Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Movie night

Monday night, heretofore designated as Corona night, has been re-classified. As of a week or two ago, the evening following that dreaded first-day-of-the-workweek is now movie night. Instead of Corona, it's popcorn and Coca-cola. All the escapism without the hangover the next day.

That was the problem with Corona night. All the day's tensions were dissolved into that bottle of beer avec lime--well, several such bottles. By 10 o'clock, I was, as they say, "feelin' no pain". But as 'they' are also wont to say, "what goes up must come down". So come Tuesday morning, I wasn't necessarily feeling pain, but something closer to pain than to the euphoria of the night before. Off-kilter. Left of center. Outa whack. As far as the workaday world goes, it made Tuesday a day to just sorta fight through.

With movie night on Monday, I may not feel quite as "good" without a couple beers in me, but I sure as hell feel better the next morning. And Tuesday usually goes down easier than Monday, if only by virtue of the fact that you're already a day down in your workweek.

The Paper was last night's feature. A Ron Howard film, with a great cast: Michael Keaton, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei et al, about a day in the life of folks working for a newspaper in New York City. This week, movie night has extended to Tuesday, and tonight's cinematic fare was an old flick from 1981 called Fort Apache-the Bronx. Paul Newman, Ed Asner, Ken Wahl, and a very foxy and boobalicious Pam Grier. Great stuff.

So movie night is helping me get through the workweek, or at least 2/5 of it. All the escapism without the hangover. I may just keep the tradition going, at least until I get tired of popcorn and Coca-cola. And movies.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another fucking Monday

This one we knew was gonna be bad from the get-go, following a 4-day weekend and all. The intensity of our Mondays is directly proportionate to the amount of time we've had off. With a normal weekend, mild to moderate intensity/cacophony; a 3-day weekend, moderate to severe; and a 4-day weekend: Hiroshima.

The line of clients was out the door for much of the day, and the phones didn't stop ringing the whole time I was there. Fortunately, the morning switchboard person doesn't know me yet, or just has other designated people to transfer calls to, so my a.m. experience is relatively quiet(except of course for those folks who know my phone extension- and like a dummy, I give it out to people I think need my help). But the afternoon lady now knows me, or has been directed to start sending me calls, so my p.m. time is spent pretty much non-stop on the phone.

I am compensated for my efforts, and helping the multitudes is what we're there to do. So I'm not complaining as if all this shouldn't be happening. Or that I shouldn't be the one doing it. But it is draining, especially on Monday. I resisted the urge to pound a few Coronas tonight, opting instead to catch a movie with the standard movie snacks(Groundhog Day, with popcorn and Coke--as in Coca-Cola). True, I would feel "better" with a couple beers in me, but I'd feel worse tomorrow. Tomorrow is slated to be another rainy shitty day just like today, so a hangover is not the cherry I'd want to put on top.

Another fucking Monday. I'm glad to have the job I have, and there are aspects of my job that I truly enjoy- as daygigs go. Monday morning ain't one of them though. The beginning of the workweek is a jarring experience by itself, even a beautiful sunny day following a normal 2-day weekend(those you can somehow make more "purposeful"), but a rainy shitty day following a 4-day holiday weekend just has too many minuses in there.

Well it's not fatal, or even injurious. Just irritating and draining. A Corona would really hit the spot, but that's the problem. Trying to hold off until Friday evening as far as that goes, when the whole workweek is in the books. But at least Monday is out of the way for a whole week. Four more days remain until another blessed weekend, this one just a 2 day'er. But then that's the same principle as drinking Corona early in the week: a 3-day weekend would feel "better", but then worse next Monday.

Four more days.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All things Sudoku

It happened at work, awhile back. For years my chosen drug(as addictive puzzles go)was the crosswords, getting my daily fix from the newspaper. Then one day, a co-worker introduced me to Sudoku. I've never been the same since.

At first it was all but incomprehensible. Couldn't get a lock on it to save my hide. After some practice, I can now do the Level 4(or "Evil")puzzles with some dispatch. I still get stumped from time to time, or(worse)get most of the puzzle only with a duplication someplace- but if the wind is with me can solve it in about 20-25 minutes on the average. If the wind is with me.

Sudoko is, of course, the game where you fill in the missing numbers so that each row, vertically and horizontally(not, thank goodness, diagonally as well)and within each of the nine grids, contain numbers 1 through 9. It's not a numbers game as such--you could use any set of characters just so long as there were nine different ones--but rather one of logic, of deductive reasoning.

Where it gets fun(as in tricky)is in the integral interrelation of every number to every other number on the board. Getting all the rows as well as all the grids to add up to 9 with no duplications means that every number is where it is(or should be at any rate)because of every other number being where it should be. So if one number is out of whack, you'll at least have a puzzle that doesn't quite solve or a total mess.

But where it gets fun(as in genuinely enjoyable)is when you start to see the patterns, the contingencies that make each number in its "necessary" place. When you start to 'get it'. The aha moments, which for me usually come after a prolonged duhhhh period of staring at the board and not having a clue.

So, Sudoku has become an enjoyable pastime for me. I do the puzzles at home and at work, and have been sharing them with a few of my co-workers. "You're a sadist", I've been told. "Yeah, well I'm doing it to myself too, so I'm a masochist as well" was my reply. So we all pull our hair out on trying to solve these nasty-ass Evil Sudoku puzzles.

Soduku is a Japanese word(meaning 'single number' or 'single digit') but the game itself was developed by an American- one Howard Gams, a retired architect from Indiana, who was a regular contributor to Dell for word and number games. It was first published in 1979, by Dell, as Number Place. Gams died in 1989, and thus never lived to see the game he invented achieve world-wide popularity.

Thanks for the game, Howard. It's one of the things that makes my life fun. Well, bearable at any rate..

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Extreme Leisure

" When I got up this morning, it looked so nice out that I decided to just leave it out all day".

I don't know which comedian came up with that line(my money'd be on a Vaudeville or Borscht Belt performer), but they hit the nail on the head here. "It" is safely tucked in my pants, but everything else is hanging out..

And of course that's the beauty of one's "days off", those days of such total repose that you don't even have to get out of your pajamas(or whatever it is that you just slept in). You don't have to go anywhere or do anything or see anyone, so there's no need to change anything about yourself from the minute you roll out of the sack.

I took this principle to the extreme the morning I took this picture(haven't got the dog quite able to take pictures for me on my cel phone). Granted, I may not be a lot better-groomed than this on workdays, but it's exactly what I woke up with, what I looked like the minute I was out of bed. And being one of those blessed Saturdays which required no action on my part, I left the hair looking just like you're seeing it here for the whole live-long day.

Likewise my beard on these weekend days. I cut myself some slack on the shaving on at least one day in there, the whole one-less-thing-to-fuck-with idea(one of the tenets of the Philosophy of Extreme Leisure). The resulting stubble can look good on you, if you're under 40. As you get older, the look seems to have diminishing returns. By the time you get to be my age(mid 50's), you most definitely don't look cool with a day or two's beard on your face. You look homeless.

So that was one of my days of Extreme Leisure. I should add here, perhaps, that aside from occasionally letting the hair and beard go their ways I am otherwise at least a hygienic slob. Baths are still taken and teeth still brushed. Otherwise, a not-so-leisurely experience for the nasal passages. Even extreme leisure has its limits. Moderation in all things- including moderation..

Friday, November 26, 2010

Crazy Beautiful

"Crazy beautiful". That's what I was saying to myself this morning as I opened the blinds and shades to let the day in, and felt bombarded with sunlight- certainly more than I'd seen in the past couple days.

A bright sunny day after three dark and dismal ones is crazy beautiful, downright surreal. The light is almost too intense, to where you feel that any minute the smile of sunlight will turn into a hideous scowl. Almost too nice a day. You're waiting for that other shoe to drop.

Fortunately, no dropped shoe, Alan Funt didn't appear in any form to tell me it was all just a showbiz thing, the day stayed beautiful for its entire run.

Of course, it's all relative. Both extremes create each other. But that also presupposes that the person experiencing the day is on an even keel themselves. With a brutal hangover for instance(something I haven't experienced since my early 30's)a day like today would be an oppressive pain in the ass.

You'd be saying, "please, give me a dark dismal-ass day I don't have to pull the shades on". Thus, dark n' dismal would be the refreshing(or at least non-invasive)day, the positive option.

But for me, with pretty much enough sleep last night and no hangover, an almost crazy beautiful day. Almost too good to be true. But just almost.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tacos for Gringos

We all have our things that get us through the week. Besides the promise of Friday off in the distance, one of mine is a Taco Gringo restaurant that came up in our neighborhood about a year ago. It's become my usual-and-customary spot for dinner on Friday, signifying the beginning of the weekend.

Being a creature of habit, I take my every-Friday-at-Taco-Gringo thing a step further and pretty much always get the same meal: two Sanchos with no lettuce and medium sauce, and an order of "Mexican rice". I mentioned this to a co-worker, my choice of cuisine, and he cracked up.

"That's hilarious! A couple of Sanchos! You do know what a Sancho is, don't you?"

I had to confess that I didn't know this other meaning, the Sancho Subtext, as it were..

"A Sancho is the guy who screws your wife while you're in Prison!"

Well, actually a Sancho, as defined by the Online Urban Dictionary, is the other man. From there it can have different shades of meaning, but the most common is the inmate usage. I thought perhaps some of the other menu items would have other definitions, and asked about Burrito.

Nothing there. Sometimes a Burrito is just a Burrito. I did look up Taco, though, and the basic etymology is "filling a hole". Hmm. Still good food, and I'll still eat there every Friday so long as it's good food, but it'll be tough now to order a Sancho with a straight face. Or a Taco for that matter.

And the name Taco Gringo is just a little bit funnier, thanks to their menu items. At least the ones I know about..

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Converting Logic into Kisses

I had a dream not too long ago involving two people both of my acquaintance, who are probably not mutually acquainted and may never be, but did meet(or at least referenced one another)the the theater of my dreaming mind. As well as the 'six degrees of separation' we experience with the layers of acquaintances we have around the world, it looks like we do that when we're dreaming as well. Sort of an astral Facebook or Twitter..

Anyway, one of the characters, whom I'll call Bob, is a former neighbor who lived around the corner from me and used to leave me badly-written notes about my dog's barking. He was on disability, so he was home all day to hear what were probably less-than-dulcet sounds coming from my "howlin' hound" whom I left in the backyard while at work(sorry about that, Bob). I think I mentioned, in another blog, that he even went so far as to bring female dogs into my yard for my dog to mate with, just to try and calm him down. "I can't figure out why he's so hyper, Rog! He got him some pussy twice!"

I don't think Bob has any idea how funny that is, which is, in a way, one of his charms. He moved out of the house some time ago, along with several others, and now lives around the corner again, but across the street. Far enough away not to be impacted by anything at my house, be it barking dogs or what-have-you. I see him from time to time in his yard there, me in my vehicle on my way someplace, and always give out a smile and a wave, which is always returned. Whatever karma we had has apparently been worked out. End of Bob and his story.

The other character in this dream I'll call Zooey. She's mentioned in an earlier blog or two, a pharmacy clerk whom I had a brief crush on, maybe a month or so ago. About 18 or so(too young to ring out beer when I've bought it there), not what would appear to be a whole lot of intellectual curiosity. Not dumb, as such, but kind of a trailer court weltanschauung . Still, very pleasant, and very cute! The crush seemed to come and go of its own accord. When I go in there now, it's still pleasant but no more infatuation. Just as well. End of Zooey and her story.

So in this dream(to finally get to the point--if there even is one!), Bob is telling me, "Yeah, I know Zooey! She forwards your emails to me, and converts the logic into kisses!" And here, he shows me a graphic of the converted logic in the form of little hearts.

It's funny that so often in your dreams, your mind is assembling, juxtaposing hopelessly disparate elements or images, things you'd never consciously put together. This is of course what you laugh about the next day when remembering it. In this case, it's words that would never come out of Bob's mouth: she forwards the e-mails to me, and converts the logic into kisses. No, Bob had more of a Larry-the-cable-guy thing going in his speech patterns and choices of words. His making a remark like that is about as likely as me becoming King of Jupiter.

Yes, a very un-Bob thing to say. So therein lies the comic incongruity here, the unlikely juxtaposition of disparate elements. But the two characters in my dream: Bob and Zooey, are more of a pair, much more kindred, at least socio-economically.

Socio-economically. Jesus. Listen to me with this drivel. Anyway, they're somewhat related, at least in my perceptions: Bob is on "disability", and Zooey aspires to a job where she can make $12 an hour with benefits. They're both kinda dangling on that societal rung, at any rate. I try and take the broader view, one I'd take at work if they were our clients, that they're both people who need some help. For that matter, who the hell doesn't?

So, taking this dream thing a bit further, it really has little or nothing to do with Bob or Zooey of course, rather more about my perceptions of them. And since I'm playing all the parts in this dream, what qualities am I imbuing Bob and Zooey with, and why? What are they, as characters, trying to tell me? In other words, what am I trying to tell myself?

Everyone we meet has something to teach us, even if it's only that we really wouldn't want to be them. Hard enough being ourselves, right? And besides, maybe that's the lesson we give to them: that if nothing else, they've learned that they wouldn't want to be us.

Converting logic into kisses. Whatever it means to you is what it means, I guess. Some of that inscrutable hillbilly wisdom. Maybe there is a hillbilly guru somewhere, a backwoods Bodhisattva who goes by the name of (please forgive me for this one)

Bubba Ram Dass.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

ground level zero

I can't seem to plan them, though I do try and create what I think is the optimum climate for them to grow and flourish in. Whatever preparations I make, they seem to happen when and if they want to, almost completely independent of my ministrations. All I can say is, nice when they do..

Talking about what I call ground level zero days. Days when you wake up not just feeling "good", but several degrees more relaxed, more at peace with yourself and your world. Normally I have them(again, if I'm to have them)on vacations, and there usually the third day in- provided that the previous two were both days free of stress.

My most recent vacation, 11 days last month, was of course I time I was hoping to reach ground level zero, but it never quite happened. About five days into my time off, I did reach a point where I was a little more chilled, but this was more an intellectual realization than the kind of experience I'm talking about here. Ground level zero is more of a body high, a physical, respiratory "whew", a deeper breathing kinda thing. Reaffirmed, literally, with every breath you take, since they are deeper.

Today has been such a day. A more relaxed, deeper breathing day. All the more meaningful, since I tend, more often than not, toward the other end of the spectrum: the less relaxed, shallower breathing, crabbyass, pissed-off-at-the-world approach to life. Anxiety seems to run in the family, at least the male members(no pun intended here, but take it-what the hell): my Dad and brother, and, I'm told, nephew. All of us were compensated with a sense of humor though(even about ourselves), so the laughter diffuses some of the tension- but not all, of course.

So the mellowness is something I've enjoyed today, partially of course because it's in direct(and refreshing)contrast to what I usually feel, but mostly because it's just good in itself, self-evident in its auspiciousness--and of course as such it's a feeling you don't want to lose, being sent back to the all-too-familiar nervous irritability. I did experience one such moment driving home, my inner impatient motorist starting to rear his ugly cranium as I trailed behind a slowpoke right in front of me, but otherwise I've had a day of near-total equanimity.

I wish all my days could be ground level zero days. If I knew the secret(indeed if one exists), that would certainly be the case. I did have one thought around the time I woke up(the usual hazy awakening, which begins whatever kind of day I'm going to have)thinking something to the effect of "well I don't have all my problems solved, but that's okay". If I had anything to do with the kind of day I've had in terms of a conscious(or, being first-thing-in-the-morning, semi-conscious)decision, it's that I apparently decided not to carry all that shit around with me, if only for 24 hours.