Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ship of fools

At some point along the way I began to start picturing the child you once were while you were talking to me. Years in classrooms caused me to idly picture- but never to design or destine- the adult each little person in there would perhaps become. I remember my sister describing this feeling- and I remember it too after a season of chopping my own wood- a way of looking at the world with an ax in tow- measuring everything around by how hard it would be to chop through. It made me believe, briefly, that I started seeing people alongside their former and future selves the same time I started teaching, but then memories of my own former me come flooding back- a walk along rocky beaches in Halibut Point, angry at the adults around me for something, vowing to never be like "that" when I was a grown up. At four, I was going to get spanked for something so I dashed out the door, certain I could outrun my parents, confusing my little legs with some version of me yet to come. I remember myself annoyed at those big hairy parents for not stalking the foods I wanted, for tickling me too hard. I made solemn promises to the future me to fill my refrigerator with berries and gingerbread cake and to leave the hopelessly ticklish alone. I was going to know just what to say if my child was crying, and I would never say "don't cry." And she does, that little me, feel like another person kicking up the rocks next to me, giving me the stink-eye when I suck like an adult. Perhaps I'll get arrested for tampering with this well-circulated family photo, but it was begging for an update that only got to happen in my imagination.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We three Kings

In college I had a professor who had previously taught middle schoolers and still hadn't forfeited her condescension towards those she taught -ironically given that her subject was Child Development with all its emphasis on teaching strategies that are 'developmentally appropriate'. But who am I to say we are ever too old to be talked to like children? It's only that I want to spare children themselves of this humiliation while they still have the chance to avoid the possibility that their schooling might be a game designed by men who sat around deciding the average age at which they should be able to know the sameness in containment between a tall skinny glass and a fat short one. Despite her own inability to meet us in a place where we weren't being handed diapers to hold our poopy factoids, this professor did manage to pare her subject down to one take-away nugget, which is always the mark of a class I should have CLEP'd out of. It's the nature of the nurture, kids, and it doesn't have to stop. Therefore, I won't be roofie'ing Christian Bale just to propagate some higher-grade being, because the extra edge would soon be worn down by inadvertently allowing my child to watch Spongebob marathons and snack on paint chips. On the other hand, and even my professor would agree, it seems there's a lot of wasted energy going into trying to over-nurture children, with gourmet pre-schools and in-utero Mozart, when the most meaningful development comes from allowing the brain to begin negotiating its environment with increasing capability. I'm glad our parents didn't get in our way when we were little beasts exploring our domain. And like my professor, I still see us as children, pouring the water back and forth between the two glasses in wonder.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A deeper shade of Jay

A woman and her male friend are sitting on a bench outside the Sunshine Market, all three of us minding their own business.
"She thinks she's so progressive because she hates Bush and she's from the Midwest where that's apparently a big deal."
"Yeah, and she goes to McDonald's! It's like
hello, are you really that enlightened if you support THEM???"
"Right? I could show her some really progressive literature that would blow her mind. I just finished this... n
erble nerble nerble nerble nerble...."

They get up and walk off, and I can't follow them to hear the rest because I'm still eating slippery papaya chunks, thinking about the warmest smiles I've received today, all from Mexicans.
I haven't had an idea in a while, so I try to come up with a reliable test for the order in which we would blow up cities and towns in the future if we had to destroy some, but I sort of need Jay for this. Last night when Deb was lamenting the many dental-related routines she was going to need to go through in order to go to bed, Jay assured us of a future invention that would free us from all the mouthcare hassles, a plaque-eating bacteria of some sort that excretes a minty-flavored byproduct as it removes harmful tooth-decaying gunk. My teeth ache for this innovation, and from the Beard Papa cream-puff earlier, a lesser idea of Jay's, but still, an
idea in a land of men yelling at their lovers for something the dog did wrong.

I'm not sure when the delusion of entitlement and titling of overly-available and nearly daily
treats will finally end, when the need-chart is re-calibrated for an America that will still be able to see her toes in a decade, but in the mean-time I wander to the bakery where I'm nibbling my way across the case in case St. Helena and its heavenly bakery are chosen to be obliterated before I come back here. Just as strange as the promoting to "specialness" of daily excesses, is the odd presentation of literal treats as daily entitlements through Salumerias, cheese mongers, fuckin' caviar bars. I, for one, feel myself believing the imagery of hanging meats as something I'm to come and get my regular slice of, as something I'm to want and consistently pursue in my life, that someone (the me I want to be) is already doing this affordably, sustainably, as an after thought.
Jay is less afraid than me.
"It's lifestyle, man," he imitates the local, lazy permissiveness. It's just enough to make me
snarf my pinot grigio to stifle a laugh.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Global Position

As Wookie and the Baby (the Singstar Evangelists, also known as us) fly through the country in the Millennium Dolphin, the tootsie roll trucks, discount cheese curds, idiotically proprietary wi-fi parking lots, .50 diapers on the Mississippi, towns with names like Kickapoo and Colona, Stations of the Cross motor parks, futile searches for palatable coffee, spontaneous games like “How would you sexually harass each state?” (For Nebraska- I don’t care that you’re flat), bottom-feeding spackle and sprawl that incite thoughts of ending it all, kind and unhealthy citizens of Normal, Illinois who don’t know how to park their minivan, bricks of eventless meatloaf and the antidotal bag of Broccoli from Shnucks Supermarket, anti-meth billboards (No one thinks they will try to tear off their own skin. Meth with change that.), natural variation and synthetic sameness, Cheyanne’s sea of Port-o-potty’s (decommissioned? A sort of modular toilet retirement community?) the winding stretches of Utah and thinking about friendships we’ll continue to tend to like an inherited garden we didn’t ask for, truck stops with bottles of urine in their trash cans and nothing smaller than a 20 ounce cup, the shift from cardinals to cowboys, silos to windmills, the shwagtastic restaurants where we get that nervous feeling that they won’t understand us, and the embarrassment of America exposing itself to us one bobble-headed James Brown at a time all feed us a bit more than we can earnestly digest in this sitting. And it’s a lot of sitting. Is it possible to have your GPS and your Iphone and your road signs and your measured exits and not be lost and still have no clue where on earth you are?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Challenges of the road

Jay and I made a pact to eat at each awful poison-mongering fast food joint only once on this trip. Unfortunately we knocked the big guys out early.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Nice Midwest you've got here

If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life, that we give to the question of what to do with two weeks' vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.
- Dorothy Canfield Fisher