Muddy Habits

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As the old saying goes, “Some habits are hard to break.” I tend to think that all habits are hard to break— otherwise we wouldn’t call them habits. They’d just be things-we-do-sometimes. Or stuff-we-do-without-thinking-about-it. Or, if you’re President of the United States, it would be called Tweeting-At-3am.

I have many habits; in fact, my life is awash in routine. I find it calming to live life this way. To use another cliché, I am not the kind of person to “fly by the seat of my pants.” In fact, this would be a physical impossibility since the seat of my pants is firmly affixed to my wheelchair. Unless Superman swoops down from the heavens, I’m not flying anywhere. This is not to say that I would object to this concept, though. I wouldn’t— because Clark Kent is hot.

Not all my habits are as healthy or as useful. For example, when I get anxious, I pick at my fingernails. As a kid, I used to bite my fingernails, but when I learned how many germs lurk underneath, I was totally cured of that practice. So, now I pick at them, instead. It is still somewhat gross, but less disgusting. At least that is what I tell myself.

We all have habits, like these, that we shouldn’t do. Given the heaps of rain we’ve had this year in Patterson, I know one thing that no one should be foolish enough to try— and that’s driving a vehicle into, or through, the mud.

Our agricultural land is rich— and heavy. The nutrients and clay make the ground in the Patterson area some of the best soil in the world. But, this heaviness means that if the soil gets saturated, or even slightly wet, it will sink anything that tries to drive through it.

So, please, don’t do it. I’ve seen cars, trucks, vans, tractors, school buses, and most recently, a USPS mail truck, get stuck in Patterson’s mud. It took three men to free the poor, bedraggled mail truck from the sloppy mess.

Take a wrong turn? Decide to try to turn around off the side of a country road? Think again. You better hope you find a friendly farmer or a dude with a huge truck to pull your dumb self out of the mud.

If, by sheer luck, you manage to not get fully stuck, you will make such a mess getting out of the mud that the resulting crater will be seen from space. Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station will be too busy laughing at you to help rig any more elections.

I’ll make you a deal. If you promise to not drive in the mud, I will try to stop picking my nails. While I can’t make any guarantees, I’ll do my best.

Maybe these habits won’t be that hard to break, after all.

Rain, Pizzas, and Things That Annoy Me

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We all have things that annoy us. The things that make us grumble and roll our eyes. Overpaid celebrities that complain about the hardships of being famous. Potato chip bags that are only 35% full when you buy them. People who don’t text.

If you are over 70, I will give you a pass on that last one. Otherwise, get with the program. And, for goodness sake, don’t leave a voicemail. Many of us consider voicemails to be, at best, an irritation and, at worst, a harbinger of doom— like a Sean Spicer press conference.

Yet, despite these examples, there are few things as trite as a Californian complaining about the weather. After all, we live in the land of sunshine, moderate temperatures and the Kardashians. What more could we possibly want? Plus, here in Patterson, we enjoy vistas of palm trees, lushly cultivated fields, and more pizza places than one town could conceivably need.

Seriously, though, we have a lot of pizza places. As a town, we must consume more pizza than I think. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have quite so many places to buy it, right? Our per-capita pepperoni usage must be— to borrow a word from Mr. Trump— huuuuge.

Anyway, given the drought plaguing our state, I’m thrilled to see all the rain. Truly. It’s been the focus of our hopes and prayers. However, when you’re used to sunshine and palm trees, if you don’t see the sun for the better part of a week, you start to feel blue.

The other morning, during a brief pocket of sunshine, I stopped in the middle of the Savemart parking lot, turned my face to the sky and let the warmth and Vitamin D soak into my face— along with UV rays that will eventually make me haggard and wrinkly.

I am fully aware that I sound privileged and whiny. I should be nothing but grateful for the rain we have received. Especially considering there are some places in South America’s Atacama Desert that haven’t had measurable rainfall in 500 years. That’s a long time. If you’re waiting for rain in the Atacama, you might have to live and die 7 or 8 times just to see it happen. And you thought waiting in line at the DMV was bad.

But, please forgive me for complaining. Sociologists would place me as an older member of the millennial generation. According to them, we millennials can’t help ourselves from exhibiting these behaviors. While I’m not certain I agree with this assessment, my hipster reward card does have enough stamps on it to qualify me for a free soy latte made with sustainably-grown coffee, organic vanilla and freshly-harvested unicorn tears.

Nonetheless, I will do my best to continue to be grateful for the rain. But, if that fails, I’ll just drown my sorrows in a pizza— or seven.

On this day…

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I knew this would be one of those weird days— the kind you look back on and think, “What the #%$& was that?” You know the feeling? That hallucinatory haze between dreaming and wakefulness… the confusion that comes when you watch a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio… or that uneasy feeling in your stomach when you eat too much queso.
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When I woke up this morning at 7am, it was pouring rain. The kind of rain that Californians only dream about— right before we go buy some hipster coffee and an inflatable raft at Home Depot. As the water filtered down the rain gutters like tinkling wind chimes, I lay in bed with one question in my mind: “Should I turn on the TV and watch the Inauguration coverage?

I fiddled around on my iPhone for a while and played Words with Friends. This is how I procrastinate. I had a momentary burst of excitement when I was able to use the letter X on a double word score. 32 points, baby.

Now, I felt ready to face the day. Girding my loins and feeling like Donald Trump on Cialis, I reached for the TV remote. I clicked it on…

…and was met with a big blue error message on the screen: “COMPLETE SIGNAL LOSS.”

It was raining so hard that my satellite dish was literally unable to get a signal.

I suddenly knew this was a message from a higher power. A higher power that didn’t want me to watch TV. It was like Morgan Freeman had come down from the heavens to warn Jim Carrey to stop being a selfish dickhead. I had seen Bruce Almighty— I knew what this meant.

I turned off the malfunctioning TV and had some breakfast. While eating my fiber-tastic English muffin, I decided to do the one thing that used to help me process things when I was a kid. To write out whatever fact was bothering me— ten times in a row. It used to work really well, even back in 1990 when Disney cancelled my favorite-television-show-of-all-time, DuckTales. So, this morning, I tried it again.

Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Donald Trump is President of the United States.

And so it is.