There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about Chinese companies buying well-known American brand names. First Lenovo bought IBM's entire personal computer business, and now Unocal and Huffy, of all things, are set to go as well. I've heard talk about how Chinese companies don't really know how to establish brand-names, and this sounds likely. When I was in China it was virtually impossible to tell one quasi-brand from another. Companies shamelessly ripped off each other's brands, not to mention the brands of foreign companies. It was impossible to tell what was genuine and what wasn't, and even worse, if you actually discovered a product that you enjoyed there was a pretty good shot that the next time you went back to that same store not only would the product not be there anymore, but the clerks wouldn't even know what you were talking about.
So market research isn't really very well-established yet in China. And if you don't know how to do something, it's classic business to simply buy someone who already has what you need. While I do feel a patriotic pang or two at the thought of a well-known American brand being sold to some unknown foreign company, it's not as though this kind of thing hasn't been going on for years across the Atlantic - so it's not really different if it happens across the Pacific instead.
I guess there are two small problems I have here. First, there's a general facelessness attached to Chinese corporations. We haven't heard of them by name, mostly because the purchasers are more often than not fronts for state-owned banks or consortiums of OTHER companies that we haven't heard of. Second, when someone is buying you just for your name recognition, it's a pretty good bet that they won't be terribly interested in keeping American factories open or honoring pensions (Huffy has already announced that they're taking an enormous dump on the shrinking population of companies that pay into the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp).
I do have one bigger problem, though. The Chinese companies involved, and the Chinese government generally, are acting like this is all business as usual and are pretending that they don't know why everyone's so pissed off about this buying spree. Government ministers are even complaining that the US government is interfering in normal commerce. Meanwhile, up until a couple of years ago foreign investors weren't allowed to buy companies in China at all. They couldn't open their own factories either - they had to contract with Chinese "joint-venture partners" who would steal their technology and over-produce their designs to sell out of the back door. The Chinese government repeatedly interfered in foreign investment, a couple of times even forcing foreign companies that invested in entire industries with government approval to divest at a moment's notice with no explanation other than general national security concerns.
Let's be honest here - China is not our friend. We abandoned the Taiwanese to establish relations with the world's most populous country, but if there's anyone with a conscience left in the State Department then they've been holding their noses while doing so. The Chinese government changes rules of commerce and even history to suit their tastes, criticises the imperialism of other countries while ignoring their own massive crimes against humanity, and takes the wrong side in almost every conflict related to human rights for fear that their own record will be more closely examined (maybe we distrust them because we see ourselves in there somewhere?). And yet, in response to the massive economic challenge that China's industry poses to the US, we're chosing to give up rather than fight. We take massive loans from the same country whose industry is wiping out American manufacturing one sector at a time to keep our government and military running. We are borrowing from the dealer to buy more drugs and, even worse, to pay the bills.
I don't blame China. They're just doing what everyone does, what America has made a motto world-over: looking out for #1. I blame us. When did we as a society decide that rolling over was ok? Aren't WE the ones that are supposed to believe in competition?
It is strange how sensitive people are about politics today. I wonder if it was always so. When I was growing up, what the people around me worried about was the politics in their home countries. There was war in Honduras, Colombia, and Guatemala. There was corruption in Mexico. Taiwan was under military rule. But what was going on in America? My only contact with its mood came from network television.
Third-world immigrants have an understanding of politics that is very different from that of Americans. In their experience, political activism results in physical threat to oneself or one's family. Jailing, torture, and assassination are real possibilities. Aid organizations here find it hard to help immigrants, because they don't answer the door or the phone, won't fill out surveys, and won't talk to police, social workers, or government officials. In other countries, doing any of these things puts a big target on you. This compulsion for secrecy is a hard one to erase.
After I finished college, I slowly realized how far I'd drifted from the immigrant world. I watched Washington Week and listened to NPR. I knew what was showing at the Music Center. Today the people I associate are busy watching CNN and Michael Moore movies, and don't hide in the back of the house when strangers with clipboards knock on their doors. This is the America I know now, or perhaps actually these are the Americans I know now. They are sensitive about politics.
I already have a reading list for a class I will be taking in the fall. I only had one of the required readings, so I went to Barnes and Noble for the other two. They're unusual titles, the kind that a big bookstore keeps but sells only a few of each year. Heck if I knew where they kept them. I asked a store clerk to look them up in the computer for me. I asked for the Marx-Engels Reader and Sigmund Freud's Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, and I wondered if anyone within earshot thought that I must have been a total pinko.
I so envy Leaffin, all carefree and bumming around Central America. She's putting off that awful weightiness and crushing tedium of real adult life here in the states. Bully for her. But alas, I am dealing with a host of issues. One is that I am up for a promotion at work. By which I mean there's an opening for a job that pays better than mine. And involves a lot more responsibility, a different skill set and dealing with management.
Though I am considered the leading candidate, I haven't even applied. In fact, I don't even know how to apply. I'm sure it entails clicking and clacking on something or other in "my HR." Thinking about dealing with the whole resume and interview process is stressing me out. It's doubly weird because the folks who'd interview me are people I've known for many years. I've been through it once before, applying for this same job only to receive a stinging rebuke when they hired some other guy from outside the company. Now he's gone.
I'm also stressing about what would happen if I landed the job. Supervisors are judged on the performance of others. I've done that too, in the late 80s when I was transitioning from crazed party animal to settled-down husband, father and homeowner. My unit was a chopping block of losers the company wanted to lose. Suffice it to say it did not go swimmingly. One guy I was supposed to fire called in with a stress claim the day the axe was to fall.
Stress claims! What a concept. Until recently in California, workers could go on disability just by saying their jobs stressed them out. Whose doesn't? Choice grapes went unpicked in vineyards. Sheets went unchanged on porn sets. Silicon chips and breast implants piled up on loading docks. Nobody cleaned San Fransisco's HIV-encrusted bathhouse benches. As Sir Mick Jagger once put it, "In the sweet old country where I come from nobody ever works and nothing ever gets done." But boy do they have a good time eating fish n chips and guzzling ales in pubs until they puke the fish n chips all over their busty birds.
Then there are the French. Say what you will about the cheese-eating surrender monkeys, but they aren't stressing out. Despite their swilling of wine like Paris Hilton basks in the glow of flashbulbs, they enjoy long lives. They brought us the interchangeable terms savoire faire and elan. A zest for life they have and no way are they going to let stress, brooding or angst spoil that (though you wouldn't know it from the brooding, angst-soaked movies they make. If it's gotta be foreign flicks give me Bollywood any day.)
So it's off to the sunny outer banks to sit there with my toes in the sand, pondering my future. Maybe when I get back the job will be filled and I can stop stressing out about it. And I'll pour some wine into my jelly jar glass and drink it down with elan. Or savoire faire. Here's to you all!
Iīve just left the Bay Islands of Honduras. Such an interesting place. Such fabulous coral reefs. But I donīt want to get sidetracked...
There are some things there that you find all over Central America and the Honduran mainland... beans, tortillas, the lack of ®cambio® (change for large bills, even if itīs just $5).
However, I felt like Iīd been sucked backed to the Midwest of the 1950īs due to their trust in the general good of people when it came to money. I ordered takeaway at a restaurant one day, and when I went to pay with a 100 limpira note (about $5) for my 40 limpira meal, they said that they didnīt have any change. When I told them they I didnīt either, they said that that was ok.. I should come back later and pay. Tomorrow was ok to pay, too. Whenever, actually. About a week later, I had to call for a cab from somewhere, and I didnīt have any money. The woman waved her hand and said that that was ok... I could come back some other time and pay for the call. No problem.
Have you been offered the blind faith of strangers recently? I donīt think thatīs happened since the ī80īs, when I only came up to the average adultīs waist.
Anna seemed to touch off an interesting discussion about blogging and Bad Sam in specific in a recent post. Even MG commented that it might be reason to lay this site to rest. It led me to examine why I post.
For me, posting here serves a purpose: it allows me to let those I know and love dearly, such as MG and Leaffin and Mr. SC (though he hasnít commented) about recent changes, thoughts, and trials in my life.
Thereís another reason.
Sometimes itís easier to discuss your life with someone who doesnít know you. Iíve had numerous intensely personal discussions with people whom Iíve barely known, especially regarding my emotional states and various coping methods Iíve exhibited over the years as a means of controlling and dealing with said states. One can obtain a removed, objective perspective on oneís life and yet know that there are real people behind the comments, behind the advice, behind the reciprocal stories. They may not align with what Iíve said, decided, done, and thought. But yet, itís cathartic to share details of your life to a mixed audience, at once indiscriminate, judgmental, supportive.
Is that worth it? Isnít that worth it?
I don't normally have much use for religion. I don't depend on it to guide my moral compass. I don't need it to give my life meaning, or to give me a sense of connection to the universe or other people. But this morning I was caught off guard, and found myself reaching for something that I didn't have. I was standing in the back yard, on cool green grass under a tree shading me from the morning sun. Standing in front of a small hole I had just dug, and holding in my hands the body of a small little bird that had passed away. Though I'm not religious, I wouldn't say that I'm not spiritual. I felt sad for the little bird, and I wanted to say something meaningful before putting it into a hole in the earth, and shoveling away. I thought to myself that if I was religious this would be the time where I would say a prayer and feel ceremonious and connected to God and life, but instead here I am burying a small creature that is a wonderment of nature, and I can't think of a way to make this as meaningful as it feels.
Maybe it's because I hadn't had any coffee yet, and my neurons were in the morning fog where nothing matters. Maybe I'm getting older, and my ability to improvise on such things is decreasing. Maybe it's because I was alone, and there was no one there to share the moment with. Either way, the sound of my own voice and thoughts didn't seem good enough. And I realized that if there were a God, I might actually enjoy praying.
The little bird had been caught by my little cat. Or so I surmised when I found my cat outside in some bushes, and a small bird nearby that seemed perfectly alive but could no longer fly higher than three feet off the ground. I made a cage for it's recovery, and the bird woke us up when it began singing brightly at 6AM the next morning. It seemed quite energetic, and appeared to have eaten some food and taken some water.
When I got home from work, I heard it chirping happily on the porch. But within an hour or two it was quiet. I checked on the bird several times. Was it getting sleepy? Cold? Weak? I couldn't tell, but I held it in my hands while tidying up the cage and it seemed to like that, as if it were using my hands for shelter or heat. It was an interesting feeling holding a wild bird, and having it look at me and close it's eyes, and then look at me some more. It appeared very comfortable, but for all I know it could have been terrified, and too weak to do anything about it. Despite my concern and intuition I couldn't hold it all evening, so I put it back in the cage. It seemed very sleepy, though the sun had not set yet. I hoped it would be ok, but it had seen it's last sunset. It died alone on the porch shortly thereafter.
Before I put it in the ground, though my mind was blank I did end up saying something. I said good bye and that I wished I could have known the little bird better. I finished burying the bird and walked to work. By the time I arrived, I realized the way I felt had nothing to do with religion.
by mg at 07:22 PM on June 20, 2005
Iím not at all ashamed to admit Iíve led a pretty uneventful life compared to some of the other regulars around here. Iíve never been pals with a drug kingpin, never really gone out and got wasted regularly, and definitely never had sex with a cat. In the last couple years, as Iíve gotten married, become a parent, and now have regular conversations about mortgages, money market accounts, and annual percentage rates, it seems unlikely Iíll have a chance to lead a wild life.
So it was a big shock to me last week that I found myself not only awake at 1 am on a Friday night, but awake at 1 am on a Friday night and on the other side of the door from four police officers with their hands on their guns.
My wife started a stay at home momís group in our neighborhood, and in the couple months she has been doing it the group has grown to 20 or so moms. Usually they get together during the day to go on walks, meet at the park, or any number of other child-friendly activities. It is a great way for them to get out of the house and have a conversation with someone who doesnít poop them self on a regular basis.
The wife scheduled a night out with her moms last Friday to a local bar. I stayed at home with the kid while the little woman went out and enjoyed herself. After putting the little one to sleep, I lay on the couch and started to drift off. I wanted to stay up to make sure the wife made it home okay, and when she did around 11 or so, I went straight to bed.
Cut to 1 am, when we both wake up to the sound of someone furiously ringing and knocking on our front door. Iím sure Iíve mentioned, in the past, my alcoholic neighbors, with their prison tattoos and frequent late-night meltdowns. Even if there werenít potentially dangerous folk actually living in the building, Iíve heard enough stories of break-ins that I wasnít exactly rushing to open the front door. But by the time I fully woke up, got dressed, and got up the gumption to open my front door, there wasnít anyone there.
I did, however, find the front door completely open.
Not to brag, but my mind works quickly, even if after Iíve been woken up from a dead sleep. I knew right away that no one had tried to break into my apartment, because if they had, they had succeeded, the door was open. Now, I donít have a criminal mentality, but I do feel fairly certain positing that someone wouldnít break into a house just for fun. If someone is going through the trouble of picking my lock they a) wouldnít knock, and b) would come inside to rape and pillage when they succeeded in opening the door.
The simple answer was that my wife, a little tipsy from a rare night on the town, had come home and neglected to close the front door, much less lock it (or is that ďlock the front door, much less close itĒ? whatever). She groggily confirmed that hypothesis when I got back to the bedroom.
At this point I am very wired. I try to lie down for a bit, but am feeling a little hopped up. I get back out of bed just in time to look out the window and see two cops cars pulling up outside my apartment.
I then uttered a phrase I never in my life thought Iíd have a use for, ďOh great, now the cops are here.Ē
Again, my mind works quickly, and I immediately realize what happened is that one of our neighbors noticed the open door, was checking up on us, and when no one answered, did the obvious thing by calling the cops.
I get dressed again and head to the door. ďThis is the police,Ē which at this point I knew, yet still I looked through the people in time to see four police officers stepping back from the door and moving their hands to their gloks. Now, if I were hopped up on crank, I could imagine this might be a very scary situation, but by this point I already see the comedy and open the door laughing.
I have that Blink 182 number I Guess This Is Growing Up on my DAP. It is a great singalong, and when I am painting by myself I will often chime in off-key. Sometimes (and why it varies I haven't a clue) the next song is Liz Phair's HWC. It too has a catchy singalong melody.
So there I am up on the ladder with roller in hand, hollering, "So hot, so sweet, so whet my appetitite. Gimme your hot white cum." Bah! How queer is that? I had to turn the damn thing off and paint in abject silence.
It made me uncomfortable, but I doubt many guys felt that way about their lustful feelings toward Ms. Phair. This was true even when Exile in Guyville came ou when she was all of 20 or so. She has always put herself out there as a raunchy if vulnerarable character. But they might if they thought about the fact that she is the mother of an 11 year old daughter. (Bet that kid takes some ribbing on the playground!)
Certain celebrities have a quality that makes you feel icky if you find them even mildly attractive. The other day I am looking at an ad for The Perfect Man, starrring Heather Locklear and Hilary Duff. I'm musing to myself, hey she is pretty hot. Duff, mind you, not Locklear who is my age and was quite the vixen in her time. Right away I'm like chiding myself for even having such a disgusting thought.
It is not a function so much of age as something else, wholesome image perhaps. Consider that Duff is about the same age as Lindsey Lohan, after whom many a middle-aged man secretly lusts. She isn't much younger than say, Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. And I'd lump Tom Cruise's new squeeze Katie Holmes in with Duff, Amanda Bynes, Clelsea Clinton the Olsen twins and Clarissa Explains It All---and Holmes is 26. Maybe it is the "ie" on the end of her name. But whatever the reason it's icky to think about doing anything less wholesome than a picnic with her or any of them. Cruise should be ashamed of himself.
People's status can change. Consider that we watched Neve Campbell growing up on Party of Five (or was that Jennifer Love Hewitt?) Anyway, Campbell/Hewitt always had that kind of shy, innocent air about her. So I lumped her into the unthinkable category with Duff et al. But then came those racy scenes in Wild Things and that changed everything. (Actually I'm not even sure that was even her, but you get my drift.)
This site has some great history. It started from nothing with basically MG and Snaggle churning out posts with no comment feature. Through the Ezy/Linz golden era the author pool grew to 45, mostly inactive. There have been 2500 entries, generating 17,500 comments. Ah, the comments. Something sorely lacking of late. As far as I know MG eliminated the users on line feature, but I am sure he knows. And I bet it is the usual 25-35 at any given time. Yet we write posts for ya'll, basically like performing seals at rehearsals for the circus, to a deafening silence. It gets a tad old. Particularly with MG's snazzy new design, we want the site to remain vibrant. But for that to happen, we need comments.
Everyone must pull their weight. For my part I have tried different approaches to posting but to little avail. I've also tried to comment myself but unless I can get on my kid's computer I can only type one letter at a time and then I have to click off an error message. D'oh!
So here is one more stab at it---a free skate. If you are here, then comment. If you don't, MG will know who you are. He will use a combination of your IPO and other info he has to track you down and infect your PC with some awful worm or virus. Or maybe he'll just run off with your identity, who knows? Just kidding, he'd never do that unless you pissed him off.
But seriously folks. Below you will find some of the nebulous quotes I used at the beginning of my book. These are things that could mean just about anything to anyone, that's why I chose them. Pick one or all and take a moment to share your thoughts about it with us. Agree? Disagree? Simply nonsense? Don't even worry if you're at work, it won't go on your permanent record. And if it does, who cares, really? Hey, it's free. So here goes:
The spectacle originates in the loss of unity of the world, and the gigantic
expansion of the modern spectacle expresses the totality of this loss.
-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle.
It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite stiff and ordinary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to
look things in the face and know them for what they are.
As in a blizzard, simple but fundamental verities will emerge. These are the familiar elements of legend and myth that have endured over time simply because they are required in times of peril. Classic virtues that didnít necessarily pay off in an Unraveling (like loyalty, reliability, patience, perseverance, thrift and selflessness) will become hard currency in Crisis.
-from William Strauss and Neil Howeís remarkably prescient
1997 tome The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.
These people came to do a mission, and completed it brilliantly. Most of us would not choose such a mission, but we each have our own mission and path to follow, and perhaps as a result of the Heavenís Gate suicides, people who have been floundering will find their way and be guided to fulfill their own unique roles in the Divine Plan. I honor you, people of Heavenís Gate, and I wish you well on your journey through the stars.
-self-professed Wiccan Lora Lumara Lee, as culled from the Witchís Voice website
What if Do IS from the Kingdom of God? What if He IS the same mind, the same soul, who was here 2000 years ago in the body of the one called Jesus?... No one seems to be asking if maybe these individuals went exactly where they said they were going, to the Next Level.
-Heavenís Gate survivor Rkkody, formerly Charles
Humphrey, on his dearly departed comrades
Always we hope someone else has the answer. Some other place will be better. Some other time, it will all turn out. This is it: No one else has the answer. No other place will be better. And it has already turned
out. At the center of your being you have the answer. Search your heart and see the way to do is to be.
-Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu
Do not weep, do not wax indignant. Understand.
I am floored that is is so over for Mike Tyson. I'm even more amazed at how it ended for him. No blaze of glory, no flameout, just sitting listlessly on a stool in his corner. Seconds before some hulking white guy had shoved him to the canvass like a punk. Word is he looked like he'd survived a stoning. He later admitted that his career was over in 1990 and that everything thereafter was a sham.
Since that time he's raped someone, gone to prison, wrapped his Bentley around a tree in a bizarre botched suicide attempt, tried to break two fighters' arms, gotten DQed for blatant head-butting, gnawed off somebody's ear, accosted an old man after a fender-bender, hurled a TV out a window when guards refused to bring his meds, told a heckler he'd fuck him till he loved him, squandered a fortune, divorced two women, lost 3 of his last 4 fights and admitted he can't bring himself to kill bugs infesting his home.
When he hung it up it signaled the end of heavyweight boxing as a major sport. (Name all or even one of the current alphabet soup champs.) It's gotten so perverse that Tyson banked $6 m to fight a man who he later disparaged as a tomato can and yet was cleearly the better fighter, who got only $150,000. It took him all of 18 minutes to silence Tyson, who'd claimed he'd gut McBride like a fish. All talk.
Ah but it wasn't always that way. Neither my wife nor I are big boxing fans. And yet we used to tune in religiously whenever he'd fight. Just the spectacle of him showing up sans robe, entourage or even socks, pacing around with that menacing scowl as if he had pressing engagements afterwards were enough to strike mortal fear into his opponents' hearts. And he'd back it up. Usually it'd be over before it began with Tyson charging across the ring to unleash a ferocious barrage of pure offense, leaving them in a heap. His foes looked like they'd been ripped limb from limb by a crazed hyena.
As Oscar Wilde once said, it isn't bragging if you can do it.
I'd liken Tyson to Christina Aguilera. Both were blessed with unreal natural talent. But they painted themselves into a corner with their increasingly outlandish behavior and appearance. Now they are both sad parodies ot their former selves. She looks like Dee Snyder's ugly sister. Half his face is tattooed with some Japanese imagery.
Speaking o' which, in the 80s it was all about the Mikes: Tyson, Jackson and Jordan. Jackson's career is in shambles and like Tyson he faces a mountain of debt with no means to pay. (Two words: HisStory.) Even the iconic Jordan returned for a forgettable stint here with the Washington Wizards. No playoffs, no scoring titles, no soaring dunks and the pitiful legacy of his #1 pick Kwame Brown. The Wizards suspended him during their playoff run this year.
Where does Tyson go from here, then? He's 38 with a 40 year life expectancy. Does he sink to the pathetic trade show/state fair/casino greeter circuit? Or keep fighting until somebody beats him to death a la Boom Boom Mancini, putting him out of his misery at long last? No, what he needs to do is secure the rights to all his spectacular early fights. Then he needs to patch together all the furious final rounds, with his crushing of highly touted Michael Spinks as the finale. (Spinks never set foot in the ring again.) Aside from the gal he raped, the guy whose ear he chewed off, his two exes and that old man, who wouldn't plunk down $50 for that triumph of violent artistry? I know I would.
Time was the Western world valued its virgins. Gentlemen were allowed to whore around with all the bar wenches they wanted. But when it came time for wedding bells to toll, you'd have to dig up an unsullied virgin. In other words, an inexperienced, fearful and possibly frigid young lass. Hence all the adultery with said bar wenches in times of yore.
Some countries still do. Entire families can be ostracized if a woman has sex out of wedlock. She could also wind up being stoned, and not in the good way either.
Nowadays in these parts is more about your "number" i.e. the number of partners you've done the deed with. It is the Clintonian definition of sex. Monicas and hand-jobs don't count. So you start at your first horizontal mambo experience and work your way forward. But every time you think you've got it, someone else pops into your head.
When I set about compiling mine (44 BTW) I was really wracking my brain to be comprehensive. "Well, that sure was quick!"... the hard concrete dock in the pond... AM tampon mission... playing footsie under my/her parents' table with them there... answered phones... my stolen wallet...awkward use of dirty talk...and so on. Most sordid experience, looking back.
The number is one of the most popular questions in those so-called "speed-dating" sessions. I'd imagine a lot of inflating (guys?) and deflating (girls?) goes on. You know, that one really didn't count because... Or, we didn't really finish but it was close enough. And I'd imagine most speed daters have a range in mind. But I wonder what it is. Is a high number desirable? Can it be too high or low? What is optimal? And what an awkward question to ask? It's like trying to introduce toys or handcuffs or something into the bedroom for the first time. How would one go about that without fear of someone laughing in your face?
So, what is yours? What does it say about you? What might it mean when choosing potential mates?
So I don't know where my life is going. Ever since I've moved to California, everything seem nebulous, tenuous, etherial. Those of you who've moved halfway across the country (or world) will know what I mean; for a good portion of at least a year or so, everything doesn't seem quite real. I can be driving on the 101, staring exits for Hollywood right in the face, and still not quite believe life has actually led me here. I go to Santa Monica, right by my work, and stare at the water, thinking: "This can't be real. It's an ocean."
What constitutes a real memory? Lately, my yoga classes have seemed more real than work. I feel like I've been in a daze, wandering my way through the workday, until 7:30 hits a few times a week and I contort myself into various interesting poses (which, hopefully, will prove to make me dynamite in the sack. I'll keep you posted on that one.) And yet....
What happens to others' memories of us once we leave? I left Iowa, leaving behind my sheltering cradle of many good friends, good acquaintances, random familiar faces, and came here to Los Angeles. What do they think of me? I think of the random clerk at Target who always used to check me out (my purchases and my package) ... I remember the acquaintance who let me purchase my first alcohol at the store, even though I was underage. When I was in Rome, I called a list of people rather regularly, as it was much cheaper to call back to the States than vice versa. Often times I would catch them by surprise, even after leaving several voicemails. "Didn't expect to hear from you! How's Rome?" they'd say, though I'd given them periodic recorded updates from a continent away. Did they think about me?
And I still think about this guy. Why? It doesn't make sense. The other day I saw someone that looked only slightly like him but yet my heart lept and I was inches away from darting across the street, through four lanes of traffic, to shout "Brady!! Brady, it's me!" And I also imagine him showing up at my door, some late night, looking like a lost puppy and hoping I could take him in for a while.
Does he think about me?
This weekend I met my Aunt Caroline for the first time. She's been in, like, Wisconsin all these years and nobody goes there. I think it's in Ohio. Anyway, Caroline is 86. We were power washing my mom's house, creating a flood comparable to the one Noah fled. We were joking about our impending visitor, saying we hoped she didn't slip from her walker and break her hip.
Boy were we in for a surprise. She pulls up in her Volvo after a six hour jaunt from her assisted living place in Southern VA. She bounds out like those folks you see parked in handicap spaces. Dragging her luggage behind, she looked radiant with her white hair stulishly coiffed.
We'd been dreading the inevitable old people conversations about myriad medical problems and reminiscing. But she turns out to be fully lucid and engaging. She doesn't have any medical problems to speak of of and thinks reminiscing is a waste of time. She did relate one amusing anecdote about an 84 year old friend of hers who's taken up with a 64 year old boy-toy. The friend has taken to guzzling port wine, worrying herself sick that he is stepping out with some other chick at the home. Caroline thinks he's too young to be in assisted living, and that he just came to hit on the ladies. I guess it's working.
Old people are a precious resource. They have a lifetime of experience and wisdom to impart. A lot of their advice is wise. For instance, she told me that I am more like my dad than I think. Now my dad was no paradigm of virtue to say the least (and respect the dearly departed.) Then she says I will become more and more like him as the years go by, unless I decide not to. Hmmm.
The aged are valuable in other ways. If you're a smoker and you see one smoking it gives you a smidgen of hope that you won't die a horrible early death. And I just love it when you see them holding hands or resting their frail heads on one another's shoulders. I even dig it when they start smooching. But I don't even want to think about them giving oral or something to each other.
People talk about the sexualization of children these days; the embodiment of which has to be that Jon-Bonet Ramsey girl. But just as disturbing is the sexualization of the elderly, from The Golden Girls to About Schmidt to Something's Gotta Give. Eek!
Because I live in Los Angeles, I spend a lot of time looking at the backs of other people's cars and trucks. Since everyone spends a lot of time looking at the backs of everyone else's vehicle, they are kind of like the bulletin board which is your chance to express yourself to all of Southern California. I've gotten to know several cars in my garage at work just by their license plates. I park with "Miss Texan," "Dark Grrl" (or "Dork Grrl"; I'm not sure which), "Web Magic," "Forever Now," and "Love Me Twenty-Four Seven." Sometimes I even park with "Shaq's Ma"! Every time I see these guys I wonder what their drivers are like.
Miss Texan and Dark Grrl are probably female, although of course you never know for sure. I imagine that Miss Texan comes very well dressed every day, with make-up and hairspray in her hair. She drives a mid-size American sedan. I picture Dark Grrl being one of the goths that works in the mall, or maybe is a receptionist in the office building across the street. She drives a brightly colored import coupe. I wonder if she dyes her hair black or wears combat boots. I figure she does not wear purple eyeshadow or black corsets to work, because eyeshadow-and-corset Goths always seem to drive really sad heaps like Geo Metros. Dark is not that hardcore.
I've seen Web Magic, sometimes even on the weekends. He's a smartly dressed young Asian man who walks with a slight stoop, like an overloaded laptop briefcase is hanging off his shoulder even when it isn't. I figure he's one of those cocky IT workers, because of the magic thing. They're horrible to work with. Hopefully he'll never turn out to be the jerky cousin of some friend of mine, but he probably is.
I'll bet Forever Now and Love Me Twenty-Four Seven are female, and I haven't decided whether they're effusive liberals, New-Age types with flowing clothes and crystal rock necklaces, or actually conservative Orange County soccer moms whose plates were their one brief flirtation with individual expression.
My current favorite vanity plate doesn't park in my garage. I saw it on the freeway just today. It was a black luxury sedan, and it said "CUBS WON".
Sorry for my absence around the site. I've been travelling, off in my own world, and without consistent and cheap internet.
I'm currently in Utila, Honduras, and what started out with me just getting my open water certification in scuba diving has turned into me joining a divemaster class. That's how life on the road seems to work out for me. You never know what to expect. As a sidenote, as just typed that last sentence, out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement. Oh right... just a a little gecko climbing up the wall next to the monitor. Everyday stuff. And a couple of weeks ago, we couldn't go out diving because a hurricane was supposed to hit. It never did, but exciting in a pee-your-pants sort of way, nonetheless.
But I actually wanted to talk about something much geekier. Linguistics.
Although Spanish is the official language of Honduras, here on the Bay Islands, English is the main language. But not your everyday traveller sort of English. They speak what many call "Pidgeon English." Compared to American English, the grammar and word order is much different, and the accent is definitely a bit tricky at times. It's basically standard Caribbean English, I think. Some words are a bit different... for example, instead of saying, "She's mad at him," they'd say "She's vexed at him." Add in different pronunciation, and they say "She's wexed at him." Much different.
I kinda like it. I like languages lots, and I like hearing about differences between similar languages (Does everyone know what "fanny" means in British English? It's much different than the American meaning.). That linguistics class I took in college might have made me a bit more sensitive on the behalf of the islanders, but when people say that the Bay Islands English is inferior to other forms of English, it bothers me. Similarly, why not accept Ebonics as a way to speak? I'm not suggesting you teach it in schools or anything, but strictly linguistically speaking, both Bay Islands English and Ebonics are forms (or dialect, in the case of the Bay Islands) of English that are spoken by certain groups of people.
Why do we have to say that the more widely-spoken Englishes (is that a word?) of the world are superior? Any opinions?