TAG! Storyline 1, part 5

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Reaching into his jacket, he felt the billfold of his wallet. Inside he knew that he had a business card or two. “Just go over there you dolt!” he told himself, but he knew that even though he had her interest, he just wasn’t that brave. Still holding her eyes, he pulled out the card obviously, took a pen from the front counter and wrote on the back of the card. He smiled at her and turned to the man seating guests.

“Do you see the strawberry blond woman at the bar staring at me?” He saw him look over his shoulder and nod once. “Would you find a way to give this to her without her friends noticing?” Matt handed the card to him with a ten dollar bill folded under it.

“They’ll never know” he said smiling.

The man walked back towards the kitchen and Matt glanced back over his shoulder. Feeling daring, he found he still had her gaze, and winked at her. Suppressing the maniac laughter at his spur of the moment plan, he went out the door. He walked to his car and got in it, starting it up. Pulling out of the spot, he drove out of the parking lot and waited for traffic to clear to turn onto the street. His cell buzzed.

“This is Matt” he said, wincing as he realized he was answering like he would at work. He hadn’t recognized the number.
“This is Fae” said the voice. He closed his eyes, smiling. Not only was she beautiful, but her voice was perfect. Soft and lower than he was used to, not sexy, but definitely flirty. “I got your note and while I definitely appreciate the gesture, I really can’t leave right now.”  He had written, You look like you’ve heard this story a million times already, let me know if I can rescue you by inviting you for coffee at the Barnes and Noble up the street.  He couldn’t understand what was coming over him, but a louder part of him was becoming more persuasive in saying “GO FOR IT!”  That of course, didn’t include walking up to three women obviously out for a girls night out and introducing himself.  Getting more outgoing?  Yes.  That bold?  No way.

“Yes, hun, I’ll be right there.  Sorry.  We’re getting ready to leave and I would LOVE to invite you, but men are not allowed tonight, it’s Jenny’s pre-bachellorette party.”

“Pre?” Matt said, wondering.

“Yes.  We wanted a night just the three of us before we had to hang out with the people we HAD to hand out with, if you know what I mean.”  He truly felt as if she was wanting to spend time with him, but couldn’t.  He’d been blown off before, but this didn’t feel like it.  He took heart.

“Totally understand where you’re coming from.  You three been friends for a while now?”

“Since college, but we have to invite her sisters and neither Amy or I can stand Jenny’s sisters, so it’s gonna be a chore.  Can I call you sometime?  I obviously have your number, and I know you drive a red Acura.  You should probably pull out, there’s a big truck headed your way.”  she giggled as I turned around and saw her standing by the entrance, the big truck obstructing my view of her in the short black dress she was wearing.

“Please do, Fae.  I look forward to hearing from you” he said, waving to her out the window and pulling out onto the street.  

“Okay.  Ciao, Matt.” she said, and hung up.

Driving along, Matt felt like he was 15, and had just asked his first girl out.  The butterflies in his stomach were fluttering all over the place and he had trouble focusing on the road.  The Barnes and Noble signed loomed over to his right so he turned into the parking lot and pulled into a space.  His breathing was a bit labored and fast.  He looked in the mirror and saw a stranger grinning widely at him, the man breaking out into almost hysterical laughter as he saw his reflection in the mirror.

Holding his stomach and laughing, he couldn’t believe the man in the mirror was him.  That guy looked happy.  That guy didn’t look like he’d spent so much of his time moping and being depressed.  That guy looked like there was something to look forward to.  He gradually got his laughter under control, while strangers moving around the car looked at him strangely.  His cell buzzed again.

Instantly, he froze looking at the numbers, but it was a number he recognized.  It was Terri.

“Matt, I just realized we should be out celebrating your test!  Is it too late to take you out to dinner??”  She sounded upset.

“Terri…let me just tell you about the last 15 minutes…” and proceeded to begin his tale.  When he got to the part where he described the woman at the bar, Terri stopped him.

“WAIT!” she demanded.

“What?” he said.

“Where are you?  Are you with her?”

“No, I’m sitting in the parking lot of the Barnes and Noble on Route 22”

“I know where it is, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.  I don’t want to hear the rest of this story without seeing the look on your face.  I can tell your cheeks are hurting from smiling so much just from the tone in your voice.  I’ll be right there.”

The phone went dead and for the second time that night, the second time in a very long time, Matt laughed long and hard.

TAG! Storyline 1, part 3

look here for the explanation
look here for part 1
look here for part 2
Still brimming with excitement, he hung up the phone. “Matty” he chuckled to himself. “Well, it’s better than Matthew” he mused out loud. Drying off his hair and throwing the towel into the hamper in the corner of his room, “Two Points” he thought to himself as he made the shot.

“God I’m starving” he said.
“Who am I talking to?” he thought to himself, walking to the drawer and pulling out a pair of jeans and sliding them on. “Ugh” he groaned, the weight of the last several hours finally brimming over the dam of his excitement and elation. Only 2 months into his forties, Matt had been experiencing more aches and pains lately, but then again, after the accident and about 20 years of being a couch potato, what could he expect? Slipping the jeans over his hips and fastening them, he winced in anticipation of how much pulling the shirt over his head was going to ache. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad as he pulled on a t-shirt and his brown Jedi hoodie. He smiled as he recalled his girlfriend at the time just not getting how a 38 yr old man would wear a hoodie, much less one with a Jedi symbol on it. Understanding from that point that it wasn’t worth getting into anything further with a woman who didn’t like Star Wars, he hadn’t thought twice of his decision to break up with her.

Sighing loudly as he lowered his now aching carcass onto his leather couch, he cursed, knowing that he was still hungry and would have to get back out of his comfortable couch. Grabbing the remote and flipping through some channels, he came across commercial after commercial for this food or this restaurant. His stomach started drowning out the commercials in it’s insistence of being filled. Smiling to himself, he flipped off the TV, painfully pushed himself out of his couch, and instead of reaching for the phone and the delivery menu, decided it was a good occasion to celebrate. He looked at the phone and was about to call Terri when he realized that
a) he didn’t want to intrude – how rude would it be to ask someone to celebrate your event and b) that he didn’t have anyone else he could call. Standing in his front hallway with the phone in his hand, Matt had the realization that Terri wasn’t just his closest friend, she was his only friend.

“Dude” he breathed softly with the thought. His emotions turned down that black corridor that he had been in for so long and he started to drop his keys back on the table. Looking at his hand, he could still see the mark from his gloves and remember the sharp strike from Sensei that caused it.

Shaking his head, he shoved away the feelings dragging him back down that path and grabbed his keys, and opening the door he turned and slammed the door with a loud, satisfying bang. He was standing there smiling at his front door when the woman living next door was walking by, her 3 year old grandson making his way uneasily down the sidewalk in front of the house. Mrs. McNally raised her eyebrows and smiled, saying “Everything okay Matt?”

His smile broadened as he turned to her and nodded, “It is now Mrs. M. Thanks!” He jumped down the steps two at a time and rushed to his car. Unlocking it and sitting in it, he wondered what was happening to him. He shook his head and started the car, backing out and heading downtown, waving to Mrs. McNally as he drove down the block. Not really knowing where he wanted to go, his subconscious decided for him. He was pulling into the parking lot of Shikoku, a japanese hibachi and sushi place he used to come to a lot. Pulling into the spot, he smiled and got out, walked in, and was greeted by a cute young girl in a full length kimono.

“Welcome sir, table for one?”
“No thank you, I’d like to sit at the sushi bar” Matt said, looking over at the area in the corner where the chefs were preparing the raw fish.
“Hai, please follow me”
Rather than keep writing, I’m going to stop here and let Terri continue. This is turning into an interesting experiment 🙂

TAG! Storyline 1

(begins 11:06am Saturday 3/21/09 EST)

Arms aching, he unties the himo strings fastening his men, or headgear, and pulls them loose.  Using one hand to hold the men and the other to pull it from around his face, he rests it on top of his kote, or gloves that have been set in front of him to one side.  The ceremony inherent in Kendo is as important as the swing of the sword or the kiai, or yell, of the strike.  He pulls off the soaked headcloth using it to wipe away the sweat from his face and neck.  Folding it and dropping it into his men,  he looks across the floor to his opponent, who is doing the same thing.  She is slight, dark, and at least a foot shorter than he, and yet her composure is unruffled as she pulls the cloth from her head and folds it neatly inside her men.  Taking the himo strings and placing them inside their men,  they both move back into a kneeling position, hands placed lightly on their thighs.  Waiting a beat and mirroring one another, they place first the left hand, then the right hand on the floor, forming a triangle and bowing over it, their necks parallel to the floor, eyes looking directly into the triangle formed by their hands.

“Arigato Gozaimashita” they say in unison.  Returning to their original position, the ceremony done, the slight woman’s face bursts into a beatific smile.  The man cannot help but return it, knowing that the diminuitive Sensei is happy with his sparring, and as she nods slightly, confirms his deduction that she is indeed pleased.

“Your skill has improved now that you have conquered your need to always strike hard and fast.  Patience is a weapon you don’t often use Kohai” she finishes, using the term for junior student.  Applause erupts behind him  as all of the Senpai, or senior students, clap their approval.  She nods once more, picking up her men and kote, allowing him a moment to undo his armor and pack up.  It was an interesting day 3 years ago when he walked into the dojo for the first time, nervous and not knowing what to expect.  His co-worker Terri had been the one to suggest it.

“Matt, you need to get out and get your rah rah’s out.  Sitting cooped up here isn’t going to help!” she had told him the afternoon before.  It had been almost a year since the accident, and while the doctors had all confirmed that physically he was fine, he was still a bit reluctant to go out and “do” anything.  “You sit behind the computer all day, working on your projects, but you don’t get out at all.  I know it’s winter, but you have to do SOMETHING!”  He and Terri had hit it off immediately when he began working for the company several years before.  He liked to think of her as the sister he never had.  After the accident when he started working from home more and more, she would stop by on her way home to check up on him.

She was right, he knew, but it was simpler to be alone, and stay in.  Kneeling in the dojo three years later, he was glad that he had listened to her.  His senpai and kohai patted him on the back congratulating him on his testing as he began to remove the laquered breastplate, or do,  and apron or tare, tying them together in one package and stowing them in his gear back with his kote, and men.  The do, and tare, were a present from Terri and some of the others at work.  After he had told them about the class and had been going for several weeks, they all noticed that he was getting out of the house and spending more and more time in the office instead of home alone.  He knew that they listened to him rattle on about the things he learned and loved them for the fact that although he knew none of them understood half of what he was talking about, they were happy for him nonetheless.

They had all helped him come out of a long dark tunnel, and today was proof that he was on his way to whatever awaited him instead of waiting for things to come to him.

Picking up his gear bag, he walked into the locker room and changed out of his uniform back into his street clothes.  He shook hands and chatted about his test with several of the people still there before making his way out to his car.  Not wanting to wait until he got home, he clipped the handsfree headset to his ear and speeddialed Terri at home.  Her husband picked up on the first ring.

“Hey Matt, how did the test go?” he said in a friendly voice.

“Wow, I’m about to fall over, but I wanted to tell Terri, is she around?” Matt asked carefully.  He always felt like he intruded on Terri’s life, but he knew for a fact that Terri’s husband was a generous guy and loved his wife all the more for how Terri had helped him out of his hole.

He laughed, “Nope, sorry.  My looney wife is out running right now.”

“Running?  I’ve still got my snow tires on!” Matt blurted incredously.  He carefully backed out of his spot and turned onto Main St, heading towards his apartment.

“Heh, yeah I know.  I’m not sure what she was thinking.  She woke up in a weird mood this morning.  She always runs first thing when she’s feeling like this.  I’ll have her give you a call when she gets back okay?  How did you do?”

“Better than I thought, passed with flying colors” Matt said.  “Thanks man, have her give me a buzz later, k?”

“Will do.”

Snow crunched under her feet as her legs warmed up……  is continued on Terri’s blog

(edit 3/22/09 – the link goes to her entry now)

TAG! Explanation

I have been wanting to write a book for a long time now. I’ve read lots of Fantasy novels and I’ve always wanted to try to write one of my own. I’ve gotten started on several, but nothing ever has come of it, or at least nothing that I feel noteworthy.  Terri over at Terri Terri Quite Contrary is someone who I discovered (or is it whom?) through another blog and after going over and reading her daily posts, I put her blog in my RSS Feeds in Outlook and I read her stuff every morning while I’m trying to find the bottom of my coffee cup and my brain first thing in the morning.

One of the common themes we share on our blog is our desire to write SOMETHING.  I have noticed that with working out, if my boss and I don’t guilt one another into going, we don’t go.  Now I’m not suggesting I guilt Terri into writing, but I thought of something more interesting.  What if I start a story – a few paragraphs of something off the top of my head, and then leave the last line open so she can continue it.  I’ll put a link to her blog at the bottom so people can go to her blog and read the follow up to my post.  See if we can play storyline pingpong for a while and see what becomes of it.  I figure if we begin to get something going, or we finish a storyline and want to start another, we can grab each other’s posts and put them in a story section, except all in the same place.  I’m kind of working this out as I write it, so if anyone has any suggestions, please comment below.

Okay, I’m just going to start writing the first storyline in a new post and see what happens.  Who knows…:)  Stay tuned for the first storyline.

Who’s the man?!?

Have you ever had a problem/issue/project that just wouldn’t f’in go away?  It’s like trying to get your hand around something slippery – the harder you squeeze, the faster it slips away?

Yeah, that’s about what my year has been like so far.  So to be able to have a “YES” moment when things finally fell into place was a welcome change from the constant battering I’ve been doing against all of the brick walls that keep springing up.  FTNITK, I’m a web applications developer for a company in White Plains NY (it’s just north of NYC).  I live in NJ, so my commute is considerable, but I don’t really mind it because I love my job.  We run nursing homes in the south, and one of the biggest obstacles we have is centralization of data – getting all of the good stuff, in one place, so everyone can use it to move forward.

We have this chunk of data that I need in 47 different places, and I need to collect it all and put it in a readable format.  I can set up a job to go out to each database individually, grab some data, and pull it back here.  The problem is, the db’s are really old and don’t talk directly to my new shiny ones, and I don’t want to write 47 copies of the same job because if I have to make a change, it’ll have to be to all of them.

So I’ve been trying to figure out a way to write one job, and just change where I point it.  FINALLY got it today and I’m going to do more work on it tomorrow because now I’m going home.  I’ve done enough for today.

if you’ve gotten this far and you’re interested – it’s an SSIS job mining data from Keane RAM applications Progress database and pushing it to a data warehouse that I’m building.  Lots of moving pieces.  Ugh.

Where were you?!?!?

So it’s 7pm, and I had been dozing on the couch.  It’s starting to get a little dark outside, so I grab my cell and call Gillian.  (Take note here – it’s for emergencies and for when she’s going out without us.  We have it restricted to a few phone numbers so don’t think she’s texting or on with her friends)

No answer.  I try again.  It is going to the message quickly which tells me it’s off.  Not happy.

I take a walk to the park to see if she’s there (“I’m going to the park with Olivia and maybe to Kelsey’s” – which is right next to it) and of course, she’s not.  I walk down near her friend Kelsey’s and call Fae to call Kelsey’s mom.

No Gillian, and she hasn’t been at Kelsey’s.  At this point, I’ve called her phone 4 times and I’m upset.  Not scared yet, but concerned because I can’t find her.  Went to her friends house and even better, no answer at her house.  I asked Aidan to go to his friends house because Gillian sometimes hangs out with his little sister.

“DAD!  She’s HERE!”

Okay, deep breath.  Nervousness passes, now the rage sets in.  She comes out very concerned, TURNING ON HER PHONE.  Which pissed me off to no end.

Needless to say, I let her have it.  Maybe I trusted her too much, I dunno.  I know she’s not going out that far or that late again.  Is this what it is to be a father?  Oye.

My brother Tom is Racing to save lives – Please Help!!

My brother Tom is undertaking a massive effort to fight cancer.  Unfortunately, a friend of ours died and made this really personal for us.  Please go to the website and donate what you can.  Nothing is too small, or too large.

from the website:

On Saturday February 28, 2009 My Best Friend Jon lost his battle to Cancer. I’m participating in a half Ironman Triathalon as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training.  Experiencing the pain and suffering patients and their families go through is what motivates me. Jon won’t be able to see me race in June. Luckily he had family and friends around him to care for him. Some others don’t and they need your help.

I need some help too. Most of you that know me have seen me slide into the size I have become. I want to fix that so I thought I’d give myself some motivation. Jon is that motivation. I train for him because he can’t anymore.

All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing this event in honor of Jon and all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line – a cure!
Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS’s mission.

It you would prefer you can mail a check to my home the address is: Tom Cushing, 35 Pickwick Drive North, Syosset, NY 11791. Please make the check payable to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

I hope you will visit my web site often. Be sure to check back frequently to see my progress. Thanks for your support! If you go to my my Facebook page you’ll see some pictures of my training progress. Thanks again.

Again, please give what you can.  I know times are tight, but the money is going for a good cause.  Go here to help us fight cancer

Twitter is truly amazing

Yeah I know.  “Another post about social networking”.  Keep your pants on, it’s not going to be how I kept in touch with my ex girlfriends brothers dogs hamster.

I’ve been playing around with blogging for a long time now, this one going back as far as my latest Oops where I didn’t back up my stuff before I moved and then realized that they had already cleared my old account.  I recently got into Twitter, mostly because it was fun and I KNEW that everyone out there would want to know just how I was doing, what I was up to, and what I was thinking at every freakin second – important stuff.

Recently, in the last several days, I’ve realized that Twitter has become one of my development tools.  Granted, I have 140 characters to describe my issue, but can I just say how much time I save by posting a twit like “Anyone ever do x,y,z” wait 10 minutes and get 5-10 responses ranging from “Dude DON’T” to “yeah, but you need to do a,b,c first – shoot me an email and I’ll show you what I mean”.

I’ve even had people send me scraps of code, websites with tutorials, and advice to the extent of detailed explanation of why, where, and how much on stuff I’ve been wondering about for a while.

I can’t be the first person who’s realized this.  I tweeted something summing this all up and got a response from one guy in St. Louis about how he felt like we all worked together.  You know what?  He’s RIGHT!  We’ve been using DNN (dotnetnuke) for the last 3 years for our internal portal and I’ve always had questions about certain things, but never could get a good answer.

Dude, I’ve fixed more in the last week.5 than in the last 3 years thanks to several guys I am following and thanks to apps like TweetDeck you can set up filters to look for words and phrases so you can respond to things.  I just started using it and got abotu 10 tweets today from people I’m not currently following, but who answered a question I posted.

So I guess in summation what I should say is THANK YOU TWITTER!!!  It brings resources and people within reach so much easier and FASTER!  I agree with SLH, I do feel like I am working with a lot more people than just the people who are physically in my office.  So to all of you who have responded to my tweets, thanks!

ATWT – Aidan’s turn

Cheaper Than Therapy

My son pointed out that the two weeks I did this, both were of my daughter.  So now, it’s his turn.

This is Aidan on a trip we made to Cooperstown NY to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I went last year with my best friend and our sons (both 11) were pissed at us that we didn’t take them, so this year we decided to bring the boys.  REALLY glad we did, we’re going to make it a yearly tradition.

So Aidan, here you go.

Aidan at Cooperstown