Today’s guest blog is brought to you by Colin Nissan on McSweeney’s. Okay, so it’s not really a guest blog, it’s just a link to someone else’s blog, which is friggin hilarious. I laughed so hard I cried; I can’t not share it. Note to reader: not appropriate for children. There might be just a little profanity…
It was a lovely September evening. Pap and I were sitting at a little red table on the sidewalk in front of the coffee shop, enjoying a cup of tea and some conversation. Oh sure, we’d later dub it the “sidewalk of a thousand smells” because the odors wafting around ranged from freshly welded metal, to especially foul-smelling dog poo, to what might have been someone smoking a big doobie just a few feet away. And sure, the conversation wasn’t exactly light, what with me needing to vent about my estranged brother being at death’s door in the hospital, and about my break-up with the dude, and about work worries. That Pap, he’s a good listener and we managed to laugh some anyway.
And then it happened.
I felt a little something wet on my left shoulder. “Strange,” I thought. “It’s not raining.”
I looked down, only to spot one of these
sitting on my shoulder. Peeing on me.
I kind of hollered and spastically swatted it away.
It left behind a bug-size pool of pee on my arm. It was yellow and everything.
I gave the obligatory “Ewwwwwwwwww!” and wiped it off.
Perfect. Like my break up and my dying estranged addict brother and worries about work weren’t enough activity for one week. A Stink Bug had to pee on me.
On the walk home, my dear sweet Pap remarked that I seemed to be in good spirits despite everything going on.
Here’s the thing. I find myself thinking about happiness lately, and whether it’s foolish for me to decide to just be happy – or at the very least peaceful — in the middle of big, hairy, ugly, painful life events like break ups and loved ones falling ill and bugs peeing on you. Is this denial? I don’t think it’s denial, because I feel pain over these events (except maybe the bug, that wasn’t painful, mostly it was just kind of disgusting and also very weird). I just don’t feel suffering over them, at least not most of the time. Author Haruki Murakami says “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” And I think it’s true most of the time.
So that’s it. I’ve decided that I’m not suffering today, in the midst of some of my life’s greatest unknowns. And that, sports fans, is where it’s at. For me anyway. For today.
And if a Stink Bug pees on you when you’re hashing out some of life’s ugliness with your best friend, here’s what you do. Holler, spaz out, clean yourself off. And move on.
This is getting tiresome, but I am duty-bound as Tactile Peggy’s political correspondent to keep the public (or at least the handful of family and friends who read this blog) abreast of the descent of the Republican base into utter barbarism. They held another Republican debate last night, and – stiff upper lips, everyone, you must look the devil in the eye if you would finally conquer him – there was yet another outrage from the audience:
Yes – some of them actually booed an active-duty soldier in Iraq because he is gay. Support the troops!
To sum up (see my earlier post, Trends In Sociopathy):
1) State-sanctioned murder is doubleplusgood. The more corpses, the better.
2) Persons who choose not to buy health insurance should hasten to die when they get sick, and decrease the surplus population.*
3) It is not enough to volunteer to fight in George W. Bush’s endless, catastrophic, hopelessly immoral thrill kill in Iraq; you must be heterosexual while doing so, or it doesn’t count.
*paraphrasing proto-Teabagger Ebenezer Scrooge, of course.
The very first thing Michele Bachmann does upon returning home to visit the folks is bound up the stairs to reminisce in the lovingly preserved bedroom of her childhood:
Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Just joshing! She was touring a meat packing plant in Iowa, which may be the least of the indignities she will have to endure (if Fortune smiles) in her doomed quest for the presidency. What the hell is it with Iowa and Republican candidates, anyway? A scant six weeks ago, Bachmann (along with nearly everyone else, apparently) was forced to consume comically phallic prolefeed before a leering, snickering world, and now we find her wandering through a forest of mutilated cow carcasses wearing a butcher’s smock and a fantastically incongruous smile. Is this any way to choose a leader, even one as manifestly goose-honking insane as Michele Bachmann?
I always supposed that right-wing sadism was theoretically boundless, but Jesus – I never thought they’d inflict it on their standard-bearers.
This, in so many words, is what Democrats should say about fairness in taxation from now until the end of time. Anyone to the left of Heinrich Himmler can understand and support these sentiments as expressed by spanking new Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren:
The money quote:
“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever. ‘ No!”
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.”
“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea – God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
Refreshing, isn’t it? Academics who enter politics often come across as bumbling neophytes or as elitist asses. I don’t think either characterization could stick to Elizabeth Warren. Watch her, folks – she’s going places.
In January of 1977 I was seven years old. And in January of 1977 Walt Disney Productions launched The New Mickey Mouse Club.
I was sitting in our family room, a cold exterior room enclosed by jalousie glass on two sides, a front door, and a wall that opened into our dining room. My parents called it the solarium. My brother, sister, and I called it the solary-room. In that room there was a cold brick floor, a twin bed that was set up like some kind of day bed, but really it was just a twin bed that we’d lay around on while watching television. And the wooden rocking chair where our mom would rock us and tickle our backs while we watched The Love Boat and Fantasy Island with all the lights turned out.
On this particular night, the producers of The New Mickey Mouse Club were announcing the name of someone from the viewing audience who was going to be selected as one of the new Mouseketeers. I think the announcement was being made as part of a half-time show for the Super Bowl.
And I was sure they were going to say my name.
I was so sure, that when they called someone else’s name, I broke down into sobbing, heaving, gut-wrenching seven-year-old tears of disappointment, the kind of disappointment that you just can’t understand. The kind of disappointment that makes you cry so hard you can’t breathe and you start hiccupping and all you really want is for someone to hold you and rock you. I ran into the kitchen in my polyester pajamas and bathrobe and flat slippers. And I cried and I cried. One of my parents came to console me for a moment – was it my mother or my father? I can’t remember now. They said that really all the boys and girls watching were going to get to be part of The New Mickey Mouse Club, so really it wasn’t all that bad, I could still be a Mouseketeer. In my little girl mind I thought to myself “You don’t understand! It’s not the same. I wanted them to pick me. I thought they were going to PICK ME.”
By that point in my life my mother was already sick with cancer. And just 18 months after that my father would die in his sleep. Already at seven, I understood some things about life and soon I would also learn some things about death. But mostly what I understood right then was about wanting to feel special. Wanting to feel chosen. I wanted to be picked. I wanted it to be me.
At the time of this writing, I’m three hours shy of 42 years old. I’m thinking about a man I love, a man who is uncertain about making a 12 week commitment to do some work on our relationship; a man who is uncertain about his feelings for me; a man who – I suspect — is uncertain about his feelings in general; a man who told me I would never be at the top of his priority list, that God and his work would always come before me. I’m a Life Coach, and so I’m onto him.
And – don’t worry — I’m onto me too.
I ask myself why I’m hanging on in the middle of the uncertainty. There are a lot of possible answers. I care about him, and I know that he cares about me, even if he’s not sure whether he loves me. I imagine a future with him. I think and feel that I’m better when I’m with him than when I’m without him. But really, none of these are the real reason I’m sticking around, pondering whether he will wake up one day and magically want to give me what I need, whether he will suddenly become emotionally available and that a 12 week commitment won’t scare him, whether I will be able to compete with God or work on his ‘list.’ No, those questions are good and interesting and important. But they’re not it. They aren’t the things keeping me around.
It’s because I want him to pick me.
It’s because he’s 48 and he’s never been married. And he’s an artist and an architect. And he’s kind and gentle and funny. And he’s handsome and healthy. And his longest relationship was seven months.
It’s because I want to be the woman that he picks. The one who finally wakes him up from his sleep. The one who rocks his world to the point that he can’t imagine life without me. I want to be the beautiful, smart, charismatic, charming, elegant, quirky, edgy, funny, wonderful woman of his dreams. I want to be the one that re-writes his history.
I do. I want him to pick me.
And so the question, tonight: what do you do when you’re seven – or about to turn 42 – and you want to be picked. And really the odds just aren’t looking so good — from the television view of the 1977 Super Bowl or through the lens of a 42 year old heart that just wants…to be picked.
The Coach, and the Mom, inside of me knows the answer here. Pick yourself. Choose yourself and your own integrity, your own heart, above all else. But the would-be-mouseketeer in me really just wants a hug. I can coach myself right out of the false beliefs that would keep me hanging on to an impossible situation. But actually, just for this moment, I’m going to hang out with that seven year-old little girl in her polyester pajamas and flat slippers. On to the self-coaching tomorrow or maybe the next day. But for now, I’m hanging with my seven year-old me.
If you drill down to the center of the mass of seething resentment, bigotry, obscurantism, and shaking, sweating delirium tremens that is modern conservatism, you will find a sleepless sadism: a constant desire on the part of small, weak, wretched people to inflict suffering on others, chiefly as a primitive demonstration of power over them. Doubt it? Check out the latest scraps flung atop the already Himalayan pile of evidence in just the past week or so.
First, we have the ghouls in attendance at the September 7 Republican Primary debate cheering Rick Perry’s prowess as an executioner:
Hooray for Death! What else you got, you hateful, ignorant fucknuggets?
That was on September 12. Again, there’s no containing the enthusiasm for needless death. In fairness, it should be noted that the man in the hypothetical did choose poorly in his dealings within (let us bow our heads) The Marketplace – so yeah, fuck him, he deserved it, except that no civilized person would say he did. It’s remarkable that none of the candidates spoke up to say something along the lines of, “Jesus H. Christ, what is wrong with you animals? You’re cheering for letting a human being die.” Perhaps next time they’ll just skip all the tedious gum-flapping and have a kitten-eating contest.
Then again, maybe the candidates’ silence was not so remarkable. To speak against their supporters’ savagery would have required moral courage and basic human decency, and they are, after all, Republicans – Republicans in the age of Obama – and if a more contemptible, bloody-minded mob of reactionaries has trooped across the American landscape since the Jim Crow era, it is unknown to me.