Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry X-mas

[Pre-script: I'm of "generation x," the outer cusp.]

We have a new crockpot now, despite it being "no gift" Christmas. That's from my husband's parents. My mom sent $X00, and my dad gave us shovels, a mitre box, some knives and oil lamps, things gleaned from estate sales that tend to crowd the apartment-set despite their actual usefulness; that was the other week, over Thanksgiving.

Siblings seem to have broken the tradition, as it were. It's a mutual and chosen decision. We don't buy each other things; though, if my brother had children, I would buy for them, most likely. Generally, we accept that we are all broke and that if we wish to purchase something we think we can afford, we'll choose it ourselves. Sorry to those who feel otherwise, generations are different.

Tonight, the ever-boyfriend of my sister-in-law, a computer technician who works from home and at client sites, actually came inside, had a sandwich and stuck around a while. His perpetual excuse is that his own earlier family life was bad and that he can't endure spending time with any current one.

Wouldn't we all be legitimate if using that excuse? The point is to keep trying. . .

He left before the presents part, with excuses about having to work.

He talked about some vacant lot he suggested I investigate, somewhere, as far as I could gather, near 31st and Troost. Feel free, anyone, to look it up. Something about the Port Authority.

He asked us, however, as a point of "haven't seen you in a while; how long have you been married (implied)", when we were set to have babies.

Right, "soooo, when are you having kids?" That kind of thing.

I consider that a naive, if not rude, question.

(I mean, does anyone ever take into consideration that some people really want children and really try and really feel inadequate and horribly blue because nothing works?)

Additionally, I don't go around preaching to my child-bearing friends that I think they have made poor decisions, do I?

So, in the spirit of the holidays, I said, "well, we've only been married three and a half years," with a squinty smile, along with, "I'm not forty yet," to which my husband's older (barren) sister replied in a serious tone that, no, i wouldn't want to wait until then - while my husband chimed in with "never," amid laughter.

Yes, and his mother said, "well, we're hoping for an accident."

Good gracious. Baby Jesus surely does inspire what the priest said tonight, amid lots of child chatter and terrible singing.

[Catholics, they just don't shout as if they're proud of their faith.]

They ran out of consecrated hosts, though my husband and I were not among the partaking or even the desirous-of-partaking. We didn't know until the priest closed Mass with first an apology. No matter. Still, what's with all the procreation? Why should I, in particular, be obliged?

To all of you, I hope your family situation is good these two days especially, or during any especially charged time, whenever that may be. The priest tonight made a show at honoring other faiths while veering during the homily into a political complaint about no one wanting nativity scenes on public property. He suggested, however, that Ramadan was coming soon. Good gracious (can I repeat that?).

My mother celebrated with her family tonight. I'm not sure how early I should call her in the morning. Neither I nor my brother were with her. It's what you do when you re-couple (and you live in different cities) - you trade off the major holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, sometimes Mother's and Father's days. It's odd that certain calendar-marked days carry additional emotional weight.

Speaking of weight, my inlaws' bathroom scale has me at 130 today. It's no surprise, as I've been eating chili and cheese and tons of carbs. Next week, I'll likely eat nothing, by comparison. Blame it on the holiday cookies everywhere. Normally, I don't buy them, and there is a clear reason. If they are there, just like cash in one's wallet, they/it will be consumed quickly. In sight-in mind.

I talked with my dad the other day. Probably Saturday. I did very little on that day. It was not one bearing any particularly good memories. Today was better, as I accomplished more. I did several loads of laundry, in machines that are sub-standard and four flights of stairs away.

I also went to church (see above), which made me cry because of my grandmother - there's that part in the "Lord, hear our prayers" section where they go on about "call our dearly departed to your table," or something.

And, I sat through a presents-presenting, which, for some reason, perhaps because our decision was clearly stated a year ago and that there was nothing to be done, was without guilt.

It may have been because I am relatively good at erasing all emotional ties to a situation, but I prefer to believe that it's because I'm healthy, ha ha, and that I am not going to let myself be upset about someone's wish to give.

Yesterday, a college friend and his wife called to ask to come by to give us a present. They do so every year, despite our lack of reciprocation. My other two couple friends of college days also brought gifts. It should be noted that both were consumables, nothing over $13, wine, candy they had made, etc. Perhaps we are the scrooge couple, but perhaps not. They know our stance, and yet they are generous and kind.

We make good food for them occasionally, though our television is the smallest and "Lost" night not the best, image-wise. We did a projection once. My friends are very resourceful. I try to be generous all the time, in general. I don't think I am, in reality. I think what happens is that I pay my way. I do offer to help, though. I take people to and from the airport, make offers for others that are refused. I used to loan friends good chunks of money. I once was not only not in debt but ahead of the game. I couldn't understand how a friend of mine repeatedly bounced checks. I mean, we both know math, right?

Now, however, I understand. It's probably a large part of why we don't want to produce children. I can't even buy the stuff I want to buy, and that's with me pretending to be "unmaterialistic!"

We also do not "believe" in the inevitable and continual progress of mankind toward the ideal of everyone having what they need and not excessively craving what they don't (and that by which consuming actually creates not only "jobs" but elements of what destroys us). Kids today are born into a distaster-on-tap, and the fate of those Americans who don't worry about that is disgusting blind consumerism. No, thanks, this is the composite of my reason, and also why I continue to rely on otherwise hated pharmaceuticals to suppress reproduction. No one wants mistakes.

Ah, yes, quite gloomy for Christmas night. Santa Claus, if he has enough time during gift delivery, might see me when I'm not sleeping. He's totally not coming here tonight.

We always say that we would take children that arrived due to circumstance, but view that more as a 10-year-old or so, some cousin, nephew or random adopted kid such as Brad and Angelina have done. And they're not even married! Tee hee. So, see, we're all just too dang practical about the whole thing.

And I'm okay with that. I have nothing about which to complain!

Ho, ho, ho.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yesterday's fog

I miss it. Today's cold, normal for "first day of winter," feels gloomy. Christmas Cheer should abate short-day blahs with twinkling tree lights; however, this is the Christmas of Nonengage.

I don't envy the people, most of them married and accomodating two families' wishes to celebrate together, rushing around from event to event. I have nothing to wrap, and it feels good. I know that there's a certain warmth that comes from giving, but I am too un-Zen to be able to do it without being muddled in the negative elements of gift-deadline, gift-perfectness, gift-budget.

Hard to believe that the holiday commercials will so soon be over. . .giving way to clearance sales and inventory reductions. I spent some money today on us, with money from mom, a one-way gift - everything was on clearance, qualifies as bedding. Beds are important, no?

Sunday, we'll be at a Mass, for the second time this calendar year. The Catholic Christmas of 2004 was a disappointment, so I'm hoping for a more-inspring homily, if I have to be involved in listening to it. Ah, the gift of subjugation. And spending time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why do I like this?

And why do I like very little overall?

I keep forgetting that Monday is Christmas, but remember, I spent $900 this month on my car. I know you can get a new car for about that much, "new" being relative and probably all the one I'm driving is worth.

I keep pretending it's a balance, a compromise and even a win that I'm not dishing up $500 a month in a loan payment for a truly new one.

What's 191,000 miles between friends?

The "screw-you, tire" total for the year is now $45 as well. Who keeps dropping screws everywhere?

The fire engines and ambulances have "sweeper" chains that swing around down under the tires to create an all-weather traction situation when it's snowing or icy, I learned from the captain at Station 23, so I'm thinking I need to develop some kind of magnet device to thwart the nails, screws and scrap metal continually in my path.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I hate security lights

Read me

Well, at least now we can trash-talk "cultural" New York, which came in at a lame 42 - and while being the answer to life, the universe and everything, represents a tumble from 2005's rank at 32.5).

However, Kansas City itself fell two spots, from 14 to 17 in the Central Connecticut State University's Most Literate Cities list, putting even more distance be us and St. Louis, which ranked at 12 and was only 15 last year.

It's a data analysis of six "indicators" of literacy in U.S. cities of 250,000 people or more: newspaper circulation, the number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and (introduced last year) Internet resources.

Here are the top 10:

1. Seattle, Washington
2. Minneapolis, Minnesota
3.5. Atlanta, Georgia (tied)
3.5. Washington, D.C. (tied)
5. St. Paul, Minnesota
6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
7. Cincinnati, Ohio
8. Denver, Colorado
9. San Francisco, California
10. Portland, Oregon

The study's author, CCSU's president Dr. John W. Miller, says that it's not important to focus on how your city's rank may be changing, but "what communities do to promote the kinds of literacy practices that the data track."

One southern city, four western ones, three midwestern and two New England.

And no New York.

Boston is #11.

And Minnesota, well, who knew?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Everyone loves dolphins

I don't keep up with the Guiness Book of World Records, but most of you probably already know that Bao Xishun of Mongolia is the tallest man alive today (about 7'9"). I wonder how much he was paid to stick his long arm down the throats of suicidal dolphins to remove plastic shards they somehow had swallowed from their tank.

Given that the aquarium officials said the dolphins had "lost their appetite and were suffering from depression," I wonder if they were upset that humans could be so annoying as to lock them in water-cages where they'd get bored enough to eat shards of plastic.

I've seen my "domesticated" animals swallow any number of unhealthy things, from lead-based paint, to plants that cause peculiar blockages of the intestine (eew). Nothing compares so far to my friend's late blue healer, though, which had a disease that compelled it to eat lampshades, leashes and loads of prescription medication.

Is there a difference in watching humans ingest alcohol, cigarettes, sugar and other drugs? Poor, domesticated humans.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

3800 E. Ninth St.

Maison du jour, stately, sitting patiently, since no one minds such a thing around here. Well, Lykins Neighborhood does, but . . . .

In the past two years, the porch supports and that trim paint up top were added, and another garage thing to the east, where a tire shop was, was demolished. It's still a haunted-looking wreck and owned by an LLC that formed in March 2005.

I guess someone is still "working on financing" the repairs?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strings on me

I got up today at 5 a.m. to drive to Lawrence, Kan. to get my friend to take her to KCI so she could go to Costa Rica/Guatemala for a few weeks. I still do poorly on darkened highways and equally as badly when the winter sun of 7:30 a.m. is blocking all directional and exit signs from view.

We made it, though - and then I made it to work by 8:30.

That's the usual starting time during the week.

Hello, Saturday, I see that you are sunny and nice and that you contain numerous possibilities.

Such things don't matter much to someone who routinely has to go to things that don't begin until 7 p.m., or who spends the dark hours each Monday morning typing up copy until it's light enough to travel to work.

When's the last time I had a weekend, much less a "vacation?" (Six and three years, respectively.)

Do I envy educators, who, like my friend, or like college students, "get to" have a month off at holidays, a week off at spring, and then more weeks between summer school sessions? Everyone who teaches says that it's hard to be a teacher, and that educators need the extra time to catch up on themselves, after giving out so much energy to students, lesson plans, students, parents, conflicts, students, administrational whoo-ha, and incidents such as whatever happened at Westport High School on Thursday (assault times four, student-to-teacher, punches).

I know it is extremely trying to be "on" all the time for students - even good ones or adult ones (I've been a teacher of both such groups and had to run, screaming, into the night) - but, what about all the other jobs that require such sparkling social skills, organizational stamina and mental gymnastics?

Not to mention, a pay-scale that offers very little upward mobility.

Restaurant servers, retailites, office drudges, etc.

They put up with a lot of dolor, a lot of fake smiling, a lot of pushing and back-biting and customers and crap, without a lot of hope or real prospect of changing where they'll be or are at.

No one, likewise, laments what constitute a news-person's weekly life, it seems, the long hours, the outdoor elements, the "it's happening, so, of course, you'll be there, right?" or the tedious sitting-aroundness at "meetings," "hearings" and "sessions," the research, documentation and the sifting through lies that come long before any creative act.

Do we presume that the "adventure" and the "privilege" (of being there - where it's at, right when it's really happening) make up for having to run around like a fool?

Shoot, I don't recall this information being proffered at any of the places I took my education:

According to the Harvard study, 52 percent of the nation's top income earners — those in the top 6 percent of earners and often making six-figure salaries — work more than 70 hours a week. And 48 percent say they are working 16 hours a week more than they did just five years ago.

"Extreme jobs" are defined as ones that take up more than 60 hours a week and fit "various parameters regarding work flow, travel, responsibilities away from the office and outside commitments."

(They also are such that promotion, law-partnership, high-profile existence and money, lots of money, are rewarding elements, a-hem.)

I suppose my job is sub-extreme. Extremely unbalanced?

The article did list media as a potential extreme-job field. I believe they were thinking of "New York" or perhaps television.

Should I have been an attorney, then?

Such professional madness seems destructive to that other American beloved institution (aside from the "do well, make the economy good, succeed! one), the family. You can't very well say, as a father, that you are helping your kids much when your wife is the only parent they see. Sure, money is great, it buys surrogate parents like the soccer coach, gymnastics instructor, video games, and whatever else (research it for me, parents) kids of six-figure-earning families do with their time outside of school.

Personally, I don't think my job would be conducive to parenting either. And I'd like to see anyone determine, based on news product, which weeks this year did take up more than 50 hours of my life's 168-per allotment.

But I digress.

What I began here to say, besides that I love puppets (but not Puppets), is that my drive in "the car with the stereo" allowed me to mess around with memories as old as 11 years. That's what music does, and Plato would say it's a prime reason that art is bad, that it stirs up messy emotions. However, I have never pretended that I don't indulge in messy, stupid things.

Ergo, I give you the chopped-copyrighted lyrics to a more-hitting-home version of that popular psychology mandate to "follow your bliss":

Exerpt from Ani DiFranco's "Joyful Girl," 1996:

i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
everything i do is judged
and they mostly get it wrong
but oh well
i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head

I'm aware that you can't hear what I hear, but if you know me, you know what I mean.

(It's been quite implied in these long, boring-you paragraphs:
unlike Pinocchio, I did not sin myself into a donkey, nor have I figured out how to cut these ties.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

The cold finger

of winter
is pointed at you.