REPORT A PROBLEM
I, like many other people, have at some time, looked at a painting hanging on the wall, whether in someone's home, in a restaurant, or a doctor's office, and thought to myself, "I could paint better than that!" This was not meant to be a commentary in recognition of my own talent, but a critical remark regarding the artist's apparent lack of it. Yet, there, in all it's hideous glory, hung something that might have taken a preschooler five minutes of carefree pigment slathering to accomplish. Meanwhile, my paint remains in the tubes -- in a dark drawer somewhere -- drying out.
It is not so much the catching of fish that is so enjoyable to me, but going fishing. There is a great deal of difference. Going fishing allows me to go enjoy the water, the breeze, and the sunshine without interruption. If there is a boat available, I can go and be on the water and sit in peace and quiet. The angling appurtenances are indeed necessary. If I were to sit on or near the water, still and quiet, someone would ask what was wrong. But when they see the pole, they "shhhhh!" each other as they pass by.
Today seems to be another of those days when I feel I could just ooze off of my chair onto the floor, and stay there for hours - or days. A day when I wouldn't mind if the Earth would just suddenly open up and swallow me whole. I have this feeling of intense luke-warmness; of Tuesday afternoonishness; of elevator musicality. Today, I feel like a black and white photograph of a flat gray surface, somewhat under exposed. It's not that I want to die. I'm not having "those" thoughts. It just feels like living takes a bit more effort.
Have you ever seen those patchwork quilts made from scraps of material that represent significant times in the quilter's life? A piece of red flannel might remind her of a birthday party, a white swath, of a birth. I have an old pair of jeans like that, but it's the holes, not the patches that bring back memories, The jagged flap on the right knee - slid into home and scored the winning run. Right rear pocket tear - highschool sweetheart chased and caught me. We fell to the ground and kissed. Right thigh - left-handed cigarette burn. So many beautiful holes.
I'm starting to see that there are many activities that I would like to be involved in that meet on Monday or Wednesday nights. These are the nights that I normally have practice wit hmy chorus and quartet. Having singing practice two nights a week isn't excessive, but it blocks me from participating with other groups, or taking classes, or teaching. do I enjoy singing so much that I don't want to do anything else? Are the two hour drives to and from chorus rehearsal really worth it? Is being so exhausted on Tuesday worth it? I need to decide.
I mentioned to my wife that I wish I could do something with my writing. Or should I say, that my writing would do something for me. get me published, build a reputation, maybe make a little side income. She said that since I'm developing a habit of writing 100 words a day, maybe I should start building my book about cancer, 100 words at a time. I told her that there was no way I would want that to be seen publicly as I was writing it. But then, why do my 100 words have to be written HERE?
I'm feeling a lot of stress and pressure right now. The kind someone might feel when they're suddenly shouldered with the responsibility to implement a plan involving people who are reluctant to go along with it, yet have absolutely no authority to enforce the changes or discipline those who insist upon pushing back. I'm fighting for my promotion by trying to be proactive in improving the way we do things, yet I am still in the lowest pay grade among my co-workers. I am the mouse who is trying to roar, reaching for the cheese, wary of the trap.
On my way to work this morning, I saw five or six cars lined up along the sides of our street, hazard lights flashing. At the gate of community down the road I saw the same thing. One mini van was parked across the roadway, completely blocking incomming traffic. I was baffled at first. I wondered whether there had been a flash flood that came and went suddenly, scattering the cars into their present positions. I turned the corner and saw a school bus. It was the first day of school. The oddly parked cars were full of dry children.
I feel like I'm inside some sort of great glass box. I'm alone; an outsider. I'm the one left out of some great secret that everyone else seems to know. I'm the one who doesn't hear the punchline, then wonders whether I'm the target of the laughter. I feel as if I'm trying to solve some great jigsaw puzzle, but someone else has one of the pieces in their pocket, and is snickering behind his hand, knowing that I'll never 'get it'. I'm in my glass box, trying to get the pieces to fit, while everyone gathers outside - watching - laughing.
Here's some advice for the ladies. If you meet some hot guy somewhere, and he gives you his phone number and says you can call him, wad it up and drop it on the floor. Tell him you'd rather not. He should be asking you for your number. This may be the 21st century, equality of the sexes and all that, but women should be persued. Men should persue. A guy who tells you to call him doen't respect you. He'll respect you less if you call. But, he'll have you pegged as an easy lay when he needs one.
On this night, three years ago, I was granted a miracle. I had lost my wife of 17 years to cancer, and as far as I was concerned, I had lost everything. I lost my closest, dearest friend; I lost any hope of a future; I lost my desire to live. I don't know how to explain it, other than to say that God led me to go to a certain place at a certain time. To anyone else, it may have seemed like a chance meeting. To that place, God sent healing, comfort, hope, love - He sent my Judy.
I literally spent this entire day in the kitchen. A friend was coming to visit. I wanted to prepare a good meal for both Judy and him. I chose a pretty ambitious menu: California spinach salad; Moroccan Stewed lamb with yogurt/herb sauce; white asparagus with lemon/terragon burre blanc; and a dessert I invented called "Banana Boat" - that is, fried coconut encrusted baby bananas on a 'boat' of papaya slices, topped with mascarpone cheese and honey. The highest reward I could ever receive for cooking is my wife's approval.She said my lamb was as good as Emeril Legasse's!
I'm involved in a couple of spare time, organized activities that I do for fun. The thing is, since they are organized, they demand a certain level of commitment - sticking to a schedule; maintaining good, if not perfect, attendance; dedication to the group; sacrificing time, money and resources for the good of the group; performance excellence, etc. The question I have is, having pledged my support and commitment to such organizations, what are my obligations when the activity is no longer fun for me? Is it acceptable to simply quit, or am I obligated to continue, having made that commitment?
There are things, usually having to do with self enrichment or improvement, that I would actually enjoy doing, but I just can't seem to get started, probably because they each require creative effort or mental exertion. I find myself slipping into the very patterns I often criticize. I piss away my hours doing mindless things, working toward non-gratifying, non-substantial rewards. When I should be studying some area of mathematics, or writing, or painting, I'm more likely to be working toward the next level in a pointless video game so I can buy another item from the virtual market.
If you haven't seen it coming, you must have had your eyes closed for a few decades. The United States has such a culture of entitlement, an attitude of "me first", and "I don't care who doesn't like it", that it is laudable to be rude, obnoxious, indignant, hurtful - an ass hole. It is honorable, even "heroic" to call the president a liar during a speech. It's showmanship to hijack an award acceptance speech because your favorite didn't win. "God hates fags" is now a sermon. We are a nation of arrogant, spoiled rotten brats. It won't be long now.
Really Bad Writing - The fog had just fallen off the bus from Monterey, and hugged the ground, apparently carsick and unable to rise. The morning sun hung over the city like a big, shaved, bald head, not an alopecic head, since the misty air gave it a hint of fuzz. I hadn't seen Mavis since high school; in typing class. She was still the type with class -- and beauty. Every part of that face was singing her praises, and my eyes were humming right along with them. I suddenly felt schoolboy nervous, my stomach turned sour like a bad metaphor.
Smooth tapered wings reach for opposing horizons, and slice into dual layers the very ether that bears them aloft. Regal, silent flight! Gentle dance with swirling thermal rise, effortless, breathless glide! The twist of a feather brings a dive and increasing speed! Plunging toward earth, acceleration builds. The flight then levels off with another invisible feather turn. All below is but a blur; all above the most royal of blues. I stand affixed to those bounds of Earth, amazed and jealous of this exhibition of flight as a sea gull, soaring over a rancid landfill searches for some rotting tidbit.
I saw a Facebook status from a friend today that said "welcome, snow!" or something similar. I was puzzled as to why she would write something so incongruous - so unexpected, so meaningless. Then, I realized - it's the end of September already! In some parts of the country, snow starts to fall this time of year. I'm just barely cognizant of the fact that summer is over - and I've hardly done any "summery" things yet! I've only had two dives, I haven't gone camping, havenít grilled outdoors - not counting my satay - I haven't even been to the beach this year!
I was born and raised in the north - Cold country; land of three seasons: Winter, two weeks of bad sledding, and three days of beach weather. We could have four or five days of beach weather if only Lake Superior had a stronger current to push the ice floes offshore faster. Swimming in semi-frozen water is very dangerous, don'tcha know. Most often we swim in warm, chlorinated motel pools, so we've learned to swim with our eyes closed to keep 'em from burning. Do that in the lakes, and a fella could crack his head bumping into the ice!
Just got word that my wife will be going to Tennessee for a year-long assignment. It's good news, in a way. She'll gain great career experience, the pay is good, and it's not TOO far away. We were hoping she'd get picked up for an assignment in, say, Florida, California, South Carolina, you know, some place where you can DIVE! Now, I face a heavy decision. Do I spend my vacations over the coming year in Tennessee, or do I make sure I have an underwater camera so I can send her pictures of the many reefs I'll visit?
I've gone through the whole work week without writing a thing. So much for committment. I've heard that if you keep doing something for 21 days, it becomes a habit. That was my intention with this project. I thought I could write someting every day, until writing becomes a habit. I think part of the secret behind that idea is that the days should be consecutive, and you have to do it every single day - not wait 'till the end of the week, and then do a slop-job of catching up. Discipline needs to follow committment. Three more words.
If I have difficulty writing the words I need to get this project back up to date, I guess I could always wait until I finally start working on my resume. I need to get that done as quickly as possible. The thing is, I haven't kept it up to date for over four years. A lot has happened in four years. A lifetime of change happened in the past four years. I have a lot of writing to do to bring my resume up to date. I think I'm starting to see a pattern, here. I procrastinate too much.
So much to do, and no idea how much time I have to do it! It's a very exciting time for us. Shortly after musing over how nice it would br to pull up roots and move to the Caribbean, we learn that we're moving to Florida. Close enough for me! Now comes the painful process of actually pulling up those roots. It shouldn't be that difficult. I'm not emotionally attached to this area at all. I came here because of the job, I remained here because of the job. There are more than a few places I'd rather live.
That's not to say, however, that I won't miss anyone. I have a very few, very close friends that I will miss, but we all have cars. We all get some amount of vacation time. We all can find reasons to get together again. I'll miss the friends I've made here, but that's not enough to make me want to stay. Life is much to short to allow me to be content living in one place for the rest of my life. The world is large, and there's much I have not seen. I'm still not ready to settle down.
If it didn't have so much to do with the whole capitalism thing - the "gotta work to make money so you can buy things to eat" deal, I'd probably move to Europe. It wouldn't be wise too just pack up and go. For one thing, they'd turn you right around and send your butt back home. Now, I'm talking about going there to live, not for a short touristy visit. In order to stay, you have to either have lots of money, so you can open a business and hire people, or have a job lined up before you go.
Moving to Florida is almost like moving to another country. The climate is different, the language is different - they speak Cuban there instaed of Spanish - the laws are different. But in this case, I can stay there as long as I want to, even if I don't have a job. I may end up homeless, but at least they won't fly me back to Virginia, even if I want them to! I can drive right in to Florida without having to show a passport, go throuh customs, or contacting my sponsor! I'm going to emmigrate to Florida without official permission!
It's amazing how you can be cruising through life on autopilot one day - repeating pretty much the same routine day after day - and have your entire future turned upside down the next. Suddenly, you're facing decisions and critical time management and budgets and deadlines, trying to coordinate things over which you have no control. It's frightening when you have the opportunity to do something you know you would love to do, but you know that getting it done will unleash chaos. I've faced that situation many before, but really don't remember them. Why should I be so anxious this time?
I'm looking forward to standing near a life abundant sea with bluer water through which light clearly and brightly passes, with tall, whitecapped waves that roar and tumble. I envision trees with no branches reaching skyward, splaying fronds, as if shrugging, showing empty palms to a welcome friend and saying, "We're here! What took you so long?" I come from a land of unique beauty - of ice and snow, and whispering pine. I love this land. I love that land. I am not moved by partial beauty and half-hearted distinction. Be snowy, be tropical, be mountainous, be not similar.
Remember the last time we sat here and watched the sun sink slowly into the still, Dark Pacific? We were breathless. A single mast lazily slipped onto the stage and took the best seat in the house. The sound of whispers crescendoed into applause, Then fell away to soft sighs as waves postrated themselves at our feet. Glowing orange gave way to red, and red to rich, blue-black. A weary, firey disk gradually lowered himself into the arms of the sea. Remember the last time? We were breathless as our lips touched, just as the last glint was extinguished.
September stands poised at the door, her ruddy, bony hand grasping the doorknob. Ready to leave, yet reluctant. She turns and looks back over her shoulder. Her long, auburn hair slowly spills in a rolling cascade over her shoulder and exposes moistened eyes. Big, brown eyes, like oak leaves, that sparkle from the droplets that remain from a recent downpour. Yet, she smiles, and blows a last kiss that reminds me of the warmth of summer, and forwarns me of the colder days to come. Leaving a flourish of maple leaves behind her, September disappears under the cover of midnight.
The Tip Jar