Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Patience or anger is a matter of choice.
Understanding or intolerance is a matter of choice.
Being loved or being despised is a matter of choice.
Selfishness and selflessness is a matter of choice.
Noise or quiet is a matter of choice.
Violence or peace is a matter of choice.
Holding a grudge or offering grace is a matter of choice.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Oh whisper me words in the shape of a bay… Shelter my love from the wind and the waves…
My daughter’s Facebook status quietly switched from “single” to “in a relationship” one day. That is the way of things now. The way that these things are announced. It is puppy love, filled with youth and dreams.
“He listens to me… and he doesn’t try to fix me…” she said one day. And I smile. Remembering.
I walked in earlier and she was talking to him. I could tell just by watching her body language. There was an electricity that is alive there… it is almost visible. And it reminded me of those times so long past.
She is metal ore… valuable but unformed. She and her beau could take any shape that her imagination drives her toward.
But my relationship was beaten into shape long ago. Tempered through heat and quenched in cooling waters. It has been hammered and curved, and then hammered again until it formed a definitive and beautiful shape of our making. It has been polished, bright… and then, as is often the case, it grew tarnished through neglect. Not purposefully… but because there are so many other things that needed tending. It gets an occasional buffing, brightening it for a moment or two. But it is an artifact now.
Hanging in the galleries of the world are thousands of similar works of art, admired for their technique and their skill. But lost in all of these works is that moment when the artist sat in front of the canvas, blank and white. Before the brush made its first stroke. When all was potential. That moment when the electricity was palpable. All that remains is the artifact which attempted to capture the immense beauty in their inner vision.
The artifact that is mine is beautiful… there can be no doubt. It means the world to me. It created a world that I inhabit and breathed life into three souls that have changed forever my place in the world. And time and oxygen might conspire to makes its surfaces less shiny, but the beauty is still visible, even if faded.
But I can’t help but feel that bite of nostalgia when I see the crease of a smile and excitement cross her lips as she talks to him. She is an artist in front of her blank canvas… and I wonder if the vision she will paint will truly match what is in her mind’s eye now. Or if that is even possible.
Friday, October 29, 2010
It was raining the other night. Not the normal sprinkle, but a good, hard downpour. I was traveling on the yon side of hither and yon... heading home in the dark. I hit the puddle on the side of the road going about 60. And suddenly I wasn't attached to gravity any longer. I was airborne... riding a wave a fraction of an inch thick, no longer in control... but subject, instead, to the whims of momentum. I have hit puddles many times before. A few feet of water that tugs the wheel hard for a moment. I have driven on highways where a car beside me has sprayed me with a coating of water so deep that I was blinded for moments. But nothing quite like this. The puddle must have been 50 feet or more.
They say war is hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. I think this is true of many things in life. We grow comfortable and complacent in the sameness and only when things upset our carefully organized world does that panic rise, like bile, and overtake us. With age comes the knowledge that an instant can change everything. With age the knowledge of consequence. And a knowledge that we are only mortal.
But with age comes patience. The understanding that ups are followed by downs... and downs are followed by ups. And that if you fight your body's natural panic reflex and stay relaxed... sanity will be restored.
In this case it probably only took a few seconds... a few seconds where I was driving a missile and fighting to edge it in the right direction despite its desire to pull me off the embankment into the dark. Sometimes it takes much longer for sanity to be restored. But panic only makes us pull the wheel harder and lose control before sanity can regain that control.
Chaos is always a few feet to the right... down an embankment. It is easier to just ignore it and follow the lights down the road... between the white lines where all makes sense. But we can only maintain the road if we override the panic with calm.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
It is well worn with only my steps. And yet each trip I take there is unique. Each journey requires its own dance, with steps that are similar, but not quite the same from the last. At the heart of the matter is a emotion that is simple and pure. Trust. It is a simple helix with infinite variety. A genetic code all its own that wraps its way forward and back in time... pulling history and mingling it with possibility into something that is new. It is an emotion that is as solid as smoke, difficult to grasp, and impossible to regain once it has dissipated.
But once there... once the invasion has begun... it devolves into naked fury, hand to hand combat, where both sides sweat, and both sides struggle, and both sides die a little death.
And once the battle is over... and we lay there, spent... the lines resolve again into north and south, and we stare at each across the parallel and await the next battle.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I'm thinking he was talking more about self examination... and not the monthly kind for lumps. But the internal wrangling with who we are... and what we are... and why we are.
For most writers... the written word is a formalized wrangling. Regardless of the topic, it is impossible not to inject some of your own soul searching between the lines. Writers of history are not, as a general rule, a happy lot. Oh, I'm sure that there have been some painfully happy writers. Just not very successful ones. The process of laying oneself bare in the form of the characters that we create can be very taxing. Blogs are no exception and in fact they can be even more so... since the character generally has little in the way of fiction. Comedy or tragedy. They really are two faces of the same internal dialogue.
I've been writing less of late. Both here and elsewhere. I suppose it is a natural flow where we are driven to write and then just as quickly emptied out. Writers are typically "a little bit bipolar" as my mother terms it. She should know. She's been treating them for years. Driving around my home town with her is like a mobile PDR of diagnoses. "Oh, there's Bob! He's a little bipolar." I think we all have a bit of the manic depressive cycle within us. We are more prolific at times than others. But at the heart of the matter is our own soul searching. Is a life unexamined really not worth living? Do we really need to dig into the knotty problems of our jobs, and our loves, and our mistakes, and our mid-life crises on a daily basis to be "worth living?" Or can we just check in from time to time to see if we have any new lumps.
There are more days than not when I don't really feel like writing. Does this mean that I am not feeling as deeply as I do on days when I do write? Am I more in touch with me when others can read and connect? Or am I just repeating the same words time and again?
None of these questions really have answers. Your answers will be different than mine... and my answers today will be different than they will be tomorrow. And this lack of clarity is the thing that has kept real philosophers and amateur ones tied in knots for eons. But I wonder if Socrates is a little off some days... and if there were days where he just laid in bed and watched the tube and didn't really do any thinking at all.
Personally, I've begun to prefer the philosophy of the Indigo Girls: The less I seek my source for some definitive, The closer I am to fine.
Off to watch some mindless television.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
On the surface of it... it is a childish hobby. On a deeper level there is much that is symbolic about it. It is her way of making her mark in the world. Of staking her claim on the people that she loves. Public displays of affection, if you will.
Love can be like that. It is our deep, unspoken desire is to make our mark on other people. To bind them to us in ways where they can't escape. In some cases this is sweet and lovely and happily ever after... but in other cases it can be stifling and limiting and troublesome. My dog has a way of binding us with his love. He sits on us. It isn't really comfortable for either party. But there is a territorial protective part of his behavior that is funny. But it is also hot, smelly and uncomfortable when he steps on areas of you not made for stepping. But the concepts are the same.
We are surrounded with symbols of owning and being owned. Wedding rings are only a hop, skip and jump into metal from the string colored bracelets of my daughter. There is desire to own... but a reluctance to be owned. But owning someone when it means we have to sit on them to keep them where we want them isn't very satisfying. Being our own people by running away from any possibility of being owned isn't very satisfying either.
Of course, love isn't really about owning... or being owned. It is about willing giving oneself over to another. Choosing to stay. And letting the other person decide whether to come or go. That can be joyful. That can be heartbreaking. But it is a lesson that comes to us all at some point. I hope for my daughter the heartbreak is minor and the joy overflowing. But those lessons are far away from now. A now where a piece of string is all it takes to say "I love you".
And so... for the time being at least... there is a middle age man walking around with some woven colored thread on his wrist. She owns a piece of me. I accept that and embrace it. And I love her back, even though that means that I can't tie her down and keep her with me forever. I will let her fly away when she is old enough to fly. Perhaps she will return or perhaps not. That is the risk we take whenever we give a piece of ourselves away with no strings attached.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
We want the world to be a place where goodness is rewarded and evil punished. We want to know that if we act well to our neighbors, they will, in turn, treat us well. But it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes the bad guys win, and sometimes the goodness results in nothing more than heartbreak. There are supposedly (and according to a writing teacher of mine once) only a handful of plot lines for fiction. These plot lines are repeated all around us every day. The good guy gets the girl and lives happily ever after. The bad guy kills the good guy right at the point of success. The girl turns out to be the good guy... or the bad guy... or just not that into guys in general... etc. But they are rhythms that we are all very used to. Comedy. Tragedy. Two sides of the same face.
And at the apex of the maturity level in terms of plot devices is what is called "no plot"... popular among the Coen Brothers and others of their ilk. The hero is not that heroic and manages barely any change through the story. The plot points are vague and fuzzy. The message is in the background and at the end of it we are left scratching our heads or demanding our money back.
But perhaps that is life. We are the heroes of our story. And in one storyline I can be the hero... and in another storyline I can be the goat... and yet another the bad guy. But my life is all of these things together. And all that really matters is the perspective of the person delivering the judgment of who belongs in which category.
So it isn't why that matters anymore for me... all that matters is perspective.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to find you among all the other tall, thin girls with their hair pulled up. The groups have grown from a few in a static row, laughably attempting to remember the steps while craning their necks from side to side to watch their neighbors... to your groups now. Dozens of girls whipping around in long lines. First you are there. Then you are suddenly there. Popping in and out of vision. Your smile fixed firmly in place. Your timing always perfect. No longer is it just enough to remember your part, but now you must fit in seamlessly to all the others, forming a single unified unit devoid of individualism.
You have already grown out of believing me when I tell you that you are the best thing on the stage. The only one that knows their part. The one with the best smile. You know that it is only my job to tell you such things. You chide me for focusing the camera on you, instead of on all the girls together. For you, the interest is in the whole dance. For me... I can only see the tree and not the forest. The forest overwhelms. But I remember the tree when it just a sapling, and I remember the endless nights and days of care that we lavished on you so that you would bloom.
When you watch the video, you make fun of yourself for all of your mistakes. Hypercritical to the end. An unflattering trait that comes genetically, I'm afraid. You roll your eyes at my attempts to deflect your criticism of yourself, because you know so much more than I do. And that I am not really observant because my eyes are blinded by love.
And perhaps you are right. But I notice one thing. In the ballet number, right toward the end... you stand in the back, in the center of the stage against a giant blue scrim. I watch the graceful lines you make in silhouette. And just for a moment, your fingers splay slightly in a break of form. Then all the other girls leave you alone on the stage before you finally make your way off... the last girl among all the other trees in the forest of girls.
There is a tear in my eye. Because I noticed the splayed fingers. And it reminds me, viscerally, of the way you were ten years ago. I remember those sames hands... smaller and more childlike... splayed in the same unique way, which made you.... you.
And I love you all the more for it.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Then came a horrific crash which sounded like thunder, but in my room. I threw on some shorts and ran down the hall to find my youngest still abed covered with her covers. Then I ran to the next room and my son was making his bed... so everyone was alright. "What was that?" I asked. My daughter pointed to the foot of her bed where she had stretched so hard that she kicked over her toy bin. I had obviously missed this fact when checking to make sure that a tree hadn't come through the roof. Toys were everywhere and she was smiling.
I wonder about those moments. Those moments just before the crash. Those moments right before impact when all is well and all is quiet. How easy it is for us to take those moments for granted and assume that they will keep coming and coming.
Last week I got an email telling me of an accident. A boy that we knew was in a crash. This boy is one of the most talented athletes his age... and at age 11 he was know already across the country for his skill. But last weekend he and his father ran in to each other on motorcycles and for a while it looked like the boy wouldn't even survive... let along play hockey again. I couldn't help but ponder the events right before the crash. A beautiful, sunny day... perfect for play, full of happiness and joy... moments that we wish would last forever. But life doesn't play that way.
There is a balance, I suppose. I know many parents who refuse to let their kids live because they are so consumed by fear that something might happen to them that they cloister them away from everything. But this approach, perhaps, ultimately does more long term damage than the scars of all but the worst accidents. Fear consumes us so that we can no longer lay in bed and enjoy the moments of quiet because we just know that a crash is waiting around the corner.
We are merely mortal, regardless of how godlike we feel in certain moments. We are flesh and blood. It reminds me of the end of the movie Patton... when Patton is walking off into the sunset of the movie, having won the war... and a few months before his own crash and demise would come. He related a story as follows:
"For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him.Sometimes, his children, robed in white... stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning... that all glory... is fleeting."
I think all we can do with the lives that we have is to enjoy the parade... or the quiet bed... or the moments of joy and sunshine in the moments that we are given. Maturity brings the knowledge that crashes will come... and we must be prepared to pick up the spilled toys... or deal with the more serious consequences. But there can be no greater regret in life than looking in the rear view mirror and realizing that we missed those moments because we were too busy worrying about those crashes to come.
Monday, May 24, 2010
This is "It's a Wonderful Life", where George is jealous of everyone who gets to go someplace other than Bedford Falls. His brother is off at war and it seems exotic and cool. But if the hero of the story was Harry and not George, the story line would be a lot different and I'm sure Harry would rather be back home than he would going up in a plane everyday and trying to kill people before they killed him. Both story lines are understandable to us. The desire to escape. The desire to return. The Lord of the Rings is all about that... the urgent need to leave the Shire, followed by two books of wishing they could be back in the Shire. And no, Mandy, it doesn't make be a geek because I referenced Lord of the Rings in a blog. Ok... maybe just a little.
My wife described her week ahead to me. "Drive here, do this, do that..." on and on. And she didn't sound very happy about it. It is a lot of moving from point A to point B, all in the service of someone else's schedule. There is cooking and cleaning and laundry and work and concerts and a large variety of other things that go on in the Shire that are the same as every other week. Her storyline has her trapped in this time frame forever... like Groundhog Day. "It will never change!" she wails. But it will, and then she might even miss it.
I know this travel stuff will change eventually. But for now it is my storyline. It is a little like the middle section of War and Peace. So I keep telling myself. If I slog through the doldrums for long enough I will get to the end of the book and it will feel worthwhile. It gets to a point where the place and the time are all relative. I'm not sure if I'm two time zones ahead? Or one behind. Or if I'm supposed to be eating lunch or dinner. You get up when the sun rises and work until it is long gone. And the beautiful and exotic things that surround me remain hidden as I never escape the terminal. There is a purgatory aspect to this sort of life. A myriad of faces, none of them known. None of them familiar. And so this hero in this story at this moment wishes for nothing more than familiarity and my own pillow.
They changed my gate again. Off to track down my next leg.
Over and out.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Having spent much of the last year watching the unfolding drama of various celebrities... John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Jesse James, and Tiki Barber... to name the obvious... I am struck by a sea change of the male/female dynamic. I am not naive enough to think that these men are a new phenomenon. The sea change is, however, in how these men are portrayed in the press, and by the public in general. In many cases prior, much of the blame was wrongly placed on the woman... the succubus who come for seduction and are completely irresistible to even the strongest of men, willing them away from their chosen mates. But the sea change is that in these latest cases the men are portrayed as the offenders and the women, as innocent victims of the man's sexual appetites. I don't really know what went on in any of these cases... and neither do you... as much as you think you might. In all likelihood there is guilt on both sides of the aisle. But that doesn't make for as good of a story.
But how does this relate to Invisible fences... you ask.
Well, if I didn't buy my dog an Invisible Fence... he would undoubtedly be running around the neighborhood in a bacchanalian frenzy, screwing everything in sight... girl dogs, boy dogs, children, legs, trees, fire hydrants... etc. There are many dogs in my neighborhood... and many real fences... and some of the dogs ignore their borders and dig under the fences and bound around, breaking out of their boxes and breaking the rules. It isn't until they get hit by the car that they realize that this probably wasn't a good idea. However, those with fences that shock provide some pain beforehand to deter the inevitable frenzy to occurs. I wonder how many of the above mentioned men would have strayed if they were given the painful shock of embarrassment and family ruination that comes after the fact.
It is easy to sit on the sidelines and judge others... and I realize that none of us are completely to blame... nor completely innocent. My dog follows his nature. His nature is to sow his seed far and wide. As more evolved... we humans are supposed to live by a code which uses rules and morals to provide the Invisible Fences around us. Our big brains allow us to think into the future and to see the destruction our actions will cause... both to ourselves and to those around us. Yet the big brain is often overridden by the little brain of our libido.
Perhaps we all just need to wear collars that provide us a jolt of electricity when we begin to get too close to the line.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The moon is full behind the swiftly moving blanket of clouds, and through the trees, the blanket thins for a brief moment and shadows chase themselves until the darkness envelopes us once again.
Your body shifts against me. It is solid and real and full of substance. For a moment, I had forgotten that we were two, but your subtle movement in the crook of my arm is a gentle reminder of our separateness. I can feel your breath against my neck, your hand tightening slightly over mine. The touch is casual. Familiar. Should all other senses fail me, it is touch that will buoy me and keep me afloat on the vast ocean of nothingness. It is touch that connects and combines those things that are unique and separate. It is filled with the raw emotions... the violence of anger... the trembling of fear... the gentleness of love. But the easy manner in which your hand finds mine and gently strokes the hair on my arm speaks volumes more to me than the obviousness of the others.
It is music to me, a melancholy air played on the strings of the heart. The impermanence of now. The moments and touches and feelings and emotions that co-mingle into the sense of being alive. The sense that can be raucous and jovial... tearful and heartbreaking... or, like now... calming and infinite.
I know not what goes through your head... or your heart... but only that you are here. Because I can feel you.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Even today a majority of television shows are still recorded on film. Editing was a different story... the digital revolution was massive for film editors. The silly practice of physically splicing film together was replaced quickly and nearly universally by digital editors. But except for some advances in true digital photography, film for shooting still rules as a recording mechanism in movies and TV.
Why this remains so is hard to describe to most people. But I guarantee that if you saw the results side by side, you would be able to tell. Even the best digital camera has a different way of light capture than a regular film camera. But things are changing quickly as we become more and more accustomed to the "look" of digital. HD TVs are so ubiquitous as to make "regular" TVs seem like dinosaurs. And digital still cameras have made film SLRs seems ancient for home use, and increasingly for professional use.
I've been thinking about all of this of late because I got a Kindle for my birthday. I had been oohing and aahing over a few friends who had gotten one for Christmas, so one magically showed up from Amazon for my birthday a few months later. As a man, I like me some gadgets. But as a well known bibliophile, I also love the feel and smell and touch of books. As with film, it is hard to explain to a non-believer why one would miss the feel of a book. But you do.
The logical part of my brain, which thinks about things like sustainability, knows that it is wasteful to cut down trees to continually make new books and magazines and newspapers, when it is faster and cheaper to deliver words digitally. And I have to say, it is pretty f-ing cool to be on a phone call with someone listening to them rave about a book and download it and start reading it before the call ends. I've done that twice already in my two months of Kindling. It is also cool to have 50 or a 100 or a 1000 books in my backpack without walking around like Igor.
Likewise, shooting family stills has gone by the wayside in a digital world. The photo chemical industry is in the toilet. Which is not a bad thing unless you are in the photo chemical business. Our kids will no doubt be so used to the look of digital that films and TV will eventually go that way too. And it is just a matter of time until e-book readers become so universal as to make hard copy production obsolete. The nay-sayers may say "NEVER"... but the writing is already there, and like all such sea changes, we end up looking like dinosaur hold overs from a different age... laughed at and mocked by the new generation.
And despite logic to the contrary, I will remain nostalgic for the analog world. I will remember the many hours spent changing film with my hands deep inside a light-bag, my hands touching the reels, and carefully and blindly feeding them through the camera. I will remain nostalgic for the look of grain in a world of discrete pixels... of lighting with your gut, and knowing that it was, at the very best, a guess... instead of a sure thing. And I will remain nostalgic for the book stores and libraries that will fade away by the time I die... and the feeling of being surrounded by the works of generations... a feeling I don't get when I hold the thin Kindle in my hand... even though it holds a whole shelf of books already.
Logic does not play well with nostalgia. Nostalgia is smells, and touches... heartbeats and fragments of memories. It is the emotion that we turn to when the antiseptic cleanliness of logic fails to move us. And after all, living is about being moved. And even while they laugh at me now for my nostalgia, the next generation will have their own list of things which will make them nostalgic, I'm sure. At least, I hope.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
It is dark and the lights below rise to meet me. When the door opens, I repeat the steps that I've repeated over and over. I move because moving is expected. I walk fast because walking fast make me appear to have purpose, and it is important to keep up appearances. Even if there is really no one watching. The stores are all closed for the day, the gates pulled down, and the place is mostly empty. But still I walk fast.
And I'll check my machine, There's sure to be that call, It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon... It's just that times are lean.
While I walk, I try to remember how it is I got... here. Not necessarily the physical here... but the timeline here. I retrace my footsteps in my head, and visually connect the moments. But it is like a morning dream. An amalgam of dreams of the whole night. Disjointed snippets and images which, combined, make no sense. We make due and weave our stories together in ways that tell a narrative. But often the writing isn't as good as we hoped.
And you said,"Be still, my love. Open up your heart. Let the light shine in"
I think it is inevitable that the cheerleaders in our lives grow out of the uniforms eventually. The skirts and pom-poms that once looked so fetching, now look absurd. That is the definition, I suppose, of the end of love. When the new stories in our lives sound so much like the old stories in our lives that those that once believed, can no longer rouse themselves off the couch for long enough to feign interest. I wish for that voice to say... "Be still." But all I hear is the echoes from long ago.
Don't you understand? I already have a plan. I'm waiting for my real life to begin.
First it was film. Then writing. I could go through a whole laundry list of them. Something... anything creative that allows the world not to view me as just another poor sot. Anything but the corporate hustle to make other people money. But we put our energies where they need to be to stay employed. The helpful adages of "do what you love" become replaced by the realism of "do what pays the bills". And find those things that keep you going in other places. And instead of waiting for others to cheer... cheer yourself instead.
And so I move. Walking fast, and waiting for my real life to begin.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
13YO: SOOOOO..... I have NEWS. I have a new boyfriend!
Me: (mid bite) What happened to what's his name?
13YO: He is too much of a girl.
Me: (chewing slowly) He was too much of a girl so you broke up with him?
13YO: Yes... A is much better. And taller. And generally cuter. And smarter.
Me: (swallowing carefully) How did this come about? This whole "being your boyfriend" thing?
13YO: At lunch.
Me: He asked you at lunch?
13YO: No... he sent his wingman... who talked to the girls I sit with.
Me: Wingman? How do you even know what a wingman is? So there was no direct contact. Just brokers?
I chewed some carrots pensively.
8YO: I have news too... C is dating B now.
Me: Dating? What does that mean exactly? Aren't you 8? And didn't C say that he liked you, like, yesterday?
8YO: Yes... but that was yesterday.
8YO: Yes... but I was too good for him anyway.
Me: Double ouch. Remind me to keep close tabs on you when you get older.
11YO: I have news too...
Me: Not more love news...
Now the 11YO has been "with" his girlfriend for two years... an eternity for this family. And while the other people use brokers to parlez, the boy was always very straight forward... sending cards, buying Valentines, going to birthday parties... girl birthday parties. And he never caught cooties. So if this was about his love life.. it was news.
11YO: M is moving to Dubai in a few months.
11YO: It's in the Middle East.
Me: I know where it is. Why?
11YO: Her father got transferred.
Me: Wow.. that sucks buddy.
11YO: (philosophically) Yeah.
Much quiet chewing for awhile as my hair grayed more.
11YO: Can we get Skype?
Friday, March 12, 2010
So now I'm off on the next adventure, which, in the end, is just the same adventure... just with different faces. This adventure entails less control, more stress, and lots more travel... which isn't really that hard since I didn't travel at all before. Chez Mobi is in quite the uphevel dealing with the various ramifications of this.
11YO: I'm glad your traveling... at least you aren't sitting home playing games on the computer anymore.
8YO: Does this mean you can't do my homework anymore?
13YO: You realize this means that Mommy is going to be in a bad mood for the next year?
Travel to all of them is exotic. "OH... you get to see cities!" They don't realize that all the cities look the same when you are in an office all day long. "Oh sure... you get to eat out, while I have to slave away cooking every night." They don't realize that the food all tastes the same in Seatlle as it does in Providence. "OH... you get to stay in cool hotels!" They don't realize that it is harder to sleep alone.
There are people that are built for the road. Who enjoy squishing themselves into an airline seat every Monday and jetting off to someplace new. I can handle it in finite pieces. But it is real drag after awhile.
To them it is either an adventure, where I will get to see new and exotic places... like Detroit. Or more often, it is just an excuse to be away from home duties... like running people to lessons or dance or hockey.
It would be nice just once to have them say... "thank you... I realize what you are giving up."
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I was watching with my daughter the other night and NBC cut away for one of their story pieces that inevitably involved some disabled sibling of one of the stars and how they pushed them to do better.
My daughter turned to me and said... "This is like a soap opera."
I responded, "Yes!!! But with sports!!!"
She rolled her eyes as she is wont to do. But she understood. And in fact, I understood for the first time. That little interchange was an epiphany of sorts for me. I love sports. I love competition. But I realize that one can spend too much time agonizing about them... cheering victory or rueing defeat. They are a waste of time. An escape. They do not profit my life. Nor do they add to the world.
And yet... they do. They are microcosms of life, cut and dried into one 60 minute game, or one 2 minute downhill run, or one toss of the stone. And NBC has gotten this for a long time. That the competition in a vacuum isn't worth much. But the competition with the background allows us all to grab on and empathize. To grab on to the epic battles that are life. They teach us to appreciate our own battles more fully.
On Sunday, I watched my son in an epic battle of his own. It was our own little Miracle on Ice... albeit on roller blades instead of skates. Our team fought and skated and played better than they have ever played in their life against the perennial champion team that is captained by one of the best young players in the country. My son in goal to challenge this Goliath. Our team got down. They fought back. They got ahead. My son making save after save, and the team entered the third period with a three goal lead. And then Goliath turned it on, picking top shelf shots that my son simply couldn't reach, and slamming slapshots as hard as he could. The defense was exhausted and my son was the last line of defense. And he began to crack. One goal. Then another... and a then a third to tie it. And then the unthinkable and this giant scored a fourth to take the lead. With a minute to go, my son was pulled to add an extra player in a desperate attempt to tie the game. And they somehow did. Sneaking a goal past their goalie. 10-10... and the game was going to overtime. The boys on my son's team were exhausted, having played so hard. And the other team attacked... the Goliath shooting from all sides... blocker save, pad save, stick save...
I watched it in slow motion, my heart hurting for what I knew would come. A pass from our defenseman that was a little too slow. Goliath jumped it... and then it was just he and my son. He faked forehand, and my son laid out trying to poke check it away... but Goliath calmly moved to his backhand and pushed the puck slowly into the goal in the six inch gap that my son left because he is just that much too short. Game over.
It was truly epic. But there are winners and losers. In the locker room he cried and in anguish looked at me and said "I don't want to do this anymore..." I knew the feeling... and I knew he didn't mean it. Because it is life. And more than anything in life sports teaches you that when the puck gets behind you and into the goal... it is truly behind you... and there is nothing you can do to change it. The only thing to do is get up and focus on the next puck coming at you.
And he did... in another hour he played his second game of the day against a different team, and made some of the greatest saves I've ever seen him make.
It is a soap opera... this life... but with sports.
OK.. off to watch me some curling.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
2) Having many options is good. But the weighing them part is very tiring, and doesn't build muscles.
3) Fighting about the same things over and over and over again should be added to the dictionary definition of hell... or at the very least, purgatory.
4) People who claim that snow storms disprove that there is such a thing as global warming should write on their hands "I am stupid" four or five times to make sure they don't forget.
5) Finding yourself lost in a book and being unable to put it down is downright blissful.
6) Cynicism is a black hole from which nothing escapes.
7) Making your kids laugh until their sides hurt is easier than one would think.
8) Trust isn't regained through words. Trust is regained only by acts.
9) It is easy to take things like heat for granted, until they aren't there anymore.
10) Snow days aren't as much fun as they used to be.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Anyway, I apparently failed to notify my progeny of my decision to join this league. Until last night, several hours before my first game.
Boy: You are going to play volleyball? (raised eyebrows)
Boy: But do you know HOW to play volleyball?
Me: I'm familiar with the game. Yes.
Boy: Are you sure? Because there are a lot of shots that you have to be good at. There's the bump. (demonstrates) There's the set. (demonstrates) And the spike... which I'm too short to do, but you might be able to. You do it like this. (demonstrates).
Me: Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
Boy: Just remember to keep your thumbs in on the bumps. Do you know how to serve? Because the serves are important.
Me: Yeah... I think I remember.
Boy: I'm pretty good at it... if you want me to practice with you. I can probably help.
Me: Help what?
Boy: Help you not look like an idiot.
Me: I don't think there is much hope of that.
He concurred. The little bastard.
Friday, January 22, 2010
But that isn't the case.
Air and water behave in specific ways, and even if they have the potential of a free range of motion, they do not take advantage of it. Instead, they follow well determined paths based on the movement of their neighbors. In other words, if one molecule is going in one direction, the nearby molecules are likely to follow.
You can see this dynamic everywhere. In a flock of birds or a school of fish that are flying or swimming together en masse with no apparent leader. Yet the group somehow collectively decides to suddenly turn to the left or right... or up or down.
So too, humanity. Each of us has a full reign of potential motion... the potential to do anything at any time. And yet, we don't. We follow the subtle unseen cues of our neighbors and collectively move en masse, the same way that fish or fowl or molecules of water do. On paths that carry us, and our neighbors onward in shiny boxes to and fro and on paved arteries. We rebel against this idea, especially those of us in a western world that prides itself on uniqueness. But in point of fact, we all choose what we are and what groups we belong to, not because we have full range of motion, but instead, because of the cause and effect of ideas and actions around us. The conformers, or the rebels. The main path of flow of humanity, or the subtle eddy that ripples off to the side. We are all following a path that envelopes those that we choose to associate with.
How then do we escape the predetermined pathways that would seem to take all the unpredictability out of life? That is the role of turbulence. That is the role of change. Turbulence is what occurs when eddies set up feedback loops that create other eddies which then increase the loops which ultimately infuse the flow with chaos. Throwing a seemingly ordered system into disorder. And as much as the scientists would like to write off turbulence... and as much as you and I would like to expunge disorder from our lives... it is the disorder that makes life worth living.
I see these things all around us in the macro and in the micro. It helps me to realize the role of the molecules around me, each quietly bumping me along a path, or off into an eddy of thought. And I watch as the turbulence boils over and turns the fine straight lines into jagged streams of chance. Each has its place... and each is necessary. Order and chaos. We often fight the flow, and fight the chaos. But these thoughts help me sit back and enjoy the ride, and take joy in my own part of bumping others along or instilling a bit of chaos every once in a while.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Last Thursday an old woman died in her bed while her wedding soup simmered quietly in her kitchen.
I can't grasp the magnitude of many. But I can grasp the magnitude of one. She was there. And then she wasn't.
I can't really say that I will miss her. She was not the pleasant sort. And her family wasted no time in squabbling over her belongings, discussing it while her body lay in state a few feet away. It was sordid and ugly and... human. We cope by moving on. We must, because there is really no choice.
But as I watched the last week play out, it focused my thoughts again around the concept of now. Living now. And living the way we want to live. I wonder if she would have done anything differently if she would have known that Thursday was the end. Maybe. But maybe not. I wonder too if the 200,000 would have changed anything if they knew. One more hug. One more smile. One more... something.
As I write this, my feet are propped on a table that found its way to my living room from hers. A reminder perhaps, that waiting for one more whatever can't wait.
I thought of you and where you'd gone and the world spins madly on.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Take for instance Brit Hume from Fox News. Last week Brit decided to dole out some advice to poor, ailing Tiger Woods. He suggested that Tiger give up his Buddhist ways in favor of Christianity. Now this was much ado about nothing for a few days because a lot of the dolts in America thought to themselves... "Hey, that's some darn good advice!" Now perhaps I should have let sleeping assholes lay, but this is yet another example of the world of AmeriChristian egotism that underlies a whole host of much larger and deeper issues with all that is us (and by us, I mean the white/anglo-saxon/christian us... as if I had to clarify). Not knowing Brit personally, I can't make a judgment call on his level of assholedness. I can assume that Brit really believed that he was giving out good advice to someone who is having a hard time. And that exact point is the problem that I don't hear discussed nearly enough in our culture today. Those who know better simply call him an asshole and move on. Those that agree with him are growing in number simply because there isn't enough discussion to combat his views.
Let's dissect a bit...
Brit believes, it would seem from his remarks, that Tiger stands a better chance of forgiveness under Brit's belief system than he does under his own. In other words... Christianity is better than Buddhism, and Brit is better than Tiger. And to reap the rewards of God, Tiger must become a Fox News contributor, or something like that. Brit, who doesn't seem very well versed in Buddhism to start with, jumps to conclusions about forgiveness without even the hint that Brit's path might not be the only path to enlightenment. The underlying message, for those that read the subtext, is that this is America... and to be a good American, and to get into God's grace... there is but one path. Brit therefore sees himself as the savior of Tiger. And anyone that doesn't think that he is right is either a Nazi or a Communist... or more than likely, both.
The savior complex is deep and profound in this country. It permeates all of us. To take an example from the other extreme, in Avatar, James Cameron's main character sets out to connect with an alien race by literally becoming one of them. He is thus able to understand them and their culture at a much deeper level than a regular white/anglo-saxon/christian would. This would seem to be the antithesis of Brit Hume, who I can't really see trying on yellow robes anytime soon. But even here Cameron's hero is us... and Cameron's hero is the savior. The aliens can not conceivably save themselves without our help. And the only logical alternative is that WE must intervene.
The downfall of the United States of Us will come, not from the success or failure of the liberal agenda, or the right wing egotism... but from forgetting the fact that money and military power don't mean that one's beliefs are therefore more right than anyone else's. Our foreign policy is rife this approach to things. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. In China. Even in Haiti. We run to be the saviors. I would hope that we do it because it is the right thing to do in Haiti (since several of those other problems were our own making). There is no doubt that tragedies like Haiti require help... money and power set forth for a cause to save and rebuild. But I think many do it because, like Brit Hume, we think it makes us somehow superior. And we can't wait to crow about what we did to help. Because, like a tree falling in the woods, no good deed is really a good deed if there aren't people there to brag to about it.
We all want to be superior in some way. Whether it be in the clothes we wear. Or the scores that we get on our tests. Or the wealth we accumulate. Or the religion we practice. All of it, at the heart, differentiates us from others for the purpose of making us feel more worthy than those that think or dress or act differently. The concept of "live and let live" does not play well in that arena. And every day I see a world striving to be saviors, instead of world that understands that "letting live" doesn't entail changing all the others to live just like you.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Now, don't get me wrong. I like cheese and all. I like it on my hamburgers and on my ham and cheese sandwiches. I even like the dipping cheese that you get with the enormous pretzels with road salt on them at the hockey games. But the wall o' cheese was absurd in its cheesiness. I tasted a few and made my half hearted raised eye brow grunts.
Until I hit the orgasmic cheese.
Now, despite past blogs to the contrary, I tend to be fairly private about my orgasms. Especially when I'm surrounded by a room full of in-laws. So it was rather embarrassing when I sort of melted into a lump of gooey mess right there on the floor after the first taste of this stuff. "WHAT! was that..." I sighed, when I had regained my breathe. If I had a g-spot, this cheese would have found it and engulfed it in swooney goodness. It was like someone took a tuning fork and hit the resonant center of my universe causing me to lose all control of bodily functions.
It is called Stiltson Mango Ginger cheese. Zing... I'm getting excited just saying its name.
Having described this to one friend already... I got a less than excited reaction. "Mango? In my cheese? No." And I can understand that. For I too never believed in the perfect "O"... and I realize that this cheese might not be your perfect "O".
But now I believe that the perfect "O" exists. I'm heading to the store to buy more now.
I love Arthurian legend. How can anyone not? It is the basis for so much of western culture and Python humor. I remember sitting in Harry Pole's class (that's what we called him anyway... I think his last name was Pollson or something like that)... and learning all about the seedy world of double entendres. So today I give you a brief overview of some of the lesser known interpretations of the legend known as Arthur.
1) They all named their swords. I mean, come on... if you are a big virile knight you can't be running around with wimpy sounding sword, like Rocky, can you? You need manly sword names, like Excalibur.
2) There are two legends about the origins of Excalibur. The first is the well known Sword in the Stone. Uther, who was Arthur's father, stuck it in the stone before his death brought on by a husband he was cuckolding. The wife was chaste and he had to resort to Merlin "magic" to get her to spread her legs. (I could use me some of that Merlin magic) So anyway, Uther gets in a tight spot because of his dick and to preserve his "family heirloom" he sticks his "sword" in a stone... A "stone" is a well known euphemism for "a woman who won't put out"... "She lay their like she was made of stone, for Christ's sake." Anyway... the only one who could get this stone to put out was, of course, young Arthur. And after this, it was obvious that he should be king. I'm thinking he got most of the women voters.
3) The second origin of Excalibur legend is much easier to understand. Arthur gets the sword out of the Lady of Lake. So a wet lady gives him a big sword. This is simple enough that children can understand it.
4) Our hero's best mate is Lancelot. As his name implies, he likes to use his lance a lot. Particularly, as it were, on Arthur's wife.
5) One of the greatest heroes was Gawain, notable for his battle with the Green Knight. Green, as we well know, is the universal color of horniness. And so the story is actually a tale of Gawain's secret desire for men. Gawain cuts off the head of this man (latent homophobia) and the man walks off with his head stating that Gawain must come see him in another year for his own "beheading". When he shows up a year later at the appointed castle he is seduced by the wife of the Green Knight who gives him some green lady's undies to wear to his beheading. Kinky, no doubt. When he shows up, obviously finally accepting his gayness, he is spared.
I could go on like this for hours. But I shall spare you. I won't, for instance, go on with the Holy Grail since the legend has been so defiled by Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code. But I shall end with the death of our hero.
7) Now old and brokenhearted... Arthur is locked in battle with his son Mordred. Mordred's mother is Arthur's sister. Don't ask. Some skeletons should be left lie. But anyway... Arthur is banging away at his son/nephew when he is mortally wounded. And the dying wish of a cuckolded king? To dip his sword once more in the wetness of a lady. And so Excalibur goes back to the Lady of the Lake, put there by Bedivere (which I believe goes above and beyond the call of duty). Anyway... the wet woman takes all three feet of his sword and is so happy that she sends a barge to take Arthur off to the afterlife.
Now that, friends, is the way to go.
Friday, January 8, 2010
1) Get more than 30 readers. Everyone else has like 100 or 300 readers. I have 26. I know! I know! Quality over quantity. And yes, you all are very quality readers. But I want at least four more of you in the coming year. One new reader per quarter... I think that sounds reasonable. I suppose this means I have to read other people's blogs and comment and generally act like I care. But what the hell... I'm sure that I can find at least one more blog worth the time in a three month period. You may make your suggestions if you feel like pimping.
2) I'm going to get rich. Seeing as how I will have at least 30 readers I think this is a doable goal. I've added the ridiculous AdSense ads to the side of the blog. Originally it was mostly a joke for my blog about my cover letter. But then I got all into seeing what queer things came on my blog based on what I wrote that day. For instance... yesterday's ads were "Want Disciplined Kids? Free Trial" (I clicked just to see if they were giving out kids) followed by "Bahamas Sailing Vacation". I can almost see the smoke coming out of the Google computers as they try to figure me out. So far I've made $2.27, but only because Mandy and I have a reciprocal click pact that goes way back. I encourage you all to click on my ads, even if you don't want a "Bahamas Sailing Vacation with Disciplined Kids". Moby's got to make some coin.
3) I'm going to win one of those awardy things that all the cool blogs have. Even if I have to make one up myself. Like "Most Likely to Blow Up Google Computers" or "Least Talented Lemur Blogger", because awards mean everything to everyone... and I want to impress my four new readers when they stop by (as well as the Google people who are going to stop by to see why they are paying me big bucks every month).
That is all. Modest goals. But things to strive for.
Oh... and PS... 4) I'm going to try blog more than once a month. But only so every blog doesn't have to be some sort of description of where I've been.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Because of this many have already criticized the film, calling it everything from derivative to tripe. And yet the same people that lambaste Avatar are the same ones that look at Greek myth with reverence. We story tellers admire these myths because they form the foundation and roots of our own collective literary knowledge. But they were, themselves, derivative stories of their time. I am not saying that Avatar is in the same category. But the story it is telling is. It is the new mythos that we have seen repeated over and over again for decades... the need to connect to this planet. This idea grew out of James Lovelock's theory of the 1960s that all the world was an interconnected organism. This theory, commonly called the Gaia Theory, informed a generation of storytellers to come... James Cameron included.
Cameron is our PT Barnum. He is a man who is a highly proficient story teller. But he is extraordinary at creating interesting worlds... be it The Abyss, Aliens, Titanic... he has the capacity for drawing an audience into a world with a hyper sense of being there. He is also a showman... like Barnum... who is able to trumpet his own legend and groundbreaking technological expertise while being completely lacking in the humility for those whose shoulders he has stood upon to get there. The 3D effect in Avatar I have seen before... at Disney World among other places. But the 3D in a world that was thought up by Cameron, and filled in with some of the greatest sci-fi and fantasy artists in the business, is spectacular.
I am a fan of cinema. I am a fan of the spectacle of sitting in a darkened theater with a huge image and loud sound and experiencing a movie with others (as long as those fellow watchers are also movie fans... and thus are quiet). For years after I graduated from film school, my friend Dave would call so we could discuss the latest "groundbreaker". Like many of our generation, we got into movies because of George Lucas and the world that he created. But as we have aged, both Dave and I have become a little more jaded by the business... to the storytelling... to the attempts that many make to recreate what Lucas did many years ago. Like Cameron, Lucas was an okay writer with an extraordinary abilty to create a world. And at the time, it was groundbreaking and it was, for Dave and I, the beginning... because for us, it was the moment that started it all, regardless of what came before. There were moments, as I sat alone in the theater watching Avatar, when I felt some of that wonder return. When I talked to Dave later on, our views were the same. We remembered, if for a short time, why we love the movies. It is spectacle on a grand scale. It is the retelling of a story that brings us together... as myth should. It is a movie which will lose much when viewing on a television and thus it was build and should remain in the hallowed and darkened halls of the theater. And while it was not necessarily groundbreaking for me... it will, perhaps, begin a new generation of movie lovers.