Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Existential Wtf

So I set the stainless steel teakettle on top of a nice, clean folded sheet on top of the kitchen stool. I thought to myself, “That looks fairly steady, it’s only for a second, but yeah, it’s probably gonna fall.”

I left it there.

Within the abovementioned second (but not until after I was all the way across the room) oh yeah, it fell. Was I surprised?

You betcha!

It also broke, which made me doubly surprised because I never really expect metal things to break, but that’s superfluous to the existential wtf.

This is the existential wtf: No matter what happens, even if we pretty much saw it coming, we still feel bushwhacked.

Sure, some of our expectations are born out of arrogance (“I’ve got this!” “I deserve this!”) and some are born out of insecurity (“I’ll never get this!” “I don’t deserve this!”) but if you survive long enough, most of your expectations will be born out of experience.

And yet those expectations still won’t be met.

Do you rely on machines to function and people to keep their word? Do you believe you’ll never have to wait more than ten minutes in the doctor’s office? Did you buy a lottery ticket when the Powerball™ was up to sixty kajillion bucks?

But when your lunch buddy didn’t bother to text you that they were running half an hour late, be honest, didn’t you think “What the fuck?” even though s/he has done that the last two times you were supposed to get together? And weren’t you the teensiest bit disappointed when none of your numbers matched?

For all of our fashionable cynicism, that existential wtf response speaks to the hope that ever still dwells within the dourest, most hipster-esque human breast. Our ability to be surprised in the face of our logical expectations belies our vaunted pessimism.

Think about it. If we really, truly expected the worst, we’d just ”Uh huh” instead of “What the fuck?”

I’m not saying we’re all closet optimists. God no. I’m saying that there’s a shred of positivity in our gloomy little hearts. That means we should be able to look for the up side when things don’t work out. Whether we will or not is our choice.

I’ll tell you one thing, I’m kind of glad I don’t have to scrub that old kettle, now that I have to replace it.

But why was the folded sheet on the stool in the first place? What the fuck.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reach Out & Touch Someone

Have you ever gone with me to a restaurant?

If yes, keep reading. (And, by the way, I’m sorry about that time. You know.)

If no, call me. We’ll go out. Then you can come back and read the rest of this post.

So you know that thing I do in restaurants, well I did it again this morning. It was such fun that for the first time in ages I am energized to write to you guys.

Of course we were at BeaBea’s. (Google the menu if you haven’t been, then you’ll know why if I use the word “out” in reference to “morning” ergo hence BeaBea’s Q.E.D.)

Rika was there, radiant as ever, but this is about Tony. Turns out he’s a street photographer! I adore street photography. We had such fun talking theory that I want to go outside right now and take pix.

Think about that for a minute. I. Want to go outside. Your lazy-ass auntie who despises daylight. That I.

And that’s the lesson for today. (Bam! Gotcha.)

We need other people in our lives. Not just the beloved and/or familiar kinds of people. Those are good people to have, except maybe that guy from work, but still.

I mean people you don’t know, people outside your circle of work and family and Facebook friends and Instagram buddies.

Random people will give you insights, even if it’s only because you weren’t expecting anything. A passing smile or nod can break whatever mental exercycle your thoughts were looping through over and over again. Even a banal comment about the weather can take you out of yourself.

But if you actually have a conversation with this person you don’t know, well then, that’s like the grab bags we used to get when we were kids. There’s a prize inside, and it might even be something terrific. Serendipity can be as good as a double red-eye to get you going again when routine has bogged you down.

Sometimes you need to have a stranger tell you something you already know for you to take it seriously, get off your ass and DO something about it.

Besides, people can be fun and it’s nice to Play Well With Others.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How Low Will You Go?

This happened:

It was last Friday. For a lot of reasons, Friday was a hectic and stressful day following a nearly sleepless Thursday night. That wasn’t why the guy seemed so creepy, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Get gas” was the fifth item on my to-do list, and there was an empty pump at the huge gas station I usually avoid. I was jamming through the list though, so I pulled in. Of course I was almost half a block away from where you pay. I said the station was huge.

So I’m walking across this open space and I see a very creepy looking guy. He’s standing far enough away from the repair bays that the employees can’t see him. He’s scruffy. He’s not quite scowling but he’s definitely not feeling jolly. He’s wearing a heavy coat in 80 degree heat. And he’s staring at me.

That’s not paranoia. He wanted me to know. He leaned forward and rotated his head when I walked by. Besides, when I was your age I got stared at a lot. I know what it looks like. This wasn’t a hubba hubba hey baby kind of stare. I don’t know what kind of stare it was. I wasn’t feeling particularly analytic at the time.

Anyhow I paid my money and got stared at (full head rotation) on the walk back to the car. He stared while I pumped the gas. He stared while I put the thingie away and closed up the cap.

I had overpaid by $1.15.

What price comfort? What price security? I had change coming to me. Yes it was $1.15, but it was only $1.15. In effect, I could pay that amount not to walk in front of the creepy guy again. Conversely, I could move my car closer to the cashier, but that would be silly.

In the end, I walked back for it. But, next to the cash register, they had these little bottles of liquid breath mints that I love. They cost $1. So I handed back the dollar I had just gotten and took one.

Most of us go through life without quantifying our value systems. We know we want to be comfortable. We want to be safe. Most of us just want to be left alone most of the time. But how much do we want these things? It’s usually a mystery.

Me, I know. I have proof that my personal comfort is worth exactly fifteen cents and a breath mint.