Snot, Day 3

OK, I think I know what this is about.

I have been rendered helpless. My vision is blurred, my bones are made of glass, my throat is scratchy, my body is trying to expel all fluids from every orifice (sorry), I’m cold and sweaty at the same time, I can’t eat and I can’t think. Worst of all, I can’t sing along with the radio in the car. My voice just won’t go there. This is the universe sending me a wakeup call, right? You are wasting your life, doing nothing with your abilities. Here’s how it would feel if all were taken from you. How do you like it? What if you really couldn’t think or sing?

To the universe: I get it! Please stop! I want to live! Give me back the equipment, and I’ll use it, I promise.

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Snot, Part 2

Slept about an hour last night, so woke up stupid. Am still stupid here at the office. My blog is my only friend. See no relief, as I have a metric shitload of work to do, and must attend a party as soon as I’m done here, which I probably never will be.

Having trouble refocusing between the computer screen and the paperwork. Head throbs, but can’t recall if I have taken aspirin lately. Best to take another handful.

Filled with love and longing.

I am not defeated.

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Where does all this snot come from? I have blown my nose 5,000 times since last night. I must weigh five pounds less, and my nose keeps running.

And why so many symptoms? Runny nose, headache, sore throat, backache, fever. What part of God’s Plan is this? God: You had me at headful of snot, OK? I got the message then, and I started to undergo treatment. Do you think I will forget? Is that why you are piling on?

Thanks for listening.

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On Knowing

“Do you think it’s possible to ever really know the real whole of someone?”

Because I have become enthralled by this girl, obsessively, time-wastingly poring over her blog, seeking like a smitten schoolboy to curry her favor, and because she asked and I can deny her nothing, I will herewith write my answer to the question. Of course I feel foolish jumping through this hoop. I imagine that she has a lot of guys jumping through hoops, and she probably enjoys it. Anyway, I would have a few for her to jump through if the occasion arose, so fair’s fair.

The question first appeared in the comment section of her blog, and it took me by surprise because I thought that she was mainly having fun with a goofy pseudo-biography I was spinning about Popeye the Sailor, trying to entertain her. Clearly she wants more than entertainment.

But I have thought about this for days now, until I have become fevered and delerious, and I really can’t answer the question with authority. So I will use the loophole contained in the question, and say only what I think.

I think it must only be possible to be in the process of getting to know someone. Whenever you hook up, you must take a crash course in Who They Seem to Be. In that first weekend you’ll learn a whole big lot of superficial stuff, and it will be the most fun ever. If it happens then that you have a genuine interst in each other, a trust might develop over time, and more might be revealed, and understood.

The whole time you are learning these tidbits, though, they will be shifting like sand dunes, changing into other beliefs, attitudes, likes and dislikes. I think this is natural for people. You can’t remain unchanged as Life bumps up against you, showing you its beauty, its pain, its joy and sorrow, its fear and its comfort.

If you are truly into each other, you will sense these changes and you will begin to improvise together a sort of soul jam, which embraces change and flows with it rather than trying to nail down any part of the music. The phrases will weave together more and more coherently until the song becomes so magical that it will seem that you are reading from the same chart.

You’ll never know the whole of the other, because it will always be developing. But every day there will be something new to ponder and to play with. And every now and then you will hit notes together that are in such perfect harmony that you will laugh and cry in wonder.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Life on the Edge

I may not be at 100% this week, a shame, since I have an Important Issue to deal with in this blog pretty soon. Yesterday, as my weekend drew to a close, I caught a cold. Or maybe the flu, I don’t know. Yet. I just know that at 6:30 PM, like a revelation, I knew I was under attack. I rarely get sick, and I’m a big crybaby when it happens, so I moped around until bedtime, then conked out hours earlier than usual.

Now, here at the office, I have many pills in me, and a big box of Kleenex Extra Soft Triple-Layer Tissue With Aloe and Vitamin E. Nos Mouchoirs les plus apaisants! These petty illnesses get me in my back. I can tell it’s not an injury or a strain: My lower back is under alien attack! White corpuscles are rushing to the scene, sirens blaring, but the enemy has arrived first and there are already many casualties. Oh, the humanity!

Since I am so near death anyway, I decided to live dangerously. I pushed the “Brew” button on the office coffeemaker before I put the coffee, the filter and the basket together! You read that right. I knew I would have only eight seconds to assemble the parts and shove the basket under the dripping, scalding hot water. Failure would lead to a big, scalding mess all over the lunch room, not to mention the shame as I mopped it up. It was a tremendous risk, but, hey, that’s the kind of guy I am. Delerious and delusional.

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Blue Christmas

So this is Christmas. And what have you done?
Another year over. You are just begun.
So this is Christmas – I hope you have fun.
The near and the dear ones,
The old and the young.

So this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
For rich and for poor one, the road is so long.
So Happy Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.

War is over
If you want it
War is over now

Listening to John Lennon’s hopeful, melancholy “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my office, and I almost broke down when it came to the chorus. I had to close my office door and get my composure back. For the poor suckers all over the world in bunkers, in tents, in caves, it’s not over. I know it never will be, so why do we keep talking about peace on earth? My Daddy told me If you don’t want to get drunk, don’t take a drink. I say If you don’t want to have a war, don’t send troops. We can’t shoot our way to peace, but we seem to be doomed to keep trying.

John’s hopeful, useless wish seems all the more pathetic this time of year.

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It’s Alive, and Stupid

I was fifty years old before I was forced to learn how to work inside a corporate environment. The Corporation slimed into my life seven years ago, by acquiring the company I work for. Suddenly, instead of working with 85 colleagues I was one of fifty thousand employees, and I had no idea for whom I was toiling (I think I am going to abandon this not ending sentences with prepositions. It’s one rule of grammar up with which I cannot put.). Their line at the time was “We like the way you guys do business, which is why we want to buy your company. Obviously we wouldn’t dream of changing anything.”

That sounded like bullshit at the time, and — surprise! — it was. I can’t say exactly who The Corporation is, because I have signed so many documents for them regarding the terms of my employment — and what I now see to be my inevitable termination — that I stopped reading them years ago. Who knows what obligations I may be under? I know some of us have cooperated with the press on a couple of investigative reports that were only marginally less sleazy than The Corporation itself, and those people were fired summarily. So I will be discreet, as that is the better part of valor (someday I’ll try to figure out what that means).

The hardest lesson I have learned it that The Corporation has only one thing on it’s mind: raising the price of the stock. Nominally we are a big-ticket retail operation. We sell expensive things to people who have to borrow money to purchase them. But in reality we exist solely for the economic aggrandizement of about fifty people, who own most of the stock.

So we do things like this: At the local office level, in order to demonstrate to Wall Street that we are proactively concerned about computer network security, we have stripped administrative access from everyone, and transferred it to Regional IT Managers, who generally don’t know their hard drives from their floppies. This “enhances” security, hardening The Corporation against hacker attacks and loss of important secret data, thus making investors breathe easier and buy more stock. Except that when someone in a local office forgets their password (and this happens at least once a week), they discover that it takes days for the overworked regional IT manager to reset their password, so they “borrow” the password of the person in the next cubicle. Naturally, this destroys all computer security as passwords are shared and bounced around, the exact opposite effect from what was intended, but that doesn’t matter — and here’s the lesson — because the investors only know about the official policy, and not what’s actually going on.

I don’t know why this frustrates me. Maybe it’s because all these corporate types are so smug and self-satisfied and well-paid, but they either don’t know or don’t care what they’re doing.

I’ve never written this stuff down before, and my thoughts are just coalescing. There will probably be more on The Corporation, and no doubt some of it will be more incisive than this, although at this time I am not expecting to achieve Joeseph Heller-level irony.

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Outsmarting Myself

UPDATE, February 20, 2006: The “extremely well-written blog” referred to in this post is gone, like so may others, but I’ll never forget the girl.
I don’t have the hang of being part of an “online community,”

which is odd because only a tiny fraction of today’s internet users have been doing it longer than me, and from the very beginning I saw it as a way to connect with other people. Before American Business got on board I had a vanity site and prowled the web for other such sites, because I guess I was touched by the beautiful need in people, myself included, to touch others, to reveal our secret selves, to reach out to the world. This, I thought, will change everything.

I mostly gave up on the concept as the web turned into television on your computer, and many of us became sort of desk potatoes. Sometime around 1998 it started to seem impossible for everyman (and me) to produce anything worth looking at on the web. I mean, how could I compete with all the chat rooms, news feeds, reverse phone directories, shopping services, celebrity gossip and gardening tips on Yahoo or MSN?

Then a funny thing happened. Just when the commercial web should have put out the lights once and for all on personal expression on the internet, Blogger and other services are reviving it! This blog, like 4.8 million others, is easy to create and update. I can post to it from anywhere in the world, and no matter how fuzzy my thinking or vacuous my writing it will always have a clean professional look, and anyone who feels like it can respond to anything I write. Not having to think much about design has turned the focus back toward communicating. With each other. In ways that were just not possible ten years ago. Maybe this will change everything!

I now prowl these blogs when I need a lift, and some stranger invariably steps up and gives me one. And I hope some day someone gets a lift from my thoughts here, even if I am not always upbeat.

So you’d think, given my history and all my theorizing that I’d be a natural here in the blogosphere. But, as I say, I don’t seem to have the hang of being part of things. Like I just can’t say or write “blogosphere” with a straight face. And yesterday I read a terrific post on an extremely well-written blog, clever, insightful and moving. I wrote a comment which was intended to be a compliment, but judging from the blogger’s answer I see that I have somehow managed to get my virtual foot into my digital mouth, a condition I am familiar with here in meatspace.

As my sainted Irish mother told me many times, “Tomorrow is another day.” I hope so, Mom.

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Last Flight

From March of this year:

Spring. The persimmon tree in my back yard has been getting leaves for two weeks, much earlier than usual. We expect a good harvest of persimmons this fall. I was out in the yard this morning, watching Molly the cat show off. She can climb the persimmon tree in about two seconds, and she likes to do it when someone is watching. She disappears into the bright green baby leaves and laughs at me standing on the ground. In a few weeks the foliage will be so thick she won’t be able to get out onto her favorite branch.

The pigeons, a dozen or so of them, are high on the power wires above the alley. It is nesting season, and they are making that gentle, sweet cooing sound that they make, probably suggestive remarks for pigeons. They are there because they know Marilyn across the alley has a weakness for feeding animals, and at some time each day she will toss a bunch of birdseed out there, and they will have a feast. Molly turns on her perch, 20 feet below the birds, and looks up at them. She learned long ago not to try and catch them. As a young backyard tiger, she has tried, and they have effortlessly made her look silly. She has stopped risking her dignity on the fruitless pursuit. The cat and the birds live together, on their different levels, in peace.

Later, driving during morning rush hour on a wide busy street, I am a half block from my destination when I am amazed to see a pigeon standing calmly in the street in the opposing lanes. He is blue and gray and black. He is not eating anything on the road. He is just standing there, recklessly daring the speeding traffic. A red 18-wheeler blazes toward him, trying to make the light. In my rear view mirror I see that the truck is going to come very close to the little guy. Too close. I can’t tell if he is hit by the truck, but the bird is moved, blown perhaps by the turbulent wake of the huge vehicle, and then I see nothing more.

A moment later I drive back the other way and I see him on the road, not standing now, but kind of sitting. As I pass within a few feet he is craning his neck around to look at his back side, confused, maybe, because that part of his body isn’t working any more. He won’t live very long now, injured like that on a busy street. I want to help him, but I have to go to work. It’s a big day at work, the last day of the month, and sales must be closed and reported, so I drive on by. He is off a little to the side, but someone will hit him, someone blasting down the road in a big machine, someone like me who has to be somewhere else as soon as possible.

Hours later, in my office, I can’t stop thinking about him. He should be up in the air, or on a wire, cooing, flying, waiting for Marilyn to toss out some birdseed, finding twigs for his nest and his lady love. But for some reason on this fine spring day he came down to our level, my level, where we have places to go and things to do, where nothing is more important than month-end sales reporting. He left his world and touched ours, and it was the last thing he did. I’m sorry I didn’t find a way to stop and give him comfort in his last minutes. I’m sorry to be part of a world that cares such a great deal about making a light. When I get home I will hug my wife and tell her I love her (and I really do), and let Molly the cat sleep in my lap for as long as she wants.

Mainly I just want to say, I’m sorry, little guy.

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Hello Larry

It has occurred to me that I shouldn’t use my real name here. I don’t imagine this will be read by a large number of people. Maybe no one will ever see it, but maybe, hypothetically let’s say I mention something about someone I know, and let’s further hypothesize that it’s not totally flattering, and that this person’s identity is readily decipherable. Possibly there is some I Love Lucy scenario in which that person might get wind of what I have written about them, and maybe they get offended. Maybe they confront me in person, or maybe they just harbor resentment about it secretly, forever. Sticky social situation. Or maybe The Corporation hears about something I have written, and I get my ass fired. Actually, now that I think of it this might not be too bad, but if it happens I want to plan it and exceute it myself, and not have them sneak up on me, the bastards.

So, not as an act of cowardice, but one of courtesy and discretion (OK, cowardice if you like), I’ll go with Larry Jones, and just so you know, Larry might or might not be my real name. Jones is definitely not, although we’ve been together for a long time and we are feeling quite comfortable with one another. I tried to update my profile yesterday so that my posts are not signed by Spider Jones (who, it turns out, is someone else), but it didn’t take, even though I was sure I had done it right. There doesn’t seem to be any way to discover how this post will be auto-signed by the Blogger system without actually posting it, so here goes, and no matter what it says at the end of this, I remain…

Yours truly,
Larry Jones

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