Archive for January 2012

Staring Into The Abyss? Try Adding Milk…

January 11, 2012

This is the time of year that I drink tea. I’m doing it right now. I’m drinking tea. Not some sort of beatnik tea, mind you: normal, sane, English Breakfast tea. The kind of tea the mayor drinks. The kind of tea admirals and women who work in factories drink. This is a tea for the do-ers. This is a tea for a hands-on life. This isn’t a tea that is supposed to inspire you, or make you calm, or give you better skin, this is a tea that is supposed to go in your mouth and emerge victorious as piss sometime later–that’s what this tea does. This tea says ‘Thank you, that was lovely; we’ll have to do this again sometime,‘ as it makes its exit. No sentimental goodbyes, no emotional hangups. This is not a tea that gets attached. This is a tea that knows when to take a bow.

What makes me drink tea once a year? Probably the cold, unrelenting, dark and damp of a northern european Winter. Probably the loneliness that sets in as the warmth of Christmas pulls away to reveal the leftovers of turkey and unemployment; the absence of a relationship (which in March we will resume calling the abundance of freedom)  which–for now–feels like nothing less than a hazard to my health.
It’s not exactly that I’m lonely…

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There is no food in the den and bear’s blubber will only go so far; but it’s so cold bear doesn’t want to leave the den. If bear had a companion bear then the den would be warmed by the warmth of two warm bears, and bears could take turns going out into the cold to bring food back to the den. Not to mention the fact that–in cases of extreme bad weather outside–bear could always kill and eat companion bear.

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I wonder how many bears shack up each winter, just for the grub & blubber? Ah, but the bears will break your heart if they don’t eat you first!  Better stick with the tea.

I plan on drinking tea no later than mid-February, at which time I will make a renewed pledge to a monogamous relationship with coffee. But for now it’s cold and dark, and coffee has a headache. When it comes to my long, dark afternoon of the soul, I don’t know about you–but I take tea with my lumps.

 

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Because 2012 Won’t Be Super, Unless You’re Superstitious

January 10, 2012

2012 is a year to be superstitious. 2012 is a year for fear.  2012 is the year superstition returns.
The return of superstition.
The Superstition Resumption. Will you be there?

Dumb is all around; let’s give it a little heart, shall we?

In 2012 I will revive superstition in my heart.

There are all sorts of fears and tics and mutterings that have lain dormant there, since catholicism and childhood left me on the cold stoop of adulthood, and I think it’s time to wake them all up and start praying to some Gods. I think it’s time to light the fire and drink the whisky and watch the lights flicker. It’s time to believe that something is going on. It’s time to devote one hemisphere of my brain to irrational things. To ration my rationality. To fantasise about the fantastical. To ponder the imponderable. To suck out the steaming marrow of bullshit and refuse the broth of verity.

I am over truth. Truth is ethical and ethical things are tiring. Truth is a drag on my smile; I’m sorry; I can’t smile, I have a truthache.

What can we do about this? How can we populate our lives with the inflatable dolls of our ancestors? Commune with the ancients while making them do stuff for us? Appeal to the angels as umpires on the dream diamond?

Find some meaning.
Meaning is all around if you find it there. Meaning is like a small-town whore with a bill to pay. Meaning practically finds you, if you’re willing to be found. Meaning is like a bottle of hooch in a Prohibition-era backwater: if you can’t get your hands on some, you ain’t trying hard enough. Try harder. It’s there.

Know that it was meant to happen this way.
If it wasn’t, you’re screwed–and who’s to know the difference? Everything happens as it’s meant to be (the vigilant among you will have noticed a BONUS meaning plug, there) and Robert Frost’s *other road* can host a plague of locusts for all I care: not my issue.

Finally:
Pick a dead mentor.
Who’s been looking good lately? Thumb through a few biographies–mark their birthday on your calendar; make a few donations in their name. Recent deaths are hot, but don’t hesitate to go back in to the long-term dead.  Adopting the patronage of a known quantity (i.e. a dead person) is a great way to inspire you to great things, without ever having to fear you’ll disappoint your mentor! As far as you’re concerned, a dead man, is a satisfied man.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you,

xx, E

 

The Cold War Victorian: A Coming-of-Age Tale

January 1, 2012

Do you ever have the experience of hearing a word, and realising that you haven’t heard it since childhood? I sometimes wonder if in some ways I was more literate as a child than I am now. Every so often I’ll hear a word, and–like inhaling  some long forgotten yet familiar smell–be overcome with memories of how it felt to *know* that very adult word as a child, and the great portent it carried; as though I envisioned a majestic future of radiant adulthood that inevitably involved the frequent use of that word: meddling, outrage, hussy…truly there was a time when I saw great things for myself.

Reflecting on this, it occurs to me that many of these words are quite outmoded, and probably were when I learned them as well. Take ‘meddle’ for instance–as in, to meddle in other people’s affairs. No one not being paid ACTRA fees comes out with that anymore, yet I was probably walking around the schoolyard warning boys in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirts not to meddle in my affairs. For that matter, ‘affairs’ in that context sounds a bit starched up as well.
Where was I hearing these words? I lay the blame for the pretentious vocabulary of my childhood on my love of TV shows and films set in Victorian times (think Anne of Green Gables), and also on Murder, She Wrote.
Visiting my parents over the last few weeks, I’ve clocked a few Murder, She Wrote re-runs and have noticed some very affected language to go with those shoulder pads and neck brooches. Reflecting on my entertainment tastes as a child, and the fact that I was naturally inclined to be a bit of a loner, I can only conclude that I was socially doomed. Intelligent, approval-hungry children are like dancing bears to adults–call a boy a scoundrel, get a fish. On the other hand, I didn’t really like most of the kids around me at school for a reason–they were unimaginative, earth-bound lemmings who were suspicious of dreams and who smelled like Doritos. No wonder I liked Masterpiece Theater.

I suppose what I’m getting at, slowly, is that for a certain type of kid, a great amount of unlearning has to take place to facilitate decent socialization. You have to stop talking like Victorian dowagers, and start speaking a bit more like your peers. One of the fastest ways to make this happen is to meet other children like you.
I remember one girl I met in a private theater group that I belonged to for a while. At the age of 9, she was and had always been home-schooled, and spent great amounts of time extending her tiny frame over makeshift plywood settees, using the word ‘wicked’ frequently and preparing herself for impending ‘trysts’. When she wasn’t discussing wicked people and gearing herself up for another betrothal, she was bragging about her dad being a zoologist at the museum. I remember clenching my mental fists and thinking that it must be a poor zoologist who couldn’t even get a gig at the zoo. ‘Seal diagrams and dimly lit whale bones!’ I sniffed haughtily. Thanks to my Victorian programming, I could do haughty well. Still though, despite leaning on my Victorian emotions to guide me through such indignities, I could see that she was a bit lame. Within a couple of years, I had stopped bragging about my dad’s job, and started listening to his old records instead. And so a few Thesauruses worth of words went into hibernation while I learned to drink and swear properly, and have conversations with the Dorito cretins.
But every so often I hear a word that takes me back to 1989…‘beau’, ‘spinster’, ‘dagger’….and it feels providential as fuck.