September 22, 2009

I am a new man

Don't laugh, boys and girls ... this will change your life. Really.

September 17, 2009

Even my nightmares are stupid

Well, you know you're out of stuff to talk about when you start talking about your dreams. So here goes.

Last night--early this morning, probably--I dreamed I was in one of these stupid Saw-type horror movies where you have to do all of this weird crap or else something bad will happen to you or a loved one or a puppy or something. Along with several other people (none of whom, oddly enough, I knew, either in the dream or in real life), I was being held captive in a house by a psychotic guy.

How were we held captive? That's the thing. We knew we were being held captive, and there was some vague threat about leaving. But this guy was nonchalant enough about the whole business that at first I kept thinking, "Why the hell don't we just gang up on him and kill him?"

Alas, none of my colleagues could be talked into it. So then I thought, "Why don't I kill him myself?" I'd like to think it was because at no point during the entire dream did the psychopathic villain harm anybody. But in fact I was probably afraid of ludicrously complex booby traps or something. What a stupid nightmare.

To be fair, he did keep the mummified remains of his mother (golly, how original) stashed under his bed. But these were cool, interesting remains ... a hardened, resinous boglady type mummy, not a nasty drippy dead body. I remember thinking, "That's really cool ... I wonder how he did that."

Still, there's this vague sense of dread. When he takes a nap (yes, the psychopath(et)ic villain naps daily), I broach the subject of murdering him, but by this point, my heart isn't in it. Instead, a bunch of us apparently go out to a SCHOOL BOARD MEETING. At which point, my unconscious's voluntary suspension of disbelief comes to a screeching end. What a stupid, stupid nightmare.

If you only click one of these links, please make it the "puppy" link above! Oh, and "house." You won't be sorry.

September 15, 2009

Trust me--I'm a doctor ...

... although I must admit I'm not a physician per se. I was washing my hands in the men's room today, as is my wont (which ought to mean, but doesn't mean, that I wont wash my hands in the men's room).

Oh, Apostrophe! We cannot contract without thee.

Anyhow, when I wash my hands I like to pretend that I'm Trapper John ... M.D., that is--not Hawkeye's cooler sidekick, but the competent surgeon whose sidekick was George Alonzo "Gonzo" Gates in a show I never once watched willingly. Which is to say, I wash my hands. With soap. Including the wrists. Often up to the elbow, as if I'm preparing to deliver a breached calf. Though I guess that would make me Trapper John, D.V.M.


I'm trying to work my way around to a BVM quip, but holy cow, I can't get there from here(tic).

So I'm in the can, washing my hands religiously, not the holy water dip but really cleaning them, because other people touch stuff I touch, and other people are often disgusting, when I see the sign on the mirror telling me to Fight the Flu by washing my hands. Because if you use soap long enough, you kill the bacteria.

Now I'm not a physician. Per se. But I'm pretty sure that with the flu we're talking about a virus, not a bacterium. I guess I should keep my mouth shut, though, and let people be scared into washing their hands, because after all, they go around touching the same stuff I touch. And I don't like it.

But I do like this:

September 14, 2009

Eschewing the obvious quip

I guess Jim Carroll died on Friday. I just heard about it.

Catholic Boy is truly a classic album. Not an ounce of fat. If you don't have it, get it. If you've ever drilled into a piece of steel, you know that the shavings that come out are small and very sharp. If you try to brush them away with your hand, they get embedded in your skin, where eventually they'll work their way to your heart or brain and cause serious problems. A lot of Jim Carroll's lines are kind of like that.

September 01, 2009

In memoriam, with a touch of guilty ambivalence

Writing here is not, generally, a form of therapy for me. Well, I guess it is, but not directly ... I write this because I have a pathological urge to pontificate, an urge that borders on the papal. But it's not like I'm trying to work through issues, as far as I know, because I think that's a lot of hooey.

Once I was driving along listening to a radio shrink on public radio, and she was describing a condition known as generalized anxiety disorder: "excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry." Turns out it's a "condition" that can be "treated." Holy crap, I thought ... my whole damned personality is a condition that can be treated. My point is, I guess, that any issues I have are mine, and I'm keeping them.

But today ... today a colleague and erstwhile friend died. Erstwhile? Well, yeah. I hadn't seen him in several years, and we were not on good terms, particularly. I had heard, through mutual friends or acquaintances, that he was unhappy, that he viewed me as Part of the Problem, even though I wasn't too sure about what the problem was ... to the point where I didn't feel like I could pick up the phone and talk to him, even though I'd heard he was gravely ill. Well, hell.

Fifteen years ago, he hired me. Of course, the department hired me, but he was my main proponent as far as I could tell, and when I went to Charleston to look for a place to live, he graciously allowed me to stay in his home. He also gave me a TV. He was generous, maybe too much so. If I were able to join our friends in mourning, I'd gladly recount dozens of stories about the ten years we worked together, some of which would probably surprise those of you who knew him as a serious and demanding professor.

And, finally, we had our differences ... unimportant in the grand scheme of things, I'll freely admit. No point in dwelling on them now, though my memories, and probably those of our mutual friends and colleagues, are infused with these disagreements.

So, there's that. There are a lot of poems about death, and they're not necessarily the ones I'd quote here. But one of my favorites is Auden's "In Memory of W. B. Yeats," which reads, in part:

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Goodbye, Tunie.