I love to laugh.  Two things gave me the giggles yesterday.

First, I went out to lunch with some co-workers, to a dumpling restaurant.  The garbage can at the restaurant had a little OCD labelling that made me snicker.

"Trash... Also Trash"

"Trash... Also Trash"

Now that was surely accidental humor.

But later in the day, some friends of mine on the podcast slack introduced me to some intentional humor, a tumblr blog called LiarTownUSA.  LiarTown is the often NSFW creation of humorist graphic designer Sean Tejaratchi.

I laughed myself into a fit last night over some of the stuff on there.  For example:

"Confusing Premise" porn magazine cover, featuring a man watching another man forced to look at a painting of two nuns kissing, by another woman.  What fetish is this exactly?

"Confusing Premise" porn magazine cover, featuring a man watching another man forced to look at a painting of two nuns kissing, by another woman.  What fetish is this exactly?

Then there's this little gem:

"The What...How.. Wonder Book of HORSECRIME."  Ridiculous.  Amazing.

"The What...How.. Wonder Book of HORSECRIME."  Ridiculous.  Amazing.

But the thing that started this whole thing, that got folks on the slack talking about the site, was the movie poster for The Legend of Diaper Horse.  No, I'm not kidding.

So silly.  It's rapidly become my favorite tumblr.  

AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

So here's a funny thing.

As I'm sure you know, both of my books, and the majority of short stories I've ever written take place in a town called Littleton.

One of the weirder things about that is that I never say exactly where that is.  

That's on purpose.  There are actually many different places called Littleton across the United States, and even one in England.  

What I do when I write is intentionally blur details of all of them together into a sort of idealized Littleton.  I'll pull street names from the one in West Virginia, and the name of a business or park from the one in Colorado.  Plus of course the magical bonding glue of just Outright Making Shit Up™.  

Well, there's one of these Littletons (Littletonae?) in North Carolina.

And, on a goof, I decided to drive through it on my way home on Sunday.  I even stopped in the Hardee's there for a bite to eat on my way.

Pulling into town was decidedly weird and sort of magical.  

I kind of knew the place, and kind of didn't.  At the Hardee's I asked the cashier if there was a good place to get a picture of the town sign, and we struck up a little conversation about it.

She was downright folksy and countrified, and politely curious.  After she told me which way to go, she asked me, "Why are you so interested in that, sugar?"

"Well," I said, "I'll tell you a secret.  I'm an author."

"Ohhh," she said, nodding as if she understood.

"And I wrote a book that's kind of all about this town, and kind of not."

"Really?" she asked.  "What's the name of your book, honey?"

"Oh I'll tell you," I said, "but you should know, it's erotica, and it's rather a filthy book."

"Now you just have to tell me," she said, grinning.

So I did.  Like I said, magical.




AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

Saturday was quite a day.  It was like several days combined into one.

First, there was how it started.  I woke up at three am.  This was so I could get to the airport by five for my 6 am flight.

That was the plan anyhow.  

On my way to the airport, I missed my exit, and then when I finally got there, there were two police cars blocking the only entrance to terminal A's garage, having pulled over another car in front of it.  I ended up getting routed through the "rental cars only" parking lot, which as the sign said, was only for rental cars.  So, I had to explain myself, and then get allowed to go through it, and out.  After which I drove around the airport, back towards the blocked garage to my terminal, and then parked one terminal over.  This was around 5:00am.  Not good.  I park, grab my suitcase, and head for the bottom level of the garage to wait for the airport shuttle.

And waited.  

After a bit, I realized this wasn't going to work.  So I hopped on the elevator, took the walkway across to terminal B, and then proceeded to run like hell across the terminal, wearing my heavy backpack, dragging my heavy suitcase, all the way to the connecting passage to terminal A.  I do this, working myself up into a huge sweat, and come pounding up to the check-in kiosks.  A woman sees me coming, and cooly steps in front of me, taking the kiosk I'm aiming for, giving me a look and saying, "Well, I'm taking it."

Fine I think, and move to another.  Whatever.  I scan the boarding pass on my phone and the terminal lights up, and makes these awful loud WHOOP WHOOP noises, alerting me that I'm a late check-in, that my bag will probably NOT make it to my destination on time, that I have poor judgment, and probably enjoy Nickelback albums.  (Okay, not that last part.)

The woman who cut me off is at the kiosk next to me, and gets visibly pale, realizing that she has contributed to this, and goes to apologize to me.  I wave her off, not really having time to listen to her apology.  I put not one, but two of the big yellow "LATE CHECKIN" tags on my bag.

The nice folks at the counter take my bag, and assure me they'll do my best, and tell me to head to the gate.

And my bag did in fact, make it there.  

The rest of the day was way more restful, but equally jam packed. 

Squee was there to pick me up, and we hugged, kissed, and generally made our way to the car very slowly, just happy to be with one another.  We spent several hours of blissfully, and well-needed alone time together, before going to pick up the kids from various places.  Once the five of us were all successfully reunited we headed to a Korean grocery store called H-Mart.  We were there to pick up treats before our next stop.

That grocery store was amazing.  It was filled with all sorts of exotic goodies, including green tea kit-kat candy bars.  (They're amazing.)  I have had these previously, sent to us by a relative of mine from Japan.  I didn't think you could get them here in the US!  And the store had all these little "mini-stores" in it too. It was like a grocery mall.  One of the stores, LG Beauty and Health had a display of products that accurately sums up my feelings about this whirlwind of a day.

"Whoo" products.  Whoo day!

"Whoo" products.  Whoo day!

Once we had bought the sufficient amount of kit-kats, pop-rocks, and chapaghetti, we headed to our next stop, a nearby Korean Spa called King Spa.  It was wonderful.  Squee and her daughters headed one way, and her son and I headed the other.  He didn't opt for all the hot-tub stuff, but headed right out to the main area.  

I did though.  I dipped myself in scalding hot water, and then freezing cold water.  It was bracing.  I think I made that "whoo" sound a few times.  I also struck up some nice conversations with random strangers.  

One of those conversations with one of those strangers was even about how I was in town visiting my girlfriend, and how we were poly, and isn't that wonderful.  I told him about the awesome Christopher Ryan book Sex at Dawn, all about polyamory.  It was all pleasant and nice until it suddenly got super creepy.  As I go to get out of the hot tub, the guy says, "That's so much good information, you should e-mail me it all.  I'll give you my address."  "I'd be happy to give you the name of the book again, sure," I said noncommittally, as my radar started going off.  "But I've got to go meet my girlfriend and the family now."

"Oh," he said, "they're here?  I'm very social, we should hang out sometime."  

"Gotta go," I said.  In case you were wondering, that's my polite way of saying, "Please don't skin me alive and turn me into a sandwich, kthxbai!"

I get my spa-pajamas on, and beat it out of there.

Eventually I get back with the rest of the family, and we have an amazing time.  We go in various sauna rooms together.  The girls particularly liked the ice room, which was black-lit, making our teeth and toenails glow.  Squee and I liked the infra-red room where you lay on these mats under infra-red lights, which are in a sort of cubby hole built into and under the wall.  It felt like being on a spaceship.

Then we all had an amazingly good dinner there.  (mmm, galbi.)  

After that, we found a place to sit and play cards, Crazy Eights, specifically.

This was actually the highlight of my entire day.  I had left my phone behind in the locker room, and I'll admit, I'm fairly addicted to it.  But I wasn't missing it at all.  Squee, the kids, and I had a fantastic time sitting there, playing, goofing around, and just enjoying one another's company.  It was simple.  It was easy.  It was wonderful.  

We played for a while, and then moved on to check out the rest of the place.  Too late for my own good, I find their movie room, with these big squishy, body-eating chairs you can lay in and watch movies on a big screen.  Next time we go to King Spa, I'm totally doing that.

Just as we were getting ready to go get dressed, Creepy Hot Tub Guy walks up to me and hands me his business card, right as Squee's youngest and I are sitting waiting for everyone else in the family.  

I take the card, he waves and leaves, and she looks at me and says, "Who was that Mako?"  I say he was some guy from the hot tubs, and show her the card, and we both sort of laugh.  

Later, I show the card to Squee and tell her the story, and she laughs, as she tells me to make sure to throw that thing away, and not email him.

Both of which I did.

Eventually, we went home, and everyone went to bed, including me.

For which, after such a jam-packed day, I was very, very grateful.

AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

So there's this supermarket not too far from where I used to live.  I used to stop in there many mornings on my way to work, for a breakfast sandwich. 

There was this lady behind the counter, I'll call her Polly.  When I first started going to her counter, I was not particularly thrilled with Polly.

I was often in a hurry, and Polly never seemed to acknowledge that. She would take her time doing whatever sort of sandwich or coffee related chore had her attention before giving me the time of day.  She would happily grouse with her co-worker about all sorts of unpleasant things about her job, their boss, the market price of Chilean Sea Bass in a turbulent economy (okay, that one I'm making up), all sorts of things, rather than just get me my damn sandwich. 

And, she seemed so very, very grumpy. 

Then I had an epiphany. First, I realized that it's not about me , and that perhaps her job really wore her out. Maybe, I reasoned, people all morning long treated her like some sort of breakfast-sandwich-ATM, instead of a person, and that she found it ponderous and terrible.  

So, the next day I resolved to talk to her, be thankful, kind, polite, and just treat her like a person.  

Everything changed. Her face lit up. She opened to me, and we really connected. Polly became kind, sweet, and real.  

I began to really look forward to seeing her, and she did the same. When I would walk into the store, she'd meet my eye and smile. She would get a spring in her step. It would make my whole morning, too. I'd carry the good feeling of seeing her with me all the way to work.  


So, today.

I haven't been going there for many months now.  I moved not too far away, but enough that going there would be out of my way.  One of the few times I did stop in, looking for her, I was told she had been moved to a different job in the store, and that she didn't work the café anymore.

But today I had an errand nearby, and stopped in.  I go get myself some delightful tater tots off the hot bar, grab a bottle of affogato from the cold case, and go to grab a breakfast sandwich, when I see her, back turned to me, talking with someone behind the counter, and in the midst of performing what looks like a food safety inspection.  I call out to her by name, "Polly? Is that you?"

She turns around, and her face splits in a wide grin.  She greets me like an old friend, which in a way, she is.  Our relationship is very limited, and not all that old.  But it's got history.  She tells me she hasn't seen me around in a while.  I tell her about my move.  She tells me about her job change, which is really a promotion.  We both tell one another how very much we've missed seeing one another, and really both mean it, too.

It was lovely.

She wished me happy holidays, in case she doesn't see me again before them.  I walk off feeling light as a feather.

As soon as I got in the car, I had this long talk with my girlfriend, Squee about the whole thing.  She laughed, long and loud.  Back when I first started going to this place, and dealing with my no-longer-crabby friend, she used to hear my daily woes about the poor service, and was witness to my realization of needed compassion.  We've both referred to the sandwiches as "Polly Sandwiches" because of this.

We got into this long talk, at first just about the reunion, and how wonderfully silly and fantastic it was.  But then, I saw something I observed to her.

The whole thing, the way I turned my impressions around, the way Polly and I became friends, the lasting good effects it's had on both her and my own life, are an example of really powerful 德 (te, "virtue" or maybe "magical power").  I threw off my judgments about Polly, embraced mindfulness, and made a genuine and lasting friendship.

It's amazing how good a world this can be, when I'm fully present in it.