Monday, December 31, 2012

This Year and Next Year


My life changed quite a bit in 2012.

I remember standing on the deck of my parents' beach house where I was living at the time, staring off into the distance.  The only thing I wanted was to get a better job.  One where I earned decent money.  One where I could move closer to home, closer to my nephew and niece who were still growing inside each of my sisters' bellies.  One where I could legitimately start my life as a working man, back on the grid.

I got everything I wished for.  And more.

A new nephew, a new niece, godfather to both.  A new job, a new location.  New furniture, some new friends.

A new dog.  The greatest fucking dog on the planet.

113 new blog posts, 200ish new followers.  Many new blogging friends.

Lots of other things too.

I can't help but feel that I didn't wish for these things to happen to me, but rather that I knew they were going to happen, and once I actively started knowing that they were going to happen, they started happening.

It sounds a lot like The Secret, I know.  I don't really believe that crap.

But maybe I do.

Another example can be seen in that post that I wrote about how I am getting fat.  Since I wrote that, I've already lost seven pounds in a month.  Just from putting it down on paper, or more usefully, putting it out into the universe.  By admitting it, not only to myself, but to the world (or at least a tiny percentage of the world that reads my blog) I made myself accountable.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Connection

Today's post is a piece of Flash Fiction that I wrote for the Dude Write December Flash Fiction Contest.

This month's prompt was to write a piece based off of this photo, taken by our judge, David Rashleigh:

I hope you enjoy it.  Weighing in at exactly 500 words, I present to you, "The Connection."

*   *   *

The train steamed to a halt twenty minutes ahead of schedule.  And it surprised Daniel.

Only five minutes before, he had looked at his watch and sighed, cursing his father for dropping him off ridiculously early once again.  As he put his headphones in his ears, he wished someone would have waited with him.

Another holiday, surrounded by family, yet alone as ever.  Picked up and dropped off at an empty station where trains seldom stopped. 

Every year, as he boarded and disembarked the train, he couldn't help but feel as if he was a nuisance -- the sole reason that the powerful, ever-moving locomotive had to put a pause in its journey across the country.  The feeling that he was an inconvenience was most powerful while he was at his parents' house.

He felt the train before he saw it.  His eyes were closed and his music was loud, but he felt its massive presence before him, as it jerked back and stabilized to a halt.

The initial surprise was innocent enough.  It was simply a train that, according to the schedule, wasn't supposed to be there.

But then a soldier stepped off the train, into the steam. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Kitchen Tables, Christmas Trees, & Ornaments

"Oh Christmas Tree, please let me be able to lick myself
once again."

When I moved into my new apartment, one of the harsh realities that I encountered was the fact that I needed furniture.  Like, a lot of it.

Every place that I had rented up until six months ago was furnished, so I never had a reason to buy things like a bed, couch, or bookshelf.  The only piece of furniture I owned was my big screen TV.  And I'm pretty sure that doesn't even count.

The biggest purchase I made -- the one that made me really stop and think -- was my kitchen table.

The moment that you purchase a kitchen table is the moment that you become an adult.  Or at least it was for me.  Sure, I hadn't lived at home for years.  I had fed myself, clothed myself, and provided other necessities for myself, like beer.

But now that I had a kitchen table, I couldn't help but envision a set of handcuffs that linked one of the legs of the table to my ankle.  I now owned all this stuff.  And this stuff tied me down, anchored me.

For better or worse.

A similar kitchen-table moment came the other day, when I purchased my very own Christmas tree.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dogs Are (A "Poem") + The Hero Who Saved Mine

Dogs are
Nature's most
Loyal companion.

Who'll never
Leave your side.

There's food
In the other room.

-Youngman Brown

I know I have been writing about my dog a lot lately, but she just got spayed yesterday, so my existence has been very dog-centric.

I've already written about how she came into my life, but head on over to Brandon's blog to read about how he found her in Vegas, saved her life, and found her a home.  

Sadie and I owe him a lot more than a link-share.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Slap

The Indie Chicks were kind enough to include one of my pieces in their Fiction section.

Head on over to read "The Slap" and stay over there to read some other really awesome stuff.

Even if you are a dude.

"The Slap" via The Indie Chicks

-Youngman Brown

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beeps on Break

Every two hours or so, I get a half-hour break at work.

Most of my coworkers go to one of the break rooms, where they get some food, watch TV, or do God-knows-what on their phones. 

For a few months, I did the same.  But after a while, I realized that I was wasting time.  Aside from getting food, my break-time was spent poorly, either watching a rerun of SportsCenter or reading Facebook status updates that don't really matter*.

*I post Facebook status updates that don't really matter all the time, so don't take it the wrong way if you happen to be someone who does this**.

**You are.

During a typical eight-hour shift, I am on break for a total of two hours, which is a lot of time to be wasting.

So I started bringing books to work.  I have a whole shelf of them at home, never read them, yet continue buying them.  Aside from power failures, I usually lack the motivation to read, as it is much more physically taxing than watching TV, what with the holding of the book and flipping of the pages.  Plus, using a bookmark to hold my spot is a much more laborious task than hitting a pause button.

It's good for me to actually have some time in my day where reading a book is literally the most productive thing that I can accomplish.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How I Saved Dopey the Dog

My dog, Sadie, has been barking recently.

It doesn't happen too often, but 99.9% of the time, it is directed at other dogs that she sees out the window or when we are on walks*.

*The other .1% of her barking is directed at the vacuum, but it makes an appearance so rarely that it is negligible.

When I first got her, she either ignored other dogs or she whimpered when she saw them.  After a few weeks, she began growling at certain ones.  And after a few months she began barking at those dogs and growling at the rest.

There are a few that she still completely ignores, but overall she really seems to hate when other dogs are around.

It truly is a delightful show.
I'm fairly certain that it all traces back to the fox hound chase during one particularly riveting episode of Downton Abbey.  To be fair to Sadie, though, Downton Abbey has a propensity to unleash all of our wild beasts.

But other people are telling me that she is growling and barking at other dogs because she is just trying to protect me. 

Me!  Can you believe that?  My little dog, in all of her thirteen-pound glory, wants to protect little ol' me!

It's a nice thought, but this new barking thing is still annoying.  And I look fondly back to the days when she would handle the situation by being a little wussy*.

*"Wussy" was my third choice in description of how she acted around other dogs, but my first two choices could be misconstrued as offensive to women.  And dogs.  And cats.

One day in particular comes to mind.

A few weeks after I got Sadie, I was taking her for a walk and I noticed another dog across the street.  He was a dopey little Bulldog and he was all by himself.  His leg was lifted as he was finishing the task of watering the bottom of an unfortunate picket fence.  When he was finished, he set his sights on my side of the street.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Condom Commercials & Kids

I saw Life of Pi in theaters the other day.

A few minutes before the previews started, this commercial came on:

"Mommy, what do Trojan Charged Orgasmic Pleasure Condoms do?"

I didn't hear any of the many children in the theater asking the question, but I am sure that the commercial must have piqued the interest of some inquisitive child somewhere.  Hell, even I was a bit curious as to exactly what goes into a condom to make a laboratory of hot girls look like they just had sex just by watching a man and woman go into a large bubble.

It wouldn't be so bad if they just used the words, "trojan," "charged," "pleasure," and even "condom."  But to throw in the word "orgasmic" puts parents dangerously close to having to have "The Talk."  And when an old German woman comes on screen and yells "ORGASMIC PLEASURE ACHIEVED," "The Talk" is pretty much inevitable.

Sexual intercourse isn't the only thing that has to be explained, unfortunately.  This commercial has also brought something to the surface that children should not have to face until a much later age: the fact that the word "orgasm" can be turned into an adjective, that it is completely accepted by society, and that it is even featured in the dictionary.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

YMB Recommends: Safety Not Guaranteed

My sister texted me to tell me that she watched the movie Safety Not Guaranteed, and that she thought I would like it.

Well, I loved it.

The movie follows three magazine employees who try to interview a man who placed an classified ad to find a companion for time travel.  It is funny.  It is clever.  And it is heartfelt.

It's a movie full of that guy.

It has that guy from The League.  And that guy from New Girl.  And that girl from Parks and Recreation.  Best of all, though, it has some other dorky Indian guy who you will be rooting for the entire time.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie itself, perhaps the coolest part about Safety Not Guaranteed is that the classified ad that is featured in the movie is real.  In fact, I actually included the image in a blog post four years ago:

The classified ad itself tells such an amazing story, and I remember laughing so hard that I cried when I saw it for the first time.  And while it may have been printed as a joke, I couldn't help but imagine the same type of character that Derek Connolly (the writer) brings into existence in the movie.

You all know me by now.  So you know that I like giving life to mundane, everyday events.  As such, I couldn't help but be joyously jealous of this movie.  How had I not thought to write a script based off of this epic classified ad?  I could have made a movie!

Although, I certainly couldn't have done it as well as they did.

-Youngman Brown

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Ripple Effect

I was brushing my teeth without my shirt on, when I noticed a scar-like line on my belly.

It was no more than half an inch, but it made my heart skip a beat, the way it does when I'm laying in bed and see someone standing in my dark bedroom, but then realize it is just a lamp shade.

What was this scar?  Had I cut myself somehow?  Had my dog somehow attacked me in my sleep?  Had I been abducted by aliens, who had done cruel experiments on me?  Had they cut me open?  Had they fondled me, then wiped my memory clean?

I reached down with my hand to inspect the scar, thinking that by running my finger over the peak of healed skin, it would awaken some suppressed, horrific memory that my subconscious had kept locked away to protect me.  

I readied my finger over the scar and prepared myself for a traumatic realization.  But as my finger brushed over the scar, it wiped away completely. 

It was just some toothpaste.

Though I was relieved for the fact that I didn't have a scar on my belly, a much more disturbing realization was brought to my attention.