I want to be parodied, too

jagger-snl

I was reading an article about the Rolling Stones in… Rolling Stone magazine and it mentioned how Mick Jagger still mugged it up on stage.

That got me thinking about Mick Jagger….which got me thinking about mugging it up…which got me thinking about the difference between being parodied and being made fun of.

I know about mugging it up.

I know about being made fun of, too.  That’s not always a whole lot of fun.  It never happened all that much…but when it did it was kind of a pain in the rear.

But being parodied?  That would be a new experience.

Parodied has some power behind it…like something you did had so much attention grabbing validity that someone couldn’t help but tweak it a little to…make fun of you.

Wait a minute…maybe they aren’t so different after all?

Maybe when someone parodies you, one of your handlers could say that it was hilarious and congratulate you on being noticed.  Having a squadron of brown nosers around would be helpful to deflect some of the confusion that comes when you’re made fun of….er, parodied.

I don’t really know…it might not be such a blessing to be noticed.

I’m noticed right now when I drive that white Jeep around.  I am a presence…I am the mailman.

But nobodies going to parody me…it would be too hard to set it up correctly.  It is something I do where I am noticed…but not known.

As much as possible…for someone who is seen everyday by the whole community…I am incognito.

Maybe that’s for the best.

When a customer gets upset because their mailbox door fell open, it’s probably good that we don’t have a really close relationship.

Anonymity can be a good thing.

So what it comes down to is another one of those “be careful what you pray for” kind of situations.  People make their “deal with the devil” and then bemoan all the bad things that piggy back in with the resulting fame…they complain when they’re well-known enough to be parodied but do everything they can to stay in the public’s attention…even if it’s something obviously desperate and pathetic.

Maybe what I really want is to just get PAID.

The best scenario would be to lay low, do the work…and get paid.  Get paid over and over.  Over and over….many times in a row.

01 I Need a Dollar

Maybe what I want is the Scrooge McDuck ability to body surf on the giant piles of money…but do it in a house that people look at and say, ” I wonder what goes on in there?”.

When our ship comes in…why then all our troubles will be over.

At some point I suppose we’d get tired of looking at that big boat, though.

I still think that the real riches are the ones we carry with us…rich or poor, what’s inside is what lasts…what we carry inside, in our hearts and spirit,  is the only thing that really matters.

But some major jack sure does GREEEEZE SOME WHEELS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fear the quiet

quiet-world

I worked at a radio station for a while right before Jenny and I were married.

We had a phrase for what happened when we weren’t paying attention ( or we ran out of song when we put “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”* on when we needed a bathroom break).

When nothing was happening…nothing was going out on the air and everything was quiet…we called it dead air.

Dead air was a bad thing.  It was probably worse than filling up the time with bad music or even worse commentary.  It was one of the worst things that could happen at the radio station…to have even a momentary lapse in the noise was embarrassing.

Lately, I’ve stopped listening to anything while I’m delivering the mail.

I used to listen to audio books, music…the radio…maybe even some talk radio.  I would listen to anything to fill up the space…listen to anything to fill up the silence.

I think that I must have felt that for the sake of efficiency, I should be learning something every minute.  If I wasn’t learning something, I felt guilty somehow…like if I wasn’t listening to something that had a chance to educate me, that I was slumming or something.

When I was at the radio station, one of my first jobs was “riding the board” during a bunch of different radio shows.  Riding the board only meant that I sat and flipped the correct switches, turned the correct knobs, so that the talk radio would sound right over the air.

It was the glamor of show business in action.

One of the guys that I sat through every day was Rush Limbaugh.

When you have a chance to listen to him sporadically over a long period, say like twenty years or so, you realize what a load of hyped up bile it really all is.

Listening to him now, I realize that it’s the same exact show, only different players.

But the thing about it is…we sometimes treat it like news.  We act as if Glenn Beck or any of the other commentators are the only ones telling us the “truth”…because you know we wouldn’t get the “truth” from the liberal media.

I wonder how altruistic these personalities would be if they weren’t getting paid.  I don’t think that their concern for the public and their concern for the “news” runs so deep that if they weren’t making some deep jack peddling the “truth”…that they’d continue to sell it so hard.

Enough of my little rant…it’s really just, er, urinating in the breeze, anyway.

But that is why it’s such a new-found pleasure to turn off all the noise when I’m delivering the mail.

Without the noise, I do realize that to call it quiet isn’t really accurate.

I hear the wind and the rustling of the mail before I put it in the boxes.

I hear every noise my car makes before it breaks down.

I might hear a hawk.

We live our own news every day.  Our lives are the “news” that really matters….but we act like a good, responsible citizen is going to be up in everybody else’s business all the time. “Don’t you care about the world?”, some might wonder. Sure I do, I’d answer, but in the end I wonder if being able to recite what’s going on everywhere in the world isn’t just a distraction from what might not be going on in our own lives?  We fill our minds with someone else’s tragedy so that we don’t recognize our own failings.

That’s why I love the silence.

I am learning not to fear the quiet.

 

*  “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” is a song by a band called Traffic that’s 11 minutes and 40 seconds long.  It was the perfect song to put on if we needed to take a potty break while we were doing a show.

image from here.

…and live like a flower

cs boys cover

 

I was going to use this song in yesterday’s blog post.

It was my daughter’s eighteenth birthday…and I remembered the line in the song that said “and live like a flower”.

What could be more fitting than that for my little girl?  “Live like a flower…”  sounds pretty nice…and it reminded me of her.

Then I listened to the song again for the first time in 30 years.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LONGING, DESIRE, AND SEXUAL AWAKENING !!!  IT’S ALL ABOUT AN ADULT REVISITING HOW THAT FELT TO FIRST HAVE THOSE STRONG FEELINGS.

IT’S ABOUT GUILTY FEELINGS!!!

NOT ON MY WATCH !!  NOT FOR MY DAUGHTER !!

No sex songs for my daughter’s birthday.

But, revisiting this song reminded me of why I thought it was a great song all those years ago.

Here’s the lyrics:

I’m home again in my old narrow bed
Where I grew tall and my feet hung over the end
The low beam room with the window looking out
On the soft summer garden
Where the boys grew in the trees

Here I grew guilty
And no one was at fault
Frightened by the power in every innocent thought
And the silent understanding passing down
From daughter to daughter
Let the boys grow in the trees

Do you go to them or do you let them come to you
Do you stand in back afraid that you’ll intrude
Deny yourself and hope someone will see
And live like a flower
While the boys grew in the trees

Last night I slept in sheets the colour of fire
Tonight I lie alone again and curse my own desires
Sentenced first to burn and then to freeze
And watch by the window
Where the boys grew in the trees

“Sentenced first to burn and then to freeze”…I love that line.

The thing about a lot of these songwriters is I think that we forget what fine craftsmen some of them are.

When we think of Dolly Parton, we think about breasts and amusement parks…and, wait a minute…wasn’t she in a bunch of movies, too?

When we think of Carly Simon, I think that sometimes we think of her marriage to James Taylor…or how she looks…or any thing that draws our attention away from the songwriting.

Jackson Browne wailed on Daryl Hannah…and wrote a bunch of great, sensitive, insightful songs, too.

Artists court fame.  There’s no great revelation in that thought…you have to have some level of fame to get paid.  We need to be recognized.  But I think the only way that your personal life doesn’t eventually take center stage is to remain anonymous.

Maybe the only thing that does is reduce the scale of the misdirection of attention.  Maybe then you only have a small circle of friends talking about how “you’re a crummy tipper”…and forgetting that you painted the only anonymous Sistine Chapel that will ever exist on this earth?  Same dance…only it’s a bathroom instead of a ballroom.

I really don’t know…but I do know that this is a beautiful song…that would have been innocently inappropriate for my little girl’s birthday.

Daddy needs to listen to the songs before he posts.

 

birthday

100_2474

01 Track 1

It’s 4:30 in the morning.

At 5:30, I’m going to wake my wife up so she can make some blueberry muffins and decorate the kitchen.

No…it’s not some perverse chauvinistic demand.  I don’t make her wake up early everyday so that she can make me some muffins. It’s not like that.

Today is a special day.  Today is our first baby’s birthday.

Today our first baby turns eighteen.

I don’t know if a parent ever completely makes the jump from “first baby” thoughts to “now we have a grownup daughter”.  I think that in my mind, she’ll always be little…at least in some corner of my mind, I’ll hold on to those memories like my life depended on it.

“Like my life depended on it…”  That’s kind of an odd and strong way to put it…but when you get down to it, I guess my life really does depend on all the good memories my family has given me.

When we brought her home from the hospital for the first time, it felt like she might break when we put her into her thrift store car seat for the first time.

It was terrifying and exciting.

How do you handle a baby?  How do you handle your baby?  She was the first baby I’d ever held that I wasn’t going to be handing back to the parents when I was finished holding her.

We were the parents.  There wasn’t anyone who we would ever hand her off to.

And now…she’s eighteen.

In some states, that means that she’s a grownup…

When we put her into her car seat in that old Plymouth Valiant, it was only that single moment that we were thinking about.  You can plan…and suppose…and expect…and maybe even fear a little before a baby is born…but when your child finally arrives and you’re holding her for the first time, it’s only that single moment that you’re aware of.

Now, eighteen years later, “that single moment” and all the other single moments fill a deep pool.  We have a lot of good memories.

There isn’t a lot more to say than that.

I love Jenny and I love our children.

They make me who I am.

Today our first baby turns eighteen.

Happy Birthday, Zoe!

You better turn off Yo Yo before you play this one….

01 Birthday

 

 

kenny rankin in the mole hole

I had a friend at camp who carved out a place to stay underneath the camp library.

He dug it out of the earth…and some rough sawn lumber and a used mattress later, he had one of the few private “cabins” on the property.

Smart idea.

Anyway, it was called the “mole hole”.

Kenny Rankin never made a personal appearance in the “mole hole”..but that was where I first heard him, playing on an old boom box.

Revelatory is a word that gets thrown around too easily sometimes, but in this case it probably applied.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing quite like this.

There are people who do anything they can to be a star.  Any gimmick is a potential option for them.  You can tell that it’s not really about the music…it’s about the marketing.

Unfortunately, the real artists seem to be few and far between some days.

Kenny Rankin was one of those “real artists”.  Just a guy and his guitar…and sometimes a full orchestra to back him up.  That’s all he needed to produce some really beautiful music.

I heard a lot of great music sitting outside the mole hole…even made some myself, or so I thought at the time….and it’s still a good thing to get a chance to hear some Kenny Rankin.

That’s the amazing thing about friendships….the good music that I’ve been introduced to by my friends is pretty priceless.

Mole Hole….Kenny Rankin…all the other musicians I wouldn’t have known about….Thankyou, my friends, for that!

 

Duff’s

Double-Quick-smorgasbord

Memory is a strange chain.

I guess it’s strange because it never seems to be very linear.  It has links that spread out to the sides, veering off into odd directions, randomly adding to the total length.

Until you start walking its length, you don’t realize how many weird diversions it takes…or how strongly some of the meanderings are stuck up in your head.

I heard from a friend from high school recently…and it got me thinking about a place called Duff’s Smorgasbord that we used to eat at.

I’m not sure exactly where Duff’s was.  I think it might have been in the old Woolco building….I don’t really know.  I do remember that the bulk of the building was an antique mall…and back in one of the rear corners was this buffet called Duff’s.

It was perfect for a bunch of teenage boys.  It was cheap and nasty with fried chicken and ham and pink foam jello and an ice cream bar.

All you can eat for 2.45.

What more could you ask for in an eating establishment?

I don’t remember it ever being very busy when we were there….but we never took that sign as any kind of warning.

I think that when you’re in your teens that quantity usually trumps quality, anyway. That was something that Duff’s excelled at.  There was always a lot of food out in the warming trays.

I remember this one time when we got off on some weird tangent, falling on the floor laughing, milk shooting out of our noses.  We were out of control.

I think the question that started all the hilarity was “So…what time do you get off?”

Teenage boys can turn anything into nasty.  I didn’t say witty…or really intelligent…just nasty.  But to a teenage boy, nasty can be hilarious.

So there we were, rolling and snorting, laughing our heads off because a simple question could be tweaked just a little and turned into something that to our sophisticated intellects became nastily hilarious.

Nasty hilarity at the food bar.  It doesn’t get much more completely satisfying than that.

Other than trying not to laugh in church, I don’t remember too many times when I’ve laughed as hard.

I guess “nasty” is relative.  If we had been confronted with real, full on nasty our reactions would probably have been less appreciative.  From what I remember, I had some pretty nice friends…more “silly nasty” than “disgusting nasty”.

Typical teenage nasty.

I don’t really understand how memory works.  I don’t understand what triggers the things we remember.

I don’t have these flashbacks every time I go back up to the food bar.

The memory of snorting milk out of my nose isn’t so strong that I can’t get another helping of garlic green beans without thinking about it.

Memory is a strange chain…and sometimes it gets kind of heavy to drag it around…but there are links that I’m glad are part of it.

Sitting with my friends, laughing our heads off, bellies full to bursting with cheap buffet food is definitely one of those links.

03 Unbroken Chain

 

image from here.

 

 

 

what is a weed?

Dandelion2

How did we ever get to the point of deciding which plants would be called weeds?

Was it all a matter of utility?  Did something get in our way one day…and suddenly, for the rest of time, it was to be called a weed?  Was it a weed because we couldn’t see any use for it?

How does something cross over into the “invasive” category?

How, how, how, and why.

There are a lot of questions that could be asked about weeds…but we’re too busy trying to keep the weeds out of a garden that we’ve visualized as being “weed free” to ask them.

We might marvel at the beauty of a bunch of dandelion seeds in flight.  It is fun to blow on a dandelion at the end of its lifecycle…to see the seeds scatter to the wind is a real simple pleasure.

But we’re still tempted to get the herbicide out to kill the dandelions in our lawn before the whole thing is “infected” with little yellow flowers.

We ask, “What’s that plant?!” when we see something beautiful but unfamiliar…and then our attitude about it changes when the answer is “Oh…that’s just a weed“.

When we see a person who is living a different sort of lifestyle…maybe some kind of nomadic or gypsy, some free spirit who skips through life without any apparent cares or attachments…and we look at them and think, “hmmm….look at that!  They look really happy!  Look how much they seem to enjoy life!” .. there is always going to be someone who says, “yeah…but they don’t have health insurance…they don’t have an IRA…they probably don’t even have a social security number.  What good are they to society?

In some of our minds, we’ve already decided that they’re just another weed.

They don’t fit in our picture of what a garden should be.

Maybe, when all is said and done, a weed is whatever doesn’t fit in our “gardens”.

I know a lot of people without any room for a business suit in their lives…and others who couldn’t see a place for a faded pair of overalls in their closet.

Everyone has a different idea about what’s right for them.  We all wear a different costume to make it through the day.

But it doesn’t stop with our questioning different choices of clothing.  A lot of times we decide that we don’t have any room in our lives for the person inside the clothing .

If it looks like a weed to us, then it must be a weed.

Case closed.

We humans are a funny part of the animal family.

For one thing, we’d probably dispute that we’re even a part of the “animal family”.

I’m no animal!  I’M A MAN!”  we think…but really, we’re just sniffing around each others rear ends like any other member of the family.

Except the things that we’re looking for… like status and social position, business success, material possessions, etc. …aren’t as easy to sniff out as some of the more obvious residue that the other animals are dealing with.

I guess I still haven’t answered my original question.

What’s a weed?

I suppose that it’s anything that I say it is….no matter how beautiful it looks at first glance.

 

image from here.

 

jiminez technology

brain

We got new scanners at work a couple of days ago.

Actually, what we got was an add-on for our old scanners.

It’s a bluetooth enabled cell phone that’s only set up to communicate with the scanner.

I guess it’s kind of like a Tracfone without any minutes added.

So now we have a few more steps to do in the morning before we start out with the mail.

I think the reason they did it was to be more competitive with all the other companies that have real-time scanning….instant updates to package tracking status, etc.

I heard rumors that all the drivers were going to get bluetooth dog collars so our status could be tracked at all times, too….but the Union blocked it.

Just kidding about the last part.

I’m such a creature of habit.  When I hear a new beep while I’m driving it kind of bothers me.

Usually the new beep is the updated scanner asking if I want to communicate with the new cellphone that’s not really a cellphone.

Sure I do…just not while going around a blind curve at 35 miles an hour.

I don’t want another button to ask me to press the button….but I will… because I obey my machines.

After watching all of the Terminator movies, you have to wonder if someone isn’t getting me ready for something to come in the not so distant future.  “Obey my machines” ?  Sheesh.

It’s a pretty minor thing, to punch a button on an updated scanner so it can talk with a new cellphone that’s not a cellphone, so it can communicate with a satellite somewhere and tell someone with fingers poised over their computer that the beanie babies they sent to Wisconsin are at the proper destination.

That’s all a pretty minor thing, really.  In the big picture it’s huge, though.  To be able to tell what happened almost immediately after it happens is a pretty big deal.

To be able to track your beanie babies with that level of precision is going to change lives.

Probably.

When you get down to it, like we said in the office, it’s really all just him and his technology.

I can get used to a few new beeps now and then…and I have my own Tracfone so it’s not a temptation to talk on the new one.

Any change feels like a forward movement.  Whoever “him” is, I’m sure he’s (or she?  don’t mean to sound sexist)  pretty jacked with the new cellphone plan.

I should share their enthusiasm just to be kind, I guess.

In the end, though, it’s just jimenez technology.

 

image from here.

 

 

enlightenment and the automobile breakdown

well there's your problem

It’s a bunch of hype to say “automobile breakdown”.

Let’s just get that out of the way first.  The phrase “automobile breakdown” makes it sound like I was stuck on the side of the road, resting in the shade of an irredeemable hulk of a broken down car, waiting for the vultures to start trying to pick me apart in the hot desert sun.

It wasn’t like that.

Yesterday, in the middle of the mail route, my alternator stopped working.  Just died….the gauge going to nothing on the readout.

When the gauge goes to the “no readout zone”, it’s all I can think about…I can’t take my eyes off of it.  It’s like watching a leak in a boat, thinking that watching it would slow the process of sinking.

There is a light on my dash…a bright red light…that reminds me to “check gauges” if I’m not already freaking out.

It was a hot, dry day yesterday.  I’d left the office early to run the route…the mail volume was light…and I anticipated getting home after finishing the day a little earlier than usual.

And then…the automobile breakdown.

Luckily, the junkyard…er, used auto parts emporium… had a used alternator they could pull off another car.  So…I bought it, drove home on the charge left in the battery, replaced the alternator in our driveway, and finished the route.

Now…I was thinking about it quite a bit while the whole “automobile breakdown” was happening.  I couldn’t help but think about it.  It was a confrontational situation.

I was thinking that my reaction could be “DANGIT…why does this always happen to me?!!!  Hot day like this and my stupid car has to break down in the middle of a mail run….no substitute driver in sight that I can call on…why do I get all the bad breaks?…it’s not fair…I get out of the office early and I’m still going to be behind…I can’t believe it….whyzit taking so long for them to pull my stupid part?….THIS REALLY SUCKS.”

I could have been thinking that, I suppose.  I guess that maybe a watered down version of that did cross my mind…if only just a little bit.

The conclusion that I arrived at was a different one from the negative “victim” one I described.

I shock myself sometimes with a trickle of maturity.

The spin I was able to put on the situation was this:

  • It’s HOT.  Thank goodness it’s hot…and dry.  Most of my automobile breakdown recovery seems to happen in the freezing sleet of a usually mild North Carolina winter.
  • I got out of the office really early.  Time wise I’m in great shape…I can do this…I can make it.
  • I know how to fix this.  I’m not stuck on the side of the road waiting for AAA to come drag me to some garage somewhere.
  • My car is still running without a working alternator.  That is amazing…I wonder why my car is still running without a working alternator?
  • I don’t have a sub available today…but I can do this on my own.  I remember being called up to “rescue” situations like someone elses breakdown…but this situation is one that I can figure out how to handle without anyone else helping me.  That independence is kind of empowering.
  • I’m really getting to know this vehicle a little better.  Each time something breaks, I’m learning how to fix it.  That’s pretty cool.
  • It is taking the guys at the used auto parts place a long time to get my part…but they’re a good bunch.  It’s interesting to talk to them while I’m waiting for my new “old” alternator.

And so on…and so on.

I’m starting to figure out that I can focus on the “crack” until it finally breaks me….or I can appreciate all the parts of a life that aren’t broken.

I can appreciate what works…and try to fix what’s broken.

To me, that’s pretty enlightening.

image from here.

 

 

rear view

boy-riding-bicycle-out-of-fire-car-wreck-ashes-bmx-little-young

My first thought was, “Man….that guy is taking that off ramp a little too fast.”

My second thought was, “There’s no off ramp there….”

My third thought was, “That’s just like an action movie!!”

That’s a lot of thoughts in a few seconds.

I have a fast and freaking amazing brain to think so many thoughts that quickly.

I was watching a wreck unfold behind me on my way to work yesterday.  There was a box truck that caught my attention when I gave my rear view mirror a quick glance.  It was driving too fast…and it was going too fast in too many different directions.

A car or truck, because of how it’s designed, should have a pretty linear form of travel.  It should go forwards…or it should go backwards.  It shouldn’t be able to go sideways…or at a weird diagonal.

This truck could.

It could also go a little ways on its side…until friction stopped it…but I’ll get to that part in a second.

It took me a second on first glance to tell that the truck wasn’t on the highway at all.  It had gone off on the soft grass of the shoulder and that’s where the weird sliding and angles came in.  When the driver tried to correct his truck’s trajectory, he pulled it too far back up onto the road…at too fast a speed…and ended up on his side blocking both lanes of traffic headed towards Hendersonville.

Ending up on your side at speed is never a gentle thing. It looked like this driver and his truck really got slammed when he eventually crashed his rig.

I told my wife that it looked like one of the big trucks the Mexican guys use to get to the fields.

I hope not…a lot of people got hurt …got hurt bad….if that was the case.

It’s hard to really get a feel for everything when you’re rubbernecking in your rear view mirror. I don’t know anything about what happened after the truck flipped over.

You can’t ponder much at 65…or 66, maybe…mph.

It’s not safe to think about much more than your driving.

But, other than worrying about everybody making it out OK, the main thought that floated through my head was…

If ever get to watch an accident go down, my favorite place to do it would have to be my rear view mirror.

“But for the Grace of God…”

I’ve had a few accidents…and I’d really rather not have any more.  They aren’t any fun…they’re scary…they’re inconvenient.

When you can describe an accident as inconvenient, you know it was probably pretty minor.  I’ve been blessed so far with only inconveniences.

That’s a good thing.

It’s also a lot easier to figure out what happened when you only see someone else’s problems or accidents as you’re speeding away from the situation.

I don’t have any understanding of what went on in that truck yesterday.

Maybe the guys sausage fell out of his biscuit and when he grabbed for it.. and spilled his hot coffee in the process…and he wrecked his rig.

I don’t really know.

I’m not a detective.

But I do know that from where I sat….looking in my rear view mirror, driving 65 mph down the highway away from the carnage, I could say with all certainty…

“That’s not the way I would have done it.”

That’s the beauty of my rear view mirror.

image from here.