Saturday, December 31, 2005
Jr (who was holding Reagan): I wonder what babies dream of.
Tim: They probably dream of Heavan.
Jenny: Yeah, that an doing flips.
Congratulations you guys.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Apparently somebody else out there gets it, too.
Side note: In the above linked article Mr. Wheaton states his opinions on conservative talk radio and the death penalty. I agree with one and disagree with the other. I will leave it to you to figure out which is which.
It is 2:30 in the morning and I can't sleep. I had originally planned on going to bed around ten, waking up at five, and spending a good thirty minutes running on a treadmill at the local gymnasium before starting my day at seven. Instead, I have wasted countless hours surfing the internet and attempting to read “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” Neither has proven worthy of the time and effort expended.
I have to work tomorrow. I have to work the following day. Then I get five more days off. Some people are envious of the expanse of time that exists between my working days, but I consider it no great thing. When you hate your job as much as I do, you spend an inordinate amount of your free time under a cloud of gloom brought on by the knowledge that you must return. And no amount of holiday merriment or copious consumption of expensive liquor can assuage this sad fact. I might currently have a reprieve, but time is cyclical and it will again roll back to previous bad ugliness no matter how much I pretend this is not so.
I applied for another new job today. I apply for a lot of new jobs on a daily basis, 8,456 jobs in all 50 states and at least 6 different countries over the past year and a half to be exact (my family tells me I should have been an accountant, where I could have put my incessant counting to good use. I majored in accounting for three weeks, two days, and somewhere between four and five hours. The minutiae of time quadrants escape me at the moment, thus proving that I do not have the temperament for accountancy, no matter what my sister says), but this one was different. I am actually interested in this job.
The position is for a local university and is entitled “Campus Coordinator.” The job description leads me to believe that the work involves ensuring that classrooms and the faculty who use them are well stocked with the requisite services and equipment they require to undertake the arduous task of pretending to educate college students who, in turn, pretend to learn things about which they have little interest outside of a perceived monetary value they hopelessly affix to the poorly crafted knowledge they receive. The good thing is that it’s a second shift position, so I wouldn’t have to go in until nearly two. I would work nine hours Monday through Thursday, and then nine in the morning until two in the afternoon on Fridays.
Second Shift. I think I am well suited to the solitary lifestyle and lack of social interaction required to operate under such a lenient schedule. This is why I majored in computer programming. It is also why I have been uable to obtain a position in this field, despite my vociferous effors.
Chances are that what little supervision the university plans to lord over whomever they decide is worthy to fill said position will likely disappear by five at the latest. Given the tendency of managers in university settings to shirk responsibility, that estimation might even be a bit generous. They may leave earlier. This means that if I get the job, I would spend countless unsupervised hours completing tasks, uninterrupted by pointless meetings and useless discussions on topics about which I care very little. I would also avoid traffic on the way to and from work.
This is good.
All my hope is likely for naught, however, since these people, like everybody else with whom I have interviewed, are probably not interested in a candidate who is not specifically tailored to the underwhelming job descriptions they made up on a whim while drinking bourbon out of their ofices on a Friday afternoon when they were supposed to be doing something constructive.
This, of course, means I will probably remain in the cublce farm hellhole of a regular nine to five (or, in my case seven to five) job. It also means I had better get used to going to bed earlier if I plan on keeping this job. I think I’ll make another valiant attempt at this right now.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
This used to happen rather frequently. In fact, I remember one time where the diziness got so bad that I passed out and throw up on the floor. The life of The Sasquatch is not a pretty thing.
Shortly thereafter, I wrote a series of short stories which I called "Reports from the Afterlife." In these fantasies, my diziness had taken me to the brink of death. I made it down the long tunnel and into the garden that leads to the entrance of Heaven, where St. Peter stands guard over the Pearly Gates like a bouncer, scolwing at everbody and constantly checking the ulitmate list of good versus bad. Rather than get in line, I chose instead to interview those who had gone the distance and died. Afterwards, I would return to my body and share their stories with the world.
This is one of those stories. Read More
*** *** *** *** *** ***
Today I met a man named Herbert Stevens in the garden just past the long tunnel of light before the entrance to Heaven. Herbert was the owner of a small, family deli in New York City until just recently when he died of a heart attack while making his signature Reuben sandwich for a young couple out on a date. The couple stood in shock next to the counter for several minutes before calling the police and this is why Mr. Stevens is no longer among the living.
Herbert was an avid baseball fan for most of his life, and he was particularly upset to pass away in the middle of what seemed like yet another Yankees championship season.
“I grew up watching the Yanks in the 50’s and 60’s when they had Yogi Berra, Roger Maris and the mighty Mick,” he said. “I was with them through the 80’s when Steinbrenner took over and ruined ‘em, and just when they’re getting good again, building up another dynasty and whatnot, I go and kick the bucket.” He spat on the ground, drawing a long and rather unsettling look from St. Peter and the crowd next to the gate at the entrance to Heaven.
“It just isn’t fair!” he said. “I had tickets to the 4th of July game against Boston!”
“You didn’t miss much,” I told him. “Wells gave up six homers and the BoSox won by almost ten.”
“Hey, you think I could maybe, you know, follow you back down that tunnel when you leave?” he asked. “I gots me some season tickets. I’d give you one every now and then. You know, like it was both of ours or somethin’.”
“I don’t know. I’m not much of a Yankees fan.”
“Not a Yankees, fan! What the hell’s the matter with you?” He was starting to yell, drawing attention from several new souls waiting in line to enter Heaven and a few angels in the front who stood processing the new entrants.
I slid to the end of the bench, and tried to look at something else. “Quiet down, man. You don’t wanna get St. Peter mad at you.”
“I’ll be as loud as I want, you good for nothing piece of elephant shit. If you ain’t a Yankees fan, you ain’t nothin’.” He spoke even louder, like a Southern Baptist minister leading the congregation through the heights of a glorious hymn on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
“The Yankees aren’t just the best team in baseball, they ARE baseball. The history of our country is defined by the happenings in Yankee Stadium. Great men have made and lost their fortunes on the backs of Gehrig, Ruth, and DiMaggio. The Yankees are all that was great with America, and all that is great with the world. And if you can’t see that, you ain’t worth a piece of gutter trash blowin’ through the streets of Brooklyn.”
Just then two large and mean-looking angels grabbed the man under his arms and quickly dragged him through a door that read “Reprocessing Center.” The door was brown around the edges, and it had a glowing red handle.
A third angel came over and spoke in a business-like tone. "What was all that about, sir?”
“We were just talking about baseball, and that man got a little excited when I told him I wasn’t a Yankees fan.”
“He was a Yankees fan?” the angel asked, a bit surprised.
“Apparently,” I said. “Does that mean something?
“Well, we usually send Yankees fans to the other place as a general rule, but sometimes they slip through. They’re a tricky lot, you know.”
“You mean ALL Yankees fans go to hell?” I asked.
“Baseball is serious business up here,” he said, “and they don’t call them the Damned Yankees for nothing.”
We looked back to the door as the two burly angels came back to the garden. There was a hint of smoke rising from the tips of their wings. Herbert Stevens, formerly of New York, was no longer with them.
“So, friend,” the business-like angel said as he turned to me with wide smile full of the brightest teeth you had ever seen. “What's your favorite team?”
“That’s easy,” I said without missing a beat. “The Anaheim Angels.”"
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
A bomb exploded outside a door at the Islamic Association of Cincinnati Mosque on Clifton Avenue Tuesday night, police said. No one was injured, but several streets in Clifton’s Gaslight District were blocked as investigators and bomb-sniffing dogs scoured the area for clues.
People are idiots.
It’s 2am and I’m still awake. I’ve been up since 5:30 this morning, and I feel as though I have done nothing. Sure, I went to work. I even did work at work today for a change. Sure, I went to the gym after work and ran on the treadmill for 45 minutes. Or, rather, I walked/ran for 45 minutes. My Demon Knee ™ started burning after a while and I had to slow down.
Ten minutes into the jog/walk fun, a couple of ladies in tight spandex jumped onto the treadmills next to me and proceeded to being their workout. They were young and in relatively good shape, and they joked with each other as they ran. After a while, however, they grew silent. The sudden change in ambient noise drew my attention and I looked over. They had matched my speed and every few seconds, they glanced quickly in my direction to see what I was doing. I laughed to myself and sped up a bit.
For those of you who don’t know, I used to have crazy high blood pressure. Back when I was pushing 400 pounds, my resting blood pressure was around 180/120, and I still find it amazing that I haven’t had a heart attack or a stroke. In fact, I had to take the maximum blood pressure pills allowable by law for several years in order to keep such a thing from happening. When I started losing weight, my blood pressure dropped substantially. They continually cut back the medication to the point that I had to stop taking it. This played havoc with my system for a while. I actually passed out from low blood pressure one day and later, when I woke up (luckily), my dad drove me to the doctor, where I found that my bp was 90/45.
There is no such thing as a happy medium with me.
The lasting result of all this is that getting my heart rate up to the point where I can get a good cardiovascular workout is a monumental task. It also means that I get drunk very easily, which is why I usually have either 1 to 2 drinks in a sitting or far, far too many. My limit is low and once I pass it, I ain’t stoppin’.
Here’s an example of what it takes to get my heart going. Shortly after they took me off the bp medication, I had yet another bout of crippling dizziness. My doctor wanted to be sure it wasn’t heart related, so he sent me to the hospital for a battery of tests. One came back stating that I’d had a “silent heart attack” some time in the past six months. This didn’t make sense to me because the day before the dizziness started I had hiked 12 miles over rough terrain in the hot summer sun. Heart attack victims don’t tend to do such things. They sent me to a cardiovascular specialist for an extensive stress test (it took four hours) to see what was going on. Part of the test included having to walk on a treadmill in order to get my heart up to the point where it was “stressed” enough to run the test. I was on the treadmill for fifteen minutes, running at a sprint on the full incline and my heart rate only got up to 140 bpm. They ran the test and, of course, it came back negative for a heart attack.
It turns out that the dizziness was the beginnings of the Exploding Eyeball Syndrome and resulted from an incorrect prescription for my contacts.
So today, at the gym, when the two young ladies increased their speed or angle of inclination on the treadmill, I inched a little further ahead. They were young, hot, and in shape and they couldn’t keep up with the fat, bald slob next to them. I would laugh at the situation if it weren’t for the fact that such a physical anomaly is likely to come back and bite me in the ass later in life.
Plus, I did not parlay the situation into an opportunity to get to know either of said hot women better in an attempt to possibly ask one of them out. I am too chicken for that. Also, I later went to the weight benches and embarrassed myself in front of a 13 year old who was lifting at least 30 more pounds than me.
But so what, eh? It’s been a long time and you have to start somewhere, right?
Friday, December 16, 2005
I visited the doctor this week in response to the ear monster episode, and even without the earache the results were less than pleasant. It seems I have gained fifty pounds since graduation. That's a little more than three bolwing balls. Or a skinny fifth grader. Or maybe even that collection of unread newspapers your lazy assed neighbor left sitting on his porch. Fifty pounds; such is the aftereffect of a love affair with pizza.
I sat at my desk this morning, dreaming of the days when I had time to go outside and walk for hours on end. Back when I was in college, after I got on the whole weight loss kickand went from an elephantesque 360 to a anorexic-elephantesque 238, I used to walk everywhere. I would do a mile or so in the morning to wake up, then another two miles across a hilly landscape during my lunch break (at 9:00pm, it was second shift), and then a full four and half miles when I got home just after midnight. That doesn't include walking between classes and at work. The last time I went for a walk around here I almost got run over by a car, and it was so cold outside I had to run back home to avoid catching frostbite on my head where my hair used to be. I then proceeded to trip over a sewer grate, and ended up spraining my ankle. But today, as I sat imotionless in my cube, I dreamt of endless walks through miles of wooded sidestreets and brisk walks up large hills that made your heart race and your head so damp. Yes. I actually dreamt of exercising today. You see, for those of us who exercise on a regular basis (or, in my case, used to), it can become addictive. You have those first few minutes of resistance, and then the endophins kick in. Then you're sky high, on top of the world, and nothing can get you down.
Except maybe a sewer grate. But that goes without saying.
So today I gave in and purchased a membership at Lifetime fitness. They're open 24/7 and the closest location is across the street from work. They have a million treadmills, weight benches, exerbikes, saunas, and elaborate cable machines that specialize in working obscure muscles I never knew existed. And, most importantly, they have hot women in spandex! (Did I just say that out loud? YES!)
I don't know if I'm going to loose weight. That will also require that I change my eating habits. I'm just glad that I finally have something to do other that sit at home and wade the webernet on my computor box. And at least with this I don't have to worry about getting run over by a car.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Here is the story.
As last Thursday progressed from morning to afternoon to early evening, as I watched the sun dance across the tiny patch of sky I can see from my cubicle, I could feel it. My right ear went from perfectly healthy and somewhat hairy to completely blocked and filled with gunk. I noticed a tickle around 8:00am, and by 10:00 or 10:30 that tickle had progressed into a light weight; enough to make my head lean a bit to the right, giving me a skewed perspective on the world around me. At this point, I was still able to deny the impending doom, thinking that perhaps a large and unsightly ball of wax had settled into my ear. This happens from time to time, and the strange, itchy sensations therein usually disburse by mid-afternoon. They did not disburse, however. They intensified.
When I got home from work there was little doubt. I had a nasty ear infection. IT worsened all day Friday to the point that I needed to take four aspirins every other hour just to take the edge off the pain. That evening, as I sat in the movie theater watching “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,” (which was very, very good), my ear began talking to me. It spoke mostly in profanity and it sounded a lot like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
“Hey, b*tch,” it said. “What’s going on out there?” Not wanting to appear insane in front of the throngs of movie goers, I didn’t respond. My ear was persistent. It continued, this time in a much louder voice. “Hey! I’m talking to you, g*d d*mmit! Answer my m***er f**king question!”
“Shut up,” I said in a hushed voice. “They can hear you.”
“I don’t give a d*am if they do. I want them to hear me. I want them all to think you’re COMPLETELY F**KING INSANE!!!”
“Alright. Alright. What do you want?”
”I wanna know what the hell you’re doin’ out there.”
“I’m watching a movie,” I said in a pissed off voice. “Can you see that? “
“NO I can’t see it,” it said. “And do you know why I can’t see it?
“BECAUSE I’M A F**KING EAR,I CAN’T SEEEEE SH*T!”
“When then how the hell are you talking to me?”
“Nevermind that now. Not now. Not now. Just give me some aspirin and I’ll shut up.”
“Uhh..” I said, stammering. “That’s gonna be a bit of a problem.”
“What! “ my ear said, screaming at me.
“I don’t have any at the moment. You’re going to have to wait.”
“You want me to what, b*tch?”
“Wait. Just a little while. The movie’s almost over. See. Aslan just came back to life.”
“I don’t give a sh*t about no m**her f**kin lion, b*tch! I got some bacteria back here chewin on my m**her f**kin a*s, and you’re telling me to wait so you can see some dumba*s lion?”
”Boy, GIT up out yo seat and get me some drugs!”
The conversation went on like that the rest of the evening. Everyone in attendance fell in love with the movie almost immediately, and I was the only one who held reticent praise. This was due entirely to the fact that I had an incensed Samuel L. Jackson eardrum screaming obscenities at me throughout the entire movie**.
On Saturday, I awoke to a vague dizziness. I imagine that Mr. Jackson had tried to make an escape in the middle of the night, leaving the passageway to my inner ear swollen shut and a trail of blood which pooled near the entrance. I could hear his screams as whatever monster that now inhabited my inner ear ate him alive.
My dizziness deepened and multiplied into a various assortment of aches and pains, and a red hot fever descended from my scalp, making its way past my head to the shoulders and the middle of my back. Samuel L. Jackson expired shortly after noon and the monster continued his hungry path from the inner canals of my ear towards what I believed to be my brain. I believed that by the next morning no grey matter would remain, and I would become a brainless, overheating machine of pain, bent on world destruction.
That evening the friends who had so recently joined me in viewing “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” had planned a fancy dinner, along with Secret Santa presents and haughty discussion on a plethora of relevant social topics. Originally it sounded like fun, but now it sounded like hell. Having looked forward to it for well over a month, however, I decided to attend.
The dinner started off well enough, and I made halfway through the salad (which I had purchased earlier that morning while stumbling through Giant Eagle, pretending not to be an alcoholic or a zombie), but when the smell of the main course hit my nose, I knew it was time to leave. The monster in my ear had given birth to a host of new creatures which now lived in various strategic locations throughout my body. There was the three headed beast of Hedramicus which took residence in my head, ramming its large, spike-laden shoulders against the inside of my cranium. There was the enormous mountain creature, Nob’Reetha-ng, which had wrapped its fibrous tentacles around my lungs, constricting my ability to inhale oxygen. And there was the vicious Pas de Stomache, which had set up a small fiefdom in my stomach and intestinal tract and was threatening to evict the residents through each of the primary exit points. Each of these dastardly creatures was governed, of course, by the dark entity which still sought to engorge itself on my ear on its way to my brain.
Before the beasts took over, however, I made my move. I left the party and headed straight for the local hospital, where the attending nurses quickly catalogued me, wrapped three bracelets around my left arm, charged me their exorbitant fees, and left me sitting in a room with the promise that, “the doctor will be along any moment.”
Four hours later, after having fallen asleep and woken up on the floor, the doctor returned. She took one quick look at me, called upon the vastness of medical knowledge she had gained through years of painstaking study and experience, and said, “You, sir, have a cold and an ear infection.”
“Thanks,” I said, not trying to hide the sarcasm.
“Here is a prescription for Vicodin!” she said.
“THANKS!” I said, not trying to hide my excitement.
I made my way out to my car in the blistering wind. The team of monsters within me groaned their disapproval.
”We will fight,” they said. “We will never give up!”
“Go ahead and try,” I said. “I’m willing to eat this whole bottle, including the plastic” The ydid not respond and, when I got home, I quickly took a pain pill and popped the extended edition of “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” in the DVD player, thinking I would be fast asleep on the couch before the movie ended.
But there was a fatal flaw to my plan. After an hour and a half, or just about the time the battle of Minas Tirith was hitting its stride, nothing was different. My ear still screamed, My stomach still churned, and my head threatened to topple under its own weight.
I read the bottle again. “Take 1 or 2 pills every four to six hours as needed,” the instructions said. Oh, I thought to myself. One or TWO pills. I’m a big guy; therefore I need to take two pills. So I took a second pill and settled in again at the start of the movie, this time assured in my belief that I would awake on the couch the next morning, happy and comfortable.
Darkness washed over me. Strange dreams and foul thoughts toyed with my fancy, and very real manifestations of the demons inside chased me through long, dark tunnels in an unknown city on an unknown world. Loud, fast music blared all around, as though it was part of the environment; like air; like water; like existence. In one part of the time that lapsed between that moment when I last remembered the comfortable movie and when I again regain this plane of existence, I remember being chased by a creature that was half Gollum, half Orangutan, and half Cthulu (yes, there were three halves) which chased me through the watery depths of the unknown city, screaming its incessant music and shining a deep, penetrating spotlight, which prickled my skin and cast strange shadows on the waters around me.
I awoke sometime later in cold water. It was cold. I was naked. I was shivering. It was very very bright. I felt like I was swimming, even though I knew I was not under water.
My senses returned and I realized where I was. I had passed out in the bathtub after having turned on every light in the house and increased the television to full volume. The last moments of “Return of the King” blared at a million decibels throughout the house, shaking the walls and causing ripples in the water. The second vicodin had done the trick with a much greater intensity than I had intended. I was still woozy, but my mind was with me.
I got dressed, turned off each of the lights and the television, and went to bed.
I have wondered about that night for quite a while. Was it merely a drug-induced haze coupled with a weakened state that left me senseless, or had I taken part in some strange battle against the forces of evil which had fought valiantly for control of my being? I may never know. All I know is that the monsters have subsided for now.
Well, that and taking two pills, even if the instructions tell you do so, is never a good idea.
**I saw the movie again this week, once the earache had abated, and it was wonderful.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
Oh well. As the old saying goes, you can't spell SUCK without UC!
What happened? Did it go well?
If you’re like me, chances are it didn’t. I imagine it was somewhere around the time you got punched in the face or fended off incensed family members with a broken chair leg in the inevitable steel cage match portion of the family reunion when you realized that something was wrong. Something wasn’t working. You started with the best of intentions. One minute you were trading points and defending ideologies like a college professor and the next minute you were the star of COPS as the police dragged your drunk, shirtless ass out of a trailer while you screamed that they had it all wrong.
You get the idea.
Here’s a good example. There’s an apparent feud between David Cross, the comedian from “Arrested Development” and “Mr. Show,” and Larry the Cable Guy, the comedian from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour (a.k.a. “the annoying good ‘ol white boys of comedy”). This rant from Dave is equal parts everything that is right and everything that is wrong with how we approach conversation, political or otherwise, here in America.
Apparently Larry, who isn’t from The South ™ and whose name isn’t really Larry, caught a clip of an interview Dave had given to Rolling Stone Magazine. In this interview, David Cross gave his opinion of Larry the Cable Guy’s comedy and how it was indicative of some scary social norms that have come to light in recent years.
“He's good at what he does. It's a lot of anti-gay, racist humor -- which people like in America - all couched in 'I'm telling it like it is.' He's in the right place at the right time for that gee-shucks, proud-to-be-a-redneck, I'm-just-a-straight-shooter-multimillionaire-in-cutoff-flannel, selling-ring tones-act. That's where we are as a nation now. We're in a state of vague American values and anti-intellectual pride."
And Larry The Cable Guy responded thusly:
“...according to Cross and the politically correct police, any white comedians who mention the word 'black' or say something humorous but faintly negative about any race are racists."
David’s response was to write the rant I linked above. He makes some good points in it, too. Larry does have racist comedy in his act. The examples he included attest to that. But Larry hints at something greater. Nearly every comedian has racist or, depending upon your interpretation of semantics, overtly prejudicial humor in their act. If you don’t believe me, turn the channel to BET and count how many black comedians make a career out of the “you know what pisses me off about white people?” schitck, or go back to Comedy Central and see how easily people rip on Latinos or Asians or whatever. Or you can go back two paragraphs and read these words, straight from David himself, the man who so recently expressed righteous indignation:
“I cut my teeth in the south and my first road gigs ever were in Augusta, Charleston, Baton Rouge, and Louisville. I remember them very well, specifically because of the audience. I remember thinking (occasionally, not all the time) "what a bunch of dumb redneck, easily entertained, ignorant motherfuckers. I can't believe the stupid shit they think is funny." So, yes, I do know your audience, and they suck. And they're simple. And please don't mistake this as coming from a place of bitterness because I didn't "make it" there or, I'm not as successful as you because that's not it at all. Since I was a kid I've always been a little over sensitive to the glorification and rewarding of dumb. The "salt of the earth, regular, every day folk" (or lowest common denominator) who see the world, and the people like me in it, as on some sort of secular mission to take away their flag lapels and plaster-of-paris Jesus television adornments strike me as childishly paranoid.”
Comedians make a living saying the things we can’t. This is good. There is nothing wrong with black comedians making fun of white people, and neither is it wrong for Larry to rip on “towel head camel fuckers.” These statements are obviously in poor taste for normal conversation, but their use in a comedic setting helps us to find a bit of levity in what is otherwise a tense arena. Many in these comedians' respective audiences likely agree with the comments they make, but I think the majority, including the comedians themselves, realize that it’s just a joke and move on.
Dave’s right. It’s not good comedy. It’s easy and it’s played out. A good comedian like Lewis Black (who is dynamite in a live setting, by the way) ,or George Carlin, or to a certain extent Mr. Cross himself is a rarity. He is right. America does glorify anti-intellectualism. This is why “Wife Swap” has been given another season of play on Fox and good shows like “Arrested Development” are canceled.
The more interesting part of his rant, however, is this:
“I honestly believe that if we had worked a week together at whatever dumb-ass club in American Strip Mall #298347 in God's Country U.S.A and hung out that week and got good and drunk after the shows, that you and I would've been making each other laugh.”
I like this and not only because it’s true.
I get the sense that a large part of the divisions in America stem from our inability to find common ground. We spend so much time trying to score a point against the opposition, whether logical, comedic, or otherwise, and we forget that each of us shares the same goal.
Take politics for example. It’s been over a year since the 2004 Presidential election and we’re still deeply divided. Emotions are still raw. This division isn’t something as simple as the few hurt feelings and bruised egos that naturally come after a loss in such a close election, either. They're greater than that. In today's America you are either a conservative or a liberal. You are either a Democrat or a Republican. There is no in between, no third or fourth option, and there is no escaping from the oversimplified and negative caricatures each side thrusts upon the other.
Democrats kill innocent babies. Republicans hate women. Conservatives are blinded by creepy Jesus-ness. Liberals are plotting to secularize the minds of our youth. Democrats hate white people. And Republicans are all closet members of the KKK.
And so on.
When you openly label yourself you paint a picture that carries much more weight than a mere thousand words. Call yourself a conservative or a liberal and immediately people make 500 assumptions about who you are, where you’re from, what you do for a living, and what you believe. That is normal. What isn’t normal is that these assumptions are likely negative. In today’s society you are defined by this mould, and there is no breaking out of it.
In a recent conversation with a group of conservative friends, I expressed my dismay at the apparent disregard for environmental issues in the Republican party. Very quickly, I was denounced as a radical leftist and asked to defend my alleged adherence to pro-choice philosophy, anti-war beliefs, outlandish feminist politics, and a generalized hate of all things American.
A short time later, I spoke with a group of people about the nomination of Judge Roberts to the Supreme Court (this was before his confirmation and instantiation as Chief Justice). One woman stated that his ultra-conservative stance on nearly every importnat issue was quite scary. At the time, I had seen little regarding his opinions either way. So asked the lady how she had come to this conclusion. I was immediately attacked. I was called a right wing nut job and a racist. I was told that I hated poor people, and that I was a shill for the Bush Administration. One person, I believe, came close to spitting on me.
Nobody took the time to actually respond to what I had said. In either situation. It was merely assumed that because I believe in public policy that protects the environment, I am the worst sort of Liberal. It was taken as a known fact that, because I questioned a popular idea, I was the epitome of the sort of brain-dead, redneck, flag-waving American David Cross apparently hates so much.
And I’m not immune to the stupidity either. I’ve had to backpedal and apologize for my own overgeneralizations on more than one occasion. A few of these situations have even put a strain on close friendships, which makes no sense to me because it is patently ridiculous to throw away several years of good fun over something as pointless as economic policy or one’s opinion of the establishment clause.
There is no common ground anymore. There is very little respect.
Another comedian I enjoy from time to time spoke on the subject in a recent HBO special. Chris Rock, in response to people’s increasingly divergent opinions on the 2004 Presidential election said, “Normal people can go both ways. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican either. I got some shit I’m liberal about, I got some shit I’m conservative about, and anybody who votes for someone based on their political party alone is a damn fool.” I’m paraphrasing, despite the quotation marks, but the sentiment is the same.
I think Chris Rock has it right. Nobody is entirely Democrat and nobody is entirely Republican. Political parties are nebulous in nature. They shift over time to take advantage of the rise in popularity of certain opinions over others. They are not all-encompassing, and to claim that you will always vote for the guy with the D after his name or that the lady with the R after hers agrees with absolutely everything you say is to also say that you don’t really understand the process. That’s like rooting for your high school football team. You do it because its easy, not because it makes sense. It’s rah-rah politics. It’s a popularity contest, and it accomplishes nothing serious or worthy of attention.
There are several things we can agree on. Each of us likes America, more or less, and we want to see it prosper. We can probably even agree on ideals like social justice and fiscal responsibility, too. It’s the application that bogs us down. We have the same goals in mind, just different paths. I think that if we took the time to get to know each other as individuals and not as the labels we so easily thrust upon each other, if we took the time to understand what a person thinks about a certain subject or a particular idea instead of inventing opinions in our mind, we’d find that there’s a great deal about which we can agree. The rest, I think, would fall under polite disagreements.
So, in order to foster understanding, and because I have nothing better to do, I plan to follow through on my previously stated plan to write a series of useless essays on things I think I believe. It is my hope that some of you out there, especially those with whom I’ve had pointless disagreements in the past, will gain some insight into what I believe. And if you disagree, feel free to state what you think. Maybe then we’ll be able to find some common ground.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
It was because a substation in Columbus exploded yesterday, taking out two transformers and knocking out power for nearly 30,000 people. I wasted nearly an eternity in thought, counting the number of non-existent tiles on the ceiling and aimlessly wondering what would have happened to me if I had finished several of my as yet incomplete degrees. The two in question were History and Electrical Engineering, and the possibilities included therein would likely have taken me to a place where they have not only larger paychecks than the opportunities either of my completed degrees (Information Systems and International Strategic Management) offer me, but stable access to electricity as well!
Decisions. Decisions. One morning you make the right choice and end up meeting the person of your dreams in some fancy café where the drinks are far too expensive, the flowers glint brightly in the sun, and everybody in attendance wears a beret and a dark existential mask which belies a central belief that life really is a play and they are the star instead of the Shakespearean ideal of a lonely person strutting and fretting their Warholian fifteen minutes before they are forgotten entirely. Another day you make a bad decision and you end up sitting on your living room couch in the dark, wondering where it all went wrong.
The ticking of the clock slowed exponentially and in the eon between 7:05:04am and 7:05:06am, I had a thought. That thought was a little song I used to sing from time to time when the happenings of the day made little sense
“Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants.”
It isn’t an invention of mine. It was, in fact, an invention of a former employee of mine from way back in the lonely days and nights I spent managing the Circulation Department of the Medical School Library at the University of Cincinnati. The author was Tim Hall, a student worker who majored in both Philosophy and Jazz Guitar. He shared my disdain for both formal education and real work. His motto, aside from the aforementioned ditty, was “Why have one useless degree when you can have two at twice the price?”
This is a maxim of life to which I have remained faithful these many years.
Tim was an interesting fellow. He was lanky, unkempt, and habitually unshaven, and he had a nervous nature that reminded me of a young Woody Allen or Elvis Costello strung out on cocaine and a constant influx of expensive coffee.
Rather than save his money to purchase the acoustic guitars he used to create his music (with complex philsophical lyrics!), Tim taught himself the art of guitar-making. He and his fiancé lived in a small two bedroom apartment just off campus. One room was the master bedroom and the other was his workshop. Tim didn’t just purchase the guitar parts from the manufacturer and piece them together with a few happy nails and squirts of wood glue. No. Tim bought planks of specific wood, molded them according to the templates he had created on his own, and fashioned them together in artistic precision. He fashioned the various frets and stands that make up a guitar from specific pieces of metal, and he spent countless hours in the back room of his apartment tweaking everything just so, all with the intent of crafting the perfect musical instrument.
“Why don’t you go all out and just cut down a few trees to get your supplies,” I said, astonished at all that went into making even the simplest of guitars.
“Because that would be stupid,” he said with a straight face. “And besides, it would take far too much time.”
He was a good humored atheist, which made for interesting conversation. I once told him that it was pointless to think that way since being a person of faith affords you the opportunity to believe a host of crazy things whereas atheists, requiring proof for everything, never have any fun. He countered one day with the pronouncement that even the Dewey decimal system had the right idea when it cataloged the Bible under the call letters “BS.” BS, of course, is the acronym given to bovine excretory substances. In case you didn't know.
It might not sound like it, but we had a lot of fun working together.
One evening, while hanging out at the Circulation Desk with nothing to do, Tim stood from his seat, looked directly at me, and said, “Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants.” He then walked out of the room as if he had merely stated that he would like to purchase a bottle of soda or that he needed to visit the restroom. He came back a few minutes later and promptly sat down at a computer to check his e-mail. Never did he offer an explanation.
“What he hell was that?” I said, almost screaming.
“What the hell was what?” he said calmly, not looking away from the monitor.
“You know. That whole pants revolution thing you just said.”
“Oh that. It was too quiet in here. I needed to break the monotony.”
“What monotony?” I said. He turned away from the computer and look at me with a smile waiting just behind his eyes.
“In case you haven’t noticed, Joe, we work in a library. It’s all monotony.”
“What does it mean?” I asked, still confused.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s like one of those Bhuddist chants. There’s no meaning. The advantage is in the repetition.”
“But it’s funny.”
“So what?” he said, “Just because its funny doesn’t mean it doesn’t fulfill its purpose. Just try it. It’s really quite relaxing.”
I tried to forget it. I really did. I wanted to let it go, to forget the chant, to move on with the rest of the boring day that remained. But it has a catchy beat to it, as idiotic as it was. And, as anybody who has listened to Annie Lennox knows, stupidity is sticky. It gets into your head and waits. Just when you think it’s gone, it comes back with reinforcements, replaying itself over and over, driving you mad.
For the rest of the evening, I had Tim’s little Bhuddist phrase running through my head. Pants ... Pants. While I checked e-mail. Pants ... Pants. While I read a story about George W. Bush on CNN. And while I sat at my desk, staring at the clock as the last moments of the work day faded into oblivion. A revolution in my pants.
“It’s stuck in your head, isn’t it?” Tim said after we had closed the library and made as we made the long walk across the parking lot to our respective cars.
“Yeah, but it’ll go away soon enough,” I said. “These kinds of things rarely last long.”
He smiled at me with that stupid smile as I got into my car, and though I warded it off with all my might, the only thing I could think was “Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants.”
Memories of the past are strange. They come to you of their own will and for their own reasons we cannot know. They just are. One moment you’re at work, typing out an analysis report, and you have trouble recalling red letter days of your past with any sort of clarity. And then, for no reason at all, you find yourself sitting on a couch in the dark, desperately trying to think of anything other than the mantra which runs through your head without end.
Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants. ... It still doesn’t make sense to me.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE SASQUATCH
Restrictions apply, from us, the wishor, to you, here and after called the wishee. Please accept with out obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the Winter Solstice Holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice or secular practices of your choice with respect for hte religious or secular persuasions and or traditions of others or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all, and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition on the onset of the generally accepted calendar year of 2006, but with due respect to the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects and having regard for the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or dietary preference of the wishee. By accepting the greeting you are bound by the terms at the greeting and without subject to further clarification or withdrawal. This greeting is freely transferable providing that no authorization shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged. This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes. This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole direction of the wishor. This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of subsequent holiday greetings, whichever comes first. This wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish for the issuance of a new wish at the sole direction of the wishor. Any reference in this greeting to "The Lord" or "Father Christmas" or "Our Savior" or any other festive figures, whether active or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect to this greeting, and all proprietary rights and any references, third party names, and images are hereby acknowledged.
Merry Christmas from The Sasquatch. Some restrictions may apply.
stolen from here
Monday, November 14, 2005
Here are some topics I plan to investigate. If you like one more than the other, let me know. If you have an idea that is not on the list let me know. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and pour a cup of boiling hot water over your face in order to dull the imminent pain that will inevitably result from…
THE SASQUATCH: BLATHERINGS OF A MINDLESS IDIOT.
1) Intelligent Design
2) Politics in America.
4) The status of baseball as the American national pastime.
5) George W. Bush.
6) The existence of God.
This should drive all of you away in a hurry.
We believe in, like, whatever man.
Outside the parking lot to the Panera there stood a policeman directing traffic. As I said, it is a busy intersection, and there is no light to govern the mad drivers as they zip past. I saw the policeman standing there in the cold and I envied him. He tweeted the whistle. Tweet. Tweet. And again. Tweet tweet tweet. How exciting it must have been! The prospect of tweeting the whistle for all you are worth only to have some unsuspecting motorist, lost in the joyous rapture of the local music station, slam on the brakes a second too late and plow you over at a speed just slightly over the locally enforced limit. What a rush.
For some reason I thought of that nameless protestor at Tiananmen square. That guy didn’t have a whistle. Imagine what he could have done if that had been the case. Tweet tweet. And again. Tweet tweet tweet.
** ** ** ** ** ** **
I made my way down to campus this morning to interview for a position as a Systems Analyst. The drive was nice. I didn’t get lost, which is a rarity in my case. Thank God for small answers to small prayers.
I parked in the garage and made my way to the office only to find that I was thirty minutes early. To pass the time, I sat in the waiting room and talked with the administrative assistant. I don’t know her name because she didn’t have a name tag, but I will call her Sherry. She looked like a Sherry.
Sherry and I exchanged pleasantries, remarking the coldness of the weather and the thickness of the traffic. While we waited, Sherry and I discussed all the fun that comes with working at Universities. She’s been a proud employee of THE Ohio State University for a little over a year now and I recently gave up a lucrative career watching movies and eating pizza at The University of Cincinnati. We then spoke of our current jobs. She says she likes hers, but she was enthralled with the idea of No-work Mondays.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “I bet you just love your job don’t you.” Then we both laughed at the irony. Tweet tweet tweet.
The interview began with the interviewer telling me all about what he expects of the new hires. He described, in laborious detail, the specifics of the business structure and how he is now the software team lead. He spoke of the IDE they use and what standards they expect of me, should I be offered the position. Then he asked me to share some of my own experiences. I spoke of my past job as a Manager at the U of Cincy, and how I had developed several small-scale applications that managed inventory control and statistical analysis. I spoke of my four month stint in Technical Support at the hellhole of the Kroger Corporation. I elaborated upon the specifics of Airport Analysis and Portal Community Management. He asked me a few technical questions and I knocked them out of the ballpark like Barry Bonds on a basketful of steroids.
Then he said it. The death sentence. That statement which has haunted each and every one of my technical interviews over the last two and a half years. “We’re actually looking for somebody with three to five year’s experience,” he said. “We’re not interested in training anybody.”
“You don’t have to train me,” I said. “I have developed several applications which highlight my skills, and I have a list of references who will speak of the vastness of my knowledge. Further,” I continued. “If you plan to migrate to the updated version of your IDE, I will be one of the few who is well versed in that technology as well.”
He continued speaking, but the tone of the interview had changed. There was no chance for me. I knew it. I had tried directing traffic to the best of my ability, but it seems that the pre-requisite for all managers everywhere is that they are incapable of thinking outside predefined parameters. They focus on one thing and one thing only. They listen to the one radio station and, without ever having seen the calamity ahead, plow over all those in front of them as though nothing is wrong.
Tweet tweet. And again. Tweet tweet tweet.
** ** ** ** ** ** **
As I sat in Panera, reading a book and eating a bowl of soup, I decided I have had enough. If this job does not pan through, I am giving up on I.T. I don’t want it and it doesn’t want me. There are other things on which I can waste my time. And when the truth comes out, I don’t really feel like standing in the middle of the road waiting to get run over by an idiot. I prefer not to.
The conversation was choppy, however, because she is a person who is fond of speaking and I am a person who can go whole weeks without saying words. Beyond that, though, I was dumbfounded at how peaceful and sure of herself she seemed. She spoke of her roommates and how well they got along. She spoke of her recent trips to Boulder in search of good sushi. She spoke of her new nose ring.
And after each story, I said, “Wow, cool” with the disinterested blandness of a person who does not care. At least, that is how I imagined it sounded. The truth is different, however. I was and still am very much interested in how things are going and what she plans to do next. But, as I said, I am not fond of speaking. Words flow like spring rain when I’m writing but when I speak they flow like water in the desert.
That’s a fancy way of saying I don’t like to talk much.
Still, I was excited to hear what is going on. In particular, I was fond of her words regarding the status of her life in general. They were good words and I will share them with you now.
“I feel like my life is beginning,” she said. “I’m 26 and right now I feel like my life is beginning.”
That’s a profound thing, I think. Most people, myself included, rarely feel as though they are in the right place doing the right thing at the right moment. Most people, I think, float from situation to situation in search of either the epitome of selfish entertainment or some greater meaning or purpose to the mundane aspects of life. That’s how I feel, anyway; especially when I’m in line at McDonalds. I look at the health info on the back of the Double Quarter Pounder (with cheese!) and I say to myself, “What am I doing here! Dear God what am I doing here.”
Then I eat the burger anyway. Because McDonalds burgers taste so good.
Her statement above was part of a greater conversation about how she has always been dualistic in her approach to considering missionary work. She was cautious, she said, which I took to mean that she had questioned her calling several times over in search of false motivations and extenuating circumstances. Her other side, what I like to call the fun side, was full of reckless abandon. It was the side that said “Fuck it! Let’s go! Let’s go right now!”
That was actually my fun side. Her fun side would probably have abstained from profanity. The sentiment is the same, though, and when she told me of this felling, I wanted to say, “Yes, I feel exactly the same way. At times I feel like I know what I want to do and all that is stopping me from doing that thing is my job and my bills; both of which I hate. So what’s stopping me? Drop the (*censor*) and let’s get moving!”
Then the boring side of me says, “But you can’t drop your life. If you don’t pay your bills, your car will get repossessed. If you don’t go to work, your boss will fire you. Then what will you be? Broke, bored, and useless.”
Nevermind that I’m already broke, bored, and useless.
So I wanted to tell her that I admire what she is doing. I admire the courage it takes to drop everything and do that one thing you know you’re supposed to do. I admire her ability to look at the instability inherent in such a life, the lack of a plan or a fallback position should her current situation change. I admire the heart she has for her upcoming trips to help out with AIDS orphanages in South Africa. I admire the faith it takes to say, “Yeah! Let’s go!”
All I said, though, was “Cool.” I hope she understood.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Yep, I''ll never find a girlfriend now.
Keep on Rockin,
Friday, November 11, 2005
High School English Teacher
I like this idea because it means I will likely get to read a lot more than I do now and I might actally have a positive effect on somebody's life. Sure, I'd have to field the ever-popular "phineas is gay" debate, but I'd get my summers off! That, at least, is a good thing! I would have to go back to school, of course, but I was about halfway to an English degree with all the pointless electives I took. And I've read most of the stuff on uperclassmen reading lists anyway.
I don't have a specific job lined up yet for this field of work. I like the idea of roaming around the woods, stopping to stare at a small weed or leaf on a tree, writing something down in a book, and moving on. I'm kind of an environmentalist. I'd ride my bike to work if I weren't so fat. And lazy. I like caribou. Who knows? It could work.
You could also replace the title of this job with "poor loser," since my chances of making a successful career out of it are about as likely Zach De la Rocha voting Republican. But you never know. Stranger things have happened. If I could get people to actually pay me for my worthless thoughts and words...that would be the greastest heist ever to befall the days of man.
There is a reason why people never pick History when I get to the center of the board in Trivial Pursuit. I know ancient Mayan religious practices like the back of my hand. I can wax philosophicaly aobut both the similarities and differences between Socratic and Sophist thought. I know the other reason why 1066 was an important year. I also know what SPAM is really made of (it's people. IT's PEOPLE!). I could finish up a bachelor's degree in History in about a year or a year and a half and move onto graduate school immediately afterwards. Then all I'd need is a pipe and a tweed jacket with loosely sewn arm patches. Then I'd be set.
What? Bowling's a cool sport, right?
Continue wasting my time in search of the Great IT job
Or, should I just spend more time looking for an IT job that isn't likely to come? I have spent the last three years looking for an IT job. Or maybe even an IT niche in whatever job it was I was working. Sure, businesses are willing to let me program applications for them and serve as the company help desk, but ask them to pay for for your services and watch their assholes pucker up tighter than a protestant woman's purse strings. I'd like to do this job. Maybe not as much as a writer or a history professor. but I would like it. And since I have a degree in this field, you'd think something would have come out of the (literally) 12,154 jobs I have applied for. Sadly, I have been a full time professional now for almost 6 years and I still waste most of my time doing stuff like this. Not because I am lazy or shiftless, either. There is only so much you can do in an entry level position before its time to move on. unfortunately, most businesses aren't willing to let their people do that.
Let me know what you think. Throw caution to the wind! If you are the only one who votes, you get to determine what I do with the rest of my life. Just remember...if it end up a failure, I'm coming after you.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
(The speaker comes to center stage. There is only the spotlight on his/her face as she/he speaks.)
SPEAKER: It started with silence; not mere quietness or lack of noise, but actual, real silence: the absence of sound; the lack of existence; the definition of that which was never meant to be.
As if in understanding of this wrong-ness, a voice broke the silence, singing a beautiful, poetic song unbounded by fear, buffeted by love, and clothed in splendor. This song painted the sky and the earth, the sun and the moon, thick forests and vast deserts that, in their inherent beauty, defied the silence and the darkness, which had become but a distant memory.
The song continued, reaching even greater heights with each passing second. It spoke of Passion, of Joy, of Happiness, of Love. And when the song was finished, when it had reached it zenith, man came forth from the nothingness. The song’s greatest creation. That thing for which it was intended.
The man heard the voice and the song even after the singer had rested. It was writ upon his heart, his mind, and his soul. He followed the song as he wandered with expectant Joy through the beautiful creation the singer had given him. The man, the song, and the singer were in harmony. And the singer was pleased.
Then one day, he saw it. Strange fruit. Pieces of truth. A gift for the deserving. “I must have it,” the man said. “For I am tired of wandering and the new beauty of this gift weighs on my heart like rain.” And he reached out his hand to pluck it from the tree.
The voice was insistent. “This is not for you,” it said. “Real truth casts no shadows. These pieces of truth are mired in darkness, hidden in confusion, and bathed in rebellion.”
The man became angry. “I am worthy!” he shouted. “And who are you to tell me what to do; you, who created this garden, this tree, this fruit? What is its purpose if not for my own enjoyment?”
“I have commanded it,” the voice said. “You must obey,” it said, with a hint of sadness.
“I will not,” the man said. And he took the fruit. And he put it in his pocket to carry with him as he wandered the endless expanse of beauty.
But the song in his heart changed. Strange rhythms and discordant notes filled his ears. The beautiful melody darkened and receded. It grew quiet. And the darkness and the silence, that wrong-ness which was never meant to be, again took root.
The man gasped in horror, realizing what he had done. He no longer wanted the gift. He meant to throw it away, to cast it down, to bring back the beauty of the song before it was too late. But the fruit was no longer there. It had disappeared. It was writ upon his heart, his mind, and his soul where the beautiful song once rested.
The song grew quiet. The man cried out against the coming silence. The song faded. He shielded his face against the sad and terrible darkness. And the song disappeared.
And the man was cold. And the man was naked. And the man was alone. All that remained was the memory of the song that once was, and that loud, terrible silence.
(the lights go dark)
So I had to look up each and every sentence of the chapter. I didn't do this because I have a dedication to my job or an excellent work ethic. No no no. I did this because I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Prokaryote? Thermophile? Prion? WTF?
Now it's going on 2 in the morning. I have to be at work in just over 5 hours, I have ground school afterwards, and then I plan to come home and crash. Literally. I plan to drive home, fall asleep along the way, and ram my car into the nearest telephone pole.
I'm going to bed before I catch Curetzfeldt-Jacob disease, whatever the hell it is.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Let me explain. I have a recurring character in many of my dreams. It is an orangutan who haunts me and threatens me to no end. It probably started back when I was in college. I would have a normal, run of the mill dream where nothing interesting was going on and, out of nowhere, the orangutan would attack. In one particular dream, I was driving down Winton Road near my old apartment in Cincinnati. It was a nice day, I remember, until the car next to me exploded. I looked behind to see the dastardly chimp manning a flying saucer which shot laser beams at me. Lukcily, I escaped with my life.
As I grow older, however, the dreams grow both in clarity and in strangeness. A few years ago, I dreamt that I was sitting in a friend’s living room as they shared the wonderful news that they were expecting a child. Suddenly, the orangutan jumped out from behind the sofa and punched me in the face. He then fled, jumping out the window. I followed in pursuit, only to find that my friend’s house now sat atop a large cliff overlooking the sea. I caught up with the orangutan as we fell ana a spectacular light saber battle ensued. The simian scored a lucky punch, rendering me unconscious long enough for him to float to the ground and drive off in an SUV.
He flipped me the bird as he drove away.
He made several appearances in me dreams throughout college and into my “professional” life, but for the last few months he has remained eerily silent. I feared he was hiding in the shadows, planning his next move.
Last night, he struck again. I dreamt I was on stage at Carnegie hall playing my world renowned kazoo concerto, Das Maschinen des Schicksals, when I noticed certain members of the audience had morphed into monkeys and apes and gorillas and baboons and such. The longer I played, the more the people changed, and eventually the entire audience consisted of primates. As the concerto came to its emotional apex, the evil orangutan ran onstage, stole my kazoo, and broke it in half.
“Hey,” I said. “That was my lucky kazoo.”
“I know,” the orangutan said to me, “but you fail to realize the philosophical significance and are therefore unworthy.” I was surprised to learn that the orangutan sounded exactly like Bea Arthur.
It then ran offstage. I attempted to give chase yet again. This time, I thought, I will not be stopped by your petty light saber tricks! But, alas, the audience of primates had a different idea. They hooted. They screamed. They flung feces like thick rain. And the orangutan got away again.
He’s back, though. And one of these days I will catch him. One of these days I will make him pay.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Monday, October 31, 2005
It was nice to see Cincinnati in the fall. I had almost forgotten how beautiful it can be. That’s really the only thing I like about my hometown. The city sits in a bowl so the proliferation of airborne fungi and other assorted molds and spores in spring is a nightmare for even the strongest of sinus cavities. Summer is so hot and humid you feel as though you could drip and melt away in the jungle of concrete. And winter is as sporadic as a paranoid schizophrenic without his medicine.
But autumn! Ah, autumn is grand. The hills which surround the city are painted every color of the rainbow and the puffs of trees in the distance, when they catch the dying daylight, burn like torches against the crisp sky. You just don’t get that kind of beauty anywhere else.
At least not here in Columbus.
Currently, I’m sitting at my desk, listening to Miles Davis’s “Birth of the Cool,” an old cd of mine from the days when I thought myself a jazz trumpeter. I had lost it many years back and feared it had suffered the same fate as my baseball card collection when my parents’ basement flooded back in 2001. Oh what a sad day that was! But, hark! My Miles Davis cd, along with a commercialized compilation of Chuck Mingus hits, survived. Apparently my father had found them in a box a few years prior to the evil flood, and had absentmindedly stored them in a box underneath my parents’ bed. The discs survived a move to Florida and back and have now been returned to their rightful place. All is right with the world.
This week looks to be busy, as I have the new part time job to contend with, my regular job of nothingness, and that play which, despite my most earnest intentions, remains unfinished. No worries. I know what needs to be done. All that remains is typing.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
My friend Abbie got me a part time job with (*company deleted to protect the semi-innocent*) as a fact checker. Finally! Something to do at my real job when I’m not doing anything. And I get paid for it, too. Say it with me now…Mo money! Mo money!
The musician in question is a friend who lives in England. He wrote me several years ago to tell me that he’d fallen in love with a girl from Thailand who was studying as his hospital as part of some international medical exchange sort of thing. At least I think that’s what it was. I could be wrong. Anyway, at the end of that summer, he wrote me to say that her visa had expired and she had to return home. She had thought of staying, but her home hospital made her an enormous offer; one that was just too good to pass up.
She had almost stayed, though. For him. Sometime after that, he wrote the song above.
A couple of years passed, and we passed e-mails. He’d mention the girl from time to time. He said he wished she had chosen to stay. He said he wished he had chosen to go with her, but the obligations of life in England were too great. Even still, given the chance again, he might have chosen differently.
At the beginning of this summer, my friend e-mailed me to say that he had signed up to be a project manager for a medical relief team that would spend several months scouring the wilds of Borneo in search of people who needed assistance and training and supplies. That sort of thing. Every few weeks, he’d send a mass mailing with explicit descriptions of what had happened and what was going on. He talked of the people he’d met and the experiences he’d had. One night, while sleeping in a hammock near the top of some strange hill in the middle of nowhere, he heard something “large and hungry” snooping around outside of his tent. He hear the thing move closer to his hammock and, just before the thing was about to pounce, there was a noise in the distance. The thing bounded off, and a few seconds later, he heard the screams of some wild animal as it took has place as “dinner” for the thing that had so recently hunted him.
It was all good stuff.
He wrote later to say that, when the group left to return to their various homes around the world, he took some extra time and made a trip to Thailand. He wrote to say that he met the girl with whom he had spent the best summer of his life. He said they toured around her city for endless hours, happy just to be together again. In his last e-mail, he said he was awake the evening before his flight was scheduled to return to England. He said he’d been given that second chance. He said he wasn’t sure, but he was thinking of staying this time. I haven’t heard from him since.
I hope he stayed.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Sometimes it’s good if there is also beer involved. Tonight is not one of those nights, though.
I went down to Cincinnati today to visit the parents for a bit. They’re doing well. Dad sat on the deck smoking cigarettes, shivering. He swam in an old flannel shirt and a pair of pants that, if he hadn’t worn a belt, would have fallen down. Mom seemed shorter than normal. I’m not sure what it was, it just felt that way. My parents aren’t old by any stretch of the imagination, but I can see the start of it.
The song “Magic” just ended.
We watched the Bengals get their asses handed to them by the Pittsburgh Steelers. We watched “Batman Begins.” We talked for a while. We ate dinner. My aunt and cousins came over and we shared cake and ice cream in celebration of my impending birthday. We talked for a while. Mom and Dad gave me a present: the original edition of “The Natural” by Bernard Malamud. Being the baseball fan that I am, I can’t believe I haven’t read this book. I tried to check it out a hundred times when I worked at the library, but in the course of my four and a half years it never came available. I had it on my list of “books I will buy if I ever come across them at a bookstore,” but I had not, as of a few weeks ago, been able to find it. Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I told her to pick up this book if she could find it.
They came through, as is usual. I don’t know how they do it, but they have a knack for finding things.
So it seems that my “soon to read” pile of books has grown considerably over the past few weeks. Currently, I have a stack of books on my shelf, waiting to be read, which include The Bridge of San Luis Rey, The Natural, Invisible Monsters, and Searchin For God Know’s What. I’ll get to them some day. I swear I will.
Not much else to report. I think I’ll tackle some reading before I retire for the evening.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
After that, we retired to Chad and Christy’s for a while, whereupon Katie and Christy proceeded to go shopping at Target and Chad and I hung out watching television. When Chad and Katie returned home, Katie went downstairs to play on the computer, Chad and Christy went to get dressed for the evening’s activities, and I fell asleep on the couch under the guise of reading a book. Midway through my nap, when I was apparently snoring so loudly that the walls shook, the doorbell rang. I woke up, confused, and answered the door. Standing there were Chad and Christy’s neighbors with their two young children.
“Where are Chad and Christy?” they asked.
Still tired and confused about what was going on, I said, “Um…uhh….I thinks they’re upstairs. You know, taking a shower or something.” Upon revisiting this discussion, I may have given the impression that my friends (who are married…to each other, mind you) were upstairs doin’ it, while I was asleep on the couch. I believe this was the case, because Chad quickly came downstairs and took over the conversation for me. He seemed a bit nervous and the neighbors seemed a bit offended.
But what can you do, huh. I was asleep and my brain was fuzzy. Well, fuzzier than normal, anyway.
Later in the evening, a large group consisting of Me, Junior, Chad, Christy, Katie, Abbie, Nate, Ben, and Ben’s cousin Rachel met at a local bar filled with leather sofas, quality beer, and a dearth of people. I didn’t think such a place existed, and now that I have found it I plan to move in next door and camp out in front of the bar until they open in the morning. Finally! A reason to become an alcoholic!
We had good discussions this evening. Nate and I talked about computer stuff. Actually Nate talked about computer stuff and I listened. Because there is no comparison. Nate knows a lot about computer programming and software and system development whereas I know very little. And he is obviously very passionate about it. Which is cool. Later, Chad, Rachel and I discussed books and politics. Rachel mentioned that she is reading something about the history of celibacy and how the ancient Greeks viewed women as the members of society who were incapable of controlling sexual urges. I wholeheartedly agreed, quoting both The Lysistrata and The Bacchae, which I distinctly remember not reading when I took a Classical Civilization class in college.
I give the appearance of intelligence from time to time, but it is all an elaborate ruse to curry favor with those who are much smarter than I.
We left the bar and returned home slightly before midnight, whereupon I saw a letter outlining my ten year high school reunion and all the festivities which are soon to take place. The combination of this with the early end of a vibrant evening culminated in the knowledge that I am old. I am so very old.
Friday, October 21, 2005
It reminded me of a few early mornings I experienced while working as the hiking instructor at Camp Friedlander near Cincinnati. I’d wake up early, grab a quick breakfast at the main hall before the crowds filed in, and then spend the rest of my morning sitting in the darkness, smelling the leftover wind and rain in the pines.
That was probably my favorite summer. I’d walk my requisite 8 miles each day, telling bored campers and tired parents all about the dumb trees in our vicinity. They were bored and I was bored, so rather than subject myself to so much boredom (and in the hopes that I would get a few extra points on my review), I made up a story which allegedly took place near the log cabin that sat deep in the woods, halfway through the normal trail.
** ** ** ** ** ** **
This log cabin was old and rundown, like all good cabins upon which old stores are based, and sitting on the edge of the lawn was the stump of what used to be a very large pine tree. The tree that used to stand there had long since passed. In its place, however, there grew yet another tree. It was a small tree, barely more than a sapling, and it grew right on top of the stump. I imagined that the person who had cut down the tree hadn’t quite got the all of it, and part of that sad, old tree wished to grow still.
A beautiful part.
I imagined a family of settlers living in the area, basking in the glow of the sun as it reflected off the hills and the rushing waters of the Little Miami River below. I imagined the majestic pines as tiny little things, only a few feet high. I imagined that this family consisted of a mother, a father, and seven girls. The girls’ beauty was unmatched and young men came from miles around to court them and ask for their hands in marriage.
The youngest girl, Clara, was the prettiest of them all and as soon as she came of age, her father received hundreds of requests from miles around: men who wished to have her hand. Her father refused to entertain such notions, for he preferred to marry his daughters in order by age. Oldest first. That meant all six of Clara’s elder sisters must first be married before her father would consider sending her off.
To some young women, this would have been a burden almost too large to bear. But for Clara it was a blessing, for she took no interested in such things. She preferred solitude. She spent her mornings running through the woods and swimming in the cool waters of the Little Miami, which at that time went by a different name. An Indian name. Some mornings, when the rain had washed away the summer haziness, leaving all else clear, she’d sit in the dark before the sun came up, close her eyes, and breathe in the sweet smell of the wind and the rain in the pines.
Her favorite activity was climbing the largest pine tree in the woods, which sat just at the edge of the family property and dominated the landscape in both its size and grandeur. Clara’s father constantly told his youngest daughter that such an activity was unladylike, but he could not stop his smile when he saw the great joy on Clara’s face as she descended to the ground, happy and covered in sap
One day, a wealthy banker from Cincinnati paid the family a visit. His reputation for ruthlessness and savagery, born of his years serving with Simon Kenton in the Ohio Indian Wars, preceded him. He told the family that he wished to marry their daughter Clara. The father refused, saying that he would first marry his elder daughters, Clara’s sisters. The banker balked. He offered a large sum of money, but Clara’s father was a good and honest man. He would not sell his youngest daughter to a man as ruthless as he.
The banker went away unsatisfied.
A week later, the eldest daughter Betthany ran away from home. Her note, which she left sitting on the family porch, stated that she had recently met a young frontiersman named Anthony Wayne and that the two of them had left for Oklahoma. Her parents were saddened at their daughter’s sudden departure, but they were happy she had found love at long last. They eagerly awaited future correspondence and they made plans to visit their daughter in Oklahoma if ever they could afford it.
A few days after Bethany’s disappearance, the next eldest daughter, Ruth Ann, took flight in much the same fashion. She had met a young circus performer named Roul and fled north to the banks of lake Erie. A day or so later and the next eldest daughter had gone as well.
Clara’s father became nervous. It was unlike his daughters to hide their interests from him, much less run off without a word. None were as popular as Clara, but each was beautiful in her own right. They had many suitors and they reveled in the attention, often arguing over who had the most marriage proposals and how attractive and how rich those suitors tended to be. He interrogated each of his daughters, begging them to share the happy news of new love or their plans to move away. He cried as he told them he did not want his last visions of them to be a note and the memory of their childhoods. Each daughter was insistent. They had met no one, and their intention was to stay on the family farm as long as possible.
The following morning, another daughter came up missing. Her note stated that she had met a man named Chauncey and they had moved to New York City to start their life as playwrights. Clara’s father was distraught. He only had three daughters left, and he feared the worst.
But the disappearances stopped for a while. The family was worried, but they still had hope. Perhaps the notes had been genuine, they thought. Maybe their daughters had really caught the fancy of new love and left for greener pastures. Still, the father was afraid. He told his remaining daughters to stay inside, and he made Clara promise not to spend her mornings climbing her favorite tree.
As the end of another summer fast approached, the banker again paid a visit to the family farm. He wished to express his joy at the father’s good fortune, and repeated his request for Clara’s hand in marriage.
The father flew into a rage. He claimed the banker had stolen his daughters and written the notes himself. He threatened the banker. He said if he ever set foot on his family’s property again, he would find that he was not long for this world. The banker smiled calmly and said that he understood his father’s pain, having seen so many of his daughters marry and leave in quick succession, and he promised to return when the man had learn to respect reason.
The following morning, the remaining two elder daughters went missing. There was no note this time, and the window next to their bedroom had been broken. The next day, the man’s wife disappeared. All who remained where the simple farmer and his beautiful daughter Clara.
Weeks passed. Summer deepened into late autumn. The banker paid his last visit when the first few breaths of cold winter had frosted the tips of the pines.
He again expressed great joy at his eldest daughters’ nuptials while at the same time expressing great sorrow at the loss of the man’s wife, Clara’s mother. He smiled. He repeated his wish to have Clara’s hand in marriage. The father refused. He said he would see his daughter hanging from the great pine, the largest tree for miles around, before he gave her over to this monster.
The banker smiled, and promised to return when the man was of sound mind.
The next morning, Clara’s father had his wish. He awoke to a silent house. It was a clear, cold morning. The previous night’s rain had washed away the hazy film, which had settled over everything after an extended dry spell. It was the kind of morning Clara would have loved.
He went outside and saw his youngest daughter’s body tied to the limbs halfway up the tree. She was dead. Distraught, the father attempted to climb the tree and retrieve his daughter’s broken body. Even in death she looked like an angel, he thought. But he was a large man and the branches grew too small the higher he went. So he spent all day chopping the tree down.
He thought he had got all of it.
The next morning, he buried his daughter next to where her favorite tree used to stand. He left no marker, for the markers that stood for each of his previous daughters, the happy letters that told of their new lives elsewhere, were too much for him to bear. A few days later, the man disappeared as well. He left no trace; save for the house where his family once lived and the large stump that sat a few yards away. After a year of emptiness, the house began to degrade and eventually fell to ruin.
Several years later, the old stump, now dwarfed by the massive pines that covered the land and blocked the view of the river, sprouted a few leaves. By the end of spring, those leaves began to reach skyward. There was form. Another tree had taken root. And even though this tree was small, many people remarked that it was the most beautiful in all of the forest. Each year people came from miles around to see the beautiful little tree and hear the sad story of a beautiful girl who liked to climb the pines on clear, cool mornings.
** ** ** ** ** **
A few of the families took offense to the death and sadness in the story. But anybody who sat amidst the pines on an early, clear morning would understand. Though it is beautiful, it is also sad. And on mornings like this, I often remember that story as if it actually happened.
You never know. It may have.