Derek Bly

If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.

Welcome aboard!

Derek Bly is my name and I’m a boomer.

That’s me in the banner image up at the top. As you can tell from the photo, I’m a middle-aged guy . . . OK I’m pushing 60 if you must know.  I guess if I want to claim that as middle-aged, I’m looking to live to be 120!

With this site I’m exploring life from my perspective – the perspective of a baby-boomer. You may agree with some of my thoughts. Others may annoy you. Either way, I hope you become a regular.

If you’re a boomer, too, perhaps you’ll be able to relate to some of my ramblings. If you’re one of those Gen Xers, Gen Yers or even younger, maybe you’ll think I’m just a crazy old man. You are all still welcome.

Evil in the Air

Nightfall draped the small farm house in a shroud so dark and heavy it crushed the twilight’s last gleaming from the sky in one violent, oppressive thrust. The stars. The moon. All that would glow in the night sky was obscured. Curled up on a couch within the home, Hayley shivered as the final spark of light from the sun was snuffed out.

This was a night rife with evil. She could feel it. In fact, she’d sensed it building months ago. A darkness was forming; a portent of great horrors to come and it had regularly enveloped her in a tightening grip of fear, repulsion and dismay.

She’d tried to confide this growing unease to friends and colleagues months ago. Some had tried to ease her discomfort with little jokes, implying there was really nothing to fear. Some told her outright that she was being silly, there was nothing looming on the horizon that warranted her worries and concerns. Still, the sense of dread expanded, engulfing her mind with a bleak despair.

Why could others not sense what she felt so deeply? A beast was about to be loosened; it’s raving fury and unimaginable predilection for terror and destruction would rip and rend, laying waste as it spread its horrors in an unstoppable wave.

And she could actually see the beast, picture it standing before her. Unearthly colours, putrid, rotting in diseased hues wrapping a porcine, ungodly shape that oozed across the land. Stretching grasping paws, she knew it was reaching for her, yearning to draw her into its unholy embrace. She shivered again, not so much from the cold as from the fear that was once again growing within her.

Tonight, she sensed, months of growing unease and dismay could be revealed as justified. The malevolent presence she’d felt building could finally break loose and spill out tainting whatever was once pure with its vile essence. And no one would believe her. She could do nothing to stop it.

Transfixed, she stared into the blue glow of the television screen. Images flickered. Words were spoken. Nothing eased the dismay threatening to shatter her growingly fragile link to a hope that all was not lost. Surely, humanity would awaken to the reality of the threat it faced. Evil didn’t need to triumph, did it?

A sudden change in tone, an increased fervour in pitch from the voices speaking to her from the television jarred her to full attention. She realized she’d been drifting. Lost in a fog of worry. Inattentive to what was developing on the screen in front of her. Now she was back to the present. Now she was focused. And now she realized the horror was about to become real.

She felt a scream building within her. No. It couldn’t be happening. Despite the months of trepidation, she’d held onto a fragment of hope, a sliver of belief that, in the end, it wouldn’t, it couldn’t come down to this moment.

Her throat tightened. Her stomach roiled. Beads of sweat broke out on her forehead. Unconsciously, she raised a fist to her mouth, biting down on her index finger as her head twisted side-to-side – a silent, futile gesture to deny reality.

A voice spoke from the television. Ominous. It’s words sending uncontrollable shivers rippling along her spine.

“Ladies and gentlemen. The numbers are in. And in a complete shock to pundits everywhere …”

“No!” Hayley jumped from the couch, screaming at the faces on the screen. “No! Don’t say it. Just shut up. Don’t let it happen!”

“… Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States of America.”

Wailing in sorrow and fright, Hayley collapsed to the floor in a sobbing heap. Her fears and terrors had come true on a bleak November night. Hope had been crushed. Hatred had won. And the Beast had been set loose.

Waiting for the End of the World

“So, do you have any regrets?”

“Whadda ya mean?”

“You know. Anything you didn’t get to do that you really wish you had. I mean, now that the end of the world is coming and all.”

“I dunno. Haven’t really thought about it, I guess.”

“Haven’t thought about it? Well, don’t you think you should? After all, time is just about up.”

“Yeah. I guess maybe you’re right. Uhhh. Well, I guess there is something I regret.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“And what is it, you moron! What do you regret?”

“Geez, ya don’t have to get all pissy on me!”

Silence.

“Fine. I’m sorry.”

“You are? About what?”

“Jesus! What do you think? I’m sorry I got all ‘pissy’ on you, OK?”

“Yeah. Sure. No probs.”

“So … are you going to tell me what you regret?”

“Well …”

Pause. Sip of beer.

“You remember Becky back in Grade 8?”

“What? The little blonde with the big boobs?”

“Yeah, her. Well, I almost kissed her once, but she backed away. I wish I’d stepped closer and just got her to kiss me.”

Stare. Pause.

“That’s it? That’s your big regret? The whole fucking world is coming to an end and your big regret is that you didn’t lock lips with some girl in the eighth grade?”

“Yeah, well. Don’t you remember what she looked like? Aside from the boobs, which were spectacular for Grade 8. Don’t you remember how her blonde hair just … just … kinda flowed over her shoulders? And her lips were all pouty looking. Just begging to be kissed. And she always wore that strawberry lip gloss that made them shine.”

“What are you? Some kind of wuss? This giant thing from space is coming. It’s going to hammer the hell out of us. We’re talking global annihilation. And you’re longing for some little girl who’s now probably a fat slob of a housewife with four brats running around?”

Pause.

“Okay, Mr. Hotshot. What about you? Everything’s about to go to shit. Do you have any regrets?”

“Of course! Of course, I do. Nothing stupid like you, though. Real regrets. Big things that could have happened if only …”

Pause.

“If only what?”

“Well, if only they’d happened, I guess.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Okay. Okay, like maybe I regret getting divorced from Jean. Maybe that coulda worked out. We coulda stayed married, had kids … a real family.”

“Yeah. I guess. But wouldn’t you have had to stop screwing the office assistant every Thursday afternoon?”

Stare.

“I can’t believe you’d bring that up.”

“Huh?”

“I just shared a deep, heartfelt regret and you bring up such a personal matter that basically destroyed my dream for the kind of family I never had when I was growing up.”

“Yeah, but you were screwing her after telling Jean we had meetings scheduled late every Thursday afternoon.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“You couldn’t expect Jean to stick around after finding out, could you? Jeez, you’d only been married for six months.”

“But what about you and Amy? She ditched you. That didn’t work out so well either, did it?”

“Nope. I wasn’t enough of a go-getter for Amy. She always wanted the best things in life and I just couldn’t afford them.”

“So here we sit. Two divorced guys. No women in our lives. Getting drunk and waiting for the curtain to fall.”

“Yup. That’s about it.”

Pause.

“I still think it could have worked out. Jean and I could have had kids. I could have kept doing Shelly on Thursdays. It didn’t have to all fall apart. Besides, that’s just one regret.”

“Oh? What other regrets do you have?”

“The usual, stuff, man. You know.”

“Like what?”

“Like … maybe … maybe getting into real estate instead of selling fucking office supplies. I could have been big in real estate. Sell a house here, a house there. Get into commercial real estate. Really pull down some big money. I could have had a really cool Mercedes SLS or maybe a Porsche Boxster. A house on the beach, maybe. Or in the mountains. Something big. An acreage!”

“Yeah, I could see that.  Hey, I could have come over to your place on weekends. We could’ve watched the game in your home theatre!”

“Ha! You? No way. You’d have still been trying to hustle photocopiers to low-rate businesses in the industrial park. I’d have had a whole new set of friends. Guys I’d met at the country club. We’d have golfed, played tennis, gone fishing … that sort of thing. Way beyond your league.”

Long silence. Long draw on a beer.

“Why are you such a jerk?”

“What? I’m not a jerk.”

“Jesus, you just told me one of your regrets is that we’re friends!”

“That’s not what I meant. Hey, we’ve been buds since Grade 7, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So I’m just shootin’ the shit. We’re sitting here on my balcony waiting for some damn hunk of space rock to smash us into oblivion and making up regrets to kill the time. I would have had you over all the time, man. B-ball. Football. Hockey. All that and more on the huge screen. It would have been awesome. Here, have another beer.”

“I like fishing, too.”

“What?”

“You said you’d have gone fishing with your new friends. What about me? I like fishing, too, you know.”

“Shit. Okay, okay. I’d have taken you fishing, too, alright?”

Smile.

“Okay. … We could have gone deep-sea fishing on your boat!”

“Boat? Hell! I’d have had a yacht.”

Contented sips of respective bottles.

“But isn’t this all kind of materialistic?”

“What?”

“All these regrets you’re talking about. It’s all just things. Fancy cars. Big houses. Yachts. They’re just things. Toys.”

“Oh, grow up already! It’s the end of life as we know it and you still haven’t figured out the basics. ‘Things’ are how you tell the winners from the losers. I’m talking about acquiring shit that takes real success to get. You’re mooning over some girl you haven’t seen in 20 years.”

“Yeah, but –“

“Yeah, but nothing! The boys with the most toys are winners. The rest are just the whiners.”

Pause. Sips.

“There are other things, too. I mean besides the big house and fancy cars. I do have some other regrets.”

“Yeah? Like what?”

“I could have been someone. Someone big. Someone important.”

“What? Like the boss?”

“Maybe like the boss. But even bigger. Maybe I could have started a company. Grown it huge. Become an international tycoon. Like that Branson guy. You know. He started Virgin.”

Sip and a smile.

“Dude, we all start out as virgin.”

Smile returned.

“C’mon. You know what I mean. I don’t think the guy even went to college. He just got going selling records or something. Started to make something of it, reinvested his money, took some chances and just took off. Shit, the guy owns an airline and tropical islands. Makes Trump look like some homeless guy.”

“Well, Trump did have the White House for a little while.”

“Yeah, but look where that got him.”

“True, true.”

Pause.

“What I’m saying is I could have been like Branson. What’s he got that I don’t have?”

“That willingness to take chances, maybe?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well, here we are sitting on your balcony drinking beers and waiting for the end of the world. The buzzer’s about to sound on the fourth quarter. Game over. And it’s like we’re sitting on the bench instead of getting out there and trying to make something happen.”

Long, slow sips at the bottles.

“Shit.”

“Yeah. Shit.”

“Still, I did try. You know I tried.”

“Yup. You did, kind of.”

“What do you mean, ‘kind of’?”

“Well, you always had great ideas, but you kind of sucked at following up on them.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“C’mon. You know what I mean. We’d sit around BS’ing and you’d pop out these ideas, like starting a limo service or something. It’d sound great, but that’s about it. You wouldn’t actually do anything about it. Then, it would be starting an online service to hook up dining companions by Skype for lonely people. Again, just the idea that never grew into anything more.”

Sigh. A sip.

“Yeah. I guess you’re right. But that’s part of what I’m saying I regret. I never experienced having what it takes to go after the idea, like Branson did. But what about you? You never took a risk in your life. After school, you followed me to college and then to the same crappy Office Gear store. And you’ve been there ever since.”

“Maybe that’s all I was ever meant to be. Maybe assistant director of off-site sales was my peak performance. You were always the one with the dream for something huge. I was kind of like your sidekick.”

“Yeah? Well, I couldn’t have asked for a better sidekick because there isn’t one out there anywhere.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Bottles tap together in an unspoken toast.

“Still, I think we could have done amazing things. Kind of like that song by Corb Lund.”

“Who?”

“Man, you know! He’s that country singer from Alberta.”

Laughter.

“Hey, maybe you could have been the next Branson. You know about all of these obscure singers and shit.”

Big grin.

“Yeah. I do. But that Lund song could have been us. Well, kind of. Just change the order of things and it could have been, ‘If you’d a sped up and I’d a slowed down, you and me together could have run this town.’ ”

“Fuckin’ A, man.”

Another clinging of bottles.

“Whadda ya think that would have been like?”

“Hmm?”

“Well, you said we could have run this town. What would that have been like? And you need another beer.”

A bottle is passed and opened.

“Better than the shit show it is now. I mean, even before we found out the hammer was coming.”

“Yeah. We’d have rocked this town.”

“You got it. First, we’d have got that third bridge built. No more traffic jams slowing everyone down.”

“Excellent! Then it wouldn’t matter what side of the Oldman we lived on.”

“Absolutely. But that’s just the start. We’d have got more businesses to move here. Get the local economy rolling again. And we’d make the new businesses pay for the bridge.”

“Geez, we’d be heroes in this town.”

“Yeah! Hometown heroes. Have those pricks who keep us down now eating out of our hands.”

“That would be sweet.”

“Damn straight.”

Silence. Sipping. Picking at bottle labels. Staring toward the horizon.

“It’s all coming to an end, isn’t it?”

“That’s what they say. No time to change our lives. No time to become the bigshot. No time for the fancy cars. No time to rock this town. No time to fix the regrets.”

A flash far off in the distance. A deafening sonic explosion ripples through the air.

“I still regret not having kissed Becky.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

In Flight

It’s been a good flight so far.

Smooth take off. Beautiful blue skies. If I was a writer I might describe it as ‘cerulean’ if I actually knew the shade.

But I’m not and I don’t. Today I guess I’m more of a pilot taking flight on my first solo journey into the heavens.

Whatever happened to those bumper stickers that read ‘God is my co-pilot?’ I used to see them everywhere. Well, if God was ever my co-pilot he bailed out long ago. Nice example for Him to set. She took His cue and bailed, too, though more recently than did the Spirit in the Sky. And the repercussions were harder to take.

She took the kids. Took the house. Even took the damn dog!

Mostly, though, she took my heart and my future. Ha! How’s that for a cliché? Sounds like a country-western song. At least I’m not swimming in a mug of draft at some sleazy saloon. Nope. No drunken wallowing around in misery for me.

For me, the sky’s the limit.

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,” is how that poet put it. What was his name? Magee? Magoo? Magilla?

Someone else once said “what goes up must come down.” Ain’t that the truth. I’ve been up. Now I’m crashing down. It’s going to be a rough landing. Granted, any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

But little good awaits the end of this flight from the bridge over troubled waters! There will be no walking away at the end of it.

What have I done?

Story Time Introduction

Greetings gentle reader. Welcome to my Story Time. Sometimes I enjoy writing short works of fiction. It helps get scenarios and thoughts out of my head. While my writing isn’t of professional enough quality to have published, I thought I might as well share it online. And I’ve got a blog, so what the heck.

I hope you enjoy these stories that can reflect my strange thoughts and outlook on life. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, reproduction in whole or in part without my consent is a huge no-no! Not sure why you’d want to share, but it’s still a no-no!

 

Crossing a Bridge to Understanding

Sorrow and happiness. Rejection and acceptance. Despair and joy.

Emotions and states of mind in conflict and sharp contrast were shared during the first evening of Unabridged: Crossing Together, A Celebration of Stories. At an event exploring religion, faith and spirituality as experienced by the LGBTQ+ community, a group of individuals opened their hearts and shared their lives with friends and strangers alike.

I was at the opening event for a number of reasons. For one, I’d signed up a month and a half ago for the Friday celebration and the Saturday workshops, so naturally I would be there. But why did I sign up in the first place? That gets into the other reasons.

Mostly those reasons tie into the fact that I’ve long been a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Long enough that when I first offered support it was basically referred to as ‘gay rights’. It was 1979. I was planning to go to Vancouver with a friend for New Year’s and visit a few discos – remember, it was still the ‘70s! While in the planning stage, Ian asked if we could meet because he had something to tell me that might impact plans to go to Vancouver.

We met for drinks and he told me he was gay. Later, he told me that he thought that would be it for our friendship as he’d lost other friends when he shared his orientation. My actual response was more along the lines of, “Yeah. OK. So why wouldn’t we still be going to Vancouver?” We went and we had a blast.

Since that time, I’ve felt linked to a community of people that has been persecuted, condemned and faced struggle for a heck of a long, long time. I loathe prejudice against any group of people because they are seen as being outside the norm. I’ve attended Pride events and, without taking any sort of deliberate action, I’ve continued to make friends with people who travel along the rainbow. In different ways, to me, each has been the treasure that exists in myth at the end of the rainbow.

I plan to take a more active role in supporting my friends in the LGBTQ+ community. I have to. After years of feeling I’ve been supportive, I heard stories on Friday night that were heart breaking and revealed to me that, although an ally, I still did not fully appreciate the challenges individuals face.

Imagine being rejected by your own parents. Or the very church in which you grew up. Or losing friends. Simply because you didn’t fit within the confines of what is considered the norm by many. The people who shared at the Galt Museum on Friday night have experienced all of this and more. They were brave enough to tell their stories.

How can I possibly now just stand by and not put my support into action rather than just words?

It’s time for The 180

It’s time for a change.

Next June I turn 60. Suddenly, the reality of the big 6-0 is breathing down my neck. OK, more like huffing and puffing because it’s a little bit out of shape at this point, but you get the idea. It’s right around the corner waiting for me. Kind of like the Jehovah’s Witness who has a copy of Awake! to hand to you when you accidentally run into him and can’t avoid it.

Awake! Yup. That’s what I need to be. Time to wake up and smell the future. And I don’t want that odor to be rancid.

While I’ve been working at Lethbridge College for 15 years, I am now looking forward to retirement . . . early retirement if that is possible. That’s going to require some planning. You see, I haven’t really set myself up for retirement. I have a pension from the college the amount of which will be determined by my retirement date. Plus, I can take the Canadian Pension Plan starting at 60. Taking both at that point reduces the amount I’d receive per month, so the need is to find an additional income source.

“Wait a second,” I can hear you saying. “If you’re wanting to retire, what’s with the seeking an additional income? Isn’t that like just getting another job?”

Yes, in a way. Taking an early retirement means there will be a small income for me. But what that really does is provide a bit of a safety net that frees me up to explore some options. What kinds of options? Well, that’s what I will be researching.

I do not want just another job. The goal behind an early retirement is to have more time to do what I want to do. Securing another full-time job is NOT what I have in mind. Flexibility is the key.

Maybe something part time. Maybe a contract position at the college that leaves my summers free. Maybe something in sales – not retail sales, professional sales. Maybe writing. Maybe something requiring sharing and presenting information.

So many things to explore! And I’m going to share that exploration. Join me in my search for options on the road to early retirement. You never know where it could lead. And why would you? I’m not even sure where it’s going. But it’s going to be interesting finding out.

Launching The 180

With that in mind, today, November 1, 2016, I’m launching a personal project I’m calling The 180 … as in 180 degrees. A complete spin around in many aspects of my life. It’s a title that came to me for a number of reasons.

  1. The idea of a 180-degree about face on many things. For example:
    • Getting serious about developing additional income streams to set up for retirement.
    • Addressing some health issues/habits.
    • Focus on doing some writing.
    • Developing stronger self-discipline.
    • Exploring my spiritual walk.
  2. Dedicating 180 days to it and then checking the results.
  3. Getting my weight down to 180 lbs, then reassessing and seeing where to go from there.

Today is November 1 – All Saints Day. It’s a perfect starting point for tackling some goals with a measurable time frame. Essentially, 180 days will take me approximately to May 1 – May Day. OK, OK. It’s exactly 181 days according to Planetcalc. One extra day to complete the goals!

The point is … well, actually, it’s two points … on a calendar … with a special significance. The idea for me is creating accountability by having some specific dates in mind to keep me aware of how things are progressing. And ’180′ ties in nicely to what I’m looking at doing.

If you’re interested, I hope you’ll follow along. It’s going to be a great ride.