Monday, September 27, 2010

moving to center

at the core of every idea, emotion and sentient being is truth.

if you can get to it.

most often, it seems, the truth at the core hides or is trapped inside a maze of shifting walls and and funhouse mirrors.

the funny thing is, we build the labrynth ourselves. to prop up and defend the version of reality we desperately need, so we can continue to be the people we present to the world. the people we say we are.

that narrative, of course, is maybe one part real to every four parts fabrication, depending on how complicated we've made ourselves. how many masks we wear beneath the hats we put on in the course of a given day.

say, just for fun, that today, to get through the day, you need to be a boss and a colleague and an underling and a spouse and a parent and a friend. and, come to think of it, you're gonna need to be an administrator, too. and an accountant. and a public speaker. and a referee. and a counselor. and a creative problem-solver. a grammarian and a spell checker and a critic.

and a diplomat. and an advocate. a strategist and a tactician, simultaneously. andandand...

we'll say that's what's required today (even though there's probably more), and we'll stipulate for the record, your honor, that it's a fair representation of a typical day in the life.

say, just for laughs (because it really is funny), that this (or a variation of it) is the person you've constructed over the years. so obviously this is who you are required to be today (a different person likely will be required tomorrow, so be ready).

is it not expected that you will be good at being all of these things? is that not what you expect of yourself and what others expect of you? that all these moving pieces and interlocking components will transition one into the other and back again without a glitch? that this finely woven fabric will stretch seamlessly across the day and into the evening and right up to the point where you fall asleep and dream the weird-but-all-too-lifelike dreams?

of course it is.

random rhetorical question: how likely is it that we can actually be good at all these things, all the time, all at the same time? that the expectation and the reality are in synch and humming along on all cylinders as often as we tell ourselves they are?

we are all of us complicated people in a convoluted world. and each day adds another layer to the coats of paint we slap on to keep the whole edifice looking like new (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). meanwhile, the quiet truths of what we believe, what we feel, and who we are at our core tend to get drowned out by the roar of our own machinations, and those of everyone else we deal with.

so we madly cobble together the maze du jour and the requisite sort-of-truths as best we can, always accompanied by a vague unease that we can't put our finger on but which might be the gap between what we typically do and what we know, at our core, is what we should be doing. if you follow the winding thread.

which leads to an inevitable logical corrolary: don't believe everything you think. i mean, obviously. it's just good common sense, and it keeps you humble.

look at this...a huge pile of words about complication and convolution, all leading to what?

i don't know. i forgot my memory foam pillow, so i'm less sanguine than usual about drawing hasty conclusions...

oh! it's this. simplify.

amputate the clutter. pull the plug on the noise. keep the walls from shifting long enough to locate the core, then run frantically to get there.

make it unnecessary to be all of those people, all at once, but if you must, don't insist that you be good at all of them, because you can't. and even if you could, what's the point?

more importantly, are you being good at the right things? the things you know, at your core, are the ones that matter? one day you will have a moment of clarity, that moment when you shed the many layers and say, wow, did i ever screw that up. if only i had focused more on thisandthisandthis, and less on THAT. everything could've been different.

that moment will come. wouldn't it be nice if it were sooner than later?

of course it would. and for those of you who already know this and are staying close to your quiet center and can actually hear yourselves think...i'm envious.

envy, of course, is another shifting wall clattering around my personal maze.

but i see you there, sitting in your zone of serenity, and i want to be there too, metaphorically and metaphysically speaking. which is to say, to be more like myself. i'm in here, somewhere. i'm pretty sure.

so, i'm looking.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, September 20, 2010

may the patron saint of the blessed cell phone smile upon you

it's a minor miracle.

and it's here on the table next to me. care to guess what it is?

hint: it's not a piece of toast with the image of jesus seared into it. it's not a cornflake in the shape of the virgin mary.

it's certainly not a former colleague of smokey robinson.

no, it's a check for $124 from the state of washington. a refund for the ticket i got for talking on my cell phone while driving.

the beauty part is, i was absolutely guilty. i was talking, i was driving. talking, driving. talkingdriving. one hand was free, but the other one held the phone firmly to my ear. the conversation was really important, though. a matter of life and death.

no, not really. the conversation was completely extraneous.

did i mention that i was guilty? yeah, totally.

despite these facts, which are not in dispute, the state has decided to give me back my money. because of some glitch in the technicalities of the fine print of the nuances of the legalities of the law.

which is to say, the state screwed up.

how often does this kind of thing happen? seriously, how many times in your life have you gotten your money back for something like this? i mean, never, right? it just does. not. happen.

and yet...there it is. an official check signed by the treasurer of the state of washington, jesus buddha muhammad.

i can get used to the idea of the occasional minor miracle. especially when the proof is on the table, close enough to touch.

but the pilgrims milling about our yard have to go.

Sent from my iPad

Friday, September 17, 2010

postcards from teabagger hell...

the lunatics are inside the perimeter.

from utah to delaware to louisiana to new york...and points elsewhere in between...the crazy is eye-popping and jaw-dropping and head-scratching and tooth-drilling. without novocaine.

in what regard, you might ask, if you had a morbid curiousity about the most hilarious humanity has to offer...

how about the mad percolations of the teabagger machine? hard-right candidates who once would've been considered the most lunatic of the fringe have won gop primaries across the country. their victories are driven by a raucus combination of faux-christian values, faux-conservative fiscal hypocrisy, faux-sympathy for the unemployed, and a deep, damp love for the bank accounts of the hyper-wealthy.

oh, and racism. (did you know: the president is black.)

you want to test their belief in all-american ideals like free speech, freedom of religion and property rights? propose building the muslim equivalent of a ymca in new york, and watch their heads explode.

you want to see how much they really believe in fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction? suggest letting tax cuts expire for the richest of the billionaires, and watch them hyperventilate.

you want to know how they express their christian values and love of their neighbors? listen to the reverend mike huckabee throw the sick and injured under the nearest haybailer.

these are the kind of people who demand all the perks of being an american~roads, police, firefighters, teachers, schools, and the right to worship the military branch of their choice~but they don't want to pay for any of it. somewhere along the way they believed their political doppelgangers who told them they could have it all at no cost whatsoever. taxes? nonsense! it's not the government's money, it's ours! tax cuts pay for themselves, and deficits don't matter.*

(*actual claims and contradictions courtesy of right-wing fabulists!)

note: taxes actually are the government's money~it's in the constitution. and no, tax cuts don't pay for themselves. and deficits appear not to matter only when run up by borrow-and-spend republicans.

the analysis of the rise of the teabagger right says, "they're angry." and they want to take back the country. and they want to restore honor. it doesn't say where this anger was during the bush administration, when "their money" was being wasted by the trillion in unnecessary and unsuccessful wars. when their government was sullying u.s. honor by killing tens of thousands, committing torture, and ravaging the constitution. when tax cuts were the answer to every question, heralding the transition from a healthy economy into the great recession.

didja notice? not a peep out of them during those fun times.

and now they want to put back in power the people who were responsible for all those hijinks, or better still, folks who are even further out on the crazy meter. just imagine the hilarity!

fun fact: christie o'donnell (R-celibacy) once "dabbled into witchcraft," but she didn't join a coven. sure she didn't. and bill clinton didn't inhale. o'donnell's pious supporters are likely to be horrified by this sacrilege~but they will forgive her this and any other heresy rather than vote for a democrat. self-respecting wiccans, meanwhile, are likely to be, uh, disconcerted by the thought of o'donnell in their midst.

america may be a great mixing pot...or it may be the world's largest and most inefficient insane asylum. if we're honest with each other we agree, at least, that what's going on these days is the kind of derangement only the lunified could love.

turns out the inmates are not just in our midst.

they are us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

breakfast club

fred macmurray was so very wrong.

somewhere in tv-land, in a charming episode of "my three sons," uncle charlie is serving breakfast...and fred is hungry.

fred: where are my eggs, charlie?

uncle charlie: here, you can have what ernie didn't eat. that's all that's left.

fred: i see. well, as long as we keep the germs in the family...

in the second half of this two-part episode, e. coli spreads throughout the douglas household and runs rampant across bryant park. eventually uncle charlie is brought up on charges. hilarity ensues in the courtroom, as the jury succumbs to the pandemic.

* * * * *

i don't really think i have e. coli. but it's definitely something. something disturbing and debilitating and demoralizing. ebola, maybe.

this is what happens when the children go back to school and return with all the latest bacteria. they share. and we are the beneficiaries. or the incubators. as the case may be.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

seeing the light

pack up all your dishes
make note of all good wishes
say goodby to the landlord for me
sons of bitches always bore me
throw out those LA papers
and the moldy box of vanilla wafers
adios to all this concrete
gonna get me some dirt road back street...

~ jerry jeff walker

the missus and i have had an epiphany.

so we're moving.

we're not sure where, or when, but we're moving.

this is not a "move to a bigger house in magnolia" kind of move. this is the kind of move where we leave the neighborhood entirely, on our way out of the country.

catalonia, maybe. or the southeast of france.

we're not sure of the destination yet, pending scouting expeditions starting the first half of 2011.

back to the epiphany, which upon further review isn't particularly epiphanous. it's that corporate america would like to bleed us dry and kick us to the curb at its earliest convenience, and take its healthcare along with it.

meanwhile republicans, who by all accounts are poised to take back control of congress, would like to give huge tax cuts to the wealthiest americans and spending cuts to everyone else. most credible economists agree this is exactly the wrong thing to do, economic policy-wise, and will deepen the current recession brought about by republican economic policies.

this, according to nobel-prize winning economist paul krugman, has a real chance of setting up a japan-style lost decade of long-term unemployment, cash hoarding and deflation. which means we'll be lucky to stay employed during the next ten years, while the value of our assets declines.

the missus and i aren't up for riding out a lost decade. and really, what's the point? if the best we can hope for is to keep working for the privilege of being allowed to keep working, suddenly the whole "american dream" contrivance doesn't seem so dreamy.

it's not rational to keep participating in a game in which the winners (the very wealthy) are predetermined and everybody else gets to stay poor.

so, we're leaving.

we're not sure when. we're not sure where. we just know it won't be anyplace that worships corporate gods or the elected representatives who serve them.

somewhere civil rights are respected and healthcare is a human right.

someplace civilized.  

Sent from my iPad