white noise

 Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
– Thoreau

How do we get there?  I mean, no one sets out, cheerfully saying “Gee! When I grow up, I want to lose my ability to feel unbridled joy, cry at a beautiful sunset, or develop myself as a unique and special creature”.

We’re merrily chugging along through our 20’s, full of optimism and dreams.  As yet unravaged by failure, heartbreak… or the numbing weight of day-to-day responsibilities.  The emotional exhaustion of the hamster wheel.  We play, we grow, we learn.  We chart a course for an unknown future. Restless at times, lost at others.  We know we’re just getting started – and the journey can still take us anywhere.  It’s exciting and unscripted!  There are possibilities… there is hope.

We do that thing that is expected of us. Socially and biologically. We ‘Settle Down’.  We play less, we worry more.  We furrow our brows as we plan our future.   But we have purpose.  We are wives, husbands, mothers, fathers.  Employees – with increasing responsibility.  Those dependent little faces?  Our children.  Our parents.  Our employees.  We care for them.  They are counting on us.

Along the way to “Settle Down”, something is lost.  There is no free lunch you can’t have it both ways you can’t always get what you want.  We let go of things.  We lose our Selves.  Dreams.  Passions.  Hobbies.  Creativity takes a back seat to bill paying. Our friends who didn’t head for “Settle Down” seem irresponsible.  How dare they call us at 11:30 pm on a weeknight?  We are grown ups.

That person in the bed next to you is different, too.  Lost among the routines of taking out the trash, cleaning up the dog puke, fixing the plumbing…. No longer a “person of interest“, to steal a phrase from modern law enforcement.  A room mate.  A co-parent, if you’re lucky.

You watch him sleep.  Listen to his endless snoring.  Knowing that he’s gone, too.  You walk the house at night, tripping over your amiable, but thoroughly confused, dogs.  You walk quietly, so as not to wake your sleeping family – and all you hear is the white noise in your head.  The noise that replaced passion.

We still have purpose, but it’s less compelling.  They don’t need us as much now – that was the goal, right?  Fly away, babies!  We’re aware of the clock hanging over our heads.  We can see the finish line.  We watch the old couples…  The men who drive their wives to WalMart.  The ladies who lunch.  We listen to our elderly parents – recounting every item of food consumed during the previous week as a “scores and highlights” reel.  No exit ramp in sight.  We know exactly where we’re headed…

“Only cowards stay, but traitors run*…”

Then the white noise in our head is replaced by something else… the screaming…  No one else can hear it. Except maybe the dogs…

alone

* Bare Naked Ladies, Jane.

Rom-Com – FAIL

Random conversation with a friend a few weeks back tells me that i missed more than “Home Decorating 101” in chick school. Oh, and that thing that people do in the kitchen, where they process a variety of edible plant and animal matter into consumable nutrition. 

Another estrogen failing is that i simply despise romantic comedies. Pulling up the list of the top grossing romantic comedies, there are only 2 in the top twenty that i could sit through without puking up my colon.

Common to both: More “Comedy” than “Romantic”. My Big Fat Greek Wedding and There’s Something About Mary both made me laugh, snort and giggle in public places.

1 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
2 What Women Want
3 Hitch
4 Pretty Woman
5 There’s Something About Mary
6 Sex and the City
7 Runaway Bride
8 Knocked Up
9 As Good as It Gets
10 Bringing Down the House
11 Coming to America
12 Sweet Home Alabama
13 My Best Friend’s Wedding
14 Sleepless in Seattle
15 Mr. Deeds
16 Something’s Gotta Give
17 50 First Dates
18 The Break-Up
19 Notting Hill
20 You’ve Got Mail

The next ones on the list that i like? Moonstruck at #32 and Groundhog Day, at #40.  That’s it for the top 50.  Even considering that this list is going to be more biased toward modern flicks, as it is ranked by “dollars earned”, i only found two more in the top 100 — #65 Bull Durham and #89 Manhattan

Six out of the top one hundred? (sigh) Not sure what it means… other than the fact that “i’m not a sucker for cliches, i don’t believe in soul mates, happy endings or ‘the one’…”  (Everyone should enjoy a little Pink on a Sunday morning…  woman has a ridiculous set of pipes…)

an airport song

Sung to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”…

Screaming Baby, stop that noise!

Can’t you go ingest small toys?

Would it be to much to ask…

That you drop this dreadful task?

Then i could web surf in peace…

And you could shut the fuck up, sleep, or just wander off with your mother to the bathroom and make sure that you are not on the flight sitting within 15 rows of my tired, hungover ass… Don’t make me teach your momma how to play a game of “baby in the airport dumpster”.*

BRAINS... TASTY BRAINS....

BRAINS... TASTY BRAINS....

*yes.  it doesn’t rhyme.  true poetry doesn’t have to…

The Scene:  Airport seating area.  Me?  Laptop plugged into one of the few available electrical outlets – so i can’t move.  Her?  On the fucking phone while her toddler S.C.R.E.A.M.S. bloody murder.  For 15 minutes.  Kid is clawing at her for attention.  Rolling on the floor.  Shoving the stroller around.  Mom calmly yaps on phone.  Brain cells drip slowly from my ears.  One. At. A. Time…

Entropy

Hanging with friends amongst the Nerd Herd this week, i had a chance to contemplate mid-career directional changes – both voluntary and involuntary.  Slamming beer with two of my all time favorite drunken yabs professional colleagues, we swapped our stories… 

JS, all of 47 years old, is recovering from a near-fatal stroke and was recounting his close brush with the big dirt nap.  JP continues to work and drink himself to death at the helm of his scrappin’ high tech start up.  We joke about the difficulties of the economy, and about being fitted for our “paper hats” so we can retrain to serve burgers at McD’s when it all collapses.

We’re burnt out, frustrated, and getting tired of being in the hamster wheel.  As i stumbled back to my hotel room, i was reminded of a favorite scene from Annie Hall.

Doctor in Brooklyn: Why are you depressed, Alvy?
Alvy’s Mom: Tell Dr. Flicker.
[Young Alvy sits, his head down – his mother answers for him]
Alvy’s Mom: It’s something he read.
Doctor in Brooklyn: Something he read, huh?
Alvy at 9: [his head still down] The universe is expanding.
Doctor in Brooklyn: The universe is expanding?
Alvy at 9: Well, the universe is everything, and if it’s expanding, someday it will break apart and that would be the end of everything!
Alvy’s Mom: What is that your business?
[she turns back to the doctor]
Alvy’s Mom: He stopped doing his homework!
Alvy at 9: What’s the point?
Alvy’s Mom: What has the universe got to do with it? You’re here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!
Doctor in Brooklyn: It won’t be expanding for billions of years yet, Alvy. And we’ve gotta try to enjoy ourselves while we’re here!

Seriously.  What’s the point?  i know… we’re lucky to be debating optional career change.  Too many folks are facing that involuntarily.  But i’m done.  i just want to tend bar.  That’s it.  Pour drinks.  Laugh along with drunks.  Wipe glasses dry with ratty bar towels.  Go home.  Repeat the next day.

tune-in-turn-on-drop-the-fuck-out

As i prepare to meet with my accountant on Friday to get the taxes filed, we’re going to have a conversation about “what would it take for me to walk away?”.  i really need to figure out how much i need to do what i want to do.  And get outta the wheel… 

Fuck it.

Techno-geek giggles…

This week, i’m at a major technology forum, held smack-dab in the middle of Silicon Valley – THE technology mecca,  just 30 miles south of San Francisco.  This meeting is a true sausage-festival, with perhaps 25 women amongst the 500 dark-suited dorks attending.  Typical of such events was my first random encounter of the morning as i was elbowing my way to the giant vats of coffee in the back of the room:

Nerd:  Hey, you’re daisyfae!  Remember we met at Electro-Schlong Fest, 2003 in Cedar Rapids?  You gave a very funny overview of small, high-tech business strategies*.

daisyfae:  That’s right!  You were the middle-aged guy with glasses wearing the gray suit!  How could i forget?  [knocks short man with mismatched socks away from coffee urn to snag a lifesaving slug of caffeine]

Despite the armada of celebrants sporting Quantum Wood, there have already been quite a few laughs amongst my more twisted brethren.  The one that had me damn near squirting a suspiciously sticky cheese danish out of my nose was a shared e-mail exchange between two colleagues – one attending the session, and one back at the home office.

Titan of Industry (TI) is an old friend, who has done pretty well at the helm of a high tech start up.  Despite good business performance during the shitty economy, his company is getting just as hammered as everyone else in the current stock market massacre.  An employee back home sent him a note of condolence:

Employee X:  You said you were out this week.  If by any chance you are traveling by yourself on buisness and have been drinking from the minibar while watching CNBC, please get back off the ledge. 

TI:  I’ve just landed in the Bay Area.   It’s very strange – fires are burning everywhere, and there is the stench of death in the air. The citizenry is running around screaming for their lives as packs of giant Dungeoness crabs are scouring the countryside seeking human flesh!   Venture capitalists are stepping into the roadways, dousing themselves with gasoline, and lighting themselves on fire!   WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!   Dogs are sleeping with cats!   Oh, the humanity! Is this the end of days!?!

Employee X:  Truly devastating, I feared as much. Somehow though we will all get through this together.  Oh, don’t worry about the dogs and cats thing, that is normal for the bay area…

hur, hur, hur... *snort*

hur, hur, hur... *snort*

 * It’s not that i’m anything special.  i’m just an anomaly.  Amidst a sea of gray, blue, black and yes, even brown, suits, there is a long-haired creature with breastages wearing red.  They tend to notice… i’m blown away that at this particular dork-fest a mere 5% of the attendees have ovaries.  We actually counted about 25 1/2 women here.  Yes.  One was of indeterminate gender…

No “Joy of Sax”

During my two most  recent visits to The Park, i made a  concerted* effort to locate the missing tenor saxophone that Dad’s mother bought for him as a child.  It is a large instrument, with a case that is at least 4′ x 2′.  Beyond just cluttered, Mom’s house is small.  There are only so many places it could be – none of which bore instrumental fruit.  i (sadly) remain convinced that it’s ‘wandered off’ and been sold…

i sent an e-mail to the rest of the clan when i realized it was gone, letting them know that the sax was MIA.  At the same time, i put out an all points bulletin for two other missing instruments.  First, the alto sax that my sister, T, played in high school – that i’d fixed up for The Girl, hoping she’d follow the path of Lisa Simpson.  Second, the flute that i’d bought for The Girl when she made it clear that she would not be following in Lisa’s footsteps.  Both of these items had been delivered to my niece, DQ, for potential use by her daughter, DQ, Jr. 

No leads from anyone regarding Dad’s saxophone – just protestations along the lines of  “It has to be there” and “None of us would take it” from my oldest sister, S.  The alto was located, as was my flute.  This was as a result of some mildly annoying exchanges with S.  She has both instruments and is “using” them.  This means displaying them in her basement, alongside an old Casio keyboard, some lame-assed print with musical notes on it, and calling this her “music nook”.  (sigh)  That’s not using them.  That’s decorating badly with them.  But i told her i was happy to know the flute was still accounted for and would like it back someday.  Disposition of the alto sax was between her and my sister, T….

i’m generally not much on “things”.  It’s just stuff.  But musical instruments aren’t quite in the category of “stuff”.  Despite the fact that the first guitar i bought has imploded – i paid a whoppin’ $70 for this 3/4 size classical guitar in 1975 – the neck is cracked, keys broken and it’s not repairable.  But i can’t (yet) bring myself to get rid of it.  There is something deeply intimate about an instrument**.

You hold it in your arms.  You work together, learning nuances of touch and response.  The relationship can deepen over time, or lose fire – much like relationships with humans.  Another instrument comes along and the old one can be displaced.  Cast aside, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not…

The idea of displaying perfectly good instruments for no purpose other than to fill space in an unused corner of a basement causes an involuntary eye roll.  So it’s with that thought that i’m hoping Dad’s tenor sax has, in fact, been spared this fate.  If it found it’s way into a pawn shop, perhaps someone wanted it.  Someone bought it.  And i can only hope it’s helping some other young soul earn money for rent while he beats his way forward in life…

Gene Ammons, tearin' it up.

Gene Ammons, tearin' it up.

* oh sometimes, i’m just such a card… “concerted”?  *cackle*

**NOT a euphemism, you perverts…