You’ve Seen Me – Now You Get to Win Something

Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It’s the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?

~ Guy de Maupassant

There’s a gorgeous tracking shot in The Wrestler where Robin Ramzinski, decked out in his apron, hairnet, and name tag bearing his despised real name, walks through the back confines of the supermarket where he works, on his way to the deli counter. The audio underlying the scene is what drives it; the hubbub of employee chit chat, loading dock machinery, and his own steady breathing are slowly superseded by the roar of the crowd. He pauses at the plastic curtain and waits – shrouded in silhouette, swaying side to side – as though at any moment, some sonorous announcer will shout his name . . . “Randy . . . The RAM . . . Robinson!” . . . and the fans will erupt, pumping their fists to Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head”, screaming praise for their legendary hero.

Then he opens the curtain and silence slams down like the proverbial ton of bricks, heavy and imposing.

He makes the best of his deli gig, but in the end, nothing can match the roar. His world revolves around the square circle. It’s all he knows. And all he needs.

I’ve never been a one-trick pony. Oh, sure, there have been things that I’ve really enjoyed doing. Things I dreamed of doing as a child. And I’ve experienced the breathtaking pleasures that come with seeing small glimmerings of those dreams leak in to reality as an adult.

I used to spend hours spinning 45’s, cueing up cassettes, and segueing between them with light-hearted and formulaic banter. I wanted to be Casey Kasem. I penned imaginary “long distant dedications” and counted down my own American Top 40 with mix tapes recorded off the local pop station.

Years later, I became a morning show host at a southern gospel radio station; 1000 watts of static on the AM band. But we had listeners. I felt honored to be a part of their lives. And they were loyal. One day, the general manager and I were in an office complex downtown to visit a potential advertiser. We stepped in to the express elevator, bantering away about this or that, and another passenger recognized our voices. We did the smile thing, shook hands, and went on our way.

For my part, the smile was genuine, and I wore it for the remainder of the day.

During my tenure in radio I hosted a television program on public access, emceed several concerts, and did remote broadcasts at local businesses. The crowd knew me. Knew about me. And like The Ram, I did what I did for them as much as I did it for me.

But radio was a blip on the radar of my professional life and, against my will, played itself out. So I moved on. Fortunately, I have a “bloom where you’re planted” kind of personality; whether it was during my years as a CNA in nursing homes, working with the developmentally disabled in group homes or day programs, or manufacturing circuit boards in a noisy factory, I’ve adapted, excelled, and found a modicum of happiness.

And now I blog. Which brings me more than happiness. In blogging, I’ve rediscovered joy.

The Cheek of God is one year old this weekend. And if I had a nickel for everything I’ve done for a whole year that was good for me, I’d have enough money to maybe buy a cup of coffee. The cheap kind.

What makes this blogging thing so good? So fun? Several things:

1) I enjoy writing. Prior to blogging, I wrote when I had to: a short story here and there for a class; a paper or two. Or maybe, when I worked up the energy, I wrote when I needed to: the occasional email to a friend; some scribblings in a journal. Blogging has given me the opportunity to write regularly. Because I want to. When I want to get something off my chest, I blog about it. When my kids do something cool, I blog about it. When I just want to scream, I take a deep breath . . . and then blog about it. Some of it’s good. Some of it . . . not so. I’m working on it . . .

2) I love a good conversation. Guy de Maupassant, in the quote at the top of this post, likens a conversation to a “brief smile of ideas.” I like the imagery that invokes, for conversation isn’t always about heavy things that lead to sermons or division. Blogging is a moment in time, a thought balloon, released into the wild and left to wander, drawing its sustenance from those who notice it and feed it. Where it ends up is a mystery, but the journey’s the thing, right?

3) You. I didn’t know you before I started blogging. Well, I knew you, with whom I share blood and back-story. But you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and too many others to mention? Tweakers new and old? Nope. And now here you are, swimming in my pool, drinking my coffee, bumming cigarettes, peeking over my shoulder . . . inspiring me. For too long, my life lacked good friends, the kinds of friends who’ll challenge me, put up with me, and be there when I need them. You (yes, YOU!) . . . ROCK! You cheer for me, pump your fists in the air as I enter the arena, and scream my name . . . oh wait. That’s the movie. That part at the end? Where he addresses the crowd? I’m down with that sentiment as well.

So I’m celebrating you this weekend. Celebrating you who allow me to be me and still come to visit. You deserve a little something . . .

So pick a number. Any number from 1 and 100. Now leave your number in a comment. This contest is open to anyone who visits my blog between now and 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, March 5th, 2009. It doesn’t matter if you’re an old-school Tweaker, an occasional visitor, or a lurker waiting for the water to get warm. Jump on in! The water is fine . . .

Here’s how we’ll do it. My oldest daughter picked a number, wrote it down, placed it in an envelope and sealed it . . .

See that smug look? That’s because only she knows the number. I don’t know this number. I tried to tickle it out of her, but she’s got some thick skin. And she has vowed to protect the envelope and its contents until the aforementioned date and time, when it will be opened and a winner announced.

Up for grabs is a copy of my favorite novel, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. But not just any old copy. I’m giving away the magnificent “coffee-table” version featuring illustrations by Tomislav Torjanac. Here’s just one of the many beautiful images from the book, courtesy of Torjanac’s website . . .

Yeah, he’s good. And so is the novel. Igjugarjuk, an Inuit philosopher, once said that “privation and suffering are the only things that can open the mind of man to those things which are hidden from others.” Such is the case with the protagonist Pi Patel in this most philosophical of novels. I fell in love with philosophy after reading this novel, particularly philosophy of religion. But don’t let all that scare you . . . it is a gripping tale of survival and hope in the face of disastrous circumstances. Quite readable. And you’re smart, so you can handle it. But I warn you . . . after reading it, you may never get on a boat again. Or visit the zoo. Especially the tiger exhibit . . .

It is from this novel that The Cheek of God got its name. This book means that much to me. And I want you to have a copy. Even if you’ve read it before, you’ll love this edition. I wish I could give you all a copy. I really do. We could get together and talk about it for hours and hours. Maybe the winner and I will start a book club. That would be cool . . .

And so is the fact that maybe I am a bit of a one-trick pony. Everything I do comes down to this blog thing. It’s an outlet. A way to be that pleases me. It isn’t always glamorous. Or easy. You’ve seen me in good times and bad, and I bear these bruises for all to see. But like The Ram, I’ll keep doing it until you tell me to stop . . .

[photo credit]

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52 thoughts on “You’ve Seen Me – Now You Get to Win Something

  1. No number for me… just wanted to congratulate you on one year.
    And maybe, for you, I might try to read Life of Pi (I’ve tried three times). So many people love it, I must be want.

    • Hey,

      Life of Pi is not for everyone. I have talked to others who started it but didn’t make it off the ocean. If you must, skip to the last six chapters. They are the crux of the whole novel . . .

  2. I know some of you might have a certain number you really like for these sorts of things. If someone else picks your number, pick it anyway. Ties will be decided by random drawing . . .

  3. congrats. 🙂 happy anniversary. i already have the book. i can’t say that i really love it or would read it again but i think it’s worth reading once even if you have to skim it to get through.

  4. Has to be number 4. And I know what you mean when you tell of what blogging means to you. Since I started last July I reckon I have smiled, cried and laughed more than ever before. Margaret

  5. Happy Blogoversary! I don’t have a number for you (not sure I can aspire to that kind of greatness just yet) but I do want to thank you for being here in the blogosphere for me to enjoy reading even when I feel small and simple after reading your words. I look forward to your posts even when I don’t feel smart enough to reply to them. Keep up the awesomeness!

  6. Over the past year I have found some truly amazing people in this blog world, and I rate you as one of them. I love how when life changes, you go with it, yet it doesn’t change who you are. (Are you sure you’re a guy?)

    Anyway… let’s just go with 50.

    Happy Anniversary!

  7. I’ll leave the obvious one from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for someone else…will I regret it? Hmm, is your daughter into sci-fi???

    My number is 37. The Life of Pi is one of my favorite novels, and I would adore having the illustrated version.

    Congratulations on your blogiversary and for sharing some really incredible sites here. I just added four new subscriptions to my already-bloated Google Reader. *sigh*

    I’m glad you’re here. I love reading your blog. Occasionally in this strange Internet wasteland, we encounter a kindred soul who expresses the depth of human emotion without the triviality of human nonsense. That is what I found here…Peace – D

    • She’s quite aware that the answer to the life, the universe, and everything is 42. But it hasn’t come up recently, so it may have been far from her mind when she chose the number.

      We’ll see . . .

  8. Delicious post! Right down to the smug little look…how cute is she! Since this is the one year anniversary…CONGRATULATIONS…of your blog, I would like to pick 365. But I know that won’t work, so I pick 99.

  9. Congrats on the Blogoversary, Brian! We’ll hit our blog’s 5th anniversary this month, although we’re certainly less prolific than you.

    My number of choice is 21.

  10. Happy Blogday! Many happy returns! I choose a classic: 3. Simple, cute. If you turn it sideways, it makes a lowercase m. I enjoy that.

  11. A recap of what numbers have been chosen so far . . .

    3 – gnomespeak
    4 – Margaret
    9 – derfina
    10 – nAnCy
    13 – Pamela
    14 – TitforTat
    16 – Chuck
    21 – Rob O.
    25 – nursemyra
    36 – flutter
    37 – RiverPoet
    43 – Michael
    50 – Angel
    66 – tigereyesal
    74 – Melanie
    84 – allstarme
    99 – mongoliangirl

  12. I’m going to go with 58, only because mathematically it’s the best number to choose right now. Really no other reason than that. I’ve been lazy and have not read more than the first few chapters of Life of Pi, but I will get to it, I promise. Hope you’re doing well and we will have to hang sometime. Congratulations on a year, and counting.

  13. Ok. 64. But, let me just remind you that when your lovely daughter started to blog, I was there commenting. When your handsome son started blogging, I was there. When your spectacularly crafty (as in AC Moore, of course) wife started bloggin’, guess who was there. And, when you need advice you don’t ask for, who’s been the first yap to open?

    Yep, good ol’ number 64. I feel sure it shall be picked.

    If I win, keep the book and send brownies.

  14. what will happen if you tear open the envelope and see 66 looking at you? How will you know it’s not 99? I need to know what provisions are in place for this sort of thing.

    Happy Bloggyday to you
    Happy Bloggyday to you
    Happy BLOGGYDAY dear cheek-eyyyyy
    Happy Bloggyday to you
    and many more…..

    “I can’t believe how big you’ve gotten” “It seems like only yesterday”

    I loved your post. I love the imagery of us, cheering you on.

    I also am picking the number 5. Because back in first grade they were giving away a chocolate bunny to the the first kid who knew what number the janitor Peter had picked and I REALLY wanted to guess 5 but it wasn’t my turn. Then some beast picked it first and the bunny was gone forever. I moved on to other favorite numbers but never forgot Lucky 5.

    Or the bunny.

    Stupid kid. Hope he threw up.

  15. I’ll take 42… my age. Seems to be a popular method of selecting a number.

    Congratulations on one year! Your daughter has the cutest expression on her face. I like her Tweety Bird shirt too.

  16. Another recap, as of Monday evening. Margaret and Chris, you ladies are gonna have to hope for lots and lots of luck . . .

    3 – gnomespeak
    4 – Margaret
    5 – Deb
    9 – derfina
    10 – nAnCy
    13 – Pamela
    14 – TitforTat
    16 – Chuck
    21 – Rob O.
    25 – nursemyra
    29 – Erika
    33 – Mkhblink
    36 – flutter
    37 – RiverPoet
    41 – Kweenmama
    42 – Chris
    43 – Michael
    47 – Dharmamama
    50 – Angel
    52 – Xbox
    58 – Bretton
    64 – Pat
    66 – tigereyesal
    74 – Melanie
    84 – allstarme
    99 – mongoliangirl

  17. Damn, you skip a few days reading and someone takes your lucky number!!

    I’m gonna go with 5 (not quite sure that one popped in my head). Oh, and should I win, I hope you were kidding about the zoo–I love the zoo.

    More importantly—congratulations on a year!!

  18. What a fantastic book that was, I’m going to go back and reread it. Happy bloggy anniversary, wonderful sentiments on blogging and what it does for us. I’ll pick number fifteen because that’s how old my five year old told me I looked today:)

  19. Just stumbled onto your site today, my lucky day! Congrats on the anniversary, just started blogging myself. I’m glad 23 is still available, my mother’s birth day sans month.

    • Thanks for stopping by! You’ve got the start of a nice blog going. Keep it up . . . and stop in again. Having a school principal poking around the confines of The Cheek ought to liven things up . . .

  20. Another recap . . .

    3 – gnomespeak
    4 – Margaret
    5 – Deb
    9 – derfina
    10 – nAnCy
    13 – Pamela
    14 – TitforTat
    15 – formerlyfun
    16 – Chuck
    21 – Rob O.
    23 – MCH
    25 – nursemyra
    29 – Erika
    33 – Mkhblink
    36 – flutter
    37 – RiverPoet
    41 – Kweenmama
    42 – Chris
    43 – Michael
    47 – Dharmamama
    50 – Angel
    52 – Xbox
    58 – Bretton
    64 – Pat
    66 – tigereyesal
    74 – Melanie
    84 – allstarme
    99 – mongoliangirl

  21. It’s not really a number at all. It’s a letter. His daughter wrote a number, because the truth of a number is easier to accept then the actuality of the letter. The letter is terrifying and brutal and to dwell on such things would drive her mad. So she invents the number. It is all she has. But whatever that number might be, the truth is the letter remains, and that letter is: Q.

  22. 27, as that’s how old I am. I was going to say 12, as that’s how old I act, but that made me feel bad.

    Aww screw it, I’m an immature child. 12 it is. 🙂

    Happy blogday by the way. I baked you a cake, then ate it in honour of the occasion. It was good. You’d have liked it, but I don’t think it would have traveled well.

  23. Congrats on your one year!

    I loved The Wrestler. I wasn’t sure why but now that I’ve read your description of the deli gig scene, yeah…maybe that one scene pretty much summed up Randy the Ram and why he did it and who he did it for.

  24. Today I discovered a writerly blog: this one. What a pleasant surprise — I’m linking to it on my own. Any blog with headings for Guy de Maupassant and Casey Kasem has got to be top quality. Maybe blogs won’t be the death of writing.

    Love the photo up top — winter truly is food for the muse…

    Keep it up!

  25. no wonder I never win anything!!! – I’m always late – what a prize, GREAT book … I’ve read the softcover but those pictures look great.

    Could you ask your daughter, if she could think of a number between say, 48 and 50?

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