

This man was extremely obese. Gym shorts. Flip flops. A very large shirt that still didn’t cover his stomach hanging below it. Long, greasy hair. Some kind of body odor that I’ve never had the misfortune of introducing to my nostrils before.

Now, I don’t have a problem with people based on their size. A lot of people have thyroid issues, addictions, maybe something passed down through the family, or any one of a myriad of perfectly legitimate reasons for being the size of Moby Dick.

What I DO have a problem with is people who are the size of Moby Dick, don’t keep up with basic hygiene, and push people out of their way with their stomach without at least a short apology.

Adding to my frustration, this guy shows up in line with a 3-liter of Coke, 2 family-sized bags of chips, several different kinds of candy, and a bag of beef jerky. The part that really got me was that he paid for all of this with food stamps. (I know this because I stayed in the store to eat since I was working on their pumps). The food stamps thing is a whole topic for another time.

I don’t really have any way to end this. Or any kind of moral to add to the story. But it frustrated me and caught me off guard and I needed to get it off my chest. So there you have it. I was attacked by the blob, and I’m a victim/survivor.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Poem

With curious eyes like pools of dark chocolate
that make a man want to dive right in, 
and nut-brown hair with a tint of red, 
it's impossible to get this beauty out of your head.

Her laugh is contagious and lights up a room.
She is gentle and sweet and as stubborn as the Texas weather.
The perfect height for forehead kisses, 
she's sure to be the object of your affection forever. 

Never before has a passion been so true
as that of this woman who molds young minds.
Her fears and wishes and dreams match yours,
her goals and ambition can open all doors,
and her lighthearted spirit will keep your fates intertwined.

The sense of humor that inhabits her soul
brought you both together. 
It's a humor that is dark and brings laughter beyond control,
but can turn around and be light as a feather.

Even her expressions are as adorable as can be,
from the corners of her smile to her pout.
One short conversation with this pearl in the sea
and you will see what I'm talking about.

Even in sickness she will be fierce as the sun
and nothing in the world will stop her.
The object of your desire
becomes your heart's fire
and causes your emotions to stir.

She's cute and she's vulnerable
and she has no filter to show.
An old-school violinist
and a knack for Spanish
are examples of her knowledge that grows.

Dedication to family
and an overall happy demeanor
can prove how loving she can be.
Any tiny flaws
she may think she has
only make her more lovely to you and me.

This woman I speak of exists in the world,
or at least she does in mine. 
One should be so lucky as I seem to be
to find someone so divine.

So how will you know when you have found the woman
that has stayed in touch with her inner child?
Be patient and true
and realize that you
will do anything just to make her smile.

This angel with eyes like pools of dark chocolate
and red-tinted nut-brown hair,
is who you have sought,
will never leave your thoughts,
and no one will ever compare.

The Tourists

Traveling for work means dealing with tourists on the road. Sooooo many tourists. Young and old, every time of day or night, every day of the week. It’s as if no one goes to school, has a job, a life. Or everyone I come across is super rich and has no need for any of that.

I end up traveling down a lot of 2-lane roads when I drive. Lots of curves, no room to pass, low speed limits, and tourists. There is no frustration greater than being stuck behind a tourist going 5 or 10 miles under the speed limit when you can’t pass them. The reason they drive so slow seems to be so they can look out every window except the windshield to take in the scenery, completely unaware of anyone around them. Or they don’t care.

This is something that happens several times a day. This is something that happens regardless of location. This is something that happens no matter what time it is. This is something that happens even if I beg God to run either me or the tourists off the road.

These same tourists don’t appear to have ever eaten in any restaurant anywhere, ever. They don’t understand pictures, lines, how to order food, how to be polite to those in front of or behind them, or that they are the only ones who are not under a time-constraint.

My favorite tourists are the ones who stop in doorways to chat to the other tourists whether they know them or not. These same tourists also don’t know how to park, but I don’t have to patience to get into that right this second.

I love traveling and looking at the scenery of new places I’ve never explored. I do the speed limit, or more, I use the mirrors in the vehicle, I pull over safely to allow others to pass me so I can stop and look around. I order quickly when in a line and I don’t stand in doorways to talk about the fucking roadrunner I saw run across the road last week. We get it. It was a roadrunner. It ran. It ran across the road. Get out of my way, Dr. Seuss, I have things to do.

If you’re reading this and you are not a tourist, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re reading this and you ARE a tourist, I absolutely mean no disrespect. But that means you should be respectful as well. Be mindful of those around you on the road, in restaurants, in doorways, and in parking lots instead of parking so close to my vehicle that you don’t know how to get out of your car so you stare at me until I move because you screwed up and don’t understand how to back up and park again without taking 20 minutes to get the car in gear.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Tattoo

I have a few tattoos and plan on getting more. I think they are a great expression of your inner self and personality and can have great meaning. Picking a new tattoo can be extremely difficult if you want it to mean something to you. There are some that get tattoos that look ridiculous, just to have them, that seem to be drawn on by a right-handed child, upside-down, with their left hand. I don’t want that.

I’ve been looking for quite some time and I’ve narrowed it down to a few choices. I even set a deadline for this weekend so that I actually commit to something and go through with it. Even choosing between the few that I have on my list is proving to be difficult. It needs to be something meaningful, that looks good, that will fit in whatever area I decide on, and will be a reflection of my personality.

I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

For those of you that just get tattoos just get them, think it through. It’s there forever. Some may argue that you can get them removed. This is true. It’s also a painful process that takes several sessions and will never truly be gone, the scars remain. Before you get a name or face tattooed on your neck like an idiot, do some research. Think about your life, your job or career, your family and friends. Of course, it’s your decision and it’s your body and who cares as long as it’s personal to you. But you can’t walk into a white-collar financial position with a tiger claw on the side of your face.

In my opinion, art is best when subtle. It should make people ask questions, stir their curiosity, and when enlightened, give them a sense of awe. If you’re doing it just for you, then it should do the same for you. You should be able to look at it and be able to reflect on why you got it and what it means to you. Let the sting of the needle really sink in to your thoughts and feelings and cement the fact that you have a piece of meaningful art on your body that will mean something to you forever. That’s not something you get from a line of sparrows flying over your left eyebrow.

Think it through, and I’ll do the same.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Controversy

When I first started writing this blog, I told myself I wouldn’t discuss religion or politics too heavily, if at all. So far I’ve done a great job of staying true to that. I’ve now written 20 posts, with this being the 21st. Most of you seem to be on my side with most things that I’ve written about, so let’s see if we can change that. Some of you will agree with this post and some of you may hate it. I’m actually looking forward to any emails (michaelhowell0188@gmail.com) or comments in either case. Angry or not, stay with me until the end of this post.

With all the driving I do, especially in some of the states I do it in (Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama), I see a lot of things that make me think. One thing that I see almost every single day is a vehicle flying the Confederate flag, or a house with the Confederate flag flying outside their door or driveway. This is where I may lose some of you.

I’m all for remembering history and what it meant and how it shaped our nation. The United States of America, emphasis on the “United” part, for all it’s flaws, is a wonderful place to be, regardless of your political or religious affiliation, which is kind of the point. The Civil War and it’s two opposing sides, the Union and the Confederacy, were obviously a huge part of that and turned this country into what it is today. We should Always remember our nation’s history.

That being said, flying the Confederate flag and other flags next to it that say the South should secede or that it will rise again is disrespectful and a form of treason. If you want to have the flag as a historical commemoration then, by all means, please do so. Maybe you have ancestors that fought for the South, maybe you’re fascinated by that era of our history, maybe you think it’s pretty. But to fly it as a statement against The UNITED Stated of America goes against everything that The UNITED States of America stand for. Obviously the issue of the First Amendment comes into play here. So do what you want, and I’ll write about what I want.

The Civil War was just that: a war. A war with a winner and a loser. The South lost, and its general SURRENDERED. For those of you who aren’t aware, to surrender means you lost to an opponent and you submit to their authority. The Confederacy is no more. There are also some folks that believe the South can secede and successfully fight a war against the rest of the country. That thought is so far from being true I can’t even begin to explain why without sitting here for the next several hours.

This is a topic that I know I’ll be revisiting in the future, and I need to get to work. So, I’m going to leave it at that for now and see how many people I’ve pissed off.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.

The Speedracer

I love to drive. I’m fortunate enough to be able to drive quite a bit as part of my job. This means I get to see all kinds of drivers: slow old people, fast young people, road hogs that take up every lane available, truckers, texters, drinkers, and assholes. This is about an asshole.

I was on a highway in southern Texas heading north. The speed limit was 75 mph, I’d already gone through the immigration checkpoint, and I was doing 80. This particular highway has a small town every 30 miles or so where you gradually have to slow down to around 30 mph. No problem, it breaks up the mindless straight shot of a drive heading north on a boring road for 5 hours.

In one of these towns, I slowed down to 55, 50, 40, and then 30, as per the very clearly posted road signs. All of a sudden, a silver BMW pulls out of a gas station right in front of me. I slammed on my brakes hard enough to make some of the things in the back seat magically appear in the front seat. I checked my mirrors and, sure enough, there was no one behind me. Speedracer could definitely see that he could have waited for me to pass before turning onto the highway. I honked a few times and flashed my brights, which meant nothing in the middle of the sunny Texas day. Plus, Speedracer had sped off quickly, regardless of the very clearly posted road signs. I saw him weaving in and out of traffic, no turn signals, well over the speed limit in the small town.

It takes quite a bit to get me upset, but little things like that get me fuming inside. By the time I finally made it out of the small Texas town, Speedracer was long gone. That’s an impressive feat considering the town was only about a mile and a half across. 15 or 20 minutes went by and I had all but forgotten about the incident.

Then I noticed everyone ahead slowing down, below the speed limit. Justice had been served. Not only was the silver BMW pulled over on the side of the road, Speedracer was handcuffed and being put into the back of one of the 3 State Trooper cars behind his BMW. I don’t know what the situation was other than he was an asshole that pissed off everyone on the road, but I’m guessing he won’t be driving for quite a while now.

Driving can be a stressful activity, especially with people like Speedracer out there on the road. So try to be respectful and mindful of other people on the road. You aren’t the only one out there and someone is always watching.

Stay classy, and I’ll see you at the next stop.