Monday, April 30, 2007

The one about a wrong number on my voicemail

Umm, okay, I'm sorry I didn't get anything for your birthday.
I tried to explain to you whu.. what ...


Happy birthday.
I'm sorry, you know,
You're not exactly the easiest person to buy for.
I ... didn't, uhh, anticipate havin' a problem.
Umm ...
I say, everybody I've asked to frickin' to ... to ... to go with me that whatever
"Oh I gotta do something today" or "WE gotta do something" or this that and the other thing and ...
And you say "don't worry about it" and this that and the other thing.
It's like finally yesterday I said to hell with it, you know and freakin' ...
And that's the reason why.

But you know now, I think about it you know, it's like: "Hey."
I guess it's better to be WRONG about something and go pick something out that's totally frickin' hideous and at least say I, say I tried, and that's where I made my mistake.
You know from now on I'm not gonna frickin' rely on anybody else.
I'ma do it, I'ma take it on myself to take care of it.
Okay, I'm not gonna ask anybody else for another favor as far as helpin' ...
helpin' me out pick something out for anybody else. Ok?
And if it's wrong, then it's all on me.
So, now, you know, w-what I, w-w-you know, what's goin on.
So, if you're still mad at me, so be it.
I'm sorry.
I love you.
And ... happy birthday.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The one about last weekend

The culture-shock upon returning home, even after midnight in a nearly abandoned airport, is immediate and obvious. Among the other weary-travellers disembarking from the same location as I, smiles return to faces and the taboo against making eye-contact with a stranger fades. I shit you not, within 10 minutes I heard someone say "buckeroo" not to mention the phrase "I shit you not" with the slow drawl that conveys not mental slowness, but home.

I hopped on a plane Friday evening and was in the arms of my sweetheart a few hours later. Saturday was spent in the northern borough of the Bronx at the zoo. Unseasonably warm temperatures (for NYC) made it a very nice day, spent with family and friends. Nothing a few dozen stops at the Dippin' Dots booth won't make even better. We all agreed that both the best and worst exhibit was the gorilla habitat. There was a big crowd at Tiger Mountain, but nothing like the oohs and ahhs over our closest cousins, worth the price of admission on its own. After the zoo, I staged a coup and took over the family, directing them to the (formerly) quaint fishing village of City Island. Yes, you read that right, the guy from Texas showed the locals how to get around the Bronx and found a nice restaurant (though admittedly not the one I had planned, but with an excellent view of the lighthouse) for lobsters & scallops.

Sunday was much more low-key. I'm more impressed with Jersey City now that I've seen more of it and had some excellent Peking duck. Unfortunately we missed the movie, but that just gave us an excuse to go driving. The recent flooding in the tri-state area made a trip to Great Falls an unintentional Great Idea, as the cascades were very impressive and worth getting briefly lost in downtown Paterson. From Paterson to the ghetteaux to the Soprano house then back home for a quick nap before the flight.

There were, again, tears at the departure gate. I don't like to see that and I'd prefer tears at the arrival gate (which are better for the complexion, by the way), but I know they can't be helped until the next departure. It's kind of funny to think of living my life in terms of countdowns, but it passes the time so much faster than not having something to which to look forward. Thanks again to Beth and her family for a very nice time and the next something to which to look forward.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The one about Affection

Continuing the discussion of last month's book, today's love is Affection:

As gin is not only a drink in itself but also a base for many mixed drinks, so Affection, besides being a love itself, can enter into the other loves and colour them all through and become the very medium in which from day to day they operate. They would not perhaps wear very well without it. To make a friend is not the same as to become affectionate. But when your friend has become an old friend, all those things about him which had originally nothing to do with the friendship become familiar and dear with familiarity. As for erotic love, I can imagine nothing more disagreeable than to experience it for more than a very short time without this homespun clothing of affection. That would be a most uneasy condition, either too angelic or too animal or each by turn; never quite great enough or little enough for man. -- p. 35

This terrible need to be needed often finds its outlet in pampering an animal. To learn that someone is "fond of animals" tells us very little until we know in what way. For there are two ways. On the one hand the higher and domesticated animal is, so to speak, a "bridge" between us and the rest of nature. We all at times feel somewhat painfully our human isolation from the sub-human world- the atrophy of instinct which our intelligence entails, our excessive self-consciousness, the innumerable complexities of our situation, our inability to live in the present. ... But of course animals are often used in a worse fashion. If you need to be needed and if your family, very properly, decline to need you, a pet is the obvious substitute. You can keep it all its life in need of you. You can keep it permanently infantile, reduce it to permanent invalidism, cut it off from all genuine animal well-being, and compensate for this by creating needs for countless little indulgences which only you can grant. ... To be sure, it's all very bad luck for the animal. But probably it cannot fully realise the wrong you have done it. Better still, you would never know if it did. The most down-trodden human, driven too far, may one day turn and blurt out a terrible truth. Animals can't speak. -- p. 52

As I've often said, I always find something to which I can relate in my reading, as in that first paragraph. No, not the part about gin, I mean the part about erotic love without affection. I'm sure that many people, myself included, have had such an experience. I agree with Mr. Lewis that I don't much care for it.

I also get joy out of relating something I read to someone else, as in the second paragraph. It's most often a device on TV or in movies, the isolated individual turning to pets as a substitute for genuine companionship but I've known one or two people like this. I love that phrase excessive self-consciousness hinting at the curse it can be to be human, as we experience not mere self-consciousness, but excessive. I've written about this before, so by way of reminder if you've ever used the phrase "fur children" the second paragraph is about you. Crazy cat people.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The one about Friendship

Despite the non-blogging, I continue to exist. I have mistakenly TiVo'ed the entirety of my cable-provider's offerings (much as I once read the entire internets) and cannot bring myself not to watch what I once thought important. This largely consists of nature programming in high-definition (which I whole-heartedly recommend, by the way) and what passes in 2007 for Thirtysomething (which I do not). My brain alternates between expanding and then having the newly expanded portions immediately rot away, such that the net effect is zero, apart from time (whose arrow points to the right no matter what that boob Einstein said). Fortunately I was incredibly smart to begin with, basically a super genius (Overconfidentii Vulgaris) and as such I fill the remainder of my leisure hours with reading. I have kept up with my resolution to read a book a month by reading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.

Lewis, best known for his Chronicles of Narnia series, is considered one of the most influential Christian writers of all-time, despite having been an avowed atheist for over a quarter of his life. In Four Loves, he investigates and explains the different types of love we experience. It is largely written in the Western Christian tradition and, although some passages are excruciatingly stuffy, much of it is easily accessible and relatable. The following are two short paragraphs on Friendship that stood out to me:
For us of course the shared activity and therefore the companionship on which Friendship supervenes will not often be a bodily one like hunting or fighting. It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation. All who share it will be our companions; but one or two or three who share something more will be our Friends. In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? - Or at least, "Do you care about the same truth?" The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer. -- p. 65

Hence (if you will not misunderstand me) the exquisite arbitrariness and irresponsibility of this love. I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival. -- p. 71