Wednesday, April 30, 2008

jurist imprudence

I had jury duty this afternoon.

It's scary in there
Democracy is basically a good idea and so is civic duty. But the idea of being judged by a jury of my peers is bowels-turning-to-ice-water scary. Almost as frightening as having your fate decided by an appointed judge (read: crony) or elected judge (read: politician). But not quite. Hardly anyone likes jury duty and I'm no exception (and I forgot my damn earplugs) but like a pap smear or colonoscopy, you don't have to like it, just get it done (as professionally as possible).

A few years ago I was chosen to be on a jury trying two of the five people accused of torturing and murdering a mentally retarded man. The ringleader, Suzanne Basso, was eventually given the death penalty by another jury. However, it was Bernice Ahrens Miller (Suzanne's close friend) and Miller's son, Craig Ahrens who were the defendants being tried by our jury.

count to three; it's okay to use your fingers
Before I go on, let me return to today's jury duty. It was municipal court, pretty much guaranteed to be a simpler, briefer experience than the previous one. Of the larger group that showed up for jury duty all but two made the first cut into little potential juror pools (I was cut after the second round of tryouts, ptl). The pool to which I was called numbered 14. Six were to be empaneled. The judge (a zaftig amazon with good hair) was mercifully intelligent and non-pontificating unlike her irritating bailiff. She asked each of us to answer three questions. Each one requiring a one word or simple sentence answer. Three questions:

  1. Occupation
  2. Where you live (what area or neighborhood)
  3. Have you ever served on a jury
Three questions...and she even gave an example:
  • Astronaut,
  • Clear Lake,
  • No, i have not served.
Out of the 14 people, five couldn't complete this request without prompting. And that's immediately after being asked and hearing others answer correctly. FIVE out of 14, godsaveusall.

Back to the murder trial
First of all, let's get this out of the way: the trial was about the torture and murder of a mentally retarded man. There were gruesome glossy photos and lengthy lawyerly theatrics. There were few mitigating circumstances to this sideshow of human abasement. It was ugly and sensational.

This was almost 10 years ago, in 1999; there were 12 of us. A decent cross-section of our population, slightly skewed towards white lower middle-class, as I recall. The makeup of the jury didn't stay with me as anything more than a fairly typical "peer" sampling.

What I learned about the jury process
Many come into the jury room clutching their damaged inner child or hopped up on god or chomping at the bit with an axe to grind. This was about abuse, so some who had been abused felt compelled to share. This was about depravity and so some jurors felt compelled to use this experience as a way to right society's wrongs.

All we could/should do was to make a decision based on the facts presented. Nothing more, nothing less. It was hard enough without all that other shit. The defense and prosecution depended on the antics of lawyers. God, there are so many douchebags practicing law. However, we could only glean the facts from the lawyers' arguments and the witnesses' testimony. The attorneys' logic and debate skills were to persuade us one way or another. They dueled and we held up the score cards.

My fellow jurors veered off point so many times. They distorted logic and threw in some politics and religion. They were indignorant. A small number (2 or 3) of us attempted to drag folks back to the subject at hand. There was open hostility and crying. Let me repeat, there was crying. On that note, my fundamental jury duty axiom:

THERE IS NO CRYING IN THE JURY ROOM.

None. If your ex-husband beat you and this trial reminds you of that nightmare, talk to your fucking therapist. If the photos are so upsetting you need to have a little meltdown, do it at home. Because we were deciding the fate of two OTHER human beings. It wasn't about anyone else except them and the victim. As much as I understand that this was upsetting to everyone (yes, even me) I wanted to scream at these jurors: it's not your turn, fucktards! It's not your life and liberty hanging in the balance. FOCUS!

The jury is back
We eventually found the defendants guilty. The crime was pretty overwhelming and their culpability undeniable. The punishment phase was harder. The son (25 years old at the time) barely registered a room temperature IQ. I didn't expect the defense to put him on the stand. It seemed like such a bad idea. But, as it turned out, his simpleness actually helped him in the punishment phase. They both went to jail but his sentence was significantly lower than the hang 'em all contingent wanted to give.

Ultimately, a child-like, retarded man died a cruel, painful death and four simpletons went to prison because one woman was a master manipulator and, I must moralize, a right evil bitch. Suzanne Basso's own daughter rejoiced at her sentence and volunteered to, metaphorically, "pull the switch."

I hope I never, never have to be judged by my peers. But if that ever happens, I hope some of you more rational assholes out there don't dodge the summons.

jimmy cracks me up

gimcrack \JIM-krak\, noun:
1. A showy but useless or worthless object; a gewgaw.
2. Tastelessly showy; cheap; gaudy.

[From Tuesday's dictionary.com word of the day.]
Let's use it in a sentence, shall we?:
As a joke, his fellow plumbers dropped some Mardi Gras beads down Jim's pants: adorning Jim's crack with gimcrack.

(That was a lot of work to make one tasteless pun.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

none-of-your-business names

In the long list of suspect business names out there, my personal favorite here in Houston is restaurant named Crapittos. It doesn't matter that it's family name, really. It's just not a good choice, especially for an eatery: Crap Eat Toes.

Today I found a flyer in my mailbox for a local handyman. The company name was Arreola's Construction.

(o)

Yes, I made them a nipple/breast emoticon. The extra r in the word just makes me think about a Spanish nipple...which is an odd thing because nipples so rarely speak.

Anyway, I like weird company names but I prefer when they are consciously tongue-in-cheek. With tag lines and the like:
  • Arreola's: Specializing in Massage Parlor Construction.
  • Let Arreola's build your Lingerie Shop
  • Arreola's Construction; Your first stop for Nursing Mother Boutiques

Thursday, April 24, 2008

sugar toes

I sometimes walk the downtown tunnels to the Park Shops (a mall-like building in the middle of urbania). Generally, I trek there for the Hallmark shop because while the tunnels are rife with little trinket shops, the cards in them categorically suck ass. While Hallmark makes me want to vomit from sweetness, they have some tolerable greeting cards. Anyway, on the third floor of the Park Shops there is a vitamin store. Or some kind of snake-oil peddler of health stuff. Every time I pass this store I want to go in there and steal their sign. I must not be the only one because now it's taped to the inside of the display window:

On Sale: Diabetic Socks

My delight is two-fold because first, I had no idea you could test for blood sugar on knitted garments. Or that somewhere on those sick socks, perhaps near the ribbing, is a place to inject insulin.

Second, after I chide myself with,
No stupid-head, those socks are not diabetic, they are FOR diabetics, I'll claim to have known that all along and traipse in to buy a pair–just in case I become a diabetic at some future date. I wouldn't want to be caught with the stable blood sugar socks at such a critical moment.

Besides they will go so nicely with my arthritic underpants and hypertensive bra.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

homage to travel

Cheap GPS

That xkcd guy is a ninja: he read my mind. I made this very same joke while we were getting lost adventuring in Florida last week. Okay, maybe we're both fucking ninjas.

Monday, April 21, 2008

post vacation post

We have returned from visiting the parental units and adding the first two notches on our 30 stadium tour belt. A bit travel-weary but happy to be home. Trying to kick-start normal routines back to life but so far, not much luck.

Forced myself to go into the kitchen and whip up some dinner. My mother cooked for us every day and well, she managed to raise me without spoiling me so how could she undo all that hard work in one week? Anyhow, I thawed some flounder fillets and scrounged up a couple of lemons for marinade. Did you ever cut a lemon in half, dig out 8 seeds and begin squeezing the juice out only to have another eight seeds try to skydive onto your meal? You catch those and begin to squeeze with abandon, because surely there aren't any more in there, and watch another half dozen fly out. You fish those out only to have a few more slide by. This was the lemon I faced on my reluctant return to the kitchen. The Darwinian Champion of lemons. The Ron Jeremy of Citrus.*

*I realize lemon seeds are more symbolic of ova fecundity than phallic virility. However, the analogy doesn't work very well. We don't tend to look at a female and think, damn, that's a lot of corpus luteum for one woman!

Btw, Happy 420, all you people with the dopey smiles.

The following entries are odds and ends I wrote up offline while on vacation but didn't have the internet zen space to post. They're in no particular order...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

my father

I have had several people lately question me about revealing so much publicly on this blog. About work, about family and about, well, everything. The thing is, I don't feel exposed. Perhaps I should be more discreet, but polite chatter is no longer in me. I spent all my caution chits in my youth. Obsessed about what everyone thought. Preoccupied with "avoiding [even] the appearance of evil." The call to speak truth as I see it is stronger than all that for me. Check back with me if I get fired. I'm betting I'll feel the same.

Of course, that frankness does not extend to the people in my life without permission. I don't include names or details that would leave those I care about vulnerable.

I do have a deal with my kids, though. If the story is really good and we don't explicitly forbid its telling, all holds are barred.

This is not about my kids, however. It is about my father. And told with his permission. He is a complex, dynamic, difficult and earnest man. A man who epitomizes the American way. There is so much history to his life that it has hindered my writing about him up until now. Suffice it to say, he is a man who came to this country as a child, did not speak the language, lived in a ghetto, went into the army and served his country, educated himself and raised five children who have transcended subsistence living and ignorance because of his inspirational, bullheaded perseverance.

My father and I love to talk about politics. He started out a conservative man who, in my opinion, was freed from that cling-to-the-past mentality by formal and informal education, keen observation and surviving the horrors of poverty, bigotry and war. He's a retired cop, to boot, and that makes the transition even more noteworthy.

It was our conversation on waterboarding that fueled me past the overwhelming task of introducing him. My father enlisted in the army in his late teens and served this country in Korea. He speaks very little of this time. However, I believe it was the beginning of the end of his blind, flag-waving nationalism. My mother once found a box of his war medals and asked him about them. His only answer was to upend them into the trash.

So Dad says that absolutely, unequivocally: waterboarding is torture. It's not an issue worthy of debate and he says that there is nothing more unAmerican than condoning torture.

Then, he said to me,
E, do you know what else is torture?

What Dad?
Sleep deprivation.
[I quell the snarky: You're preaching to the narcoleptic choir here, Dad.]

He says that the army used sleep deprivation on him and his fellow soldiers in Korea. He said it got to the point where you didn't care who you killed or if you were killed—so maddened were you by the need for sleep. After days and days of sleeplessness and mayhem, you became a zombie watching your buddies and the enemy brutally killed.

When you are finally allowed to put your head down even briefly, he said do you know what happens in your nineteen-year-old head?

You dream of a bed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

in other, sadder news

My cousin Charlie is dying.* He is the only cousin my age, my father's brother's eldest son. He waited for a liver transplant for a long time and finally got it. But the donor liver never kicked in. Life support was disconnected a few days ago since there was no brain activity after the seizure that followed liver failure. His wife and three children now wait for the inevitable. My parents will wait for the news and fly up to New Jersey when he dies. This would be a painful enough occurrence if it weren't for the fact that...

...My aunt is also dying. My mother's friend since junior high school and the maid of honor at her wedding, she and my uncle have been especially important constants during the upheaval in our family over the years. She has survived the destruction of diabetes for far longer than anyone ever predicted. She always had a wicked sense of humor and a real concern for my sisters and me. I am deeply saddened as she slips away. Her husband and three daughters join my cousin's family in that waiting limbo where all you can do is review the past, stifle hope and wish for the unthinkable: that your loved one will pass painlessly.


*Charlie died one day after this entry.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

flying marlins

I was so wrong.

The Marlins beat the Braves 6 to 5. Big home run action to boot. It was a great way to start the big stadium tour. We enjoyed Miami's open-air Dolphin Stadium on a beautiful night. No hot dogs or beer, due to the ridiculously good Cuban meal we enjoyed in Little Havana before the game. [Roast pork, arroz moro, yuca with garlic and sangria. Goodgodalmighty, that was amazing.] Worth the trade off, we’ll hot dog it up tonight at the Rays game.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

vacation

I’m not going to get all maudlin over the predictable response to seeing my parents age. It is a fact of life and my people are not sentimental. But I find I hold on a little tighter to our time together. I worry a tad more about colds that take longer to go away. However, the conversations continue to be philosophical, silly, political, culinary, familial and nostalgic. In a word, wonderful.

This is most decidedly a gift of time. We have had our anger and our healing and now, now we have time to linger. Like sitting around a table after a particularly satisfying meal (food analogies = scripture for me), we enjoy slow lazy moments of reflection and contentment.


And of course, sometimes the contentment hits a snag. No matter, the ups and downs are not extreme but I am extremely grateful to be here.

off to miami

Maps? Check.
Tickets? Check.
Junk food? Check & check.
Passengers? Moooommmmmm! Hurry!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

fables and foibles

The first time I heard the fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes I had no idea what a metaphor that little tale would become for me in my life.

No, of course, I am not the lone voice of sanity in an insane world. That would be arrogant.

There must be 12 or 13 of us out here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

café con leche & platanos

We're here in Florida, north of Tampa, in the community where my parents live. It's lovely and calm and has nothing to do with my everyday life. We went to a little Cuban/Puerto Rican coffee shop this morning for breakfast and café con leche. The locals (middle-aged and older hispanic men) sit around bitching, laughing and pontificating loudly. It was noisy and hectic and perfect. The waitress: "Un momento, Mami, I'll be back to take your order." I love that place.

However, I'm afraid I won't be blogging much, because there is always someone talking in the same room and it's not my house so I can't say, Could you people take your chatter elsewhere so I can think? You know, I can't say that. It's rude. I love them, they're my people. But haysoos cristo, I wish they'd give me a moment of quiet to write.

Mom, Barbara, my sister and I will be driving down to Miami Wednesday to see the Marlins beaten by play the Atlanta Braves. It's stadium #1 of 30 in St. Barbara's Major League Baseball Stadium Tour. It's going to be a blast.


Hey, everyone has quieted down! I think I can stretch this out a bit. My mom is so funny. She plans 12 meals in advance. I never thought of her as the quintessential (jewish, italian, irish, etc.) mother urging everyone to "eat, eat!" but she is certainly that. Thank goodness she's a great cook. My parents house doesn't look sterile or cold. It is very inviting and warm. But fucking surgically clean. Seriously, you could do emergency surgery on any horizontal surface. My mother is a cleaning machine. She's so good at it she has time left over for fun. I, on the other hand, am not so gifted.

The other thing I notice, again, is that my parents are even more cold-natured than I am. Their home thermostat is set to womb.

More later...

Friday, April 11, 2008

i wear my sunglasses at tax season

St. Barbara's halo is blinding in its brilliance. She thought I'd have to file an extension and figuring out the estimated payment was giving us both brain cramps (mine were more sympathy brain cramps as she was the one actually doing the ciphering). For a person with as small a "this is what's left after paying bills" buffer as I have each month, my taxes are way complicated. What with our vast land holdings and staggering investments...

Anyway, Barbara managed to trudge through pages and pages of the tax labyrinth and get them done. E-filed this very morning. Before vacation. With me paying $1,000 less than I did last year. Holy shit, give that woman a prize. She is going to get some serious stadium tchotchkes as we begin our national (+ Toronto) tour of Major League Baseball Stadiums.

Can I get a woohoooo?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

but what shall i do for camoflauge?

Isn't it depressing to go to the zoo and see the animals in sterile, empty, box-like structures? Getting their environments as close their natural habitat seems the least we can do if we're going to keep them in captivity.

That's my new theory about having friends over: see me in my natural habitat rather than an artificially tidy space.
A little bit of chaos is how I roll. Wouldn't it be better to see your friend [me] happily peering around a stack of boards or pile of twine, rather than gleaming pristine surfaces?

Okay, shit. I really like the pristine surfaces, too, but keeping them that way means I spend a great deal of creative energy on cleaning and not enough on...creating. Let's get back to the habitat analogy, okay?

So, this is just fair warning to my friends and family. We want you to come visit more often but I'm leaving some clutter. Perhaps a little dust. Oh, relax, the kitchen and bathroom will be clean but you may notice a lovely little sawzall case against the wall or a sewing machine on the dining room table...

Unlike the zoo, however, you can feed the animals at my house. And bring them alcoholic beverages.

wherein i call v.a. an idiot

I'm probably going to regret this but here goes. I'm a fan of Violent Acres as you can see by the link thing over to your left somewhere. I love her bluntness and how she tells her life story without self-pity or sentimentality. From time to time, however, she posts something so fucktarded I can hardly contain myself. But I do. Because like her or not, bitch will be vicious. I'm not usually all that inclined to poke the hornets' nest.

That said, this post was simply too ridiculous to ignore. I will do the point-by-point thing and if you have no interest, you can stop right here. V's blog entry is italicized, my commentary is bolded.

The problem with Atheists is most of them are snobs.

Atheists think they’re being clever with their spaghetti monster analogies and fairy tale rhetoric, but at the end of the day, they come off sound like condescending pricks.

From the Queen of the Condescending Pricks? What a compliment. And that Flying Spaghetti Monster analogy is a bit esoteric, I suppose, I mean making a metaphor about fanatical belief. Shit. Satire is for suckers.

Furthermore, any group of people claiming superior intelligence that willingly engages in the fight of a losing battle automatically loses credibility. However, Atheists are too dumb to realize they’re fighting a losing battle, so they persist with the lecturing and the withering stares. Atheists have singled handedly ruined coffee shops with this crap.

Now this one is going to bring out my snobbery because it is as logical as saying "if you're the only one who believes the way you do, just shut up, loser! You're too dumb to understand that the majority is never going to respect freedom from religion. You're losing the battle to the faithful, stupid atheist, so stop talking about your non-belief right now and get out of my coffee shop."

I, myself, have not been able to claim belief in a higher power for many, many years. However, I can still see the value in Religion. Perhaps growing up without a strong parental figure in my life made me recognize the possible value of a loving Father figure up in the sky watching out for me. And hey, I try my best not forget that sometimes we all need something to believe in.

Well, aren't you the poster child for Mommy was a hateful bitch and all I want is a benevolent male role model [like God!] in my life? So, you don't believe but you're content to have that picket crammed up your ass while you perch on the fence. Hedge your bets. That's a respectable position.

Most Atheists have the tendency to thumb their noses at Jesus, and then log onto World of Warcraft so they can pretend to be an orc for a couple of hours. They sneer at the Bible, but have no problem playing endless hours of vampire role playing games. The message is clear. Fantasies are OK as long as they include gratuitous violence and some sort of porn.

This one is my favorite. Most atheists play WOW, love violence and soft porn? I had no fucking idea. Really? Most of the atheists I've met were, well, blow me, they were seriously philosophical about belief, not hateful. And most came to atheism after years of religious searching.

With what kind of characters are you having atheism discussions? I mean the ones you describe might be creepy if they talked about Sunday School...wait, I know some of those! Let me judge all of Christianity on a few oddballs immersed in WOW, drooling over the gargantuan tits spilling out of cartoon bustiers and getting hard on virtual violence.

According to you, it's clear atheists think that "fantasies are OK as long as they include gratuitous violence and some sort of porn." So accepting Christianity as a fantasy is okay? Self-delusion is fine–just don't shoot any fake people or ogle them cybertits.

Note: any atheist who hates video games and violence [I'm not dissing soft porn here] can forget this particular point but remember, you're still a goddamn snob.

It’s no wonder Religious folks don’t take them too seriously. Even the Quiet Intellectual Atheist comes across as if he’s only denying belief to be aversive. It’s hard not to pity the guy addicted to nonconformity like an addict to a needle.

I know lots of religious folks who are freaked out by atheists. And to claim that people who don't believe are denying belief just to be "aversive" sounds seriously like, "Oh, come on now, honey, you are shouting NO but you really want it, don't you?"

[By the way, I don't think you mean "denying belief to be 'aversive'" as aversive is usually used as an adjective and the noun definition seems a little murky here. Maybe you mean contrary or antagonistic. Damn, there I go being all snobby and shit.]

Oh, the irony. Being "addicted to nonconformity" is something you seem especially good at.

Stop being so simple-minded, V. You are actually too smart for logic this holy...oh, I kill myself. I know, just go to Christian coffee shops! That way you won't have to deal with the phony, snobby, withering non-believers.
So believe whatever you want and so will I. But if you shit on my lack of belief, at least be better informed and talk to some thinking atheists.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

seriously outstanding sisters

My parents had four daughters. Not to slight my brother, whose story is here, but this is just about The Sisters. Somewhere along the way (our parents and) we started referring to ourselves in this strangely conventish manner and it stuck. I like the idea that we're some odd but not-very-pious faux-religious order. An order in which all first names begin with the letter E.

I am the second daughter, flanked by an 18-month or so distance on either side by #1 and #3. Another odd factor: our parents often refer to us by birth order number. (I have since rejected my place in this appellation as too fecal, even for this potty-mouth. I prefer to be called e-squared.) Anyway, in keeping with the previous theme, I call #4: Sister E of the Bungled Contraception. She was the six-years-later bonus baby. The result of irregular cycles, assumptions and mom being too cheap to go get a blood test. My mother thought she was pregnant, stopped using birth control and got pregnant. I fucking LOVE this story. (My mother is absolutely the wellspring from which my humor originates, and while I don't think she would find this entry as entertaining as I do, she still appreciates the funny. I also don't think she reads this blag-o-mine because I say fuck and asshole too much and she hates those words. I delight in those words because I'm such a fucking asshole.) I especially love that this funny misstep affixed the fourth wheel to our e-is-for-estrogen caravan. A real bonus baby if I've ever met one.

Anyway, I have, in all modesty, three of the most badass sisters ever assembled. If there was an athletic bone in my body, I'd say we were a ready-made team that would be hard to beat. All of my sisters are smart. Educated. Funny as hell. Great mothers. Professionals. Compassionate and generous. And can't bear it when any one of the other sisters is in pain. We live very far away from each other, a thousand miles or more separate me from each of them, and I'd like to say that the distance isn't what keeps us close but I don't know. I hope that proximity would not erode the affection we share.

We've all been through our respective periods of hell. On the list of the saddest moments of my life was watching my just-younger sister lose her children in a custody battle. We are very close and the anguish she felt was physically painful to me. (She got them back and has proven what we knew all along, that she is an exceptional mother who was married to a spineless piece of shit. Sorry, my niece and nephew, I have no love for anyone who hurts my sister.)

My oldest sister has been away. And she's come back and the best, best thing of all is to hear her laugh again. Really laugh.

There have been sick children, ugly divorces, custody battles, financial crises and finding out their self-righteous, once-religious sister (moi) was queer. There have been accidents and domestic violence and court martials and unplanned pregnancies. And still, when the shit hits the fan, my sisters rush to each other with shit-repelling umbrellas. And Lysol, for the smell.

I have three incredible sisters. My parents should positively burst with pride.

P.S. I may have forgotten to mention that we're a damned attractive quartet of siblings, too.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

discontent and sustenance

Join me on a (self-indulgent?) mini-trip of philosophical pining and discontent. Or don't, you won't hurt my feelings because I won't know one way or the other.

Some of this discontent may be influenced by my daughter's presence. She is a bright, moody, seeking, affectionate, bristly, wonderful human being. My conflict with her nature is, in significant part, a conflict with myself. She is a reminder of the dynamic tension with which I live. With which many people live, I assume.

It is easier for me to simply characterize periods of existential angst as normal and cyclical. And they are. But they can also be catalysts. And even at the ripe old age of 49, I can use the cyclical unrest to question and reevaluate my life and where I'm at. But, then what?

The problem, lately, is an old one. I don't want to feed my feeling of isolation, which is an unproductive trap, but there are times in the world of advertising/marketing that I feel alone in my loathing for all industry. Education, non-profits, corporations–it does not matter one whit in which field I've worked. There is a need, so my culture tells me, to sell shit to support ventures. And that which works, in all this scrambling for funding, advertising dollars, underwriting, etc., seems to target the most ignoble of human qualities. Vanity. Greed. Falseness. Insecurity. Guilt. Some ads aim at the higher qualities of human nature and, then, use those aspirations to sell you a car. A sandwich. Some insurance. I find it, so often, powerfully narrow and depressing. And isolating.

Advertising or marketing are the arenas in which a web animation designer is most readily employed. So here I am. Two mortgages and dreams. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love my little conjoined plots of land and travel plans and my home. God, how I love my cracked, desperately-in-need-of-updating little home. I dream of a huge studio space, traveling to see family and foreign lands. Taking the woman I love to every major league baseball stadium just to see her smile. Donating money to organizations struggling to deal with catastrophic disaster and social fallout.

I hesitate to open this issue because I have a great dislike of talking about things and not doing anything about them. Don't tell me what you're going to do, do it. Don't over apologize for something, figure out how not to do it again. Don't spread your discontent like a rash all over your friends and readers, feel exorcised and go on to the next post all pithy and snarky. Not to mention that I'd rather not bore my friends. But this diary/journal thing is sometimes about less entertaining, unsettling issues. And it's, of course, my damn blag, so I get to expound. You get to close the browser window.

Spent this Saturday morning (after a clusterfucked work week) watching TED.com videos of Stephen Hawkings, Jill Bolte Taylor, Steven Pinker and Karen Armstrong. I hate, hate to weep. I do. I don't want pity or vulnerability. Or to expose my grief in any way that elicits a comfort me response. Besides crying makes me puffy and gives me a fucking headache. But here I was. Weeping for deeper meaning in my daily life. Jesus that sounds trite. I am no idealist. [I don't expect everyday to contain some kind of Bill Moyers epiphany...though I could probably talk with him everyday and get closer.] I just want my integrity to come home with me at the end of the day.

Work is about survival. It is about finding the middle ground between being a nomad, devoting the lion's share of your day in quest for food/shelter and the unrealistic goal of doing whatever you want and getting paid handsomely for it. Work is about satisfaction. Work is about other people and how your interactions enrich or detract or slide neutrally by in a place where you spend so much of your time. Work is about obtaining the means to do so many other things you love outside of the job. Ways to help those you love and do some good.

Right at this moment, work feels like an insignificant piece of a large, shallow, dangerous, phony machine. A philosophically bankrupt, omnivorous organism. And I am one cog of a million helping to propel and enrich a venture for which I have little respect.

Shit. I will feel better by Monday morning but I don't know how.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

healing my mind with brainy thoughts

Hard week. My brain feels beaten up. Well, not just my brain but everything connected to it. So, I decided to watch some people talk about how the mind works. Philosophers, engineers, linguists, neuroscientists, etc. And my brain feels better. Solipsistic little pile of gray laundry.