Friday, June 04, 2010

Vitameatavegamin

So, a perky woman sold me some vitamins yesterday. I opened my first packet a few minutes ago, swallowed the contents (six pills), and I'm sitting here waiting for them to kick in. I tricked myself into swallowing them two at a time by doing what the saleswoman suggested, which is to put two on your tongue, making sure one of them is slippery, then swallowing them together. I did that, and it worked. Just like a cool hat trick a magician might pull.

Swallowing large pills, bitter or otherwise, is difficult and unpleasant for me and this is one of the reasons I have never really developed the habit of taking vitamins regularly. The typical vitamin is huge. And I typically choke on them. Seriously, I have memories of painful episodes where I ended up throwing away some damn pill that had been in my mouth too long, melting into my tongue. One unsuccessful attempt after another, trying to force the foul-tasting thing down.

Another reason I have avoided vitamins is that I've long been of the opinion that food and drink ought to provide all the nutrients we need. And that may well be true, especially if one is careful to plan nutritious and healthy meals. But now that I'm taking vitamins, and I do plan to continue (I think), maybe I can slack a little on nutrition. After all, with each little packet I open, I'm getting all those vitamins and other nutrients!

I can eat anything I want now. Bring on the Twinkies, the cheeseburgers and greasy fries. Give me an extra helping of ice cream, too, because it's all I'm having for dinner tonight and that big bowl I intend to down is not going to hold me for very long.

Yikes. I hope you know I am kidding. But really, the tempting thought of how easy it would be now to really slack as far as nutrition goes, using the excuse that I'm all charged up on super-vitamins, is entertaining.

The real reason, however, that I am now taking vitamins is twofold. One, I am seeking my daughter's approval. She's been bugging me about this for a long time now. Two, I have reached the half-century mark in age and realize my body is in decline.

As I stood there in the health and nutrition store, listening to (and especially watching) the saleswoman rave about how great those pills make her feel, I could almost feel myself perking up, even though I had yet to down a single pill. Just think, I could come to feel as good as she seems to feel. And wouldn't that be great. I'd get so much more done, would stop feeling so lethargic and depressed, my crankiness would be all but gone.

I might not even recognize myself! Hey, maybe I'll become a whole new person with this sudden burst of new energy. We'll see. In any event, it sounds like a good idea so I'll give it a try.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Ghosts That Haunt Me, Part III

Think I'll wrap this one up today. I started this series of posts as a writing exercise, suggested by one of the writers in my little bard club, to explore the territory covered in "Superman's Song," by the Crash Test Dummies. I had never heard of the song when it was suggested, and actually wasn't too familiar with the band either. My daughter thinks they "suck" but I am willing to give almost any band a chance, not being much of a music snob. This is not to suggest that my daughter is a snob when it comes to music. She is a musician and rather discerning about her likes and dislikes. This morning, I had the pleasure of sitting on her bedroom floor and listening to her pick away on her oud. Quite lovely, soothing.

Anyway, here is the subversive bit of controversial nonsense I came up with this morning:

Supe's Dead, the headline reads. Superman represents the ideal arbiter of truth and justice. Real men aren't supermen, though.

The city is its own jungle. Real men adapt to their environments. If criminals are the "norm," men conform to that norm. If they refuse, they fight a losing battle.

It's not fair that people are taxed for things they don't use or care about, but just try to avoid paying taxes. We adapt to cultural norms, all the while railing against them.

Marriage and monogamy, disgusting. But just try breaking free of a family unit and see what happens. No thanks. I've seen it at a distance and I'll keep the monotony. Triangle of M: Marriage, Monogamy, Monotony. The holy trinity of cultural strangulation, choking the life out of many of us who choose, yes choose, to live this way.

Where's Superman when you need him? He's an ideal; he's not real. He provides a kind of service for the comic book characters with whom he shares the stage (frame). Supercop, defeating super-badguys. In real life, even the supposedly good guys are badguys. Gotta be a criminal in society to be a contributing member of it, propping up "the system" with our monetary obligations.

Don't take me there. I'm pissed off enough as it is, without consciously thinking about the war machine, such as it may be. This beast, created by mankind, for the purpose of defending liberty and democracy. Yeah, right. Like I said, don't get me started.

Of course we need Superman! How could we live without an ideal figure representing truth, justice, and the American Way? Oh, ha ha ha ha. An American writer created him, remember? Let's not get started on that theme! America the superpower. Now there's the root of all our problems: American power. Sick, twisted, perverted "justice" that allows criminals to keep running things and the goodguys to suffer.

Oh wait, who are they? The good guys. I keep forgetting. We need memorials erected to keep them in our minds and hearts. War heroes? No, those are the standard Army-issue variety. Let's come up with some real heroes.

This takes me back to a blog I wrote awhile back, Heroism. Actually, it didn't start out as a blog entry. This was an academic paper I turned in to one of my professors, in the fall of 2006, when I first went back to school to get my master's degree.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Ghosts That Haunt Me, Part II

I killed a bunny today. It darted out under my vehicle as I was driving along a road that is surrounded by natural plants and wildflowers. I should have known, or at least thought about the possibility of something alive passing by in front of us.

My daughter and mother-in-law were passengers and thus witnessed the sickening event. We all felt the impact, the ugly thud of a tire passing over a small body. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the still and furry lump in the road, a being that only moments before had been animated with bunny life.

Goddamn it. I did that! Ended a poor rabbit's life because it didn't know any better and ran into the path of an oncoming death machine. Stupid rabbit!

It's too late to do anything about it now, though. I felt the need to validate myself afterward and questioned my daughter, who was sitting in the backseat. Could I have avoided the accident? At first, she was just upset about the bunny being killed and it seemed like she wanted to blame me; but later she blamed the rabbit for its destiny as roadkill.

It's a grim reality we sometimes must face. Things happen that are mostly out of our control and the consequences bring pain into our lives. All three of us experienced the death of the rabbit, but the "smoking gun" was mine because I was driving the vehicle that ran over the unfortunate creature.

What is also unfortunate is referring to this animal as "it" when, in fact, he or she has a gender. That is unfair, and yet who knows whether a boy bunny or a girl bunny died? Will another bunny come along and discover the corpse? Will some other bunny miss the dead bunny, or will the death have no impact on anybody but him or her and the humans who witnessed the death, who were somehow responsible for it?

How does a person process something like this? If I had been on the lookout for an animal in the road, I might have seen it and been able to avoid hitting it. But the thought did not cross my mind and I wonder who is at fault for this failure to recognize the possibility of something like this happening. Despite the nature of the area we were passing through, I was not thinking about a sudden need to swerve, slow down, or come to a stop.

Poor bunny rabbit. I regret hitting him or her, but there is nothing I can do now. RIP. I ended the life of a living creature, a little sweetheart. Somehow, this became my destiny and it makes me sad.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Ghosts That Haunt Me

The thing about Superman is he is a myth to begin with. And with this in mind, it exists in people's minds as a concept and not as a real person. The point of a "super man" is that if such a person did exist, how might our lives be different?

Well, that is a point I think about. My preferences in life tend toward reality, and yet mythology is reality, too. Superman is a fun concept, I reckon. The realm of imagination, of what can be imagined, is itself a mythological reality. Carl Jung touched on the idea with his "collective unconscious" storyline.

Each one of us is capable of imagining Superman. And since he exists only in our imaginations, we each see "him" differently. Some might imagine him as being close to (but not quite) all-wise and all-powerful, semi-godlike. In any case, he is magical with his "super" powers, extraordinary abilities, things nobody living on earth is capable of doing.

Now Clark Kent, that's a guy who seems real. And this is the part of the Superman storyline that draws us into the idea of Superman as just an ordinary guy in disguise. Speaking of "the thing is," the other (or just another) thing is, when a person imagines that another person could come to possess superhuman powers, the realization dawns that people actually do come to possess "superhuman" powers under some conditions, and this has been demonstrated many times in real life situations: saving a trapped child by lifting weight that, under normal conditions, a person could not possibly lift, for example.

I would attribute this to a positive use of the power generated by fear. In this example, the fear is for the child's life, which the rescuer wants to see continued. In other words, in life-or-death situations, fear can instill supernatural power in a motivated person. But Superman's powers go way beyond that which a normal human being is capable.

But wouldn't any properly (or appropriately) motivated "normal" person be capable of developing powers similar to those extraordinary powers displayed when faced with danger? In other words, can fear be transformed to strength in situations that aren't quite as dire as life-or-death situations?

Yes, of course, for this is a basic tool of even the beginning artist.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Charmed Life

From Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, 1605. Act V, Scene 8.

... I bear a charmed life, which must not yield, To one of woman born.

My brother breezed into town last week for a couple of days. We only got to spend a few hours together, but my time with him always leaves me very thoughtful because of the various places we go in conversation. One of the things he said to me this time is that he views our childhood as charmed. "You know, we lived a charmed life," he told me with astonishing authority.

Hey wait. I was there, too. Our lives were far from "charmed." Indeed. He pointed to the fact that we never really lived in any way that could be considered impoverished, in a financial sense. And this part may be true, but I wonder what either one of our parents would say to this "charmed life" theory of his. Our father is no longer living. He was disabled for many years and we lived on my mother's salary as well as on whatever disability payments came in as a result of Dad's illness. Quite frankly, I have many depressing memories of those days. But I kind of get his point, that we never really lacked any material thing we needed. But charmed?

Something about that idea really sticks in my craw. I think of a charmed life as being one in which things have been more or less handed to you, with very little of your own effort involved. A silver spoon kind of existence. Is that a charmed life?

What do you think. What exactly is a charmed life?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Going to California


This is my favorite photo of the ones I took recently in California. The view out the window is of Newport Beach.