Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It Occurs To Me At Three In The Morning

that my inability to sleep is an indicator not of insomnia, but rather of an abundance of energy for which I do not know the cause. My inability to sleep during the day is an indicator of my having a job.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Trick to Reading Proust

It took me a while to figure it out, which is crazy considering that I've told people for years that my brain only works while I'm standing up. In fact, I blame my constant failure in school (which means my failure to get the grades I could have gotten "if I only applied myself," which was the mantra sung by every one of my teachers at every parent-teacher conference for as long as my parents chose to attend them. Having a mother who dual-majored in Philosophy and Russian Studies and a father who taught physics at West Point, the consequences of actually failing a class, by that I mean having an absolute failing grade of F rather that the relative failing grade of C when, in their minds at least, I could have gotten a better grade if I had just applied myself, would have been too severe to even contemplate.) entirely on the stubborn insistence on the part of my teachers that I sit down during class. If I had been allowed to stand up, or even better to pace, my whole school experience, and the resulting trajectory into my working life, could have all gone much better, but I digress.... What I figured out was that you need to stand up if you're ever going to read Proust to the end. Never mind the fact that you got up at 5:30 in the morning, stood on concrete for ten hours at work, came home, chased your son on his bicycle for four miles (on foot of course so you could help push him up the hills), and then came home to chaos lasting until midnight when everyone else finally got to sleep. You grab a quick sandwich, do some stretches, and open your book to the last folded page, knowing you have to work the next day. But that's what it takes, reading Proust! You have to commit to it fully, or the task will haunt you till you die. You can't read Proust by sitting on the couch with your head slumped to one side, slobber running from your open mouth, and the book lying on the floor right where you dropped it. That is folly! So drink some tea, take some Aleve if you have to, and stand your ass up! Stand up so you can finish this terrible task once and for all! Finish it and get your life back!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I'm Thinking of Changing Professions

I don't know why I would do such a thing. I mean, it's not like I was dropped into this life of grungy factory work by some unfortunate chain of circumstances over which I exerted very little control or anything. On the contrary, it was a series of deliberate and carefully considered career decisions, it was the consistent expression of my most deeply held values, it was the determined execution of an educational strategy focusing on the tangible value of labor over the insubstantial and fleeting value of thought, it is that which has landed me in my stagnant job, a job which holds no social esteem at all in today's information society and which will no doubt be performed by my counterpart in Bangladesh rather than by me long before I'm able to build a financial foundation that will support anything close to what would be considered a comfortable retirement.

But that's not why I'm thinking of changing professions.

I'm thinking of changing professions because a bunch of shit-for-brains motherfuckers in Florida are planning to burn a thousand copies of the Holy Qur'an in a few days. I'm actually not thinking of changing professions because of that so much, but because of the shocking abundancy of dumbass pundits spreading the idea that burning a thousand copies of the Qur'an is somehow equivalent to building a Mosque in Manhattan so Muslims who live there will have a place to gather and worship. That is what makes me want to change professions.

It's not easy, though, executing a career change after two decades spent in exactly one specific profession. The skills rarely cross over. For instance, I'm not sure how knowing how to cut left-hand metric screw threads on a lathe will help me in my new career as a peace activist. Or trepanning. Or, no shit, drilling a square hole! Really, I've done it! What I haven't done is outreach. Or organising. Or fundraising. I'd be useless in any those extremely important functions, and I see no hope of ever learning them. I guess the key for me, then, is to find some sub-activity, some very specific aspect of peace activism which, if I applied myself diligently, I might be able to learn in the short time I have left. Off the top of my head, the only skill that seems promising is that of getting beat down. I've never gotten beat down before, not by cops anyway, but I have been badly hurt in other ways and come back for more. I'm not bragging but simply pointing out the truth when I say that I've not sought treatment for wounds which would have sent any normal person crying to the emergency room like a pussy. I've had at least ten lacerations requiring stitches, but I've never had a stitch. Superglue a few times, but usually I just let the exposed flesh crust over while the skin slowly encroaches back over it. It's painful and takes forever, but cuts heal on their own just fine. I've grenaded my ankles several times, including once when my orthopedist (I was required by the Army to have my injury evaluated) urged me to have surgery in order to save myself from an extremely long recovery. "No thanks!" I said. I wore a neoprene wetsuit in a swimming pool once and had an allergic reaction causing second degree burns on two thirds of my body. I was in the same pool, wearing the same wetsuit, only two weeks later. Fluid was still weeping through my skin. These are not skills, but taken together as an indicator of toughness, I think they support my idea that I could be a great beat-down man. Furthermore, God has given me one more special gift which I think will improve my worth as a beat down man. I'm short and small! This is an important detail. When people see a giant being beaten down by cops, they notice only his size and think that they needed six people to beat him down because he was so damn big. When they see a five-foot-seven person like myself being beaten down by six cops, they feel sympathy. And another thing: When I go limp, I go limp completely! I can turn myself into a 170-pound, amorphous glob of freckled flesh. It will take no less than eight people to squeegee my slimy, uncooperative mass into a paddy wagon. I am a paragon of non-resistance! So get the cameras running and bust out the batons, baby! I'm ready! It's been a long time since I've had my face ripped off by a firehose. That's just the kind of refreshment I need! Pepper spray? Fucking BRING! IT!

Unfortunately, it's too late to get tickets to Florida tomorrow and I have to work anyway so maybe I'll have to take that beating later. You kinda need time off and travel money to be the beat-down man, it seems. Maybe I'll just do this peace activist thing part time. Fayetteville is a college town so I'm sure I'll get my chance at it. In the mean time, especially since I bitchslapped The Captive in three days putting my Proust project way ahead of schedule, I have plenty of time to read the Qur'an I just bought last night. Maybe I'll learn something. I will also keep doing what I'm already doing which is offering the alternative viewpoint of peace to the people I talk to every day. And to those (who are many) who don't detect any flaw in their own thinking when they decide arbitrarily to hate 1.6 billion people, who have done them absolutely no harm, just because of the inconsequential detail of their religion, I will urge them to get off their bigoted asses and GET SOME FUCKING PERSPECTIVE!

Some fucking perspective.

Thursday, September 02, 2010