Wednesday, December 30, 2009

for you, Albany

Meanwhile, in a distant corner of the interweb (are there corners?), you can read this , by moi.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reflections on a Freezing Shower

There is always a hint of heat even on the coldest mornings as you stand shivering, hand tentatively outstretched under a reluctant, groaning stream. One chooses one’s moments and one must act quickly. You know this faint warmth will not last forever. And yet you think, this morning of all mornings, this very morning might hold constant and true with the promise of warmth. This first stage is hope.

It is too late to undo what has been done. This realization strikes you with the rapidly cooling water. You turn the dial slightly to the left, closer to the ‘H,’ but you don’t dare go all the way because once there, there’s nowhere further to go. And there’s heat in that dial that needs to be coaxed out, like milk from a reluctant Heifer’s teat. And so it goes. Once more to the left and you know you are getting close to the end, that soon that dial will not turn and you’ll be left, alone and naked, to reckon with what you’ve wrought. This happens every morning. This second stage is the confrontation with cold reality.

Just as you’ve resigned yourself to the cruelty, just as you’ve cursed - Job-like – your suffering, something happens. There is a trace of slight warmth in the torturous cascade – Is this delusion? Early hypothermia? Diminishing definitions of what is “warm” and what is “cold”? No, there is real heat there! The worm has turned and though you never end in a torrent of hot water, there is a wisp of steam in the bathroom as you exit marginally less frozen than when you entered some eight minutes ago. (Eight minutes! Was it only eight minutes?! Nay, two lifetimes!) Is this the virtue of patience? Is that what we’ve learned?

This pilgrim’s progress holds until you shower elsewhere. Somewhere where the stream is hot and pressured and you’re torn between thinking this comfort somehow decadent, and thinking, alternatively, that the narrative of morning ritual you live with is wholly misguided, that it needn’t be like that at all.

And then you have a good think.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

But it was his job he hated talking about most of all. He dreaded meeting people because he knew that a considerate, logical question to someone you've just met is 'what do you do?' He didn't object to it on philosophical grounds, or see it as a negative reflection on a certain type of person who can only talk about work. Indeed, if he allowed himself a moment of small satisfaction, it was on his overall charitable attitude towards people. Rather, it was the physical prospect of such an exchange, the give and take of an average polite conversation, that made him anxious. He could feel himself growing hot and uncomfortable, beads of sweat on his brow, his back. And his hands - his cold, clammy hands. With each week that passed in his job, with each new introduction, it just seemed to get harder. His description became more circumspect full of rambling, borrowed phrases, rather than concise. He dreaded the question more, not less. He spoke quickly and apologetically to smiling people who seemed to have jobs that they didn't care about or jobs that they cared so much about.

How did all these people get so secure and sure of themselves?

He clung to the idea that we are not what we do. But he harbored deep skepticism about this position. After all, in a very real way, we are what we do.

But the deeper questions weren't as troublesome as the shallow, fleshly ones. And this was more of a problem that needed to be solved than one that needed to be mulled over. Interests! He needed interests! Something to steer these conversations towards. And talking points! A teleprompter even, to keep him on cue as he squinted into the bright, judgmental lights of everyday social interaction. He needed anything to keep him from saying another word about working for a company that provides solutions.

"I have put this restraint upon myself and kept it there all these years to keep from breaking my wife's heart, whose contentment I value above the salvation of the human race." -- Mark Twain

I just wanted to write this down so I don't forget it, and because I think it says something about the prerational bond that family can have and the ways that love is invariably limiting.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"But what if it's not going to be ok?" he asked. "Things don't have to work out, do they?"

The reply was hasty. "Of course not, of course not. But you have to have hope, right? Don't you? You just can't give up!"

"I don't know. I mean, I guess."

He looked up uncertainly and then spoke quickly, accusatively.

"Where'd that come from anyway? All this hope business?"

They didn't look at each other.

"I don't know. The Bible? Shakespeare? But you know, there are things, like maybe your friends, and little pleasures. Like watching TV."

He brightened and smiled on the verge of a tired laugh.

"There is always TV."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

cliches that need debunking #8

Whoever said whenever a door closes, another opens, has clearly never been locked in their childhood bedroom. That, and they've never been buried alive. What door opens then, Mr Know-It-All? Huh? Maybe THE DOOR OF LIES!!!!!

Keep reading next week for cliches that need debunking #9 - "it all comes out in the wash." Patently, it doesn't.

What you might call an aversion to work, I call a delicate sensibility.

What have I been doing recently? Reading The Magic Mountain for starters. Oh Hans Castorp! You're such a dolt!