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Funny Messy Life

80 EpisodesProduced by Michael BlackstonWebsite

Stories about life, relationships, and culture delivered in a way that will help brighten your day or at least make you ask, "What is he smokin'?" But don't worry. It's all in good fun and it's family friendly. I'm Michael Blackston and these are tales from my blog - in audio form - all based on rea… read more

25:40

Saving The World - FML 009

Note: The following content is created tongue-in-cheek style and is intended for the comedic entertainment and enjoyment of people who are not easily offended. If you’re easily insulted and get all mouthy and whatnot, understand that you may one day be mooned. By the host. While he’s driving. That’s just his way of saying, “Hi friend! You have no sense of humor!” Otherwise, proceed.

 This world is a dangerous place full of lazy people who’d rather take your money by force rather than work for it and teens who think every other day is a good time to create a new social media challenge like eating detergent pods or snorting condoms. That’s just to name a couple. While the world will never be truly fixed, I hope I can do my part to help by offering my own opinions and maybe - just maybe - we’ll take a step closer. I have three pieces of commentary that I think might lead us in a better direction.

 I’m Michael Blackston and this wasteland you’re about to enter ... it’s a little thing I like to call my Funny, Messy, Life.

____________________________________________________

 It all starts with a mindset. We’ve got to take control of our thoughts before we can take control of our actions. Baby steps and crap. I try and take control at the beginning of every new year, but it might not be what you think. Recently a friend I just made up to segue into the story asked me how I was doing keeping up with the resolutions I’d made at the first of the year. I’ll tell you like I told my friend ...

 I Resolve NOT To Make Resolutions

 The Christmas season was a hard one due to all the stuff I had to do. I finally got it all done, but afterward I felt like I‘d been run over by the entire kick line of The Rockettes Magical Yule Tide Gala Christmas Under The Lights Holiday Bonanza Gala. Under normal circumstances, that might not have been such a bad thing. But in this analogy, these are the ladies that didn’t quite make the cut; the third string Rockettes who aren’t as good with their feet and definitely wouldn’t make the calendar. In that case, I’d rather not be trampled, yet that’s exactly how I felt. Follow that by the unseasonably warm weather and constant rain and you’ve got a good helping of the blahs.

 It just didn’t feel like Christmas to me. So I resolved to make the next year different. Because it’s up to us to choose our own attitudes.

 But I hate resolutions. People make them every year and rarely follow through. Gyms get an influx of new members who’ve resolved to get in shape. People buy brand new workout clothes and all sorts of exercise equipment as a result of their resolve. It doesn’t take long before those same clothes become bedtime wear and those pieces of exercise equipment become racks to hang the laundry you’ve not gotten around to putting in the closet..

 Artists like me decide it’s finally time to start working on that masterpiece they’ve been meaning to get to and writers like me decide to compose that novel they’ve been talking about. The masterpiece sits, after the initial hesitant few strokes of the brush, unfinished for weeks, months, or years, all the while giving the artist an excuse we like to call a “work in progress”. The novel gets maybe ten to twenty pages old before it’s forgotten for something newer until the author can shake the “writer’s block”.

 Not to mention these common resolutions (Not To):

 Smoke

 Drink

 Cuss

 Fight

 Cheat

 Look at somebody else naked on the internet

 Look at yourself naked on the internet

 Have road rage

 Pick boogers

 Origami

 I decided to NOT make resolutions ever again. I know what I need to do and I don’t need some kind of a eureka moment or statement of dedication to make a thing happen. What I did decide to do is officially announce my anti-resolutions. These are things in my life I’m happy with and that I intend to keep in my routine.

 I will not be changing my intense need to create. I write, paint, draw, act, sing, compose, dance in the shower, and make puppets from socks I find on the side of the road.

 I don’t send thank you cards unless I didn’t get to thank you verbally and in person. I’m familiar with the “etiquette” argument, but I meant it the first time when I told you to your face. I don’t like to repeat myself. Did you get that? I don’t like to repeat myself. I touched on this in the last episode so why is it coming up again? Oh. I guess I brought it up. Just know that if you get the sense someone is avoiding you in Walmart, it’s me putting into practice my sweet ninja skills of invisibility so I don’t have to look you in the eye if I think you wanted a thank you note.

 I’ll always hate being continually spoken to after the initial “hello” if I’m sitting at a table and obviously engaged in my writing or if I’m reading a book. I appreciate the hospitality, I do. But if I’ve replied kindly and then redirected my attention to my task, that’s an indication that I wish for the conversation to be over. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you. It just means that at that particular moment, I don’t like you as much as I like my story or my book. I’m sorry if that’s rude. We’ll have to debate it another day; a day when I like you better than what I’m writing right now.

 I will never change my stance on coffee. That stance is thus: Coffee is the nectar of God and my heavenly mansion will come equipped with an ever flowing river of java with just the right amount of cream and sugar. I will call the river, The Ever Flowing River Of Java With Just The Right Amount Of Cream And Sugar. I realize that there’re Snooty-Britches people who may be reading, listening to, or watching this and you might believe that coffee should only be swallowed if it’s black. You have the right to that opinion and I won’t harbor any ill will toward you for that conviction. However, should you be stranded on the side of the road in a thunderstorm with a temperature just above freezing with no cell service and I drive by in my working automobile while completely dry from head to toe with the heater on and drinking a hot cup of Joe touched by the angel of caffeine, don’t feel sad if I don’t stop. Me raising my steaming, creamy, sugery cup to you and pointing as I pass is just my way of saying, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

 I’ll remain staunchly against the summer. I’m a man of the fall and winter. I’m Mr. White Christmas. I’m Mr. Snow. I want to scrape my window every morning with a credit card because I keep forgetting to buy a proper window scraper. I know several of you people who will wholeheartedly take up the gauntlet for the cause of Summer. We’ll just have to respect each other from opposing sides of the street. And if you feel the chill of my gaze as I wish for Old Man Winter to blow his nose in your hair, that’s just my jolly way of saying, “STOP IT! HEAT IS HOT!”

 I think I’ve made my point about resolutions. They’re not for me.

Another note: I warned you that I’d be satirically taking on a mean spirit in this article and that you might consider whether or not you could handle it. So I’m sorry if you’re angry now. Don’t worry, I didn’t mean to make you mad and I hope you’ll forgive me. If not, I ask the comedy muses to find really funny ways to make your life interesting when the new year comes. It’s just my kindly way of saying, “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo.”

_____________________________________________________

 So we understand now that it starts in our head and the action is to follow. Unfortunately one of the world’s biggest problems is that there tends to be this big wall made of TVs, video games, couches, and comfy blankets between us and the action. Well friends, fear not. I believe I have ...

 The Solution To Procrastination

 My son forgot all about a project for school until just hours till bedtime the night before it was due.

 Scratch that.

 It was overdue and he told us he’d be deducted 20 points from his final score for that, but at least he’d been given one more chance to present his 3-D scale model of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. 

 When I asked why he’d waited so long to do it, especially when his mom and I have been on him about not turning in his work, I got the old, “I’m sorry! I forgot” routine. If you’ve ever been the parent of a teen, you’ll hear those words in your head with the tone the teen union insists its members use - the tone that suggests it’s all your fault.

 The truth was, he’d procrastinated. So there I was helping him to get it together and harping like dads do when teens act teenagery, while the past-his-bedtime clock ticked away.

 We still have issues to deal with when it comes to my son and his school responsibilities, but I have to admit that as a student, he gets it honest. It’s only been recently that I’ve learned to poke the devil of procrastination in the eye with a sharp stick. I recognize it’s a problem that haunts a lot of people. I didn’t get around to checking the actual numbers, but I’m sure there are a few.

 As a student, I put off doing my homework and projects too, but now I’ve discovered some keys to getting things done.

 Although I’d rather give you this lesson tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and do it while we’re here.

 These are some things I’ve put into practice in my own life in order to be able to write “The End” on the story of any particular task. They’re systems, if you will, that’ll help you find completion and be able to say, “I’m done!” These are tactical positions you can take in the war with your own personal devil and will serve as your own personal stick to poke in its own personal eye, shouting, “Take that, devil! That’s my sweet, sweet, efficiency in your eye socket!” These ideas are manna to the righteous ones who would follow the religion of the Go Getter. They’re suggestions that …. I suppose I should just get to it ….

 First, don’t hatch all your eggs in one horse’s mouth. We tend to be people who have too many irons in the fire. I know I’m one of them, so shut up if you know me and have told me so. I know I’m preaching to the choir. But as much as I love having a full plate in front of me at life’s supper table, I can’t eat it all in one bite. I have to take it by the mouthfuls and chew on it, then swallow it, then savor the awesomeness that was that bite. And I have to keep it separated because everybody knows that if your food touches, everything on the plate is ruined. Your tasks are the same way. If they’re all mixed up together, you got problems. The mashed potatoes of work are dirty dancing with the corn on the cob of your hobbies, which just rolled over from a sordid affair with the peas of your honey-do list. You can’t have that. You have to segregate them and tackle them one by one and in the order of your priorities.

 Second, give a name to each day of the week. This means assigning a task to each day, even if it’s just one a day, that MUST be completed before you can go to bed or sit up all night binge watching Andy Griffith on Netflix. Give each day a name; something like:

 Bills-Are-Duesday

 Mendsday, the day you mend stuff.

 Write-A-Few-Wordsday or ...

 Fred.

 You can think of any crazy name and make it fun. Do you think Barney would go to sleep with a job undone? I don’t think so. Well, on second thought, I think there was an episode where Andy caught Barney asleep in the back when he was supposed to be watching the Courthouse/Sheriff’s Office/Detox/Rehab facility of Mayberry. And now I want to watch that episode. I’ll get to that one day. When I feel like it.

 Third, get yourself an Accountability Partner. They’re all the rage and for good reason. They’re awesome. With an accountability partner, you have a partner to keep you accountable. Give them a list of things you need to have done every day before the sun sets and then get together with them to see if you made it happen or not. If you succeed, you get a nice pat on the back and maybe a gift certificate to a fancy day spa. And if you fail, you might have some sort of punishment in place to make you think about what you’ve done. For instance, you might have to buy your accountability partner coffee or a milkshake or a massage at one of those totally legit parlors with the dark windows and flashing neon. My wife is my accountability partner, but it’s a little different. She gives me the list of what I need to get done before the end of the day and then we discuss my success and failure over a tall glass of guilt. It’s a good motivator. Our prizes for success leave a lot to be desired, though. She put the brakes on the idea of getting me a massage at one of those parlors with dark windows. It’s a good thing too because a couple days later, the one I was thinking about got busted for somehting or other. As far as punishment for not doing the things she asked during the day, she did say it would be technically similar to the denial I was getting by being told I couldn’t go to a massage parlor, but that didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

 The main thing is: Keep the main thing the main thing the main thing thing. When you have too much stuff on your plate, making sure nothing touches and eating one bite at a time is definitely a difficult proposition. But if you want to succeed, you have to chew on one thing at a time and swallow it before you put another bite in your mouth. We’re back to the food analogy, but it fits. If you stuff bite after bite in without following through with the chew/swallow technique, you’re bound to choke. Make each task your priority and focus on that alone until you’ve finished it. You’ll choke trying to do everything at once. The thing is, if you do it all together, nothing gets done and you get frustrated about it and you don’t sleep because you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels and nothing is going right. If you leave the rest alone until the one you’re working on is finished, then you get to erase it from your mental chalkboard and forget about it. There’s nothing sweeter, except maybe baby chicken babies pecking at a ground covered in sugar cubes and Froot Loops.

 In the grand scheme of things, nobody but you and your accountability partner will probably ever know you’re a procrastinator. Okay, unless you’re a project manager who never manages their projects or a student who “forgets” to do his assignments. But you’ll definitely know and that’s what’s important. Having the confidence that you’re a doer, not a didn’t do yet’er, is a power that nobody but the devil can take from you. And since I poked a stick in his eye, I think he’ll be gone for a while. I mean, I’ll check to make sure he’s gone ...

 But it can wait till tomorrow.

_____________________________________________________

 Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. I’ve fixed the procrastination issue and we come to what I think is one of the biggest problems we have in our society - Politics. People lean too heavily on them and while I respect that everyone has an opinion, how about we all keep them to ourselves unless we’re asked. In other words ...

 No Politics For You

 I like having lunch with my wife during the week. It doesn’t happen very often due to our schedules, but every now and then, we get the opportunity to break bread over an afternoon meal and share how our day is going. It’s cherished time. It’s a wonderful way to be spend a few moments together and remind ourselves why we fell in love with each other.

 We had the fortune to find an hour available at the same time recently, so we met and drove a few blocks over to a new café in town. We placed our orders, found our table while we waited for our food, and began the small talk that only a couple that’s been married for over two decades can appreciate. Our cell phones even took a backseat to the conversation. Everything was nice … until a dude walked in who thought it would be just the perfect place to begin a loud political rant.

 So now, I’m gonna step up on my own soapbox and do a little ranting myself.

 To that guy and everyone like him:

 I’m glad you have an opinion. But as they say, often very crudely, so I’ll tread lightly because there might be children listening - oh, and God … God is listening - Opinions are like a certain body part. Everybody has one. You’re entitled to yours, of course. It’s a free country. I think it even says something about speech in the constitution. But the middle of a restaurant while I’m trying to enjoy time with my wife and a greasy cheese steak is not the appropriate place to loudly proclaim it.

 To be honest, much of what the man was saying happened to be things I agreed with. But he said it in that way people do when they’re way too proud of themselves. He would make a boisterous political statement that included his recognition of what’s wrong with the country, then quickly glance around at the tables to make sure everybody could hear him; a little smirk riding on his face.

 My wife had to shush me after I said something loudly of my own about my feelings on being interrupted by Marty McPolitics.

 It didn’t help that the man looked like he was on his way to an audition for a Grizzly Adams reboot. And that would have been fine, but his L.A. hipster accent didn’t match his exterior and my OCD sensibilities didn’t care for the combo. He was one of those guys who had the long beard of a mountain man and camouflage apparel, yet you wouldn’t trust him to build your shelter if the two of you were lost in the woods together. Then again, I probably don’t look like the type you’d trust as your walking survival kit either, but I know my share about it. Thanks, dad! (And also every episode of Man Vs. Wild)

 Once he and his friend got their food, they took their conversation to private mode at a table across the room, but I kept noticing the loudmouth’s friend cutting his eyes at me and I wondered if he’d heard what I said earlier or maybe he favored my jeans and t-shirt ensemble to his friend’s get up that assumed an attitude more along the lines of, “I ain’t payin’ no dang prop’ty taxes. I’ll jess live in th’ woods down by th’ crick.”

 I know that in today’s climate political tensions are high. I realize that everyone stands on one side of the road or the other and they have their reasons for it. I encourage political discussion as long as I’m nowhere within five miles of it with earplugs firmly squished into my head via a Q-Tip so they can’t fall out, while loud CDs of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or the soundtrack to Phantom Of The Opera blare away in the background. And if I could also order a herd of those screaming goats surrounding me at the time, that’d be great.

 Yes, politics are important. And yes, they should be discussed. I’ll do the research and I’ll know how to vote come time to step into the ballot booth. And if you’re the type who loves to debate, feel free to find some folks who are like-minded and go to your happy place of arguing to no avail and getting all hopped up on anger and adrenaline when someone says something you don’t like. Usually, that’s Twitter or Facebook. It’s all good. Just leave me and my meal out of it. I don’t want to be subjected to your thoughts when my only recourse is to either say something to you (which, as I said before, was immediately met with a “shut up or I’ll kill you” look by my wife), to get up and leave, or to try my best to ignore you while you infringe on my right not to listen to your yapping.

 Again, should I have found myself behind a podium or mixed up in a round of, “Why our country is on a B-Line for hell” with the men at church, this is a guy I would have chosen to stand beside me. He and I actually see eye to eye, politically.

 But SHUT YER PIE HOLE! I’M EATIN' PIE! I doubt the lady taking your order had the answer you provided in mind when she asked how you were doing today. The answer to that question should always be something along the lines of, “Great, and you?” not, “Well if (insert the politician you hate) had anything to do with it, we’d all be feeling like prisoners while they and the Big Money in Washington do everything they can to keep all of us under their thumbs and giving away all our rights and there are too many deer out there right now because they want to keep us from shooting too many and it’s all because of the government bureaus and their bureaucratic bureaucracy and what about cats and you know it’s the White House and who’s occupying it right now that released all the cats – and drones are coming up your toilet pipes while you’re sitting there and taking pictures of your hoo-hoo parts without you knowing it because Big Brother has to know every little detail about you.” (Since I said earlier that I agreed with the man’s ideals, I do feel it necessary to mention that the former tirade is a fictional and exaggerated account of what was actually said. I like cats.)

 It’s okay if you have your opinions, just don’t pepper my tomatoes with it.

 Facebook has a wonderful feature that I’ve come to be blissfully familiar with when it comes to people who can’t stop blasting out their politically laced commentaries. It’s called an “Unfollow” option. It’s absolutely your page and social media is a place for you to create all the content your little heart desires in whatever fashion you desire and however often you desire it. But I have the opportunity to step away if I so choose. I can live my life without having to be inundated with politics while you drone on and on and on without interrupting my meal.

 All I’m trying to stress is that while you have a right to your political thoughts and opinions and while there are certainly plenty of forums for your runaway trains of thought, I don’t have an “Unfollow” button I can click out there in the real world, so not everything and everywhere is that forum. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something.

 I’m certain that young man who desperately needs to have a conversation with as razor is passionate and brings a lot to the table; I know he brought more than we ordered to our table. And we need to have dialogues about these things. You need to have done your homework before you place your vote. Otherwise stay home. We don’t need to be voting due to popularity or because your family has always voted a certain way. Know the issues and attempt to elect the person who fits the most closely with your ideals and who you think will be the absolute best choice.

 But while we’re learning and making our well-informed decisions, let’s keep it on the down low unless the conversation naturally leads there. Don’t walk into a restaurant all jacked up on emotion and beef jerky and start blurting out how the government is planning a hostile seizure of your cat hoard. That may be so, but I’m trying to eat.

_____________________________________________________

 Whew. I’m glad that’s done. The world can thank me. I’ve fixed it - at least a little.

 

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