Friday, September 30, 2005

No Direction/Home

He’s my musical Hemingway; my poetry Pollack. He’s the thing that separates me; the thing that defies me, denies me, and I don’t get it. And that makes me deficient, somehow. I should smoke more weed and then I’d see. I should reread, relisten, resee and then I’d understand and then I’d be a man. It’s not my epithet but things I roll my eyes at. Someone who denies home and family and place when that denial is what defines them. I don’t buy any of it. And I don’t think he does, either.

But in an effort to dip my tin cup in the same cool spring that my love drinks from, I am trying to find a common ground, a common space. A place where we can meet, even if I have to be looking through a tiny window into the house of his appreciation. At least I will know: this is where the filler words fit in. Where the “Well’s” and the “Yes and’s” and the “Oh’s” originate.

Is it the simplicity of the early lines? The easy rhymes, the expected verbs? The accessibility and “Yeah, man. I know what you’re talking about” of it all? The rambling in a voice not his own? Are these things now too ingrained in the culture that I can’t wade through what has become cliché? The ABCBCBD of it all. I’m always one to balk at the obvious. The “Come gather round” troubadour and the self referential “This song is” ploys. I like the internal rhymes, the tumble of assonance and alliteration that trips over the tongue. The title “Motorpsycho Nightmare” makes me happy, but the story does not hold me. I think I like “Tangled up in Blue”, but maybe that’s because he talks about a redhead. I might have a dance with “Just like a Woman,” but he’d have to not sing it. “Wedding Song”? Really? I’ guess I need to hear it. “All Along the Watchtower” is Jimi Hendrix for me. “Shelter from the Storm” can come in for a cup of tea. But I’m too tired to read anymore. There isn’t enough of a return for me.

The problem could be that I dealt with people who remind me of his projected persona. Of the “I” in the songs. People, hell: men. Dealt with, geezuz: I tried to be with them. That detached you-will-never-really-know-me is attractive for some reason to girls in their twenties, and then it becomes a habit that is hard to break. We don’t know it’s because they don’t know themselves. We don’t know it’s not an aloof self confidence; it’s the opposite. We figure if we can be the one who breaks through, then we can win. You don’t have to be anyone, just be unattainable. And my 25-year old brain in this 35-year-old woman—this 35-year-old woman who finally clipped the dark wings of expectation and landed firmly on the ground where you, love, were waiting—that 25-year-old brain remembers the patterns and worries that if you love the music, you might be like the man. You might be like the other men. Luckily the 35-year-old knows better. And usually, it is the 35-year-old who gets control of the heart and the mouth that voices its deepest desires.

I love you, but “Don’t Think Twice” will always piss me off.

"K" is for...

William Bennett is the author of such books as “Moral Compass : Stories for a Life's Journey”, “The Book of Virtues for Young People” and “The Book of Virtues”, “The Children's Book of Heroes” and “Our Sacred Honor : The Stories, Letters, Songs, Poems, Speeches, and Hymns that Gave Birth to Our Nation”.

I think you get the point.

He stresses compassion, responsibility, friendship, courage, perseverance, and faith (Author’s aside: “Faith” and “Perseverance” were the names I gave my right and left hands during a darker, more lonely time in my life. But that is another essay). He writes that "an honest heart will always find friends."

Wow. Sounds pretty good, eh? If a bit naive and simplistic.

From CNN, September 30, 2005:
"If you wanted to reduce crime, you could—if that were your sole purpose—you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down.
"That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down," [William Bennett, former Secretary of Education]

From the Cambridge English Dictionary:
eugenics, noun:
the study of methods of improving humans by allowing only carefully chosen people to reproduce

Apparently, it’s an honest, white heart.
And one does not have to be good, to be honest.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome,
William Bennett: Kristian.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This is something I just don’t understand. Certainly not the only thing, but it’s less baffling than a Sierra Club sticker on a W4Pres SUV, and it is therefore easier to knock around in my head:

Why replace the letter “C” with the letter “K”?

As in “Go Kart” or “Kitty Kat Club” or “Kones” or “Krafty Melt”.

Is it a German thing?
Sure, it’s a marketing thing, and sometimes, in the instance of “Kitty Kat Club” it almost makes sense. It’s an attempt at cute (kute?). “Kitty Kat” is cuter than “Kitty Cat”; it looks better and accentuates the alliteration. It stands out as a proper name. But in the case of the “Kitty Kat Club,” it would really only make sense if you logically extended the K substitution to the last word as well: Klub. Of course, this can’t be done, as the ensuing abbreviation might send the wrong signal.

In the case of the “Kones”, meaning “Ice Cream Kones” wouldn’t it then be “Ice Kream Kones”? Is “Kream” too porny? And if the word “Kones” is standing alone, as it is on a neon sign at the Minnesota State Fair, why change it at all? I would think that “Cones” would get the point across just fine. We have shakes; we have root beer floats; we have malts; we have cones. Or is there something dirty about that?

Which brings me to the absolutely grotesque and incomprehensively altered “Kum & Go” chain of gas stations in Iowa and South Dakota. Unfortunately, this diverges on another path involving dirtily-named convenience stores, and that is a different essay.

But perhaps this marketing tendency could be useful for the purpose of informational differentiation—to show us what we are dealing with and expose differences. Because lately in America, there are too many people trying to cram themselves in under one heading: Christianity. Perhaps some of these high-profile Christians, the ones with the big mouths and their mitts in the democracy; the ones who vote their religious agenda and neglect reality; the ones who want everyone to submit (and not in a nice way) to their idea of what Christianity is; these neo-Christians, if you will, should adopt the “with a K” kutism and become Kristians. At least that way, the rest of us would know who is who. So the “Christian Group” praising Hurricane Katrina for wiping out the abortion clinics (klinics?) in New Orleans (along with hundreds of living, breathing Americans) would be “with a K” Kristians. The “Christian Leader” who calls for the assassination of an elected world leader would become a “Kristian Leader.” All the Governmental Christians who use religion as a cover while they advance their radically conservative agenda and harm those less fortunate (blessed are the peacemakers)? Kristians. And they can take their Kreationism (oops! Sorry. Intelligent Design) and their Kommandments and sit in the corner with Al-Qaeda (Kaeda?) until they are ready to play nice. Call it a time out for Jesus.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I thought I heard a...

Last night as we were sitting down to reheated homemade chicken pesto pizza (yes, life is good), I noticed that the 35 pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds that we have for the birds was rustling. Making little crinkly noises in the corner, all by itself. No wonder Maxcat has been going nuts back there periodically. It’s inhabited.

As the bag was still sealed, and there was not seed spilling out of it onto the kitchen floor, I figured that it was not a mouse. Also, mice can make a lot more noise than a faint, “did you hear that?” background scratching. It was probably those annoying little grey brown mothy creatures that hatch from squirmy cream-colored grubs and often wind up in your cabinet-stored bulk dry goods. Judging from the noise, there was a lot of them. A bag to be opened outside.

We have to keep the birdseed inside because our squirrels are little demons. Don’t worry, I am long over the bug eyed, crazy with venom desperation that people often get when trying to keep squirrels out of their birdfeeders. There’s just no point in worrying about it. Accept it: they will get the birdseed. One way or another. If they have to break into your toolbox and build something, they will get the birdseed. I am even at peace with the fact that they will dig up any plant or seed that I put into the ground and replace it with a single kernel of corn or a dried-up nut. They killed my first planting of strawberries this way. (Things to do today: dig out fresh new strawberry plants, bite through roots, discard. Replace with old corn.) They have forced me to adapt because they are more clever and more persistent, and as I am supposedly a higher form of life, I can choose the road of tolerance and appreciate the ingenuity and tenacity of my fellow creatures. It’s even OK that they chewed up the edges of our little cooler. We should have put it away. They are on a mission, and if we keep providing supplies, what can we expect but that mission succeed?

It’s just that since they ruined both of our finch feeders by chewing out the tiny holes meant only to let thistle seed through, to the size of quarters, or, in one case, a half inch sized gaping ribbon that goes three quarters of the way around the whole tube (like chewing off your arm to get out of a trap), some of my birdfeeding enthusiasm expired. Birdfeeders are not inexpensive, in the relative scheme of things, and I did not have 60 spare bucks to replace them. Without them, the sunflower and safflower feeders just went by the wayside. All this for seven pieces of millet. Little bastards. Never buy the thistle mix. Shell out the extra 75 cents and go for the good stuff.

But I’m over it. It’s fine. Even the tiny red squirrel who sits in the branch above the feeders and screams rhythmically until all other life forms vacate them. He’s fine too. Really. 6:00 in the morning? No problem. He’s aggressive. He knows what he wants.

He’s loud as fuck.

I have to make some sacrifices for the fact that my garden is magic. If I have to put up with chewing and digging and scratching and cheeping, so be it. I get incredible raspberries and red spinach that replants itself and glorious amounts of basil, which made last night’s meal possible. So, I put little cages around new plants and fencing over top of any disturbed ground, and they seem to leave things alone. In return, they get sunflower seeds. Like last night. What a boon.

We took the bag outside behind the house, and Pete opened it up. Little puffs of bug flew out everywhere, and hundreds more were swarming in the bag, tiny ribbed larvae inching along as well. Clearly this seed could not be stored inside anymore. It was pretty much done. The moths had not hurt anything; I just don’t need them in the kitchen. In my flour. In the oatmeal. Which meant that it all had to go out: fill the tube feeders, fill the platform feeder, cover the ground below it, and leave the rest in an open plastic wastebasket by the steps. Pete wanted to cover it, but I said that the chances of them not chewing up the wastebasket itself were much greater if we simply left it exposed. I half expected to open the back door this morning and find twenty five squirrels, passed out on the steps, in the driveway, in the wastebasket, covered in sunflower shells, little paws on their distended bellies, trickles of drool on the cement, as they twitched and hiccupped in the midst of the best dream ever, muttering about how much they love each other and how great those seeds were, man.

The reality was a crisp, cool, perfect fall morning and one single squirrel in the driveway, surrounded by empty shells, eagerly chipping away at the bounty.

Yes, life is good.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Red Cross, Yellow Donor

I should be giving blood right now. I have so much. They are driving for it down the street, siphoning the students and staff for the benefit of the greater good after that Hurricane What’s-her-name drained so many unwilling donors. I should have already walked over there and offered them my unrepentant arm. I should be laying on a guerney watching “An Affair to Remember” and waiting for my cookie from the vampires.

But instead, I am sitting here at my desk, cheating the company and chattering away on my keyboard. I don't know enough about my blood to go and give it away. What is its type? Does it like tall, dark, and handsome? If it takes after me, not so much. I'll take short, blonde, and handsome. Does it enjoy moonlit walks on the beach and drippy poetry? I have to admit that a moonlit walk on the beach every once in a while is not to be turned down, especially if it includes the aforementioned short, blonde, and handsome one. As for the drippy poetry, my high school notebooks are chock full of it. Does Type O blood, being the universal donor, mean that a person is more giving and open, excited about new places and new things? If so, I am definitely not Type O. Are AB people, being universal recipients, grasping, wheedling, party animals? Or are they just sluts? If so, no comment.

My mother is a nurse. I asked her a couple of years ago what my blood type is, feeling that it is my duty to know, and assuming that being 1) my mother and 2) a nurse, she would certainly have the answer. Blank look. No idea. But she thought she could find out. This would be one more reason to go next door and donate blood. Maybe they could tell me. Maybe my blood type is the personality key I need to quit my job and just go ahead and get rich already.

Probably not. And my rationalizations and avoidance, my ramblings and my cowardice have made it certain that I don't have to find out today. It's after 5:00. They are closed. Oh well. I guess I'll wait for Rita.