you don’t know what you’ve got…

Most of the people I know will not realize what they have in their families until their parents or siblings are dead or estranged. I look down on them for this, and I realize this is nothing to be proud of. Some of them, it is true, have shitty families. Abusive ones. Parents who should never have decided to have children; siblings who ought to have restraining orders put on them. But it’s not those with relatives like this that I mean. I mean the people who, twenty years from now, will see a movie or a news blurb and realize the perfect person to empathize with them about this, or to inform them or to just experience it with, is dead, and has been for years. And they’ll realize they blew it, their chance at being close to these people. They were too busy clinging to the last desultory, rebellious vestige of an adolescence they delude themselves into thinking they can reclaim. “Oh god, it’s MOM calling again. Let it ring.” “I can’t man, I have to hang out with my dad this weekend. I know, lame, right?”

I call them foolish for this, and I know it is foolish of me to do so. Probably this snobbery is a way I have of dealing with the fact that the people who don’t like their parents and have little interest in them are those whose parents are fine, untouched by illness, undisturbed by the tick of the clock or the ripping off of another calendar page. In my fury at these people who do not know what they have, who waste it, I look down on them, and preen in my panic over the understanding I have of my parents that, however fragile and fleeting, I at least managed to arrive at in time to benefit them. I hope. Or, if it doesn’t benefit them terribly, at least they get to see it. What good will it do them if, forty years from now, I realize how much more insightful and mature and meaningful and non-frivolous they were, compared to other people’s parents? What appreciation will they get? When most people have lived long enough to realize how tremendously awful other people can be, how awful they can be to their children, it’s too late to thank the people who weren’t awful. I’m taking the express train to that point, and sticking my tongue out at everyone I pass along the way. Which, I realize, it itself childish in almost the same way I am accusing them of being.

But I have to get back at them somehow.

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actual email received on office email list

“Dear person who purchased a Twix bar but could not eat it because it was stuck in the vending machine,

After much valiant effort and personal distress, I have rescued your Twix.  As a finders fee, I am claiming one delightful cookie bar, which means you can claim the other delightful cookie bar by stopping by my desk.  This will results in a 50% cookie return on your initial investment, which is a 50% gain compared to your current rate of return, and a 50% loss overall.  Sorry, but it’s a naked cow market right now I think, so that’s how it goes.”

Unfortunate Words: Residue

The word “residue” is a delight to say. The easy, exultant R, the excitement of the Z, and of course doo—what “oo” sound is not fun to say for a kid? I remember seeing commercials on TV when I was a child, whose closing statement wanted to remind you, in a perky voice, that the product in question “leaves no sticky residue!” I asked my mom what it meant and when it became apparent that residues in general are bad things people don’t want, I was kind of let down. How could a word so awesome reference something no one wanted?

Mason’s Retreat, Christopher Tilghman, Final Paragraph, Because It’s Perfect

We recapture these lives of our parents and forebears to give us some testimony of the truth as it was once received, and we give honor to pain and forgiveness for mistakes, but the blood begins fresh with each child, and flows only within that child, and dries to dust in that body when all is done. There is sadness in that for Harry, because he would like to undo what was done to his father. But there is also mercy in it, Harry recognizes. One life, one’s own, is plenty. He’d come home, carried the sleeping girls to their beds, and kissed his wife good night, and now that he had sat down to make this call, his deepest thoughts were only for himself. How grateful he was for his blessings. How hard he would try to preserve them and earn them anew.

Just Enough Lace

I am sick. My first head cold of 2012—leave it to the warm weather to slay me, every time, with a cold when everyone else is cavorting in the sunshine. Limited to liquids and the couch, I started knitting, after an hour’s worth of pattern-searching, the perfect project with just enough lace.

Japan sent my ability to multitask into overdrive. I had to have nine things going at once, all the time, to keep loneliness and shiftlessness from surging up and engulfing me. I had sims up and running for artificial people and noise, several chat windows, water boiling for tea, a translation project propped open with my electronic dictionary to hold my place, and some ornate knitted monstrosity draped over it all, in process. Since then, doing one thing at a time is unfulfilling for me. But since my responsibilities here are somewhat greater, by and large I have to focus and keep my frenetic multitasking to a minimum, lest work that actually matters suffer. I am always questing for the perfect balance of industry and relaxation, enough to feel productive without being so busy as to half-ass things.

This lacy throw, attended to while relistening to The Wheel of Time on tape, is perfect. I worked for five hours straight, which is unheard of for me lately. Being industrious is the only way I can relax without feeling guilty. What with the whole job situation and all.

Typification, or I Don’t Want To Hear About Your Creative Process

For all my ranting about people oversimplifying and treating everyone as a stereotype, I am rather predictably guilty of the same thing. Specifically as regards those whose goal, temporary or long-term, is a creative product.

I don’t want to hear about your creative process.

I don’t want to hear about how you discovered yourself as a writer/painter/sculptor; I don’t care who your mentors were or how you met them. If you are standing in front of me telling me you are a “creative” person, with all these “ideas,” I would appreciate it if you would get lost.

Not because I don’t like creative people.

But because I don’t like you. Your kind of creative people.

Because I typify you. Because the people who have put their creativity to work to produce pieces that move me do not brandish their work at every turn in every conversation, loudly proclaiming themselves to be its progenitor. They are not vain. I hate vain creative people, even more than other kinds of vain people. Vain creative people are embarrassing. They are the ones who get exported and branded as the face of movements and generations. The simpering twat at a party who “just can’t get past this relationship he’s writing about.” The girl who is just dying for your opinion on this or that art piece, provided your opinion is somewhere between seizure drool and shrine-building. The guy who just wrote a song and—oh you wouldn’t want to hear it—oh no really—oh well if you insist, okay—and you’re not insisting. Ever.

I hate these people because I was able for many years to convince myself they didn’t exist.

And when you go from somewhere pretty straitlaced, pretty gung-ho on the more practical aspects of existence, to somewhere where every second person wants, NEEDS to tell you about the solipsistic novel she broke up with her boyfriend over because clearly he just didn’t get her…your commitment to the anti-stereotype, in this specific instance, wavers. You start to typify. 

You start to wish you knew more people who didn’t want to be the next Hemingway. You start with wish you knew more people who worked 9 to 5 and were fucking grateful for the paycheck at the end of the month. Who knew they were capable and valuable beyond that 9-to-5 job, but who didn’t need to tell you, every moment you were together, how capable they in fact were.

And you realize this is cruel and against a lot of the things you claim to believe in, but you try and explain it away by reminding yourself of the more earnest, humble types you know. And still they are no excuse; your preference for them and their apparent persistence as a type despite the reigning majority does not provide a space for your sulky disdain.

Whaddayagonnado.

*cops out*

new orleans’ environs make varicose veins look like sexy tattoos

I did not understand, until doing a lot of work around mapping old photos onto the land surrounding New Orleans, how utterly wrecked that environment is. Go into Google Street View and look at all those straight water lines cutting through the sensibly messy bogs and bayous. Those are all canals dredged for oil lines. Look how MANY there are! What a mess. But of course they’re all secure and never leak or damage anything right? Riiight. And I’m sure this didn’t do a damn thing to Lake Grande Ecaille either. Oh, except for this