Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Driving Peeves, and these are JUST the beginning …

“Hi, my name is A… and I am a horrible passenger!” No, I don’t mean that lightly! I mean: I am a freak show when I am in the passenger’s seat! I will tell you when to put on the breaks, when to signal, I will tell you when your mirrors are crooked and when you press the pedal too hard! I will be your conscience and your alter ego, and your worst enemy, your own mind, and your worst nightmare. Yep: I will drive you insane! I need help for this Sh&^%t! Ask ALL my ex’es, ask my dad, ask my brother-in-law… I am notorious and unforgiving no matter how much I love you! Of course, people get defensive about it (especially guys) but I believe that is THEIR problem! It’s a free world: I say my peace and they do with it whatever they want: that being THEIR choice!
There is something about the road that brings out the worst in me, however! I guess it’s a feeling of you’re in a train heading at full speed for the abyss, you just want to make sure you have the best seat to have the least damage done! I am not sure…
As a driver AND a passenger, I have no mercy for whomever else is OUT there that’s not me! I am not sure where it all comes from (maybe from my controlling dad, maybe from my Arial instincts of “being first” and not being able to always do that on the Highway), but I am merciless when I am in the car, whether behind the wheel or to the right of it … Or rather my mouth is?! Either way…
All people that have dealt with me as a passenger will have to tell you that story, but for now, I’ll tell you the one of me as a driver with no patience for stupidity! ‘Cause stupidity is the ONLY excuse I will allow in other drivers when I drive…
There are people out there who develop emotional problems behind the wheel. I tell you, there are some folks with “issues” out there, issues that should be solved in a little white office, with a little short lady with outdated glasses on, while you (the other drivers that is) lie on a little white couch. There are folks developing, for instance, a personal relationship with the lane they’re in: they want to go from first to second lane, they signal, and then they “ride” the lanes, as I call it: they want both lanes, so they drive half-a$$-ed (literally) in both lanes at the same time! They SOOO want the second one, but they can’t QUITE say good bye to the first one yet, so they take both! They’re folks out there, having more trouble saying “good bye” to the first lane than a middle aged mom saying bye to her teen son leaving for Iraq for a year! It’s PAINFUL and draining and exhausting to watch! You want in the second lane, you have half of it, take it, dude! Don’t be greedy! Leave me the first one!!! Please!
On another note, there are people that LIVE in the car, I do believe! Whatever you and I do at home, they actually do while they’re driving! Whether it is “poufing” their hair and applying hair spray, or applying make up, or eating their lunch WITH chopsticks, I might add, or reading the good night “Cat in the Hat” story to their child, or catching up on the news from the paper, or writing in their journal, … whatever it is they have as a routine that day, they do it WHILE driving, at 5 miles an hour. Now, how a cop can drive past THAT and not notice is beyond me, but then again don’t get me started on the cops! Not the right blog!
I tell you, I am not sure whether it’s the South or what, but there are still people out there who have not discovered the blinker yet! They turn left and right, switch lanes, whatever… they never, ever, no matter how many hundreds of miles you spend behind them, use the signal light! NEVER! They never taught them what that lever is for in driving school, I guess. No use to them! I am wondering what THEY think that lever is for?! Or do they break it off, ‘cause they think it’s useless, and they take it home to use it for something else, like maybe a pleasure enhancer in times of loneliness… who knows?!
One of my biggest peeves, and the reason I will total my car again, rear-ending someone pretty soon, probably, is someone in a big, fat-a$$ SUV that comes to a FULL stop when they turn! There is a right turn they make (lack of blinker and all) and the big fat a$$ of a Town & Country comes to a complete stop and you’re wondering for the life of you WHY! It’s not rocket science, people! It’s a right turn!!!! I do not care if you don’t want your drooling toddler to spill their apple juice on their WalMart $2 bib!!! There are people with REAL jobs that want to go straight! This road is NOT yours!!!!!!!!!! Hurry the hell up! Slow down and TURN… Do not slow down, stop, take a breath, check on the said drooling toddler, and remember to hit the gas after 5 seconds!!!! Please! Time’s money here ….
Some folks out there develop empathy with other drivers: driver in first lane breaks, and wants to stop or slow down, driver in second lane, although they are going straight and their intention IS to go straight, slows down as well! I call that “empathy breaking” and they have nice, white rooms with little people with funny glasses in them waiting with a comfy couch for those folks! Just stay away from the roads and get in there first! Resolve your issues before you get a license!
If you’re in the first lane and you want to switch lanes and want to be in lane two, please remember that slowing down to a stop will NOT make the lane two drivers understand that you want to get over in THAT lane! If you want those drivers to understand you want their lane, Fokker, you need to put on the signal (remember? The one you ripped off?!)! Slowing down will slow down the people behind you! That’s ALL that does! That, of course, not unless you have “empathy drivers” in the second lane and then you’re just a lucky bastard!
Drive safely, folks, and remember: they call them “public roads” for a reason! They’re NOT yours!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Be aware …

Listen to the sound of clinking silverware and plates being stacked to know that it’s lunch time; listen to the sound of the shower running next door to know that it’s morning time; listen to the sound of wind chimes to know if it’s windy out. When you smell coffee in the air, you know it’s morning; when you see the cat cleaning himself, you know he’s ready for a nap, so it’s going to be quiet for a while; when you hear the vacuum running or the washer in the apartment below, you know it’s the weekend and the football game will come on TV shortly. So will the noisy guests.
Watch for the occasional smile on the other’s face, or frown, to read happiness or sorrow and to know what kind of tears to expect.
You know it’s winter if your clothes are scratchy and you know the heat is at bay when you can breathe water and mildew…
You know it’s lunch time when you smell BBQ wings from your PC at work, and you know it’s 5 o’clock when all the stalls are taken; so, be ready and patient to be stuck in traffic.
If you see a man in a wedding band staring at your ass in the check out line, with wife standing next to him, you know his marriage is over, as far as he is concerned, no matter what he will tell you…or her …But that doesn’t mean anything final, either …
When you start dreaming about white sand or white slopes, or when you start planning for tomorrow, while lying down and reading an unrelated book, you know it’s time to turn off the light and say “good night”.
Be aware of the world around you and of every single step you take. Acknowledge the world. Nothing is ever an accident. Be aware and learn… each day …

Friday, January 19, 2007

Random thought

We got a new “break room” at work. Tons of coke machines, coffee machines, and food machines, too, not just snacks, but anything from pigs in a blanket and pancakes to chicken wings. Pretty sweet! We got a brand new flat screen tv and all. For the cheap a$$ company that I work for, this is a pretty splurgy deal, I tell you!
The new “break room” is in the same spot our old cafeteria used to be, but we no longer have a kitchen! Just the machines … and tables and the TV.
And on every machine there is a sign that reads “This machine will not take break bucks. Thank you”…
And for the life of us, we sit there and wonder (especially the elitist English Language Nazis up in the newsroom copydesk): “what the HECK is a break buck”?!?!?
It’s a “break room” … but no “break bucks”, people?!?!?! What about peak of the evening, deadline bucks?! Will those work?! Or maybe “top of the morning, brand new, fresh dollars”?!? Will that be OK?! Why is the machine so darn picky about what “time” these bucks are produced?!? – people ask me (yes, the elitist ones) and I shrug, but in my brain you know I am thinking and cooking up the next blog!
I am assuming people in the general public that provide these machines, wonderful people as they are, concerned about our needs while we slave to do our job, concerned about our thirst and hunger, they have not yet discovered that the verb “to break” might have a past participle in the form of “broken”, I try to guess, with the risk of being elitist myself, right?! I suppose they only know the words “break” and “broke” as in “flat broke”. But “broken” is foreign! "Must be one of them English words they come from England or somethin’ ". We don’t do “broken”. No, Siree, for us, it’s a “break buck”… Really?! I mean, really? Is THAT what they meant?! ‘Cause my ear surely hurts. And my grammar teacher back in school said “ if your ear is abused, then it must not be right”.
Well, if that’s NOT what they meant… then YOU go ahead and figure out what “no break bucks please, thank you very much” means… And let ME know, too!
Only good thoughts for the commercially-providing world out there who caters to our thirst and hunger. Only good thoughts!

Monday, January 15, 2007

On my mind: More band aids …

I have had a long (it seems) and convoluted path so far, full of pain, love, wonderful surprises, death convictions and much, much laughter and even more tears. And through it all, I have come out smiling and hoping, and ready for the next hurdle and challenge.
I have known love, and passion, and friendship, and pain, and disappointment… Boy, have I known disappointment! I have known unbounded happiness, and bright smiles and hopefulness and comfort, and pain, and love, much love … And I am sure we all have!
I have dined with people as different as publishers and mayors to illiterate folks up in the mountains of Third World countries that never saw the ends of their village, when they died, at 98! I have loved it all and I am thirsty for more … With a smile, I will welcome it all, till the very last breath …
Through it all, I am more and more hungry for band aids, it seems. I have known that pain and “limit” situations teach us the most. Happiness is fleeting and so shallow! Pain, and want, and disappointment and hurtful tears are so rich, so deep! And they shape us, they turn us into the person we are today and tomorrow, and the next day. It’s the pain, and the dents that give us shape and character! Just like the chisel marks a sculptor makes in the marble, hit by hit, more defined and deeper, thus the hits of life and the pain define us and give us shape! Just like the wind and the rain and the snow shape a mountain, so do pain, and hunger, and want, and disappointment shape us. Sun doesn’t do much!
I am hungry for more hits … tempests … band aids. It’s then when I feel alive and blessed! And rich! To understand and know pain, to fight and dream with people in pain… I am grateful! This life is not useless, after all!When I finished high school, I had to write an essay for the year book…. My closing line was to become my motto in life: “I am at the door. I do not know what’s on the other side. I am scared… but I like it”.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pet Peeves # 4

Long time no …read , huh?! I figured it’s a new year, new beginning, new things to annoy me… So here I am back, for the fourth installment of my peeves!
As always, hope it’s worth a read…

I drive by this sign every morning. I usually don’t see much else but the road and the car in front when I drive, but this billboard is posted at a light, so every time I catch the light, there it is, I got nothing to do and I read it. Every bloody morning, I stare and wonder at the sense of it. It writes as follows: “ To avoid altered chicken, check the label”. OK! As opposed to what?! What else CAN you do, to “avoid ALTERED chicken”?! Maybe … “smell it and pass out”?! “Feeding it to your children and watching if they die”?! What kind of sane person sits in front of a pack of dead chicken parts just bought in the store and wonders helplessly : “Well, Gee, HOW do I tell how old this chicken is?”…. Mmm… yeah!

I wonder about this every time I drive up to an ATM. Every time. And I know, now you’re going to say I am boring: “EVERY time?!” Yeah, my life is really not THAT happening! So… in this wonderful country (that I adore, I might add!!!) of ours we have ATM’s in Braille! No, no… excuse me: DRIVE THROUGH ATM’s with the numbers on the pad written in Braille… Ok! Why?! Who is driving the car? The blind person? That’s who the ATM’s is for, right?! OK, so, the blind person is NOT driving the car… Hhmmm… Maybe the machine is in Braille because … the passenger is blind, and it’s for them! Well, then, if the blind person walks up to the ATM, ANY ATM for that matter… how can they “see” the commands on the screen to know what to do next? Maybe there is a secret code that they can punch in, to make the machine TALK to them, because otherwise it makes no sense to me! Otherwise, we just degrade into ridicule around here, trying to be so darn “P.C.”… And I am STILL puzzled about the drive through ones… which are typically made for the drivers… Right?!

I discovered that I would not hate telemarketers so much if they didn’t sound like robots! They will actually be pleasant (some days, too many days, they’re the only calls I get!) if they sounded like humans! Ok, you’re calling me AT HOME! That is my private, protected by law, sacred place! It’s gotta be important, dude, right?! Wrong! They’ll talk to you like you’re in a total trance, in front of the television, and they advertise something: “If you can spare just $0.50 a week, you can help 100 people wipe their own noses. And for just $0.25 a day you can wipe mine too”.- because that’s what they sound to me. I don’t listen to them, once they start that script! I block them out and all I can think of is to hang up! IF, and it’s a big IF, I decide to be nice one very rare day, I tell them I am not interested before I slam the receiver! Why can’t they just be normal and say : “Hi there, I am Jane and I want your cash. I believe this is a good cause and you should freaking do it, so, what do you say?!” You don’t have to make your asking for MY money more attractive than it already isn’t! Just ask for what you called for and let me eat my dinner, all right! If I want to listen to a recording or a commercial, I’ll strive a little and turn on the TV!

And this just in today: I go into Hallmark and the sales shark jumps at me, pointing out what the specials are! This is AFTER I said in my best English I can muster: “ I don’t need any help. I am JUST browsing”. Ok, she has to kill herself and tell me ALL about the specials. This is also after she’s been obviously working all day long to put up the shiny signs that SPELL the specials very clearly, in very big type! What, does she assume we all become illiterate once we walk into Hallmark?! Why the signs if you’re gonna spend 10 minutes reading them to me! If I WANT to read the signs, I will READ the darn signs! SO, she starts, anyways; any attempt I make to walk away, look away, seem uninterested fails miserably, and she does her sales pitch: “Christmas stuff is 50% off, and Valentine’s wrapping paper and bags for 50% off also, and candles for Valentine’s Day are 25% off and this small organizer that keeps the important dates in is only $5 if you buy 5 cards, and the Valentine’s stuffed bear is so much with 3 cards and if you scratch you’re a$$”... “Listen lady” – I wanna say – “I am SINGLE! I will have Valentine’s Day alone and got no people to buy cards for, and at the rate I am going Christmas will not need decorations around my house next year, ‘cause I am hiding in a hole rather than spending it, and I walked in here to get a knife to kill myself! You got THAT?!!! If so, where and are you running a special for it?!”. They should really post a sign outside or at the door: “If you want to talk to persistent and annoying strangers even after you tell them to buzz off and buy crap you don’t need, walk in here”!
I tell you. The world we live in. Keeps me awake and amused one day at a time.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

“Life’s a ride”

My dad always used to tell me to pick my music out of pieces that will stand the test of time. He used to say: “just close your eyes, and listen. And if the musicians speak to the darkest places of your inner self, and if they tell you things you will be able to find fascinating 20-30-40 years from now, and if they sound like listening to that music will not be embarrassing to listen to then, either, then you can count them amongst your favorites. Otherwise, don’t waste your time” He still says that. “Elvis, and Lennon, and Jagger, and Clapton, and Hendrix, and Joplin are never old fashioned”. And that’s been my rule of thumb in choosing my music always. I look, or try to listen to Brittney Spears and I want to scream instead. I feel insulted…
It just so happens that “Donna the Buffalo” might be one of those groups that will stand the test of time, I believe. Of course, this is biased, and totally based on what my ears can hear and how my own mind can judge. But my experience when I listen to them is so powerful that I wanted to share …
They talk about universal truths, and everyday lives, and they have a down-to-earth-ness about their lyrics, being both prophetical and mundane in a way that is definitely timeless. Their lyrics resonate with all of us, and will bear the same truths a hundred years from now, too. They just say it simply, and melodically, too:
“Used to be fooling someone
Could've been fooling me Nobody's fooling anyone now
Now because you know that talk is so cheap”
Or:“Life, love, potential love Causes so much joyHas the adverse power
To hurt you that much more”
“Times will change, that's for sureI'll be here, knock at my doorSeas will rise, seas will fallLove will see you through it allI wish you love”
Or:“The world is a wonderous puzzle Everyone a piece and every piece fits Every piece is alive making energy Energy pulls the pieces together Into a round ball
And there is love”

And the music is pure and fluid. Seldom do I find artists that are merely instruments through which the Heavens pour their richness into our worlds. They sound (and look) completely in a trance, they’re not personalities, they’re merely … things, guitars, vocal cords, drums, keyboards, wash boards and fiddles, physical presences through which millions of gallons of heavenly gold is poured into our ears, and pores, and further into our hearts and minds. They give life to sound and words. They’re gifted and patient. And they play for 3 hours incessantly, with no break, only with the urge that there’s more to be shared, and the last word has not been said yet. They bind the crowd in such a way that’s mystical almost: people that look different, in age, backgrounds, race, in every way, come together, dance with each other and hug. “It only takes just one of us to be alone” …
Being under the same roof with them for one evening is an honor and an orgasmic pleasure. (trust me, it’s NOT the beer!). You embark in this ride with them and there is no stop and you have no clue when you get there. You’re just speechless at the beauty of it all and in a complete daze at the end of the journey. The $20 you pay at the door is by far not enough to say “thank you”. They gave me energy and wisdom to last me another year.
You feel elated, and fortunate and you feel respect for people who give up all to produce art. You feel honored and richer when you leave. I also believe that nothing ever has value unless it enriches our lives somehow. And “Donna” does it plenty, in just a couple of hours.
The show was wonderful, a great start for the new year. And that’s of course, an understatement. I am always surprised how they never look tired or bored. They just are. And they just share. This type of unconditional giving is one of the few things of beauty and love this world has to offer, if you’re lucky enough to come across it.
I just wanted to say “thank you” so loudly. Somehow, though, I know, deep down, that just being a small part of the hip winding Herd for one night said just that.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lunch plans

I joyride for lunch. Sometimes, that’s what I do. Sort of, that is… I get in the car, and rain or shine, for a ride to people watch, point, and laugh. Sort of , too!
One of my most favorite rides is through the rich and fancy part of town! I want to ride the streets lined up with ancient oaks, huge lakes, million dollar homes, and quaint old-looking (all new) shopping centers. I want to pretend just for a brief 30 minutes I am part of that life!
I used to have close relatives living in that part of town; I even lived with them for a couple of months, but now, I sat myself comfortably in the middle class, and just dream of those places and of that life.
So, I get in my car, and ride away. I watch every car that goes by, and take in as much as I can from the richness of the lawns, and the majesty of the columns of the mansions. I erase every memory of MY life, and take in the new. Refreshing, replenishing, bringing new a new picture of life. I look up at the trees and they are guarding towers, it seems, of this “rich” world. All the new communities around town have been stripped naked of the trees. The old ones keep them up, guarding this world, it seems!
I look DOWN from my Toyota sedan at the Lexus’s and Infiniti’s and Acura SUV’s and Jaguars passing me by. Older people, slow as Christmas, so bored of life, and having everything. They have nothing to hurry towards. Death only, perhaps, but why hurry then??! Younger people, soccer moms in minivans, driving slow because they’re reciting the latest baby rhyme they learned to the toddler in the back, watching the rug rat in the rear view mirror! Men in suits meeting the soccer mom in the quaint shopping center for lunch, slow on the cell phones. And then there are the pickup trucks! Even they have their own luxury about them: parked on the lawns, hauling people trimming lawns and branches.
I take it all in, and dream that for that brief moment one of the houses on the lake is mine, and the handyman is doing work for me, while I run to the store for a birthday card and some cash, and while speaking on the cell with my CEO husband who’s in Florida for the monthly convention! What would he like for dinner when he comes back?! I giggle, in my dream. I dream… and smile. And the trees look pretty and reverential. Unmoved, like the people who have forgotten, it seems to be alive. They are waiting for life to happen, it seems. Life just comes to them! They are HERE. They don’t need to rush! It’s a cultish life, it looks like.
At the coffee shop, where I stop for lunch, with today’s paper in hand, business men read the stocks page, while taking notes in their pda’s, while soccer moms, meeting each other for lunch sound disappointed that there is no Talbots Kids anywhere near that side of town, and the kids are going to “pitch a fit if they strap them down and take them all the way across town to buy them a sweater”… “ but they really need some new sweaters because Grandma Ellen bought them these sorry excuses of shirts for Christmas, and she is so cheap, bless her heart, she got them at the mall somewhere, and they just look hideous on little Annie. She can’t go out like THAT! She’s becoming quite a young lady now that she is turning 4! Talbots is what fits her best”. Oh, the dilemmas!
I dream, and smile …
I like the coffee shop in the “rich neighborhood” because it plays good music: The Beatles, and Kenny G, and Michael Bolton (yeah, laugh away!) and Classical tunes – it’s a refreshing escape. Where else do you hear THAT?! And they have fancy drinks that I never order, like mochas, lattes, and “grandes” and EVEN “never-ende’s” (I am not kidding – that’s a type of coffee). I don’t order them; I just order a $2 bagel and I read the entertainment section of the paper. And I smile and dream…
For one half of an hour a month or so I get to be a decadent voyeur and just soak in this “triflesomeness” and pretentiousness. I get to look in, and wonder what it’d be like if I was looking out. What would it be like to drive those cars, ever so slowly not to mess them up, and what it’d be like to meet my husband for lunch and not say a word, since he’s busy reading the stocks or answering the cell, and he would be so bored if I told him for the millionth time that the nest door neighbor went for their third cruise this year and bought a new Jag, and she got all new veneers, too! And then drive back home with no purpose at all, or maybe back at the store for that birthday card and some cash, and then home with no purpose at all. You know someone is either rich or old, if they get cash INSIDE of the bank, after standing in line! If they have time for ALL that, and not doing the drive through: yeah, they’re either rich or old! They have time! Time is priceless to all of us, middle-classers. We notice that! Back to my dream: Would I be bored living the rich life? Enjoy it? Would I scream out of solitude and boredom?! Or would I enjoy the peace and quiet? Is there peace and quiet, or it is all pretense? Is there more noise than they let us hear from out here?!
And I make up little stories about all the people I see in my head, and I look around one more time, one last view of the coffee shop before returning to my middle class reality. I bless the God of food because this day, at the coffee shop, they’re giving away free samples of ciabatta sandwiches, so I get extra sandwich material on top of my $2 bagel! And while looking back I see the rich folks saying no to the free samples, and I feel sorry for them! They don’t know what they’re missing!
I always smile when I leave and on my drive back. It’s never a regret of returning to my world . No! No room for such things for me. But it’s always a nice trip! Very refreshing, eye-opening, recharging…

A thought for the new year: The Five Remembrances

I leave you all for the year 2006 with Buddha's Five Remembrances to mull over:

I will grow old.
This body will know sickness.
There is no escape from death.
Everything and everyone changes.
All I have is my actions.

Happy New Year, everyone!