Mixed Messages Sunday

It’s not just Sunday.  It happens a lot, because, as some of you know, I’m a big fat idiot.  Sometimes.  Oh, I can pull the wool over several readers’ eyes and appear to be halfway intelligent, but the truth is the truth.  There are messages coming in, and I get the intent mixed up.

Is the message meant to encourage me?  Am I ok?  Am I supposed to be allowed to rest, or am I supposed to be motivated to work?  Does she love me?  Really, or is it all a show to get me to keep doing so much housework and keep going to work at my day job?  Does my family care?  Or should I be alarmed by the message, or is it a “sign” I should pay attention to, take a warning from, or react in some way.

At this point let me confess that I started writing this blog last weekend.  I asked a lady on the internet if I could send my readers to her website by a link.  Most of the time I don’t feel obligated but she had a note on her site that made me decide it was a better idea to ask permission than to beg forgiveness.  I sent her an email and I understand not everyone checks, because I don’t always check, but I’ve been waiting to see if she would grant the permission and she hasn’t, so I can’t refer you to her website but you can find it eventually if you research omens.  I thought the content was interesting, but being an intelligent woman of discriminating taste, perhaps she looked at my content and decided to wisely and silently decline.  It’s fine.  If you feel like searching for information about omens, eventually you’ll find her site.  Maybe it’ll be an interesting search and curious people will learn curiously interesting things.  We now return to last week’s content.

I left the church building after hearing a message that was sort of a mixed bag of information, and we sang that song where I have to stop singing part of it.  The song is a modern choruses and it talks about God in glowing, fantastic terms that are all completely true.


It’s really a great song until 1:02 when it starts describing my own heart, and I can’t sing that because right now, and for a long time, it’s not true.  It doesn’t accurately describe my heart.

Speaking of hearts, my daughter just made me describe the tricuspid valve, I swear it’s the absolute truth.

That all (except the one paragraph) was last weekend.  Since that time there have been events I haven’t bothered to write about.  All certain things do is bring out people’s fighting side, and I don’t want to be about that.  I’ll only say, as if you didn’t know what I was talking about already, that I went on record with my hatred of both candidates the American people were stupid enough to choose as their front runners, and so now we have one of them as our new President, and we have his pick as Vice President, and may God turn both of their hearts to wisdom and righteousness.  Don’t tell me “a president isn’t the same as a king.”  I know, but the Bible, figuratively as some people want to interpret it when they don’t like what it literally says, and, literally as some people want to interpret it some of the time when it suits their annoying argument against the rest of its’ context, can have literal and figurative meanings at the same time.  Figuratively, our new president is like a king, in that he is the leader of the country.  So, all you so-called Christ followers and/or Biblical scholars who just want to pick a fight and be right, maybe you and I can pray in agreement for a change, and just pray for our new President and his idiotic crony administration just like I did for our previous President and his idiotic crony administration, for God to literally guide their decisions and words so we don’t get our whole country, figuratively or literally, blown to shit.  I’m tired of word re-definers and trolls, internet and “real,” whose only purpose in life is stirring controversy and fighting.  Fuck you for doing that instead of something worthwhile.  Write a contrary piece, like I could give a shit, and you’ll probably get more readers than me.  Good luck.

Protesters, your children are watching.  I watched a little shit on the news bragging about setting a fire, and speaking about our newly elected President in an entirely disrespectful way, and I wanted to slap his ass straight to Iran or Afghanistan so he could learn how much better it is to live in those countries.  And his little shit family with him.  He may have the legal right to burn things and say disrespectful things about the president and our country, but that, friends, doesn’t prevent me from suggesting he find an alternate country to live in, one he can love.

I’m aware, he picked up the attitude from his parents.  That’s why I included suggesting they can get out too.  I don’t necessarily like everything our present President does, but I sure as shit didn’t like what the last one did either, but I wasn’t rioting in the streets and burning shit.  I was praying.  I’m tired of protesting protesters and riots in the streets of my country.  Fuck you for doing that instead of doing something productive.  You are wasting time and energy  that would wiser be invested in something worthwhile.

The message I got was so very unclear.  We were studying a text about our hearts and I just have taken so many hits that, speaking from my inner geeky brain, I feel like I have about a quarter of a hit point left before I’m spiritually dead.   I’m so twisted sideways and life is so very crazy that I don’t know what or who to believe because I think EVERYONE is lying to me.  And my heart is SO very damaged from all of the surprise hits from so many different arenas I never expected, that my fear is overwhelming my faith.  I’ve processed a great deal of thought since starting this writing, but I’m still reeling from everything.

I hate change, when it feels like change is only taking away from me.  And I’m tired of feeling attacked by work, by life, by relationships, by the boss, by my wife, by my kids, by my family, by my own dreams and hopes and wants being so distant and so hopeless.  And so close I can almost touch them and attain them, but so impossible to get to.   Life is one step forward and three steps back.  Right when I think I’m in a direction and in a progress-ion where I might actually develop a little bit of hope, shit happens and everything of progress that I felt like I’ve made, and then some, is taken away.  I’ve written before that I have a limited budget.  We make a little, I start to think I can afford to fix something important that needs to be fixed, and then something breaks and takes away the budget for what I need to fix.

I’m supposed to be spiritual, and I’m not very spiritual.  I’m supposed to be an encourager and I’m not very encouraged.  I’m supposed to be loving, and I pretty much hate everything.  I hate this fight that I’m losing.  I hate the way my relationships have panned out, I hate my job, I even hate going to church.  I admit, the messages have been improving, but it’s hard to take courage from the immaterial when the material is, to use a word no one ever uses, MOILING.  Reality is, I have no tangible security and I feel emotionally like I desperately need it.  Every time I pray for either control, or at least margin to handle the lack of control, shit happens and I have less than I did when I asked in desperation.  So I don’t even want to pray for me, because it’s a fucking disaster.

The mixed message was that I should be more confident.  I should be more hopeful.  I should be more.  That comes from the sermon.  And from my heart, the message was that I have no confidence, I only have eternal hope, and I am continually becoming less because control slips and slips and slips, and margin is nonexistent.  In short, my pastor says I should be one thing, and my heart and life keeps telling me I’m the opposite.

I want to present a unified front, but front is backward and when I feel like I’m going up I find myself farther down, and some truth is lies and some love is hate and all gain is either illusion or elusive or nonexistent, and loss is tidal waves that keep coming ashore and only take more away after drowning me and trying to kill me with the shit washed up and uprooted by the force.

Maybe it’ll stabilize later.  And maybe I’ll win the $206M from the lottery ticket I just bought.  I’m pretty seasick.  I feel pretty gross.  And I’m tired of always feeling this way.  I have some tools but I don’t want to abuse them.   I’m mostly just sorry, to myself and my readers, that my message is mixed, and life is plain messy, and I’m basically babbling incoherently so I’m going to stop now.


It’s 5 AM.  I woke up because my laptop was making noise I wasn’t expecting, finishing a video I didn’t know I had started watching, one of those idiotic play lists that goes forever even when you’re bored.  I had gotten bored with the video I was watching after it ended, and left the laptop with the window still open, distracted with other things and people.  It still happens in spite of the new treatment plan I started last year.

I started the coffee and realized I was absolutely starving, so I put down some toast.  I shut off the idiot video and I won’t refer you to it.  If it streamed at all normal, it would have been playing by midnight last night when I think I fell asleep.  But no, the computer was quiet until 5:00 AM.  UGH.  I’m going to pour some coffee.  If I had an eidetic memory I’d tell you how many cups I’ve ever had, but I can’t.  But I CAN tell you about another milestone in my life.


Sorry KIMKASUALTY for the basically shit resolution of this image.  But you get the honorable mention and the referral because WordPress acknowledges follower 301, not follower 300, Austin L. Wiggins.  But welcome, everyone.  And I’m sorry.  You’re all wonderfully supportive and I appreciate you.  300 followers may not seem like many to a GOOD blogger, but to me, it feels like a lot.

I don’t quite understand why people would to read my crap, so reaching the milestone number of 300 followers is a pleasant mystery to me.  I’ve blogged on and off since February 9, 2015.  I started on a random day, my blog’s birthday, 2/9/15, with https://nombredelapluma.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/hello-world. Deon Mumple, NombreDeLaPluma.  My introduction to the world of blogging was maybe more bold than I usually felt back then.  But I wanted to write things down and honestly didn’t want to care if anyone read it or not.  I wanted to record things, and in an electronic world, Dear Diary on paper is not quick and efficient.  Plus, the outlet to my emotions is, I’m told, a healthier alternative than worsening depression, the end of which, you know.

Let’s be honest.  There are, as I always assert, a LOT of writers who are SO much better than I.  Sure, there are writers who aren’t, but who the fuck am I to be the judge of that?  So I hope I’ve never drawn undue attention to your grammar, punctuation, or usage, unless it was me trying to be funny WITH you.  I hope I haven’t insulted, offended, or angered anyone, because that’s not what I want to be about.  I have my beliefs, which I’ll assert are just as valid as any other person’s beliefs.  I have my faith, shaky though it may seem, which I’ll assert is just as valid as anyone else’s faith, or what some may think is a lack of faith.  I’ll encourage you to explore my faith, and you can encourage me to explore yours, unless I’ve already done so.  I’ll write whatever’s on my mind, whatever I think is interesting or irritating or entertaining or boring, and I hope you’ll do the same

As for faith, I do recall, I’ve looked into two I couldn’t get, and mentioned them once or twice and never got a logical explanation to help me understand how they make sense.  But I also didn’t get any comments about my confusion or my logic, positive, or negative.  Maybe silence is the loudest expression of wisdom.  Believe me, I appreciate silence.  I hate the news, I hate the commercials, I hate the loudness, dogs barking, fireworks, unnecessary bullshit.

I wish my computer had let me sleep longer, but because it woke me up, you got this crap in your feed today and again, I apologize most sincerely.  When you finish reading this, or when you quit because it bores you, maybe you’ll have time to read something better.

If silence is the loudest expression of wisdom, I may be the world’s biggest fool, but for now, I’ll shut up.

The Trouble With Earworms

Gentle readers, if you have read my blog through, you may recall having read about my experiences with earworms.  Apparently this is not a recent phenomenon, rather it is just one of a “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”  http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/page_138.html

Nor is the temptation to, or the unwitting act, of sampling (call that plagiarism) someone else’s work.  Regarding plagiarism, it’s called “plagiarism” if no credit is offered to the source, and it’s called a “tribute,” or “honorable mention” if the work is cited.  If it’s plagiarism, it’s a “temptation… common to man,” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+10%3A12-14&version=KJV unless you have a good lawyer.  Then it’s one of two things.  It could be an honest mistake, as those words or that music or that idea is close to something similar, but not close enough to be actual plagiarism.  Or, or “The Court$ have determined that there i$ in$ufficient evidence to prove any intentional plagiarism nor malice.”

http://imslp.org/wiki/Concerto_Grosso_in_G_major,_HWV_319_(Handel,_George_Frideric)   says, “The first movement is a re-working of Handel’s first draft for his overture to Imeneo, HWV 41, while the last movement has some near-quotations from Keyboard Sonata in G major, K.2 by Scarlatti, first published that same year in London.”

Scarlatti’s tune must have been quite infectious, as Handel apparently sneezed and a very viral Scarlatti’s Syndrome spread notes across Handel’s page.

 Here’s another one, reflected upon by gentleman and blogger Peter Jost:  http://www.henle.de/blog/en/2013/08/19/filched-melodies-%E2%80%93-sarasate%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98zigeunerweisen%E2%80%99-gypsy-aires-under-suspicion-of-plagiarism/

Here, the second composer, Sarasate, actually followed the instructions of the original composer, Szentirmay, to more correctly  cite this part of his piece.  As a writer if I actually plagiarized someone’s written work, first I’d feel guilty about it, and second I’d cite the person I stole it from because of my habits and because I can’t afford to defend myself against a lawsuit.  But if I were a composer, I’d have a very hard time if there was a song in my head and I scored it out, remembering whose piece it was.  If I remembered it as something I heard before, I wouldn’t claim that or work it in without first trying to cite the original composer.  If I didn’t however, it would be an accident.

The question is a difference of definitions.  Is it that you deliberately plagiarized, or did you “sample” without giving proper credit to your source?  Did you do it on purpose?  If you did, you are, first, fucking lazy. And you are, second, an idiot.  And you are, third, a criminal.  All those allegations of plagiarism in the political arena should tell Americans something about their elected officials, if just that some of them use the same speech writers.  Oh, and speaking of speech writers, I’m available for hire, and I work cheap:  Only $40,000 per speech, Mr and Mrs Clinton.  I’ll give the same rate to Mr and Mrs Obama, sure, why not.  And I guarantee that you won’t have a hint of anything being plagiarized.  It’s a negotiable rate.  Call me, we’ll discuss.  Don’t have your people call my people.  I don’t have “people,” it’s just me.

Consider, in the modern era, the works of one of my very favorite bands, Led Zeppelin.  The authorities hauled poor Robert Plant into court to defend himself for having apparently plagiarized a chord progression from another band, Spirit.  For historically modern music, including the Led Zeppelin case with others, the issue is well handled by writer Jim Faber here: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/may/09/led-zeppelin-music-plagiarism-lawsuits-samples-chords-lyrics

And there have been other examples.  Eric Carmen is a brilliant keyboardist and singer whose works included sampling from ancient, long-dead composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_by_Myself . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_Gonna_Fall_in_Love_Again     Carmen’s family immigrated from Mother Russia, so it seemed natural for Mr Carmen, after his classical piano training, might take a melody line from one or two of his favorites and write lovely lyrics for them.  Wouldn’t you know Rachmaninoff’s estate contacted Mr Carmen and he agreed to pay them 12% of any royalties received for the two songs they caught.  According to a web forum http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=43229.0 entry, Carmen would have had to wait 38 more years to publish those two songs to get all the royalties.  But Carmen had to make a living back then, didn’t he?  The songs were pretty good, and popular, so much so that others have moved in to cover All By Myself, notably the hilarious Igudesman and Joo.

Now I’ve put that song in your head, and I’ve got you reminiscing about lost loves.  Or, laughing at the hilarity.  I was first taken by the hilarity, and then struck by the musicianship.  They’re talented, brilliant musicians.

I don’t want to leave you, “living alone,” and “think[ing] of all the friends [you’ve] known,” only to realize that “when [you] pick up the phone, nobody’s home.”  I’m right here.  Sure, I’m at work.  It’s one of the annoying realities of my life, because, not for lack of trying, I’ve not yet won the big lottery and Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes.  When I do, I’ll let you know, and you can call me any time.  But if I were to leave you like that, I would be a terrible person.  When I have an earworm, paradoxically, I turn to rumored plagiarists Led Zeppelin.  I usually go with The Ocean Song, or The Immigrant Song, but today, I already have an earworm in my head.

When I’m down, I keep hearing this:

But I’m down oh, yeah yeah, oh, yeah
Yeah, but I’m down, so down
Ooh, my baby, oh, my baby
Let me take you there
Come on, oh let me take you there
Let me take you there.

No, I don’t want to bring you down, I want to take you to someplace nice.  That’s what Kashmir is all about.  The singer wants to get away from the harshness of life, and take his subject someplace nice.  Feeling down?  Let’s go together.

The Thrill of New Things

In our previous episode, dear readers, we learned Deon stresses out when things fall apart and he really likes new things.  Today, let’s explore that excitement of the new.

It’s a new year.  There’s always excitement about the New Year.  Auld Lang Syne.  Mrs M likes the concerts and the fireworks and various parades at holidays, so she had on the television until she went to sleep, later than her normal time of too-early-t0-de-stress-Deon-o’clock.  The idiot commentators in The Land of the Free and the home of the stupid did a “man on the street” poll asking if anyone knew about the song and why we sing it for the new year, and they went on to advocate for a new New Year’s song.  Because no one (that they showed, anyway) knew shit about the song.  They’ve collectively FORGOTTEN, which,  all of those idiot commentators and common people, is what the song is about.  At the risk of polling and revealing any reader stupidity, I could ask you if you knew why we say “o’clock.”  But please, don’t answer that, even if you know.

That song is a song of drinking in remembrance.  Wait, that sounds like something they do in church, doesn’t it?  YES.  There are times when we drink because we want to forget (the bad things), to relax, to de-stress in lieu of other, um, activities, but there are also times we should drink to remember.  We drink a toast to a friend.  We drink to celebrate good times with people.  We drink to remember and honor the lives and sacrifices of others.  We should remember old times.  You kids spend so much time on your electronic toys and games you may be barely conscious of anything outside of work and your house.  You say you have “friends,” but I might have two or three.  Left.  I drank in memory of Ulla, a dear friend and mental health blogger I never got the pleasure to meet.  Who can afford tickets to South Africa?   I drank to remember my dear aunt and a cousin who went to their eternities also.  There has been just a little too much loss this year in my own family.  I drank to celebrate our memories and to grieve just a little.

I drank to toast a few friends I have met since starting this blog.  Just a few.  You may read, you may enjoy, but do you tell me?  You may read, you may commiserate, but do you tell me?  You may even “like,” after reading.  But do you tell me why?

And then I drank to let the past go, and forget a little, and finally, to celebrate the newness of another year.  I  cracked open the new year ending with celebration, and then I went to bed.

We all like new things, new clothes, new linens, new shoes, new computers, new cars, new TVs, new furniture, new wives.  But who loves them when they’re old and don’t look as good or perform like the newer model promises to?

Speaking of new things, last week my charger adapter cord finally gave up the ghost after I diddled and fiddled with it to get it to charge for  a few weeks.  I saw it coming, so a week ago I researched online and found one or two that were designed to work with the laptop.  Then I looked at local retailers and there was one that offered two that “might work” from a certain retailer who shall be nameless, for between two and five times what I wanted to pay, Mrs M said, “just order it!”  So I sent off for one by mail order and it arrived on Saturday, and worked.  There was much rejoicing over the newness and the actual function of the thing, especially when I saw with my own eyes the charge level at 95 %.  Holy Shit and Glory Hallelujah!

I like new, I confess.  I really do.  I have champagne wishes but only a kool-aid budget.  I have porterhouse dreams on an s-o-s budget.  We go to the church food pantry some, and my mum and dad sometimes give us meat.  With a little extra to spend we do have chicken, and believe me every scrap is cooked and eaten.  The church gave us a turkey for Christmas, and  we used leftovers, frozen if not in meals planned to be eaten quickly enough.  And we do have a cash flow, but not for large expenses.  Those large bills keep killing me.  But we keep on.

I had some good fortune this past week.  You know I buy a lottery ticket for $1 once in  a while.  When the jackpot is over $200M, if I have a dollar.  Well, I had a dollar and on a whim decided to get a scratch off.  I won $14 for that dollar. $13 if you count the ticket I bought to “let it ride,” that didn’t win anything.  So that reimbursed me for the cost of the charger cord, not the shipping yet, but I’ll count it like this:  God gave me the money back that I spent on the charger.  So, while counting blessings I’ll express triple gratitude:

Thanks, God, for sustaining and providing, even if your method of provision is a bit humiliating, with food on the table and jobs to go to that almost pay the bills. It may come from humiliating sources, but for the moment that’s what’s being provided.  Thanks, God, for enabling us to pay down some of the old debts we seem stuck under.  Progress is progress.   And thanks, God, for the “free” charger cord, even if I had to pay shipping.

It’s a new year and I’ll be damned if I’m not feeling just a little more hopeful.  I hope we have more opportunities to help others.  I’m going to see if I can make that happen.  There are people who don’t have homes, or who need what they have repaired or replaced.  I’ll stick to the budget and the plan.  We paid off a credit card, and we’ve almost paid off one of our used cars.  It’s been very hard.  I joked about “new wives,” but for now, despite everything, I’ll keep her.

So let’s drink to the old:  Here’s to the good memories of friends we’ve lost and friends we’ve made in the last year, and the past years, those we’ve been able to keep and those we’ll never forget.  Here’s to really slow progress bought on macaroni and cheese and food pantry staples.

And let’s drink to the new:  Here’s to cracking open a new bottle of hope.  Here, friends: have a sip.

How to Stress Out Deon


Wait, that’s how to un-stress Deon.  And there’s only one who is allowed to do that because I promised, although there’s less of that than is needed.

No, I said FUCK because my laptop is finally dead until I get a new charger cable.  I ordered it expecting it to ship on Tuesday  and it isn’t here.  It’s Saturday and I want to write, so of course my son wants help with his homework and my dog needs to go for a walk and my wife wants me to keep on cleaning shit that needs to be cleaned because I don’t have enough on my proverbial plate already.  I made a list that literally covered an entire page of a yellow legal pad and I’ve done three things already.  Make that four.  Between interruptions from the dog and the family, I’ve been sneaking on Mrs. M’s computer just to write, which was also on my list.  Because my laptop is dead.  I like writing on the laptop; I’ve gotten spoiled.  So that was the stressor last night, and I flew into a rage and washed the dishes, because that’s the only thing I can do with rage.  I have to clean something.  And then I drank something.  It was a strong vodka tonic.

I was thinking while enraged, and I remember it, so that’s what I’m going to write about.  If you want to stress Deon Mumple out, change something.  So the laptop being uncharged and inaccessible last night was very frustrating, more I think than a normal person would feel.

And here’s the thing I thought about.  Nearly everything in my life is second-hand, or old and of uncertain lifespan.  Except you young things, you bloggers.  I’ve had to live an overly frugal life, most of my life.  The only people who don’t have to do that, I think, are people who should be paying their employees more, or who ought to have less of a god-complex when billing, or a little of both.  Because there’s either rich and comfortable, or struggling, there is no in-between.

The middle class is dead.  Have you been to the doctor or dentist lately?  Insurance sucks, and doesn’t pay enough to make it worthwhile paying for it.  The doctor’s office said, “let’s do a blood test to see what’s going on and get a baseline.”  I agreed and went to the bloodsuckers at the lab who were rude to me.  Because they probably get paid shit like I do, and have to deal with sick people, infectious people, and rude people, some categories may overlap.  And then the bill came in the mail AFTER insurance and the test is costing me $700 out of pocket AFTER insurance.  For fuck’s sake, did they use a solid gold needle?  And the dentist wants more than a thousand dollars for a crown, not even a damned gold one, and I need two, so I’ve waited, hoping that money would come in.  It kept on, keeps on, getting spent.  Car repair this.  Air conditioner that.  Mrs’s car repair this.  Kids’ “book rental” extortion that.  Furnace replacement this.  Homeowners’ association dues that.  So what was left of the teeth they wanted to put the crowns on has broken.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know any better.  I trusted adults knew what the fuck they were doing, and life wasn’t quite as stressful.  Except it would have been nice to have had a nicer house, a room with a fucking door and not a tight space in the attic for my bed and my toys.  I shared the attic with my three sisters.  I got the cold Northwest exposure, they got the cold Northeast exposure.  Dad insulated the top of the roof, but never finished, but what did I know?  I was a kid.  How was I supposed to know any better?  I also trusted my dentist.  It would also have been nice to have nicer clothes, but when the Christmas budget at K-Mart or Sears dried up, it was Goodwill if I needed anything extra.  My parents spent a fortune on my shoes, it turns out.  I had the “Forrest Gump” braces, and a buildup on a heel, so that’s where the money for my nice clothes and cool toys went.  Dad made some things, including some of my toys and accessories for other toys, and looking back, despite his ADD which wasn’t ever diagnosed because doctors didn’t diagnose it back then, he did a fucking awesome job.  I loved my *brand name omitted* indestructible airplanes and cars where the little people’s bodies are painted cylinders and their heads are painted spheres and they fit in round holes the cars and planes.  Back then they were made of wood.  One year, to go with them, he made me an airplane hangar and tower.  Yes, it was a plywood box, but he MADE it.  To go with my indestructible *brand name omitted* very green toy tractor, he MADE a barn to park it in, with room for the plows and furrowing toy accessories, and a farmhouse.  Not fancy, but nicely painted. Some kid (my nephews) were playing with the farmhouse and tractor and accessories until they outgrew them.  I can still hear my sister saying “John, dear, (AHEM) put away your tractor toys, please.”  (No, really, one of my nephews is named John.  I think the toys were eventually donated to charity, because my nephews are teenagers or older now.  And if you still try to shop, and are getting an idea of how much things cost, You could go on line and Fish-fer-prices (AHEM!) all day, and you probably would NEVER find one of the mechanic garages or airplanes as nice as the ones they bought me.  I was one of those play-on-the-floor kids, or a go outside and run around in traffic kids.  They encouraged me to be as active as possible.

Because I had a tendency to grow, I sometimes needed new clothes, and for me, my parents made do with hand-me-downs from older cousins or Goodwill things, and I was content.  Except at school, when the kids showed off their new wardrobes and their cool shoes that didn’t have mechanical appliances added to them.  And when my sisters opened presents for birthdays or Christmas and there was a new dress or slacks or a blouse.  If my mum had the patience to darn, if I had a hole in my sock she would have wanted to darn it.  And as for “profanity,” that was about as profane as she ever got.  As for darning socks, she was frugal, but not THAT frugal.  So depending on how much I grew, I could count on one of my presents being socks or underwear, for either Christmas or birthday.  And they were NEW.

Beyond that, new clothes were rare.  Mum made home-made bread, which is amazing. She passed that skill set on to three of the four.  I don’t know if my oldest sister bakes.  She doesn’t seem like the type.  But I like to eat, and have what accountants refer to as “slow cash flow,” so I cook and bake.  About the teeth, I trusted that my dentist knew what he was doing back when I was a kid, and never expected him to be described by a future dentist as “a better bricklayer than dentist.”  He troweled in the filling stuff and there were overhangs inside there that caught food particles until the teeth around the fillings gave out, and due to this malpractice, because I’m calling it what I think it was, I have two that now need even more expensive implants, or to just be pulled, and one that just cracked a little the other day.  False teeth are less expensive than keeping what I have.  Unless “starting at just $400” means they end up at $4000 after you add in the special things like auto mechanics add to pad their wallets.  Buying tires?  Gotta pay for “disposal fees” (someone has to toss that on the trash pile) and “valve stems,” like those fucking things don’t come as a part of the tire, and “installation” and “balancing” and “rotating,” and then “alignment,” because the mechanic has a kid in college and wants to retire soon.  I mean, because your tires need these things or they will wear out right after the warranty expires.

Don’t worry, the point is coming.  This is not just another randomly ranting and rambling Deon post.

I learned something about myself in the rage last night.

I learned I really don’t like that almost everything in my life is second-hand.  I want new things.  (Don’t we all, Deon, you fucking idiot?  Put on your big boy underpants and deal with it.  Welcome to life.)  But no, I REALLY want new things.  It explains a lot about my habits and my personality.

I like to clean.  And now I understand the reason why:  If I can clean something, really clean it, it’s closer to how it was when it was new.  My *Brand Name Omitted* vacuum cleaner has a cylindrical sponge inside.  When I take the sponge out to clean it, I wash that thing and get all the little dirt particles out until I don’t see any more dirt, and then I put it all back together, and it runs a whole lot better.  I try to clean it about every three weeks, and the sponge was, over time, getting closer and closer to being a rectangular object as whatever crappy adhesive they use where they make those uprights that are supposed to pick up Dirt like a Devil (AHEM!) let go.  So I did what any ordinary person would do.  I got out some damned thread and stitched that thing together.  OK, an ordinary person would figure out where to buy a new damned sponge.  But I don’t have the time or resources, darn it!

As I was saying before I ran down the rabbit trails, I made a list of things to accomplish this weekend, and one of them was NOT learning a lesson about my quirky behaviors, psychoses, and syndromes.  And understanding WHY I want new things and love to clean does NOT make it any easier that I can’t afford new things.  Instead, I’ll dull my sensitivities and patch my brokenness with liquor and catharsis.  I’ve got the catharsis out of the way.  And I hear my coffee pot calling me.  I made plain coffee in the morning, but I made weird coffee in the afternoon.  It’s butterscotch flavored.  It mixes really really well with scotch, which kind of makes sense to me somehow.

Mum got me the butterscotch coffee, and I tried it without scotch first.  I really don’t care much for flavored coffee.  I like my coffee hot and black and tall and Kenyan.  This one is Colombian, not a bad coffee but with the added flavor, not very tasty.  Until I added scotch. Yum.  So I opened the butterscotch at Christmas and it was brand new.  I got a little thrill again just thinking about it.  Smells good.  Tastes OK, but not a personal favorite.  So today I added scotch, out of the brand new bottle I opened some time ago and have been savoring slowly.  It’s delicious.

I’m going to have a cup, and then I might get back to my list.  I’m expecting to be goaded into a few more things than I would have accomplished.  I’ve already added making bread dough, so there’s that.  The bread should be done by dinner.

Swiss Cheese

I had a question in my head at work today, the answer to which was hilarious and stupid at the same time.  I was aware of both adjectives.  Now that I am home and hours have passed since the inspiration struck, I am aware of nothing.  Like a dream while sleeping, the fringes of my feelings are still there, but the brilliance and clarity are lost.  There was also another word dissection, passing in the mental causeways and caverns of my (apparently) Swiss cheese brain.

If my brain is an idiot, then what makes it an idiot is having to work at my stupid day job that sucks the dreams from my soul, the hope from my heart, and the inspirations of my ideas like marrow out of the bones of existence.  Or, not thinking quickly enough to write a a thumbnail sketch out before my fleeting attention span is taken by things my boss thinks I should consider more important.

If inspiration strikes again today, it’s evidence that my brain really, really wants me to be  a writer.  If it’s something funny to me, I won’t know if it’s funny to my readers, but if it makes me think it’s funny, it’s evidence that my brain wants me to have lighter moments.  If I remember to write it down quickly, it’s evidence that my brain wants me to torture my readers with whatever it is.  And if all of those stars cross, and align correctly, I’ll blog and I might see one or two of your reactions.

Until then, all you get is this “morsel.”  I say morsel, but not necessarily “tasty morsel.”  Who knows?  Maybe it’s more like a multivitamin and you accidentally chew it and then burp and it tastes like nasty freeze-dried beef liver.  You were supposed to drink that down with some water and then put something that tastes good on top of it.  Like a hot ham and swiss cheese on toasted rye bread.

Swiss cheese is a great thing.  But when your brain is swiss cheese it’s not so good.  So we’ll see what happens.  I’ll let you know.  Or not.

Have a great day anyway.

Happy New Year…I hope

Hi and Happy New Year, to each of the three of you who actually read my blog.  I appreciate the nearly three hundred of you who are signed up as followers, and the two who sometimes say you like what I write, even though I know the actual truth about my writing.  I really, really do.  Because I follow a lot of blogs, I know there’s  significant temptation to read if you think it might be interesting, and then click the delete key for your email notices to go away before they cross the 20,000 unread emails mark.  I prefer other authors, myself, because other authors show more promise, improvement, or even better, actual talent.

It’s January 2, 2017, because I didn’t write anything for New Year festivities.  You’re welcome.  Soon to be January 3.  To you readers it means one or two less things to parse through to figure out whether I’m being half-assed amusing or being half-assed stupid or half-assed irritating or a combination of these, OR, if I’m being full on annoying…  Rage seems a common theme herein.  And those word things that Deon likes that no one else really gets.  Or they get it but they realize it’s stupid and they “like” it anyway just so he doesn’t feel more dumpy.    Not three hundred likes though; I don’t write for the “likes” anyway.  I write to get the shit out of my system.  Sorry, readers.  It’s not brilliant linkdumps like another brilliant author named Ulla used to favor us with.  Here’s to you, Ulla, loved beyond the stupidity of my feeble words attempting to encourage, and now gone  to her afterlife.  My writing?  It’s just dumps, mostly.  But it is January 2, and I just want any curious readers to know I’m still here even though I wrote a lot less over the holiday season than I might have.  Maybe I had fewer triggers making me write, so maybe the less I write, the better.  Am I right, readers?

Yes, Deon.  Please write less.  Really.  The world can only stand so much Mumple-ing.

There were a couple of good things in the message at church Sunday, which surprised me.  I didn’t find it as annoying as I sometimes do.  Maybe our speaker left off stepping on my sore toes for a little while.  Or maybe my soul is on a better trajectory of some kind or another.

What happened was, I tried to sleep in but knew I’d be better off if I went, even if just for the soul open-and-purge.  If it happens it’s in the music, not the message.  Music moves my soul toward God and toward other people.  It connects me to a better reality even if it’s The Doors or Led Zeppelin, a few very old groups for me, or Metallica, an old group for me or Halestorm, a new group for me.  Groups come and go, fads in music and worship come and go, but so far I stand by my fondness for Third Day.  The worship band didn’t do a single song by Third Day but I enjoyed the experience.

People are different, and everyone gets something different from worship because, I believe, God catches us off guard and gives a lyric or a word to touch our hearts.  To motivate us to prayer, to encourage when our despair is soul-deep.  It happens sometimes, not always.  Sometimes when listening to the speaker, sometimes the music, sometimes in prayer.  And sometimes I get nothing, but maybe someone I saw and said hello or whatever, needed the human connection.  I never know but I trust it’s better to go than to not.  And there are Sundays when it’s too hard and I just want to be home alone.

The message was more a pep talk than I like, but it was something for the new year, so I anticipated a little of that.  At the beginning of the message he said something about working toward success with personal resolutions instead of daydreams about money, and in the notes where he said “money does not bring happiness,” I wrote “but I’m willing to give it a shot.”    He taught about “straining for what is ahead,” from Philippians 3, which was all right.  He also said “sin brings problems,” usually true.  And then he said he believed “sin brings depression,” to which I added in my notes, “so does mental illness.” At the end of the message, I took the liberty of adding a final comment in my notes, which finally brings me to the point of today’s blog entry.

The last thing I added to my notes was, “gotta muddle through.”

One of my readers who actually commented said to talk more about my faith.  Quite by accident, I’m doing that today.  My normal reaction to being challenged like that is to do the exact opposite, but fuck it.  I’m on a trajectory.  So here you go: The word up for dissection for today is “Muddle.”

First to jump out is the word itself:  Muddle.  Dictionary.com says the word has its’ origin around 1540-50, coming from mud + -le, meaning, “to make muddy.”  Which suggests strongly that coddle must mean “to make coddly.”  Coddle may be the opposite of muddle, as you may have heard the expression, “cleanliness is next to coddliness.”  I may have that slightly mixed up, or “muddled,” if you will.  Mud and complication does NOT improve life, nor does mud-pie taste any good at all.  I never suffered from the craving to eat dirt or sand or mud, or shit, and no seasoning or spice can fix the flavor for me.  Of course you’re all acquainted with the word “huddle,” often used in football, and meaning “to make huddy.”

“That’s ridiculous, Deon!”  all two readers who are left, exclaimed.  “There’s no such thing as ‘huddy.'”  Maybe not, but ridiculous would be another word worth dissecting.  Muddling is not ridiculous.  Muddling is “mixing,” in a sort of clumsy and messy fashion, hence, a mint julep, which I’ve never had, is done properly by muddling fresh mint in a julep. I don’t think julepping is a good idea, since it involves ruining a perfectly good bourbon, by adding sugar, and also ruining a perfectly good simple syrup recipe by first, not cooking it and second, by adding mint. It’s NOT that I don’t like mint, it’s just that I know where mint goes:  1) sliced into a very thin chiffonade and used gently as a garnish over the minced jalapeno and apple jelly dappled lamb under a layer of tzatziki sauce, all laid over warmed pita bread, or 2) mysteriously blended with some secret, highly addictive chemical substance and baked into delicious “thin mint” girl scout cookies.  The last thing I muddled was oatmeal cookie dough.  It did not include mint, or bourbon.  I know where bourbon goes too:  1) neat, and poured straight into the cook, presuming that’s me, or, 2) muddled and baked into a chocolate bourbon pecan pie.   The muddled cookies turned out fine, which is the life lesson.  We’ll get to it in a minute, I promise.  Trust me.

I followed a different recipe than my normal one.  Instead of using my grandmum’s, I tried my sister’s recipe she had hand-written into my cookie book.  I followed it and it was almost a disaster, except I tasted the dough and realized two things:  1) this dough is wrong, it tastes bland and awful and 2) why the fuck didn’t she include cinnamon and nutmeg, or something as a substitute.  So I added the cinnamon and nutmeg and re-tasted.  Not bad.  I didn’t add the raisins, because I didn’t have any, but I don’t really like raisins too much.  I like grapes when they’re either fresh, or made into wine.  I almost added molasses, which in afterthought, would have been excellent.  Note to self for next time:  do NOT skip the molasses.  Instinct as a cook IS something to be trusted.

Here’s the lesson I’ll take home.  You HAVE to muddle through life, because life is muddled.  It’s mud, it’s sweat, there’s dirt on the floor and food particles on the dirty dishes.  There’s not enough money for bills, not to bring up how expensive vodka and bourbon are.  It frequently looks like someone really fucked up.  Anyone who can carry off making their life look neat and orderly does one of two things:  1) never sleeps, or, 2) hides the dead bodies and shit a lot better than the average human, because Life. Is. Muddled.  People who make it look easiest usually have enough money to deal with their shit a lot better than others can.  Or hire a clean-up person.  That someone whose life looks like someone really fucked up, is writer, Deon Mumple.  I do a shit job of hiding the battle scars, wounds, dirt, feelings, under a layer of money, because I don’t have enough cash to frost the cake deep enough to cover the holes and burned sections.  Life is frequently awful; it’s extremely intimidating; it scares the living shit out of me, but it’s not all entirely bad.  I just wish I had a little more control over it.  Who am I trying to kid?  I want a LOT more control over it.

I do have some, however tiny, influence over this muddled mess of a bland-tasting recipe called life.  It’s got a bitter taste, like there’s too much vanilla and baking soda meeting the butter and sugars, and it’s got flavor but it’s just bad.  I have to contribute even when I don’t really want to.  I always try to bring the forgotten ingredients- the cinnamon and the nutmeg. Occasionally ginger, just for a little better bite.  Which makes the recipe, both for me and for others, not as bad.  Especially after dividing a rather muddled life into small, bite-sized portions, and baking until just-brown-edged, or not-quite-burned, depending on whether you like your life, or your cookies, crispy or soft-baked.

I think all my life’s recipe needs is molasses.  Or bourbon.  It tastes ok some of the time, but usually it’s bland, it’s bitter, it’s off.   I just have the feeling something REALLY important is missing, but I can’t quite figure out what.  So I need enough cash to pay the bills and clean up the shit, and then figure out what that secret ingredient is.  And then, ongoing cash flow so I can enjoy the muddle, and the cookies.

If your cookies, or your life, are bitter, I hope you all figure out whatever the missing ingredient is in your recipes, too, and then I hope you can afford it in the new year and for years to come.  We need to be able to fix the recipe to make life better.  I’m bringing the cinnamon and nutmeg, and hopefully some molasses to the next batch.  Bourbon sounds pretty good too.  Until I can afford the spirits to lift my spirits, I’ll make do.  We’ll all muddle through.

I hope only blessings for you and your 2017, and in the years to come.