Random thoughts on a random night

As far back as I can remember, I’ve hated sleeping.

I can remember, back in the day when such a thing occurred, playing with my toys until the American flag popped up on the screen, accompanied by the national anthem. Following that, the screen would go snowy white, with the sound of static.

I spent lots of time playing in the light of a snowy white screen.

My father would often fall asleep in a chair near the television. He would settle me down next to him, sometimes on him, thinking I would drift off to sleep with him.

Sometimes I did, and often times I didn’t. But eventually, with no real stimulus, I would settle down to sleep. As a teenager, my disdain for sleep didn’t improve much. After my mother would make me go to bed, I would often lie in bed reading. I was a voracious reader as a teen, particularly partial to Stephen King books…with an especial affinity for his short stories.

Once my mother got hip to me reading in bed, I would go in the bathroom and sit on the toilet, reading page after page. Sometimes, I would literally fall asleep there on the toilet, in the bathroom, book in hand, only to jar myself awake, book on the floor, or even worse, to banging on the door, “What are you doing in there?”

Masturbating. The answer is always masturbating. 😉

I suppose over the years, I thought I would grow out of my “youthful exuberance,” and grow into a healthier relationship with sleep…

…but I haven’t.

Fuck sleep.

I remember years ago, living with a woman I was dating. Now, she was a sleeper. A solid 8-hour sleeper. She liked it when I went to bed with her, which I would. And, as soon as she drifted off to sleep, I would slide out of bed and go watch a movie, or surf online, or read, or…

Then, I joined the military, and if you’ve ever needed a lover who would enable your worst habits and tendencies, the Army will oblige you. I cannot speak, with direct knowledge, of other branches of the military,  but the Army definitely appreciates modern chemistry as a force enabler. You need caffeine? They got your caffeine. When I was in Afghanistan, you could literally walk out of the chow hall with cases of Rip It, and get it in. Coincidentally, while in Afghanistan, I had a caffeine overdose situation. But, it was so much easier to fuel up that way, rather than face the pillow.

Additionally, the less you sleep, the better of a soldier you are. The Army wants machines. I generally operated on 4 hours of sleep, a habit I maintained for years. I also learned the magic that is power naps.

I will say that in isolated situations, I like sleep. Many years ago, I dated a woman named Mirinda.  Man, I was all about her.  Now she was a sleeper.  She was one of those people that had a huge glorious bed, with a countless number of pillows, made to drown in.  She would talk about sleep the way a sommelier might describe a choice vintage, savoring the experience.

One thing we could agree on was taking midday naps, particularly in the summer.  She was a huge air conditioning person, and would jack it up until her bedroom was like an ice box.  With the summer sun dancing around us, we would climb into bed, and spoon, until we drifted off to sleep.  Sometimes we would wake up, intertwined, commence to making the most pleasurable of love, and then go back in for another hour or two of nap time.

I enjoyed that.  While I hate sleeping, I do enjoy closeness and intimacy.  There is something about feeling someone else’s skin against yours, hearing their heart beat, listening to their breathing in a quiet room…occasionally, watching their serene face as they drift off, or as they dream.  Those times, those experiences, make the otherwise waste of time worth it.

If I should ever find myself married, or at least long term intertwined with someone, I think they would have to be an incessant cuddler.  That’s one of the few activities that I will willingly slow myself down for. It brings peace of mind…and heart…let’s not forget that cuddling is good for you. 

So what about you all, what is your relationship with sleep?  Do you sleep a lot?  How many hours do you require to function?  Would love to hear all of your thoughts.

Now, first and foremost, if you liked what you read here, SHARE IT WITH OTHERS!!!  Step 2, comment below!  I want to hear your thoughts.  Also, be sure to know every time I post a new entry by subscribing!  Also, you can check out Reflections of a Chicago Life on Facebook. I post a lot of articles and we can have some wicked discussions on there. Be sure to click “Like”. You can also check me out on Twitter, and see all the things I see around the city on Instagram, and it still bears repeating…it’s important to have STANDARDS!!

This post was created on my brand new HP Pavilion x360.

I’m coming up in the world. 


Random Thought of the Week: Deer Knuckle

Random Thought of the Week:  I should open a men’s underwear and “sexy-time” store named Deer Knuckle.

Follow the train of thought:

I was out biking and went past the store Moose Jaw.  That started with the thought I should start a store to go head-to-head with them.  I could call it “Deer Hoof”…but then I thought hoof was too benign…how about knuckle.

But damn, I don’t know anything about camping gear.  How about…men’s underwear? And sex gear?

Yeah…and I’ll call it Deer Knuckle.  Yeah.  That’d be hot.

And this is a testament to how my mind works.

Let’s look at this logically: Coal Dumping and the Environment

So this morning, I heard something about the president signing a bill killing the “stream protection rule”, which restricted coal companies from dumping mining waste into streams and waterways. 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about coal mining.  The only coal mine I’ve ever been in is the replica coal mine at the Museum of Science and Industry.  The story caught my eye for 2 reasons:  My mind immediately registered “dumping mining waste into streams and waterways”, and I recently met a woman who was born and raised in Appalachia.  In a conversation, coal mining came up and she mentioned how horrible it was when it was discovered that you could blow the tops off mountains to get to the coal…and the detrimental effects it had not only on the aesthetic beauty of the area, but also on the environment.  Here’s an article on the topic from Wired Magazine:

Blowing The Top Off Mountaintop Mining

But if you just stop and take a step back, objectively, you have to ask the simple question, “Is that healthy?”

So what is coal?

Continue reading


Descending Into The Arms of Sorrow

Music is such a powerful thing.  I firmly believe that it is the closest thing we have to a time machine in our world.  If you don’t know what I mean, listen to a song that holds some special meaning, and it can immediately take you back to a certain place and time.  If you close your eyes, I bet you that you can see things so clearly…music can take us back…make us feel young again…remind us of better, and worse, times.

Music is powerful because it is a casting of emotions, bundled together.  And I’ve said it many times before, but there is a distinct feeling, pleasurable to some degree I suppose, when a song hits on exactly the way you feel at a certain point in time.

Perhaps it’s because it reminds you that you’re not alone…that someone else, at some point, felt exactly what you feel now.  In this big crazy world, I suppose there is solace to be found when you know, quantifiably know that you’re not alone.  Sometimes, that’s huge. Continue reading

Taking The Next Step!

Hello friends,

So life is trudging along, as it always does for me.  I suppose I shouldn’t use the word trudge. It actually moves along swiftly, and somewhat erratically at times as well.  I take it all in stride, and enjoy the fact that I live a life that isn’t “common”…that I can’t say with any certainty what my life will look like in 12 months…either good or bad.  I like that.  It can cause some stress and trepidation, but it’s the life that I’ve lived for so long, I really wouldn’t know how to do anything differently.

And with that in mind, I must announce that I am taking the next step in my blogging journey.  I am beginning a new blog. The title of this new blog is “Reflections of a Chicago Life” and it will be a part of the ChicagoNow blogging community.  ChicagoNow is the subsidiary, if you will, of a major newspaper here in Chicago.  Furthermore, it is the next natural step in my quest to eventually be a “professional blogger.” I don’t mean professional as making a living off of blogging, but if anyone was willing to pay me $10 a month to blog, I would feel like John Grisham!

Have no fear my friends, if you’ve enjoyed “Off The Beaten Path”, you will enjoy Reflections of a Chicago Life.  I can assure you you’ll find all the same things, and wide range of topics, that you found here.  I encourage you all to hop on over there, and subscribe immediately.

In addition, my Instagram and Twitter accounts will not change, and will be the same that are accessible from this site here.  I also have a Reflections of a Chicago Life Facebook Page.

I hope you all will embark on this new leg of my journey with me.  I promise you that you won’t regret it.  I may update here from time to time, if a topic goes far outside the scope of what I feel comfortable posting at ChicagoNow, but 99% of my blogging for the foreseeable future will be done there.  Thank you all so much for your continued support, and friendship.  We’re making big moves friends.

Talking Social Justice, Human Rights, & Hot Topics

I posted this on my Facebook and it sparked a lot of discussion. Thought I would share it here as well. 

Good morning friends,

  So, I’m not one to withhold my opinion, and sometimes, a thought weighs so heavily on my mind, I just feel a need to share it. So let me say that this post is NSFW and could possibly be perceived as offensive.
So, I’ve seen a lot of discussion as of late about France, and Nigeria, and Kenya, and Beirut and I’m sure a list of other places. I’ve seen some interesting conversations, and criticisms, and they’ve had me thinking. That’s what I love about social media, it allows you to aggregate a lot of thought, and that thought informs my thinking, and often gets me to think and look at things from different perspectives. 
So, of course the events of France are on everyone’s mind, and tongue. And that sparks things like the French flag profile pic thing. And I think that’s great. I think it’s great when people want to publicly espouse that they’re feeling for someone else in need. I’m always overjoyed when I see that out of Americans particularly, because we have to be honest, that’s just not the norm of our society anymore. I always use 3 days after 9/11 vs. 3 years after 9/11 as an example of that.  
So I see the picture thing like everyone facing in a direction, and that is great. You’re facing in a direction, with your heart and mind in the right place. So, my next natural question is “how far are you going to walk in that direction?” When I say walk, I mean something that’s considered quantifiable action. “Are you donating money? Time? Making phone calls? Writing letters? Espousing thoughts and support on social media is great, but we have to remember that in reality, it’s effects are minimal.  
So a few days ago, there was a candlelight vigil at the French Consulate, as there were in many other cities, in support of the people of France. I went, and I only went for one reason; because I knew there would be French people there. I wanted to be sure that my face was one of the faces that they saw, offering a smile, perhaps a handshake, or a hug, and saying to them “Hey…I feel your pain. I can empathize with what you’re going through, and we want you to know that we’re here for you” whether that means just that hug, or coffee, or a floor to sleep on, or whatever. And with all the talk and discussion, and dismay focused around the events in France, I was sure I would see at least 1 familiar face in that crowd. But I didn’t. But, what I found funny, was that as I logged onto Facebook from the vigil, I saw people who lived anywhere from 5-20 miles from the place I was standing, actively talking about France. Now that shit just blows my mind…that’s just fucking maniacal.  
So, my mind just takes a natural step back and asks “Well, how far have you walked for human rights, or social justice, or the plight of foreign peoples recently? Every day I see people facing in various directions over the ills of others, but how far are you walking for them? 
And I get it. We get wrapped up in ourselves. We live in a “me” society, and if it’s not about me, then why should i give a shit, and honestly, that’s ok. But just say that. 
It just strikes me as odd…and truly as disingenuous. I often feel like a lot of people are living out other peoples consciousness’ and reacting in ways that are expected, and that’s what truly irritates me. As I always tell people “Be who you are, and live accordingly.” I can recall on several occasions saying something tantamount to “I don’t give a shit about the indigenous people of wherever right now, I’m trying to get mine.” And that doesn’t make me a bad person…it makes me honest. And anyone who knows me knows that I am many things, and I’m not the most egalitarian, or politically correct, or caring person in this world, but I’m honest, and if I don’t give a fuck about you, I will tell you I don’t give a fuck about you. There’s not need to pretend or put on airs. 
And of course, my mind shoots back to where I live, because in all reality, I don’t live anywhere near Paris, and while I feel for those people, my attention is always supremely focused on what is most immediate to me. Daily, I see people talking about Chicago, and what’s wrong in Chicago, and what’s going on in Chicago…so how far are you walking for Chicago? Writing letters? Making phone calls? Having group discussions in your home? Joining demonstrations and gatherings? Talking to elected officials?  
If you’re going to stand staring…that’s completely fine, but know that you’re standing and staring, and know that there are people out there who are running. Someone I talk about frequently is a woman named Alaa Basatneh…we are friends on here, but I’m not going to tag her because I don’t want to intrude or embarrass her. But, she is half my age, and does 5 times the work I do for the people of Syria. Google her. She has sacrificed her youth, at a time when she should be working a part time job at the mall and enjoying school and having late night coffee with friends, to support the people of Syria, and she’s sacrificed her own personal safety. (and there’s actually a documentary film about her doing so…yes, it’s on Netflix) She’s running a marathon at a sprinters pace. She utilizes social media to get the word out, and get attention to the problem, but she knows that real people have to get into real motion to create and sustain change.  
So how far are you walking today? 
Todays song mirrors the mood that this topic and thinking over it puts me in. I listened to it about 5 times on my job into the office. Enjoy.


Thinking About Beauty

This week is Social Media Week here in Chicago.  Had to start the week off with a blog before I head over to the Merchandise Mart to pick up my pass and hit my first session of a solid week of Social Media talk for myself.

So this morning I had a short exchange with a friend that got me thinking about beauty.  Anyone who knows me knows that my mind is constantly spinning off into tangents.  Couple that with my memory issues, and within 5 minutes, I have no idea where I started.

But first, I was thinking about the person I was talking to.  From there, I started thinking abstractly about beauty.  Often, when we think of “beauty”, for many of us, a picture of a person pops into our head.  I find this unfortunate, because beauty has so many facets.  I think we often hear media talk about “beauty” as it pertains to a person, that we often forget about things like the beauty of the human spirit.

I’m a person who loves beauty in all its facets.  On Friday, I went to a fundraiser.  At the fundraiser, there were pictures from an exhibit about Afghanistan.  I mentioned to a woman that they were fabulous pictures, but I’ve seen very few pictures that actually do Afghanistan justice…it is an absolutely beautiful country.

“When people talk about Afghanistan, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them refer to the beauty of the place.”

It is beautiful.  Perhaps that fact escapes them…perhaps it just never comes up.  But that’s one of the things that popped into my mind as I was driving in the sun of this beautiful Monday morning.

From there, I started thinking about all the beautiful people that I have in my life, and I get to spend time with.  Whenever I think about beautiful people, the first person who usually comes to mind is my dear friend Beena.  Whenever I talk about Beena, I always say “…aside from being a physically beautiful woman, she has one of the most beautiful souls that I’ve ever encountered.”  I’m fortunate that I have a lot of friends like that in my life.

Then my mind wandered to all of the beautiful people that I got to spend my weekend with.  This Saturday, I went out to watch the fights.  My friend Veronica was there, who is beautiful inside and out, and although I don’t think we could be more different, and sometimes I want to throttle her, my life is enlightened by the beauty she brings to my life.  Then there was Phil, whom I’ve always appreciated for the beauty of his honesty.  He has no problem separating the wheat from the chaff, and that is exactly how and why we become friends…and with him was his girlfriend Karina, who is a very physically beautiful young lady, and was an absolute delight to chat with.  Then there was Daniel and his female friend. Daniel is a beautiful soul with a keen eye for social justice, and human rights.  I love people who think so far above and beyond themselves.  I find selflessness very beautiful.  And then on both Saturday and Sunday evening was my friend Karina.  A new friend; I’m having the pleasure of meeting and getting to know a new friend who brings a new shade of beauty to my life.

On Sunday I got to train Jiu Jitsu…and while I was on a mat getting beat up by a roomful of alpha gorillas and savages…they are all beautiful people. The caliber of character I encounter at training is the reason I’ve remained there for the entirety of my Jiu Jitsu journey, and why I intend to stay there.
And then of course, is the woman whose conversation sparked this entry, Ophelia.   While I don’t know her very well, I do know that she is very sassy, and endearing, wrapped in a visage of exceptionally exquisite beauty.

My friends often tease me by saying “You think everyone is beautiful” or “You think every girl is cute”.  And yes, that is true…because they are.  Who am I to say that someone isn’t beautiful…or this person is less beautiful than another.  My views of beauty certainly don’t jive with the popular notions of beauty…but I”m totally ok with that.  I know I get that from my father.  I rarely recall him calling any woman anything other than beautiful. The first thing he’d say to any of my friends was “Aren’t you the cutest thing?”  He appreciated beauty, in all its facets.  That’s mad hip.

And of course you have the sexual aspects to it all as well.  Being in the presence of a beautiful woman is like…to me…it’s like being in the rays of the sun on a beautiful spring day.  It makes you feel…hmm…wow, I don’t know the word for it.  I suppose it’s like sitting in a bathtub that’s just the right temperature.  But yeah, it makes you feel alive. When I first met Ophelia, I was like “Wow…Umm….wow” and then pretty much avoided her.  Sometimes sunlight can be too intense. I dig that too.

So yeah….I’m thankful for all the beautiful people in my life, as well as all of the beautiful things I get to see day in and day out.  I try not to take any of those moments for granted…and I often fail, but then I have mornings like today to remind me all over again…and I guess that is a part of life.

For Ms. Idella

So 2 days ago, a dear friend of mine said “You know, you haven’t blogged in forever.  I checked.” It struck me as a super sweet sentiment that she cares.  I promised her I would blog last night.

Promise broken.

I’m blogging now, before I head to bed.

So, I started this blog 2 months ago.  It originally was titled “Heartbreak and Lullabies”.   Continue reading

Around and Around….Revolutions….Revolutions…

My mind is in a spin today.  Some days it’s relatively calm, and some days it just churns…spinning and spinning.

A week or so ago I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine.  She visited me a year ago.  We were talking about the visit, and I really couldn’t recall much of it.  Apparently we went to a Teavana, and I was charming the knickers off the women who worked there, and when I stepped away for a moment, the young ladies told my friend that I seemed like an amazing guy, and that she better hold on to me…blah, blah, blah.  I don’t recall any of this.  Even in retrospect…nothing.

“You know that’s a symptom of PTSD right?”

Continue reading