Friday, February 3, 2012


Last night I had reason to think back to why I first began to make myself a presence on the internet, and what I had hoped it would do for me.  The first thing that the net meant to me was that I had access to all the things that crossed my then-nimble mind… I mean I am no great thinker but the things that appeal to me, the Russian Arabesque literary style, and the music I like and of course, talking about ‘boys and girls getting along like cats and dogs… what a world, what a world.’

Up until the internet came along I could be found in my bedroom playing board games by myself… stuff like ‘Facts on Five’, ‘Paydirt’, or ‘Title Bout’ would be spread out on my bed and I would play for hours on end.  I was content, because when I spread the cards out or sheets out and placed the game pieces on the appropriate places and begun, it meant that –

1)      I was home and I was safe!  Even though I lived in Northwest Detroit, at 7 Mile and Telegraph, hardly the ‘Detroit’ that gets all the media attention, I still had to go through much of Detroit to do anything in the city.  Going to the Butzel-Adams or the fabled John Kronk recreation centers to box on the west side of town or the Cannon and Coleman Young centers on the east side was no ‘gimme’.  Not all the time, but often enough the trip meant catching at least three buses, occasionally from school on Outer Drive, conveniently placed off more direct bus lines, so that meant I had to wait for a bus rather than walking the rest of the way.  And while I would skip around to Kronk once I was close enough to the center, waiting on Chene for the bus to go to the Eastland Center (yeah, but it made sense to me) was no fun at all!

2)      And if I was playing games then it meant that homework was done… or at least as done as it was going to get!  The long bus rides gave me plenty of opportunity to scribble out answers and flip through textbooks without too much trouble.  I still recall the way I felt that the lessons in class and the reading I would do at home would seep into me the way that butter melts and coats the nooks and crannies of an English muffin.  That doesn’t happen as much anymore, but that is getting ahead of myself.

3)      I was happy.  Not merely ‘content’ but legitimately happy.  And it was the ‘Ivory soap’ kind of happy, so pure because I had accomplished all my goals and now I got to do something that I found great pleasure in.  I’d feel the same way when I would read a book or I would go around the corner and pretend that I was fighting in the jungles of the South Pacific, with a long, sturdy branch as my M-14.

All of which goes to why I have always felt not only ‘okay’ by myself, but preferred it to being in the company of others, because it seemed what interested me or what I liked would have to be ‘cramped’ to include someone else. 

Friday I completely bombed a quiz in my Algebra class.  Before anyone gets their knickers in a bunch, the instructor drops the lowest score and I figure that I have simply had mine.  What made the test difficult is fixable, and if anything, it was a teachable moment.  That is the positive spin on the event.  As far as the ‘less than good’ takeaway, maybe my struggle with the quiz was a sign of my cognitive decline.  Though I must acknowledge that as a possibility (and in acknowledging my injury, I place it in the same vein of thought as the mortality that rules condemns us all) for my performance I prefer not to make it a definite conclusion, lifting it to the level of a concession, and work a little harder, the thinking going that there must be more effort in me because if the effort that I put into the quiz that brought this less than desired result, that would mean, to me at least, that there was more work for me to have done.


Well, it has been nearly 5 years since a Smurf set his sights on moving to Omaha and it has been a constantly evolving thing, from its purpose to its conception to its inception.  When I arrived here things were in a serious scramble mode and the goal was mainly to tread water.  But after spending a few months getting acclimated to people and how the various social lines which criss-cross the immediate vincinty, defining and segmenting the ‘area of operations’ I’d set up here, I decided on taking a slightly more ambitious course of action.

Though I had always anticipated starting school as soon as it was feasible to me, I have to say that I “flipped a coin” on whether I should begin in the fall of ’11 or wait until the fall of ’12. Arriving here seriously underfunded and having inherited an obligation that would hamstring me for the entirety of my first year in Omaha and whose impact is still being felt, I would have understood if I did wait until next fall to go to school.  But, there is no certainty that what I am discovering about myself now would not have been lying in wait for me in the future, and could have had a more significant impact on my designs.  But Clausewitz’ third rule of war, which advises to “…never to waste time…” is also one of my “Rules To Live By”, all but demanded that I go ahead and move towards my aim, which is to resume my education.

Getting back to my test and why though I am ‘aware’ of its possible effect on my grade and chances of passing this class, it does not rise to the level of ‘concern’.  “MTXE” means just that… Mental Toughness and eXtra-Effort and that sucking sound is me inhaling all the air, so there isn’t a lot of anything to be inserted in the implication that I have to get tougher mentally and work a lot harder.   So this is the ‘drop’ test and I have to find my way up into the 90’s on the next couple of quizzes to bring my average above ‘the Mendoza Line’ from having to repeat the course and advancing to the next class and going forward rather than stagnating.


On the bus today I ran into a former Detroiter.  He knew the “you must be from Detroit” kind of things like how big an impact “The Electrifying Mojo” had on the radio airwaves and how the cabaret scene is another unique Detroit thing… and he also knew of my cousin who played pro football!  Because today is  ‘wearred’ day to bring awareness to women’s heart health, I had on my Ohio State gear.  The cat made a friendly remark as he helped me struggle on the bus with my grocery shopping, something about a “Michigan fan helping an Ohio State fan out.”  So we struck up a conversation, including his recognizing the parochial school that housed my old high school, which now occupies the lot where a hospital once stood.  He then asked me why do I wear Ohio State stuff and I told him that they recruited a cousin of mine who played at ‘X’ high school and before I could finish, he said his name!  That is the first time in all my travels that I met anyone who knew who he was!!  And though he gave me his number and we had a good conversation, I don’t have any intention of calling because…

… a smurf is sooo tired!  It is going against my “rasion d’etre” to wanting to make Omaha my home.  It isn’t that I have anything specific against making friends or anything, but the plan did not include developing a friendship with anyone.  That is would complicate things for me when I can least afford to invite extra pieces into my life.  I have enough trouble with the ones that are a part of my life floating around as it is!!  And above all, I don’t want to violate any of my “Rules…”, and they cover pretty much everything that need to be covered, for me, at least!!


LceeL said...

I never figured you for an isolationist.

I have one piece of news for you, old son. As life goes along you WILL realize that a man can't have too many friends.

Jonthy Williams said...

Don't worry too much about the cognitive issues. Your writing is still sharp. Algebra is tough for some of us (UGGHHHH!!!) Omaha is just one place in your life (a piece, if you will). Don't be afraid to make friends because of a fear that they might hinder your making progress with your education. I understand your fear of people because you have been hurt before. We all have, Mark and you have so much to give others (male and female). Try not to let past demons stop you from reaching out or reaching back. Good luck on your next quiz. By the way, I flunked my first algebra quiz in college and I felt the same way you do.

FrankandMary said...

I think your curiosity is stronger than your caution...I think you may just let a few friends in.

Jonthy Williams said...

Hope you are enjoying the snow.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I think you should call and see, friends are precious.

* Ashleigh * said...