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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cheetos and Jeopardy


The simple pleasures in life.

One time, long ago and far away in a land and time called college, I remember having an argument with a girl/friend who never really was a girlfriend about relationships. I made a comment something along the lines of "... You know you have a good relationship when you can just sit on the couch together and eat cheetos and watch Jeopardy."

She found this appalling. I still think I'm right.

Nearly 20 years later, I realize this is what I have. Of course the 2007 version is a little different. It involves sipping organic egg nog and munching on sesame crisps from the health food store while we watch re-runs of Scrubs after we've gotten the kids to bed. My wife says this has become her favorite time of the day. That makes me very glad. I think she needs to get out more, but it still makes me happy that she enjoys this time.

For cheetos and old friends. For memories and present days. For kids that are sleeping sweetly in their beds (at least for the moment). For restful moments and laughter. For organic egg nog (with a dash of rum!). And most of all for someone to share all these glorious riches with, I am thankful.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Process of elimination


Scat singing.

I’m writing this during a week day, but I'm off from work, so no harm, no foul. I have a job interview today which I wouldn't particularly want my co-workers knowing about. I already had a dentist appointment scheduled for early this morning so I was able to vaguely mention (Uh-oh, split infinitive) that I had another appointment I needed to get scheduled and managed to take the whole day off without having to say "I need time off to interview for a job that would take me away from all you people."

Aside: Is it just me or does the term "split infinitive" sound more like it has something to do with a rift in the time-space continuum and less like a grammatical error?

The dentist appointment was early, so I had time to kill before the interview. I grabbed breakfast at the café in our downtown library then hopped on a computer to... well, to do this. Of course now I'm editing and finishing this post at home and looking at things in the past tense. Feh. It does feel a bit like a time warp and a grammatical error rolled up into one. (Darn that split infinitive!)

So I was supposed to be off from work, but here I am/was running around town in a good suit trying to park and get something from my office, get to the dentist 2 blocks away and slip in and out of local haunts for breakfast and coffee and restroom and to my interview in the building directly across the street from my office without running into someone from work who would say "You're all dressed up. Wait. Didn't you take today off?"

This secrecy probably isn't necessary. I certainly wouldn't be in trouble if found out. It's more simply the fact that I don't want certain people panicking about the possibility of my leaving. Really just one person. My direct supervisor is retiring in April and would probably be freaked out if someone else on the staff managed to get out the door before he did. His impending "Retirement" (with a capital "R") has been in the works for what seems like two years. At this point, I think his exodus has become a bigger undertaking than the original one out of Egypt. The job I'm applying for needs to be filled immediately, so if I get an offer, the logistics of my exit would more closely resemble the Biblical one - dashing off in the middle of the night with my bread still unleavened. The others left behind will have to clean up the left over frogs and locusts and other detritus from the various plagues that precipitated my exit.

I visited the bathroom in the library café twice while I was there in the interest of making sure I encountered no unwelcome urges during the course of my interview. This was probably due to 1) the multiple cups of coffee I’ve had today and 2) the herbal concoction I’ve been taking at the urging of my wife. She was concerned I may have toxins in my system so she bought this stuff called First Cleanse at our local health food store. I think she actually is concerned that she has toxins in her own system, but since she’s still breast feeding, she can’t take this stuff and I get to play herbal guinea pig. The box contained two bottles of capsules which are apparently made of roots, berries, barks, leaves and extracts from every plant in the forest. You take one set of pills in the morning and another in the evening. They contain 39 different kinds of herbs and are supposed to cleanse all 7 channels of elimination. Now I never took advanced biology, but I can only think of 3 or 4 channels of elimination and that includes breathing and sweating so this whole process makes me a little nervous.

[Sung to the tune of the Johnny Cash song I’ve Been Everywhere...]

I’ve ingested ...
Slippery elm, nettle leaf, rhubarb root, marshmallow
milk thistle, blessed thistle, wormwood, hawthorn berry,
coriander, cayenne pepper, black pepper, horsetail,
garlic bulb, kelp weed, oatstraw and red clover.

I’ve taken everything man.
I’ve taken everything man.
Gather my dinner with a rake man.
Pick it right up off the dirt... and
Pop it right in your mouth man.
It all comes out together down south man.

(Hmm... Needs work.)

After 2 weeks of this First Cleanse stuff and nearly finishing the bottles, I can’t really tell that it’s done anything. I’m going a bit more often and with a bit more urgency than I used to. But whether or not my channels of elimination have been cleansed.... eh, I couldn’t say and I’m not sure I want to know. Speaking of my channels of elimination, I checked my messages at work while in the café and had a message from a gastroenterologist wanting to schedule me for a colonoscopy. Happy, happy, joy, joy. (By the way, shouldn’t it be a gastro-exit-ologist? Just wondering.) Last week I made the mistake/wise-and-responsible-step of telling my doctor about my mom’s narrow escape from colon cancer so he immediately referred me to get my plumbing checked out. I feel like I’m being initiated prematurely into some sort of club of elders. This may be as close as we get anymore to a rite of passage in our culture.

Sitting in the café bathroom waiting for the herbs and thistles to finish their daily commute, I can hear a distant and persistent scratching. As I’ve not read any Edgar Allen Poe in a while, my thoughts didn’t leap to the idea of the Telltale Poop or anything of a frightful nature. This café is undergoing renovations, so I make the logical assumption workers are on the other side of the wall sanding drywall or doing some mundane something of that sort. But here at a crossroads in life I also wonder if it isn’t the sound of my own future trying to claw through it’s eggshell and hatch. It’s faint and faraway, but if a sound can be ripe, this one is ripe with newness and potential.

Professionally, after a long season of toiling in relative anonymity, I’ve suddenly got options simmering over different degrees of heat on the stove: my current job on low heat, this one I’m interviewing for on rapid boil, and at least one and possibly two or three other options on medium heat that should be done cooking and come available in 2007. Out of a sense of responsibility, I’ve been trying to go through the exercise of weighing pros and cons against one another, but I think I know what I need to do. I’ll go forward with the interview today, but I know deep down that’s not the right path. I think what’s most appealing about this option is that it is available immediately. The opportunity that looks the best is something I’ll have to wait for, and I’m getting tired of waiting. Sitting there in that location mulling over these thoughts I realize the double entendre of the "process of elimination."

I hope this post does not seem too juvenile and sophomoric. [Zombies last time, poop this time. I’m probably losing most of my readers, but I could be killing with the males age 15-25 demographic.] I don’t think I’m scatologically obsessed. Having young children simply means poop is a regular topic of conversation. But I’ve never been particularly interested in what’s happening in those regions. I tend to agree with Jesus on this one:

"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’"
Matthew 15:17-18.

Now if he were preaching to our vastly overweight and/or obese culture, he might have thought twice about that statement. Nevertheless, he’s on record not really giving a crap about crap. There were other, more important things on his mind. Wouldn’t life be simpler if there were spiritual, emotional or psychological laxatives. You know, something in a tablet form, preferably chocolate-coated that you could swallow twice a day and it helped you eliminate fear, prejudice, hatred, sloth, greed and the like from your system. Maybe that’s what these other mystery channels of elimination are supposed to be dealing with. (Now I’ve done it. Used a split infinitive and ended a sentence with a preposition in the same post.).

I guess we do have non-biological laxatives as it were. Maybe you’d find meditation, confession, therapy, worship, prayer, and catharsis in this psycho-spiritual pharmacy. Sounds like mostly over the counter stuff although Catholics may need a prescription. I think I’m pretty well stocked when it comes to biological elimination, especially after the last two weeks. May not have been doing so well on other fronts. Hmmm... catharsis. (kuh-thahr-sis) 1. The purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art. Is that what this stuff is about? And by "stuff" I mean this blog.

Aside: While trying to wrap up this post my dogs have been barking at nothing non-stop for about 20 minutes. I may have to go get cathartic on their asses.

Some days writing feels like an itch that needs to be scratched (or some other un-named urge that needs to be taken care of). If that’s the case, why do this in public. Back in law school I used to journal extensively. It became some sort of unhealthy reflective whirlpool that fed upon itself and stirred, rather than stilled emotions. After graduation I entered a season of depression and difficulty and found myself writing volumes of angst-ridden poetry. This feels different. I don’t know if the presence or potential of an audience, no matter how small, makes the difference. I believe it was Wittgenstein who hypothesized that there is no such thing as private language. Perhaps he was right. Words need an audience. Books need a reader.

If you write a blog but no one reads it, does it make a sound?