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Archive for June, 2008

tagged

Last week, or sometime in the semi-recent past, I was tagged by Jules- otherwise known as the, excuse me, a UU Deist in Texas.  I’ve never been tagged before, so am trying this on for size.  Basically, the rules are:

“FYI – you’ve been tagged, you have to write a blog with 10 weird, random, facts, habits or goals about yourself. At the end, choose 6 people to be tagged, list their names & why you tagged them. Don’t forget to leave them a comment saying “You’re it!” & to go read your blog. You cannot tag the person that tagged you, so since you’re not allowed to tag me back; let me know when you are done so I can go read YOUR weird, random, facts, habits and goals.”

So, here I go:

  • Despite my fears for the future of our little world and my writings of concern, possibly bordering on cynicism, I consider myself an optimist.  I’m just not happy about it.
  • I used to have an ear ring, two in fact.  This may not seem that strange, but you must realize that despite my liberal leanings I am very conservative in appearance and behavior, and anything that draws public attention to me causes an immediate and painful social paralysis.
  • I used to have a pony tail.  (See above.)  I threaten my wife on occasion that I’ll regrow it.  Don’t hold your breath.
  • I don’t dance.  In public.  See above.  If its ok to dance, isn’t it equitably ok not to?
  • I once considered the military as a career.  Go figure.
  • The last time I cried was at my grandmother’s funeral.  I was 21.
  • When I turn 40 I’m moving to southeast Alaska and living in a boat on the sea for a year, allowing the stunning intersection of water, earth, and life to absorb me.  (My family isn’t totally in support of this yet, so don’t say anything to them until I have the plans finalized.)
  • When I was young, all I wanted to be was a Cowboy.  There was an honesty to the life of the classic cowboy figure that appealed to me.  When I was thirteen, my horse killed herself.  That dream never recovered.
  • One of my greatest regrets is not planning a future with my brothers.  Together, we could have ruled the world.
  • I’m an angry person.  It exhausts me, and may be costing me time on earth.  I hope I never lose that rage, if I do it means I no longer care.

Now for my turn to tag some others.

  • Threads in My Stash- because I love you.
  • Fairbanks Pedestrian- because Russel found my blog through yours.
  • Alaska Journey- because we need to hear from you.
  • Alaska Plights- because you give me such a hard time for not writing and so much encouragement to continue to do so.  Writing, that is.

I’m going to hold the last two of my six tags- for all you taggers out there counting how much ammunition is left I’ve got enough to take at least two of you with me, so watch out.

bang.

dc

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I woke up Thursday morning

And pulled myself from bed.

Struggling with issues at work

Left me exhausted even after sleep.

I got in my gas-guzzling truck

And drove the 20 miles to work.

On the radio

They spoke of hungry children in South Africa.

Who go to school on Thursday because they get fed

But don’t on Friday because they don’t.

My heart cried

But I didn’t.

Because I don’t.

I worked all morning

Progress.

For some.

I got back in my gas guzzling truck

And went to pick up our dog.

From its haircut.

It wasn’t done.

I walked the pet store.

Cat food for cats with sensitive skin.

Cat food for obese cats.

Cat food for skinny cats.

No food for kids in South Africa.

No food for kids who are orphans in South Africa

With AIDS.

Just cat food.

I picked up the dog.

She doesn’t like me

But she was glad to see me.

Her haircut cost more than mine do.

I put her in my gas guzzling truck

And drove 20 miles home.

Inside my heart cried.

But I didn’t.

Because I don’t.

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Every now and then, an experience brings about a sudden and mind altering shift, or an expansion of my awareness. One might describe this as an epiphany, except in the instances I am describing there is no great understanding gained. I think it may be the opposite of an epiphany, if there is such a thing.

The closest I can come to describing the feeling is to say it must be how an arctic explorer must feel when crossing an ice field when suddenly the snow gives away, revealing a bottomless expanse of a crevasse below. At that moment the explorer knows exactly what fate lies in store for them, and that there is absolutely nothing he or she may do but keep moving across the snow bridge, waiting for the final collapse that will bring about their doom.

I most regularly feel the floor dropping out from under me when I fly outside (meaning outside the state of Alaska, or to the lower 48). Whenever the plane descends, provided it isn’t dark and I’m awake, I watch the brown haze over the skyline with a sense of wonder and alarm. I always wonder who else in the plane may notice it, and if they care. I always assume no one does, that it is accepted as a natural event, as much a part of the sky and air as the sun and clouds.

My unease with the brown air is reinforced by the scale of the microscopic neighborhoods and the miles, miles, and miles of roads and infrastructure. It is a delicate thing, our society, all held together in one complicated interactive mess by the thin tendril of plants and animals that dies eons ago. From the air, I see it’s delicacy, it’s folly, and eventual demise. The panic hits me so hard it makes me gasp for air.

It would be easy to pass off my experience as an intellectual act of delusion, except for the fact that this feeling, or drowning epiphany, comes about with no will or act on my part. Much like a true epiphany comes about in a sudden and startling clarity, this dark vision of our shared future comes upon me without effort on my part, it is as though my unconscious mind has pieced together a complicated puzzle to release upon my conscious self out of some deep seated level of depravity.

So, imagine my surprise when I’m walking innocently though, of all places, a furniture store, to suddenly feel the snow bridge drop from out from beneath my feet. There, in all of its stain resistant, overstuffed, plaid, solid, or striped glory was the story of our demise.

It may be a leap to go from a fold-out sofa to the collapse of civilization as we know it. At least it was for me, so it has taken me a while to process why a furniture store would initiate an instantaneous and completely involuntary feeling of impending disaster.

It doesn’t take too long to see the connection. Consider the size and proportion of contemporary furniture ensembles. Many people in our world today live in homes about the size of one American sofa box. We recently lived in a small house by American standards, about 1,200 to 1,300 square feet, built around 1940. We couldn’t have fit one of those couches in our living room, much less a whole set. It takes a good contemporary suburban home with disposable floor area to fit that type of furniture.

Within the furniture store, the pieces huddle across the show floor like pompous little men, each trying to outsize their neighbor with their bulk and their stature, features entirely irrelevant when it comes to measuring ones actual usefulness. Walk the entire showroom floor, and it is next to impossible to find a piece of furniture that reflects the aesthetic and functional utility of historic furniture styles. Its all about wealth, about presentation, about false pretenses.

And apparently it sells.

What does that mean for us? That we care more about appearances than we do equity with the people we share this planet with. That our furniture boxes would be a step up in housing for the world’s poor.

And so furniture stores don’t appear so innocuous now. And that has nothing to do with taste- that would require an entirely separate treatise on design.

Which isn’t nearly as relevant as wondering where humility and compassion fall amongst our cultural standards, if they do at all.

And so it is on to the next snow bridge, to rediscover warnings already seen but buried somewhere beneath my everyday facade, forgotten to allow some semblance of day to day function, or to uncover warnings anew, the next furniture store along a path that I fear holds many.

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