Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the month “December, 2016”

New Year’s Eve Stories

I have had two very memorable New Year’s Eves in the last few years.  The first was when I was dating a woman whose birthday was 12/31, and I was being laid off from my job that day.  My coworkers held a “good bye” happy hour, because we used every excuse to throw a happy hour, and it was back when I would get drunk, so we had a lot of fun. 

The future XGF and I got good and sloshed and headed back to her place.  As midnight drew close, we were…um….doing what you do to celebrate, especially if you are drunk.  She said, “Hold on, I need to get something,” and left the bedroom.

After five minutes, I called out, asking if everything was ok.  Got no reply.

Got dressed and went out to look around the apartment and she was gone.

Figured that maybe she forgot something in the car or whatever and turned on the TV to wait.

And wait.

At 15 minutes, I realized that if I left, I’d be leaving her apartment unlocked, and while it wasnt’ a terrible apartment building, it wasn’t exactly a great one.

So, I waited.

And waited.

And after an hour, she came back.  I asked where she’d gone, and she said, “I wanted to get some weed.”

“It took an hour?”

“They wanted me to smoke up with them.”

I took this as my cue to leave.

A couple of weeks later, she asked to get coffee, and me being a forgiving sort, I agreed, wondering if it was just a situation where she’d gotten too high to remember to come back, she had other issues going on, etc.  We met at a coffee place, and started talking and she talked around the issue.  When I finally asked why she left FOR AN HOUR on New Year’s Eve, her reply was “You know how much I love weed!”

My reply was, “I think we’re done here.”

Someone overheard it and posted it on a “Overheard in Minneapolis” website.

THE NEXT YEAR I was dating a woman who didn’t like watching old movies.  In fact, when we would have movie nights, she said, “No movies made before 2000.”  Fine, I guess…you know, the things we do for love and all.  New Year’s Eve, we are both pretty exhausted as we worked at the same group home, and she had three kids, so we just wanted a quiet night.  I made dinner, she rented movies and we settled in to watch them…and by 10 pm, she was asleep on my lap.

And the movie she’d chosen was “Eat, Love, Pray” which is one of the most cloying, clichéd things I had seen in ages, while TCM was having a Marx Brothers marathon.  The remove was ALMOST out of reach, so I very quietly and moving slowly so as not to wake her up, got the remote, turned off the DVD and turned on Animal Crackers.  At 10:30, Duck Soup, the greatest comedy in history began, and I watched it with a clenched jaw making sure I didn’t laugh out loud and wake her up. 

Do you have any idea how hard it is NOT to laugh at Duck Soup?

The move ended around midnight, and she started to stir, so I quickly changed the channel to something I knew she’d want to watch, and when she woke up, she what I did while she was sleeping…and I said I was letter her get some rest.

Not that I took advantage of her being asleep to watch a movie from the 1930’s that I knew she wouldn’t let me watch.

I have other New Year’s Eve stories, but I think those two are the most recent.

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I know in my brain that I can’t change what people think of me. I know in my brain that I need to stop beating myself up over other people’s opinion of me. I know I can’t change the actions I may have done or not done in the past that have hurt people. I know that I am chasing an ideal of what I want to be that5 is unattainable. I know that this way lies madness.

But the times when I didn’t outweigh the ones where I did in my heart. My marriage falling apart. My son at 19 telling me that I made him into someone who can’t handle life. A friend of 17 years saying that it was all bullshit. So many women telling me that I’m just not good enough. The jobs that let me go. The shitty house that still has a leaky roof after $400 spent to fix it. They all speak to me just as loudly as the times when people tell me I am a good person who is kind, thoughtful and caring.

I wonder if everyone goes through this. I have no idea, honestly, because other people seem as if they are functioning at a higher level than me.

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That One Thing

In 1999, I realized I had spent too much of my life chasing things.

  • If I could get a better job, I wouldn’t worry so much
  • If things were more stable, I wouldn’t be so upset
  • If I had a relationship, I wouldn’t be so lonely
  • If I had more time, I’d be more relaxed
  • Once my son moves out on his own, I’ll start to do this or that
  • Once I decide what to do about my relationship, I’ll be happier
  • I’ll work on my novel when I’ve got more time
  • I’ll love this person once they get their shit under control

Then, after a time, I realized my thought patterns went against what I was teaching the staff at the group homes I worked at in order to enjoy their job and do it properly.

I learned very early on that there would always be “That kid.” You know, the one that is the problem in the house. The one who takes all of the staff attention. The one who that staff say “If we’d just kick him out, thing would run smoothly.” I was in that mindset when I started in Juvenile Justice as well and ti took a few years before I realized:

There’s always That Kid. Once you kick out That Kid, another one slides into the role.

So, I taught people to find something about that kid that you liked. Something that made them someone you could deal with because if you don’t find SOMETHING to like about the client, you won’t be doing them any good and your shifts will be unbearable.

It’s the same in your life. One problem gets in the way of what you think will be your perfect life, but once your resolve that problem, another one slides in. And if you don’t find something to like about your life, you won’t be doing yourself any good and your life will be unbearable.

That’s why you have to decide to live the life you want despite the issues. Get the help for your issues instead of thinking a circumstance will fix it. Reach out to your support network for the love and strength you need now, now when it’s “calmed down” a bit. Love unconditionally NOW instead of waiting for the other person to make some sort of change. When you learn to enjoy where you are in the moment, the problems you face will shrink and your enjoyment of life will grow.

Much love to friends old and new, and I hope that you decide to live the life you want despite That One Thing.

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Simple Gift

One of the simplest things in the world you can do to empower the people in your life is to believe in them. Take on their dreams as YOUR dreams, their hopes as YOUR hopes and work to always see them as their best selves. It’s nearly impossible for us to know how others see us, so every so often, tell your friends and family how they inspire you, how you admire them, and how much you see their successes.

Do it even if they brush it off, downplay it or say they don’t believe it…they need the encouragement, and it costs you nothing to give it. Even if they bash you for it much later, you know that you spoke from your heart and gave them your honest assessment.

Much love to friends old and new, and know that if you are reading this, I think you are amazing and have done great things…but you’ll be doing greater things in the days to come.

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ALL THE CREATIVE STUFF!

So, the no longer a NaNoWriMo novel is at about 30,000 words, and is chugging along nicely. I love the chaos and excitement of NaNo, but now that I decided I just didn’t have the time to finish it, I’m taking a bit more time on things, letting the each of the characters have an arc and the ending is…shifting.

We’re almost to the Festivus Episode of the podcast, so SEND ME YOUR GRIEVANCES! Last year, we didn’t have a Festivus episode due to my hospital visit and surgery, so this year, I’VE GOT A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE, AND NOW YOU’RE GONNA HEAR ABOUT IT!

I will also be getting back in interviewing mode after the first of the year, so look for those to start up again. I am looking to get back to interviewing non-comics people as well as comics people. I also want to do a few more experimental solo episodes of the Solitaire Rose Radio, so that’s coming.

The “Series in Review” podcast will have its premier on 12/26, and will be in the same feed as the Kray Z Comics, Solo Joe and Solitaire Rose Radio podcast. I’m keeping all of the comics stuff on that feed. There’s not a schedule for it, and if YOU are a comics creator who would like to do DVD commentary on a series or mini-series you’ve done, contact me!

The Weekly News Update Podcast will be back in a couple of weeks. It’s not a top priority, but I do like doing it and it’s a “when I’m not buried” show until it picks up new listeners and steam.

Novelcast is back up and the next Episode will be 12/22. I will also be working on the eBooks (it’s taking more time than I thought), but I will have THREE novels up on Amazon by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

I have a bunch of scripts I am working on for the World Wide News comic strip and should have the next year blocked out by the time our new Cheeto Colored President takes office. You have been warned.

Lastly, I have started a NEW podcast with Dan Mohr and Wolfie called “Bad Advice” where we will be dispensing advice to people every two weeks, so send in your questions. Come on, you KNOW you need life coaching and advice from a comic nerd and a puppet, right?
I think that’s about it. If there’s anything I have forgotten please let me know. Remember that I am doing this on top of a full-time job and a part-time job that explodes with extra hours from time to time, so, as the New Yorker always says: Artists lead complicated lives. It’s advisable to check in advance to confirm engagements.

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#AndThatsWhyYoureImportant

#AndThatsWhyYoureImportant is trending today. There are all kinds of things I can write that are uplifting, things I believe about how everyone is important, my belief that I need to Love Everybody and Make ‘em Feel Good About Themselves, and unconditional love. I could put in the quote from the West Wing about the man who falls in a hole and how I will always jump om that hole with you, no matter how long it’s been or what has passed under a burned bridge.

Instead, I will tell you what I do at my part-time job.

I work at a group home for developmentally disabled adults part-time. I do this for a number of reasons, some financial, some personal and some because MY BACK UP PLANS HAVE BACK UP PLANS (proof that your children eventually do know you well) but a big part of it is that I want to have a job that does some good. Since we gotta earn, might as well earn in a way that makes someone else’s life better.

We have a resident who is on hospice care. She’s non-verbal, can no longer walk and her sight and hearing are poor. She stays in bed most of the time as we work to keep her comfortable. Every time, when I come into work, I go into her room, check on her, and if she’s awake, I hold her hand. She grabs on tight and shakes her hands in the air, waving her hand around and sometimes “singing” as she does so.

When she could walk, she would dance by stomping her feet, waving her hands in the air and “singing”. Sometimes, when I do a sleeping shift, if I come in and she’s agitated, I’ll go into her room and hold her hand until she either calms down or her pain meds take effect and she goes to sleep.

It’s a little thing to me. Just 5 – 10 minutes on a normal shift or up at 30 minutes on an overnight sleep shift. I’m just holding her hand and being there, and sometimes I put in a CD for her to listen to and sing along in my VERY deep voice (which has a tonne of bass in it) and she can feel the vibrations.

Guess what? You can do something like this too. Open a door for someone, pay it forward at the coffee shop, call a friend whose facebook posts make them sound sad or lonely, help a co-worker, bring a glass of water to someone who can’t get away from their desk, have extra cough drops in your pocket, text someone you haven’t heard from in a while and ask them how they are doing, send a joke to someone you care about, forgive everyone, pick up that trash someone accidentally dropped and throw it away, give someone in your neighborhood cookies, whatever. You can do a little thing to make it better for everyone.

SO many people on my feed are upset about political things, social things, economic things…I get it. I do. But if you can’t change the macro, change the micro. Why are you important? Because every day is another chance to make things better.

Much love to friends old and new, and while it’s a cliché, you CAN be the change you want to see in the world.

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