Friday, October 17, 2008

Dub's just a lonely boy...

Ask anyone.  I am not political.  Opinionated, sure; liberalish, of course; but political, not really.  Yet I have consistently loathed George Bush.  First because he was the father's son, second because he says "nucular" and commits endless other crimes against the English language (poor speaking habits generally lead to loathing with me), and finally because he has, seemingly single-handedly, ruined this country.

Then I saw "W."  

Ask anyone.  I'm not typically down with Mr. Oliver Stone -- he's got a something going on there that just doesn't resonate with me.  I hadn't planned to see W, feeling that the trailers were so assaultive, the movie itself would be relentless.  But then a friend called and I wasn't busy, it was nearby, there was reserved seating, so OK.

I'd expected to feel a lot of things:  Anger, disgust, outrage, shame.  The usual.  Which I did.  But what I hadn't expected to feel was pity.  Or compassion. Or to shed an actual tear. 

Yes, it's just a movie.  But it's an Oliver Stone movie, so aren't we supposed to accept it as defacto fact?  

I'd always assumed Bush was an idiot:  Evil, self-centered, reckless, out of touch.  Now I wonder if, well, if I was wrong.  

I wonder if -- could it be -- that G.W. is really just not smart?  I kinda thought he knew better and just didn't care, but what if that's not so?  What if he's really just not smart?  An eager to please lap-boy marching to the beat of those around him, those who actually are evil, self-centered and reckless?  

It surprised me to find the film, nee the character, so poignant.  And while it doesn't change what he's done, the mistakes, the lies, the ruination, it does affect me.  

Because compassion is always good, right?  Accepting that there might be reasons?  Not justifications, but, you know, causes?  That no one is completely evil (except Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld)?  Counts for something, right?

Maybe it doesn't.  All I know is I had one of those disapproving fathers, I know what it's like to want to get that pat on the head.  Thankfully, I've never had to play out that drama on a global stage.   I've been able to mess up, hurt people and behave badly in relative anonymity.

W-ever.  See the movie, see what you think.  For me, I've got a little more compassion and that feels good.  But make no mistake:  I am counting the days until January.

Guaranteed genuine authentic

What is it about QVC?  If I channel surf and QVC is pitching jewelry, I will stop.  And watch.  For up to 20 minutes, in a hypnotic state.

I don't buy.  I don't want to buy.  I just want to watch.  The hostesses with their beautiful manicures, the shiny baubles, all those Diamonels, Diamoniques, Diamonesques....lovely.  

I'm reminded of a gent friend who feels similarly about online porn.  He doesn't want to buy, just wants to watch.  In the same sort of hypnotic state.

I don't know enough about brain waves or neural pathways to understand exactly what is happening when I see Joan Rivers or the spokesman for Kenneth Jay Lane -- but it's something akin to balmy.

You get a sense of life going on.  My friend may feel "well, someone's having sex somewhere"and it's soothing, all's right in the world, people are having sex and I'm watching it, so for now, that's what's going on.  (That what he's seeing is really one step removed from people actually having sex (or, more clearly, having a genuine intimate connection) is another matter -- or not, maybe online sex is the same thing as a QVC knock-off of a Cartier necklace.  An engaging representation of the real thing.)  

Anyway, when I watch QVC, jewelry becomes the center of the world.  There's nothing else, just the genuine, authentic, Asian inspired replication of whatever Marie Antoinette wore to the guillotine.

And in a way, that's what I mean.  The focus, for that 20 minutes, is on only what Marie wore, not where she was headed. (slight pun there)  And so it is for me:  When the entire frame is the Jacqueline Kennedy Reproduction 5th Avenue Status necklace (oval textured links with textured graduated beads highlight this stunning goldtone necklace...), how bad can things actually be?

Wouldn't it be great if everything came in our choice of colors in three easy payments?  When you feel, as I often do, that the paying never stops, 20 minutes of accessible glitz is really really helpful.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Modern Life

I was in the acupuncturist's office the other day, waiting for the weekly treatment that is designed to unblock stagnant energy and help me sleep.  On the table was the clicker we're given after the needles are inserted and we are meant to meditate for 30 minutes.  The clicker is, essentially, the panic button, what you press if you are overwhelmed, scared or concerned.  

Printed on the clicker were the words, Modern Life.

Indeed.  It does seem to me that the need to scream for help has become a sort of thing these days.   In my parent's day, it seemed people were expected to be more self-sufficient.  Their post-war ethos was one of great opportunity that was there for the taking.  Take it, grab it with both hands, but know you are then responsible for it.  Both of my parents had a great sense of personal responsibility that manifested in hard work and self-sufficiency.

In our more modern hands, this can morph into a great sense of personal culpability.  We seem to have lost the creative part of opportunity and made hay only of the responsibility part. Which leads to overwhelm, a spike in the self-help book business, and the desire to turn it all outward:  Blame, blame, blame.

I hate to be topical, but this current financial situation is not the result of sisters doing it for themselves.  This is personal responsibility gone on vacation and "me me me, now now now" coming to stay.  It's only disguised as finances.

No wonder we want a panic button!  We are drowning in wants, ignorant of true needs, blaming "them" and screaming for help.  I get it -- as I've said, rescue is a favorite fantasy.

It's just that I pictured Prince Charming, not Henry Paulson.  Or any of the other aging white men out there to help, none with the stones to call it:  We live beyond our means.  

Add the war, the endless pointless war, employment stats, housing issues, the election, few suitable men available for dating in Los Angeles....the temptation is strong to put Dr. Lu's clicker in my pocket, take it home, and save it for just in case.

The problem is:  Who's listening?  Who's going to respond to that call?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Decisions, part deux

I'm involved in a program that asks us to "turn our will and our lives over to the care of God" -- and I'm trying, swear to G*d, I'm trying -- but I'm not sure I know what that looks like.  What activities are involved?  Passive waiting for a beam of light seems wrong.  As does tip-toeing around listening for that "still small voice."  At the end of the day, I feel like I'm stumbling around in the dark hoping I bump into something that's right for me.

How do people do it?  I'm reading Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit, and drooling with envy over how she knew, so young, exactly what she wanted to do. And did it.

I feel like I've never known.  Or maybe I do, but the voices of dissent are so fast and sure that anything that comes up is shot down before it has a chance to breathe.  For example:

April: What do I love?  Baking!  Always wanted to open a bakery.  In Rhinebeck.  Culinary school!  Apply to the CIA in Napa, get some credentials, move back east, open the bakery!  (clock ticking, calendar pages turning)  Wait a minute -- I'll be leaving school with debt and no guarantee of work.  Maybe I should hold off until this becomes more clear.... August:  I really miss my family and friends, I'm tired of Los Angeles, I should just go back home, get a cute place in Rhinebeck, be where I want to be, leap of faith and all that.  I can always go to the CIA in Hyde Park....but wait, shouldn't I have a job before making the leap?  Yes, I think....September:  Attend business planning workshop.  Brilliant!  Inspired, energized, motivated, I will make a product out of my business know-how, seasonal, work only a few months per year and have time to pursue baking....wait, this will take time to develop....October:  I know!  I'll work some more, just until.

And the ancient calliope starts to turn once again.  

Here's the secret:  Just until never comes, baby.  Just ask the gerbil in the wheel -- the only way to change is to jump off.  And I'm inching towards the edge of the high dive.  I really am.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Captain Von "Trap"

The nice thing about working less is having plenty of time to think. The hideous thing about working less is having plenty of time to think.

All this thinking leads to insights which, ideally, lead to action.

And "action" is where the trouble starts. Always has been. The argument between my will and that of some other authoritative power that is supposed to have the plan. See, action involves making a decision and decisions are what I most want to avoid. Although I didn't know this. Until I took leave. And all the thinking.

I'd always thought of myself as a keen decision-maker. Certainly in business I'm known for a particular cut-to-the chase decisiveness, I just assumed it carried over to the rest of my life. Over the years I've felt myself saying this job, this guy, this city, this hat. And moving forward. Yet now, today, I look back on all that and see, OK, a thread, but not necessarily a purposeful picture.

A sneaking suspicion arises -- that I do not want to make decisions at all. Followed by an insight -- that I'm translating (at a furious pace, too), all notions of God, Universe, HIgher Power, Spontaneity (etc.), into a "rescue me" fantasy of fantastic proportion.

I blame Captain von Trapp. Of course it's a man, all of us of a certain generation (despite our rap) want the handsome hero to solve it all. I was swept away, as a child, by Captain VTs handsomeness, authority, derring-do and how he made Maria's life just by loving her. It's a tough image to live up to (and no man has, yet), and an embarrassing one to hold. Yet, there it is: I'm still sort of hoping (reluctant to say "waiting") for my version to come along and make the decision for me.

I know. Shocking. Yet I am addicted to the idea that there is something special for me to do, a right path, and I need only be open enough or willing enough or patient enough, and it will reveal itself to me.