Friday, March 04, 2011

Depletion, or, The Struggle for Balance

Wisconsin 14. Fred Phelps. Ohio. Koch Brothers. Libya. Gaddafi. Rising oil prices. No real reason for rising oil prices. Boycotts. Demonstrations. Donations. MoveOn. Credo. Progressives. AFL-CIO. Petitions, petitions, petitions. Planned Parenthood. NPR. PBS. No funding. Making miscarriage criminal. Making murder of abortion doctors legal. Anti-labor. Anti-woman. Greed.

The preceding have been circling my mail inbox, my Facebook page, and my Twitter feeds for some time now. I’ve signed more petitions, sent more letters to my congress representatives than I have in my entire life. I have no money to donate. I’m anxious about the outcomes of these things. I think I’m stunned at how the greedy, selfish, and entitled don’t even try to hide what they’re doing anymore. They don’t try to cloak it in respectable language. They just give the poor, the middle class, all women, and anyone who has to work for a living the middle finger and call them vile names. Even more incredible is how many people go along with them. Ever since Obama took office, the undercurrent of hatred in this country has risen to the surface like scum on boiling pot of turkey soup. It’s not news that I’ve been feeling a lot like I live in one of those horror movies where the family ends up in a strange town where everyone turns out to be vampires. Or perhaps like Carnival of Souls, only I’m hoping that I’m not actually dead myself.

It’s no wonder that I’m more interested in burying myself in reading and writing. There’s something Lovecraftian about it—if I stare at the horror for too long I will go mad. There’s no point in reiterating the ironies of everything. You can lead zombies to facts, but you can’t make them think.

In other news, the prevalent theme has been breaking things into small pieces. Things can only be achieved by taking small steps. When I look at the projects I have at hand, they’re daunting. I have self-imposed deadlines, and can only meet them by doing a little bit each day. I’m tempted to plan tasks far in advance, but I know I can’t plan for more than a week at a time realistically. My energy level after work is unpredictable at best—you’re often lucky to get a blog post out of me. And even though I write every day—I don’t always like what I’ve written.

Writing happens in fits and starts; you have days when you can charge ahead and get multiple chapters written, and then there are other days where you can barely get through one chapter and you hate every word you’ve committed to the doc file.
I suppose these are not new complaints—I sound like every writer at some time or another. But between the pressure to produce and the external pressures of democracy these days, it’s no wonder I’m on edge a lot of the time.

My days are punctuated by some fun and social events, but also by obligatory doctors’ appointments. I scheduled my mammogram yesterday, and the receptionist noted that I’d scheduled it for St. Patrick’s Day.

“Yes,” I told her. “By the time you’re finished with me, I’ll need to go out for a Guinness. Hopefully they’ll be having specials.”

There’s very little I hate more than getting a mammogram. For those of you who have not experienced this—they take your boob and basically mush it between two metal plates, vice-style. Then they take x-rays of it. Boob size does not matter—it’s painful whether you’re barely endowed or well-endowed. I had a friend who once said you could practice for it by slamming your boobs in either a. a doorframe, or b. the Oxford English Dictionary. I’ve been told that’s an exaggeration, but I really don’t think so. In any case, I am sure I will need a drink after it’s all over.

Today is the International Day of Peace. You are supposed to celebrate by refraining from disrespectful thoughts and actions towards anyone. That will be tough. I may have to stay home and not log onto my computer. I certainly shouldn’t go out driving. Someone always does something so ridiculously inconsiderate and absurd, it’s hard not to bring out the choice words to describe them. I don’t know if I’d be able to restrain myself for “Peace Day”. The only way I could not get annoyed at someone while driving is to be totally distracted while I’m behind the wheel. Which, as you might imagine, would not be a great alternative.

On the way home from work yesterday, I passed a driving school student. I recalled being a driving school student, more than 22 years ago now. My first teacher was a woman who was very nice, but only showed up once. She continually blew off our appointments. My brother was sick at the time—very sick, and I missed seeing him in the hospital because I had driving lessons. Then she would never show up. And then he died while I was home waiting for her another time.

The driving school gave me another instructor when my mother complained, but it was too late by then. I don't really blame them, ultimately. I don't think I was meant to see his last days.

2 years later I had my first breast tumor. It's always frightening when you're not experienced with the frequency of benign cysts and tumors. In the face of recent young death, it didn't seem irrational to worry about more terminal illness.

Sleep might make me peaceful, unless the cat switches off the thermostat again. His new attention-getting tactic is to sit on top of the sofa and wrap his paws around the thermostat. The other day he knocked the cover off. I put it back on, but I didn’t notice that he’d flipped the switch from “heat” to “off”. I sure noticed it at 4 am when it was 50 degrees in the house.

Cats are different, though. When they do bad things, forgiving them and forgetting takes mere hours. Whereas with humans it could take a lifetime, and you may never do either.

I am reminded of the story where the god Shiva scolds Brahma and Vishnu for believing that they are responsible for their own attainment. Attainment, says Shiva, comes from grace and detachment. Grace is the natural outcome of surrender.

Speaking of—yesterday was Mahashivaratri. May Shiva bless all who celebrate. And all who don’t.

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