Men. Women. Just Saying.

Heart-rending story in the New York Times, The Life and Death of Therapist Bob Bergeron.… but perhaps not in the way you think. Depending perhaps on whether you are gay, a man. I’m not, but the beauty-fade? The loss of looks?  Getting old? The Creeping Decrepits, my son calls them. He, however, is only eighteen years younger than I, so he’ll get his. (He’s a Good Boy.) (Also a Senior GeoTech engineer, so I probably won’t be sending him this post.) You know the first thing I was thinking? Ladies,  do we kill ourselves when our looks disappear? The bright and shiny looks of youth? Noooo. And guys: this meat market, the whole guy hookup thing. Of which the Bergeron obit writes so blithely, so blindly. You think maybe it’s a tad empty? A tad suicidal, in and of itself?

Continue reading “Men. Women. Just Saying.”

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Fish Knives

“Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.”

While quoting Dave Barry is always an exercise in sheer comic bliss, here he has put his finger on something eternal, something existential, something irritatingly true.

And that is, other people are so terribly, awfully … other.

For one thing, they understand the gibberish with which they speak to one another. Whereas I, a proper English-speaking person, fail to see any difference between their babblage—however mellifluous (en Francais) or, as is the case far more frequently, just plain strange—and the language my sister and I made up on the spot, on long boring car rides. Complete with hand gestures. Never understanding, of course, a word that was said. Continue reading “Fish Knives”

North Korea: Failure to Launch

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I never watch the news, but you know what I saw on the news? The fucking humanitarian aid, the food and supplies, North Korea receives?  The North Korean people are told that these are tributes. To their Leader. Then, if they’re lucky, I guess they get to eat.

I imagine the sun shines and the rice grows to the greater glory of the current Kim. I imagine all of creation has been made into one big tribute—especially the bad parts. For there is no one for turning his own crimes into personal glory like the professional narcissist. But even if all you know is the amateur, it’s all the same. The absence, the carefully cultivated inability to acknowledge other people. These people are the Sun King, in their own lives.

Continue reading “North Korea: Failure to Launch”

Letting Go Of Steve

steveJobs had been teaching us to say goodbye to all that for decades — we just didn’t know it.

… in these final years, when the auditorium lights in would go down and the crowd would go wild for Jobs, who increasingly greeted his followers and touted the latest neat, new thing even as he wore the look of a person who was not going into that future with us.

He would be getting off here; we were to proceed without him … Let it go and look ahead was the message all along.
Hank Stueval in the Washington Post

Okay, I’m going to cry some more.

Such a lovely piece. Not that Steve’s death has sunk in—I can’t think of anything weirder than seeing the words Steve Jobs and Dead together. Was there ever anybody more alive, more publicly embracing of this temporary condition we call our lives. And Jobs and I had so much in common. Hippies who wouldn’t take direction from anybody, the kind of people who have to do things their own way. Perhaps that’s what made it so personal; I recognized his star—you know, the one by which you set your course. Not that my own outcome didn’t fall apart, but still, if you are born that way, you are. Continue reading “Letting Go Of Steve”

What To Do About Larry

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Should Google Tweak the News? asks the New York Times.

Count me Horrified. Can the Times retract the question?

“Should Google play an editorial role in presenting readers with news?”

That question was a matter of debate at Zeitgeist, a Google conference this week in Paradise Valley, Ariz., where Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and chief executive, said that Google had a responsibility to improve media.

The question came up when Ted Koppel, the longtime broadcast journalist, complained that too much news was drivel.

Yea, Ted.

“I see this as our responsibility to some extent, trying to improve media,” Mr. Page said. “… we have a responsibility to … get people focused on what are the real issues, what should you be thinking about.”

Larry Page? The guy who invented, along with his college pal Sergey, BackRub, which became Google?  And one used to feel so good about Google. The insanity seemed to begin—or if not begin, to be officially blessed—when Larry became CEO. Is this not a mistake? Is a however-brilliant engineer the same as a CEO? Qualified in the tiniest?

Or perhaps he has come to think of himself as Having Anything To Say, and Google as a force to shape us—the bloated ego never fails to amaze me. The past two years or so has seen Google search results so clogged with ads-as-pages, quasi-web pages. Although all that so called “content,”  faux blog posts that make the teeth ache. As does any complete and total nonsense. Get the fuck out of my way, I’m looking for something.

Okay, often I’m looking for an item to buy, the sort of search that starts spammers drooling. But what poor souls, what non-native English speakers click on not only the links on those junk pages, but while we’re at it, on Google text ads.  Do you even see Google ads anymore, or are they just blots of busyness fucking up the page layout? Raise your hand.

I don’t care who Google hires, in this new drive for—importance? Hipness? Social? Google is stuck in ugly. This is not news, any more than is Larry’s fatuousness. What’s amazing is that people who should know better—well, that isn’t news either, everyone bows to money. Nowadays.

Not so long ago, there were forms of power that couldn’t be calculated in hits, or page rank. It’s important to remember that it’s the tools that have gone rotten, and the way people think. Money corrupts—and has, as long as we participate in that thinking, corrupted us.

 

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Meaning Beyond Question

All I know is, my soul is a pest. Or whatever is that internal thing that has kept yammering away, lo these many decades. Always with a very clear idea of what is right. Not what was easy, at the time, or even possible. Certainly not taking my children into consideration, when I was young and most wretchedly married. Just, Move on, move on. You’re going to leave here, sooner or later. One of the leavings was without my children—and I have never been able to explain why that was something I had to do. Granted, I thought it would be a separation of months—but back then, and perhaps still, a girl who would do such a thing was a slut. Beyond slut: inexplicable. I simply knew that if I had to move to Iowa and live in married-graduate student housing, I would kill myself. Having seen the sad and depressed women who lived in the same at Princeton, which I figured to be a fucking palace compared to Iowa.

Women then had nothing to do but childcare, which is a really boring thing, as occupations go. And the grad student housing itself had wallboard that picked apart in shreds, the rooms were tiny, it was terribly hot. I saw enough. We lived in a cottage, as my then-husband’s family knew someone, a family so extended it was hard to go anywhere in America and not know someone. In truth, for a while I wanted to fit in with them, it was ever so much better than my family, which had no influence at all–except for my father’s fellow physicists, scattered along the Eastern seaboard at just enough removal so that every night, when we travelled north or south, there was always someone from whom to cadge dinner. For all six of us. Something I did not know was strange until I studied the whole autistic-spectrum thing and began to see my parents for who they were. People hugely without a social clue, which is where shades of autism show up. Who saw nothing wrong with arriving, four children in tow, just in time for dinner. I remember clear as day my father checking his watch, noting that it was ten to six, and, getting out his address book, punching into a pay phone the number of tonight’s potential suckers. And the worried look on the wife’s face of the wife, trying to make her bean casserole stretch.  Wondering, I realized later, how to feed another six people, while my mother sat silent, mortified—but then, she was always mortified—as the husbands talked physics or whatever the hell it was they talked.

The soul so intimately tied up with memory. When everything fell into place later, in adulthood, I realized most of what my soul had nattered on about was the normal. Healthful. Not a massively distorted life. It definitely wanted and still wants for me to live amongst people who love me, and whom I love. Something I’ve had very brief experience of. And trying to stay sane in the midst of thought-disordered people is the biggest damn energy-suck. The point always was, I coulda been a contender. Instead of a bum. Which is of course what I turned out to be.

Words to that effect.

 

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Time Is Like An Arrow, Isn’t It?

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“Why does time slow down when we fear for our lives?” asks Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker.

Oh, but it doesn’t—or rather, not only then. Not at all. Anything fantastic enough, witnessed, will do the trick.

I’ve seen it. Following closely behind a vineyard tractor as it slowly chugged down the narrow dirt road that ran along the creek at the bottom of our ranch. Two kids squeezed together on the tractor seat, distracting each other. A car came from the other direction, and the girl suddenly put the tractor in reverse, apparently thinking there was room for anyone to pass. I watched the tractor’s right rear wheel roll to the crumbly edge of the road and hang in air, inches beyond. The edge gave way, and the tractor went airborne, flying into a slow ballet of a complete somersault, as it rolled off the edge and backwards, moving through what seemed like an excess of air, floating in a high and graceful loop. There was no noise. I would never see anything so beautiful again – every color, every outline unnaturally clear. Never know again this eerie pause in the onrush of normal events.

But this was, of course, not normal.It is the improbable-unexpected that jars loose these long, still moments. The tractor bounced off the nearly vertical creek bank and came to rest upside down in the shallow creek, its wheels spinning like the paws of a great beast unable to right itself. I left my car, because you have to have nerve, but found instead of crushed bodies at the bottom, pinned between the huge and pointy rocks, the girl was sitting gingerly halfway down the rocky, loose bank, nursing her shoulder, the young man already scrambling up to her side, both thrown free, lucky souls.

I had a car phone, back then, and called the sheriff. In a short time, the chopper, patched through, was calling me back, hovering anxiously above. But we were hidden inside a cathedral of trees, with no way to see each other, air or ground. I verbally herded them to the field across the creek, telling the paramedics to just head west, no matter what.

We heard them crashing through the underbrush, cursing as they slipped on half-submerged rocks. Soon they came clambered up the bank, insofar as the stretcher, which they still bore, would allow. But no one, as it turned out, needed rescue. By stretcher or by air. The girl and the young man were flown off anyway. Remarkably, they were mostly unhurt—but it made sense, I supposed, that in its wondrous, strange flight, the tractor would have thrown them free.

I don’t have to tell you that time assumed its clock pace again. But the question remains: did time slow down? Or is time far more mutable than, in our daily struggles, we usually ever know.