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Throw Away the Key

I don’t get out much because I don’t have any more friends and I live like a reclusive bandicoot, but last night I went to a party that was very nice. There was white chicken chili and the capacity to make quesadillas; although I did not make a quesadilla, it was a relief to know the option existed. I ended up entranced with someone who said his hobby was staying up until three in the morning watching prison documentaries on the National Geographic channel, and you know, if someone had said to me, pick out the guy at this party whose hobby is staying up until three in the morning watching prison documentaries on the National Geographic channel, he would have been the one.

Anyway, not to be outdone, I brought up my hobby of watching documentaries about abandoned prisons that are haunted. Haunted by what? he said. Haunted by scary ghosts, I said. So what, he said, there’s nothing interesting about that. Ghosts aren’t going to do anything to you. Dismissing scary ghosts as a solved problem, he implied that there are far worse things lurking in a functional prison that is not haunted, but Rob and Jwer made me go home before I found out what they were.

No wonder I don’t have any friends.

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The Naked Truth

People are asking what my cryptic post was about a couple of days ago, but I’m not telling. A boy has to have some secrets; I just wanted to capture my vexed state of mind, not give away the store. Instead, I will tell you what it’s like in the men’s locker room at the gym. You don’t have to tell me what it’s like in the women’s locker room because I saw that episode of “Seinfeld.”

In the men’s locker room, there is a television that’s on all the time. It’s tuned to the news, and once “227” was on, the one where Mary was worried about something or another and Sandra said something sassy. If the shoe shine man is there, sprawled on the vinyl sofa, there are soap operas that he watches. He always says “All right, then.” He is old, but there are plenty of other old guys in there, too. They are invariably naked and sitting around reading the newspaper. If they are not reading the newspaper, they are talking to each other about business or the news, but they’re always naked and have their leg up on the bench as if they’ve conquered it. The people I most want to see naked are typically modest, but the people I would pay to keep their clothes on have everything flapping in the breeze at all times thanks to the self-confidence that comes from knowing you aren’t in the mainstream of desirability.

There is a lot of posturing in the locker room. There are hearty and brash conversations, and people make exaggerated grunting noises after they’ve worked out to theatrically indicate weariness. I will not describe the sounds that come from the toilet area on some occasions, but I have never heard anything like it. I just mind my own business. Sometimes when people try to talk to me, I pretend I don’t hear them.

After I work out, I sit in the steam room for a while. The steam room is its own little world with windows you usually can’t see out of because of all the condensation. In the steam room, most people don’t talk, and they pretend not to look at each other. They usually bury their faces in their hands, which is what I do, too. When people do talk to each other, the topic is depressing. I have never overheard an uplifting conversation in the steam room. I went in there last night, and there was a fat man wearing a plastic suit sitting there with a towel over his head.

In the dry sauna, you can see out the windows. There is one window from which, if you angle your head right, you can see into the shower area. I know this not because I’ve sat there but because I usually end up in the stall that is the most visible from this window, and I’ve seen people looking. That is not because I am particularly desirable but because it’s very boring in that steam room. If you took an iPod in there, it would probably melt, but it would melt slowly and in a way that is not very interesting.

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A Mamarracho Prepares

The fact that I don’t know what I am going to write about today has not stopped me from starting to write. There is a lesson in there somewhere, although it may be a lesson only for me, in which case I will thank you all to stop reading my private lessons. All right, all right . . . if you are going to keep reading anyway, then chew on this: one of the best examples I took from A Director Prepares, a book by Anne Bogart, is that forcing yourself to make creative decisions is a great way to make good creative decisions, or at least to inject energy into the process. She provides an example of directing a show and understanding that some decision is needed but not knowing what that might be; her method is to walk to toward the stage announcing to everyone that she has made a decision and then fabricating it on the spot when she gets there.

I haven’t had trouble making decisions lately. My mind never stops. My problem is that given constraints in the way I have arranged the world around me, my decisions do not necessarily lead to action. This is fine because a lot of the choices I make are just plain stupid. But of course, the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

I don’t like babies anyway.

Okay, I secretly like one. If you are reading this, it is yours.

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The Thing

Something has happened. It is something so exquisitely exasperating and ironic given my current position and the life lessons I need to learn that I have snapped from atheist to believer in a cruel and vengeful deity in the span of one day. Okay, perhaps the deity is not cruel and vengeful; perhaps it is loving and omniscient and knows precisely when to insert these little bombshells for maximum positive effect. Who knows? That’s the problem with theism: you just don’t know, so you have to be open to everything, and then Pat Robertson comes along and makes these monumentally stupid claims, and they don’t throw him in the lunatic asylum because, hey, he just might be on to something.

So anyway, now I have to deal with this thing that has happened, and it’s not really this thing, but a lifetime full of things for which this thing was prototypal back when I first encountered it and now that it is happening again serves as icing on the cake. It seems inconceivable that I could confront it (or not confront it) on the level of the thing itself, for the thing was all consuming even before serving as framework for how I deal with subsequent things, and it has been mythologized over a period of decades. This thing, now, gives me the opportunity to be heartless and self-protective, which I have tried before and doesn’t work the way it does in the movies, or kind and extremely vulnerable to destruction. Given my personality and the nature of the thing in question, there is no middle ground: while imposed boundaries may have some effect on the thing itself, they do not contain the reflexes of my soul.

In other words, the deity is now forcing my hand, using this thing that has happened to make me decide what my priorities are and what kind of person I want to be. People always seem to regret self-protective heartlessness on their deathbeds, but these are the same people whose occasional self-protective heartlessness has led to accomplishments that will live on when they’re gone.

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I Get Wine With a Little Help from My Wine

I am writing this after drinking a couple of glasses of wine. Some of you may find this shocking, but I assure you that, contrary to rumor, I do have an esophagus. I just mention the wine in case I do something shocking like forget a serial comma, for then I will have a scapegoat.

In the news:

As I mentioned two days ago, I am having part of my house painted. The part I am having painted is called the first floor, for which I paid a certain amount of money that we will call x. When my painter discovered that I had the expectation that certain things on the first floor (such as the entire dining room, the trim, the ceilings, and the doors) would be included in the job, he decided to charge me x + $800.00.

Kids, when they tell you that algebra prepares you for the real world, they aren’t kidding.

Anyway, he came over last night while we were having dinner to do some painting. He painted exactly one wall. That alone could explain the extra money, I suppose: when jobs take longer, they naturally cost much, much more. I know that now. I am a person of the world. So anyway, he painted one wall, and it was so totally not the color I was expecting. It is still a nice color; Rob pretended to like it. But it is not the color I was expecting. But, thanks to the wine, it is growing on me. If I ever decide to sell this house, I will meet all prospective buyers at the door with a bottle of chardonnay. Wine is powerful. Wine is wine.

In other news, I am so totally going to [redacted].

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Secret Confessions of a Porn Star

Hello, hello! Happy Valentine’s Day to my only true and faithful readers, the spambots. Ha ha, sike. I know you’re out there, true and faithful readers, even though my commentary system is still broken. Do you want to know how I know? Strong enough for a spambot, but made for a woman. Think about this.

What’s up with you? What’s up with me is that I am getting carpal tunnel syndrome, and our house is getting painted this year. That is, the job was started this year–last week–and it may actually get finished this year, although I am assured that two thousand eight is also a good year to finish painting a house. But I lied, the whole house is not getting painted, only the first floor. Actually, after I paid someone to paint the first floor, he expressed no small amount of shock that I also referred to the dining room, trim, doors, and ceilings. I may be about to find out whether carpal tunnel syndrome gets better or worse from brandishing a paint roller.

So anyway, in honor of Valentine’s Day and the fact that I have very little other news to report, I thought I would play a little True Confessions. I hear this is good for the soul, which is nice, but I’m really aiming for some benefit to the complexion.

1. Even though I am convinced it is vitally important to the health and security of our nation, I have decided to forego following the Libby trial in favor of immersing myself in “Top Design.” As of yet, “Top Design” does not appear worthy of this honor, but my only alternative is “The Sarah Silverman Program,” which I find perplexing.

2. I have been biting off the calluses on my hands that are a result of working out at the gym. This makes them grow back even more callusy than before, but I can’t help myself.

3. I haven’t gotten as much work done this week as I have wanted or needed to. Usually I get up early and work at home, then go to the gym or various appointments, and then go in to work at work. This week, I’ve been getting up early and playing a new game called Drops, for which I have been rewarded by approximately eight best score positions of the top one hundred worldwide. Between games of Drops, I check email and do pull-ups and drink protein shakes, but my mind just won’t activate the way it should to accomplish anything else. The fact is, I’m burned out and need a break, but since that’s not on the horizon, I have been coming home from work in the evenings and doing that which I have not been doing in the mornings. Maybe all of these issues would be solved if I lived in a Dyson sphere.

4. I use a dishwasher.

5. My home printer has needed a cartridge for most of a year, and I have never gotten around to replacing it.

6. I am avoiding taking certain people at work to task both because I have recently lacked the energy to do so, and because I secretly hope that the situations will resolve themselves even though they actually appear to be getting worse.

7. Matt Damon has me on speed dial.

8. I have lately been putting off giving Goblin her morning walk until noon.

That is all.

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Life Is a Bowl of Whimsey and Then You Die

This past week, I went back to that massive trade show again. There are people who like that sort of thing, but I’m not one of them; indeed, I was thrilled to have to leave almost two days early to deal with a situation at work. Walking around, you can tell who hates it and who loves it. My buyer loves it, and I hate it. Certain vendors are bursting with warmth and genuine energy, and some look like they’ve been dragged behind a truck, and it doesn’t take much conversation to get beyond the plastered-on smile. This is “market season,” after all, and the same salespeople have probably just come from the show in Atlanta, dragging elaborate booths in their wake: unpack, set up, stand on your feet all day for a week, deconstruct, pack, ship, do it all again a few days later.

The food at the Javits Center is pretty good but small-bottle-of-water-three-dollars expensive. I did find myself in a cafeteria line one day in front of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, who blessed my choice of lunch with her mere presence. She was wearing a scarf draped over one shoulder and looked like a culinary empress. That same lunch turned unpleasant later when I had to endure it next to a table full of Rush Limbo fanatics talking about how smart he is and how dumb the Democrats are. I also had the pleasure of listening to them dissect every Democratic presidential candidate. After the predictable takedown of Hillary, one of them said, “I don’t like Obama, but I don’t know why. I can’t put my finger on it.”

“You don’t like Oprah either,” reminded his companion.

“No, and I can’t put my finger on why,” the first one affirmed.*

Gee, I wonder. Could it be an aversion to names that begin with an O? I was strongly tempted to put my finger on something; instead I stood up and announced to my buyer that we had to switch tables immediately, but at that same moment, they finished their lunch and left, so I sat back down. The worst part was that all four of them had name badges that identified the name as their business as Wearable Whimsies.**

Good lord.

It’s hard enough for me to go to that show and see the acres of hideous, mindless crap that is destined to get shoveled down the throats of consumer America, but to then imply with the name of your business that this is somehow all in good fun when it is actively destroying the world is just too much.*** Sadly, there were many badges that read “Whimsy” or “Whimsies.” There was also a “Cartwheels and Cupcakes” and many other examples of nauseating capriciousness.

Anyway, I’m just glad to be home.

 

*This may not be an exact quote, but it was something very much along these lines.

** I checked and the links that come up from Googling “Wearable Whimsies,” at least in the first eleven pages of the search, are not the same as the group of people mentioned. It also seems to be the name of a fanciful book about making your own jewelry out of a toxic substance.

*** Note any parallels with Rush Limbo here? This stuff writes itself.