About Russ Colchamiro


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Russ Colchamiro has written 700 articles so far, you can find them below.


Surround Sound, Part II: Wireless? Kinda.

Sunday night I was sitting back on my couch, enjoying my new surround sound system, when I realized that I was getting any sound from the rear speakers. I understand that those are the ones that give you the ambient noise … the splash in an ocean … a gun shot whizzing by … but I was pretty sure they were giving me nothing.

So I took them down off the bookcase and held the speaker up to my ear like a seashell. Nope. Still nothing.

Sigh. Once again I got on the horn and called thSunday night I was sitting back on my couch, enjoying my new surround sound system, when I realized that I was getting any sound from the rear speakers. I understand that those are the ones that give you the ambient noise … the splash in an ocean … a gun shot whizzing by … but I was pretty sure they were giving me nothing.

So I took them down off the bookcase and held the speaker up to my ear like a seashell. Nope. Still nothing.

Sigh. Once again I got on the horn and called the Samsung customer support hotline, and after 30 minutes of being transferred around, I finally got somebody on the phone who knew what they were doing. Jim was a good guy. I relayed to him my set up, we went through all of my settings … again … and still, no sound. Jim put me on hold to check something out, and while he was away, I figured I would experiment.

The rear speakers were wireless–one of the reasons I bought the system–but I figured I’d hook them up to the wires, just to see if that did anything. I wanted to make sure that he speakers at least worked. And once I hooked them up to the wires, I was in action. Bingo! We have sound. Okay. We know the speakers work, so it must be a settings problem.

I relayed my "discovery" to Jim, and awaited congratulations on my ingenuity. Instead, I was met with awkward silence. And then:

"Uh … yeah … you know … you kinda need the wires to be hooked up, Russ."

I was confused. "But I thought they’re supposed to be wireless?"

Well … not exactly. Turns out that the [i]router[/i] to connect the back speakers is wireless. The [i]speakers[/i] are not. They need wires. The way system is set up, the front three speakers and the subwoofer are all hooked up to the main surround sound system device. The rear speakers need another port. That’s where the router comes in. The [i]wireless[/i] router.

The wireless router which is now on the opposite side of the room. With the rear speakers attached. By wires.

Okay. So maybe I’m not the sharpest bulb in the chandelier … but at least I’ve got sound now.

Russ’s Newsletter: Vol. 3, No. 5 – Comic-Con ’09 Special Edition!

Hi Gang-

I’m just back from the San Diego Comic-Con, and man-oh-man do I have a LOT of news to report. It was another hectic event, so let me get rolling:

* As I did last year, I shared a booth with partner in crime Rich Henn (www.timespell.com), who was pimping his one-of-a-kind autobiographical comic, ZOOMIES (I wrote a guest issue special for Comic-Con this year), and our supernatural thriller, TIMESPELL. Also at the booth was James Owen, best-selling, international author of the HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS fantasy series (http://www.heretherebedragons.net/), with 2.5 million copies in print worldwide. Joining James again was his brother and business partner, Jeremy, who has one wicked sense of humor, let me tell you! And of course, Ray Bonn was on hand to help us work the booth, bring much needed sodas, take action photos and otherwise keep us sane when booth fatigue set in!

(For the full Comic-Con coverage, check out my blogs from last week [www.findersk.com] and the PHOTO section for tons o’ pics of on-the-floor, full-costumed action).

* One of the main reasons we head out to Comic-Con is for the Hollywood crowd, which, unfortunately, wasn’t out in the force that we’ve been used to, but FINDERS KEEPERS got at least a little bit of love. I spoke to a few Hollywood agents who liked the premise and took a trailer, so we’ll see where that leads.

* The bigger news is that I’ve got a bunch of publishers who are reallyreallyreally jazzed for FINDERS KEEPERS, and, in fact, will be getting the new and improved manuscript within the next week, as I’m putting on the final touches on it right now.

* Also at Comic-Con I had the chance to hang out with fellow writer and friend Maxwell Alexander Drake, whose own novel FARMERS AND MERCENARIES, like Max himself, was making its Comic-Con debut (it’s the first book in his six-part GENESIS OF OBLIVION saga). So if you like those dragon/fantasy/epic books, you also might want to check out what Max Drake is up to (www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com/).

* Last but not least, fellow partner-in-crime Rich Koslowski (www.richkoslowski.com) was on the other end of the hall in Artists’ Alley, doing really cool Family Guy sketches and pimping his own series, The 3 Geeks, which is absolutely hilarious. A must read for anybody who likes comics. Plus … that dirty dog got a photo with Hurley, from LOST, about 10 seconds after I left the booth! Sonuva!

* Although they weren’t at the show with us (their trailer was), I want to give you the latest on DRAWING WITH CHALK, the really terrific debut movie from long-time pals Todd Giglio and Chris Springer. Well … their film was recently selected to kick-off the Opening Night Gala at the Idaho International Film Festival in late Sept! This is a really great opportunity for them to showcase their film to a huge audience, so keep your eyes peeled (you can check out their fan page at www.facebook.com/drawingwithchalk).

* And finally … for this issue’s special shout-out, I owe a HUGE HUGE thanks to writer/actor/producer and all around funnyman Michael Wolfe (www.michaelwolfe.biz), who read and reviewed version after version after version of FINDERS KEEPERS and FK 2.0, and, as always, kicked my butt five ways to Sunday until I got it right. As I promised him I would, please consider this his official anointing as the Supreme Mountain Lion of Editorial Godliness.

Also, keep an eye out for Michael, who is now fundraising for his feature film debut, FRIENDSHIP AND TRESSPASSES (www.friendshipsandtrespasses.com), which he co-wrote, is co-producing and will star in.

I told you there was a lot to report!

Okay … that’s all she wrote for this time around. Once I finish off FINDERS KEEPERS 2.0 later this week I’m going to take a short, but much-needed breather and … sleep … make my way down to Baltimore for HennFest 2009, and then go into detox before ramping back up on CROSSLINE, which will be my top priority until that bad boy is done.

Have a great rest of the summer … and check out those Comic-Con blogs and pics on my web site!

Explosions. Whispers. Surround Sound Rocks!

I wanted to do this last year when I bought the 42 inch flat screen TV, but I finally splurged on a Samsung surround sound system for the living room.

And I can say this – damn, it rocks! The floor rattles when there’s movie explosions, you can hear crazy whispers in the background. I know it’s not something I needed, but I just wanted it, and now I have it.

The trick is going to be in not having the neighbors come after me like an angry mob because of all the noise! But hey, that’s a I wanted to do this last year when I bought the 42 inch flat screen TV, but I finally splurged on a Samsung surround sound system for the living room.

And I can say this – damn, it rocks! The floor rattles when there’s movie explosions, you can hear crazy whispers in the background. I know it’s not something I needed, but I just wanted it, and now I have it.

The trick is going to be in not having the neighbors come after me like an angry mob because of all the noise! But hey, that’s a good problem.

To test it out I put in [i]The Incredibles[/i], and I’ll say, the sound was pretty … incredible.

Now … if I really wanted to go nuts I could have picked up the Bose system, which is just off the charts wow, but just the three speaker system was $1,000, and as much as I would love to have it, I didn’t love the idea of [i]paying [/i]for it.

Still, the one I’ve got does the job. Now I can’t wait to see just how loud this baby gets …

Wrecked My Neck? Pretty Much.

Sorry I’ve been MIA, but I managed to wreck my neck something fierce, and it’s taken me four trips to the chiropractor already to get it straightened out (no pun intended).

I’ve still got one more visit next week, but I’d say I’m about 90 percent back to normal. (I did it again. [i]Back.[/i] Get it? [i]Back[/i] … oh, I digress …)

Because of my neck woes, I haven’t been blogging or going to the gym the last 10 days, so it’s been frustrating on many levels. But I’m feeling a lot bettSorry I’ve been MIA, but I managed to wreck my neck something fierce, and it’s taken me four trips to the chiropractor already to get it straightened out (no pun intended).

I’ve still got one more visit next week, but I’d say I’m about 90 percent back to normal. (I did it again. [i]Back.[/i] Get it? [i]Back[/i] … oh, I digress …)

Because of my neck woes, I haven’t been blogging or going to the gym the last 10 days, so it’s been frustrating on many levels. But I’m feeling a lot better now, and hope to be in full swing by the weekend.

I’ve still got loads of stories to share–including a few whoppers about the dog–so fear not! I’ll be bringing the goods in the coming days and will catch you up on all the latest mayhem.

Springsteen, Neck Pain and a Huge Doggie Dump

Monday night was a night of nights for a lot of reasons.

For the first time since I was a teenager, I saw a concert at Nassau Coliseum. It was also my first Bruce Springsteen show, so that was something. Our little crew consisted of me, Liz, my dad, my sister Alison and her friend Clara.

Well … I’m not a huge Springsteen fan to start with, but he has a bunch of songs I like, and I’ve always heard that he brings house down. I’m here to say that if you’re a fan, Bruce lives up to hisMonday night was a night of nights for a lot of reasons.

For the first time since I was a teenager, I saw a concert at Nassau Coliseum. It was also my first Bruce Springsteen show, so that was something. Our little crew consisted of me, Liz, my dad, my sister Alison and her friend Clara.

Well … I’m not a huge Springsteen fan to start with, but he has a bunch of songs I like, and I’ve always heard that he brings house down. I’m here to say that if you’re a fan, Bruce lives up to his reputation. His band absolutely rocks, and he has boundless energy, for any age. He just goes non-stop of pure rockin intensity.

However, if you’re not a fan, his show can feel like three …. long … hours ….

Very. Long.

In total he played about four songs that I knew, and at one point went almost two hours between them. I tried to get into it, but it wasn’t easy.

As the third hour was wrapping up we decided to leave a few minutes early to beat the traffic. On our way into the aisle, Liz’s foot goes right out from underneath her and [i]WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM[/i]. She goes down about 10 stairs, on her back.

So then, after we get her on her feet and down to the main level, she realizes that she dropped her cell phone, and then has to go back up there to get it. Fun

Liz was able to track it down fairly quick, and then we drove back to Queens OK. Fine. But when we get home around Midnight, turns out that Simon took a huge dump by the back door, so we had that going for us. He was also so hyper to see us, jumping up and down like crazy, that I unfortunately half to pin him to ground so he would chill long enough for me to attach his leash.

And there’s more.

I take him from his walk, and finally get off to bed. When I woke up this morning I had such a bad strain in my neck that I could barely turn to my right, and had to schedule an emergency chiropractor visit.

All in all it was quite a night. Bruce wasn’t really my thing, but it was an experience I’ll never forget.

My Inspiration: An Aspiring Writer at Ecco Shoes

It isn’t very often that I wind up being inspired by a young writer’s inspiration while I’m buying socks, and yet that’s exactly what happened this weekend.

Saturday afternoon started out innocently enough, with a trip to the outlet mall in New Jersey. I went out there with Liz and my mother-in-law, with the two of them splitting off together, and me left my own devices. I needed a pair of sneaker and some a pair of work shoes, so off to the shoe stores I went.

But what started off asIt isn’t very often that I wind up being inspired by a young writer’s inspiration while I’m buying socks, and yet that’s exactly what happened this weekend.

Saturday afternoon started out innocently enough, with a trip to the outlet mall in New Jersey. I went out there with Liz and my mother-in-law, with the two of them splitting off together, and me left my own devices. I needed a pair of sneaker and some a pair of work shoes, so off to the shoe stores I went.

But what started off as just any old trip to Ecco shoes turned out to be an afternoon of inspiration.

The store was pretty much empty when I walked in, so the two counter girls–about 17 years old or so–both helped me out, clearly bored out of their minds. And who could blame them. But they were both very nice, and when I told them I needed a pair of work shoes, one of them–Erin–asked me what I did for a living.

I told her that I’m a writer, that I was a journalist for a long time and I now work in public relations, and that I also write novels, and will be heading off to Comic-Con in July to pitch my book to Hollywood producers. This is what Erin said:

"This is the best day ever."

She really seemed to mean it. Have to admit, I didn’t see that coming. Turns out that young Erin is an aspiring writer, and she thought that my being a writer was, well … pretty darn cool.

And her being somewhat awestruck that I’m a [i]writer[/i] reminded me of how important it is to find inspiration wherever you can find it, and how full of wonder and possibility we can have when we’re young. And that we don’t have to be young to be inspired.

For as much as I may have inspired her to some degree, she actually inspired me.

I don’t know what will become of young Erin, if she’ll pursue her writing, and if she does, where it will take her. But I hope that she follows through to find out just how much her writing means to her, whether she ever finishes a project, gets published or becomes a financial success through her words. The best part of being a writer is the [i]writing[/i].

All the other stuff–getting published, garnering attention for it, making money–they all have their place, and [i]believe[/i] me I’m hoping to make a long, fruitful career of it (I’ll take that best seller money as soon as somebody wants to write me a check). But for those of us who have a calling to write, who simply[i] have[/i] to write, just because, then the writing itself is its own best reward.

So this blog is dedicated to Erin and all the aspiring writers like her, who reminded me just how important it is just to be passionate about anything, and let all that follows as a result be the gravy.

Behold, the Power of Writing – Tagteam Style

For about the last six months writer buddy Jim Chambers and I have been getting together about once a month to grab a burger and beer and talk about writing. He tells me what he’s up to, I tell him what I’m up to. We kick around ideas, we commiserate on the writing process, we kick each other in the ass when we need it ….

During one of our pow-wow’s a while back I asked Jim to read FINDERS KEEPERS and give me his feedback. Last week was go time.

As I’ve developed as a writer, dialFor about the last six months writer buddy Jim Chambers and I have been getting together about once a month to grab a burger and beer and talk about writing. He tells me what he’s up to, I tell him what I’m up to. We kick around ideas, we commiserate on the writing process, we kick each other in the ass when we need it ….

During one of our pow-wow’s a while back I asked Jim to read FINDERS KEEPERS and give me his feedback. Last week was go time.

As I’ve developed as a writer, dialogue has been my strong suit, while I’ve struggled at times with structure. Well … just so happens that Jim has laser vision when it comes to story structure and plotting, so bingo, bango, bongo …

Jim’s input was so useful–so on point–that with his help I’m getting FINDERS KEEPERS tighter and more rip-roaring than ever! Not a lot of work to be done–a nip here, a tuck there–but in all it’s going to take my book from being [i]thisclose[/i] to being [i]Kick Ass[/i].

I haven’t been this jazzed about FINDERS KEEPERS in ages. In fact, our pow-wow was so charged with creativity that Jim blogged about it himself. (I’ve included his post below).

And this brings me to another point, one that I’d sorta forgotten, and am glad to be reminded …

Asking for feedback about writing is actually a tricky proposition for both parties. As the writer, you have certain expectations about the type and depth of feedback you’re asking for, which potentially sets you up to be disappointed. Did you hear too much, not enough? Was the reviewer being too soft? Too mean? Too vague? Too snarky? Just not helpful at all? Did the reviewer just completely not get your story? Or did your work just blow chunks and the reviewer didn’t have the heart–or vocabulary–to explain how and why?

All of the above happens. A lot. It can actually be quite difficult to get the exact kind of feedback–and in the right way–that really helps.

Then there’s the reviewer’s point of view. As the reviewer, you typically don’t want to hurt the writer’s feelings (unless you’ve got it in for him or her), so it’s natural to veer to the soft side. But then, by not being as honest as you mean to be, you run the risk of disappointing the writer, who really is looking for help. Then again, as the reviewer, you also run the risk of being too harsh with your assessments, even if they’re on point, and then the writer might really hate your guts, even if you’re right. And then some people are actually so blood thirsty they look for ways to rip you and your work to shreds. (I try to avoid those people ….)

Good gravy. The combinations are endless.

So when Jim started to list his points about FINDERS KEEPERS, I could see that he genuinely wanted to help me, that he had something significant to say, but that he was hesitant, perhaps worried that I’d get upset if I heard something I didn’t like or agree with. He almost literally hid behind his beer after each point, as if I was going to break out a can of whoopass either verbally or otherwise. (I can assure you, none came).

Believe me when I say that I’ve had my work ripped to shreds, whether the comments were valid or not. First, Jim was quite generous with his praise, and when he had issues with the plot or structure, he offered them fairly. I agreed with his points almost entirely, and as the night went on, he became more confident with his explanations, realizing (I think) that I genuinely wanted to hear what he had to say, and that, not only was I not offended, I was genuinely grateful to hear it.

As I was reminded by this exchange, asking for feedback may seem simple on the surface, but underneath, it’s anything but. Writers are people too (believe it or not), sometimes with extremely fragile egos. I like to think that I can take it just so long as the feedback is offered in a manner that is respectful and intended to help me, whether I agree with the comments or not.

At one point Jim offered a comment about the end of my book, which he suggested I change. I disagreed. I didn’t get upset, I just explained why I did what I did, and after thinking about it again, Jim liked the way I handled the plot. But he did have another point about the end that he still thought was missing, and after thinking about, I wound up agreeing with [i]him[/i].

This is the writing exchange at it’s best. When two writers can kick around ideas, let them flow, argue, agree, disagree …and ultimately come away the better for it.

As Peter Griffin would say: It was friggin sweet.

——

Jim’s Blog:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Behold, the Power of Writing!

Last week was a rough week. Nothing spectacularly awful, but one of those weeks when not enough goes right, too much goes wrong, and way too much simply doesn’t go at all. Annoying. Frustrating. And, to some extent, demoralizing. A real beat down of a week.

But these things have a way of turning around in the most unexpected ways.

Awhile back my friend Russ asked me to read his novel Finders Keepers. He’s been working on it for a long time, gone through at least a few drafts I know of, and has had some very promising interest from some good-sized publishers. He’s also got a website dedicated to it. When he asked me to read it, he was closing in on finishing the first draft of his second novel and planning to polish FK afterwards. Lately Russ and I have gotten into the habit of hanging out to talk about writing about once a month, and he thought I might give him some feedback before he tackled what he plans to be his final draft.

As long as I’ve known Russ, this was actually the first of his writing I was going to read. I get nervous when people ask for my feedback. I like doing it, but too often over the years I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of telling people things they obviously didn’t want to hear. Not that I’m some wunderkind. It’s only ever my opinion as a reader and writer and I take pains to be tactful, but a lot of writers, it turns out, are rather…well, thin skinned.

Shocking. I know.

Thing is, Russ ain’t one of them. As I soon learned, Russ is a genuine journeyman who knows the devil isn’t in the details, it’s in editing and rewriting the details. So when we got together for a beer last week, Finders Keepers came up. After I finished telling him how wonderful, deep, and engaging his characters are, how crisp and lively his dialogue is, and how flat-out cool and original some of his ideas are, I got around to a few…structural items…that had bothered me as a reader. Then, somewhere along the line (Don’t ask me exactly when, because we were drinking; writers are always drinking, it seems. Shocking. I know.)… but at some point, I blurted out that I thought he might want to cut the first, oh, 150 pages or so of his novel and start it much later than he had.

Then I hid behind my pint of Guinness and held my breath. And waited.

That’s when Russ said, "You know, I was sort of thinking that, too." Or words to that affect. (Again, drinking.)

After I decided he wasn’t trying to lure me out from behind my Guiness for a quick ninja blow to my larynx (trade secret: all writers have ninja powers), I cautiously set my glass down. We then spent about an hour and a half hashing through what he’d written, what he’d intended, how it had read to me, how he’d edited it in the past, and what he might do with it for the final draft.

The whole evening left me really energized about writing. We writers work alone too much. Sometimes we really need that little push from someone who reminds us to listen to our instincts. And sometimes we need to be reminded that writing is about going out on a limb even if that only means being honest when someone asks for feedback.

So, two days later Russ sent me a rough draft of his new first chapter. And it rocks.

Then the same day my Domino Lady author copies showed up in the mail and Jason Whitley sent me the last piece of art for my upcoming story collection, Resurrection House. And it creeped the hell out of me. Jason is that good.

And that downtrodden, sickly feeling that’d been nagging me all week simply… went away. Behold, the power of writing!

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2009/04/29 05:38

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2009/04/29 05:41

Green Thumb? Well … Greenish.

Last year was the first time I ever tried to keep a garden of any sort. And when I say garden, let me be clear that I have a balcony, so it’s not so much a garden as however many plants I can keep alive.

All in all I think I did pretty well in 2008, managing to keep three flowered pots going for the entire season. Naturally, I wound up killing them all by the time fall came around, I’m focusing on the positives …

So today Liz and I are off to Home Depot to select this year’s crop of Last year was the first time I ever tried to keep a garden of any sort. And when I say garden, let me be clear that I have a balcony, so it’s not so much a garden as however many plants I can keep alive.

All in all I think I did pretty well in 2008, managing to keep three flowered pots going for the entire season. Naturally, I wound up killing them all by the time fall came around, I’m focusing on the positives …

So today Liz and I are off to Home Depot to select this year’s crop of potted plants and flowers, and see if I can do a slightly better job this year. And the way I’m defining "success" is if I a) keep all the plants we bring home alive all season and b) bring at least one living plant indoors before the cooler weather wipes them out.

Granted, these may not be the highest standards imaginable, but I’m pacing myself.

If all goes well we’ll come back with at least three plants today, but who knows? My green thumb hasn’t exactly been certified yet …

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2009/04/26 11:08

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2009/05/19 13:45

Simon’s a Ball Stomper!

We’ve only had Simon a few days, so of course we’re still learning as much about him as he is about us. So far I can say that he’s fun, he’s funny, he’s good tempered and seems to really like being with us.

And of yeah, he’s a ball stomper!

$#@!

Simon is on the smaller side–only about 25 pounds–so he’s just the right height that when he jumps up on his hind legs to play, it’s the exact position where his paws line up perfectly with my balls.

Seriously.

In just thWe’ve only had Simon a few days, so of course we’re still learning as much about him as he is about us. So far I can say that he’s fun, he’s funny, he’s good tempered and seems to really like being with us.

And of yeah, he’s a ball stomper!

$#@!

Simon is on the smaller side–only about 25 pounds–so he’s just the right height that when he jumps up on his hind legs to play, it’s the exact position where his paws line up perfectly with my balls.

Seriously.

In just three days he’s nailed my junk at least a half dozen times, either when he gets on his hind legs, or he just jumps on the couch to get some attention. And it’s not that he gets me a half inch to the side of either of my balls. He finds them dead on, like he’s got some infrared ball tracking system and locks in.

Just a little to the left … a little more … a little more …. whamo!

So now I’ve taken to sitting on the couch, and walking around the apartment, with my hand over my crotch so the darn dog doesn’t crush ole lefty.

Thing is … it gets worse.

Sunday afternoon I took Simon out for a walk. We exited the elevator on the first floor, and came upon our next door neighbor, coming in from outside, with one of his dogs, Virginia. Virginia’s a fairly big dog, and pretty aggressive at that. Still, we let the two dogs say hello–they’d met once before–and all in al they did quite well. Virginia sniffed Simon’s place, Simon sniffed hers, and all was well with the world.

Too well.

Apparently deciding that Simon is a good dude, Virginia let her guard down, and in what I’m assuming was a playful mood, jumped up at me for attention. And where did her big paws land? You guessed it. Right smack on my balls!!!! She doubled me right over.

I’m buying a cup!

Why the Universe Strikes at Your Weakest Point

Have you ever had someone in your life who really gave you a hard time, really made things difficult for you, but you just couldn’t get out their grip?

I know I have.

One comes to mind, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

In [i]Zen and the Art of Happiness[/i], author Chris Prentiss write that [i]the Universe always strikes at your weakest point because that’s what most needs strengthening[/i].

He goes on to say that, your challenges are, in effect, hand delivered by a loviHave you ever had someone in your life who really gave you a hard time, really made things difficult for you, but you just couldn’t get out their grip?

I know I have.

One comes to mind, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

In [i]Zen and the Art of Happiness[/i], author Chris Prentiss write that [i]the Universe always strikes at your weakest point because that’s what most needs strengthening[/i].

He goes on to say that, your challenges are, in effect, hand delivered by a loving Universe to make you stronger. In order to get the benefit from the obstacles, face and overcome them rather than turning away from them and giving up.

Ah. Easier said then done.

Almost 15 years ago, when I first started working in Manhattan, I shared a common space with about ten other people, most of them who worked only part time. As part of this office set up, my desk was face-to-face with another desk, occupied by a woman we’ll call Marla.

Marla was 60-ish, with white hair and a gravelly smoker’s voice. She was sort of the queen of the room, having been with the company for several years. She was also an ex-stage actress–and from what I hear a fairly decent one–who had grown old, bitter and nasty as the years went on.

On almost a daily basis she ranted about throwing people out of office building windows, running them over with her car, and the like. And this wasn’t in the [i]I can relate ha-ha-ha[/i] kind of way. This was in the [i]I HATE you and everything around you and hope you seriously die[/i] kind of way.

Well, one day I needed to sharpen my pencil. Thing is, there was only one pencil sharpener in our little space. But since it was an electronic pencil sharpener, it required an outlet. So look and look I did, searching for any open outlet to plug this thing in just so I could sharpen my pencil. Well, after exhausting my search, it turned out that the only open outlet in the entire office happened to be on the power strip under my desk. Thinking nothing of it at the time, I plugged it in, placed the sharpener on my desk, and, as I had hoped to do, sharpened my pencil.

That was clearly my mistake.

Marla went on to rant about how rude and unprofessional I was because how dare I assume to place the pencil sharpener on [i]my [/i]desk, when the pencil sharpener was for everybody.

No joke. True story.

Needless to say, Marla was not exactly a joy to be around. I’ll go one step further, and say that I had a really tough time dealing with her. It wasn’t easy.

A few months later she finally retired, a welcome relief to us all, including me.

But my troubles didn’t end there. At my next job I wound up having to work with yet another older, annoying, miserable woman who took to making my work life unbearable. For about four months everybody said how mean I was because I wasn’t nicer to this old kook (when, in fact, I just wanted to do my job without being harassed by a bitter lunatic). It was only after several months when I finally just ignored this old nutball–I literally acted as if she didn’t exist–when she moved on to other people, who then wound up complaining about how rude and crazy she was.

And then, in my job after that, I had to deal with yet another bitter, old woman who tried to make me miserable, and, for a while at least, she succeeded.

See a pattern here? It took me a while, but I sure did.

It wasn’t until I learned how to deal with these older angry women that they stopped bothering me. Once I figured it out, they went away. I’ve had no such troubles since. I doubt that’s a coincidence.

Like Prentiss says, [i]the Universe always strikes at your weakest point because that’s what most needs strengthening[/i].

I’m not sure why these women bothered me as much as they did, but because they did, the Universe kept putting them in front of me. Of course, at the time, I didn’t see this as an opportunity to grow, as I do now. Back then I was incredibly angry and annoyed. They upset me to a considerable degree. More to the point, I let them upset me, blaming them for being who they were instead of learning how to make the best of it.

Since then I’ve tried to accept that situations and people who trouble me are actually these great opportunities to grow. Now, let me emphasize that I try to accept this. I try. And sometimes it works well. Other times … not so much. It ain’t always easy in the moment. But the more that I allow myself to take these frustrations as the Universe’s way of trying to help me, the better my attitude gets and the quicker I’m able to resolve whatever’s bugging me.

It’s a work in progress for sure, with plenty of ups and downs, although I will say that, overall, handle these problems better than I did in the past. I just wonder what the Universe will throw in front of me next…

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