Getting through the last month has been a stressful process – there has been too much to accomplish with too few resources over too short a time span. I’ve been able to survive such periods in life only by the use of coping mechanisms such as primal scream or percussion therapy, but at this stage of my life I find that my stress is best relieved through one of two specific activities: service and drawing.
If I am angry/anxious/scared/perturbed I find that doing something for someone else is the shortest path to peace. It doesn’t need to be a major production – sometimes something as simple as holding a door open or letting another driver transit first through an intersection is enough to reduce your blood pressure and bring a smile to both faces.
The other way I can reduce stress in my life is to lose myself in drawing. That might not seem like a stretch for a creative professional but making an image not subject to another person’s parameters can be so nice. I like to draw classic aircraft dating from the turn of the century to the end of World War II, a process that is even more fun when dealing with obscure- hardware or alternate histories. For example – take the image in this post: what’s the proper designation and why would it be painted in this particular color scheme?
See – now you’re “chillaxing” as well…
Though it was not one of Paul Newman’s top-grossing movies The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean has always been one of my favorites. It may be that I was biased having been totally enamored of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid that had come out a few year earlier, but I’d like to think that the writing in Judge Roy Bean had merit on its own. If nothing else the villains were engaging – from Mel Tillis’ stuttering murderer to Snake River Rufus they were all colorful and interesting.
My favorite was Bad Bob, an over-the top albino gunman that was meaner than mean and not afraid to show it. It wasn’t enough that he was violent – he’d stress his villainy in small ways like drinking scalding coffee right out of the pot. The gesture that won me over though was when he started to eat an onion like an apple – which had me grimacing and squirming in the seat.
It was so off-the-wall that I shameless stole the trick – and it eventually became part of our family folklore. If the boys were getting overly rowdy I’d thump the table to get their attention, and then take a bite out of the middle of an onion in my best Bad Bob style. It helps that I like onions, a taste not shared by most members of my family. I especially like it when Lori is browning them in butter in preparation for making potato soup – for some reason the aroma is very soothing to me.
…which brings us to my grandson Jayden.
Anyone who has spent any time with a three year old knows that it isn’t when they are making noise that they are up to something– it’s when they get quiet. It’s just like an old ‘50s western: “I don’t like it Cookie– the Indian drums have stopped and it’s too quiet out there”.
That’s exactly what happened yesterday afternoon when Jayden got home from daycare. It became deathly quiet in the house so I put up my tablet and began searching, expecting to see him with one of my electronic devices completely disassembled or in the process of creating a mural with my markers. Instead I found him under the table in the dining room.
I use the term “found” loosely because he is Special Forces good at using indoor terrain that I couldn’t actually spot him. All I could do was zero in on that disembodied toddler voice
“What are you doing?”
“What are you doing?”
“I eat un-un like appo Papa”
It took me a second to translate from Jaydenese to English but when I finally peered around a chair my suspicions were confirmed. He had a fair-sized onion and was munching on it “like an apple” in truest Bad Bob style.
I don’t know if I have ever felt closer to that boy than at that moment