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The Resentment I’m Not Hoarding

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Dateline, Sunday 1/15: another sun-drenched SoCal day, the luminosity belying a certain surrounding darkness. Although there has been much circumspection and little to no (direct) talk of politics, it has become evident that some of my family are Agent Orange [1]  supporters.  How did I get born into this clan?

And yet I’m glad I did, as I have had enough delightful, witty, bawdy, touching conversations with those of my nieces and nephews and their spouses and partners who make me realize that the darkness has, with a few exceptions, hopefully skipped a generation. I find myself comforted by a cliché thought: The Younger Generation ® shall save the world.

My mother’s graveside funeral on Saturday (1/14) was…tolerable, given the religious nature of the ceremony. There were several blackbirds cavorting around a palm tree just in front of and to the left of the canopy under which the attendees sat; the birds’ aerial acrobatics provided a welcome distraction from the service’s Christian theology and clichés, [2] which I find inane and pathetic. How I wished for a service like many I had attended, consisting of simple and heartfelt sharing of remembrances by friends and family. At least, there was one break in the minister’s come-to-Jesus blather recitations: my younger sister gave a wonderful “life overview” of our mother, which was quite touching, and which had many of us reflecting on the value of hearing from/keeping in touch with someone  [3] who remembers you as a young adult.

 

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.
( Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune columnist and author of the commonly-misattributed-to Kurt-Vonnegut “Wear SunScreen”-commencement-speech )

 

 

marionatolivest

Marion Alberta Hole, [4]  Santa Ana, CA, ca. mid-early 1950s

 

 

The after party, however, was an unqualified delight – a wonderful, noisy, mess of fun with family, neighbors and friends.  I was once again reminded of why my friend SCM loves funerals, and even prefers them over weddings: with both events you get to visit with acquaintances, friends and relatives you may have lost touch with or aren’t in close geographic or emotional proximity to…and while those holding grudges might not attend (or be banned from attending) a wedding, most folk seem to put things in perspective and set aside their differences to attend a funeral.

*   *   *

The funeral was both preceded and followed by days of my siblings and I, with invaluable help on several of those days from nieces and nephews and spouses  [5]  going through my parents’ house, sorting and arranging and keeping and discarding, [6] preparing the house for an estate sale which will be followed by putting the house up for sale.

For these tasks, we rented a VLD (Very Large Dumpster), and completely filled it…and this was after 30-plus other yard waste-sized trash bags of stuff were delivered to the Goodwill and other charitable donation centers (much of which will end up in their dumpsters, I’d bet). And STILL we left behind behind a house full of things for the estate sale.

Each of the four Parnell siblings took items of sentimental or practical value, and encouraged our spouses and offspring to do the same. There were items deemed schlep-worthy, like a photo of my older sister NLPM and moiself ( on the left) wearing the kimonos our father brought back for us from San Francisco, during one of his rare business trips.

 

 

 

nancyandiinkimonos

 

 

 

And then for each keeper there were approximately 1,003 items of complete and utter mystery, interesting and/or valuable to no one save for extraterrestrial anthropologists.

Many of the items, from the valuable (to us) to the inexplicable (to anyone with an IQ higher than their shoe size), had post-it notes pinned to them, with what were meant to be explanatory labels, written in my mother’s distinctive, military-precision script. We unfortunately misplaced the note belonging to my uncle Bill’s World War II paratrooper’s dress jacket, a true treasure which was already well-known to the family. I was happy to be able to bring it home with me, as my father deeply regretted not keeping his own paratrooper jacket.

 

 

 

billomalleyparatrooperjacket

 

 

 

And then there were the notes that ranged from the stupefying to the hilariously mortifying.

There was one note-pinned item I wanted to send to Whoopi Goldberg. Not that we’re BFFs or anything, it’s just that I remember reading a magazine article years ago about the award-winning actor/comedian/author/talk show host’s extensive collection of what she calls “Negrobilia” – i.e., objects made by white people which stereotypically depict and degrade black people.

 

negrobilia

 

 

The item to which I refer is the Aunt Jemima appliance cover my mother’s eldest sister, my aunt Erva, had made. I remember how appalled I was when (mid-1970’s) Erva showed me her handiwork and asked if I’d like her to make one for moiself. It was a two-gasp moment, the second gasp occurring when I realized she was serious. Since she was not deterred (she didn’t even blink) by my brief but passionate explanation as to why such an object was offensive, I segued into the excuse that as a poor college student, I didn’t actually own any appliances. My aunt assured me that the industrious Jemima could do double duty as a “toilet paper roll hider.”

My mother, to my chagrin and embarrassment, halfheartedly accepted her sister’s “gift” but, at my insistence, did not display it. I had completely forgotten about its existence until my niece found it, in a back bedroom closet filled with a random assortment of Christmas decorations and WWII memorabilia.

Jemima was discovered on Thursday, and had taken her place in our Dumpster? or Donate? or People-will-buy-anything-so-save-for-the-estate-sale-as-an-object-of-curiosity? pile in the back bedroom. On Friday MH and our son K had flown down for house-decluttering and funeral attending. While helping the Parnell sisters with the former task, K spotted Jemima and could not believe his good fortune. He snatched it up, exclaiming, “Really – nobody wants this?” He felt it would be the perfect home decor addition for his multi-ethnic household.

 

jemima

The Post-it note reads: “Appliance cover. Not politically correct (But a fact of history!) which of course makes me wonder what “fact” she was referring to – that Black women at one time dressed in full Gone With The Wind mammy regalia and willingly perched atop appliances, or that white people made those hideous “craft” objects?

 

 

Once again, I digress.

*   *   *

“You kids are going to have quite a job going through…all of this.”
(Prediction/warning given to my older sister by one of my mother’s caretakers, when my mother’s demise seemed imminent)

Really, it is impossible for moiself to adequately describe how sad/appalling/embarrassing it was to discover pile after pile of dust and spider egg sack covered shit precious mementos in yet another drawer and closet, under each and every bed and every piece of furniture and behind the under the furniture, all covered with layers of dust which merited carbon dating.

We knew our mother had turned into a hoarder in her later years (and discovered that our father was one as well, but mildly so, in comparison to his beloved wife). Still, the enormity of the task was daunting.  All the clothing,  baseball caps, fifty year old frayed and yellowed linens, clothing and accessories never worn, books, decorations, dishes, costume jewelry, coins, picture frames, souvenirs, dishes and kitchenware, photo albums, pre-purchased Christmas and birthday gifts for children and grandchildren (labeled but never sent), [7] cassette tapes, videotapes, 8 track tapes, travel-sized soaps & lotions and an entire room’s worth – as in, you could stack the items from floor to ceiling [8] – of Christmas “decor” (most of it of the kitschy/really cheap Lillian Vernon catalog variety…and the knickknacks, a word which from this time forward is likely to give me a panic attack – and ALL OF IT duplicates of crap they already had “out” on display or in use.

It was interesting to see how, one by one, the siblings, spouses, and grandchildren all began to manifest the fight-or flight reactions when reality of the mission ahead of them sunk in. And we all tried to provide each other with breaks and levity, as well as practicality and concern for each other’s health and safety.  [9]

And we kept joking about – then seriously posing to anyone nearby or muttering to ourselves –  variations on the question that had no rational answer: How is it that people who lived through The Great Depression ® and who subsequently cited the hardships endured and the resulting appreciation for simplicity and frugality which TGD privations imbued in them – how is it that such people ended up amassing all that stuff which could fill a landfill the size of Gambia?

It was at once distressing, frightening, mystifying, annoying, hilarious, and six other emotions I can’t quite describe.

 

 

buckley

Have you tried stupendiflying superflu-otic?

*   *   *

 

Just as frightening as having to deal with the house cleanup was having to keep reminding myself how much good stuff I received from my parents, including what was, for the most part, a loving and secure childhood.  I had to do this because I realized I was starting to resent them for leaving their children this horrendous mess to deal with.

Attention, all you hoarders: (okay, I’m probably pissing in the wind here because hoarders rarely see themselves as hoarders [10])  please, stop, right now, and do whatever it takes to reverse course. Do NOT do this to your children.

Attention, all you children of hoarders: have your parents diagnosed/treated, while you can. Failing that, hide their credit cards in the middle of stack 15 of 32 stacks of Trailer Life magazines.

 

 

hoard

We’ll want to read through these someday, I just know it.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Painful Reminders

Dateline: Tuesday, PDX airport, just having returned from SoCal. I waited at the baggage claim area while MH tried to summon an Uber ride. I chose a spot close to the baggage carousel, and saw that ten feet to my right was the frail, elderly woman in a wheelchair whom I’d seen boarding our flight during the initial those-who-need-special-assistance pre-boarding call. She was accompanied by a woman I judged to be her attendant, and she was distressed to the point of shedding frantic tears. er shaking  Her shaking hands rummaged through her handbag, frenetically searching, as if she’d misplaced something. She began to sob and moan.

No no no – it was right here.”

The attendant remained calm – almost heartlessly and diffidently so…or so it seemed to me, even as I reminded myself that I did not know these people and should not judge the situation.  In the elderly woman’s distress I recognized the fear and confusion my own mother displayed when, sporadically at first and then increasingly during her last days…and months…and years, she was beset by bouts of dementia, fear and forgetfulness, and their companions, panic and paranoia. But your mother is no longer afraid, or upset, I coached myself. She was able to remain and die at home, which is what she wanted.

I sidled over and spoke to the elderly woman’s attendant: I apologized for any intrusion and gently asked if I could be of some assistance – could I fetch a drink of water, or…something? The attendant smiled and politely refused my offer. In a broken English accent I took to be Russian, she said that the elderly woman was merely confused (“She think she lose something”). I smiled at both women and inched back toward my waiting spot as the baggage carousel began to roll out our luggage

The elderly woman, who had calmed down for a moment, resumed her sobbing and rummaged through her handbag.

“No, no, no, why? I had it right there, and now it’s gone. I wish I was dead…”

Her quavering cry of despair hit like a sucker punch to my innards. I remembered my mom expressing that sentiment in her moments of desperation and fear – my mother, who was right there and is now right gone, and all her “stuff” gone as well.

 

 

*   *   *

May you learn not to binge so as not to have to purge;
May you realize that even if you love your stuff it doesn’t love you back;
May you have patience with those who fear what they may have lost;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Yet another appellation for He Who Shall Not Be named in this space. You know – Putin Junior.

[2] “Marion had been in our prayers for years…” Well, if that don’t show the inefficacy of appealing to a nonexistent sky god, what else will?

[3] In this case, my sister read memories shared by one of my mother’s nieces, who was only ten or so years younger than my mother.

[4] No question about her wanting to keep her birthname. Hole may have been a fine, upperclass Norwegian surname, but in America…not so much.

[5] Read: we’d still be there, trapped under layers of old ultility bills and sixty year old packages of rotting tinsel had they not shown up to help.

[6] And discarding and discarding and scratching our heads and asking, “WTF did they keep that for?” an discarding some more and sneezing and sneezing and sneezing

[7] Some labels were specific (“_____ {grandchild’s name) birthday” or cringingly age and gender nonspecific and stereotypit (“for 12 yerd old boy)

[8] Although the items were distributed throughout the house and in the rafters and cabinets of the two car garage.

[9] My younger sister’s college age son, gazing at the boxes in the garage he was asked to get down, wisely decided that a trip to Home Depot to purchase protective eye goggles and dust masks was called for.

[10] Especially if they watch one of those Hoarders of La Habra reality shows, which allow them to delude reassure themselves that, “Well, I’m not as bad as that so I’m not really a hoarder.”

The Heritage I’m Not Claiming

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I’d given up on attending Christmas-themed theatrical performances – at least, the ones which (theoretically) are comedies. The disaster that was A Tuna Christmas has become legend in my family. Several years ago MH got our family tickets for a Portland performance of the play, at my request, as a family outing for my birthday. When intermission was announced and everyone in the theatre stood up to stretch their legs and find the bathroom, I turned to son K, who was standing beside me, and asked, “Would you be disappointed if we left now?”

Oh, Mom, K gushed, hugging me so hard I almost toppled out of the balcony, “I’m so glad you feel that way!” His enthusiasm quickly spread to daughter Belle and MH, who, as it turned out, were all equally unimpressed with the play. We’d each been sitting there, thinking the same thing (this play sucks), each of us thinking we were the only one who felt that way….

There are few worse forms of entertainment than unfunny comedies, especially those that present themselves as satire and/or farces. The series of Greater Tuna plays – set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas and described as satirical yet affectionate take-offs on small-town, Southern life and attitudes – are, IMHO, a prime example of that phenomenon.

I suppose…I can maybe imagine…how, in the early 1980s, the sight of two gay men portraying a play’s twenty-plus cast members, including elderly female characters, was considered to be thigh-slappin,’ boot-stompin’, side-splittin’ hi-larious. For some folks. [1]

Moiself? I found it dated, and, worst of all – take it away, Joanne Worley – 

 

 

joanne

BOOOOOORRRRRRING!

 

 

Last Sunday I decided to give the Christmas Comedy one more try, thanks to local theatre company Bag & Baggage.  Because nothing says holiday spirit like the description of their one time cabaret event, Drunk as the Dickens:

Five of our Resident Actors will start drinking at 5:00pm. We will pull as many vaguely Victorian costumes as our drunken hands can carry, and then head over to Clark’s Bistro and Pub where, at 8:00pm, we will make them pull their characters from out of Scrooge’s nightcap, hand them a 1 hour(ish) version of A Christmas Carol and see if any of them can read while hammered. What could possibly go wrong?

*   *   *

Speaking of Christmas….

 

Annual Holiday History Lecture Reminder To The War On Christmas Imbeciles Bunch

 

 

heathen

 

The more fundamentalist the believer, the more ignorant they seem to be re a fundamental truth behind their religious observances: “Christian” holidays, in particular the biggies (Christmas and Easter), began as pagan festivals. Christmas belongs to and was in fact originated by pagans. Christians just changed your own history and renamed the festivities. However, in the true spirit of generosity, we heathens are happy to share the jolly season with one and all. As per these self-plagiarisms excerpts from my previous blogs:

  The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  [2]  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.  [3]

 

pagan-idol

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

Heretics/apostates non-Christians We happy heathens often hear this question at this time of year.  The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical.  This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.

 

 

santa

 

 

Who doesn’t like a party/celebration, for any reason? We who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with any religious folk – sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they acknowledge the fact that the ways we celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas tradition” that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism. [4]  A celebration in the depths of winter, at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north, is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties.  The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.

 But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season?

The reason for the season?  Cool story, bro.  Since you asked, actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season.  For all of the seasons.

 

winter_solstice_diagram

 

 

Our names for the days of the week come from religions predating Christianity. The Greeks named the days week after the sun, the moon and the five (at the time) known planets which they’d named after their gods… then the Romans substituted their equivalent gods, followed by the Germanic, Norse and Celtic peoples. For example, Thursday comes from Thor’s-day, Friday from variants on Frigg’s and Freya’s Day, Saturday from Saturn’s Day….

The god Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.  [5]  My calling that day Wednesday doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship, or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

 

 

woden

“Go smite the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!”

 

 

 

The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22.  However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.   [6]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or around December 25 included HorisHuitzilopochtliIsisMithrasMardukOsirisSerapis and Sol.)   [7] 

When the Roman Catholics came to power and spread north from Rome, they encountered pagan practices that had gone on for thousands of years before the Popes decided to claim divine authority and subdue the illiterate masses by dressing like the bastard spawn of Elton John and Lady Gaga.

 

gaga

 

 

The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.   [8] Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the (Christian) church. Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the son-of-god.

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas”  [9] when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

saturnalia

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Is She Or Isn’t She

I’ve lost track of the number of times it’s happened to me. In a lecture hall at college; in a restaurant; while riding public transportation; with fellow travelers in a rowboat on Lake Bled in Slovenia….

It’s a combination of my reminding people of someone else, and/or my saying or doing something that makes people suspect (or even hope) that I might be one of their clan.

Are you Jewish? You’re Jewish – right?

It (the questioned ethnicity/group of origin in question) is almost always not the case, and I can’t help but be fascinated by why it matters to the person asking. The default explanation presented to me (by someone who once asked) is that if you are in the minority, in any way or group, you tend to notice [10] who might be one of your kind, so to speak.

Hands down, the majority of identity inquiries I’ve received have been about my being a member of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Chosen People. But not exclusively. Other Are you _______?s have included gay/lesbian, Russian, Native American and – one of my favorites – Australian (hello?  Aussie accent, like, nonexistent?).

 

 

 

gday

We don’t claim her, mate, now G’day and bugger off.

 

 

 

Most recently it happened at a seafood bistro, during last week’s sabbatical-of-sorts trip to the Oregon Coast.  It was a slow evening for the restaurant, and my waiter and I had established a chatty rapport.  Near the end of my meal, before he frightened me with the dessert tray,  [11]  and seemingly apropos of nothing, the waiter asked if I or any members of my family were French Canadian, or Cajun?

I told him that, to my DNA analysis-deficient knowledge, the only thing French about me was the attempt by certain relatives on my father’s side of the family to downplay their indigenous heritage (this was back when it wasn’t considered “cool” for white folks to claim Native American ancestry) by reassuring my maternal grandmother than the purported Chickasaw/Cherokee woman who’d married a Parnell man was “maybe just French.”

The waiter chuckled; I asked him why he wondered about my heritage. He replied that, physically and mannerisms-wise, I reminded him of several relatives on his mother’s side of the family, and also, specifically, his mother.

The waiter was at least my age (several years older, I’d bet).  Nevertheless, I told him I would take that as a compliment, and he left verbal skidmarks assuring me that, indeed, that is what the similarity was supposed to be.

I did not order dessert, but left a good tip. Monetarily ,that is. I refrained from leaving him another good tip: never tell a woman who is older than twenty that she reminds you of your mother.

 

*   *   *

May you never be forced to endure a humor-free comedy;
May you acknowledge the old traditions before creating your own;
May whatever tribes or traditions you claim bemuse the hell out of someone;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

Happy Saturnalia and Solstice and Yule and Merry Christmas and Boxing Day and Hanukkah and Kwaanza and Festivus and….

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Like, say, your mildly homophobic grandparents.

[2] Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687).  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

[3] Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.

[4] “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5

[5] Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.

[6] The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory,  the solstice was established on 12/22.

[7] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[8] In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.

[9] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

[10] And in some cases/in some situations, it can be life-preserving to keep track of such things.

[11] Really, out of nowhere a ginormous dessert tray appeared by my side, and my being startled by it greatly amused my waiter.

The Life I’m Not Rebooting

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At some point during childhood, a well-meaning adult asks, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up? What I like about this question is that it embraces the idea that work is an expression of who you are as well as who you want to be. Yet that question takes an odd turn when you become an adult. “What do you do for a living?” is what we typically ask each other. Gone is the inquiry about what you aspire to “be.” This shift in emphasis from “being” to “doing” focuses you solely on the external activities and behaviors that you perform for your work, rather than on your intrinsic values, strengths, and motivations.
(from Inner Compass, mindful magazine,  December 2016

*   *   *

Yachats. It’s pronounced  yah -hots, and it is the name of yet another gem of a town on the Oregon coast. The name comes from…different sources argue over the origin. It is likely a term of the Siletz or other indigenous peoples,  [1]  and has something to do with “dark water by the foot of the mountain,” which may refer to the estuary where the Yachats River enters the Pacific Ocean, the remarkable view of which I have from the apartment I’m renting for a week.

If I have the privilege of needing/recognizing/taking a control-alt-delete [2]  sabbatical, it might as well be here.

Also, I just like having an excuse to say Yachats.

*   *   *

My mini-sabbatical was originally scheduled for December 8-16. Then on Tuesday of this week MH pointed out the latest weather forecast: a winter storm, carrying snow but more problematically freezing rain, was scheduled to hit the coast and the Portland Metro area on the 8th, which would make traveling over the Coast Range dicey….so maybe you might want to consider leaving a day earlier? [3]

Negligent moiself hadn’t re-checked the forecast since…since when the storm wasn’t expected to hit until Friday (today), so all of a sudden on Tuesday it was do everything in one day (packing-wise, for  a weeks+ getaway, plus getting the car ready for winter storm contingencies  [4] I was planning on doing ion Tuesday and Wednesday, plus adding on figuring out a different, less-likely-to-have-icy-roads route, plus practice putting on the tire chains on the car I’d be driving, [5] plus finding a place to stay somewhere near the place I’d already reserved but which wasn’t expecting me until the next day….

Plus…then checking messages at the end of all this planning – early Tuesday evening, about 12 hours before I’d be leaving, and discovered sad news…which meant that three days after I return from my think-about-what-the-hell-to-do-in-Act-3-of-your-life getaway trip I will be flying down to the Bay Area to attend the memorial service for a beloved friend, mentor and former employer of mine, who had recently finished his own Act 3.

Anyway and so, I am here.

Yachats. Say it like you mean it.

*   *   *

As per my post of October 28:

Long Story Short: I have a significant birthday coming up in few weeks, and have had a significant Act 3 Career & Life Crisis ®  going on for a few…years.  I shared some recent downturns regarding such things [6]with friend SCM who, wise counselor that she is, offered this wise counsel:

It’s obvious you need a control-alt-delete from life right now….She advised I take a trip, to…anywhere.  “… you need a break from real life.”  I’d been thinking along similar lines – a meditative kind of vacation, not a trip involving lots of activities, which is what I’d usually want. I need to go alone, to have contemplative opportunity away from distractions, from the familiarity of work, routine, home and family…the kind of trip where you are forced to chill, where my main activity would be a combination of taking it easy, taking stock, and…dare I hope…figuring Things Out ® .

Initial plans for my getaway didn’t work out, but now, this week on the Oregon Coast seems fitting. Blustery (almost) winter weather should be good for contemplative ventures, right?

Unless….

Unless it becomes yet another entry in my To Do list. Eight days away is not likely to provide the magic AHA!!! answers to years of career/life balance questions, and I don’t want the pressure to find solutions [7]  to Life’s Really Big Questions ®  to diminish what this trip may turn out to be: a week’s vacation, composed of simple pleasures (I get to sleep in/not get up to feed cats/read for pleasure/hike every day/see some ocean spray stuff and pretend it was whales spouting….)

*   *   *

Department Of The Sacrifices We Make

One casualty of my mini-sabbatical, is the cancellation, this year, of my annual Ladies Lefse Party  — an event I’ve been hosting for ( is it over twenty-five years?) a long time, as mentioned here and here and here and…. You get the idea.

I will still have to find time, in the brief space between returning from this trip and then going down to the Bay Area for the afore-mentioned memorial service for He Whom I Am Not Quite Ready To Talk About In This Space, to make lefse for our family’s Christmas eve dinner, lest there be rioting among the troops.  [8]

*   *   *

Department Of What’s The Fucking Point

If I were a young(er) person looking for civic involvement motivation, after the two recent presidential electoral debacles (George W Bush and now the PuJu [9]) which resulted in someone losing the popular vote yet attaining the presidency due to our country’s  antediluvian and bigoted Electoral College system…why would I even bother?  How dare we, as USA citizens, criticize one goddamn thing about any other county’s elections?

As longtime friend and journalist SH put it on Facebook, re the vote count as of 12/2/16:

So now the margin is 2.5 million votes that don’t count for squat, because 80,000 votes in three states mattered more. But I guess Trump did better than W, who won because 537 Floridians mattered more than 540,000 of their fellow Americans. 
Pretty effed up….

*   *   *

Department Of I’m Wondering If You’ve Noticed…

…that there are hardly any pictures in this week’s blog post.

Analyze the significance; ponder; discuss; yawn; dismiss.

*   *   *

Department Of U-Turn Segues

It was a very nice hotel I stayed in – the last minute/extra night lodging I had to find due to starting my trip a day earlier than planned. Still, I wondered about the hotel’s welcome info in their Guest Information folder which was on the coffee table in my room. In the folder’s introductory, “who we are” paragraph, the owners touted their commitment to caring for their guests’ needs and running a responsible business. I so enjoyed the typo contained therein I decided not to bring it to the front desk clerk’s attention, lest the folder be corrected, which would rob future guests of the opportunity to derive similar enjoyment :

While we are completely committed to making your stay the best possible, we are committed to an unprecedented level of stainability.

stain

*   *   *

May all your stains be precedent-setting ;
May you notice when something is missing;
May you find out whatever is the fucking point;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] That is, those before the whale watchers took over.

[2] Innumerable thanks to SCM for that metaphor.

[3] I loved the way he phrased it: “I’m not trying to get rid of you, but…”

[4] Nothing like a Canadian friend nagging – I mean of course carefully advising – you in this regard.

[5] It had been years since we needed to do this. Guess what? Time passes, and putting on chains still sucks.

[6] The abridged/mostly censored synopsis, for you Reader’s Digest Fans:  holy FSM it’s a cliché to feel this way and I know it’s “just a number” but it’s a big one I’m facing and HOW THE FUCK DID I GET HERE?…And if he (MH)even attempts to throw my a surprise 60th birthday party I swear I will take out my bow and arrow and use his ass for target practice.

[7] Whether to Life’s really Big Questions or what to do with moiself

[8] H and son K and MH would miss it; daughter Belle, not so much; the kitties just keep shedding, no matter what.

[9] My son has chastised me for the immaturity he sees in my using the moniker PuJu (as in Putin Junior) rather than using the soon-to-be-president’s name.

The Natural Beauty I’m Not Protecting

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“I hope you’ll display it as a reminder of the natural beauty you’re protecting.”
(Note on a card sent,  along with a paper Christmas ornament, by The Nature Conservancy, in a three page won’t you contribute? solicitation.)

MH and I give a lot of thought to which charities we support. We donate to organizations we deem effective, whether on a local or global scale, in supporting our “favorite” causes. Over the years we’ve added some causes/organizations and deleted others, the latter action usually taken due to what we see as a misuse of our donations. For example, if we received waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many requests for additional contributions, including being dunned for “annual” dues/membership fees starting at seven months before the end of when our membership expires year, it’s buh-bye to that one.

One such charity was Nature Conservancy. We supported them for years, and then we didn’t. They do some really, really good work – who isn’t for preservation of natural lands and restoration of habitat for endangered species? – but the constant appeals for more, accompanied by trinkets we neither wanted nor asked for, including their latest we’d love to have you rejoin appeal, [1] remind me of why I decided our conservation $$ would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

ornament

 

An unsolicited holiday ornament wrapped in plastic, made in China. Now, there’s some mighty fine stewardship of the earth’s resources.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Every Cart Tells A Story

My computer calendar gave me a pop-up reminder: time to change out the emergency water supply in the garage. [2]  Two days later I was standing in the unusually long line at the store,  [3] bored outta my gourd, checking out the items in other people’s shopping carts. I began a game I’ve played for years: concocting a story about strangers, my fellow shoppers.  Their age, jobs, educational and marital status, state and/or country of origin, likes and dislikes – even their political opinions – I make up a profile of them, based on what they have in their shopping carts.

Before long I considered the thirteen items in my own cart – twelve water jugs and a stick of antiperspirant – and wondered what would my story be, to someone playing a similar game?  [4]

This middle-aged, sweaty white woman is very, very thirsty.

 

 

 

cart

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Give Me Hope Re The Resilience Of The Human Spirit

The good folks who gave us that most refined parlor game, Cards Against Humanity, have now given us yet another reason to go on living: they dug a really, really big hole, into which money was thrown. Check it out at https://www.holidayhole.com/

 

*   *   *

Department Of Shoot Me Now And Get It Over With

Forget water boarding – if you ever want to see me with my spirit totally broken,  [5] force me to sit through a Singing Christmas Tree ® performance.

And yes, I have been to such a thing. Twice, when I was young. Whenever I had to picture the concept of hell (a concept adults seemed to believe in, or at least find useful, but which I thought was rubbish), I flashed back to those horrifically perky, Lawrence-Welk-on-Quaaludes-and-acid, holiday “concerts.”

 

singing-tree

*   *   *

Department Of And Then There’s That

Hoping for the best the best doesn’t exclude ignoring reality.

Specifically, I refer to my pondering (read: dreading) what will happen after January 20, 2017. Many Democrats and select Republican non-trolls have been making noises re working together with a PuJu [6] administration on what might be considered nonpartisan, everybody-wants-this-done issues.

Now, I’ll be one of the first to commend the actions of everyone involved in finding ways to, say, fix our crumbling bridges/update our infrastructure and reform/simplify our tax code, etc. Still, any such accomplishments will not erase the fact that we’ll have a boorish, narcissistic, knowledge-incurious, unrepentant racist and misogynist as head of state.

 

 

disappointed

*   *   *

We have reached the seventh circle of the hell I don’t even believe in.

I was listening to a podcast of a Freakonomics radio show, the 11-16-16 episode, How To Make A Bad Decision. The hosts and guests were discussing a research paper, Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy.   The paper’s authors analyzed decision-making within three different professions – baseball umpires, loan officers, and asylum judges – to see whether those professionals were likely to fall prey to the gambler’s fallacy.  [7]  

The podcast included an interview with professional baseball umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who talked about the application of technologies such as the PITCHf/x system [8] and instant replays of close plays as ways of checking an umpire’s calls. Not all umpires are enamored with the technologies and the resultant second-guessing/undermining of their authority, but Wendelstedt was a supporter:

“… these pitch systems got into place, it’s been a great educational tool for us….it really helps us become a better-quality product for the game of baseball.

 

 

really

 

The world is indeed ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I completely lost interest in the rest of the podcast after hearing that quote.  I beg of all sentient beings:  Never, ever, refer to yourself, or any other human being, as a product.

Unless in your case the human being thing is just an act and you actually happen to be a can of Cheezey-whiz.

*   *   *

The Toes I’m Not Spreading

Balance; calm; equanimity, toe envy….

Wait a sec. Of all the elements one might pursue or experience in a yoga class, envy of any kind – well, it’s just not yoga.

Still, there I am, in my yoga class, glancing around to see my fellow yogis seemingly effortlessly widen their lithe, long, supple little piggies when the instructors suggests we spread our toes to help us balance in tree pose. Meanwhile, my puny, span-challenged podiatric digits spasm with the effort.

Stub toes [9]  is just one of the milder epithets which have been applied to my toes over the years.  Some folks have refrained from outright name-calling, but still have obviously noticed my phalange deficiencies. One afternoon in high school,  the dance teacher substituted for our field hockey coach (who was called away for some emergency) during warm-ups. Dance Teacher decided to teach us hockey ladies some exercises which, she said, would increase our flexibility. DT asked us to remove our shoes and socks, stand barefoot on the gym floor, feet approximately 18 inches apart…

“Now, everyone spread your toes…” DT patrolled the rows of smirking field hockey players (we needed stamina, not flexibility, so why weren’t we doing our warm-up laps?), checking everyone’s deportment, berating this girl’s posture and that girl’s stance. She came to me, looked downward, and scowled.

“Widen your toes!” DT insisted. She then pointed to the feet of the girl standing beside me, as if to inspire me, for that girl’s lengthy, prehensile toes looked as if they would enable her to hang upside down from a tree branch.

“I am,” I replied. “This is as wide as they go.”

DT bent over, reached her hand down toward my foot, and made a clucking noise of patronizing sympathy. “I see, she sighed, and moved on down the line.

Flash forward to a couple of years later: I am in an athletic footware store, to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I am a regular customer of the store and know what size I wear, but the store’s new (to me) salesperson insists I remove my shoes and socks and step on the store’s shoe size measurer-thingamawhoowhooy-gadget. [10]

 

 

shoesize

You know, this thing.

 

 

Wow,” he gasps, as I comply with his request, “your toes are really short!” He crouches for closer inspection; I resist the urge to suddenly feign a spasm and kick him in the teeth.

“You know,” he looks up at me earnestly, “if your toes were normally proportioned to your feet, your shoe size would be one or even two sizes larger.”

Guess which salesman didn’t get that commission?

BTW – I rock at tree pose. Stub toes and all.

 

 

treepose

*   *   *

May you rock at your balance poses;
May your cart tell a noteworthy story;
May you dig a really big hole for any reason you chose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What could their financial/donations manager possibly be thinking? “Sure, they left us five years ago, but this paper ornament will bring them back!”

[2] Every six months I buy 12-one gallon jugs of water, swap them out with the supply already in the garage, and use the older supply for watering plants, etc.

[3] It’s the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend; these people are already out of leftovers?

[4] Whom am I kidding – like anyone else would be playing that game, or looking up or around or anywhere but down, for that matter. Everyone else in my line, and in all the adjacent lines (Yep, I checked) was looking down at their cellphone…waiting for it to hatch a rare three-toed pygmy sloth dragon, or something equally significant, judging from the rapt expression on their face.

[5] If you did desire such a thing, that would make you a miserable little shit, wouldn’t it?

[6] aka Putin Junior, as I cannot bear to type his (allegedly real) name.

[7] The Gambler’s Fallacy is an erroneous  understanding of probability – the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability, i.e., rolling 10 even dice in a row, become higher or lower as the process is repeated.

[8] A pitch tracking system which tracks the velocity, movement, release point, spin, and pitch location for every pitch thrown in a baseball game.

[9] Thanks, Mom!

[10] There must be a name for that device.

The Umbrella I’m Not Raising

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Department Of Welcome To The Kakistocracy

Thanks to observant friend SCM, I was alerted to Monday’s regrettably appropriate word of the day (via the wordsmith folk):

kakistocracy

PRONUNCIATION: (kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)

MEANING: noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829.

USAGE: “We must weigh our votes carefully. Else we are in danger of turning America’s time-tested democracy into a kakistocracy.”
Dan Warner; The Best Man for the Job Is Not as Easy as it Sounds; The News Press (Fort Myers, Florida); Jan 17, 2016.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m No Bridge Expert…

…in fact, I’ve never played the game, not once. But I may take it up, because I’m pretty sure it includes moments when you get to yell, “NO TRUMP!”

 

 

camel

*   *   *

Department Of Okay, So My Rising Above Needs Fine Tuning

I’ve read some amazing and touching exchanges friends have had with their children, about the election. These children are old enough to have heard the odious comments coming from trumpsters and young enough to be confused about how “the man who always yells mad” and “the bad bad guy” won.

One young mother I am privileged to know, who consistently – i.e., not just during election or other trying times –  models positive messages to her two sons, related the following dialog with the “elder” (~ age 3) boy, when he asked her why people voted for someone who “is not kind.”

Wise Loving Mother: “There are a lot of reasons, and I don’t really know all of them. I’m pretty confused too, and I’m a little bit scared and sad. I want you to know it’s okay to feel that way.”

Loving And Confused Son: “Okay.”

WLM: “I also want you to know that you might see a lot of people feeling scared and sad today, and it is your job today and every day to be kind, to be a helper, and to love people just the way they are.”

LACS: “Yeah mom I am a kind helper.”

WLM: “If you see somebody who looks or acts different than you, who has a different color skin, speaks a different language, and they are feeling scared, or somebody is hurting their feelings or bodies, what do you think you can do to help?”

LACS: “I can give them a hug, I can ask them what’s wrong. I can say STOP IT to a bad guy.”

WLM: “That’s right. That is so important for you to do. And know that me and Dad and all the people who love you will do the same thing, and that we will always help you and do what we can to keep you safe.”

LACS: “K mom. Because I love you and you love me.”

WLM: “That’s right. And we love the people around us.”

LACS: “Yeah, yep. We do that.”

 

 

rainbowsloth

 

 

 

I feel like hugging a rainbow baby sloth after reading that, and I hope you do, too.

That’s the kind of Wise And Responsible Counsel In The Face Of Adversity ® (most) parents strive for. It’s also the kind of advice that is more difficult to give, IMHO, the older your children get. Once your kids reach A Certain Age ©, you can’t sugarcoat reality with well-meaning messages about confused fearful people who do things from misplaced fear and anger. They can figure out for themselves the need to raise the shitstorm umbrella. Or, as we do in Oregon, don the shitstorm hat . [1]

 

rainhat

This.

umbrella

And not this.

 

Yet again, I digress.

My offspring are young adults of A Certain Age. Son K graduated college and lives and works not far from us; daughter Belle is a college junior. Both hold passionate and compassionate convictions; both are pro-science advocates, pro civil and feminist and LGBTQ rights, and enthusiastic supporters of Senator Sanders; both subsequently Did The Right Thing ® and voted for Clinton…. Thus, both are understandably distraught about and disgusted with last week’s election results.

MH and I try to offer them words of perspective and comfort, even as we deal with our own disappointments and fears. My efforts – well, I think they need a little work.

Message from daughter Belle last week, a day after the election:

Belle: ugh i hate seeing people wearing those stupid make America great again hats on campus. Why do they go to this school?

Moiself: oh dear…. Well, as Michelle Obama advised, when they go low, we go high. And if going high means we walk around silently but reverently hoping that the largest sea gull on record has a bout of herring-induced diarrhea while flying over someone wearing such a cap, well then, so be it.

*   *   *

Department of Temporary Reprieve From The Stench of Politics

As (what would turn out to be) the heart-piercing election approached, I received brief respite from my worries via a story about another kind of piercing. Friend KW empathized with my recently shared opinions re body piercings, [2] which prompted me to share this memory with him:

I have two piercings in each ear, the first pair of holes acquired in college when one of my apartment-mates sputtered one November evening, “Could you please get your goddamned ears pierced so I’d know what to get you for Christmas?!”  She was frustrated by the fact that I wore no jewelry and wasn’t into accessories or clothing (I wasn’t a nudist, but you get the idea) so there were no inexpensive items that came to mind re getting me a present.

The second ear holes were also somewhat spontaneous: I accompanied a friend and her mother to a mall. Friend’s Mom, after years of wearing (but hating) clip-on earrings, wanted to get her ears pierced, but balked when we went to the jewelry shop. I assured her the procedure was almost pain-free; FM still balked…she sooo wanted to have it done and was embarrassed by her squeamishness. To prove that it was no big deal, I had mine done again, in front of her.

Here’s something I haven’t thought of in years. My mom said, in her later years, that she’d wished she’d had her ears pierced. She’d noticed that “all the interesting earrings” were for pierced ears; the earrings she’d acquired during her young adult years were all clip-on, all painful to wear. When she expressed her regret to me, I reminded her of something she’d said when I was in high school, about who wore what kind of jewelry. She’d said she hoped none of her girls would get their ears pierced, because she’d been told that having pierced ears was “primitive,” and something “only Catholics and Mexicans get done.”

 

 

earrings

Actually, I’m an atheist Swede with a Ph.D.

*   *   *

Department Of Sorry But It’s Back To the Festering Turdbucket of Politics
Kudos For Susan Sarandon, Who Somehow Managed To Not Vote With Her Vagina

Part 1: The Dilemma

“Not everyone that voted for trump is a sexist or a racist,. How many times does the vote not have to go our way before we realize that our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults?”
(“Jonathan Pie,” aka British actor/comic Tom Walker)

I apologize to actor Susan Sarandon, for suggesting last week that she perform a physiological impossibility. I should have used my inside words to express my frustration with Sarandon et al, who threw away used their votes to express their frustration with both major party candidates.

Excuse me while I take a moment to allay the gonad-rattling astonishment that comes from doing something I never, in my wildest nightmares, would have believed I’d be doing: referring to donald trump as a major party candidate. [3]

 

catbarf

 

 

 

BTW: The non-capitalization of the surname is intentional. As writer Bryan Vale [4]  put it, in his spot-on  The Writers Rules for resisting trump, “Never capitalize his name. trump has shown no respect to others, so he deserves none for himself. He lost his proper-noun privileges.”

Okay; soldiering on.

I understand Sarandon’s ardent support for Bernie Sanders, and share (most of) her opinions about the DNC. I also understand many of the reasons why she voted the way she did: she did not like Hillary Rodham Clinton’s policies, did not find HRC progressive enough (or at all)…. Thus, for her, voting for HRC would have involved doing so primarily because HRC is a woman. As Sarandon so memorably put it, “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

Ironically, those who felt the same have helped put in power a party that would like nothing better than to control Sarandon’s – and all women’s – va-jay-jays.

At the beginning of the campaign Sarandon, along with moiself and many Sanders supporters, feared that HRC, despite her many years of championing and working for admirable causes, was too conservative, too much business as usual, too baggage-laden, to be an effective candidate. Once Bernie was out, who/what was left to offer a radical change  – or even just the shock to the system that so many voters on both/all sides of the debates seemed to be looking for?

Ms. Sarandon was right, about many things. She was wrong, about other things. As were we all.

I still think Sarandon made the mistake of not holding her nose and voting for the one who had the best chance of defeating That Other One.  [5]  Turns out too many of us didn’t think HRC even needed a “the best chance” – we thought it was a sure thing. We were too complacent, too clueless, to get why all of the polls, why all of our “common sense,” could be misplaced. We were taken by surprise, because the question we kept asking – How could Anyone vote for such an obvious demagogue/racist/misogynist/xenophobe/scientific, political and cultural ignoramus/ nationalist bully !? received no truthful answers because Anyone didn’t trust us to listen.

I’m serious here: one of the more right-on explanations of the USA’s election debacle can be found in the antic, epic rant of a British comedian (Tom Walker, via his satirical leftwing, potty-mouthed persona, “Jonathan Pie”). To wit: Trump’s victory is rightly attributed to the “…penchant of leftwing social justice warriors to hurl insults at their opponents, stifle political debate, and label anyone who disagrees with them as sexist and racist.”

A partial transcript (my emphases):

The left is responsible…because the left have now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable. We don’t debate anymore because the left won the cultural wars. So if you’re on the right, you’re a freak. You’re evil. You’re racist. You’re stupid. You are a basket of deplorables. How do you think people are going to vote if you talk to them like that? When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted or labeled?

So now if you are on the right or even against the prevailing view, you are attacked for raising your opinion. That’s why people wait until they’re in the voting booth…there’s no blame or shame or anything, and you can finally say what you really think, and that is a powerful thing.

And all the polls were wrong….when asked, people can’t admit what they think….They’re not allowed to!…We’ve made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down. Every time someone on the left says, “You mustn’t say that,” they contribute to this culture.

It time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse, trying to silence them. It’s time to stop banning people from speaking in universities. It’s time to stop thinking that reposting an article on Facebook is political engagement…. that reading The Guardian doesn’t make you a liberal…(and that)….re-tweeting Green Peace doesn’t lower your carbon footprint.

And if my mansplaining is triggering you, you can either fuck off to your safe space or you can engage and debate me and tell me what I’m getting wrong. Because Trump just won the White House. Being offended doesn’t work anymore. Throwing insults doesn’t work anymore. The only thing that works is fucking bothering, doing something, and all you have to do is engage in the debate. Talk to people who think differently to you and persuade them of your argument. It’s so easy, and the left have lost the art. Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid, and talk to them, persuade them otherwise because if you don’t. I’ll tell you what you get – you get President Donald Trump.

You should watch the video, if you haven’t already. You might not like it; it might make you uncomfortable. It should.

 

 

 

The tape reminded of conversations MH and I had early on, [6] about the possible presidential candidates (neither of us wanted to go back to the Clinton-Bush era…remember when Jeb Bush was considered the likely GOP nominee?), then later, about the fact that neither of us knew the “real reasons” why anyone would support trump and why do trump supporters say they like him but then don’t articulate their reasons why…and why were the polls wrong – because people lied, and why did they do that? In part, because they didn’t want to be labeled a racist misogynist or….

Make no mistake, I have Absolutely. No.  Doubt. that a significant number (if not a majority) of trump supporters hold racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, alt-right religious feelings and opinions. But not all of them. trump supporters who do not (or claim not to) share those opinions took the pollsters by surprise – they wanted to vote against what they saw as a corrupt system more than they wanted to support trump himself, whom, they felt, offered the only option to give “a thunderous repudiation of the status quo.” [7]

“The Left” and Progressives lost this election. In so many ways, the proverbial ball was dropped. For example, we’ve known for years that the Electoral College system is a disenfranchising institution – a antiquated, dangerous relic of the slave era…and have done piddly-piss-squat to repeal or reform it.  [8] After the election debacle of 2000, Senator-elect Hillary Clinton pledged to help abolish the Electoral College…then did nothing. She failed to act on that pledge, a failure that must haunt her now, as her lead in the popular vote count exceeds 700,000 votes.  [9]

Ultimately, even accounting for the sexism she faced – from both supporters and detractors [10]  – Hillary Clinton was not a good candidate. [11]  Given the alternative, I was a (less than enthusiastic) supporter…as indicated by these bumper stickers I found for our cars.

 

 

hillary

 

 

So.  I am going to give a collegial if somewhat cynical nod to the safety pin you wear on your shirt [12] even as I question the efficacy if not the sincerity of what I consider to be non-action “actions” of solidarity. Translation: “checking in” on Facebook at Standing Rock doesn’t mean you are actually putting your body on the line with the Standing Rock protesters. Clicking like on your friend’s FB post about not defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t worth a warm pitcher of spit if you don’t put your money where your thumbs up is – if you do not follow your likes with consistent financial support and political action that thumbs up might as well be up your own ass.

*   *   *

 

Tune in next week, suckers for punishment, sports fans,  for Part 2: the Solutions.  Yes, as an alternative to continued kvetching, moiself will try to provide some answers. Or failing that, something more entertaining than politic-talk (elephant seal fart jokes, anyone?).

 

 

*   *   *

May you rise above as best you can;
May your actions speak louder than your clicks;
May you don the necessary shitstorm protection garments of your choice;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Umbrellas are for wimps and tourists.

[2] Which I shared in a recent post…for which I was roundly, soundly and articulately chastised.

[3] For any elected office, much less POTUS.

[4] Full disclosure: my nephew, who just happens to be a talented writer in his own right.

[5] A friend of mine, too disgusted to utter his name, refers to him as PuJu, for “Putin Junior.”

[6] Minus (most of the) Adult Language ® .

[7] The Financial Times.

[8] Whining about it is not meaningful.

[9] This makes her the fifth candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election (Al Gore in 2000; Andrew Jackson in 1824; Samuel Tilden in 1876; Grover Cleveland in 1888).

[10] Male candidates are not obsessed over re their “likeability,’ ad nauseum.

[11] “…cozying up to the banks and dry-humping corporations for years…” (Jonathan Pie)

[12] Ostensibly to show support for those frightened by Trump’s election and to declare themselves as allies to immigrants and minorities and LGBTQ and against racism, sexism and xenophobia….

The Delicacy I’m Not Sampling

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Department Of Free At Last, Free At Last….

Five days, and we will be free of this festering dungheap of an election.

I have no illusions about the future. After a brief respite, yet another Turd In The Political Punchbowl of Life ® will bob to the surface. Yet for just one moment, perhaps, we may inhale through our nostrils, exhale through our mouths, and whisper,

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

 

ahhh

*   *   *

 

“If freshness and hygiene is a question, generally it’s tribal situations that are problematic, where the whole tribe, the chief is offering you something that’s what they have. Often they don’t have refrigeration, it’s often old…. Often these dishes are eaten in one large bowl with the whole tribe jamming their fingers in. So yeah, rotten food, food that’s clearly not clean, water that’s clearly not good — those are a challenge.”
(Anthony Bourdain, Fresh Air, 10-27-16)

Intrepid tourists from (that which we call) Western Civilization often  [1] pride themselves on being game to sample the local delicacies. The more obscure the travel destination and more repellent-sounding the delicacy, all the better for their reputation as Culturally Curious/Sensitive Travelers ®. American “bad boy” chef and author Anthony Bourdain demonstrated this proclivity in spades during his recent interview with the radio show Fresh Air, which ruined my breakfast entertained me one morning when I listened to a podcast of the show.

Bourdain shared stories about how a world traveler in search of “food adventures” has to navigate the tricky waters of being a guest in someone’s home and eating what is offered. This can be especially dicey when visiting poor/tribal peoples, who profess to honor you by offering you the local delicacy   [2]   – usually an obscure (to Western palates) animal parts concoction.  [3]  Which prompted the show’s host  [4] to ask Bourdain if it were true that, while visiting Namibia, Bourdain had been offered an “unwashed warthog rectum.”

 

 

 

warthogbutt

You want me to throw another what on the barbie?

 

 

 

Yep, it was true.

Well…the chief yanks that part out and throws it on the grill and grills it medium rare and splits it with me. And…the whole tribe is watching. He’s offering me what he sees as the best part. That’s a clear take-one-for-the-team situation…. What am I going to do, refuse him, embarrass him in front of his people, look ungrateful?”

When Bourdain was asked what grilled warthog rectum tasted like, he replied (my emphases), “It tasted like exactly what you would expect – a sandy, gritty rectum.”

Boys and girls, repeat after me:  WTF !?!?!?!?!?!?!

 

 

 

Now, that is the part that got me. More than the fact that Bourdain ate…what he ate. It’s how he described how it tasted. Excusez-moi, Monsieur….

To what “you” can Mr. Bourdain possibly be referring – the you who has exact expectations about what a warthog rectum would taste like?

I moiself have never been happier to confess that there is a thing about which I have never held and will never hold any expectations: what grilled warthog rectum tastes like.

 

 

anyquestions

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Department Of More Fun With Podcasts

Out for an early morning walk was the perfect venue for listening to a StarTalk radio show podcast titled Calling ET. As I watched the sun rise and gradually break through the veil of gray clouds overhead, I wondered, as per the podcast, who or what might be watching and/or listening to beings like moiself?

StarTalk frequently covers topics relating to the SETI program, including the speculation that if the first extra-terrestrials to discover earth find us due to our own transmissions, whether they be the early  radio and television transmissions which were (unintentionally) transmitted to the cosmos or the new plans to use planetary radar to send focused beams into space. The program invited sci-fi author, scientist and NSAS consultant David Brin to discuss many ideas inherent in the topic how to let extraterrestrial life know that that there is supposedly intelligent life on earth, and “when to say who you are.”

One of the things mentioned that caught my attention: Brin stated that although our technology has much advanced in the past 30 some years, the advent of cable and other non-antenna dependent way of accessing television shows means that we were “louder” (in terms of sending information outward) in the 1980s.

I was grateful to realize one implication of that statement:  Duck Dynasty is less likely to be accessed by potential ET visitors. But it gave me pause to consider what any intelligence sufficiently advanced to receive our broadcast from the 1980s – when most popular TV shows included such intellectually-stimulating fare as Joanie Loves Chachi and  The Love Boat – might think about us. My guess is the ETs might immediately erect the cosmic equivalent of police yellow tape around paths leading to the planet Terra, and warn their fellow galactic travelers to “move along folks, move along folks, there’s nothing here to see.”

 

loveboat

They’re looking for intelligent life? What a coincidence – so are we!

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Department Of Peeking At A Writer’s Glamorous Life
Item #1382

The upside of receiving biannual royalty statements for a book which was published eleven years ago and is out of print and thus hasn’t sold any copies in several years: It takes less than thirty seconds to reconcile and file the statement. 

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Department Of Om – What She Said

I practiced yoga at home, off and on but mostly on, for ~ 25 years. FAVOR, [5] mostly including a pesky tendinitis-like injury to my left elbow, [6] my mat work in that form of exercise has been sparse-to-non-existent the past five years.

In all those years my practice was self-motivated and solo; I never attended a yoga class, but learned from a wide variety of teachers via videos and DVDs.  The days of when I could (and wanted to) jump back into chaturanga during a vinyasa, (landing in a low pushup with body weight supported only by toes and hands) are likely long gone. Also gone is my desire to do the more vigorous forms, “power” yoga. I’ve got free weight routines for that kind of workout. These days, I’m all about relaxation and stress reduction.

As for the latter, I figured it was time to find a good class/studio/teacher…but I’m selective, and not much of a joiner.  And, as un-yoga as it may be to be so critical, what I was not seeking (and what is too easy to find) is a couple of twenty-something PYTs who took a few yoga classes, liked how they looked in yogatards, [7] forked out $3k for a Yoga Training certificate, rented a space, opened a studio, call themselves Experienced Yoga Teachers and want to fill their classes with bodies like their own and have no idea about the capabilities and concerns of those of us whose joints have 50+ years of mileage.

 

 

yoga

Sorry, lady…maybe the AARP offer something suitable for you?

 

 

After much perusal I think I’ve found a match. The practice space at Yogaomazing is…well…amazing. As was the class I took there, given by a very nice yogini, who maintained her attentive calm and gentle, unflappable spirit and batted not one eyelash when I used the word dildo [8] in her beautiful, light-filled, wall-of-windows studio.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Public Service Announcements

Remember to Celebrate National Cher Day  [9] tomorrow before you go to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you find a reason to exhale;
May you have the poise to refuse “delicacies” that would knock a buzzard off a shit wagon;
May you, like Cher, remember to turn back time;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] And often mistakenly, IMHO.

[2] A part of me thinks there is no such tradition, and that as soon as the well-meaning (read: patronizing) white guest leaves, the tribe later dishes themselves: “Can you believe we got him to swallow that – what kind of ignoramus thinks we eat hyena pus pie?”

[3] e.g., the ones I’ve heard of include things like monkey brains or slug’s milk cheese or shark’s bladder soup Or other “food items” I’ve read about which should induce immediate vegetarianism in those who would even consider ingesting said items.

[4] Reporter Dave Davies, substituting for host Terry Gross, who must be slapping herself over having missed such a stimulating conversation.

[5] My favorite (no pun intended) acronym, which translates For A Variety Of Reasons.

[6] Not yoga-related…but a good story, which I may relay in these pages one day, with my offspring’s’ permission.

[7] The term for a one-piece stretch garment worn by some yogis – not a pejorative for a spastic person trying to do advanced yoga poses…shame on you for even thinking that.

[8] Nothing yoga-related, I assure you, but, believe-it-or-not, apropos to a story I was telling her.

[9] Aka knows as the end of Daylight Savings Time.

The Lunch I’m Not Buying

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For almost twenty years, my Canadian-born neighbor and friend has been itching to give moiself suggestions for the Canadian Trip I Have Yet To Take ® . Tuesday morning I awoke early, excited about the decisions I’d made on Monday re just such a trip. I looked forward to emailing an invitation to her: “I’ll take you out to lunch and you can be my travel agent!”

But first, I decided to go ahead and book my trip.

Long Story Short: I have a significant birthday coming up in few weeks, and have had a significant Act 3 Career & Life Crisis ®  going on for a few…years.  I shared some recent downturns regarding such things with friend SCM who, wise counselor that she is,  [1] offered this wise counsel:

It’s obvious you need a control-alt-delete from life right now….

She advised I take a trip, to…anywhere. Someplace totally random, or “…even if it’s just Quebec or Victoria or someplace on the same continent, you need a break from real life.”

I’d been thinking along similar lines – a meditative kind of vacation, not a trip involving lots of activities, which is what I’d usually want. I need to go alone, to have contemplative opportunity away from distractions, from the familiarity of work, routine, home and family…the kind of trip where you are forced to chill, where my main activity would be a combination of taking it easy, taking stock, and Figuring Things Out ® .

A long train trip would fit the bill. One where the destination is not so important as the process…and with really cool scenery on the way. However, my birthday being when it is (within loogie-hocking distance of Christmas)…what’s available/accessible in December?

After many days of research, I’d found the one that hit the spot with both my head and heart: Vacation By Rail’s Canadian Snow train, which travels across five provinces, from Toronto to Vancouver. I discussed it with MH Monday at dinner, working out which departure dates would be good for him perhaps being able to meet up with me at the end of my solo jaunt and spend a couple of days sightseeing in Vancouver. Later that eve, my fitful sleep was, for once, due to a good cause. I was filled with restless excitement – I was doing whatI usually poke fun at: setting my heart on something.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Here is the email I sent to MH Tuesday morning, after I’d tried to make the reservations.

Subject line – trip: back to square one.

I noticed that no matter what date I put in on the train trip, just trying to see how far I could get in the online scheduling process, I got a message saying I had to call to speak to a booking agent to continue.

 It turns out that I had to call because I was booking for one passenger traveling solo, and they don’t list that price on line. The price listed on Vacation by Rail site’s – $___ for the rate class I sought – is the price per passenger for more than one passenger.  Same trip, same room, for a single passenger is “…uh,…significantly higher,” the very nice (and apologetic and embarrassed-soundin)  booking agent said, after she’d looked it up.  “Significantly higher” turns out to be More. Than. Double.

 Seriously  – over $8k  (I stopped writing the figure down after I heard the “Eight thousand…”)

 I told the booking lady I feel as if I’ve been had.

 I flashed back to a conversation during my Croatia/Slovenia/Bosnia trip, where a bunch of the veteran travelers were talking at dinner about the many reasons they liked Rick Steves tours, including the fact that there was no price discrimination for single/solo travelers.

 I woke up excited this morning (can’t remember the last time that has happened) and now I feel like I’m six years old and someone strangled my hamster.

 I don’t often burst into tears when talking to a stranger on the phone…at least I managed to hold off until I hung up.

 Fuck. To put it mildly.   [2]

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Things You Should Know About Me If We’re Going To Be Friends

I like “bugs.” Mammalia and Insecta –  I am appreciative of our respective ecological niches…with notable exceptions  [3] . I particularly respect and admire spiders. If at all possible, any spider found in our house is escorted to the great outdoors (as opposed to squashing it), where she may build her web in peace and harmony.

 

 

spider

We love you too, sweetie.

 

 

Ants, however, can kiss my ass – but Noooo,  blog-reading ants out there, do not take that literally, because I absolutely hate hate hate it when you creepy crawlers get in the house.

Maybe it was that stupid movie I saw as a kid – a movie which held the distinctions of being both the first nuclear-mutated-big-monster movie and the first horror movie I ever saw on TV. I had nightmares for days, until…once again, Science to the rescue! ®   With a little research I discovered that humans could never be attacked by giant mutant ants due to basic laws of physics; that is, physical limitations of the ants’ exoskeletons meant they’d be unable to support a body weight beyond a certain size.

 

 

 

them

 

 

 

Still, I find little comfort in the fact that ants will always remain small. The ants go marching one by one – that’s the part that gets me.

The hive mentality is abhorrent and frightening to me. I am uncomfortable around any creatures which display groupthink and which, voluntarily or otherwise, act as slaves to instinct. From social insects to German soldiers marching in lockstep; from fundamentalist Christians simultaneously raising their hands at a faith healing rally to Mormon missionaries on bicycles to a bazillion Muslims all dressed white and in throwing pebbles at pillars during their hajj…..ICK.

Ants in the house is the worst; I feel like I’m being invaded by The Borg.  And I don’t just want to kill them; I want to frighten them. I want to hire tiny ant IRA operatives to kneecap the invaders so they can return to their colony as a living warning to the others: stay away from this lady; she means business!

Can you guess what tried to occupy our kitchen this week?

 

 

hateants

 

 

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Department Of The Things We Do For Science

Text exchange between daughter Belle, a junior majoring in Biology at the University of Puget Sound, and moiself, yesterday:

Belle: …guess what – I am now the temporary owner of a super cute frog.

Moiself: Temporary? You mean you’re watching it while someone is away? And you know you must prove it is super cute…

And she did:

 

 

sadiefrog

 

 

Moiself: Dude, that looks like a huge toad!

Belle: He’s for my ecology independent research project!

Moiself: What are you researching?

Belle: Me and my partner are looking at how diet nutrient content affects behavior syndromes in crickets after a predator stimulation.

Moiself: So, you’re actually interested in cricket behavior? The frog is just there to be the predator?

Belle: Basically we’re feeding crickets a bunch of different diets, and seeing if that affects how brave they are in the presence of a predator. Yeah, he’s just there to scare some crickets.

Moiself: Are these male crickets? If so, just given them a diet of nothing but beer and they’ll think they’re invincible. I’m serious. You might win a Nobel Prize for this.

Belle: The sex of our crickets is unknown, ha ha.

Moiself: Well then, can your research project have more than one hypothesis? Do the beer diet thing, and if it produces what passes for cricket bravado, they are likely male. If it has no effect, except that the crickets seem to be getting a bit heavy in the hip, they are likely female – and you have found a noninvasive way to determine the sex of crickets.

Belle: I don’t think they’ll let us use beer.

Moiself:  Hot pockets?

 

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Department Of Going Through The Motions

For reasons that should have been made clear in the opening of this post, I’m not in much of a oh-fa-la-la-la-la-la-here-come-the-holidays mood. [4] Nevertheless, with Halloween just around the bend, it’s time to share what has become my holiday season tradition:

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be careful what you set your heart on;
May you be free from ant and Borg invasions;
May you find the good in going through the motions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Literally. Among her many attributes (such as being the Queen of Hats), she is a lawyer.

[2] After several hours of feeling like I got kicked in the gut, I got back in the saddle so to speak, and researched more options…and once again and more than once encountered the obscene solo traveler surcharge. Not gonna be a party to that ripoff.

[3] IMHO, fleas and mosquitoes can suck festering, turd-encrusted donkey dicks and die.

[4] And only four footnotes? Now, that’s a funk.

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