Monday, January 17, 2011

Chronicles of life ... A friend indeed

'Tis a sad day in fishdom and the world. My dear Ralphie, beloved friend and fish, died around midnight Monday. He was my constant companion for two years, and needless to say I am heartbroken. It's never easy to have to flush your friend.
Little Ralphie was getting up in age and had been sick, but it still was an unwelcome surprise to see him gone. I had just told him to prepare for a water change the day before. Unfortunately there would be no water change this time. Ralphie had gone on to the great big rice paddy in the sky. 
I found Ralphie laying on his rocks. I thought he was playing possum. When Ralphie didn't run from the net like he normally does, I knew something was wrong. The water works instantly began. 
There are few people that would welcome hearing a fish death announcement after midnight, so I called my mother. I could barely tell of his passing from the snorting and sobbing. Ma Dukes was very sympathetic to my lost, considering she had never been much of a fan of Ralphie. There was this love-hate relationship between my family and Ralphie for some reason. They’ve always been jealous of our relationship. My grief isn't on the level of Mama Payne on Martin losing her bird Ruby or when Florida found out James died on Good Times, but it's not far off. All I could do was cry all night long. It was so hard to go to work.
This isn't the first time I’ve lost a fish. My first serious betta was Vendy. I had him during my junior and senior year of college. I was going through some issues with friendship and loneliness, but Vendy helped fill that void. Vendy heard the highs and lows of my day. He died about a month after I graduated from college, and I cried to no end. I thought I would never love again – until I saw Ralphie.
I randomly walked into a South Carolina PetSmart just for information and walked out with a betta fish. Ralphie stood out among the rest. He was the only red fish in a sea of blue. I had to have him. I named him Ralphie in honor of my favorite holiday movie, "A Christmas Story." Thus began a strong attachment to a new fish.
Some may think it quite odd to be attached to a fish. You can't touch or play with them. Does that make a fish any less significant in a person's life? My Ralphie was as dear to me as any dog, cat, rabbit or whatnot. Dogs are too demanding, cats are too fickle and rabbits confuse me. And the best pet for my busy life is a fish. 
But Ralphie was more than a pet, he was a friend. He was always there to provide what I sometimes needed most: a listening ear. I could talk to Ralphie, and he would listen without judging. Watching him swim in his bowl was always a soothing. I don’t mind living alone, but it was always nice to have someone to come home too, even if it was just my fish. One friend said Ralphie knew he could leave me now because I wasn't alone anymore. I have roommates and a support system now. Also losing a fish seems to signal a new phase in my life. I just wish Ralphie could have been a part of it. 
It's at least a two-year grieving period for me between the lost of a fish. I won't say I'm done with fish, but right now my heart is too broken to love another. And I don't know if I want any other type of pet. You can't just replace a friend over night. Another friend said “You really loved that fish. I don’t know why, but you did.” The words of Michael Jackson best described my love for Ralphie. "They don't see you as I do. I wish they would try to. I'm sure they'd think again if they had a friend like Ben." Everyone needs a friend like Ralphie. RIP little buddy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chronicles of Life … Game Over

I don’t like “The Game.” There I said it. Everybody, and their momma, was tuned into the Season 4 premier Tuesday – except for me. Even if I semi-liked BET, the Buffoonery Exists Today station, I still would not have watched “The Game.” They just have the most drama ever. THE. ABSOLUTE. MOST.

I tried to watch it. I really did. I got my first and only taste of “The Game” with my cousin during the marathon showing at the beginning of January. I tend to be a Johnny Come Lately for most shows. Blame it on a combination of a busy schedule and voracious reading appetite. I’m always busy at work and rarely just sit in front of the TV. I even cancelled my cable subscription while in Hartwell. Most of my free time is spent reading anyway. But I digress.

I caught the show in the middle of the second season. Now sometimes I am a cheerleader for foolishness, so two episodes in, I was hooked. The first one was about Malik’s female of the hour finding out he lived at home with his mother and Jason trying to host a Bible study to impress the new coach. Then Jason got Kelly’s brother kicked out of the house because she thought he was on drugs – when it was really Jason’s steroids.

But the next two episodes had me getting mad at the characters and their shenanigans. Derwin and Melanie were trying to patch up their relationship, but she attempted to sleep with his friend after thinking he was back to his cheating ways. NOT. COOL. AT. ALL. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Through her deception she got the friend caught up in their ensuing drama.

“I can’t watch this anymore,” I told my cousin. “She is making me mad, my pressure is going up and I will not be bothered.”

I was done. In just four episodes of the game I went from liking it to loving it and finally hating it. I saw snippets of two more episodes but just refused to get into it.

Here’s the thing: I am not a fan of drama be it fictional, unsolicited or imaginary. I might be a Drama Queen and deal in exaggeration here and now, but there is no ongoing drama in my life. “The Game” has that hardcore, he cheated on me, she’s my baby mama and we break up to make up drama. I don’t want that in my real life. Why would I want to watch that even in fake life? Pretty soon that stuff will start seeping into your subconscious. Before you know it your life is turning into an episode of “The Game.” “The Game” isn’t the first popular drama-filled show I shunned. I hate “Sex in the City” too. That whole nonsense with Big just made me want to punch a lobster.

In the past I did like several reality shows with too much drama. “Fantasia for Real,” “Flavor of Love” and “Charm School” were all dramatastic (is that a word?). I ate it up every week. But somewhere down the line I realized I just can’t be bothered. Drama makes my head hurt. I have enough headaches in my life without causing more unnecessarily. So I stopped watching all the drama (except for Glee which would work my nerves if it wasn’t for the songs).

When I watch TV, I want to laugh, be entertained or maybe even made to think. I do not want to start yelling, “ARE YOU FOO FOO THE FOOL?” at every single action of the main character. There are enough “Melanies” in the real world without having to deal with them in the fictional. Others may love “The Game” for its storyline and such. More power to you. Just don’t get all caught up in drama like that in your personal life. I’ll stick to “Martin” and “Living Single” reruns. No thank you BET. It’s Game Over for me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chronicles of Life ... bee's knees

Sometimes it seems I have to learn things the hard way. Life would be a little easier if I just listened to the warnings of others. My granny used to adamantly tell me to not touch the straightening comb when I was little. She might as well have yelled, “Touch it.” I did it anyway, but all it took was that one time. I still get nervous around straightening combs to this day.

During my brief time in derby one of the things I’ve heard reiterated over and over again is, “Fall on your knees.” Knee pads are worn for a reason. Falling anywhere else is pointless and potentially dangerous. But did I listen?

For all of November and part of December I had the black plague – actually it was bronchitis, but I tend to exaggerate. Sickness and work ultimately led to a two-month hiatus from derby practice. Not good at all. I had been away too long. I wondered if I could even still skate. All that was to change. My partner in crime – Beatdown – and I made the pilgrimage to a skating session in Gainesville Wednesday night

I laced up my new skates for the first time and took my wobbly knees to the floor. I made it around one time without falling and a second. By the third time, I was feeling like I had never taken a break. I still had some close calls but didn’t fall for about the first 30 minutes. Then it came – my first big fall of the night. I willed my body to fall to its knees, and did just that. In my mind an applause track began playing. Yay me! I fell perfectly. This had to be a good sign. Back on my feet I went, and I returned to skating. A second fall followed the next half hour, and I landed in the correct position. I was the master of my body. I would fall correctly forever more. Or so I thought. Let’s just say third time wasn’t a charm.

It happened while working on a drill from the last time I was at practice. I was supposed to lift up one leg from the ground while skating and balancing with the other. I suck at this. At best I can average three play-play seconds which is really one and a half. Yet I hustled on for maybe a minute until … THE FALL.

This fall was different from all the others. It was shrouded in “THE FEAR.” My body latched onto this fear and ignored the one thing I knew: FALL ON YOUR KNEES. Instead of falling forward the leg that was off the ground went flying directly under my butt to save it from busting open. I heard a resounding CRACK! Once I felt the initial pain, all I could do was lay on the floor and think, “Why didn’t I just fall on my knees?” I haven’t even played in a game yet and I’m already injured. Who does that?

I blame “THE FEAR.” In my mind there is that deep, subconscious fear of falling. A fall equals death to me (I’m a tad dramatic). I think as we age our fearless factor disappears in certain areas. Little children don’t have “THE FEAR.” They glide on their skates without a care and pop back up when they fall. I shuffle on skates with a prayer and lay like I’m dying when I fall. But the fear doesn’t protect me from anything. It does more harm than good. Now I’m stuck with a slightly broken right ankle and a splint for the next few weeks. The only thing I can do now is work as a non-skating official.

While I’m recuperating I will channel my inner child to help remove the fear. I’m not a fan of breaks that could have been avoided by simply falling on my knees. If only I had listened. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle (G.I. Joe). Falling anywhere else is just not the bee’s knees.