For the Love of Writing

I’m not progressing as quickly as I should be with the most recent novel that my face has been hiding behind, that my nose has been digging into.

(Is that the saying?)

Well, whatever. Before I get into the meat and potatoes, let’s get something straight: So I’m essentially writing around Valentine’s Day when I know that I shouldn’t and failing to live up to my original intention not to. Is writing about relationships around the “holiday” a faux pas? A cliche? Too many questions are being asked.

Is it even worse that these words are spelling out during a French jazz tune? Yeah, let’s keep stacking this.

A passage caught my eye while reading A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins. I read it days ago. It’s the passage that is below, poorly fashioned to give credit to the narrator and author. It’ll do.



This is an enlightening passage. The book itself is pretty damn amazing. I’ll definitely keep it rather than randomly place it in a random spot for someone to find.

While hanging out with a couple of other fellows, friends, wandering and creative types, we had a thorough discussion about relationships. We were enjoying our dinner at The Old Toad, breaking bread and clinking our glasses after an enjoyable night of sketch comedy.

We’ve made our mistakes in the past. We own up to them, and sometimes — specifically me — honest, hard-hitting aspects are more difficult to swallow than others. I’m not going to specifically talk about theirs, but there are definite issues that seem to exist within ourselves. Now, let me be clear, that the three of us don’t walk around town blatantly displaying vulgar methods of misogyny, because that’s not the case. We don’t fall in the line where with the guys whose misogyny is generated from jealousy of women — that can be the case, especially with the A-Type guys who walk around with blinders on.

And I’m certain that women can be misogynists, too. I’m not entirely hating on my gender.

But, we three guys, we’re not bitter about our past relationships, but we do have our concern about the entirety of each. And this concern can be plaguing to the point where we can let it get the best of us.

It took a lot for me to get over a handful of relationships. The recoveries were not stemmed from disliking the person — there is a difference between disliking the actions that cause a relationship to end — but the time was spent wondering what went wrong and how I could essentially change myself or open my eyes a little wider. We cannot change others, nor should we try to.

One of the concerns that I brought up is a familiar one. It was about a post I wrote about for Syracuse New Times. The issue: writing about a conversation that took place. Because she read it, she got pissed. I can’t blame her for that. However, her level of being irate cannot be forgiven. Although, she said that she is embarrassed, but  there was no mention of her name or what she looked like. The only people that will know that it’s her will be the people she tells.

One of my friends said that he remembered that article, and recalled there was no specificity to calm my thoughts.

So my issue is being a lifestyle writer. It’s going to be a challenge for me to convey myself well so it doesn’t come across misogynistic. As many times as I bash myself or other guys, pointing out something in an objective fashion and blatant could ruin a relationship. As previously stated in a past article: I’ll be continuing to write even when kids are born. Because that’s life. I’m not going to include pictures or specific names to protect their privacy, but it is what it is.

Shit. I’m sure there are women out there, who would want to be included in articles. Sure, they could even have the opposite reaction of getting annoyed with my not including her name.


With writing …

On the way home, we were listening to Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast that featured Bret Easton Ellis. It was really interesting, very intense. Both Maron and Ellis were intense. After recently finishing Less Than Zero, the characters and story definitely parallel Ellis and his life. The same thing goes for American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction.

Here’s a guy, who writes fiction that includes facts and an array of characters to parallel those people in his life. And Ellis is not only more skilled than I am, but he’s also more blatantly honest.

Ellis said that a writer can’t make excuses for writing whether it pertains to developing characters or the craft, writing every day.

With future consideration …

Not everyone gets married and/or has kids. I’m fine with that (should that be my fate). I’m rooting for success. However, I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. Maybe it pertains to my brother’s wedding this year? Could be and partially so.

The two kids today, the older sister making her baby brother laugh hysterically in Cafe at 407, helped with the positive thinking.

The three of us guys talked more about dating than our exes. We talked about the process and the routes, including trying and attempting and falling face-first into online dating. But it’s funny, when we are occupied with the online dating scheme, who we notice around us. And it’s funny how thought-to-be annoying characteristics could definite a person for the better.

There was a cute redhead that I sat next to on the show. She wasn’t the prettiest girl on the block, but she was definitively cute and attractive. Her laugh, however, was most appealing. She snorted quite often, and she didn’t hold back either. The first snort came from out of the blue, and she cupped her hand over her mouth and nose as she bent over with playful embarrassment — embarrassment that isn’t embarrassment but an exaggerated motion.

But she’s a redhead. Although, I’m most attractive to that trait, I’ve never really gotten (along with) them.


The Running Start

Remember those toys from when we were kids? Most of the specific toys being referred to were designed as cars. To play with them was simple — pull the car back for it to buzz and zip across the floor. I was a little indifferent towards them. The clicking sound was annoying to me — it sounded “crunchy” for some reason, and crunchy reminds me of Velcro, and I don’t like Velcro — and the overall fun factor was short-lived. The car would have to be pulled back again. Hopefully, this time, the damned thing will drive straight and fly off of the ramp that I constructed out of books.

Maybe the toy cars were trying to tell me — if not us — something. Perhaps we should be taking steps back before we shoot forward. It’s annoying, taking a step back from a project or hastily seizing the day. But there is a slim chance of fully comprehending whatever that task or decision is. I’m not saying that goal setters or go-getters give themselves a reality check — perhaps I am … — but haste does make waste. And forcing yourself back or off to the side, in similar fashion to the toy, is crunchy and annoying. Backtracking is never fun, but it could be productive.

Perhaps if good ol’ Charlie Brown really took a look at the football situation, maybe he would have gotten a better running start to flip himself 360 degrees instead of 90, placing him on his back. It makes sense. In Super Mario Brothers the top of the flag pole could easily be reached with an appropriate running start. In car chases, the vehicle has better trajectory if it speeds up appropriately. If Marty McFly poorly timed the DeLorean’s speed, he would have never time traveled.

Last year, I started a few books that I did not finish. They sat in my bags and were rarely picked back up. This year, I picked up two of them and started them over. The books — George Saunders’ The Tenth of December and David Benioff’s When the Nines Roll Over — are now complete. Finally. Two books are under my belt, considering my lifestyle. I’m proud of that.

Next up: Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. The copy I have is only 208 pages. Any haters?

Some of you are shaking your head at me, contemplating that you think that short story collections are “not books”. Frankly, I think more people should tap into short stories. The niche of literature, which is less wordy, is a bit more calculated. Sometimes I’ve taken more out of a short story than I have a novel. On a personal note, this acknowledgement allows me to reconsider writing a novel and opting for the stories. The novel, as it still collects dust, is made up of “short stories” as is. Each chapter/story jumps in time, but not drastically — it takes place over a year.

So, perhaps the art of teaching oneself to step back is the key to this supposed great start of 2015. Meditation is stepping back. Recognizing and tuning skills is taking a step to the side. The new part-time job is emphasized by the part-time aspect, but it’s full of fun and what I’m aiming to pursue. I’m meeting new people. This is needed.

I’ve tried new things: the Polar Bear Plunge being the most recent. Pushing aside the doubt of fulfilling this challenge was a challenge in itself, especially day-of. But I went in, and swam for the most bitter-cold and longest 12 seconds of my life.


Photo by Sarah Jean Condon, The Citizen (Auburn, NY)

But let’s digress with a moment about Auburn, New York. I’ve driven through the city numerous times. It’s a historical place when referencing of William Seward among other aspects. It’s in the Finger Lakes Region, a very large “wine country” and agricultural beacon in Upstate New York.

Two Fridays ago, I went to a movie at the Auburn Public Theater – The Babadook, which was great. I missed it at Syracuse’s The Palace Theatre. But the new atmosphere of stepping out into a Auburn at night, being in a different city, save the fact it’s less than an hour from Syracuse. Aside the movie patrons, who I tried to strike up conversation with post-movie, while leaving and to no avail, I’m sure the residents are nice. There was a pub across the street that looked appealing, the streets and store fronts have appeal, new people are to be met.

Cities of all sizes have their charm, vibes. It’s going to be fun to get accustomed to it.

“I dwell in Possibility … ”

– Emily Dickinson


Click, click click, click, click, click, click, click …

photo 1 (1)

Sunday Night Dance Party

This past Sunday, the Westcott Theater in Syracuse hosted two bands that played on words and lifted spirits. And the night also got a little weird. Chris Baker of covered the event, and he did a great job, but words cannot really describe the concert itself. It’s something that you kind of had to be there for.

This night also marked a monumental occasion: I never have been kicked out of a show before, but that night was a first. But everything turned out OK. The security guard wasn’t all that rough. He didn’t push me out, but guided me to the lobby. I went to my car, changed my outfit and got back in with no problem. This was something I had to do.

It was caught on video, and I’m going to try and attempt to post it here. There are no promises of this thing working.

Fugulele took the stage, Syracuse and the world’s only all-ukulele Fugazi cover band. Of course, this being kicked out was all for affect. The part about high-fiving the security team was left out. I apparently was believable. I was removed from the show after “Bed For Scraping,” but returned in time for the last half of “Waiting Room,” a personal favorite.

At one point, during “Arppegiator,” one guy danced around me and the crowd cheered:

Then Metalachi took the stage decked out in various metal-themed garb that is distinctive to personas and decades. Baker’s description of the mariachi metal band as “one part Tenacious D and one part Cheech & Chong” is right on target. They appropriately kicked off the show with Central New York metal icon Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark” before venturing through a variety of familiar metal songs that included: a Metallica medley, Slayer’s “Raining Blood,” Whitesnake’s “Here I Go” (and this was probably one of the catchier songs to dance to), Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Extreme’s “More Than Words” (which was a serenade for an audience member).

The audience was singing along the whole time, and it was hard to resist. After the show, Fugulele member Frank expressed how many of the songs he would never consider singing along to. I was in complete agreement. I absolutely dislike Bon Jovi, but it was just so difficult to resist.

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Metalachi and Fugulele embrace


But the Metalachi guys were very friendly, funny and cool. They hung out with the audience members after the show, signing merchandise and taking pictures. Members and front men Veca de la Rocca and El Cucuy met us over at Alto Cinco for a conversation as well. It’s clear that they’re having a blast doing this, and the more power to them. The Los Angeles(/Juarez)-based band are over on the east coast for the first time, and Syracuse was their first Upstate New York show.

The Metalachi guys also mentioned how they heard some guy got kicked out, and they questioned if “it was serious.” We all shared a laugh.

I take pride in being a part of “firsts,” even if the event is seemingly minor to some, many. Looking back, Rx Bandits had never been to the east coast until their tour surrounding the release of The Resignation. That show was right across the street at the now-deceased Planet 505.

It’s easy to see shows in and around Syracuse, but seeing a show in the Westcott area is something else. A concert/music addict has the ability to see known artists at The Westcott Theater than anywhere else in Syracuse. Yeah, Landmark and Palace have concerts as well, but the live music shows are less frequent.

photo 3

What Are the ‘Kids’ Doing?

I finally made to the Downtown Syracuse location of Funk ‘N Waffles. I’m impressed, to be honest. It lives up to what it boasted: food, fun, music, waffles. Although there wasn’t time or opportunity to eat at the venue, because the group of us had enjoyed a nice hot, meal to alleviate the blustery winter Central New York — and the rest of the continent — has been suffering through. Yes, our continent. Fellow blogger and dilettante, Hanna Han-Basquait, from our neighbo(u)ring Canada had described the weather as “colder than a witch’s tit.” It’s not that I haven’t had any interactions (that I know of) with a witch, it’s tough for me to agree with such a boast … I trust her judgement.

But I digress. The group of us congregated at our Empire Brewing Company brew pub Mecca, and the atmosphere reminded us that it’s very difficult to get tired of the place. Having eaten beforehand, I opted for a bowl of the Big Easy Gumbo, but the bowl of the New-Orleans-inspired dish is just as filling as anything else on the menu, and maybe more filling than the personally preferred medium-done Tumbleweed Burger. I left with a knot in my stomach, because my hubris got the best of me. It was walked off while walking to FNW.

A picture of the gumbo was not captured, because my phone was hidden away. There is a personal desire to be less dependent of it, so it was tucked away in a coat pocket. Society called and left me a message during dinner; it’s displeased with my rebellious nature. However, unlike Empire’s po’boy that isn’t a po’boy aside the type of bread — it’s far too small to be considered a true po’boy — the gumbo is a dish of pleasure. The chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage are a three-hit combo for heartiness and flavor.

The one-and-only Tumbleweed Burger.

The one-and-only Tumbleweed Burger (with sweet potato fries).

Formula 5, a progressive rock band — it’s still okay that we still say “prog rock,” right? — from the Upstate New York area, specifically Albany and eastward. My brother’s college friend and former lacrosse teammate, Mike McDonald, can be found at the keyboards and providing vocals. After the performance, my first time seeing them, I can say that the band is definitely comfortable performing with one another. The crowd enjoyed them, and dancing began immediately. Syracuse-based band, Vaporeyes, opened up with a funk-driven set that definitely impressed me, as I saw them perform for my first time as well.

The venue is definitely needed, a place where music can be heard on a daily basis. Whether you’re out with friends or on a date — hopefully not the “date” I saw the other day …

Aside: I’m not sure if the guy was nervous or what, but he was painfully awkward, more awkward than I am, and I’m not sure if her leaving seemingly abruptly was because she had to … but he came prepared with a computer to do work. He was asking her first-date type questions, but it seemed as if they had known each other before. Regardless, he kept tapping his feet through the meet-up as if he was playing drums, and he laid his upper torso on the table with arms outstretched at one point and slapped his palms on the table. But after she had left, he kept tapping his feet for at least another hour. Keep the nerves at bay, bud … Who knows what you’d do at a job interview …

… because it was pretty damn painful — Funk ‘N Waffles has the ability to extend the night and even get some dancing in. Plus, it adds another “scene” to a personal out-on-the-town repertoire. It’s to see new faces and meet those new people and create some stories. It’s another step toward greatness, boosting another reason to venture out to Downtown. It’s another check-in-the-box when adding, considering our Downtown’s “big city” qualities.

But the 20-something guys at the end of the night (around 1:30 AM), the guys running around in literal circles as they dipped their fingers in their beers and waters to flick the beverages at each other and as they cackled. C’mon, guys. How old are we?



A Tale of Two Darwinisms

“Has everyone had the chance to meet Chris?” was the question uttered at the meeting. It can mean only one thing.


It’s a part time job, but it’s a new job. It’s a new office, which has new coworkers. The area focused upon is in a new part of “town,” but headquarters is located in another county (which is a first, or … “new”). Instead of having to go east, similarly for past jobs, I travel west. Instead of drastically changing a niche (another “new” thing), I’m sticking with/to the same type of profession.

It’s advancing in a career. It’s still writing.

The job entails taking on more assignments, which means sacrifices have to be made: keep freelancing in check and actually say “no, thank you” to more complex assignments. Instead of having twice-weekly installments to my The Inevitable Coffee Ring blog with the Syracuse New Times, I’ll only be contributing once and on Tuesdays. Considering hitting print is foreseeable, it seems appropriate. After speaking with my confidant, Ty, he says it’s probably best. My stubbornness helped me narrow my eyes, but I came around to the idea after about 10 seconds of panic and rapid, deep breathing.

Face it. It’s easy to get comfortable with life. For the past year, I got comfortable with not getting paid for work and contributions. The job before that, my interacting and helping people with my state job clouded over the fact that I was involved in politics. The job before that: four years of helping the elderly have their services covered while they stay (long term and short term) in a nursing home. And those health care years have bottle redemption center retail (two years) and science museum woven in. From 2006 to 2009, I was finishing up my 10-year tenure before opting to volunteer for special events.

In my year-o’-freelance: editing articles, editing books, writing and editing blogs, managing social media, and consulting.

And now most of my time will be spent with the staffs of The Auburn Citizen and Skaneateles Journal. I’m writing for the latter. I’m three days in, and I already really enjoy it. I’ve pitched a handful of story ideas, my editor and supervisor and his supervisor seem to enjoy them. The new digs are comfortable, but I’m obviously shy with the coworkers. I don’t want to jump into the office with too much excitement or let out too much information about me. They’ll have to cope with my daily snacking habits, which seems to be a day-long graze. The severe awkwardness hasn’t made too much of an appearance.

In terms of the actual job and other projects, I’ll be working a lot. My mind will be running more frequently, maybe to the point of insanity … but considering such nonsense is maddening. It’s easy to disagree with the workaholic mindset or consideration. The plus: being cognizant of listening and observation skills.

Having a bit of an actual schedule is a perk, too, and so is wandering around the beautiful Finger Lakes region.


I’m writing this while watching In Bruges. Yes, we all know that I love the movie, but McDonagh’s filming and focus on the architecture and culture is inspiring. Last winter, I was planning on wanting to go on a trip in 2014. The trip would include Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels, and Paris. I think I’ve written about it before; I’m pretty sure that I have. Culture, history, education and the potential to learn something of value (and not online) gets me emotional. Seriously, holding breath and teary-eyed me is a sap for it. Even going to a new city or village in this state is intriguing to me. It’s too big of a world to be reclusive.

What the hell was Salinger thinking?

It’s probably selfish of me to say this, but if the writing thing progresses to an extraordinary degree, if writing takes me across the United States or abroad, there may night not be an option to settle down. It defeats the whole purpose of wanting  and hoping to fall in madly in love.

In the last month or so, I had one potential tell me she liked me and she wanted to date me. Being in this odd state of indecision and unemployment and feeling at a total loss, I said that I couldn’t. She said that state didn’t bother her, and that’s kind of her to say, but how can I dive into something not feeling comfortable or settled when my professional life is in complete disarray? The contact has diminished between the two of us, but I can’t keep popping up, asking to hang out as friends and risk leading her on.

Another, who clearly wanted to be friends — save a couple wavering instances of uncertainty — returned, dropping notions of (let’s say) “liking me” in the matter of a few weeks. This was after her bringing up and weaving in our simple “just being friends” stance.

The comfort and certainty is still not there.

This whole traveling and family cannot be solved with a simple flip of a coin. And it’s obvious that falling in love (or wanting to) is bound to come up again. Mental washing doesn’t work, as we have learned in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s something that can be turned off … well, unless you opt for a lobotomy. There is always that first glance, however …


After all, didn’t Darwin say — in short — that an organism or member of a species has succeeded when it has procreated?

Social Darwinism, the other concept, focuses on the career side of things.

We can control “doing” and pushing ourselves to succeed. We can’t control falling in love. It’s easy to say “you can’t have both” or “it’s best to settle for a comfortable middle.” However, the challenge lies with making both work as best as possible.

This is going to be a fun, busy year.

Similar to the ending of In Bruges … the resolve is unclear.


Instant Car-ma

[December 26: Around 1:45 PM]

After the woman pulled out of the spot, I maneuvered into the right side vacancy as another driver tried to interfere from the left. As I hid my bag in the shadows of the passenger seat floor and covered it with a coat, some hunch coaxed me to look up. In my rear view mirror, the mustached man with the salt-and-peppered hair in his car behind me rolled down his window. Here we go, I thought.

He yelled: “Hey!” While still in the process of shielding my laptop, I rolled my eyes. He yelled again: “Hey! Get out of the car … you [fudging] [kitty]!” Although, he did not say “fudge” or “kitty” for that matter.

I sat up straight, a lump ballooned in my throat. I took a staggered deep breath before pushing the door open.


Christmas, aside my brother feeling ill, which is a notorious recurrence as it happens often to a Malone family member during the holidays, went down without a hitch. Everything was peachy until I stepped in dog shit en route to my car from a game-filled evening at a family friend’s home. Crappy land mines are apparent during the day, of course, but the piles still dupe the average runner during an exercise high. As a runner, I’m more concerned with the cars and potential icy spots. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the nutty and fruity aroma of whatever the dog had eaten until 85 percent home. Little did I know that this would precede a thorough vehicle cleaning and other holiday-related aggravation.

serentitynow - reddit


The fall-winter holiday season is still not over yet, and it’s understood that there will be some nervous and anxious drivers out on the road … aside the typical year-round asshats. In the past couple weeks, I’ve sent out tweets about Audi drivers; a couple had cut me off, one had honked its horn at me for driving 30 MPH in the city, and these same folk and drivers have just been driving like lunatics. Congrats, driver of Audis, you’re privileged to own such cars.

According to a New York Times article, the wealthier people drive more dipshit-ish. I have to agree, considering that I’ve got nothing on Mercedes-Benz drivers; with my experiences, they’ve been relatively conservative with their techniques. Saab drivers, however, are a whole different breed. They’re the kind to actually wait for you to exit the car and tell you they’ll beat the shit out of you. More about that in a minute.

On the way to Christmas (Eve) Mass, we encountered a driver, who felt that common courtesy was passe. My father, who was driving, waited for another car, whose driver was having a hard time figuring out whether they wanted to back out or turn around. The tail end was sticking out into the part of the road, which was also the top of a hill. Instead of guessing and taking a 50/50 chance of having a car zoom up the hill into his, my father kindly waited. The truck behind us, however, blared its horn. The truck’s nose rode practically up the tail of my father’s part of our journey  as well, only to slam on the gas (like a winner) when heading in an opposite direction.

According to studies by the American Psychological Association, drivers — even the most temperamental and seemingly level-headed people — do have triggers. According to the article, counseling psychologist Jerry Deffenbacher is mentioned that his findings show that intervention and counseling sessions can help aggressive drivers, but these would not cure it. People can be cognitively aware, but triggers will remain triggers while driving. Perhaps hypnotism can play a part?

Of course, like every situation, closing your eyes and taking/focusing on deep breaths and/or counting to 10 can help lower the anxiety. Or just yell “Serenity now!”

In terms of common sense, there is uncertainty on how people will react in certain situations, whether vehicles are involved or not. People have weapons, guns and knives and even bombs, and provocation could be detrimental. Look at our friend, Deirdre Orozco in California. Enough said.

Hello, gorgeous.

Hello, gorgeous.                         (Source: Huffington Post)



[December 26: Around 1:45 PM]

The woman nodded at me, thanking me for my patience as she helped her elderly mother into the car. Moments later, I had a 60-something Saab driver screaming at me.

“Get out of the car, you [fudging] [kitty]!”

My stomach wrenched. I felt a little nauseous to be honest. But I put my sunglasses on and kept cool. Unfortunately, I wasn’t invisible to monsters. I didn’t say anything, because maybe they’d just go away.

“What the [fudge] is wrong with you?”

I asked: “What do you mean?”

“You took my [fudging] spot.”

“Sir, no, I did not. The woman and her elderly mother in the green car pulled out. I was waiting patiently for over a minute. Then you pulled around the corner.” My tone was direct and dry.

“[Fudge] you. I was going to pull in. You took my spot. “

At this point, I wanted to tell him that if he had thrown a spear with a flag to claim the spot as his own, I’d let him occupy it. However, this was not the case. Instead, I shook my head.

“[Fudge] you. I will beat the [snot] out of you,” he told me. Although, he did not say “snot.”

“Nice mouth,” I told him while walking away. After venting and laughing (nervously) about it, my father said I should have calmly pulled my phone and said that I was going to call the police. He launched two more F-bombs, but my new Converse-covered feet — Thanks, Santa! — shuffled around the explosions.

All I wanted was to look for a vest for the Barnes Foundation’s Roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve Bash. This was a very, very quick visit; my head was spinning and wanting to check on my car was needed to soothe my anxiety. A venture to a retail book seller was to calm my mind. I read and debated on Bukowski, but the book was shelved. As I left, I held the door open for a handful of people, for different groups. The last person, an old woman, grabbed my arm and looked at me. “Thank you. But you’re done for now. You could be here all day.”


The Things We Think About When We Look At Cards

The Kevin James comedy special, “Sweat the Small Stuff,” always cracks me up. And it’s hard to ignore or forget the final segment of the special, the part when he talks about choosing cards. It’s the absolute truth, the process. I can only speak for myself in regard to this card shopping dilemma, but it’s certain there are others out there dealing with the same issues.

Not only does my indecisiveness present itself with card debates, but it is apparent with other items as well. Clothing. Music. Movies. Food. You name it, and you’ll find me internally debating and sometimes suffering. I’ll walk around the store, and the indecision to get whatever is in my hands will burn furiously in my mind. Sometimes I’ll buy an item, but most times I’ll replace the debated item. Once it’s been sitting in my hands for so long, the reality of not needing said item(s) is realized.

But, when it comes to buying cards, we — the exception being the maniacally desperate — don’t necessarily shop for ourselves. Sure, thought processes and personal sense of humor could make or break a decision, a purchase, but the card receiver may not have the same preference.


The pick-something-quick folk, however, get in and grab and get out just to simply fill the void and complete the errand. Some people literally look through every card. There are those who spend forever trying to find the perfect message out in the crop of pre-written inscriptions. Often, exclamations such as, “Why can’t this be in this card, bearing this picture?!?” Such is life. There are the rebels, the people who know that perfect messages are few and far between, and head directly for the blank stock, which is held in a section you can find me in the majority of the time.

Judging a card by its cover is allowable.

Face it. The best pre-written cards are sympathy cards. When faced with a loss, the there are plenty of us that question ourselves — “I don’t know what to say” or “I cannot find the right words” — in times of duress. That extra biblical quote or sentimentality can add that pizzazz in lieu of those personal, honest feelings for a family whose loved one has passed.

The worst are happy birthday and holiday cards; the cliche is printed on thick. If you don’t know how to write Merry Christmas — as a ’tis-the-season example — well, don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for you. The printed two words come at a cost, because there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Where every cliche is the same, every person is different.

And then there is everyone else around you.

It’s hard to ignore the other card searchers and gazers. You wonder about the grandparent buying cards, the single man or women with three birthday cards to choose from. There are plenty of other possibilities as well. The curiosity is there, the wondering about each chosen card’s purpose, where each is going and why. And there is definitely judging concern when a person opts for a card that you picked up and put down, why — after you considered said card as mundane — this other person picked it up and deemed it as “a keeper,” throwing it in their basket or cart.

The art of cards, letters is a lost art. Cursive/Script is no longer taught in school, and our ability to legibly write is regressing. And a letter, a message is more valuable with the personal touch. We’re so fascinated when we come across old letters, and we’re entertained with the messages. Why not keep it going?

Oh, it actually takes time.saywords

There is always a possibility for interaction when card shopping. Tell a person they are in the wrong section and bring them over to where you were, showing them a section that is filled with the better options. You don’t need to give them a card to tell them — the tone of your voice says a lot — that everything, here in this section, will make their decision making process better. These cards will not make the process easier, because there are too many good ones to choose from. Alas, the lost soul has been pointed in a direction.

Last week I had picked up a card for a friend, who was having a birthday party days after her actual birthday. Since I was in the neck of the woods, I stopped by the Erie Boulevard Barnes & Noble. Of course, it was packed with people, and Christmas music was playing through the speakers to get everyone in the spirit. But it was odd that at this moment, I did not feel as if I was in Syracuse. Deem it as an out of body experience or mental fart, but it just didn’t feel like I was “home.”

I was venturing around the card aisles, but had to weave in and out of people getting in my way. It’s not as if they were just standing around talking, but this refers to the folk who are in the middle of trying to figure out what they hell they want to do, and so they stop suddenly; you have to be paying attention to not run into them. And if the random sudden shopper stoppers are collided with, it’s you who has to apologize.

But there was a glimmer of hope in the card decision making. When you see someone attractive, and you hope some conversation starts in the card section of all places; ergo, communication. In this scenario there is positive thought regarding her having the same card humor or appeal. If it were possible: take into account the cards that she picks up are something you would pick up as well. She’d probably judge my choices as well.

And then the moment comes to ask her to dance; but it’s not actually asked, and it’s not actual dancing. The passive aggressive actions are as cowardly as “wallflowering” at a middle school dance. It’s time to shift to another aisle to look at more cards and kind of hope she would follow. But it doesn’t happen. But at least the window is there to look up and glance as she walks by.

And bashful smiles are exchanged. The card shifts in my right hand before tapping against my left.