The Paroxysm Soliloquy (Part 1)

“You know, the Greeks didn’t write obituaries.  They only asked
one question after a man died: ‘Did he have passion?'”

– Jeremy Piven as Dean Kansky, Serendipity (2001)
I.  Prologue
This new segment I am introducing is more “thematic” and not as spontaneous, off-the-cuff writing as previous entries.  I’m actually going to think about what I write, before I write it.  If I want to change the entry, I’m going to keep what I originally wrote, including it to illustrate my train of thought.  It’s more passionate, what I’m aiming for, because eliminating/changing/editing something means you’re regretting what you have done.  With a click of a button, that work can be erased.  Essentially, these entries will be on the longer side and may seem erratic, because I’m separating “the what was” within “the what is.”It’s simply an experiment.

II.  Opening Sequence:  The Revelation

I’ve acquired a new role at work:  killing off the dead.  As the system maintenance man, a role I had already, I take pride in cleaning up the system when it needs to be done.  I include people, and I take people out.  Now, I check off people when they have passed on.I cannot help reading the obituaries, however.  They are fascinating.  I’m not some crazy, bitter man in his late-70’s who checks to see who they are outliving.  An obituary shows who gives and doesn’t give a shit.  This one gentleman, I read in last week’s Sunday newspaper, wrote his own obituary.  My mom pointed it out, otherwise I would have missed it.  The gentleman’s name:  John Lathrop, and he lived in Fayetteville, New York.  He suffered with ALS, and (according to the obit) his first objective, post-demise, was to find Lou Gehrig and give him a big sloppy kiss on the cheek.Mr. Lathrop had a blog:

I encourage you to give it a read.  Granted, we all know reality has a sad ending, but I’m sure Mr. Lathrop is at peace, hanging out and having a beer with Lou Gehrig.

A few years ago, while I was working at the nursing home, our boss would incorporate weekly team building activities into our weekly meetings.  The activities did not include walking over hot coals, falling backwards into a crowd of your peers, etc.  Sometimes the activities were worksheets, team games, or a presentation.  There was one presentation, and it was the last one.  Each of us in the finance department had to write a two to three-minute presentation about what they mean to Loretto, how their role is valued by Loretto.  We could write, do a PowerPoint, sing, rap, draw a picture… the sky was the limit.

Like Piven’s character did for Cusack’s in Serendipity, writing him an obituary, I took it upon myself to write not an obituary, but a eulogy.  Go big or go home, kids.  I took my guitar in and played lightly in the background as I read my own eulogy.  The presentation was give-or-take nine minutes long.

I was one of the 13 grand kids to speak at my grandmother’s funeral, where I seemed to stay/speak longer than I expected.  Not to toot my own horn, but a lot of people came up to me, telling me I did a great job.

Passion.  Do what you have to do, or want to do, knowing that it’s appropriate and justifying.

This is not going to give me the opening to continue on, asking the cliched rhetorical questions:  What are we all doing here? What is this life for?  I am not going to preach:  We must live life to the fullest. Just be yourself.  Live each day like it is your last.

I’m just looking for personal passion. Passion leads to confidence.  The more one is constantly passionate, the more confident one becomes.  You would think…

Even if you are most miserable person on earth, be passionate about it, because your desire for misery will only make you happy.  Irony?  Who knew all that self loathing would do any good?

Confidence, the word and aspect, has been a recurring word lately.  Last year, it really came into play when I was unemployed.  I went in for an interview, and it was the least intimidating interview I had been on.  In my opinion, it was a significantly important and interesting job when you compare it to the insurance companies.  The question that really struck a chord was:  What do you imagine yourself doing?

I answered the question with a “practical” answer, alluding to marketing and public relations.

The interviewer looked at me, hands folded and pointer fingers erect elevating up to his lips, and he stated, “Really.”  It wasn’t a question, but just that one stated word.


The interviewer continued, telling me he would have answered that question by admitting to the interviewer that he’d be traveling the world, teaching.  In a sense:  go big or go home.  The interviewer and I had that in common, traveling and wanting to teach.  He had done so, and he had looked through my resume (as pitiful as it seemed).  After talking to me, getting to know me, the interviewer utilized what I had given him to invent a great idea, a great answer, a great realization, and a great dream.

Who wouldn’t want to do so?  The following interviews, I used the big, bold response when it fit in.  It generated conversation, not interview questions…

III.  The Original Opening Sequence
I never saw Serendipity when it played in theaters.  It was my first semester in college, and there were plenty of other things to be done than going to see a chick flick.  The movie debuted less than two months into college.  It was awkward to ask someone out so quickly.  College wasn’t a sprint, and life should not be pushed, and asking out someone so quickly into the college experience would have a higher probability of crashing and burning than success. You didn’t know who the hell these people were, for one.  Secondly, the thought of the actual progression to ask someone out sounded sour in your own thoughts.  Why?


Hi, I’m so-and-so.  I’m a first-semester freshman, and I live on campus.  I would really like to take you out sometime.  No one owns a car, so I’ll meet you in front of your building at a specific time.  I will call you from the call box that is right outside the main door, and you’ll have your roommate come and let me in, because you’ll be busy getting ready.  I’ll have to wait in the hallway, right outside your door for a few minutes while you show-and-tell outfits and discuss what-not-to-wears.  Then, you’ll go down the hall to the bathroom to do who-knows-what, and I’ll have to sit in semi-awkward silence as your roommate comes and goes out of the room a dizzying amount of times.  Your roommate settles in, and the conversation is generated.  You’ll finally be ready, and we’ll take the bus from campus to Downtown Oneonta where there will be plenty of Italian/pizza places to choose from. We’ll sit and talk, conversation driven by residual high-school-mindset cloudiness.

***Author’s Note:  Notice how there was not anything about anyone whipping out their phone during the first and second parts of the date.  That is because the Smart Phone/iPhone/Droid Phone bullshit didn’t exist.  As dumb, simple, and boring as a college date sounded, it was a legitimate date. There was eye contact and actual conversation.  No social media whatsoever. Do you get where this is going?
After dinner and maybe a stroll, waling by and listening to the Hartwick-professor-portraying-bum play the guitar, the date had to continue.  This would mean only one thing:  movie.  To the mall?  To the dorms?  The dorms were the lesser of two evils.  If the movie was watched in her room:  The guy would have to wait outside, again, for a handful of minutes to allow his date to change into comfy clothing.  Then the roommate will go with her to the bathroom to discuss.  Someone then has to make popcorn.  Then a movie has to be decided.  The movie, probably a comedy or romantic comedy, would then be watched along with the roommate alone, and/or whoever she is “with.”  The residual high school awkwardness will show its face, prohibiting the sure-fire-confidence the guy needs to put his arm around the girl, or for her to reach for her date’s hand.
If the movie is watched in the guy’s room, however.  There is no changing into comfy clothes.  The dater’s roommate will leave without question, but that is if the dater does not give his roommate the wide-eyed she’s-crazy-don’t-leave-me-alone-with-her glare behind her back.  The guy will then go to the bathroom, alone. The girl may/may not strike up conversation with the roommate, who is preparing to leave. The movie:  slap-stick or action comedy.  Then residual high school awkwardness, prohibiting the sure-fire-confidence the guy needs to put his arm around the girl, or for her to reach for her date’s hand.
The night could end in numerous ways, but this usually happens.  The roommates of the daters ask, “Well, how’d it go?”  Usually this is asked with a big smirk and a quasi-sarcastic undertone.  The dater response:  “Not bad.  He/She seems nice.  I think I like his/her roommate more.”
***Author’s Note (Pt. 2):  The Apology.  See what happened?  I meant to simply say that it was awkward asking people out, because of the new environment and how awkward it was to pick someone up for the date by using the call box, and then the daters having to ride the bus to get to a lousy Italian/pizza shop.
The guys on our second floor were trust building, establishing our commune, and our RA (Brian), tried to gain favoritism including sneaking a keg into the last shower stall.  I enjoyed my Schenectady-bred roommate, Bill D., and we had each others’ backs the following three years living together.  Dan M., my newly-acquired buddy from Liverpool (NY), kept a close eye on every one’s well-being, showering his good nature; although, his roommate left mid first semester, he was able to keep the room to himself, for his animal roommates and was able to make himself a “king-sized bed.”  John and Eddie, two fun-lovin’ city boys, the two guys across from Bill and I, had an open door policy and had the most people walk through their doors in an entire year.  Diagonally a room over, Ed and Ian, were a two-punch combo duo, and offered a great time to just walk by to stop in and chill.  The room next door housed a changing roster of about four kids.  Joe lived next to Ian and Ed, and the list goes on.
I digress.  Oneonta had a mall, but I am not sure if it exists today.  I’m kidding; it does. It sat right next to a Super Wal-Mart, and it contained a shoe store, a JC Penny, a Hallmark, FYE, and a theater, amongst other random shops.  Oh, wait.  It did have a Gino and Joe’s, but that pizza was ehhh.  It was just a chore to get there.  G & J’s is definitely not as good when you compare it to the good ol’ late-night cold cheese pizza from Mama Nina’s or Sal’s.  However, when you can compare it to Syracuse’s army of pizza places, they cannot compare to Pavone’s of East Syracuse.  How do they have the best pizza in Syracuse?  I don’t know.  Pavone’s Downtown location is much better, delicious in my opinion, but it is definitely not as good as Twin Trees.

IV.  Continuing On…


That was a terrible opener, and I have no idea where I was going with that.  I knew where I wanted to be, but I was looping around, going east to hop on the main road to take me west, just because that on ramp is closer when it really does not save time, backtracking when the route isn’t as convenient as–


I love using the Monty Python interruptions.

Needless to say, I was going to totally scrap it.
I have been in constant motion these past few weeks.  It seems that way. Sacrificing a hour from a normal night’s sleep on top of not sleeping very well to begin with, is tormenting after a few weeks and then we are rounding the corner to over a month.  I’ve been taking on more events for work, obtaining newspaper and television moments, speaking on behalf of my boss… I’ve been on a roll.  Aside work, I’ve been taking an active part in re-establishing friendships, finding a new place to live, playing more guitar, writing, finding the artistic aspects of Syracuse and enjoying them, anticipating concerts, anticipating Yankee games, anticipating camping, and finally figuring out who I am and what I want.  There’s more than that last sentence.  The list could go on, and the items could broaden.

Similar to how everyone else feels:  there arent’ enough minutes in an hour, blowing up the idea to the fact there isn’t enough time in a day.  Unfortunately, I am not willing to sacrifice sleep, and I am going to reference my hitting the snooze button with God’s-wrath-like fury this morning.  If you want to wake up passionately, do so.  Wake up with passion, to passion.  Over exaggerate sluggishness, or accentuate excitement by springing up through the covers and bouncing upon the bed.  Me-rethinks that latter notion to display a Scrubs-ish segue of me bouncing upon the bed to only crack my head partially through the ceiling, falling immediately back to the bed with my hands cradling my noggin.

The only thing worse than that–there are plenty of things worse than waking up in that sequence–would be a mariachi band playing the ditty from the remake of The Heartbreak Kid.  That would be torture.

Know what else is torture?  That damn red-eyed bear from the Snuggle commercials.  If you had to cuddle with that thing on a nightly basis.  Look at Child’s Play:  when Chucky’s head spins around, revealing to Andy’s mother that he is downright possessed. Scary.  When that stuffed bear is sleeping with you, it spins its head around to look at you, asking you “Aren’t your sheets Snuggly soft?”  I will voluntarily jump out the window.  No need for a ginger demon doll to assault me with a hammer.

That friggin’ bear was on television again last week.  I almost spit out my Cheerios.  I thought I was rid of the creature for good.  Not only did the bear–

(“That goat’s got crazy eyes!  I’m Brian Fellows.”)

As I was saying:  not only did the bear remind me that I have been lying to myself, thinking a fear of snakes held the first spot on my list, convincing myself that the fake animal was the true number one fear, but I realized the act of my walking stealthily down the laundry aisle at the grocery store.
That bear.

V.  Just Like the Movies… We Play Out Our Last Scene
As I keep living…

(That’s how I was going to start this?)



[shakes head]

The more and more I watch movies, I cannot help the fact that of my turning more into a cinephile.

(Better, but it still sucks…)

Just let me write.



(No. no.)



Why no.?

(Why not?)


(Poor guy.  Carry on.)

I love stories visually playing out and characterization.  I love plots and cinematography.  However, before the product is displayed upon the big screen, there are ideas and scripts.  There are words.  I love every letter of the damn alphabet.  I love the process of writing.  I love writer’s block, but I love when the thoughts stream out of me.

I get choked up when a preview comes on, and my realizing what preview it is yields my getting choked up.  It’s similar to the mystic experience when you watch a sunset or enjoy a lake by floating upon a raft, when you make that initial connection with a pet just by staring into the animal’s eyes, or laying in the middle of a baseball field and staring up into the stars.  If you’re that charismatic of a person:  it’s that damned love-at-first-sight.

When I first saw the preview for Across the Universe, I had no idea what I would be experiencing for the following couple minutes. Jim Sturgess starts the preview with his singing an a capella version of “Girl” by The Beatles (one of my favorite Beatles songs).  The thought progression went:  1) I know that song! Excellent!, 2) Whaaat…, 3) Oh. Wow., 4) My holding my breath, 5) Sympathy, 6) Passion, 7) Desire, 8) Want (thou shall not want), 9) Eyes watering, and 10) Exhale (end of preview).

I have yet to see Midnight in Paris and Beginners. I am feeling the same about the coming Ruby Sparks, Paul Dano’s character, a writer suffering from writer’s block, creates a story about a girl who he would fall in love with, who would fall in love with him, and she comes to life.  A muse in reverse, maybe.  The movie is from the director of Little Miss Sunshine, and I try to associate with any film involving the minds behind that movie.  I like movies a little absurd, but tangible at the same time.

It gives me vigor.  I am excited.  As I keep living…

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