Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lazy Daisies

Laziness is both undervalued and misunderstood. No, it's not. I don't know why I wrote that. Laziness is self-serving and pervasive but most of us understand it perfectly well.

Ironically, it often takes a lot of effort to get away with laziness. Damn. I’m supposed to have given up irony. Ignore previous.

Despite our putative work ethic as a society, the greatest rewards often go to those who only sit and wait. Of course, in Real Life just like in the movies, it’s only effective when you don’t do it on purpose.

Laziness is bad bad bad, do you hear me? Laziness is bad. Get up and do something this minute.

Oops. Sorry. I was just typing to myself there. It’s kind of like being caught talking out loud on the sidewalk when you don’t have a Bluetooth.

I’m going to kick myself in the ass right now. Metaphorically, of course. I lack the energy to attempt it for real. No, I mean it. I am now going to do something more productive than embracing my inner sloth. Right this minute. I may not finish this sentence, even. I’m alert and enthusiastic and about to take over the world!

Who am I kidding?

I’m too lazy. You can if you want to.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No Film At 11

The teenaged boys next door are in their backyard right now. They’re trying to make a video. Here are some excerpts, in order:

“If Andrew does it, will you do it then?”

“My shirt is covered in beans!”

“Can I hose you down?” “That depends, how cold is the water?”

And my personal favorite,

“Look at me, I’m a tiki man!”

When I decided to sit down and commemorate all this, I put on “First, Last & Always” to drown them out. “Black Planet” is being punctuated with screams of “Dog shit!” but I don't want to crank it lest it interfere with their artistic process.

Still, this is all you’re going to hear unless I get a link to the finished product, which of course I promise to give you. If there ever is a finished product... because uh oh. Dad just came home.

They're all going inside.

Ssh. Listen. It's so quiet now that you can hear the ultraviolet radiation filtering through the smog. There is tranquil silence -- except, of course, for the Sisters of Mercy, and now Jonah barking at the mailman.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Timing Isn't Everything

Timing is everything until the moment passes.

That wasn’t my original thought at all. First because there are no original thoughts – especially about timing – and second, because I was thinking about it, you know, sarcastically, the way we usually do.

We’re taught that timing IS everything.

We were taught wrong(ly.)

You set about to do something but (insert onomatopoeic sound effect in primary-colored geometric shape here!)!! Something else happens. Or some necessary step doesn’t happen. Doesn’t matter, you’re still derailed.

The moment doesn’t just pass. You see it go by like a little engine chanting “I think I can’t. I think I can’t.” It's true. In that newly redefined instant, you can’t.

Fine. So your moment, whether it was big or small, passed. Now you get to choose. Will you go down another path entirely (which is how this post is being written right now) or will you go back to it in a subsequent moment?

This is why we call it a “moment”. It doesn’t last long and besides, there’s another one every… well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dichotomy Du Jour, Revisited

Once upon a time (September 8, 2010 if you want to be picky about it) we talked about the dichotomy between obligation and responsibility.

Don’t worry, this isn't a quiz. It can't be because we never managed to conclude anything. We're only back to the topic because about half an hour ago, I realized this:

Obligation is endemic, whereas responsibility is assumed.

Yeah, it took a few years. Epiphany requires a catalyst and mine just began a few days ago.

Someone close to me had something not-good happen. I was there, and able to help, so I helped. The not-good is almost all good now. Credit for the newly recovered goodness was offered to me, but I declined it without explaining why.

Instead, I’ll tell you.

One of the few stated principles of my life is (say it with me, long time readers): if there’s a genuine problem, and you’re able to help, then you are morally obligated to do so. It’s not a Good Deed, it’s just normal. Not helping would be a Bad Deed, you get docked for that. You get no points for doing the right and proper thing. That’s life.

Accepting credit for helping would be fatuous. While I won’t say that anyone would have done what I did, many people could have. I was there, it got done. I don’t take responsibility for a moral obligation.

See where I’m going?

We accept responsibility (or we choose it. That’s another discussion entirely.) Obligations exist whether or not we acknowledge them.

I know, I know. You’ve got too many obligations, and your responsibilities weigh heavily on your heart and your schedule. You can’t spare the energy to differentiate.

Besides, thinking about it won’t make any of it go away so why bother? The answer to that is; you didn’t. This old philosophy major did and you got carried along for the ride.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Dream Of Meanies

What do you dream about? I don’t mean some kind of transcendent metaphysical Life Goal, simply the mental jambalaya your subconscious threw up last night. Are you dreaming more lately? I bet you are, and I bet it’s because of the weather.

Blaming the weather is useful. It’s an easy way to pass the responsibility buck, and half the time it’s true anyhow. We’re so civilized and so industrialized that we don’t realize how much weather affects us. It really does.

Yes, I’m rationalizing, but not by that much. When the air is thick and hot it’s the stuff of nightmares. For once I mean that literally, there is some kind of link. No one I’ve talked to is sleeping well. Don’t be surprised if you’re not, either.

Me, I’ve got a sort of unconscious reception line going, made up of dead people I used to know when they weren’t dead, in situations that would freak out Duchamp.

It’s starting to rain a little bit. Maybe the weather really has broken. Perchance I can stop dreaming.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Soap Opera (Of Sorts)

The woman in front of me in the Ladies’ Room didn’t wash her hands. Fine, that’s her personal choice. I’m no germ-phobe. I touch public doors with my bare hands, and hold the banister on escalators. I even drink tap water. We both know people who don't do any of those things. I also digress.

So she didn’t wash her hands. Big deal. However, you wouldn't believe the look of contempt she threw me while I stood at the sink. No, I’m not projecting, she had to retrace a step or two to make eye contact in the mirror to sneer at me. Maybe she thought I was judging her for not washing. I wasn't, there just wasn't anything else to look at. In any case, she was pissed and made sure I knew it.

I couldn’t help it. I chuckled. I had to, it was funny. She didn’t like that either. Don’t worry, no violence ensued. But it just goes to prove my point.

There’s always drama in the Ladies’ Room.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

People Talk

People talk. Many of the old folks in my mother’s Old Folks’ Home like to gossip. Wait! Don’t click away yet, I’m going somewhere with this.

People talk. You’ve seen big, brutish muscle guys like the ones at my hardcore gym. They’re kicking sand in the Charles Atlas ads and keeping overdressed kids out of nightclubs. Well, it turns out big sweaty guys gossip just as much as arthritic old ladies.

I bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? “Strong and silent” my ass. Muscle-y and chatty is more like it. Most of them are very nice. They natter together in a way that reminds me of the senior citizens in my mother’s building.

Surprise! People really are just people, and they talk. But not only people who see each other every day. Complete strangers talk, too.

I had to call the phone company yesterday for a friend. The call took about ten minutes once I got to a live person. She was very nice, the live person. She told me all about how she had her first child when she was 16, she married the father and they both managed to complete their educations while raising the child. She (the operator, not the child) now has a Master’s in some kind of counseling, I forget what. She had her second child in her 20s. I don’t know how long ago that was, nor why she’s still working for the phone company if she’s a trained counselor.

For my portion of the conversation, I volunteered my friend’s telephone number and address and a few murmured courtesies. I keep to myself in the gym and unless I’m trapped in an elevator, rarely say more than hello to anyone at my mother’s.

People may talk, but I can’t keep up with them.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Funny Ice Cream & Bad Sex

Let’s say you just heard a joke that almost made you pee yourself. What do you do? You tell the next friend you see. They blink. Maybe they smile when they realize that really was the punchline and you’re waiting for them to react. Seconds would tick by if anyone wore a watch anymore. Eventually, somebody changes the subject.

It’s happened to you, don’t deny it. Be grateful that you didn’t write the joke in the first place. Whenever I did -- I mean, if you had -- the polite smile would contain a tinge of pity.

We assume that if something makes us laugh, then it will make anyone, and, by extension, everyone, laugh. We should know better, but we do it anyhow.

For all its broad social implications, humor is intensely personal. Look at how easy it is for an unfunny joke to be hurtful, when it should just be not-funny. If you got ice cream you didn’t like, it would still be ice cream and therefore more enjoyable than a lot of other things. (Notice I’m not making a joke about bad sex. Shut up, guys, it’s possible. There, I made a joke about bad sex. Are you happy now?)

Humor, food and sex, that one paragraph contained most of the social aspects of the human condition. It also avoided the reason why I started this in the first place, which was to examine an intermediate Improv show Robert and I saw today. We went to support a friend, who was terrific, thanks for asking. Some of the other performers were not terrific.

Never mind. I’ll just smile politely and change the subject.