Monday, May 30, 2011

Foods to be eaten naked

Barbecued food. Chinese food with chopsticks(to be eaten naked in bed). Cheetos. I'm sure there's more, but I got these from a pretty good source. Makes me want to stock my kitchen with these items for when she next visits me..

Sunday, May 29, 2011


In the office where I work, there's a lot of ribbing among the staff, a lot of horseplay. Most of the time this is one of its charms. Whatever you do(or don't do)is bound to catch someone's attention and set a few tongues to wagging- right down to how you park your car in the morning! You know, whether it's perfectly aligned within the two yellow lines. It starts the minute you're on the property, and doesn't end until after you've left for the day(if there's anyone still there to talk about you!).

One of the people I work with recently had a couple ceramic kittens on his desk, apparently from his wife, and a bouquet of flowers from an unknown source. Normally his desk just contains the bare essentials to perform the daily tasks, everything relegated neatly into folders: the right tool for the right job. A desk that would pass a military inspection if such a thing took place in the office(and thank God it doesn't!). So the ceramic kitties and the flowers did kinda stick out. Maybe not like a sore thumb, but certainly a manicured one.

And so the razzing starts. "Gee, Bob, your desk is looking a lot more- girly these days". "So what's next: some knick knacks, maybe some curtains?"

I decided to play Devil's Advocate and stick up for him. "C'mon you guys, Bob is just expressing his feminine side", which was taken(even by him)to mean expressing his gay side: oy, here come the Liza Minelli posters and the Opera records. Pretty soon he'll be bringing in quiche for us to enjoy, there'll be the clandestine phone calls to someone named Sheldon, and then we'll see his vehicle parked outside one of our town's fern bars and that'll be it. And to think it all started with a pair of ceramic cats..

Folks, this was not what I meant! For the record I don't think Bob has a gay side- and I could care less if he did. But like all men(yes, all men)he does have a feminine side. And it seems most unhealthy to me to not even acknowledge it, much less give it expression.

Our society is so fucked up. Roles for men and women are so fucked up in their rigidity- and they're much more so for men! Women can wear men's clothes, and get away with it(well past a certain point it does look dykey), but if a man wears women's clothes,that's a one-way ride to the fern bar. A woman can have a one-time experience with another woman and she's exploring her sexuality; but if a man tries that, he's a God-damned dick-smoker!

It's all based in fear. We're afraid of what's different from ourselves, and we're really afraid of what's different inside ourselves. So us guys continue with our posturing, making sure the contents of our desks and our lives can pass inspection. But like Lenny Bruce once said, it's the suppression that gives it its power- equally true whether it's the word nigger or a set of ceramic cats..

I would love to live in a society where people aren't afraid of their various sides, and don't feel they have to shut off some of the rooms in their houses. Where they can leave flowers and ceramic cats on their desks without fear of being thought to be light in the loafers. This was a sentiment expressed about the recent Gay Pride Parade: I'd love to see who was there, but wouldn't want anyone to see me there. Much fun was made by a few folks in the office..

Folks, it's healthy to be in touch with the different parts of your personality: of both your 'feminine' and 'masculine' sides. Without both,you're missing some essential "nutrients" to be a balanced human being and end up malnourished in one way or another. Once people stop being afraid, they realize they're not as weird as they thought they were. What's truly weird is our pathetic efforts to "fit in", our Procrustes' Bed of attitudes and notions that lead us to indict those who might have a spare ceramic cat or a few flowers on our desks..

I told him he was my role model except for the flowers and ceramic cats on his desk, which got the intended laugh. Actually this person could be a role model for me in some ways, having some qualities I lack: organizational skills, equanimity(to name two). Strangely enough, he'd be my role model if, in addition to these nice qualities, he didn't care about having flowers and ceramic cats on his desk. That's the one place where I'd just as soon be me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Halcyon Daze

I've remarked, often enough at any rate, that I'd like to be a cartoon character. Well, no, not necessarily someone else's drawing, but more in the sense that I'd like to have some of the properties of cartoon characters: they go through some of the vicissitudes of life but never age! The things and people around them don't wither up and die like they do in real life.

Everything stays the same.

Of course, you'd need to pick the time carefully in which you were "frozen". There are a few years I'd never want to go back to. 1967 was such a year. Seventh grade- a terrible experience. 1984 was another tough year, on several counts, but at least ended with me on the road(which made a lot of stuff better). 1991-92 was yet another rough patch, with a brand-new job I seemed to be learning trial by fire.

Strangely enough, each of these bad periods was followed by a much better one. In the Eighth Grade I had a whole different circle of friends and a more congenial social life; in 1985 I was out on the road and light years away from all the crap in Springfield that'd gotten on my nerves; and in 1993--well actually I got laid-off from my job in '93 and also went through a divorce, so in that instance I went from one bad scene to another. But after that things improved. At least there was no more "trial by fire" on my dayjob.

Still, those are years I'd never want to repeat, even if they did clear the way for better times. Even if it is, as they say, all good. All part of the process. After all, we're here for the experience.

Aren't we?

But as far as that experience, there are a few fine patches from my life I wouldn't mind putting repeat marks on. Whether I learned anything from them is beside the point, but they sure went down easy:

About six to eight months in 2008. A job assignment I'd been on since the previous November had settled in and become blissfully comfortable. I've had some nice times on my job(along with a lotta shitty ones), but I was probably the happiest I've been at work. It continued into the following year, still palatable but not as nice as that period in '08.

From July of '87 into 1988. This was a good period on several counts. I'd just started seeing a new girl, whom I ended up marrying in '88(and divorcing in '93, but oh well); my brother had just started seeing a girl himself, whom he ended up marrying(and yes, divorcing); and our folks had just retired from their jobs.

This is the period I'd like to be frozen in, that eighteen month stretch. Well actually there's about a week and a half to two solid weeks in there where every night the wife(or was she still a fiancee?)would come in the bedroom and say "I'm going to take my bath and then come in and boink you". And she did. I mean, there were plenty of other times, but I do remember a concentrated little slab of time where it was a nightly occurrence. I could've used a couple years of that..

So we were all four in a good place. My Dad had finally gotten to retire, something he'd wanted for years, Mom was also enjoying the additional free time, and my bro was enjoying his new girlfriend. 1987. A blessed year, at least in memory. The Roundly's and girlfriends: a cartoon family set in 1987..

The problem with real life is that everything runs its course. My folks enjoyed their retirement, but they started to get on each other's nerves(though not seriously)and then Dad got sick and died, leaving Mom to hang in there until she finally got sick and died. My wife and I, after an idyllic beginning, had personality differences that surfaced after awhile and turned us apart. We scraped by on our low-paying jobs(another tension) and much help from my folks, and oddly enough, once I got a decent-paying job we split up. And my brother had his host o' troubles(I'll let him tell you!).

And the problem with being a cartoon character, as desirable as keeping everything nice may be, is that it's static. Then again, with everything set for optimum comfort(72 degrees, no money or health troubles), the mind is free to roam and contemplate the higher truths in life- much like Maslow's "actualized" man's hierarchy of needs. Naah. Your personal paradigm would be something like a map of Pleasantville, where Elm St always turns back into Spruce St.

Stoopid Street. But all in all, being a cartoon character in the year of your choosing would be more- pleasant, soporific or not. Especially if in every strip, you're reading in bed and your wife(or was it fiancee?)comes in and says, "Well, I'm going to take my bath and then come in and boink you!"

Well I might as well face it. I can't be a cartoon character, but I'd like to be the guy in the picture for awhile longer, especially at bedtime. Seems like the best we can do in life is to have it pretty good for awhile in there, on as many occasions as we can muster. '89 was a pretty good year too, as memory serves.

At the moment I'm working on 2011.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Bellicose Spirit

It's all in whatever you've got to get out of your system. Kinda like you've gotta do unto others what they've done to you. There is a character I work with who seems to have an unlimited reservoir of pent-up anger. Much of this is I believe from a somewhat tumultuous upbringing, being bounced from place to place and of course having to re-adjust time after time. And some of it is just from his particular body chemistry. He loves Football and MMA(mixed martial arts)and is smart enough to do Sudoku and the like but prefers video games where something or someone gets blown up.

The other day, late in the day, several of us were sitting around in the break room, and he was feeling a bit keyed up. "Man, I'd love to see somebody get beat up", he told us. Not a fight as such, mind you- just someone getting the daylights beat out of them. And then relayed a story from his middle or high school days of someone getting pounded into dog meal- which still gives me the willies...

Actual violence in general gives me the willies. Just the rawness of it, the horror.Can't stand to see it. But I must admit I enjoy a good boxing or karate match, provided some degree of sportsmanship is observed(I once observed a boxer sucker-punching his opponent after the match, knocking him out cold, but that's another story)and it's not a completely one-sided affair. And knockouts are cool to see, even though you don't want to see anyone seriously injured in the process. It's the action you like to see, not the damage.

I think my co-worker has a few extra issues here, a few 'injustices' to avenge in one form or another. It's somehow cathartic for him to see someone trampled on a football field or beaten insensible in a mixed martial arts match- he's getting even with someone or something from his past. But most of us have a little of that in us, usually coupled with revulsion: the car crash we can't quite turn away from. I think here of the Thomas Wolfe short story where he relates the horror and fascination on the faces of the men and women at a dance where one man beat another man to death.

There are people from my past who have I felt treated me unfairly at times, and thus whose behavior angers me when I think of it. And yes, I've vividly imagined those folks being viciously pummeled throughout the midsection, interspersed with a couple good shots to the snotlocker and one or two right in the kisser. But strangely enough, in real life I wouldn't want to see them hurt--maybe grabbed and shaken vigorously but not really hurt.

It's not the violence as such but the motivation behind it that gives me the creeps. The three boxing matches between Irish Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti were as brutal as they come, yet it was for the sport- to win the contest, not demolish your opponent just to do it. These guys were the best of friends outside the ring and had a deep mutual respect inside it.

True, there are pressure-points that if tapped correctly will make an early night for your opponent: the point of the chin, the sternum, the temple, right below the ear(a bundle o' nerves there). One of Mickey Ward's trademark punches was that shot to the liver. If landed just right it causes your opponent excruciating pain for about 10 seconds. This seems to serve a dual purpose: if in a boxing match, long enough to be counted out; in real life, long enough for you to get a good running start and get the hell out of there!

I hope my friend from work is able to exorcise some of these demons of his. Revenge ain't necessarily the answer though, whether actual or virtual. There are a few characters from my past, two in particular, whom I've imagined beating the stuffings out of. Mainly knocking the wind out of both of them. But in the fantasy, strangely enough, I feel bad after the damage is done and end up buying their drinks for the rest of the night.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Zen, zuddenly--or, just a sittin' and a-scratchin'

The beginning of the workweek varies in its seismic effect on my system, but is always to some extent a jarring experience. It means people, phones, problems. Movement where there was repose. A whirlwind of activity, in sharp contrast to what's usually been a quiet peaceful weekend here at chez Roundly. This one was about a 5 on the Richter scale.

Well it's a necessary evil, this workweek I have to trudge off into every Monday. So I'm not really complaining. It pays the bills. Still, it's good to vent a bit about life's irritations.

As with many Mondays, I'm enjoying a Corona, my one beer for the day. Okay, it's a "fatboy"(a bit more girth than your average cerveza), but still only one beer. What has seemed to help on this, yet another jarring Monday, is simply to sit and do nothing. My Mom used to refer to it as where you just sit and scratch.

Sometimes the best course of action is no action at all.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Gilligan Therapy

Okay, tell me if this is too crazy, too off-the-wall(or just too stoopid): a form of Psychotherapy based on the old TV series Gilligan's Island.

Yeah, that's about what I thought you'd say. And maybe I'd say the same thing, but- it just might work. I mean, consider the basic premise of the show: that they're stuck on an island, unable to escape. The island becomes a metaphor for the self, imprisoned by false beliefs and self-defeating habits, unable to break free from them. Just like on the show, the goal of Gilligan Therapy is to help the patient get off the island!

And along with one basic premise of Gilligan Therapy, that we are each stuck on our own personal islands, is another: that we as individuals our selves are made of seven different components (much like the Freudian concepts of ego, superego, id and so forth):

Gilligan- in this basic core part of the self, we find our self-destructive urges, our propensity toward failure in everything we do. We as people have to work against our inner "little buddy".
The Skipper- our sociability and zest for life, our "inner child"
The Professor- our rational mind, our ability to reason
Ginger-our vanity and selfishness
Mary Ann- our nobler impulses, our selfless giving
Thurston Howell III-power and survival
Lovee Howell- spouse of above(still working on this one..)

Well okay, this form of psychotherapy is in its infancy. Still working out many details, including how if at all would Sherwood Schwartz figure into all this? And that gets into the whole area of Sitcom Metaphysics. Plus begs the question about other such TV series and their psycho-potential as forms of therapy: F Troop, for example, or The Brady Bunch(although I'm thinking that one might make the individual worse!)

Could Gilligan Therapy help you get off your island and onto new personal terrain? Who knows- but we're now accepting patients..

Saturday, May 07, 2011

movie night revisited

A pretty good movie night this past Friday, as movie nights go. We try and get one in every week if possible. The original idea behind movie night was a diversion, an alternative to Corona night(celebrated particularly on Mondays, that being quite often the most harrowing of workdays), and it was a solitary activity. Just me, some popcorn n' soda and the movie of my choice.

Movie night is now something I share with one other person, and with that, my reason for doing it has changed as well. Where before I instituted movie night to not drink(a healthy alternative, except maybe for the popcorn), I now do the movie nights so as to have time with the person who watches the movies with me. Wow. The face of movie night has changed.

Performing the same basic actions(well, as far as watching the movies anyway..), but with a completely different motivation. What you call your paradigm shift. Still the popcorn n' soda added in, though I do the soda and most of the popcorn- and the movies viewed are now our choice, not just mine. Or hers, for that matter..

Feels a bit like being on a street which changes names in the course of getting you from your point A to your point B. Same street, just a different name or names and thus a different point of reference as far as the cross streets. Every city has these, but I really noticed it in New York City, walking from the Theater District(47th & Broadway)to the Village and beyond.

So I hope movie night continues(by whatever name we choose to give it). It's a whole lot more fun with this person added in than it was without her.

these boots were made for..

Throughout our lives we get things dumped on us by various folks for various reasons. On occasion, I get things literally dumped in my front yard- usually an empty can or bottle of something or other, the contents of which long since drained away. I usually exclaim something like ^)%_&^&9, half under my breath, and clean up the mess.

Today's "offering" was a box once containing Seagram's Gin bottles. It had since been used to house different kinds of glasses and from different local establishments(one of them long since defunct), and even those had been picked over to a large extent.

The only thing left in the box was a couple wine glasses, a champagne glass, and these two beauties. In case it's not discernible from the picture, the saxophonist is Boots Randolph. Hence the boot shape of these glasses.Ahh, kitsch at its finest. My brother would appreciate this stuff.

Yes, not everybody who dumps on you is your enemy. Well, most of the time but there is that one occasion every so often where they unwittingly do you a kindness by giving you something you enjoy. So to whoever you are, thank you for the Boots Randolph glasses and the other stuff you didn't want out of the box. You made my day just a little bit better, even though that wasn't your intention at all- one might even say, despite what were at least less-than-positive wishes toward me in the act of dumping a box on my lawn.

Haven't tried out the wine glasses as yet, but these Boots Randolph babies work just fine. There is something in drinking out of a glass shaped like a boot, you can't help but feel a little bit like you just lost the game, the non-victory drink(in that case, I think I'd want my opponents to drink out of something shaped like my underwear)but otherwise very functional.

Again, thanks for the nice stuff.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

another of Rog's endless introspections

I'll just bet that there's no one in the world sorrier than me to see the weekend come to an end every week. Especially if it's been a creative weekend, one in which much musicmaking and/or blogging occurred. You don't want to let go of the dream.

In the office where I work, I'm probably the biggest curmudgeon of 'em all on Monday morning. Where everybody else arrives happily back to work, making lively conversation about their weekend, I'm a total crabass, just making my way to my desk in stony silence. Buoyed by several cups of coffee, I begin my descent(or would it be an ascent)into the workweek, outwardly acquiescent but inwardly kicking and screaming. Eventually, around 9ish, some sociability starts to return, and I chat with my co-workers about the day's topics. They usually know to give me an hour before talking to me. "Gee, did I say 'good morning'?"

My shift begins at 8, but my day starts around 7 in the am, jarred into awareness by my alarm clock or just something in my subconscious telling me to get up and get moving. From there, I feed my three pets, fix myself some coffee and down my three meds. I usually have a nice 30-minute window in which to sit at the dining room table, drinking coffee and feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes I'll work a Sudoku puzzle, which usually abates the morning self-pity by distracting my brain..

My workday ends at 4:30, at which point I return home. From there, I again feed my three pets and often pour myself a beer(especially early in the week)- and then have maybe a 60-minute window in which to sit at the computer drinking beer(and, if it's been a bad day, feeling sorry for myself). Quite often though, I'll listen to jazz with my beer, which usually quells any self-pity. From there, seven hours remain.

I look at my days in terms of "pockets of time". Each workday has that morning half-hour(Sudoku n' self-pity), that midday 20 minutes, and then roughly 8 hours in the evening. Actually, that's a fair chunk o' change. I tend to savor the half-hour and 20 minute pockets more since they're smaller, but could always make more intelligent use of the 8 hours in the evening(currently misusing it by drinking beer and blogging).

It would be nice, ideally, if I could see my life as one fluid process, as one seamless motion in which the dichotomy of "work" and "play" didn't exist. Then there would be no dread of Monday, since all days and times of day are just part of the dance. Well I'd like to be taller too, but that ain't gonna happen either.

No, work is work and play is play. There are just parts of your day, of your life, which are nicht zu fun, that you have to simply get through. No savoring involved. Just get 'em over with. I was thinking maybe I compartmentalize too much, but in reality I don't do it enough. Particularly on that 8-hour stretch between 4:30pm and 12:30am.

Another noble resolve: to make better use of my time. Especially since for the most part, only a third of it is for my personal use-the other two thirds spent working and sleeping. We'll see how it all plays out..