Monthly Archives: August 2011

the captain has turned on the think for yourself sign, please remain present with your intellect securely fastened

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i’m lost this morning, trying to find a simple and novel idea for arranging a few hundred words. my head is thick with morning fog and a packing list. i wish i could wait and leisurely stroll through some words in a few hours when i’m less pressed and of wider eyes. but in a couple of those hours, i should be talking to an airport bloody mary and prepping for a midday miami flight. i suppose i could be so savvy as to post from airport bars and hot spots, but i have a romantic relationship with remaining somewhat unplugged during transit. it’s a stretch for me to listen to my ipod on a plane anymore…only because i romantically hold on to the “out of pocket” notion previously associated with airline travel. my ipod usually just makes the cut, harkening back to romantic days spent snuggling my sports walkman and its boatloads of extra batteries.

how long ago did they start to allow wireless connections on flights? how long ago did the ubiquitous charging station begin to ensure we had little or no excuse to fall out of touch? the only reason i carry my laptop with me on a flight is because i don’t want it totaled in my checked luggage…i’ve never pulled it out in the air. when i fly, i write in paper journals, keep wireless switches not just off but out of sight and save my online work for later. i only read what i can wrap my little fingers around in my anachronistic ink-on-paper fantasy world.

but today, i could write a post, i suppose…observations of american tourist(er)s, jots of jokes, perceptions, ponderings…i could type away at pontifications on the noises, scents and breaths all around me…but once i embrace electrons there, in transit, i lose all my excuses for, among other things, why i will be working a less exciting assignment in my hotel room tonight instead of submitting it from american airspace today.

soon there will be no tunnel of time-to-myself, no mountain(s out of) range, no awkward passenger glances in 30 torturous seconds of elevator silence, no TSA or FAA or common decency rules regarding appropriate public communication levels and/or methods…even the “i was driving” excuse will someday fade. all of it will go the way of the busy signal, the endless no-one-is-home-ring, the answering machine, the “i couldn’t hear you yelling, mom” excuse…the best we’ve got now is, “funny, i didn’t get your voicemail until just now! i don’t know what’s wrong with my phone!” i pray that crossed communications never completely disappear. i hope that technology only gets so good at invasive contact. i hope that people will keep their expectations for instant, invasive contact at bay, while keeping with them an expectation of occasional privacy and sequestered personal time. i hope we remember to stay in our own shoes, pick up our heads and look around at what’s happening in our moment, in our worldview, in our ears, hearts and minds…i hope we remember to stop wondering what people we know are up to right this second and check out what the people we don’t know are doing right around us.

i sound like such a nostalgic dinosaur about all of this. perhaps this is the generational disease about which i will gripe and that i will treat with consternation, perturbation and the GenX equivalent of something my grandmother called liniment. oh my achin’ sentiments. we’ll see when the part of me that’s tempted always to play in this e-world overrides the part of me trying to hold on to romantic notions of unplugged solitude and delayed communications gratification.

meanwhile…i’m sure i’ll check this blog page once or twice from an airport bar seat…and my gmail account…and facebook…that’s the tempted part of me…unless i find an actual breathing human with which to dissect this trend or the MLB postseason…or pick up a gripping novel…or find a gripping, fluffy magazine through which to rifle…or some inspiration for poetry penned in blue ink, not a font…or a charging station seat and a few good tracks on my ipod. regardless, i’m off to the romantic world inside my head and suitcases for a while. i apologize in advance if you end up in my voicemail today…and one more time if i don’t return your calls or texts until friday, all while incredulously complaining about the undependability of even the smartest smartphone, and secretly lauding its ability to cover mine.

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the action figure to-do list (each style sold separately)

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so, how does an action figure plan her impossible day? how does she prioritize all of that action, and order it just so, to make it from the bedcave to the blogbridge, through toddler forest and laundry swamp, around the steaming catlitter pit, over employment bluff and on to the peaks of packed and ready? i’ve never seen an action figure make a to-do list. neither the superheroes nor the superhilarious pop-art figures i’ve posed in embarassing yoga positions have ever whipped out a pile of post its, a ring bound notebook, or (blech) an Outlook Task List of Doom. they don’t do it in my real life fantasies or onscreen. perhaps i’m not looking for the right thing…perhaps they have an unacknowledged line to the “cloud,” whatever that really is, and it feeds them all of their regular and spontaneous engagements through effortless, thought-based communication. perhaps they’ve had it for quite some time without mentioning it…maybe they take it for granted…maybe it’s a sister benefit for action figure credit union members.

i still need a to-do list and on this particular day, i need a list of the lists i need. yeah. it will all happen somehow, i know. writing here this morning is an effort to inspire myself and lower the risk of a hair fire. conditions are highly favorable…pretty much all week. in preparation, i’m polishing my Zen-plated shield and collecting jokes and deep breaths with which i can mark my trail. later i will follow them back to my bedcave in time to rest for tomorrow’s intrepid adventures.

i’m a little envious this week of the action figures who can fly themselves instead of using mass transit. i’d take that low-emissions invisible plane any day of the week…or try the cape thingy if i thought that would work…and if i had that thought while not substantively altered. there is some foreshadowing of a possible overbooking problem on the last leg of my commercial flight home…plus, if i could get a designated pilot, i could still sit back and enjoy a cloud-top cocktail…call drinks from invisible liquorette bottles.

i’d like to see how other action figures handle scheduling, if they handle their own at all. the nature of our lives requires spontaneity, flexibility and periods of extended energy. how do they pull it all off, and since pulling it off obviously qualifies as its own superpower, why hide it? why isn’t there some caped crusader at the Hall of Justice with a powerful “E” for Efficient or Executor or Effin’ Organized emblazoned on her chest shield? you’d see her strike through a lifetime of chores in a single sweep of Sharpie, knock procrastination from power with a death ray of accomplishment flashed from sparkling eyes, fit “me-time” and exercise into the most hyperbolically full calendar.

writing that i realize it sounds like a pretty boring power…at least from a spectator’s point of view…but as i stare down into a villainous valley of expectations, deadlines and timekeepers, i have to say i’d be encouraged to discover that superheroine, who obviously supers out remotely, which is why you never see her killing time in the Hall of Justice break room.

action figure daughter is now calling plaintively from the dark of toddler forest. it’s time to get my lists on…over my big-girl superhero underwear…part of the uniform, not an underoos set.

hype-ageddon saved my mini-cokes…storm prep on the suburban prairie

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everyone where i live is hunkering down for a hurricane, the winds and clouds creeping in…the feeling of the end of days is all over the region. we’ve been bracing for something the news keeps calling a “historic storm,” a media event fraught with headlines, break ins, updates, drama and reporters in hilariously ineffective rain resistant gear bracing themselves against beach boardwalk railings. i don’t want to downplay dangers or dismiss the seriousness for folks who will be affected by this storm…i suppose this hype helps keep us all safer than once-upon-a-century ago.

it means my house is quiet and dark, with a baby slowly sniffling herself awake in her crib. i’ve not stocked up on bottled water but my liquor cabinet and mixer selection is solid (including many juiceboxes). my guess is that here in my local area, away from the most obvious coastal flooding candidates, the most impactful thing we might feel is a dark blanket of power outage descending for some amount of time short enough to spare my freezer contents and half n half. i truly believe i will be having fresh coffee in my kitchen tomorrow morning, maybe headed out to a ballgame by noon. that said, i have a cute little creek behind my townhouse perfect for re-routing heavy rains, lined with bucolic trees in a tiny robert frost forest…trees that creak and crack in heavy winds as they sway toward and away, toward and away, toward and away…let’s say it’s a flirty little relationship they have with my roof. it makes for some romantic sounding nights in this place, like a prairie shack in a great plains storm, but with air conditioning and double pane windows. (and thank you again, Laura Ingalls Wilder, for my intimate knowledge of prairie shack living). without power, it quickly becomes more authentic…my living room transforms into a well-lit madonna video of votives, with one quivering, restless horse…er…lab in the stable (ok, it’s really my lap, on the couch, as though he is a 4 lb yorkie), two nonplussed barn cats in sleepy, statuesque poses and a two year old who doesn’t understand why “movie-dora” doesn’t work, or how the same system failure might affect “movie-diego” or “movie-caillou” or “movie-george” (the curious kind).

the breezes are breathing heavier outside my drafty french doors even as i write this. the leaves are all turned up at the sky waiting for the water…they haven’t been watching the news, evacuating or collecting dirt and other staples…they just ready themselves, leaf tip to root, to soak it all up and enjoy the show. i think me and mine will enjoy the show, like we did our recent earthquake, joke about the end of days and hope this one ends with my roof in one Peace. i might need to check my own supplies, lose some of the cavalier attitude i’ve developed toward reports of impending stormageddons (really people, it’s not a “geddon” if we keep having “geddons”). i suppose i could check my flashlight batteries, make sure i know where my spares are…plus i have a basement…where my liquor cabinet lives. i might need to shore that up a little this morning, and make sure that bloody mary mix is still good in case of a prolonged hydration emergency.

 

oh crap…is that del griffith at the ticket counter?

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this morning i await a weekend full of laughs, gaffs, pains, gains and rains (probably no trains). i woke so ready for this to be a friday. i’ve made more travel arrangements in 24 hours than i have in the last year, and i’m excited to get back on the road. i love to travel…not in that dating profile “love to travel” way that comes just before “anything outdoors” or “laid back” in the Top 10 Most Over-used Bullshit Phrases in Online Dating list. i love to travel…in that way where i do it all the time and i still love it…even given the airports, lost luggage, traffic and hotel housekeepers with blindspots at the keyhole level, right where the Do Not Disturb sign lives. i’ve noticed lately that many hotels have gone with clever, softer text for their signs like, “There is a Really Good Reason Not to Knock on this Door” or “Maybe Later?” or “There’s someone naked in here.” they even use DND signs that go right in the keycard slot used to interrupt your sleep or fun or nudity. i thought all of that was an attempt to mix it up for the hotel staff…anything to draw some attention to that sign…anything to jolt them from that catatonic march, before the robotic knock and key card entry…but i think they must do simulation training where they practice ignoring signs and dispassionately dismissing audible objections…like training soldiers not flinch or spill it in an interrogation room.

i’ll need a new book for the road. i like trying to read David Sedaris on long flights, though i don’t generally recommend it. his work exercises several muscles for me, more muscles in public than private. in both public and private settings, his essays work my belly, sarcasm and parody muscles. in public, i get the opportunity to work isometrically…extending and holding, quivering just between “cheerfully entertained” and “my lunacy is no longer disguisable.” perhaps i’ll find his latest and test my fit-for-public-consumption-ness…or at least see how hard i can laugh my ass off without being removed from the plane.

we all have war stories and jokes from the road…if you’ve traveled once, you have one. if you’ve traveled with a kid one time, you’ve got a whole battalion’s worth. i think most comedians devolve at some point into travel humor. i mean, we write about what we know, right? we joke about what we know…we have to laugh about what we’ve come to know or go insane from the inane.

so as i read and fly and rent, and soak in after-work jacuzzis and drinks, i will also observe, chat, collect and write about what i know…which amounts to a lot about places and people i don’t know very well. a stranger in a strange land, alone in a crowd of thousands…i love it there, that space, where i’m just me and no one has a clue what to expect. i love to surprise people with compassion and friendliness, random eye contact and smiles…sometimes even a conversation and a courtesy drink at the airport or hotel bar. i love to fade into the walls with a journal and bland countenance. i love to walk amid oblivious faces noting their expressions of wonder, frustration, exasperation, anticipation and disorientation. i love to surreptitiously pick up pieces of conversation…again trying to hide the humorous or maniacal laughter they sometimes inspire. and i love an airport bloody mary.

a few more days at the homestead before the first leg, after which i’ll see my house long enough to do laundry, pet a cat and smile at the neighbors once before heading back out. i asked the Universe what the hell was going to inspire me at work again…get my heart back in it for as long as my paycheck is in it…and so it is delivered. bear with me, cheer me on, i hope to write and post as though i’m right here on my tan couch in my “library” (aka living room, my “hemingway room,” “kerouac study” “home office”…i have a dramatic and romantic relationship with this ergonomically disastrous work space).

thank you my gentle reader for any Godspeed you can wish, St Christopher prayers you can say, any thoughts of mine you follow…may the road rise up to meet us both.

3 hours of head-wound-packed cartoon action (…figuretrish)

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awright…this stopped being funny sometime several hours ago…like maybe 7-8 hours ago when i first woke from painful, craptastic sleep…except that i’m laughing now…about writing that it has stopped being funny. i’m chuckling quietly on the inside somewhere, with sarcastic cynicism bleeding out of my eye sockets.

here’s the rundown

spent the night to present wearing a collar of neck pain..a yoke even.

got a late start

cracked my head pretty good getting out of my car. as graceful as ever.

late to my appointment

…30 minutes of pleasant….

next…an hour and a half wait at the drugstore. i was one of maybe 5 people in the whole store. it went on and on as though it were perfectly normal for it to take that long to collect and label four whole, prepackaged medicines (not even transferred into pharmacy bottles). i did my best use my time well. i was pretty zen about it all, considering.

punted my work phone across the floor and into three pieces trying to answer a call while working at the drugstore

lost my actual nice pair of sunglasses in the store

killed 15 more minutes looking for them everywhere i’d shopped (which was everywhere) and letting my bag of dairy products wilt (found the shades, yay!)

was cut off by a minivan with 3 adult passengers toward the front, 3 kids in the 3rd row. they were leaving the library (that part’s novel…as in novelty…not…well…arggg, silly puns)…the guy totally saw me and took his right on red anyway (not cool)…it was a slam on the breaks event and i cleared my horn of any gunk or grime that may have built up over these many quiet months.

i stumbled in the front door awkwardly, stuff falling from bags…needing to pee like my 105lb race-lab…tried to throw my dairy in the fridge quickly and?…cracked my head on the freezer handle as i stood up.

scared the crap out of my 105lb race-lab wailing in pain and frustration while stomping up the stairs to my bathroom

got through this mayhem and sat down

…and now it’s almost 11am and time to get down to this actual day…throw up a blog post, then work an explosion of logistics to prepare myself for 5 unexpected weeks on and off (mostly on) the road teaching. i’m covering a schedule for a very sick employee and dear friend…my heart is with her, so saddened, even as my head tries to wrap itself around plans for childcare, petcare, homecare, selfcare, ticketcare, hotelcare, carcare….

egads.

i am the awkward action figure today…a gazelle on ice…with all the efficiency of wile e. coyote…and the grace of the three stooges. ok, i’m smiling again. time to throw on one of the many, many heat wrap pads i purchased during my sojourn at the drugstore and gets’ to carin’ about all that stuff needs ‘carin.  sigh.

shaving my legs with Occam’s Razor

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i’m struggling this morning, emotions sitting right at the surface of my face, the rims of my eyes…it’s all so very complicated.

we say a lot about simplicity, that the simplest lives are the most admirable, the happiest. well, guess what? sometimes we don’t get to choose simple. (i can talk myself in circles here about what we “choose” or “draw” into our lives to serve us and teach us life lessons…more on that later). i know that i could simplify my life in a lot of ways…but not without substantial emotional sacrifices…sacrifices that several people would have to make based on my choices. i’m not talking about a standard of living or of “needing” career progression or a cool car. i get that “stuff” is not happiness, that simplifying the “stuff” right out of your life is a worthy endeavor and that measures of success are ours to define.

but some things in life only get so simple…and most of those hardest ones involve people. again…we can talk about simplicity, of cutting out toxic relationships that don’t feed your soul, further your purpose or nurture your relationship with your Self…even family gets the ax if they treat us badly enough. i’ve even had people whom i thought pretty spiritual tell me that if i want to own simplicity and the health of my Self, i could choose to abandon all of what i think of as my “responsibilities” and go meditate for decade in the East somewhere…like Siddhartha did. but something about my little 2 year old “responsibility” tells me that’s just not the choice to make for fulfillment and enlightenment. and here’s where we first start to butt heads with complexity. how much toxicity must be present in a relationship before it’s time to let go? how much complexity do we accept in order to support the give and take, the unconditional acceptance that we say is the purpose of family, Love and compassion? what about when it’s your daughter’s family?

i’m a co-parenting rookie with a well-intended teammate. the complexity of raising a child in two households appears to be unavoidable, especially with two brand new parents on this field of play, in a game that started in the child’s infancy, nuanced with all kinds of different rules depending on who you ask, what level you are on, and the character you choose to embody. it’s the challenge of a couple trying to invent and practice new dance steps while they each listen to different music and a different cheering section…and where nobody wants to have to turn to the expensive Officials in order to make or enforce rules. i want the best for my daughter and right now, that means accepting complex logistics, complex feelings and complex choices that impact several parties.

i’ve always had a hard time deciphering self-care from self-ish choices. this co-parenting complexity makes that even harder. it’s all so damn complicated. it would be easy for me to choose a victim role if i was so inclined…but i’m not. i’m still looking for the simplest answer to each complex question, trying not to blame…trying to own the choices i have, and continue Loving like it’s my job (because it is).  perhaps that’s why i chose this complex life, back out in the cosmos, when my soul was deciding what to learn on this particularly trip around the 3rd rock. perhaps i’m meant to traverse the edge of Occam’s Razor, slicing up shins until i learn how to fall on the simple side…it does mean that my life is never dull…if that’s worth anything. i hope so because i’m pretty sure i asked for that. i’ve said plenty a commonplace thing, but never asked for a commonplace life…i Love the blue centerlights that pop in my world and make me go “Awww!” and i love the idea of being that for someone else occasionally.

my outrageous life isn’t simple…except that i simply love to live. and that’s worth everything…even the complexity of this day.

hey folks…there’s a parade sign up sheet in the back of tomorrow…

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well, the monday funk is cleared from my house and life. the dog seems back in some digestive sorts, the trash is at the curb and i survived the day with some pretty good attitude left over. go figure. apparently life really does run smoother and is more fulfilling if you stop and smell…well…let’s say, “the moment.”

so i’m up early this morning (yay!) like i used to be every day….eyes cracking open in the still-dark moments just before the sounding of an alarm i usually ignore. it’s a perfect way to start a Procrastinator’s Work Day. i wish some of the rest of the world would take the day off..just not the customer service providers i need to accomplish all of the administrative tasks i’ve been avoiding. the rest of you can pour a nip of baileys’ in your coffee and call it a holiday…and let my bosses and clients know, ok?

actually, Procrastinator’s Work Day will include lots of 9-5 administrivia…things the corporate organization needs from me along with organization my corporate things need from me….corporate “things” including my poor, set adrift on a sea of hands-off management employees. i can’t fix my clients’ schedules (and i don’t mean repair…i mean fix any portion of their schedules or requirements to help in my long term planning), but i can make a good show of publicizing our chronic disorder, and maybe start a support group for sufferers of my projects.

they say the great thing about procrastination is that you always have something to look forward to. so, in essence, i’ve looked forward to this day for weeks…months even for some of these tasks…but more with obvious dread than mindfully savored anticipation. in fact, i’ve let it beat me with miniature whips of discontent and flagellation for so long, i would be numb save for the bloodletting. upon closer examination this morning, i can see that those tiny whips and the thousands of burning cuts i’m nursing are all made from little notes with the word “should” printed on each razor’s edge. today i will jump into my vat of bactine, slather on the neosporin and knock out this post-it paper monster. (i’m picturing the monster on the cover of the Office Space DVD as it collapses, its superhero costume now a soggy pile of paper and weak glue soaked with my blood, sweat and tears.)

in solemn recognition of our fallen procrastinating brethren, i vow to slay this yellow dragon monster thingy today and lay a few ineffective traps to keep its eggs from hatching and over-running my to-do box again…and i pledge to do it with flair, attitude and expression. after all, to swipe another thing someone said about procrastination….it’s the Art of keeping up with yesterday (Don Marquis). i figure that since procrastination seems more of a personality trait than a habit, and since how it seems is just one more thing determined by this blinded beholder, i must stop “suffering” my procrastination and embrace it, sell it, pretty it up and write poems about it…after all, one woman’s garbage is another woman’s art, right…i’m sure someone credible has said that too.

three cups of coffee, a pile of paper and phone numbers, a blog post done before business hours…i’m on a roll, in a role. i’m Queen of the Procrastination Parade, practicing my cupped-hand royal wave as i glide by, smiling unnaturally through vaselined teeth. feel free to join me, fall in step behind, fly your proud procastinator flags and knock out some annoying shit. or, if you’re not in the mood today, just say you’ll join me next year…or maybe the one after that.