Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

No Context For You – February 07th

 

The anger sneaks up on you. You think you’re over it, living back in your head instead of your gut. Then in a flash, you’re back in the fire, wanting to set all the bridges ablaze and laugh while you watch them go up.

You don’t, of course. (“This time,” the little voice whispers.) You know how horrible the consequences would be.

But the anger’s like acid, wearing away at the walls of your self-restraint and decades of congealed adultiness.

Which will happen first? Will you find a solution and temper the flames? Or will the anger find a chink that leads to a crack which widens to a fissure which leads to your “responsible as-if” personality cracking like an eggshell with an M-80 inside?

So you breathe. You listen to the Brandenburg Concertos. You calm down. You watch videos of the Falcon Heavy launch. You adult.

And you wait.

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Pro Tip – February 03rd

After a very long, somewhat brutal in spots, 12-hour day at the hangar (this is the “relaxing” day after the long week(s) at work), do not drink that truly fine Ace Hard Pineapple Cider if you intend to get any more work done after your 21:00 dinner.

This is not to say that the adult beverage was a bad choice. Not at all. One could successfully argue quite the opposite.

But if there were a deadline tomorrow (and I’m not saying there is), best you be getting a six-pack of that Ace Hard Pineapple Cider and giving it as a peace offering to whoever’s expecting that deadline to be met.

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Someplace Special – January 31st

Springfield, Vermont (probably 1969, might be 1970)

(Ice and cold – could it be coming up on fifty years. This was a time of cold and isolation, everything symbolized by ice and snow, black and white with dirty grey everywhere in between. But there’s that one spot of color – green means go. And with time this world melted and warmed into a place quite beloved in my memory. I survived, as did this grainy, flawed slide, somehow now echoing across the decades. Ice and cold again now, inside if not always out, looking again for that spot of color and a way to hang on and get through. Spring is coming.

But for now it’s only the end of January.)

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…It’s Just Than I Can’t Seem To Say It Without Sounding Like A Madman!

Which is frustrating when I’m trying to be witty and wicked and clever and deep and urbane and wise.

These days, however, the bar for being a madman is shifting around so quickly, it’s tough to keep track of.

As I said to someone the other day, I had always hoped that when the hallucinations overtook me they would be more entertaining than this! I wanted Escher or Willy Wonka or Dali. Even Jackson Pollock.

Instead it’s work here, stress there, work AND stress there, and a government that more and more resembles a Three Stooges movie.

Wait.

My apologies to the Three Stooges. They were far, FAR more organized and sane than our current government.

The point being that I’ve worked hard for my collapse, I’m tired of waiting for it, and when it gets here I want it to be entertaining, not boring and scary.

My fellow Americans – we deserve a better class of nervous breakdown!

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It’s Not That I Don’t Have Anything To Say…

…it’s that whole, “If you can’t say something nice, shut up!” thing.

When this is piled on top of that and it’s all wrapped up in oodles of some other crisis with a bit of panic-inducing whatever it is sprinkled on for spice, it’s easy to just scream until you run out of air.

But that doesn’t accomplish much. It probably won’t even help you release tension. Feels like more of a positive feedback loop, the adult version of letting a baby cry itself to sleep. (Wait, I can get to sleep if I do that?)

I think it was somewhere in Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” that I heard a description of the ideal test pilot on a flight where EVERYTHING is going wrong and a horrible, fiery, painful death is just seconds away. The guys with the right stuff never had a change in their tone of voice. To try to save the day (and live) they would try “plan A” – that didn’t work – “plan B” – that didn’t work – “plan C” – nope – moving on to “plan D” – nothing – next we’ll try…

Never any panic. Just trying to figure out what the next step was as efficiently and quickly as possible before either fixed it and saved your ass or you were the first to arrive at the scene of the crash.

Panic.

That’s what it is that causes the screaming. Panic is not knowing what the next step is, or not being able to take that step, or just lashing out blindly in the hope that something you might do completely randomly and unpredictably will turn out to be the one in a million thing that works.

We’re not there yet. Still trying to keep working through that alphabet of plans. Still trying to keep that tone of voice in that flat, steady, West Texas drawl.

But I am starting to worry that the smoking hole in the desert is getting close. For all of us.

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Make Believe

I am a HUGE fan of “Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson. (If you don’t like “Calvin and Hobbes,” the door is over there, don’t let it hit you in the ass on the way out. I have standards.)

To me one of the most endearing aspects of the comic is the way Calvin creates massive chunks of his universe with his imagination. Whether he’s Spaceman Spiff or a Tyrannosaurus Rex or turning a box into a replicator machine, Calvin can always deal with a sucky reality by applying a healthy dose of make believe.

The lack of make believe in our modern adult lives was brought into sharp focus for me tonight. (I’m not, of course, counting that “make believe” with the Lucha Libre mask, the maid’s dress, the ukulele, the handcuffs, and the bucket of whip cream.)

I spent hours today taking down this year’s Christmas lights. I spent long enough so that I ran out of time with a large batch of lights still up. These lights:

The top lights here are twenty feet or so in the air. There are steps on the one side which makes getting to them a bit trickier. It took several hours to get all of these lights up, using two different ladders, with a fair amount of time at the top of a sixteen-foot ladder.

Did I want to tackle that in the dark? Well – probably. These are newer lights, they’re the better, more expensive ones, it’s going to be a busy, tough week at work, and there’s rain coming tonight so I would prefer not to leave them up for a week.

On the other hand, it’s not high enough (probably) to kill me if something happened and I fell. Just high enough to break a whole bunch of things that I would prefer to remain unbroken, things which would probably take a while to heal since I’m no spring chicken.

More importantly, how does one explain dying like that to Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates? Or, more importantly, to my boss when I can’t come in to work in a full-body cast? “You were doing what? In the dark? YOU go to Hell!”

So I went and got a forehead mounted flashlight that I find very useful. (It also makes me almost unbelievably attractive…) I got my big, long stick with a hook, also very useful.

I got the ladder and stared down my opponent.

Climbing the ladder, balancing in the dark, reaching with the long stick with a hook for a string of lights that was about five feet out, swaying with the breeze, I had my epiphany about make believe and Calvin. (This might not be the Calvinistic epiphany that is generally associated with that term.)

As adults, we’ve forgotten how much fun “make believe” can be!

The spirit of Calvin took over my brain. I wasn’t 90% blind in the dark with a flashlight on my forehead standing fifteen feet up in a tree precariously balanced while wielding a long stick with a hook in order to take down Christmas lights! NO!

I was on an emergency spacewalk in zero G in the dark depths of interstellar space to fix my broken space ship!!

And that quickly – I was.

Oh, sure, there was some part of my brain that kept me functioning and getting the job done in the reality where I could break every bone in my body and impale myself on a long stick with a hook – but the higher level conscious functions were halfway to Alpha Centauri with a broken motivator module just out of reach!

Suddenly something that was an “adult” thing, a pain in the ass job at the end of a long day when I would much rather have been sitting on my butt and getting some down time before the upcoming week, this “adult” thing was now a game! It was fun! It was an adventure!

The change in my mood and the lifting of my spirits was palpable. It was stunning. It was as close to a magic spell as I’ve seen in a while.

The lights all got taken down, I didn’t fall, I didn’t get impaled, the bittersweet job got done. That probably would have happened anyway. But in addition to all of that, something really critical happened.

I. Had. Fun. I was a little kid again. I was Spaceman Spiff.

Thank you whatever part of my brain made that happen. Thank you, Bill Watterson. Thank you, Calvin.

We don’t have to adult 24/7/365, even when we have a job to get done.

Whip cream is optional.

 

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Christmas 2017

As we wrap up Christmas Day, head into the New Year, and then face 2018 and whatever it might bring, I wish for all of you to find peace, joy, happiness, and love.

Each of which can be elusive. And difficult to hold onto once found.

Given that, above all I wish for each of us to find strength and courage. Strength and courage many not get television movies for each holiday, but if we can find a way summon strength and courage from within, we can persist, endure, and survive until our elusive moments of peace, joy, happiness, and love arrive.

That might not be the Christmas gift we want, but it’s the Christmas gift we need.

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