Jeremiah's School of Levitation
Friday, August 25, 2006
Hand is the Word
Hand is an appropriate word for me today because, yesterday, I had one person's hands on me more than I've have in a long while.
No, I didn't "get lucky."
I "got a haircut."
It's job search time and that is usually the only time I go in for a haircut. The rest of the time, I'm busy growing my dreadlocks. The jobs I eventually get don't mind the dreadlock look (well, I didn't used to think they did), so I wait until I have a job before I grow the locks. I'm diligent about keeping the locks clean and short--they're nowhere near looking like Bob Marley's rop (though, one day, when I'm free of the Man, they will never be cut again and, consequently, may just get damned ropy).
However, on a job search, interviewers can't keep their eyes from straying to the locks. It's like a lady wearing an Uma Thurman one-piece skin-suffocating suit to an interview for a high level corporate position--you can't tell the interviewers a thing that they'll actually listen to because your look has already spoken, and is now humming in their ears like high-voltage wires. You could say "And I came up with an idea that tripled the profits in our department last year," and all they'll hear will be "Pop! Buzzz! Hummmm! Crackle! Zip! Fizzz!"
So, off go the locks. And, the barber was more than happy to shave them off, or, as he said as his hands probed my locks "clean you up, young man." So, his hands went in, they went out, they tightened and loosened just in my periphery as he lectured me about how I need to stay cleaned up. His hands pushed my head sideways, up, and down, to give him the proper angle on the clear-cutting of my personality. Sometimes, his hands formed into fists as he proclaimed that the black man still has a long way to go and that he needs to stay clean. "Gotta play the game," he said. "And, one of the rules is you keep that head clean. Ain't no company going to send you to represent them in China with your hair looking like that, no matter who you are, especially not you!"
Of course, I listened. I was, in effect, getting a scolding. And, I took it, because, see, I'm 41 and he's 73. He, by default, knows more than I do. Add on that he's got multiple thousands of dollars in land, and his own successful business and, well, I'm in shut-up and listen mode, just like I am when my dad talks to me.
So, I listened. And, his hands did a dance. A dance of defiance, a dance of definitiveness, a dance of urgency, and a dance of molding. He gripped my head, not only to turn it so that he could off my dreads, but also as if he was trying to mold some sense into my brain, stretch and pull those neural pathways, get some circulation going on up there.
I grudgingly agreed with nearly everything he said, even though I don't generally live my life according to the precepts he was putting forth. See, I'm 41 and he's 73. He, by default, has a perspective that, no matter how much I respect, I may never grasp until I too am 73. But, I have to bow to his knowledge, and his well-meaning teaching.
And, so, in gratitude for his wisdom, however homespun, I gotta give him a hand.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Instead, today, I found out that I have been laid off. No worries, I suppose. It's all business. A tech writer doesn't generate much revenue in a small company, so, in essence, my work is done there.
I now sit around and ponder my future, as millions before me have done. This is my second layoff in as many years, but this one is going to make me think a little harder about things. So, I assume the position of Rodin's famous sculpture (with a beer can in the non-chin-holding-up hand) and I ponder. You may just be lucky enough to participate in some of my ponderings.
Friday, August 18, 2006
It's kind of hard to hear the words, so here they are:
I really want you to come over
and hear what my soul releases.
I need you to help me forget
that I'm broken in a thousand pieces.
I'm all broken now.
But I'm trying to get it together.
I'm all broken now.
But I won't be broken forever.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Poetry Word O' The Week, and Some News
Write, photograph, or draw about that word for this week's Friday exercise. Added points for writing a song about it and posting that, with teenage girls mouthing the words. I'll buy the CD if you post a rap about that word. I'll pay your gas for a year (and your bail) if you streak across the set of the Today show yelling that word and giving Matt Lauer a big smooch.
By the way, in the second biggest news story of the day (the biggest, to me, is always the fact that we are still in Iraq), the JonBenet Ramsey killer is caught. When I told my wife, she said the same thing I thought when I heard the news: "It wasn't the parents?" I wonder how many million people thought they did that to their daughter? It's not out of the realm of possibilities, certainly, seeing what some parents have done to their kids. But this case was marred by assumed guilt of the parents and it's a sad commentary on where our society has come that we can ("we" including myself) actually convince ourselves that a parent could do such a thing to their child, even if we have no proof. I feel like apologizing.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Gimme a Gimmick
What Happened to My Foxgloves? Each day, I blog about the fact that I planted about 20 foxgloves and none of them, thus far, have emerged. I will describe the area of my garden that should be sprouting those proud cottage garden flowers, but which, instead, has become a nice place for dandelions to vacation and take photos with other dandelions and the occasional morning glory tourist. Then, I will chronicle my brutal assault upon both of those intruders which will go down in weeding history as being the darkest of times for weed propogation.
That Girl on the Bus There's this girl on the bus who always wears something so wonderfully earthy and who manages to not wear makeup as well as any girl who actually does wear makeup. She does nothing but seek out a seat and stare out of the window for the whole ride downtown, but, at some point, she makes a face at something she's thinking or crinkles her face at a song on her iPod and she rips it out of her pocket and changes the song like she was a bolt of lightning. It's like she was listening to the Dead Kennedys and, suddenly, Air Supply came on. Priceless! To no one but me!
What My Sons Did Every day, my sons do something outrageous. Yesterday, one of my sons came in the house and said this: "Dad. I was just doing something with my shoe and now it's on the roof." HaWooo!
What the Girl at the Coffee Stand Said I have to get coffee from the girl who works in a stand near my building because she always says something. Yesterday, she said she would never go to South Florida because it was "two billion degrees there yesterday."
Oh, High School I could talk about how something I did, said, saw, or heard today reminded me of my golden high school years. I could wax nauseatingly nostalgic as, for example, I recall how the smell of the restroom at the park today reminded me of the time in high school when my friend M_ made a water balloon out of pee and, one Saturday night, threw it out of his car window at a group of jocks who, to this day, are probably still vowing to "shred" whoever did that!
Words that Are Funny In the wonderful movie The Sunshine Boys, with Walter Matthau and George Burns, Matthau made the statement that "Words with the letter 'K' in them are funny. 'Apple.' Not funny. 'Pickle.' Funny." In subsequent home testing, I've drinkingly found that such words as "chicken" and "muckle" are indeed funny, but you've also got words like "pants" and "elbow" and "buzzard" that have no 'k' but are still funny. I would explore such funny words on a daily basis, and even attempt to come up with odd phrases that are also funny, like "chicken pants" or "butt fever."
Yeah, I know. Back to the lab again.
Friday, August 11, 2006
"You would look good in ashes," was what she said, finally, after I'd tried hard to get her to speak. Doris lay there, her face sunken, her body seemingly just another lump in the sheets that covered her. Light burst in from the window where I'd pulled back the curtain and it lay across her shattered legs. The nurse had just left, changing the IV, taking her temperature, checking her pulse, and leaving a glass of water and three pills in a cup. Doris took the pills like a good girl and slumped back to the pillow to refocus her eyes, still hazy, on the ceiling.
"I would what?" I said, leaning closer.
She moved her eyes to me, but they still remained focus on the ceiling above me.
"You would look good in ashes. And a baseball cap made of ice. An ice cap. Get it? Ice cap, like polar ice caps. And, a gown of ashes. And, on your lapel, a huddling mass of ants, like a mum."
I shuddered. "Oh, Doris, you are delirious."
"Yes I am," she said.
I sat back.
"Tell me why I'm here again," she said.
I sighed. "I've told you three times already."
"Tell me four. Four hundred. Then I'll believe it."
"You jumped from the balcony."
I sighed again. "Aunt Linda's."
"Wasn't enough, huh?"
"Next time, three hundred stories," she said.
I wanted to tell her that no building is that tall, but I didn't want to encourage her delerium. She was so given to delusions. She was such a dear.
"I remember where I landed," Doris said.
I was a little shocked. She had, up to this point, said she remembered nothing except going to the liquor cabinet and drinking down the last half bottle of vodka, then waking up in the ambulance, feeling crumpled, and full of electricity, as she called it.
"Where did you land?"
"Right on an ant bed."
"Oh, yeah," I said. The doctors had said, just to complicate matters, she had over a hundred red ant bites on her face. They'd gotten inside her nose, in her mouth, in her ears, and they bit away. Hordes of them. And, she had a nervous reaction, so her face swelled, doubling, nearly, the swelling that she caused by slamming her face on the ground from a thirty foot fall. Poor Doris. She was such a dear.
"I saw them up close, all those mandibles, clicking and clacking."
"You remember that?" I said, leaning forward to brush her forehead. Her pale face was still pocked with ant bites.
"A mass of them. Clicking and clacking, saying rude shit."
"They wouldn't shut up," she said, her voice getting strained now.
"Doris, please. Get some rest. Dad will be here soon. He'll want to see you well, not delerious."
"The whole time, chatter chatter, saying the same damn thing over and over again."
"They just said 'You would look good in ashes. And a baseball cap made of ice. An ice cap. Get it? Ice cap, like polar ice caps. And, a gown of ashes. And, on your lapel, a huddling mass of ants, like a mum.'"
I moaned. "Oh, Doris. You are delerious."
"Next time I jump," she said, closing her eyes. "I want to land in a mass of people. Not ants. Ants are rude. Rude, rude, rude."
She lay quiet then, poor Doris.
I began to sniffle. You did land on a mass of people, Doris. The tears came strong then.
You landed right on us, Doris. Right on us.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
"Oh," I said. "Cool."
"I loved riding jet-skis," she said.
"Cool," I said. "What happened to him?"
"Nothing. I dumped him. He was getting weird."
"Makes sense," I said. "I'm sure I've been dumped for that reason."
"Yeah," she said. "He wanted more than I did, so I dumped him."
"Too bad," I said.
Normal conversation to this point, right? Well, leave it up to Number 2 to mess that up, because, then she said:
"But, he got weirder after that."
"Oh yeah?" I said.
"Yeah. He just couldn't get it through his head that it was over."
"Yeah," I said. "I've had that problem myself, in my younger, more idealistic days. Did you tell him point blank that it was over? You know, sometimes you ladies talk around the feelings and leave us hanging."
"Oh no," she said. "I told him, point blank, 'It's over. We are no longer seeing each other. Goodbye.'"
I crinkled up my face. "Wow. Okay, he did have a problem, didn't he? What could possibly make him think you were still an item after that?"
"Well, I think it was because I asked him to go to France with me," she said.
My eyes did the Buckwheat bulge. "WHAT?"
"Yeah. We always travelled well together, so, a few months after we broke up, I had a chance to go to France, and take a friend, so I asked him to come along," she said. "He interpreted that to mean that we were going to get back together."
I couldn't help but frown. "Oh, he DID? Silly fool!"
She could detect my sarcasm. "Well, I mean, we were broken up! I thought I made that clear."
I took a deep breath. "Let me get this straight. You asked a guy, a former lover, to accompany you to the slightly romantic land of France, alone, and you don't expect him to think that's a come on? If an ex asked me to meet her alone at the water fountain down the hall, I'd think that was a come on, much less if she'd asked me to go to damn FRANCE!"
"You don't understand," she said.
"No, I don't," I said. "Man, what you ladies do to our hearts sometimes."
"He should have known! I told him we were broken up!"
"So," I said, "You bring a gun into a bank, lay it on the counter in front of the teller, tell her you are not going to rob her and not to worry about the gun, and then say you want to withdraw some money from your account. Would you be surprised if the teller panicked and the cops showed up and dragged you off? What would you say to them? 'Hey, I TOLD her I wasn't going to rob her!"
She just frowned. "You don't understand."
Then she smiled. "But, I see your point. Still, he was an idiot. That was a terribly sad trip we took."
I just shook my head, because I really don't understand. Not that boys and girls, even ex's, can't be travel partners, but, apparently, something didn't get communicated. Maybe more time should have gone by, maybe more things should have been made clear at the beginning. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I just feel for the guy, is all. We work so hard sometimes, and fall so hard a lot of times--I bet it hurts.
But, we gotta grow up, huh? I grew up. I'm glad that I don't have to feel that greasy, hairy "what is she doing to me?" feeling in my stomach anymore. Not that I didn't like the journey to that greasy, hairy feeling, but, my legs was getting tired.
And, though it is possible that men definitely bring some craziness to the table, it is also possible to DRIVE US CRAZY! But, as Frank Sinatra sang, no matter how bad love treats us sometimes, we wanna go right back to it:
"The broken dates - the endless waits
The lovely loving - and the hateful hates
The conversation - with the flying plates
I wish I were in love again..."
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
A trip to the dentist the next day revealed that, actually, a nerve in his broken and capped tooth had died and was getting infected. We were roughly 24 hours away from a spreading gum infection. Instead, we caught it in one tooth, and did an emergency root canal, and all was fixed.
Now, my issue, beyond the fact that I'm mad again about the whole chipped tooth incident (unsupervised boys allowed to horse around in the bathroom), is that I feel really bad for trying to toughen up a boy who was actually suffering from something serious. It is in my nature to not go to a doctor for myself until, well, someone needs to TAKE me to the doctor because I can no longer stand up or speak coherantly. I have apparently projected this onto my kids, and that's BAD DADDY-NESS.
I apologized profusely to my son and he just gave me the old "Aw, Dad. Dry up, will ya!" look, so I guess he forgives me (until he's talking to his therapist 30 years from now...). But, that doesn't absolve me, and it doesn't make me feel any better. I, in effect, should have been more attentive and aware of his pain, more inquisitive, and, well, fatherly. Auuugh!
In the future, I will try to be better about that stuff. This time, my wife's judgement saved me (gee, that never happens!). Mine will intercede next time. Daddy lesson learned.
Not for MY medical issues, though. I still won't go to the doctor unless I'm so messed up that I can't spell my name. In fact, I'm getting me a copy of an anatomy book and some X-acto knives so that, next time I need something removed, I'll just prop up the anatomy book, sterilize the knife, drink a half bottle of whiskey, and get to cutting. It ain't rocket science, people.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Confessions of a Serial Eavesdropper, Part 8.
- "The fastest plane in the world is the SR71 and it was designed in 1956 with a slide rule. It goes Mach 7, which is 7 times the speed of sound. The speed of sound is 729 mph at sea level, so this plane goes something like 5000 mph. It goes so fast that it glows white. The fuel can't be ignited even by throwing a match in it. It requires some sort of pre-ignition process. The engine actually leaks fuel when the plane is grounded, but when it flies, the heat of the flight expands the fuel tank, thereby sealing it. Oh, there are probably faster planes, but that information is classified. Suffice to say, if you ever see a UFO, you're probably not seeing aliens."
- "Some men need to get some testosterone and stop being wimps. Sure, we want sensitive men, but not whining men. Well, no we don't want men that sensitive. For instance, men shouldn't write poetry. I once dated a guy who wrote poetry. He wrote me a poem every day. Yeech!"
- "Look, that's the bitch's car. I'm going to KEY her car and I'm going to PEE on his car. You don't believe me? You don't think I'll do it?"
- "You can only take so much of Robin Williams on a GOOD day..."
- "And you know what each one of them says? They say 'So, is it hot enough for ya?' I hate that. I hate it. I have to resist choking them. Arrrgh!"
- "I tol' him he need to get on up out a' that shit and get on, 'cuz, he be coming up in here and all that shit and I ain't got the time, you know?"
- "I'll take a bloody mary now. I don't drink martinis until the afternoon. I'm Italian."
Friday, August 04, 2006
There, from the vantage point of the pool, she watched the waiter skirt among the loungers. He was a small man, stout like a cardboard cutout, slipping like a snake between the unsmiling lounging women and their husbands, bending obsequiously, chatting to the skinny ladies in big sunglasses, and to the more hefty ladies in the one-pieces, who looked at him too long after he'd departed. He held his tray balanced on all his fingers and kept it level and still as he danced among the supine vacationers. He kept a white towel balanced on his forearm. His dark skin glistened in the falling sunlight. He was a professional pleaser. He was headed this way.
Her name was Gloria. Her aim here was to never move once she got to the pool, unless there was some compelling, biological reason to move. Coconut trees soared over her, casting lean shadows across her legs. Her husband was absorbed in his book, and his headphones, burning in the Caribbean sun, oblivious to her. She knew that she'd turned cold years ago, his aging body and tightening mind no longer attractive to her. She'd come up with a dozen excuses for not having the hot romantic love scenes they used to have and, finally, he'd fallen into agreement. He'd left her alone. Her plan had worked perfectly. It took a few years for him to get it, but, now he had, and now he was just one step from having a HAM radio in the basement, and leaving her alone completely.
She rubbed her tight stomach. She'd been doing sit ups for three months now, every day, using weights she balanced on her shoulder, and she'd tightened her stomach to freshly-made hotel bed status. You could bounce a quarter off her stomach, and the quarter would fly at least six inches into the air.
The waiter came to her, finally. He had the wide Mayan face, and he was dangerously handsome, like a warrior. His lips were brown and wide. His eyes were dark and deep, like a forest trail at dusk.
The Caribbean sun fell on them relentlessly, almost buzzing on her skin.
"Madam, your drink?" he said.
Gloria plunged into his face, regarding him like an artifact. She looked to her husband, who still had a half-full Cuba Libre on his tiny drink table, and who was still a prisoner of his headphones.
"Room 17. 3:30," she said. She glanced to her husband. "He'll be asleep out here by then."
The waiter looked to her husband. "How about 4?" the waiter said, without a change of expression on his face.
"3:45," she said.
The waiter scribbled down the information.
"And, a Sea Breeze for me, please," she said. She tilted her head in her husband's direction. "And a double Cuba Libre for him."
The waiter nodded.
Gloria looked over to the other women across the pool, the ones who had just given their orders. The smile had returned to their faces. Just as it returned to hers.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
(Confessional) So, yeah...
I am always irrationally angry when racism gurgles to the top of our society, again (you should have seen me unleash on Rush Limbaugh when he made the "black quarterback" comment--I was even mad at the ESPN commentators who didn't jump on that comment right away and start flailing at the fat sweaty racist). So, I get that way.
In short, Mel should either get so repentant that he's practically going door to door apologizing, or, as I mentioned in the dead post, he should at least hook up with respectable racists, the ones who know when to shut up and, instead, use legislation, clandestine job discrimination, and "rules of exclusivity" to achieve their means, without actually having to say stupid shit in public. I wish we could eradicate those too, but, be real--they exist, even on our ballots, in our schools, etc.
Whoops. Levity. Say, how many racists does it take to screw in a light bulb...? Actually, they don't need a light bulb--they can screw themselves.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Cliche' the Day Away
But, before I get carried away, let me take a moment to thank those who've stood behind me through thick and thin. There's my old man, who toughened me up, but good, and my mama, who really ran the house, then there's my boys, both of them go-getters and, I must admit, chips off the old block. Gimme five, kiddos! And, of course, last but definitely not least, there's my better half, who has put up with me more than she should and she deserves a bow and a round of applause. Here's to you, baby. You are my rock.
Alright. Give me a minute. I can't let you see a grown man cry.
How do I stay young, you ask? Well, I still get my jollies off my nine-to-fiver. I consider myself something of a self-made man, independent, but having a way with words, who takes no guff, and who does things the old-fashioned way. I've got the heart of an artist (in a jar by my bed!--Ha! That always gets 'em!) but I'm a blue-collar, lunch pail and hard hat guy when the chips are down. Yes sir. When it comes down to it, I'm a meat and potatoes man and since I bring home the bacon, I gotta swallow my pride and take it all one day at a time and count my blessings and try to put on a happy face, grin and bear it, and say "Good Morning Sunshine" to every day because, you never know when the jig is up and you get called to that big company meeting in the sky. Know what I mean?
Well, I should just shut my trap and let my actions do the talkin', huh? I mean, if you talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk, and words are cheap, so they say. So, it looks like the time has come for me to take the A train, cut and run, and go face the music.
Well, folks, as the old saying goes "Don't take no wooden nickels." Remember the good times. Don't let it get you down and, of all things, take it in stride. Age is just a number and you're only as old as you feel. Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I'm outta here, and I'm not letting the door hit me in the butt. Hasta la vista!
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
New Gross Food!
And, in most respects, live monkey brains still hold the title of most gross food, due to the whole process involved in eating them, however, I ran across something that made my stomach do a flip. It's called casu marzu. It is, in short, rotten cheese that moves. It moves with the sickening grace of the flipping, squirming bodies of maggots. See, this cheese is considered a secret delicacy in Sardinia, Italy. You put it out to let it rot and then get infested with fly eggs, which then hatch into lovely maggots. Thanks to the maggot action, the cheese becomes a gooey mess, that you then can gobble down. And, no, you don't win 50 grand for doing it.
Here, let me just stick this quote in from Wikipedia:
Derived from Pecorino Sardo, casu marzu goes beyond typical fermentation to a stage most would consider to be decomposition, brought about by the digestive action of the larvae of the cheese fly, Piophila casei. These larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese, promoting an advanced level of fermentation and breaking down the cheese's fats. The texture of the cheese becomes very soft, with some liquid (called "lagrima") seeping out. The larvae themselves appear as transparent, white worms, about 8 mm (1/3 inch) long. When disturbed, the larvae can jump for distances up to 15 cm (6 inches), prompting recommendations of eye protection for those eating the cheese. Some people clear the larvae from the cheese before consuming; others do not.
"Some people clear the larvae from the cheese before consuming; others do not." See, there are two types of people in this world: Those who clear the larvae from the rotted, putrid cheese before they eat it, and those who don't. So, choose your friends according to that precept, and you should be just fine. Personally, I'd be lonely in this world, because I'm the type of person who would clear the ROOM if this cheese gets presented to me (well, okay, I have to admit, as a cheese lover myself--you should try Tomme de mi grandmere, by the way; it's amazing, and maggot-free--I did wonder just a bit how this marzu stuff tasted and if indeed it might be a delicacy, but, dang man, maggots!)
Some have dismissed this as urban legend, but it is backed up in The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, and in a book called The Devil's Picnic, among other places, so I am inclined to believe it, though I don't want to.
So for this week, I'm moving this food to number one most gross. And, I'm going to try not to imagine how it would look and taste when spread generously over a plate of monkey brains...