Book, Birthday, Belk and Beyond

As a soon to be published ‘real’ author, I’m obviously excited about holding my first book and feeling the solid proof of accomplishment. Not that I’m lacking pride regarding all the bylines I’ve accumulated over the years, or that knocking out-articulating in writing a blog for others to agree or perhaps just say hmmm… about doesn’t float my boat, BUT…

I don’t believe I’m the only one that feels this way, but a book somehow marks your passage in life as a writer. No matter how many times I mentioned I was a writer, one of the first two inevitable questions was, “Have you written a book?” With kudos to the Grantland Rice’s or Jim Murray’s who cranked out more sports articles than there are drunken, nearly naked sophomores on a Spring Break beach, ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ means I’m definitely not a wanna-be. It’s not ‘War and Peace’,’Sister Carrie’, or ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ literature, but its as I envisioned it when I began, and whenever somebody takes it to the register, I’ll get a confirmation I did something worth while.
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Mom’s surprise 80th birthday at the beginning of the month (actually a week earlier, which was the surprise) was one of those moments every son I know wants to tell people about, because in a very real way it DOES prove you’re a Good Person and you love your Mom a lot more than they can ever put in a Hallmark card.

Two other brothers from Charlotte and I (the NY guy was already there) arrived in Tampa after 1:30 a.m., woke her up, let her go back to bed, then had a houseful of people to greet her when youngest bro Dave returned with her from a seashell exhibit in St. Pete later in the afternoon. When they pulled up in front of the house, I heard Mom say, “Oh, now I get it,” because Dave had been telling her all week the guy next door was going to have a party, and had asked about people parking on her property. She cried and hugged people all the way to the door, and if it seemed a little silly at times that we were congratulated for doing something so special when I kind of assumed anyone would WANT to do that for their Mom, in my heart I know she’ll remember it until she really doesn’t remember anything.
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As for the MSER where we peasants will generally be getting back to 35 hr. work weeks after *three full months* of budget-straining skinny checks ($460 for two weeks can keep a single guy with no mortgage, kids in school, or car payment going, but anything extra, sheeee-it!), it only took ONE very helpful recruiter to listen to me explain my resume and say, “I’ll rewrite it a little so you can see what a recruiter is looking for,” to restore my confidence about getting out of retail in the near future.

Having achieved that career event of ‘first book published’ and gotten nearly 20,000 words into the next, I’m looking forward to the marketing challenge of selling those 65 units I self-published, doing a book signing at Maggiano’s, having a friend say, “You were right, reading this DOES go great with a couple glasses of chardonnay.” Getting to break-even (only 150 copies) is a legit mark, as is 1,000 units, and maybe a royalty check bigger than my BPBPJ (bill paying, benefit providing job). It all seems more possible now, and if my NCAA bracket picking brings a return on my $20 investment, I’ll take that as another positive.

Friends and people from work keep saying, “Good luck with your book, and I’ll be able to say, ‘I knew him before…’” and that sounds REAL damn good to me.

Glenn S.

Throwing up a Long-Distance Three for Davey O

I had the opportunity to offer a little brotherly love to someone (we actually had two ’5th Brother’s) who is facing the rough ride to the end for a mother with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. ┬áJust throwing a couple significant texts counted, but the difference between that and two of my real brothers and I driving to Tampa for a week of vacation at my Mom’s/her surprise 80th is as different as it gets. It reminds me how grateful our family felt last year, when my Dad died from congestive heart, because there was minimal pain; in on Sunday, I was of service on Monday, the end was Tuesday.

I got out to shoot some hoops yesterday, the first of what will be be 11 days away from BPBPJ (bill paying, benefit providing job) in retail, and it was gloriously warm. ┬áThere was a guy shooting at the other end of a neat little pocket park on Craig St., and as I’ve told a lot of people, these are the easiest double rims in Charlotte– most doubles are a little ‘hot’, and turn many good shots into ‘shoulda had’ misses. Not here though, it can stay on the rim and wind up in. It’s a convenient zip up the street, and the nets are high quality, and yeah, that counts even more than having the 3-arc well-marked.

‘The O’ was always about cranking it from long range in our back yard, like barely in front of the birch trees on the extended pad side, or one step in bounds from taking it out kind of bombs, where people GAVE you the shot and looked for a rebound. Actually, shooting from that side allowed taking advantage of what a good ‘home court rim/backboard’ can do for you: the bank shot didn’t have to be perfect to score. If he ever threw a fake on you and got even a three-foot closer clear shot, you were in for a *whole* lot of crapola from anyone present; Dave wasn’t exactly tall or swift, so mostly he’d shoot threes. He also got the Norm-treatment like in ‘Cheers’: “Oh no, It’s the Big O!” which for sake of accuracy, is for Ornston, and the sound of his echoed dribbling up the street like clockwork at 5:35, because that was when Shorkey dinner was generally over and the basketball court reopened, is a part of my growing up.

Dave’s Mom, Lillian, and mine were great friends for many years, garage sales, coffee, just talking in the street. First time I saw Dave he was riding a bike half-way up the block while she watched him from the front porch, and I got better at tennis because it seemed his Dad’s, Bud, help and lessons meant he’d keep beating me if I didn’t. While Dave had a rim at his house, we played more Risk and chess there– with four boys, we had the largest court and highest probability of getting a game, at least one-on-one.

One thing I’ve never forgotten is how both his Mom and Dad kissed him on the head whenever he was leaving the house. I don’t know if that’s Jewish custom or just Mom/Dad affection, but I reminded The O to get one of those kisses soon, because it doesn’t have to be the last kiss that you’ll go forward with and remember.

I’ve also decided to accept that I am now a full-time set shooter– the guy with the long J is done. I’m expecting we’ll day trip to see him next week, maybe we’ll even find a court. ‘The O’ took a train across Florida for the sake of paying respects after my Dad’s passing last year– that’s what having extra brothers is about.

Glenn S.

More Than Enough About A-Rod

Having read the most recent, well, through this mornings trashy but definitive measurements of self-medicating self-enhancement, I admit to being stunned about what there could be left to fight about or admit regarding Alex Rodriguez. I found just the *constant* flogging of the upcoming ’60 Minutes’ interview MORE than I wanted/needed to know, the regimen followed clear. Where is there a shred of DOUBT about what transpired in any reasonable mind?

That’s kind of a baseline reading of facts. The guy didn’t just ‘juice’, he lived the whole life. But sueing your freaking UNION, that’s where I think the trolley has gone off the tracks. My brother Dave caught a couple wildcat strikes while working for GE after getting his MBA, but even beyond protections granted by contract that allowed irresponsible behavior by a 20-man walkout, A-Rod is operating in a rarefied air of narcissism. This is what they call ‘dead bang guilty’ folks, and this guy is sueing the only group–even though they clearly hate his guts– that HAD to watch his back on certain issues.

In a lot of places in the world, there’s a willingness to admit that keeping a mad/crazy dog around just isn’t right, and yep, ya’ gotta do sumpthin’ about it. I’m not talking a double tap in middle of the street, but any changing of number of games suspended is moot: while there will almost inevitably be an on-going wrestling at the fringes of this saga, A-Rod is mostly toast. If the Yankees get out of paying his salary during suspension, I find myself cheering for the possibility, just because it’d be one more stick it! moment for the poster boy for Arrogant.

I’ll take everything down to the bottom line. After a conversation that included invoking baseball writers *not selecting anyone last year*, and fact Pete Rose’s overwhelming hit record vs. betting on own team as not worthy of Hall of Fame standard, A-Rod is as close to the HoF as either of us is going to get. I felt zero compassion for Raphael Palmiero, after his finger pointing in a Congressional hearing, about “I have NEVER taken…” and then testing positive. A fine hitter-contributor for many years, Palmiero’s the early favorite for getting dissed by selectors based on Steroid Era stats. Bonds, wow, thats going to be a hot potato, but as to A-Rod and Rafe, like Joe Pecci in ‘My Cousin Vinnie’ says, “I’m done with deez guyz.”

Rodriguez and lacking any doubt that *nobody* is going to give him a contract AFTER this suspension, I don’t care any more than I do about the (druggy) Tour de France, although truthfully, I do find the dramatic, exhaustive, even superhuman effort involved there worth writing about. There ya’ go Alex, you rank below bicycling in the Pyrennes.

Glenn S.

New Year-New Love Improve Ability to Shake Knockdowns/BS

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that “It’s not how many times get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up” bromide has already come up three times in 2014. Having commented on that simple but Truthful idea on LinkedIn, going a little longer on the idea seems legit.

With a *liiitle* bit of luck today, Jack and I will hit Nautica bonus, and some extra bucks in the bank is always something to have anticipation-optimism about. Coming on the heels of on-going annoyance with slightly (uhhh, 20% more ‘slightly meat cleaver’) reduced hours at MSER (major Southeast retailer), the negative crapola of computer scheduling (I won’t bludgeon you with that) and State’s questionable change to zero dependents for withholding (being single it won’t affect me, but Jack has three late teen-early 20 kids and zero vs. three is a screwing), that’s The Good Stuff. Mentally I’ve committed a chuck of that bonus to getting my nearly completely re-edited book printed, which is also strong stuff. I’d PLANNED on accomplishing that personal-professional milestone in 2013, but in trying to repair computer’s ‘Windows32 file corrupted’-type message three weeks ago, I wiped out *everything* on the unit. If I hadn’t kept book and resume on a thumb drive, I would’ve had to shoot myself.

Brother Mike finished re-loading everything last night while we watched exciting Cotton Bowl between Missouri and Oklahoma St., so THAT’S obviously a positive as well. Between that second you realize the total deal of saved files is going down the drain and regaining them there is an awful lot of angst for sure! (Okay, yes, I will buy/use a backup system after this!) Gaining a measure of traction on a major goal clearly counts.

With my Mom and Aunt Elinor up from Tampa, we had a very good Christmas, including lasagna dinner with Steve, Mer, 3 boys over at Mike’s place. It’s our first Christmas without my Dad, but as I said in blessing before dinner, hopefully we live with the joy of so many times past in our hearts, and anticipation of a time in future to share similar joy again. Finally buying a window treatment for my apartment with Mom’s Christmas $$ won’t accomplish that, but celebrating as a family always counts.

As for New Love in a new year, sharing a bottle of wine during 3 hr. lunch (Brio) and some affection afterwards with a very attractive, physically fit/desirable, smart and obviously motivated, crystal clear blue-eyed lady, brought a whole lot of focus to 2014. Elinor and I had a significant discussion about what I’ve done and what I could-should consider doing differently in job search (I guaranteed her 2 hrs./week on improving Spanish skills, she asked why not 2 a day), but when sparks fly from first kiss with an All That Woman– New Years Day or mid-May– THAT makes a crazy-great-impressive difference in every thought process. Unsatisfying job? I’m definitely on the case. Material and resources lined up on that book? Check, and ready to test my abilities to the max there and maybe being used on a contract basis. That kinda wussy left knee, its effect on my J and confidence, or upcoming 57th b-day? None of that matters when the lady kisses you back as well as you kissed her.

And when she says that, having read a particular scene from book sent via e-mail, she has a story she wants to tell you– privately– how much more anticipation for greatness can a new year bring?

Glenn S.

*Brilliant* SNL Skits Raise Question of ‘Why not all the time?’

 

This has nothing to do with todays blog, but its almost Christmas, and I know my Mom, myself, and all the rest of us miss my Dad lots. Dad wrapped up in a Carolina Panthers blanket three years ago after Steve’s oyster roast is memorable, because Mom was thrilled about first white Christmas in 25 years, Dad just kept saying “I’m cold.” It’s 71 here today, I’ll think about him on my bike ride.
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From beginning to end, last nights Saturday Night Live! Christmas show was an ultimate reminder of why we’ve continued to try watching it during 30-plus years, when it wasn’t that good and often seemed just a vehicle to run commercials. Give Justin Timberlake and host Jimmy Fallon’s multiple appearances as much credit as you want, the major difference was shorter, punchier skits, one’s that didn’t go 5 minutes before a weak exit.

(W)rapper skit as intro was cool, Robin-Barry Gibbs talk show with Madonna and Congressman Paul Ryan characters was okay, even if some of Fallon’s jabbering got lost. Family Feud with Fallon as ‘Big Bangs’ Sheldon and JT as Fallon was fast and relevant, the 89 point answer to “What makes a man sexually exciting?” being Justin Timberlake, with a knowing wink from the man himself, spot on. The entire female cast as hotties singing about desire to get it on back in their childhood bedrooms was sterling! and Weekend Update bang-bang-bang funny, with Fallon acknowledging passing the baton to his late night show to Myers and NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s straight-faced, “I’m just looking forward to a small soda and hanging out on a non-smoking beach” understated and righteous. Oh, that China’s moon rover was searching for a place to put menus was the zap! stuff we remember fondly.

A ‘Christmas Story’ skit that showed Scrooge as clueless about being gay watching Past wasn’t overlong, a dippy one of Chloe Kardashian and Kanye okay, Fallon’s sexual take on classic ‘Baby its Cold Outside’ terrific. Musically, Timberlake was superb with a laser show-fast footed jamming first set solo, interesting in a personal guitar and string orchestra backup second. Really, everything to like about the newer cast members and a great memory about why you have to at least check it out if you’re home between 11:35 and 1 a.m. on a Saturday night. Talented as JT and Fallon are though, I have to wonder where the HELL writers who could knock out a funny skit have been for most of last two decades.
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On a totally unrelated front, we’ve been crushing it sales-wise since that Charity Day fiasco. My last two days production were $4200 and $4415, which counts towards after Christmas paycheck. Customers do ask how things are going, and my eagle eye view on economy from register level says while heavily discounted product has been an obvious pull, people aren’t as scared as they were in Sept. Maybe there’s still a prospect the country DOES go over a cliff when budget negotiating opens in early 2014, but a lot of people will have their ‘stuff’ for the holidays.

Glenn S.

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Dad inside with new Christmas Panther snuggie. Could have used it night of Steve’s Oyster Roast.

Apres ‘Black Friday’, I’ll Cash the Check

Don’t get me wrong, after a highly enjoyable, 35-person strong family Thanksgiving, I made it to MSER (major Southeastern retailer) job at 3am with a knee brace and sand wedge cane, my ‘knee injury’ the result of an awkward misstep going to an oyster table. According to coworkers, Vineyard Vines of course, there’d been a decent first 3 hrs. after 8pm opening, but I did about $400 before going home at 7:30am. Jack *CRUSHED* it, knocking out $11,000 Friday from 7a-7p. Saturday was a walkover victory, and bonus on $74k month final total is second time in a row.

I’m still all negative about opening T’giv evening, but people ARE spending money…Good generally and for my specific ‘commission mission’, but $$ in the door vs. ‘just’ employee distress raises the spectre of *Christmas opening*, and someone will kindly shoot– uhh, how about ‘plug’?–the first ivory tower dips–t that dares to mention that. I don’t expect to be involved in another go-round in retail anyway; getting decent feelers about contract communications specialist has me optimistic about changes early in 2014.
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So good to see DUKE winning 10 games and getting into ACC title game–even against the 1980s level of high-voltage Florida State offense they’ll see in Charlotte. Having had the opportunity to talk with several Duke players during their excursion before bowl game last year– especially a pair of running back twins and the explosive Sneed–it was actually another player that told me quite sincerely, their team loved playing a bowl game as a marker/judgment of what they’d accomplished, which was going from nowhere to, well, a bowl game. That player had nothing but positive expectations for what another year would mean for all of them, because they’d taken the first big step.

It’s a small, special feeling to know you saw ‘it’, were there for the beginning of what all those kinda-like-me-of-yore athletes (a little bigger, not 6’7″ 344 lbs. bigger though) should be congratulated for. I’m not a Dookie, but as wild as Auburn’s return for TD finish was, or Michigan’s gutsy ‘go for two and victory’ loss was, notching ten Ws, a chance for a conference championship and maybe more represents a brilliant moment in their athletic-personal lives. yay!

Glenn S.

‘Winning Cures Everything’ Works Better for Panthers than BPBPJ

‘Bill Paying, Benefits Providing Job’ is the shorthanded acronym in title, and after a profoundly satisfying sales day Saturday ($7300+) that might be reflected in next Friday’s commission vs. just hours check, I’m smiling at how a major Southeast retailer’s (MSER) best day ever can become a half-disaster and bite it in the arse.

After cranking my own production at $1000/ hour level from 6am-2:00, I put Nautica department into great shape even before Jack got there for late shift, and the Vineyard Vines people killed it; guy who managed to transfer there from Suits a couple months ago was glorying in a $16,000 day. Retail really is a helluva lot more fun when you’re filling bags, reducing ALLLL that merchandise on tables, or, if you’ve kept your numbers decently close during some *really* lousy recent weeks, looking at possibility of ‘getting out of the hole’ commission-wise. The kicker for me was, everything that many of my retail compatriots/’accounting hour payroll units’ and I discussed about system blowing up came true.

Under almost any circumstances, Best Days Ever can cause logistical problems, like God-sent rain that goes beyond healing parched ground to powerful flooding. In the run-up to its semi-annual big-bigger-Bestest Sale, my major Southeastern retailer employer wound up having to pack pods– at the FAR END of our mall– with customer pre-sales. This massive success comes just after *another* (and confusing for many) major sale, and most importantly, one week after average full time employee hours (35-36) were trimmed down to minimal 31. The ONLY explanation possible for such a reduction was corporate greed, the willingness to pick thousands of employees pockets just because they can.

Don’t think for a SECOND that didn’t blast to the forefront of my brain-Attitude when, at the end of eight hours slinging it large yesterday, management made it known ANYBODY could have AS MUCH OVERTIME AS THEY WANTED if willing to help with (essentially) the unhappy mob wanting those products they’d set aside for almost two weeks from those pods NOW.

In text language it would look something like: :( u gt 2 b fking kdg!

That MSER has used clipped hours (4x this year) and minimal staffing– until recently when a bunch of inefficient part-timers was added– without regard to how it affected the Loyalty that strong organizations are built on. Experts agree that keeping good/happy employees who help customers are the best assets for a company, but when you turn that on its head–Company first and damn the hind end– you don’t DESERVE loyalty, and customers will catch that one way or another. Knowing I’d had a heckuva great day on numbers, even got one of those All-Important credit applications, saying no thanks! to obviously unpleasant overtime was a no-brainer. Don’t just say, “Employers are treating everyone like that now,” and expect that to salve any wounds. “What goes around comes around” is legit.

The Panthers are on a streak, Cam seems to have his head on properly, and with defense putting up a consistent show of strength, they go cross-country to take on the 49ers, who are more than tough at home. Panthers win this one, the talk of playoffs will definitely be more than a whisper. For a football team’s season, that ‘Winning cures’ axiom is a fact. With the family gathering killing spectre of a *still unannounced to the peasant masses, at least in schedules, 8 pm opening on Thanksgiving*, that MSER might not be looking at a full team effort to keep the winning rolling.

Glenn S.