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  warmandfuzzy

I am not the poster child for things touchy-feely.  I loathe strange people touching me (even getting my hair cut is an adventure, though I endure it because I can’t cut my own hair with any degree of accuracy) and generally I’m not too thrilled about being groped by those I do know.  Unless they’re dogs, and that’s OK.  Why, I don’t know, but dogs are safe, at least for me.  Even when I was a little kid and was terrified of the world, from my sadistic oldest sister to unauthorized insect life, I had no problem climbing the fence and snuggling up to a 120# Rottweiler.

rottweiler

It’s not usually the big dogs you have to worry about.  Unless you’re up to mischief, that is.

The only dog I can remember having any kind of problem with was Andy the Chihuahua, but he was likely the product of many generations of inbreeding, and from the moment he was whelped he was certifiably messed up in the head.  He was my cousins’ dog, and even they couldn’t touch him.  It’s a good thing that pathetic little Andy, with his  high-pitched, constant and annoying yappy voice, severe underbite and thick cataracts,  (I think the wretched thing was born blind) didn’t live past the age of five. I’m surprised he lived as long as he did.   I think the only thing that saved him was that he was too evil for the cats to eat him.  He reminded me of a wind-up toy with an over-wound spring.  Such a toy will go like blue blazes- for a little while- then it just dies suddenly.  I think it was reported that poor Andy bit the big one mid-yap.  I don’t think he was very much missed.

psycho chihuahua

Andy the psycho Chihuahua is the exception, not the rule in the canine world.  Humanity is the exact opposite.

There is a sad irony that I feel safer with animals that technically are the same species as wolves (canis lupus familiaris is not far removed from canis lupus lupus after all) than I do with fellow humans.  But I do.

I’ve gathered from my own observations that “normal” people (begging the question, “Who defines ‘normal’?,” though I know I am most certainly anything but “normal”) generally have an easy time relating to other “normal” people.   While I’m usually looking for excuses to avoid excessive social interaction, as too much of playing that game wears me out, the “normals” blithely seek out more opportunities to be in each others’ faces.    I have to work at the communication game.  Really. Hard.  I have to consciously know which façade to pull out, and what (figurative) costume to wear for which occasion.

I have to pay attention to things that come instinctually to most, such as eye contact and body language and tone of voice. Otherwise, if I’m not paying attention, I just stare straight ahead and bellow out everything in a loud monotone.  I have acquired social skills- and over the years I’ve trained myself to practice them well- but that whole hoo-hah wears me down, just as the social dance energizes most people.

hermit

Sometimes I’d like to tell the whole world to bite me sideways and say screw it all, (and I would if I had the scratch to live as a recluse) but necessity dictates that I have to put up with other people and their shit.  Maybe it’s wrong or arrogant or selfish of me to see things that way, but that’s just the way it is.  That’s my reality-constant vigilance and constant anxiety, because I have to pay close attention to every word and every movement, at least when I am under others’ scrutiny.

Maybe that was where Shakespeare got the notion that all the world’s a stage.  Performing is hard work, and sometimes I just don’t wanna.

I don’t have to play the game with dogs- or even cats for that matter.   With them I can just be.

There are times I do enjoy the relational hoo-hah and find it a strange kind of fun, but it’s fun that I really only need in small doses, and even when I do enjoy it, it wears me out.  Right now I’m exhausted, and in a way I wish I could beg off human contact for a few months or so.

14corolla

What I really need is a nice, long solitary road trip.

I could use one of those trips where I leave, go somewhere randomly, do whatever, and then come back.  The last time I really did that was back in 1987, and I caught hell for it.  Of course, going 500 miles out with $150,  in a car that had no air conditioning, leaked oil horribly, had 4 balding (different sizes and treads) tires and a top speed of 45 MPH wasn’t a good idea and I wouldn’t dream of trying it today, especially without a phone, but those were different times.   Cell phones were expensive toys hard mounted in expensive cars back in 1987.  I was a young punk and wanted to do what I wanted to do, even if I didn’t have much scratch and my car was a very distressed, high mileage ’79 Subaru DL.   Today I would be afraid of being raped and robbed (well, in my case, probably just robbed and shot) if I would happen to get stranded.  Today I have plastic (though I am quite loath to use it) a modern car, a phone, GPS, roadside assistance and a (always loaded) .357 Magnum.

I’m not nearly as trusting as I used to be.

Jerry would have nine kinds of fits if I did something like that.  He would accuse me of being out trysting with some smoking hot young stud even though he (especially) should know I have the sex appeal of stale saltines and wet socks.    In reality he would miss subjecting me to his tirades, and would miss me fetching his food and beer.

Yes, a solitary road trip would be most delicious.  Even a day trip would be good.

 

speedwayburrito supreme

Get your gasoline, beer and Marlboros here, but NOT your burritos.

Perhaps it is too obvious to be a cautionary tale, but it wasn’t a good decision to eat the $2 spicy beef and bean burrito from Speedway.  I paid for that all of Saturday night and a good part of Sunday.  Who needs those expensive colon cleanse kits, or even White Castles for that matter?

I don’t eat prepackaged food very often.  Most of the time if I want burritos I make them at home with refried beans, whole wheat tortillas, ground spicy turkey, sour cream, cheddar cheese, onions, salsa, etc.  I know what’s in them that way.

Tonight will probably be a salad night.  It’s hot.  Either that or Spam sandwiches.  Nothing wrong with Spam, at least not the meat product.  Grill it with a slice of American cheese, some onion and tomato on wheat bread with mustard and it’s not half bad.

spam ad

Grandpa used to love this stuff.  And chicken necks.   He lived to be 91, so it couldn’t have been that bad.

I can think of a lot of different things that probably would offend my colon less than that burrito.  Like Dran-o.

As far as the condition of my mind and heart at the moment, it’s not as bad as it could be.  It’s not as good as it could be either, but the pragmatist in me finds such a condition oddly acceptable.

A little bit of melancholy and pensiveness is good for the soul.

melancholy

I have to watch spending too much time there, though, because for me melancholy can become full blown depression very quickly and easily.    I have a twisted sense of humor for a reason, and most of the time that reason is because if I don’t laugh about the idiocy and injustice and pain and fear in this world I would have to cry.  If I really start in crying, I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop.

tears 2

Isabelnotamused

So I haven’t been around for awhile.  There’s a few reasons for that.  Let’s start off by saying I hope no one else in my sphere dies anytime soon.  Death sucks.  Especially when it’s Miz Izz.

I acquired Miz Izz- Isabel- as a four-week old (it’s really easy to estimate young kittens’ age) that had been abandoned in a grocery store parking lot.  What amazed me is that a typical feral cat, even one that tiny, would have at least tried to run or fight, but not Isabel. She let me scoop her up and take her home.  As if she belonged.  And she did.

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This is Jezebel at 9 weeks- she and Isabel were virtually identical as far as looks and build.

Had Isabel lived another month she would have been 16 years old.  But her poor little body just couldn’t take any more.  She had always been petite and somewhat frail, and she had become even more so when she developed a condition called “pillow foot” or more correctly, plasma cell pododermatitis. Suffice to say this is a nasty condition, and Isabel had it rather severely.  At times her paws would swell up so much they would bleed and I would have to take her to get shots- which helped for awhile, but then she became too fragile for the meds (prednisone and doxycycline.)

Maybe I shouldn’t miss an old, fragile black cat with set ways and a loud voice.  But I do.

Death can be a mercy, especially when someone is suffering and there isn’t any real fix for it, when there’s no longer any good life to be had. My last good memory of Isabel was of her greedily snapping up pieces of top sirloin as we shared a steak.  The dogs were outside of course, and the only two cats that were ever bold enough to ever approach my Steak Experience were Isabel and Jezebel.  Jezebel is a bit more restrained, but Isabel never had a problem getting right up close to get her little bits of gristle and fat.  That was the last time I can say I knew Isabel was still enjoying being a cat.  I buried her a week later.

grimreaper

Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

I admit that I fight with the idea that humane euthanasia is OK when a cat or a dog is suffering and they have gotten beyond what I would call “good life to be had,” but the same concept doesn’t apply to humans.  I understand, at least from a spiritual and theological view, that God is the Author of life. Since humans are made in His image, we generally don’t have the authority to take human life away.  (Capital punishment is an exception to the general prohibition against taking human life, and so is just war, but those are topics worthy of their own separate and detailed discussions.  Suffice to say that I believe in the merits of both, in the proper circumstances.)

Dead_Body_Man_by_MrMotts

 

It is morally right to put a cat or a dog to sleep when he or she is suffering and he or she stops enjoying being a cat or a dog.  Euthanasia for humans is not acceptable even when it would seem to be a mercy.

As far as the higher purpose of human suffering, I’ll be the first to say I don’t get it.

Not that I would put a human life into the same (noble but still lower) category as the life of Miz Izz, but my mother-in-law had been suffering and confined to a wheelchair for most of the time that Miz Izz walked the earth.  My mother-in-law died last Saturday after being confined to a wheelchair for 15 years, suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure and a laundry list of other maladies.  Her last two weeks were particularly brutal.

I don’t believe in euthanasia for humans- not ever- but sometimes I’ve got to ask God why.  Isabel pretty much enjoyed her cat life up until the last week of it. Granted happiness for cats is fairly easy- somewhere to sleep, food to eat and somewhere to drop a load.  Human life is a lot more complicated, but still, why did Jerry’s Mom have to suffer for so freaking long?

monty python evacuation

Hospice is a great help for those who are actively dying, but it can only mitigate the process.

Worse than her dying was the funeral. I understand Southern Baptist soteriology (understanding of the mechanism of salvation) pretty well.  “Turn or Burn” is pretty standard fare at SB funerals, but to the uninitiated, it is about as anti-PC as one can get.  You don’t get a funeral message too often that includes, “Do you know where you’ll be if you get hit by a truck on the way out of here?”

Jerry’s sisters were a bit taken aback.  I had tried to give Steve-o a heads up on SB soteriology before the funeral so he wouldn’t freak out. His religious understanding has pretty much been shaped by growing up in a Lutheran church, so the really fundamental interpretations of SB soteriology would sound a bit bat-shit crazy to him.  Mom has confused him enough by trying to throw in the Catholic earn – your -points system.

I grew up around Regular Baptists (even more of the “Turn or Burn” mentality than the SBs) so I know all too well there could possibly be an altar call.  There wasn’t.  He did do the Sinners’ Prayer though.  I have to hand it to the preacher for preaching the gospel instead of offering pallid platitudes on how much life sucks and then you die, ya – da ya-da. At least Steve-o had a heads up.

Lutherans don’t do altar calls.  Our pastors do occasionally mention hell, but not usually at funerals.

It just seems strange to me. Life and death and all of that.

 

 

 

Steve Perry 2014

I was a bit delighted as well as taken aback this morning at seeing my long-time most favorite singer, Steve Perry appearing live on stage again.  I even liked the song he performed with the Eels (a band I didn’t know existed until today) even though the more prudy types would be offended by the language in it.

Sometimes coarse language is the only way to describe aptly the frustration and pain in one’s heart.  Been there.  Done that.  Don’t want to go there again, although in my heart of hearts I know I will.

It’s still a good song, and for a guy of Steve’s age and ill health, he still sounds good.

axe phoenix

 

Every time I go to Walmart with Steve-o it’s a new adventure.  First he was pissed because he couldn’t find the one kind of deodorant he likes – Axe Phoenix, the blue gel, NOT the white paste- except in a two pack.  I thought I was cheap.  I told him, he has two pits, so why not a deodorant stick for each pit? Just label them “right” and “left” as borderline OCD as he can be.  Finally he decided it would just be easier to buy two, as if he’s not going to use one up in a week or two anyway?  It must be the opposite of the Costco mentality- buy barely enough for a few days, then make a trip to buy more.  Personally if I have the scratch (and he has more than I do) then I usually buy in quantity- not only for the discount per unit, but to save myself a trip.

Of course we encountered the Freaky People of Walmart  en masse-  such as the morbidly obese woman who probably was not even 30 yet, trolling about in the little battery powered Mart Cart, sporting her bleach blonde ends and about three inches of black roots, and a plethora of extremely poor quality tats on a good portion of the exposed surface area.  

mart_cart-xti

When your ass is bigger than a Toyota Corolla, that “bright, Corvette-like finish” on your lard-ass cart is a sure bonus!

I guess my quandaries about the Mart Carts are:

1. How do they actually move under the suffocating heft of their passengers?  If a normal sized person got in one and took off in it, would it set land speed records?

2. Is the minimum weight requirement at least 300#?  Because I’ve never seen anyone under 300# trolling about in one of those.

3. Do they use deep cycle batteries, sort of like for boat trolling motors- or more like the batteries in a Prius?

4. Would the need for the carts be vastly diminished if some of the riders got off of their behemoth asses and actually walked a bit while in the store?

 bad fashion 5-14

 I sort of enjoyed Jelly Roll woman too.  She wasn’t quite large enough for the carts (give her time, she was probably in her early 20′s) though I don’t think she realized that a cherry red tube top is a poor fashion choice when your body sort of resembles the Michelin Man’s.  The badly done pink dye job on her hair and misspelled neck tats (when one is trying to say, “Missy loves Ray”  it is not spelled “love’s“) were the icing on that cake.  Woof.   I am glad I didn’t have the pleasure of  feasting my oculars upon “Ray.”

Then again, it’s Steve-o’s reactions to the wildlife of Walmart that I find absolutely priceless.  Such as when he was looking for that men’s three-in-one shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and a rather large girl in low rise Daisy Dukes bent over right in front of him, exposing a rather hairy and somewhat substantial ass crack.

muffin top

I thought he was going to hurl right down her shorts.  That would have been camera-worthy,  if only I had the courage.  I don’t take pics in Walmart precisely because the wildlife are large enough to devour me in one bite, or to sit on me and squash me like the unfortunate “lost” Chihuahua in the “Lost Dog” cartoon.

 lost dog

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t remember people being so flipping fat.  I feel like a freaking anorexic when I go to Walmart, and I’m no Calista Flockhart by any stretch.  The rural areas are absolutely the worst, as far as the really behemoth size 20+ underwear wearing chicks – (and there’s plenty of hefty dudes too) as if they have nothing better to do than watch Direct TV and tie on the feed bag.  I can understand that in those places, though.  There really isn’t much to do.  Even screwing must get boring after awhile.

In defense of the portly rural poor, healthy food is expensive.  It’s really cheap to go and get a bunch of store brand snackies or ramen noodles and mac and cheese if you don’t have much cash.  It’s not so cheap to buy fresh produce (I even balk at that- frozen is cheaper and it’s less wasteful) or lean meat, or to buy minimally processed ingredients to prepare and cook one’s own food.  A can of Spaghetti-os is a lot easier (and cheaper) lunch option than grilled white chicken on wheat with provolone, tomato, lettuce, onion and mustard on wheat toast.  I have been there and done that.  Canned and processed stuff is cheap and easy but will lead one down the primrose path to lardassism with the quickness.

 

 spaghettios n doritos

I do love me some Skettios and Doritos, though! mmmmm!

 As an aside, I just got put on hold and was subjected to a rather odious rap “song.”  The only lyrics I could make out were:

Prestone

Body

Daddy

Anything you like

Whoever included those words and phrases in a song needs some serious psychotherapy time.  Either that, or I just can’t make any sense of rap.

 

 

shoesonpowerlines

 

I don’t understand how shoes end up on the Interstate.  I have heard the urban legend that states that tying a pair of shoes together and tossing them over a power line indicates that someone nearby is selling the reefer, but I don’t think that the median of I-71 would be a good place to score some chronic.

Another theory I have is that the nimrods one sees on the freeway (usually teenage kids) who like to put their feet on the dashes and out car windows occasionally have a shoe blown off, which would constitute one of those “actions lead to consequences” sort of lessons.   As in, your mother is going to kick your butt sideways when she realizes you just lost one of a pair of $100 Reeboks.

Then there is always the prankster possibility- Jimmy’s sleeping like death in the back seat, so now’s the time to chuck his DCs out the moon roof.  Fun and laffs-laffs-laffs for everyone, except Jimmy, who will now have to wear his little sister’s Hello Kitty pink flip flops for the duration of the vacation.

hk sandalsOh so manly.  Not. But, not being a man, I wish they made these in adult women’s sizes.

 

I can also understand tossing footwear out the window when and if it smells like six week old rancid pork chops that have been marinating in horse piss and used cat litter. This actually happened on a road trip to North Carolina with my parents and my then teenaged son.  The POMC wears a bizarre size- 13 AA- so when he finally finds a pair of comfy shoes, they cost out the wazoo (and he is even more cheap than I am- except with his motor sport needs) and he wears them until they literally fall apart.   I remember these shoes all too well- a pair of highly distressed and duct-taped Etnies that I had once had to special order and paid $100 + for, but by that time they had been worn, used and abused until the very thinnest pieces of soles remained.

Etnies-Kingpin-Black-Lamy2

The Etnies were nice shoes when they were new- but not after 2 years of Steve-o abuse.

And they smelled.  Horrible.  I came much too close to paying a brief and intense visit with Cousin Ralph getting a whiff of that, and I have almost no sense of smell.  It had to be deadly for anyone with a normal sense of smell to be anywhere near that funk.

So when Steve-o decided, somewhere on I-71 in rural Kentucky, that it would be a good idea to remove the shoes, peel off the socks, and let his bird claws air out, a green and thick stench wafted through the Venture van like a malevolent, pasty sewage-y fog.

footsmell

 

I thought Mom was going to hurl right out the passenger side window.   It is only by a Miracle of God that she didn’t spew the Burrito Supreme and Taco Salad she’d just scarfed about an hour earlier at Taco Bell all down the side of the van.  The sight of used Taco Bell splattering down the side of the van and onto the freeway coupled with that evil green miasma that was permeating the interior of the van would have guaranteed a mass uprising of various stomach contents.

 

burrito supreme

I’m sure it doesn’t taste as good on the way back up.

Traveling alone does help one to avoid the hazards of traveling with others- noxious smells, dangerous driving, and the unappetizing visuals of  blood relatives who are dead to the world, open-mouthed and snoring like freight trains.

I rather enjoyed my solo road trip to NC last week.  The only thing I really didn’t like was all the rudeness and bad driving I encountered on the way home.  Apparently assholes are universal, or they were having a convention on I-75 northbound all through Kentucky.  I don’t know why everyone in the south seems to think they are NASCAR drivers or some crap.

I was also able to avoid tourist traps and kitschy restaurants by bringing my own chow and only stopping for gasoline and to get coffee and pee.  I didn’t encounter any worthy souvenirs this way, but then again I didn’t end up getting taken for various overpriced hillbilly swag.

fish finder

That was almost a sad thing, failing to bring back some sort of memento.  Next time I take a trip like that I should make it a point to stop off at some of those shops along the Interstate just to see if there is anything worth having other than homemade fudge, moonshine (now legal in Tennessee!) or shot glasses.

hillbilly moonshine

 

hot_mess_shirt-

 

All I can think is that God must love a hot mess, which is good news for me.  The past two weeks have been rather crazy.  I’ve had to make some difficult decisions, two of them in saying no to things and situations that would have been desirable- except that the devil is in the details.

I did get to say yes to the car, which I had been mulling about for awhile, and the pieces came together fortuitously on that one.

But I had to turn down taking in a beautiful black Malinois (still a bit despondent over that one) because Jerry insisted on taking in Lucy last October.  I couldn’t say no to that, especially since we had lost Sheena last May.

Lucy, while she is a sweet dog, is definitely not a Malinois.  Lucy is a hot mess of a willful, disobedient and destructive Beagle mixed with English Bulldog (why, oh why would someone interbreed that combo on purpose?)  Clara, my (1/2 Malinois) sweet pleaser, obeys hand commands and head nods (she’s that intuitive) and Lilo, just knows and follows the routine.  I am still carrying Lucy to her crate in the mornings. She does not go to the crate of her own volition even though she knows she is going to end up there one way or another.

Lucy sleeping

In the words of the philosopher/theologian Mick Jagger: “You can’t always get what you want/You can try sometimes/You just might find/You get what you need.”

Sometimes what I want and what I need are two completely different things.

I discovered last week that even though I’ve been away from the automotive dealer scene for almost fifteen years, just how easy it would be for me to go right back to where I was before (different place, same type of job.)  I was given the opportunity to do that.  I really, really wanted to, but again, the devil is in the details.  Thankfully I came to my senses and realized that 1. working straight commission is no way to live, because you end up living at work, and 2. it would be so easy to go back to that work-as-a-drug power trip euphoria.

The problem with that is when I live that way my entire identity becomes what (and how well) I’m doing versus who I am being.  And that is some scary shit.  That’s what landed me in my doctor’s office with ischemic attacks, bleeds in the scleras of both eyes and uncontrolled high blood pressure. That’s what got me the lecture from my doctor (when I was 30) that I wouldn’t live to see 35 unless I changed my lifestyle.

I made it to 45, so I must be doing something right, but in a rather unexpected and unsolicited job offer I learned something about myself that I don’t particularly like.

I like being in control. I really like it, and if I’m honest with myself I find that’s what’s been pissing me off for so long.  I don’t like being talked down to.  I don’t like having to work within inefficient processes and inane policies that I don’t have the authority to change.  I don’t like being held responsible for bad outcomes that I had no hand in creating- and that I don’t have the authority to fix.  I don’t like being controlled by people who shouldn’t be in the positions they’re in.  I don’t like being in a position where challenging the status quo is an exercise in futility.

The bad thing is that in any environment where one has to deal with people, all of the noxious roadblocks to harmonious living, good business, and successful outcomes listed above are right there, wherever one may go.  So it’s better to deal with the devil you know than to buy into a whole ‘nother demon who may be even worse.

Red_Guy_1

I remember reading somewhere that the devil can be in all the things you really, really want.  It sort of reminds me of when Satan tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world- that somehow selling your soul is worth all the stuff you get in exchange.

I really don’t want to make deals with the devil.

While it’s not good for me to be the one in charge, it’s also not good for me to play the whipping post.  If only I could avoid either extreme.  I’ve been doing “whipping post” for way too long, which is what made my out of the blue offer look so attractive.

whipping post

Maybe somewhere along the line I went from brash hard ass to completely losing my voice (in a figurative way) and that’s another vexing place to be.

sideeffects

 

I have to wonder at all these TV ads for various prescription meds.   There are a lot of them- especially the ones for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis- that actually say in their disclaimers that using that drug can lead to death.  I think I’d rather deal with  joint pain and skin rash.  The last time I checked, stiff and inflamed joints and/or unsightly skin are just a tad bit less severe than death.  Of course you have to weigh the risks vs. benefits when you decide whether or not to take a certain medication, but I try to steer clear of the ones where “death” is listed as a possible side effect.  I’m not a fan of “occasional bleeding from the eye sockets” or “prolonged anal itching” either.

pills

I know that the trial lawyers are always trolling about to strike it big on the pharmaceutical companies because someone dies (or is somehow maimed)  from a side effect of a drug.  There’s always a commercial on telling people they can get compensation if their son’s ADHD meds gave him titties, or if the pelvic mesh or the artificial hip gives out, or if that pesky vision loss brought on by gratuitous use of ED meds just won’t go away.

viagra-side-effects-300x265

Speaking of rides, I am enjoying mine immensely.  I am quite impressed with the Corolla so far.  Usually I know pretty well what I will and won’t like from the build sheet and tech specs.

14corolla

This car doesn’t really scream “mom sedan” like the older Corollas.  I had a 1998 (that was the last Corolla I had) that I really liked- but it was a bit on the frumpy side.  That’s why I just had to have the 2000 Celica when it came out.  I did take a moment to drool over the Scion FRS while I was at the dealer, but I need a four door, and I really don’t want to attract the attention of law enforcement.  This Corolla is about the same size as the older Camrys and is quite a bit larger than the Yaris, but it still doesn’t feel like a land yacht.  The steering and suspension are a lot more responsive than the Yaris (not a surprise there) and it doesn’t get blown around in the wind like the Yaris did.

The freaky thing about this car is the electronics.  It has navigation and Bluetooth and all the toys (which I am still learning) and those things are pretty fun.

Of course I am weird in how I buy cars.  I know pretty much exactly what I want before I even contact a dealer, and I know pretty much what I’m willing to pay.  I know the tech specs – all that stuff about suspensions, transaxles, engine displacement, torque, horsepower, etc. - and features better than most salespeople, although the navigation and smartkey options are new to me.

I’ve always appreciated the four cylinder sports car- along the lines of the ’83 VW GTI  or the 2000 Celica, both of which I can still smack myself for trading off- but in practical application I’ve had more four cylinder econoboxes and mom sedans.

I think I’ve found an interesting compromise here.

clockwork heart

I’ve always admired the art of clockwork.

I was a holdout on analog watches (watches with actual moving pieces inside them- and imagine it- hands!) for a long time.  I wore an old windy-type analog watch (and that old Timex from 1970-whatever still works) for many years even when digital watches were easy to get.  I still have a nice Fossil analog watch I wear on occasion, although it has a quartz battery movement which has fewer moving pieces and is more accurate than traditional clockwork, and doesn’t need winding.

There’s something to be said for the representation of time as movement, because time does move.  A metronome moves (at least the traditional ones do) back and forth keeping time as it moves, and as the rhythm of music moves it keeps time.  There’s something about that tick-tick-tick of a conventional metronome that is comforting and maddening at the same time.

Metronome

Even with my bad coordination I could play music.  As a bass player – and this has been a very long time ago- it was infinitely important to feel the rhythm and play along with the drummer.  Drummers are generally sort of weird people- but perhaps that’s because they are in tune with natural rhythm more than most.  I don’t claim to understand it, but regardless of the instrument, the rhythm has to be there first, a skeleton to clothe with the melodies and harmonies and chords.

Although I did enjoy playing bass, it got to be too painful for my hands and wrists and shoulders with the joint damage I have.  I am a singer- the voice is still there- though I don’t use it much anymore.  I learned a long time ago that it doesn’t matter if a woman has a good voice if she doesn’t have the body or the stage presence to go along with it.  I might enjoy singing, but there’s no way in hell I could ever make a living doing it.  There’s no visual to go along with the auditory.  I gave up on that a long time ago too.  I can sing in church.  That’s good enough, and it keeps me out of trouble.

metallica

Dudes do metal better than chicks anyway.

The coolness of Metallica aside, right now I’m fried.  Fried in so very many ways that I can’t see daylight.

burnout1

I don’t like admitting weakness, but it’s harder and harder to keep up that “iron guts” faςade these days.

I’ve been reading a book (The Joshua Code by O. S. Hawkins) that gives some commentary and encourages one to memorize a Bible verse per week in each of its 52 chapters.  This week’s verse is John 11:35, which is the shortest verse in the Bible-  “Jesus wept.”

There are times that for the love of God I wish I could weep.  Sometimes I think the reason why I find it so incredibly difficult to cry is that I’m afraid once I get started that the tears won’t stop.  I may be an emotional desert, but when it does rain it pours.  Worse yet for me, the tears come largely unbidden, without any kind of reason, and  are virtually impossible to control.

As if control were everything?  As if I have control over anything?

It’s curious that in my own personal economy, showing emotion=weakness.  I don’t like to be seen as fragile, human or vulnerable even though I know good and damned well I am all of the above.

Maybe that’s why I’d rather sing.  It’s sort of a stealthy way of showing emotion, after all- unless I’m singing something that for some reason sets off the tears- and that happens too.

corolla

Oh, and my new ride just came in.  2014 Corolla S Plus.  Black metallic, black interior…

I wasn’t going to do it.  Until I discovered just how feasible it is.  It helps not having a credit rating that’s in the toilet. I’m going tonight to drive it and hopefully get paperwork, etc. done.  There’s nothing wrong with my Yaris (and getting a new car wasn’t entirely my idea) but having pretty much the same drivetrain I had in my Celica (which was a 1.8L 5 speed manual) in a sedan is going to be fun.  Especially because this is a VVTi 1.8L 6 speed manual, which to the non-techie means I gain about 40 HP over what I have in the Yaris (Cliff’s notes- more power!).  With every possible toy known to man, except for the automatic, which I absolutely don’t want anyway.  From what I see on the build sheet this car was custom built for the 13%.

* 13% of American drivers prefer manual transmissions, which means we generally don’t get many options when compared with the 87% who for some whacked out reason don’t like to shift when they drive.

I’m only going to live once, and it’s not like it’s a Porsche.  It’s a Corolla…as in mom sedan, but with a bit of a twist.  If I’d really wanted to go over the edge I’d have gone for the Scion FR-S.  But I need the 4 doors, have a hard time seeing out of something that sits that low to the ground, and I don’t want to be cop bait.

fr-s

Tempting, but not very practical.

More on the new ride later- the Corolla- after I get to drive it.

toddler-tantrum

Do your kids a favor- teach them to behave like civilized people- at least in public!

When I was growing up in the dark ages of the 1970s-early 1980s, acting out in public was a sure fire way to get yourself beaten into the next county by the next nearest adult.  If you were unfortunate enough to be beaten out in public by a non-parental adult, when one’s parents did find out, (and they always did)  you were beaten again- to make sure you were beaten good enough.  Now people are afraid to even say anything to someone else’s miscreant child, fearing the wrath and possible litigation by the parents.  That sucks.  There are a good number of kids I see out in public that could use a good old fashioned hiney-warming.  I’d do it… if I thought the parents would have the good sense to back me up.  I guess they would rather announce to the world that their children are being raised by wolves than to administer a bit of well placed correction.

There was no sparing the rod (or spoiling this child) in my family.  Believe that.

Mom (being the good Catholic mother she aspired to be) would beat the daylights out of you for messing up the Catholic Calisthenics during Mass.  Even if you were a toddler (sorry, NO nursery) you did not sit when the rest of the congregation kneeled, nor did you stand when the rest of the congregation sat.  You did not have a coloring book, crayons or Cheerios.  You sang every word to every hymn, and you did not fail to respond with the correct responses as printed in the Missal.

 

Missal

The word “Missal”- for those who were fortunate enough to have been raised in a Protestant tradition-isn’t a typo.  I am a bit of a spelling Nazi after all. “Missal” is sort of the Catholic how-to guide to Mass, and is never to be used as  a “missile,” as in a projectile to throw at an annoying sibling.  Even though my sisters did.

kid fight

Siblings fight.  So why do people have multiple children?  Especially if one of them just ends up being a punching bag?

As an adult I can appreciate liturgical worship- and I do- but it was baffling to me as a kid.

Sunday morning Mass sort of went like this:

Dad drops us off at church.  Dad did not do Mass.  Ever.  He would be back in about an hour or two.  Church wasn’t Dad’s cup of tea, especially in a church where, as he would say, “the preacher wears a dress.”

priest robes

Follow Mom up the steps and (unless you wanted dragged out by the hair and back handed within an inch of your life) don’t forget to bless yourself with holy water and genuflect (another foreign word for Protestants- kneel before you walk down the aisle to find a seat because you’re approaching the altar) before sitting in whatever seat she thinks you should sit in.  Mom liked to park us in the second or third pew from the very front- where the priest can be sure to give you the stink eye any time the word “hell” is mentioned.  Hope and pray that (as usual) I didn’t get sandwiched between both sisters and therefore was open to assault from both sides.

Find the Missal.  Follow the instructions to the letter even while being poked, prodded, pinched and wet willie’d from both sides.

Spend a few minutes wondering why Jesus chooses to live in the funky gold box where the communion wafers were stored-  when He’s not out and about looking for sins and finding reasons why you should go to hell, that is.

Sing the closing hymn and hope Mom didn’t decide to chit-chat with every single one of her old bitty friends on the way out, although it was inevitable that she would.

It’s a wonder – or should I say a gift of the Spirit- that I can set foot in church at all.  But that is a very long story.

cathedral-in-Milan-752811

I do appreciate the aesthetic of Gothic architecture, especially if we don’t try to jack it up by doing a “70s update” on a 19th century (or earlier) building.  The church I went to as a kid was one of those beautiful Gothic style churches- until someone decided the interior needed a cheesy 70s update that included green astroturf carpet, everything painted white and green (acck!) and just plain hokey furniture.  Either you want to go modern or have the Gothic aesthetic, but the two styles don’t mix.  It’s church, not steampunk (which is half ways tolerable, ’cause steampunk is cool) and definitely not the set of “The Price is Right,” which is what that hideous “renovation” reminded me of.

price is right

Just substitute green for red, and that was pretty much how tacky it looked.

Church would have been a bit more interesting with Bob Barker.  At least when I was a little kid.  Grandma loved “The Price is Right.” That was back when Bob Barker still dyed his hair.

I need a road trip but don’t really have anywhere I want to go or, should I say, can afford to go and have time to go.   I still want to go to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia and I’m going to have to figure out the logistics.  I have to go to my nephew’s graduation in NC next month, but that’s more of a “have to” than a recreational pursuit.  Not to mention Dad scares the living hell out of me with his need for speed while driving in the mountains.  I’ve never been comfortable with mountain driving- especially considering we will probably be in their Dodge minivan.   It will probably be my luck it will be rainy and windy too while he’s going 90MPH down a 6% grade.

The last time I let Dad drive on a road trip,  I closed my eyes and put the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” on repeat.  That helped.

I really, really need some quality ivory tower time, as in several days of being completely away from dealing with other humans.  The bad thing is that’s not going to happen.

 

Axl Rose

My son didn’t ask, but mothers are pretty good at unsolicited advice in life and love and all those things that are only somewhat discerned by merit of age and time.  If I were to try to explain to him why he should abandon the “friends with benefits” arrangement he’s got going on with the ex-stripper, it would go something like this:

The great theologian and philosopher Axl Rose (of Guns-N-Roses fame) once stated in his version of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” that, “You don’t get out of life alive.”  I  also understand his point about both the bank and the mortician- the two inevitabilities of this life are death and taxes.  Nobody escapes either of those.  Nobody escapes the common human dilemma of finding one’s way through life and surviving in the process, either, though some do a better job of it than others.

As far as the wisdom of the concepts of “not getting out of life alive,” and “you can’t take it with you,” go, both sort of go along with the Biblical admonition to give one’s life as an offering. You were created to have a purpose in this life, even if it’s simply one of being an example of what not to do,  or serving to expand others’ vocabularies.  We all came into the world naked and not having any stuff, and we all go out the same way, so what are you going to do with the time in-between?

coffin

We all know that our physical bodies are going to become worm food.  There are a few things worth sacrificing and fighting for, precisely because we cannot preserve youth and health and wholeness in these physical bodies, or for that matter, youth and health and wholeness in any aspect of our lives.  Entropy WILL win.  Systems all eventually break down, if you want to frame the inevitability of entropy in tech geek terms.  Life in this world is a finite proposition.

The question is, what do you do with the finite resources you have been given, that you can acquire, that you can pool with others?

gold-bars

It’s great if you can amass all kinds of wealth and get all the best stuff, and prepare for every possible contingency, but in the end, what do you do on that night when your life is required of you? (I’m referring to what Jesus said in Luke 12:13-21.)

If you don’t get what really matters, then who cares about money or power or prestige or stuff?

I’m not going to go on a morality-chastity-clean living rant, because I am no poster child for any of the aforementioned.  I have never been a paragon of virtue.  I am a Christian, but that is only by the grace of God.  He left me to my rebellion and own devices for awhile (about seven years’ worth) so I could see just how much trouble I could get into out there in the pig pen. I got a rather nasty taste of how nasty and depraved I can be apart from a relationship with God.  Finally, I realized, again, by the grace of God, like C.S. Lewis did, that if I were going to be sane and worth anything to myself and others, that it was and is Christ or nothing.

That realization does not make me more virtuous or more moral or  more prudy. It does not make me less human or  less fallible.  It does make me all the more aware that anything good anyone sees in me is not my inherent goodness, but the goodness of God. I fail a lot, but apart from Him I fail and screw up a lot more.

hypocrisy

 

Yes, Christians are hypocrites. Get over it.  So is everyone else.  I can say that, but for the grace of God, I would be a LOT worse.  I need God precisely because I know how depraved and hopeless I am without Him.

All these theological and philosophical observations being said, and back to the assertion that one of my purposes in life is to serve as an example of what not to do, I will give you a heartfelt admonition.

If you are one of those people who are blessed enough to find true love in this life, don’t let it go.  I know that it can and does happen, even if it is too late for me.

true love

Part of the reason why I can be so cynical and snarky when I consider matters of the heart is because true love has always eluded me.  I’ve been used, abandoned, exploited and deeply damaged by people who claimed to “love” me.   My wiring is such that I don’t understand or communicate very well in the emotional realm.  To add insult to injury, most men are intimidated by intelligent women, and most men are not terribly thrilled with plain and frumpy looking women.   I blend in to the wall pretty well.  It’s a survival mechanism.  At no time in my life were dudes ever banging down my door.   If they did talk to me it was to get my phone number- so they could call my sisters.  I was even voted, “Least Likely to Get Laid” in my (unofficial) high school senior will.  So I felt like I had to take what I could get, even if it meant settling for minimum standards such as, “vertical and sucking up valuable oxygen.”

Minimum_Standards

Hair and teeth optional, especially at my age.

I hate to admit it, but all I can say about my own marriage is that at best it’s a symbiotic relationship, but a good deal of the time it’s more like a parasite vs. host relationship.  Maybe it’s harsh to call Jerry a parasite, but he can and does suck the life out of me with his incessant whining and infantile demands.  He didn’t need a wife, he needed a mommy.  And I’m not all that great at playing the mommy role, but it’s all I have to offer.  I haven’t gotten a better offer, and even if I did, I would be morally obligated to decline it.  In Jerry’s defense, he has put up with me for all of these years, as frumpy and plain looking as I am, and as eccentric as I am.  That says something- although in Jerry’s mind it’s probably, “there’s someone in this world who will fetch my beer and smokes for me.”

But if you find true love, that indescribable and blissful universe of two, understand what it is.  Hold it, cherish it, fight for it, and never let it go.  Otherwise you will find yourself in the same predicament I am- either completely alone, or bound by a sense of duty(?) pity (?) desperation (?) to someone who only cares about you as long as you’re useful to them.

unique-not-useful

I guess I’m good for as long as I can fetch beer and smokes.

I will tell you that expediency and usefulness are not the same as love.  Sex doesn’t necessarily equate to love either.  It’s easy to get caught up in hormones and horniness (been there done that) but when the excitement and lust die down, what do you have?  From my own experience I can say that following the hormones and horniness path has led to a lot of guilt, embarrassment and shattered dreams.  It’s not worth it.  I’m thankful that my past indiscretions didn’t wreak as much havoc as they could have.

Don’t follow in my path.  Don’t let a chance at true love go because of fear or because you need to hold on to perceived obligations.  It sounds trite, but love will find a way.  Unless you’re an eccentric old bat who’s proportioned like a mutant troll.

True Love Quotes and Pictures (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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