lundi, janvier 19, 2009

Just Another Day

Officials are considering a ban on the word "historic."  The phrase "first black president" is also under scrutiny.  [Ignoring the essential inaccuracy, those who don't know by now that the president is the first of mixed heritage don't deserve to be told.  Those of us who already know, (and love and appreciate) the fact, don't need to be punished by being told over and over again.]  Those who will be discussing the events of the day are strongly encouraged to say something NOT so useless.
What that might be, I have no idea.  Let's think about this together.  We know he is smart, well read, articulate (when NOT speaking off the cuff) and good looking.  We know the address itself was predestined to be eloquent and inspiring.  We also know that a magazine in Britain has ridiculously posited that our new president is redefining the male physique.  But these are commonalities.  Let's dig a little.

You might comment on the abject lack of class of Obama's supporters, as they booed and jeered (and sang the infantile 'Na na na na hey hey hey goodbye' song) when they espied the departing president, who used his final radio address to thank us all.  For what I don't know, but it was gracious and dignified, in stark contrast to Obama supporters who marred what was otherwise a gracious and dignified inauguration.  If you smiled even for a second, or in any way approved of the incidents in question, or especially if there is a slight chance that you might have joined in the trashy hullabaloo, then I have a sharpie waiting for you to write "CLASSLESS ASS" on yourself when next we meet.  Perhaps I'll sink to your level and skip the middle man and write it on your car.  

You might explore the idea that the millions being spent on these proceedings are out of place for a man who is a friend to the poor in general, and in these difficult times specifically.  You might read a little history and peruse the account of Thomas Jefferson's inauguration, wherein he shunned all pomp and circumstance for a quiet dinner with close friends and associates.  You might imagine what good could be done with all this money.  You did so when you heard how much Sarah Palin was spending on her wardrobe.  Why not for this, or for the Academy Awards?  You might wonder about the 600 private jets that landed in DC for the event.  Or observe that the entire affair has been dominated by rich fat cat out of touch people just like any other inauguration [except Jefferson's!]  A new day is indeed dawning, where we don't have to hate rich white people anymore--as long as they visibly supported Obama.  Huzzah!

You might justifiably snicker about the words that got jumbled during the oath of office.  Was Chief Justice Roberts a little nervous, or was that a touching tribute to W?

You might help someone who has already voted for a black man in a presidential election three times, who really doesn't give a tinker's taint what color someone is, why he is supposed to feel differently about this event than any other of its kind.  LET ME MAKE THIS PAINFULLY CLEAR: I am moved to the point of tears when I think that we are experiencing a peaceful transition of power yet again.  I am inspired by the genius and majesty of system that not only limits and divides authority, but gives the people an opportunity to transfer presidency from one person to another (from a person who doesn't do well with a tele-prompter to someone who does--huzzah!).  These feelings do not obligate me to have a personal interest in the demagogue who is ensconced on this day or any other.    
Donny the socialist at work is full of joy, and went on and on about how miserable these last eight years have been, then recited the litany of his emotional state during every presidency since Kennedy.  His argument was essentially this: when there was a president with whom he agreed, everything is GREAT!  When there was a guy he didn't like, the world was a shit hole.  So, I guess we can all be happy for poor Donny, who can finally pare down his therapy and whiskey bills.  [For the record, Donny has had a GREAT 8 years.  He is better off now than he ever has been his entire life.  I guess if he can attribute that to Obama, then more power to him.]

But what if my sense of hope and well being is not IN ANY WAY, NOT FOR ONE SECOND attached or connected to the person or party sitting in the oval office? I didn't care about the Carter, Regan, Bush, or Clinton inaugural.  There isn't anything about this one to get me to start.  You hate me now, but sorry: it's just another day.  

Even so, heart felt congratulations and best of luck to President Obama [and the masses who have their identity and sense of hope wrapped up in him], here's hoping the next four years are . . . historic.     

lundi, janvier 12, 2009

I actually don't mind ABBA's music . . .

Academic and speculative fears have little place in the cold, hard reality of a girl pants world. But I think this one is compelling enough to qualify.

My mother recently tried to make me watch Mamma Mia! -the movie based on the songs of 70's supergroup ABBA (sorry, I can't type a backwards "B"). I made it about 20 minutes, which is really saying something, since any sane person not filled to the brim with filial affection would run screaming after five. For the love of my angel Mother, I stayed 20 eternal minutes, even as the maleficent plan of the Great Satan--to write this movie, get it made, and then inhabit the body of my mother and force me to watch her enjoy it, unrolled before my mind's horrified eye. If I wasn't already her favorite son, this sacrifice alone cements my status.

Even so, while the abject horribleness of this abomination did hurt, and hurt bad, it is not the subject currently at hand. No, another fear, far more horrifying than this experience, has begun to materialize: Given the suckcess of movies like Mamma Mia! and her sister flick "Across the Universe" (exclamation point optional), it is not unlikely--indeed, it is extremely probable--that at some future time, some future movie making demon will create and distribute a musical based on THE MUSIC OF THE EAGLES.

jeudi, janvier 08, 2009

Workplace Tip for the Day

Start pronouncing the word "original" as "ori-JINE-al."

When you get the inevitable questions, or questioning looks, act as if you've always said it that way. In fact, act as if everyone has always said it that way.

lundi, janvier 05, 2009

New Years Day

I've always thought New Year's resolutions were for chumps. You've thought it, too. Even when you made them. You knew it. If something is worth doing, you don't wait for some arbitrary calendar point to start doing it. It's the worst kind of bosh and the flimsiest flimshaw. There is nothing about Fatty on December 31, 2009, that will change because the phone says January 1, 2009. In fact, if you saw fit to wait for the new year to implement your mythical weight loss/work out odyssey, I will put my reputation on the line with a guarantee that you will be just as out of shape this time next year, when you can baste yourself with the creamy butter of pretending to give a crap once again. I can find it in my heart to wish you a hearty and earnest "good luck," but I've not looked to make any resolutions since I became an adult.

This year, however, the resolution found me.

I've been cutting my own hair SUCCESSFULLY for over ten years. (I've actually been cutting it for 15, but the first five weren't pretty.) Even at the bargain basement price of $10 a month times twelve months times ten years, I've saved $1,200 dollars over the past decade. Almost enough to pay the overdraft fees and late penalties I accrued last year. I've settled into a groove. I know what I'm doing. These days, when I tell someone I'm my own personal barber, they are usually at least a little impressed.

New Year's day found me back at the mirror for a trim. By now the clippers are on automatic pilot. I'm cruising towards the same old thing, when suddenly, for reasons no scientician can explain, all bearings go haywire for a split second and I carve a gash into the back of my hair way up--to near the very crown. Horrified, I mutter a list of profanities no barber should even know and proceed to give myself a necessity cut that is wrong on every level. Shape: jarhead. Implication: past, current, or future marine. Subtext: mistake. Revelations: you are not as deft as you thought, and your head has a funny shape when revealed naked to the day. Possibilities: mockery, pity, and worse, affection from unpleasant sources.

Hence, the resolution writes itself. I'll be growing my hair out at long last. Because by the time this grows out, I'll be truly accustomed to the hat. This same hat will take me past the painful transitional period between ugly white man fro and whatever the future holds.

Besides for at least the foreseeable future, I'm scared to take the clippers in hand for anything but minor manscaping. (Which is another story all together.)

jeudi, janvier 01, 2009

DEATH (New Year's Eve)

It has been written about before, under the guise of "Sensitivity Training," but my views on death are once again causing me strife.

A coworker didn't show up for work. She has worked with us for many years, and has rarely missed, and never missed without calling. They called me to cover for her. They were justifiably worried. They wondered aloud what could cause her to not show up like that. I thought it was a stupid thing to wonder about, and said, "She probably died." Luckily I was talking to a voicemail. Because a statement I might call prophetic, or at least prescient, might be considered insensitive by the Lambs of the County. I couldn't work the shift, so I had a day to process the possibility of her passing.

The brain in me says:

1) She smoked multiple packs a day since she was 9.

2) She was retired.

3) She had advanced lung disease, and required a constant flow of tube delivered oxygen.

4) She was divorced, never had kids, and lived alone. [editors note: she lived with three cats, an oxygen tank, and a hose, hence "alone" is here used in the moral, or even metaphorical sense of the word. The author does not consider cats and medical apparatus as company.]

5) The reason she was alone was that she was a bitter old crone from New York who was so set in her ways that a break in her routine might kill her before lung disease or old age. She was despised by the mental health clients and most of her coworkers dreaded working with her. She had offended almost everyone. On numerous occasions she had been invited to pow wow with the supervisor re: perceived rudeness.

All of these stipulations lead to the undeniable conclusion that Death was evidently imminent, if not past due. In any case it was inevitable, and possibly desirable.

The soul in me says:

1) I really did love the old gal. I knew her a little better than everyone else, because we worked the night shift together for years before any of the current staff even arrived. She had excellent taste in movies and was fun in a conversation. Seeing her wheezing around with an O2 tank, looking as if someone had dipped her in grey paint, was sad.

2) I've loved a lot of people who are now dead, and a good deal more who died long before I was even born. She is part of an overwhelming majority of human beings for whom Death has come a callin'. I'll miss her, but if I'm not used to that by now, I must be some kind of an idiot.

3) Whether in a metaphorical/poetical sense (for atheists), or a literal one, (for believelings), her "spirit," in whatever sense one wishes to construe it, lives on. Which is certainly a good deal more appealing than the rest of her dragging around in the state she was in. This is a win/win.

These stipulations seem to lead to the conclusion that Death was not just expected, but welcome. Put the two sets of stipulations together, and you have, I believe, good reason to not have to futz around with all the traditional pitiful piety and pious pity. Even the probability that she died alone on Christmas day and lay there (possibly being eaten by her "housemates" [ed: the cats]) for almost a week doesn't sweeten the pot enough to manufacture mourning. Not to a mind and soul making sense of the situation. What should be added to the pot is the woman's stated position on maudlin social conventions: she hated them. There was nothing, EVER, that would indicate that she would want people mourning her passing. Working with her for more than ten years, I can theorize with a fair amount of certainty her reaction: She would shrug her shoulders and say with her Brooklyn bred confidence: "Shit happens. I happened. Whatever. Get over it!"

So I show up to work on New Year's Eve to the news that I was right, even about the actual date. She did indeed die on Christmas day and lay there unnoticed by the world until a County Mental Health facility noticed she didn't show up. A note in everyone's box about the regrettable passing of "one of our workplace family," makes me smile a little, thinking about how much she would have hated that turn of phrase. Then co-workers, who knew her less than half as well as I did, approach me with their solemn declarations surprise and grief. I smile and say: "Oh, I knew it! I knew when I got the call about her not showing up yesterday. When I got the message, I said to myself 'She finally kicked the bucket! I bet she's been lying there since Christmas!'"

They stare at me blankly.

"Well, we've all been expecting it for a long time. Even she was. She used to joke about how the threat of immediate death was the only thing that got her to put down the cigarettes."

Someone clears their throat. "It's so sad" someone says. I give up. All the philosophy in the world is helpless in the face of maudlin social convention.

"Yeah," I say, slowly and with conviction, "it's a real tragedy. She'll be missed by one and all."