The Taste of the Universal Taco Bell

This time I have a handful of gray hairs that have moved in with the brown – the recession bad for follicles, too, who find themselves subletting out headspace even to the undesirable grays, just to maintain maximum occupancy.

Then, I turned the pages and took in the words not by choice but by the decree of a college professor. Fourth Genre is the title of the memoir and essay compilation from Spring of 1999.

What is the fourth genre, anyway? Essays and memoirs were still hit or miss for me. A genre I found myself warming up to when done right, but not one that I found myself comfortable writing. Which is funny, considering it became the genre to define a generation. After all, isn’t this what blogging is? The self-publishing and promoting of ones essays and memoirs? Blogging, tweeting, it all is a form of the fourth genre.

Who’d have known that, then?

This collection was assigned reading as one of my writing courses a couple of years later in the spring of ’01. I turn the pages now, a decade later, revisiting the underlines and notes of my two months shy of graduating self. I remember sitting in the campus cafeteria, in the back behind the fireplace. The remnants of empty taco bell wrappers next to my JanSport backpack as I underlined powerful sentences from the opening paragraph and scribbled “grabs interest” in the margin, as though raising my hand and telling the author I see what you’re doing, why, and that it works.

Though now with the same collection opened in front of me, I sit on my couch with a sleeping cat next to me and the tandem sounds of the clothes dryer running and the pops & hisses of an old country album on vinyl, type-scribbling notes onto a laptop where I tell my former self, instead, that I know what he was doing, why and that it works.

That younger guy was trying to develop his own craft, amongst the noise and styles of his influences, while at the same time, having to then prove to his professors that in the immediacy of this class he was doing the readings assigned, by pointing out the tricks of the trade that he noticed here and there. No matter how elementary it may sometimes have felt. It’s understandable. College professors can’t grade you five years later after they’ve finally learned whether you really did take something from the readings, fine-tuned said-skill, and actually used it. They need the “now” of knowing you at least did the reading, even if it sometimes is at the expense of you then being able to actually be productive with that new knowledge due to said-busy work.

I skip ahead in the compilation and take notice of another entry I highlighted.

“For instance, when we consider the hypothetical example of the ‘first apple’ — whether or not we can remember biting an apple for hte first time and whether it was soft, mushy, crisp, tangy, sharp – it seems that ‘first apple’ just may be a compilation of all the apples ever bitten. Instead of one particular apple in our memories, we have the generic experience of apple: the taste of the universal apple.”

By highlighting it, this entry must have meant something to my college self. I have to chuckle reading it now, as 30-something me who has just written about his experience a decade ago in the cafeteria with this same book. Was college Bruce leaving a note for future Bruce, somehow knowing that he would come back some day and should he do so and decide to write about it, that he remember this possibility?

Maybe this fireplace session didn’t happen after all, with this book? This could be a First Apple situation – or more appropriately, First Taco Bell, as it’s just a compilation of all of the reading and note sessions ever experienced over my cafeteria visits. Which is ok. Because this did happen. Maybe not over this book. It could’ve been another book. During a different semester. But it still opened the flood of memories, regardless.

And defeated the almighty blank page and blinking cursor.

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Confessions of Nerdery

I dig Algebra. It’s my favorite form of math. I aced Algebra I and II.

3x + 4 = 12 … Solve for x

I like problem solving stuff and answering questions where you can go back and verify, knowing immediately if your answer is right or wrong. When a test was over, you basically knew if you were acing it, or if you were failing it. You can plug what you think your answer is, and see if the number on the left side ends up equaling that on the right. Yes? Then you got it right. No surprises.

I guess for someone who always was more of the creative type, writing stories and scribbling drawings, it’s somewhat unconventional to also have a giddiness about algebra.

But even to this day, though I haven’t done Algebra in over a decade, I find myself wanting to go to a used book store and look for an old high school Algebra book to buy.

Just so I can go back and try some of the problems in it and see if it all comes back to me.

The Buck Starts Here

I’m nostalgic and more sentimental than a 30-something dude should be. And like your memory, the older you get, the worse it gets. Unfortunately, just like your memory, the older you get, the worse it … wait, I just said that, didn’t I? Man.

A random song instantly makes me think of that time I was riding with my parents in their Ford Escort as a six-year-old kid. And suddenly that mundane thought feels like I’m reliving the best day of my life … just because I’m six again.

Or I’ll come across a picture of my brother and I in elementary school and be suddenly reminded of a time when I was mean to him and it makes me now want to call and apologize all these years later. I was in fourth grade and he was in first. Being his older brother, I would always walk him to his class on the first floor of the school and then I would walk upstairs to my classroom. He was doing something that morning, as little brothers are known to do to their older brothers, to get under my skin, so when we got off the bus and into the school, I made him walk to class by himself. Without my assistance. As a consequence. I went up the stairs and to the fourth grade class room. Halfway up the stairs, it already bothered me that I was doing it. But I needed to teach him a lesson for being a poopyhead!

My brother and I are best friends to this day. So I always mean to ask him some time if he even remembers that. But I never remember to bring it up when we’re hanging out. Yet it still bugs me when something makes me think back to it, and it feels like I’m reliving that.

Or there’s the sentimental dollar bill.

Every birthday, within the card that my folks give me, my dad always includes a dollar bill. It’s just a running joke similar to grandparents who tend to do so, thinking they’re really doing you a favor with that whopping dollar bill. In 2009, I was out of work during one of the worst economic times we’ve known. I was living mostly off my savings, which got smaller with every rent and utility payment. My birthday came, and again, my pops included a buck in the card. Just as he always did.

I went back to my place after visiting with them, and took the dollar bill out of the card. I decided not to put it with the rest of the money in my wallet. I set it in my drawer, by my watch and other items I sifted through every morning. And I told myself I wouldn’t touch that dollar.

It was like the dollar bill you see framed in restaurants. That first dollar of the business venture.

But this one would be my last dollar, if it came down to it. I decided never to spend this dollar, that it would symbolize something bigger. Something of a carrot on a stick for me that even though I had been out of work for a few months and it seemed like no other job would come along and that I would run out of money, have to give up my apartment and move back home … at least I’d never be completely broke.

I’d always have one dollar to my name.

It helped me chuckle some mornings as I’d reach to put my watch on, and see this crumpled dollar bill looking back. And reminded me that it all could be much worse. That I still had a family who was behind me. Even if it was only for that dollar. As hokey as it may sound.

Well I did land back on my feet before any of those worst case scenarios played out. But I never had the heart to spend that dollar. To this day, I keep that dollar in the same drawer as before, and on certain days, its mere appearance makes me laugh. But also reminds me where I’ve come from. In every sense of the meaning.

The older generations claim that the current one doesn’t appreciate the value of a dollar, anymore. And that may be true. But this nostalgic, sentimental fool does, at least. However, the older you get, the worse … awww crap. I’m doing it again, aren’t I?

My Social Endeavor

I’m trying this crazy thing for 2011. It’s an online cleaning of the closet, if you will.

I follow so many people on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. Many of them, I follow on all platforms. The problem with this, is we begin to see the same things over and over. Twitter updates mimic Foursquare entries which appear as photos on Facebook which turn into blog posts, etc. I can say this because *I* am guilty of the same thing. And there’s nothing wrong with this, inherently!

But because there’s so much chatter, we sometimes miss out on important things from those who we only follow on one platform. Just because they aren’t the squeakiest wheel. And I don’t want to miss out on what they have to say, or what they’re feeling.

If I follow people on a particular platform, it’s because I truly care what they have to say. It isn’t just so I can pad my numbers.

And because I truly care what the people I follow say, think and feel, I’m going to unfollow a number of them.

Let me explain.

If I follow someone on all platforms, in 2011 I’m going to weed out a couple of the social platforms that I follow them on. This way, I can still follow what they’re up to in Facebook, for example, but maybe not on Twitter or Foursquare. Or maybe I’ll follow their tweets, but no longer need to see their Facebook stream.

I know this may hurt some people -but I hope that they realize that I haven’t severed ties with them across the board. I’m still following them on a platform, and in the long run, I may actually interact with them more by the unfollows, because I can actually get through my social media streams rather than merely scanning or worse, ignoring many updates.

I’m sure that some will be hurt by this, and some may unfollow/ban, etc. in retaliation. I hope this isn’t the case. Consider this my “Please don’t be offended” post if we “break up” on one of them because it doesn’t come from a place of judgment on your updates. As you’ll see, we’re probably still friends on another platform, so let’s take advantage of that and catch up properly.

I Have This Move

When I’m in a group and someone in the group asks if anyone’s seen movie “X”.

If I haven’t seen movie “X” I will immediately attempt to distract the conversation with some form of an observational question of one of the group’s members. It comes off as a side conversation, but the group tends to join in and it doesn’t look rude because it seems like I’m asking because I’m interested in something of someone’s.

But in actuality, I’m only doing so because 10 out of every 9 people (yes) thinks “No, I haven’t seen that movie!” actually means, “No, but tell me every funniest joke/scariest moment/biggest surprise/the entire ending of the movie!

And I fuuuuuucking despise spoilers of any sort when I intend to watch a movie, tv episode, or read a book.

So my conversational trickery is warranted.

Order Over Chaos

I’m a little neurotic. A bit of a neat-freak. And probably borderline OCD at times. I like the comfort of having routines. Routines feel safe. They give order. Which, ultimately, allows you to make it through portions of your day on cruise control. Y’know, basically the same governing principles of the zombie genus.

For this reason, I’ve been known to alphabetize my movie, music, and video game racks over the years. Order over chaos. Even as a kid, I preferred this sort of system. It allows me to scan the rack and immediately find whichever title I’m seeking out, rather than having to focus on each title to see if it’s the one I’m looking for. All that happens in that scenario, is you get distracted by another one along the way and veer off in another direction.

But they’d throw you a curveball, sometimes. Because you have to make a decision very early on – do you file them by the title/name that appears on the spine of the case or by what you know it as?

This. Is. Huge.

Take the Nightmare on Elm Street series, for example. I prided myself on owning the entire collection. The problem is, the sixth film in the series is actually titled Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. And the next one – which is already humorous, considering I was just talking about the “final” nightmare supposedly – was called Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Decision time. Do you break the rules and place them all together still, despite the spines breaking alphabetical order when scanning, because they’re part of the same series? Or do you place Freddy’s Dead with the other “F” titles, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare with the “W” titles, and thus splitting the series apart from one another? It was, well, enough to cause nightmares.

When I owned a Sega Genesis as a kid, the football series started as John Madden Football and eventually just dropped the “John” to become Madden plus its year. File them all under “M” for Madden, or split them up? I need to call a timeout and think about this.

Tupac under “T” or 2Pac under the numerical artists?

You get the point. Something that is meant to simplify and eliminate potential stress of not finding, becomes a dog chasing its own tail of insanity. Speaking of, don’t even get me started on Snoop Dogg versus Snoop Doggy Dogg and how I choose to organize that in my iTunes library.

Honestly, I Swear

a short story by bruce dierbeck

I’ll admit it, I’m a liar. And I don’t mean those little fibs either, like telling your parents the report card didn’t come yet, when really it’s been confiscated and buried in the garbage beneath piles of German Shepherd feces. I mean real lifes; the kind that are capable of hurting – scratch that – crippling people. oh yeah, my lies are dangerous.

But if I’m a liar as I say I am, then how do you know I’m telling the truth when I claim to be a liar? Maybe I was just lying about being a liar before, which means I’m not a liar at all. But now that I lied before by saying that I was a liar, that makes me just that after all — a liar. So no matter which way you look at it, you can’t believe a word I say. It’s the true mark of a liar.

My psychiatrist seems to think it has something to do with the death of my parents at such a young age. I would wish they were dead sometimes; it’s true. But I never really meant it. It was usually one of those deals where I thought they favored my little sister over me, and I’d tell them as much, followed by some variation of the phrase, “I hate you guys. I wish you were dead.”

Have you ever seen that movie, Home Alone? Where the little blond kid gets pissed at his mom and wishes his family would all just disappear, and his mom tells him to be careful, because he might just get what he wishes for. So naturally, when he wakes up the next morning and the entire family’s gone, he thinks his wish came true. I guess it’s sort of like that. My mother used to say the same thing to me.

One morning – actually, it was February 29th, a leap year believe it or not – after having one of the aforementioned exchanges, my parents sent me to my bedroom and took my sister out to get ice cream. Yeah, she died in the accident, too. She was seven. They told me they were taking her for ice cream because she was a good girl. When I would learn to be good, too, they’d take me for ice cream. Now who’s the liar? They told me they’d take me for ice cream, but they never did … some drunk fell asleep at the wheel and crossed six lanes of traffic on the interstate, hitting them head-on. All died instantly. They never came back home. Never took me for ice cream. I got my lying problem from them.

Having your parents die in a vehicular inferno on leap year especially sucks, since you only get to acknowledge the anniversary once every four years. I’m twenty-nine now; they died when I was nine, so that’s twenty years to the day since they died. But it’s only the fifth anniversary of the accident. Go figure.

My girlfriend dumped me, yesterday. It was probably just as well. Like me, she had a problem telling the truth sometimes. But I think she was worse. If you would accuse her of lying, she’d probably deny it. I tried that once. I called her on one of her lies. She was out all night about a month ago. She told me she was out with her sister, who was in town for the night. But I know she was seeing some other guy. How do I know, you ask? See, because I prefaced this with an admission of being a liar, your first inclination is to doubt me. I understand. But this isn’t a lie. I know she was with some other guy because I saw her with him that night. I was on a job. I can’t say anything more about what that job was, because my employers swore me to secrecy. I signed the papers and everything, agreeing not to divulge certain details about my profession or anything I do. But I will disclose this much about what I saw that night — she was out, and she was out with another man. And she was all over him on the dance floor.

Of course, when I called her out on it, all she did was deny it and call me a liar. She knows that isn’t true – I don’t lie. I’m just kidding about that last part. See? Even liars have a sense of humor. But she did accuse me of lying about her being with another man, and since I didn’t want to be in a relationship with a woman who couldn’t trust me, I ended it right there. I told her I’d had enough, and broke up with her right there and then.

I wear a name tag to work every day. Jack. That’s what the name tag says – Jack. or at least, that’s what I tell my parents when they ask. I wouldn’t want them to worry if they heard what I really did for a living.

I’m an assassin. It’s funny, you should have seen the look on my psychiatrist’s face when I first told her my profession. She was scared, and not someone sneaking up behind you and shouting “Boo!” kind of scared. I’m talking about the terror a deer feels standing in the middle of the road as a pair of high beams rush closer and closer, until just before that moment of actual impact. That final millisecond before, when it realizes what’s going to happen, but can’t believe it’s really the end. That scared.

Our relationship is sorta like that on The Sopranos. There you’ve got a mob guy who sees a shrink, and although he never reveals the truly grisly details about what he does, the shrink can read between the lines. Like I said before, my psychiatrist was scared at first, also. See? I remembered what I said before about my shrink being scared. And that’s why I’m telling the truth. People who tell lies always get caught up and forget what they’ve said. That’s how you can tell a liar. They’ll forget the details. They’ll say one thing, and then later on they’ll say something completely different that contradicts everything. But I don’t do that.

My neighbor’s a jerk. It’s why I hate living in an apartment. Whoever built this place didn’t care, or was too cheap, to do a proper job of insulating. That’s another problem with apartment hunting, by the way. They’ve got you by the balls right away because of what you can’t see. Sure, they give you the tour, but they always do it at the same time of the day. Have you ever noticed that? Two in the afternoon. It’s when everyone is at work. The place is at its quietest. So when you look around and see the spacious living room with a view, not to mention the bedroom with walk-in closet and last, but certainly not least, the bathroom with not just a shower, but a bathtub to boot — of course you think it’s a steal. But what you don’t see is what’s underneath the paint. Below the plaster. Beneath the drywall. The insulation. Or lack thereof, actually.

I didn’t know how thin the walls were when I started renting this place. There’s no way I could have, unless I brought my crowbar with and asked to chisel away to take a closer look. But then you can imagine how crazy I would look!

So because of the superintendent’s trickery, I have to listen to Bill’s – that’s my neighbor’s name – favorite television shows. Survivor, every Wednesday at eight. David Letterman, every night just after 11:30. And I have to listen to his radio every morning as he gets ready for work. That easy listening, middle of the road shit. Christopher Cross. Chicago. Anything that starts with a “C”. And then there’s him and his girlfriend.

His bedroom is directly next to mine on the other side of the wall. And our beds are in the exact same locations. His headboard would hit my headboard if we didn’t have walls separating us. And I hear everything. His marathon sessions with his “Flavor of the Month” girlfriends. He goes through them like I go through jobs. And believe me, that’s a lot. Around six months ago, I was laying in bed — notice I don’t say lying in bed, because that would remind you that I’m a liar and you might not believe what I’m about to tell you — but anyway, I was in bed trying to sleep, and I hear them on the other side of the wall. I hear their moans, their groans, their bed slamming against my wall. And slamming. And screaming. And slamming some more, until finally, the painting that hangs above my bed crashed onto my head.

The glass frame shattered upon contact with my head, not to mention the fact that the painting was ruined. It took three days before I finally got all the shards of glass out of my head. I even had one piece embedded in my eye. My doctor told me I’d never be able to enlist in the army now, since I’m twenty-five percent blind in my left eye. I never planned on joining the army anyway, but it would have been nice to keep my options open.

So the next day, I went down to the magazine stand on the corner of Ridgeway and Windsor. I went right over to the adult magazines. And I grabbed each and every one of the magazines and looked for those annoying little subscription cards that float around in any magazine. I took one from each of those, including the ones with names so dirty you’d think I made them up, so I won’t even bother with the nominal details. And I took them home and filled each and every one of those out, with my neighbor Bill’s name, address, and telephone number. And I checked the “Bill Me Later” box. Twenty-nine of those things. Only two needed a stamp, while the others had pre-paid postage.

A couple weeks ago, all of the subscriptions kicked in and started arriving on his door step at once. Monday, five arrived. Tuesday saw six more show up. Wednesday was slow, only two made it. Thursday picked up, though, and a whopping ten landed home. By Friday, the rest arrived. Bill was out of town on business for a few days, so the mail just collected outside his door. A few of the magazines were hidden behind black unmarked cellophane, but the vast majority shined in all their glossy what-you-see-what-you-get glory. When he and his girlfriend got back, she was the first one to find the stack and started sifting through it. Boy was she repulsed by his pornographic habit. He tried to explain himself, that he didn’t order those. But she knew he was full of it. He hasn’t had anyone over since. And I’ve been sleeping like a baby.

I know what you’re thinking — that they would never let any mail just keep stacking outside someone’s apartment door. Or that they don’t even deliver mail to the individual rooms, but to a box downstairs. Well you’ve never been to my apartment building, and that’s what I told my doctor, too, when he questioned me.

He’s been trying to push pills my way. When he isn’t pushing pills, he’s trying to get me to see a psychiatrist. I don’t need a shrink; they’re for crazy people. I’m not crazy, I tell him. I’m just an ordinary person who has extra-ordinary things happen to him. And sometimes I lie. So he tells me about this group called Liars Anonymous, and says I should check it out. So I do. And that’s why I’m here today, in front of all of you.

See, my name is Tony and I’m a liar.

All right, I’ll admit it – it’s Clint. Fine, it’s Paul…

The Grocery Story of My Life

I have pet peeves, like anyone else. Grocery stores tend to bring out the worst of mine. I think it’s mostly because it’s the mecca of food. So, obviously, you become hungry while walking the aisles and salivating over all that we could devour. And as we all know, nothing creates crankiness like hunger pains.

These days, many businesses have had to cut corners in order to survive. But I’ve seen grocery stores making these particular cutbacks further back than this recession. This was happening back in “the good ole days.” And normally, I cut businesses some slack – but when it effects customers service, that’s where I take issue.

Your customers should not have to bear the burden – or even notice – your moves. Unless they mean improved experiences.

It doesn’t matter which grocery store I go to anymore, they have twelve lanes, yet only three are actually available at any given time. It’s to the point where I wonder why grocery stores even build any more than three checkout lanes. Hey, I’d love to have a twelve-car garage, but if I’m only going to keep one vehicle, then it makes no sense.

Instead, lines behind the only three lanes snake around into other aisles of the store and anger grows amongst the patrons like something out of “Twelve Angry Men”.

But that isn’t the worst of it. You see, department stores often have this same problem. So I won’t be too hard on the grocery stores here. My biggest complaint comes from grocery stores who position themselves as one who bags your groceries for you, yet don’t schedule enough baggers for the lanes.

You only have three lanes open rather than twelve anyway, and you can’t even find three people to bag on those lanes?

Some grocery stores are bag-your-own stores and some provide that service themselves. I have no problem bagging my own groceries, if I am going to a place that does not purport to bag for me. It’s an understanding that the prices you pay are in part because of the services they don’t provide. Just like, I go to a grocery store that may be a little pricier than other places, because they do provide a bagging service, among other things. And I don’t mind paying a little more, because I know what I do get for that extra.

This is why it’s a pet peeve of mine when those places then don’t have enough baggers. So, what am I getting for my extra money at your location? It sure as hell isn’t customer service. If you don’t instantly jump to the bags, the cashier will usually bag them, still. But if I had a nickel for every time there’s been an awkward stand-off waiting to see if you’ll bag them or not … or worse yet, the angry masses behind you now having to wait, then I’d be writing these rants from a gold-plated desk on a diamond-studded MacBook.

The part that particularly creases me, is when you pick one of the lanes that does have a bagger … you begin unloading your cart behind a person who is currently checking out, only to have it be your turn up finally – and the bagger walks away to help on a different lane.

I swear my life is “The Truman Show” and someone just likes to to see my reaction, because this happens … All. The. Time. I feel equal parts frustration and heartbreak when this happens.

“Really? Really?” I want to exclaim in my best SNL Weekend Update voice.

But I don’t.

Simply, if you’re a grocery store who is supposed to bag groceries, then bag groceries. Or discount me. Otherwise, I have no problem giving Peapod my money and having them just deliver the groceries to my house.

Grocery stores have something of a slippery slope these days, not unlike Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster used to be the king. Nobody saw them going bankrupt and closing. But many Blockbusters would be out of the latest new releases. And people grew tired of waiting. Or got tired of late fees. And then Netflix came along, and people could just order movies from their computer and have them delivered to their home. Like that, people stopped putting up with the checked out movies and late fees and having to drive to see if they even had what they were looking for.

I’m not saying grocery stores are close to this happening. Not this decade. But the seed has been planted in a similar way. It took Blockbuster decades to become extinct. More and more, Peapod and other places will look better and better. Browsing online to see what items they have to offer, and then not having to put up with the lines and unstocked food … but to have a place that tells you what they do have available and even deliver it to your home.

Listen, I’m well aware that there are greater problems in the world. I’m not saying this is something that keeps me up tonight or is going to ruin my life. It’s merely one thing out of many things out there, that corporations are getting wrong.

Customer service can make or break companies. Consumers are willing to put up with a certain amount of dissatisfaction. Until something better comes along and they don’t have to put up with it. And the older we get, the more curmudgeony we become!

Crossing The Streams To Fight Hunger

UPDATE:

Thanksgiving has come and gone. And so I thought it would be nice to let everyone know how we did with this drive! I am proud to report that the Hunger Task Force ended up receiving more than 1,300 bags of mini marshmallows for their turkey dinner bins!

As you recall, our goal was 800 bags for the 800 dinner bins. You helped blow right past that with your contributions! The beauty of it is that those extra bags can be put towards the Christmas bins they’re looking to, next.

It started out as a fun little challenge to see how we could have fun trying to get people to donate marshmallows, while using social media. And so I posted to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr as well as this post, and with only a moderate number of reminders over a nearly four-week span, watched as the word spread. People began retweeting, reblogging, and sharing the story on their Facebook pages. And the results hit me in a way I didn’t expect. I started receiving deliveries at my work from local friends and followers, but then I also began receiving packages via UPS, FedEx and the USPS from people I had never met out of state! And monetary donations from people to go towards our efforts!

Minnesota. Ohio. Illinois. Indiana. Kansas. Anonymous. They started coming in, and the bins started filling up.

People from one of my former jobs took it upon themselves to form their own collection drive, and then donated all of their bags to the drive. We had 3 dozen bags dropped off by a person who lost her job months ago, yet felt compelled the donate. This was one of the gestures that hit me the hardest. Partially, because I too was out of work for months last year – so I can sympathize, and know how rationing all expenditures becomes so important. But she still contributed, because she knew that despite her situation, there were others who were in a tougher spot and could be helped by her. Sidenote: I learned within the last couple of weeks that she landed back on her feet with a new job … karma’s a boomerang, no?

Wanted to share the results with all of you. Thank you for those who contributed through any/all of the ways above. It’s easy to justify not helping. It takes effort not to.

On behalf of everyone who had one of their most memorable meals this week, thank you.

ORIGINAL POST:

Each year, the Hunger Task Force puts together 800 Thanksgiving dinner bins that they deliver to families in need over the holidays. The bin includes a turkey, veggies, fruits, pies, and all the fixings for a proper Thanksgiving meal.

The last couple of years have been difficult for most of us. I found myself out of work for the vast majority of 2009. Yet, that was nothing compared to what so many families have gone through and are currently struggling with. I’m in a position to give back and to help families who need assistance. And I’m hoping that if you’re reading this, you are in a similar position to do the same.

And thankfully, because I’ve seen Ghostbusters, I know just how to do it!

The Hunger Task Force needs 800 bags of mini marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole portion of the Thanksgiving dinner. This seems like a lot. Because, well, it is. But the Ghostbusters had a similarly difficult challenge when they had to stand up against the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. “Don’t cross the streams.” Egon always warned them this. He said doing so would be bad. Really bad. Yet at the end of the movie, they had to take their chances with crossing the streams, as it was the only way to defeat the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Now, we must “cross the streams” to help fight hunger this holiday season. Only this time, we will use the marshmallows to do so!

Between now and November 18th, 2010 I will be collecting bags of mini marshmallows with the goal of collecting 800 bags to contribute to the 800 Thanksgiving dinner bins! There are numerous ways you can help cross the streams. You can reblog this message. You can retweet this message. You can post this message on Facebook. And most importantly, you can cross the streams by donating a bag(s) of mini marshmallows!

So how do you donate?

If you live in or around the Milwaukee area, you can

  • of course, drop them off at the Hunger Task Force Monday – Friday between 8:30am and 5pm. They are located at 201 S Hawley Ct in Milwaukee (think Miller Park area). Please be sure to tell the individual at the dock that these are for the Thanksgiving Bins program so that they don’t get lost into the general donation bins and will be included in the count.
  • drop them off at my place of employment, Roll Mobile (thank you, Roll Mobile and Ascedia!). Roll Mobile and Ascedia are hosting a donation box, so Monday – Friday between the hours of 8am and 5pm you can visit 161 S 1st St in Milwaukee (across the street from Alterra Foundry), and once in the elevator, dial the Roll Mobile main line to be buzzed up to the 2nd floor where you can leave your mini marshmallows with me or another Roll Mobile or Ascedia worker!
  • email me about scheduling a drop off time at a time/location in MKE that is more conducive to you if you can’t make it to the HTF or to Roll Mobile!

If you don’t live in the Milwaukee area but would like to help, then you can send them to my attention at Roll Mobile!

The Hunger Task Force will be stopping by Roll Mobile on November 18th to collect the marshmallows, so please have all donations sent by then. I’m excited to help them out this year, and hope you’ll do the same – after all, how often do you get to donate marshmallows, of all things?! Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!