Friday, January 28, 2011

Cruising for Righteous Babes with Jesus

Lately I've been suffering from a colossal depression. I'm not interested in anything. I can't concentrate. Every distraction is a defeat. Every setback requires a nap. Nothing seems worth doing. All this came into focus for me the other day when some guy sent me a direct message on Twitter that said he found my “...offerings to be without purpose, direction, continuity, or a sense of meaning!”

Colossal depression of the tropical variety on the left. Another one building on the right.
I looked at my most recent blog posts, and had to agree that he spoke the truth. As it turned out, the guy wasn't even talking about my blog, but I still have to own up to the fact that I haven't put anything up for weeks that resonates in any meaningful way. I've tried—sort of—but my heart's just not in it.
In fairness I think I have a lot to be depressed about. I've been without work for 28 months now. That's two and a third years. That's a long damn time—longer than anyone else I know about, longer than seems possible for a smart guy with good skills who doesn't wear a tin foil hat or twitch at inappropriate times, like whenever someone mentions unsolved serial killings.
Two years of relative idleness is not good for a man's mental health. After protracted joblessness he begins to lose faith in himself. He resorts to mind tricks or chemicals to prop up his flagging sense of worth. He starts deluding himself. He develops a rich fantasy life, which he then has difficulty separating from reality. He may become a danger to himself and others. At last, desperate to resurrect the person he used to be, grasping for any glimmering shard of hope no matter how remote and fanciful it may be, he begins to suspect that there may be something to the law of attraction after all.
This is me in my current form—broken, depressed, useless, delusional. I buy lottery tickets I can't afford. I drink martinis for dinner, persuaded that the olives constitute a salad. I fantasize that I am rich and content. I visualize the trappings of the life to which I aspire. I imagine everything in high definition and technicolor. I've even started trying to attract money--the hard part being that I think The Secret is bogus.
I have settled on a specific sum of money to attract, and that is $749 million. I'm told that it is just as easy to attract a million dollars as it is to attract hundred. If this is true there is no reason to be shy. I think I know where this number came from. Originally I was thinking of just $700 million because I dreamed once that I had somehow come into that amount. That was many years ago when it was still a princely sum. Now 371 of the 400 people on Forbe's list of the richest Americans are worth over a billion dollars. $700 million is not such a huge number anymore, so I added a little interest. Not much really...I'm not after more than I deserve. $749 million seems pretty reasonable.
Anyway, now that I'm busy wanting, visualizing, believing, deserving and otherwise attracting all this money, I've also begun to imagine where I might spend it. Travie McCoy's brilliant little song, Billionaire, featuring Bruno Mars helps. He's got some pretty good ideas about how to spend a true fortune, and the song's reggae beat makes It a nice soundtrack to the movies I'm running in my head of me in my Lamborghini, me entertaining my friends poolside at the waterfront villa, and me speeding across a mirror smooth lake in my Aquariva Super. I'm telling you I am down with the visualizing.
I've even added a new twist. Call it folly, but I think it gives me an edge. It adds weight and sincerity to my visualization process. It proves my faithfulness, and demonstrates that I am a force for good. When I fire up the Lambo in my daydreams to go cruising for chicks, I take Jesus with me.

Now I didn't come up with this idea all by myself. It had its seeds in a comment made by the wife of an audit client way back when I was in public accounting practice. The client and his wife were born again Christians. She was also a singer, or at least fancied herself one, and appeared with some regularity on the local Christian TV station as a guest witness and performer. They were doing quite well for themselves, my client and his wife, and had just bought themselves a brand new Rolls Royce Corniche. Some toady from their church had stopped by the office to visit while I was there doing field work, and asked the wife how she felt driving around town in that big old Rolls. The wife announced, a little too proudly I thought, that it felt “just like drivin' for Jesus.”
I don't have any idea what that meant to her. To me 'driving for Jesus' would connote something like using your car to deliver meals to the poor or taking homeless folk to a shelter or to a clinic for medical attention or something like that—stuff, in other words, more like what Jesus would have done had he found himself suddenly in possession of a really posh chariot. My client's wife wasn't doing anything like that. She was too busy flitting from one designer boutique to the next, decorating their new waterfront condominium.

What really driving for Jesus probably looks like.
These people made other equally obtuse statements over the course of several years that led me to believe that, although they could both quote chapter and verse of scripture, neither one of them had a very clear understanding of what it actually meant. Still, they had the wherewithal to buy a Rolls and a luxury apartment, whereas I am now ungainfully wherewithout. It just seemed natural, when I went off the deep end and started wishfully wishing for more money than Jesus would think it prudent for me to have, that I ought to borrow something of their attitude and sense of entitlement to fortify my program.
It took me a while to get this right. The first thing I had to consider is would Jesus want to go cruising for chicks? I decided that I could probably talk him into it by occasionally letting him drive. Who doesn't want to drive a Lamborghini? As the only begotten Son of God, Jesus may know everything, but He hasn't experienced the visceral thrill of dumping the clutch on 12 cylinders of screaming Italian mechanical opera. He will jump at the chance.

Pedal to the metal - Jesus uncorks all the horses of an early Italian high-performance sports machine!
Once he is in the spirit of the thing, the chicks will just be a collateral attraction. He ought to be used to this already. I mean there's that whole thing of Mary Magdalene rubbing his feet with perfumed oil and drying them with her hair. She wasn't the only one throwing herself at him either. Jesus was a chick magnet in the Bible, and there's no reason to suspect that, as a wing man, he couldn't eclipse George Clooney. The more I thought about it the more I realized this idea was a natural.
The next problem I had was how to dress him. I mean we all have this picture of Jesus in a belted tunic, cloak, and sandals. This won't do for driving around in an ultra high-performance sports car. Jesus needs some modern garb for the task. I thought about this for a long time. I figure Jesus, even in the 21st century, probably wouldn't be very ostentatious in his dress—no designer duds or high-dollar Italian loafers for Jesus. He would be the same unassuming, modest person we know from the Bible—just updated. I see him in relaxed-fit jeans. I think he'd still wear the sandals because I wear them too, and, well, some things ought not to change. Sandals have withstood the test of time where tunics have not.
Since we're all casual in jeans and sandals, I think a t-shirt is appropriate. I figure Jesus would wear a message t-shirt. One thing about Jesus—He was always on message. If they'd known how to silk screen tunics in ancient Judea, He'd surely have had something poignant emblazoned on his chest.
Bringing His message into modern times presents a problem though. A t-shirt message has to be cool. It has to make a stand, but it also has to invite solidarity. Ideally, it ought also to be just abstract enough to elicit conversation. This is a heady mix of requirements, and it had me flummoxed for a while. It's hard to get your creative side juiced up when you are depressed, so I spent a lot of time driving around with Jesus in a plain white t-shirt. Then one day, without notice or fanfare, He just showed up in a black tee with gold letters that said simply, “WWID.” Perfect. When it comes to the message, you just gotta let Jesus be in charge.
I've shared this visualization business with my wife. I thought at first that she might be upset as she's been pretty adamant since the beginning of our marriage that she doesn't think I should date anymore. Driving around, looking for girls, didn't seem like it would be an activity she would approve of. But really it's just a technique to solidify my claim on the $749 million. She's okay with the money, so she ought to be okay with the process. How much trouble could I get myself into? After all, I'm with Jesus. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lookin' Out My Back Door

Frog Doll

Kiss her, and she turns into a gardener.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Contemplating the Flybridge from the Poop Deck

Riva 33 at Stuart Boat Show. Attracting trouble. For a view of some of Riva's more spectacular offerings, click here.

Regular visitors will know that I am not a big fan of the law of attraction. (For a couple of different takes on it, click here...or here.) I am so not a fan in fact that, while I am persuaded that it might be correct to capitalize 'law of attraction' here, I refuse to look it up to make sure. Even if it is correct usage, I don't think the law deserves that much respect. It's not a proper law, after all. It's just some crap somebody made up to legitimize wishful thinking. Having said that however, I have to confess that occasionally I try to attract stuff that I want—you know, just in case. Even an agnostic has to cover the bases a little, although most are probably reluctant to admit it.
I bring this up today because I spent a lot of time last night and early this morning, when I could have been sleeping, trying to attract a Mediterranean style waterfront villa and a ginormous yacht. I was seduced into this behavior by a couple of things that happened yesterday.
First, there was an article in Parade, the magazine supplement that comes with our Sunday paper, about a woman named Cynthia Stafford who visualized herself winning $112 million in the lottery, and then proceeded to do just that. Her visualization was pretty specific. Not only did she get the amount that she won correct, she also knew what she was going to be wearing when she found out she had won. I'd say this is pretty good visualization, and, even if she had not succeeded at winning the money, she would get an A for technique from the law of attraction gurus and touts.
I can predict with near certainty that my good friend, Dr. Joe Vitale, is going to be e-mailing me about Cynthia just as soon as he gets his copy written. He will promise me that I can get results similar to hers once I use his fool-proof secrets for ridding my mind of its pesky blocks to accumulating more wealth and happiness than I ever dreamed possible. Since I am still unemployed, I will first have to attract the amount of money Dr. Joe is going to charge me for giving up these secrets. One step at a time. (I can also predict with certainty that when Google's context sensitive Adsense works its magic, an ad for Dr. Joe's nonsense will show up at the bottom of this post. What a fine irony that every time I poke fun at the bastard I end up creating ad space for him on my blog. Dr. Joe would probably claim that this is proof positive that the law of attraction works. Oh, well.)
The second thing that happened yesterday is that I went to the annual Stuart in-water boat show, and came away, as I often do, in a covetous frame of mind. I don't know what it is about boats, especially big ones, that excites my acquisitive nature. I don't particularly like boating. It tends to be rigorous and elemental and uncomfortable. Even a big boat is cramped and confining, which is why the people who can afford them hire crews to sail the boats to exotic locations while they themselves fly there to meet them. Even so, I still want to own one. I want to fly around the world and meet my boat in exotic tropical locales. I want to be that ridiculous. I do.

I know, deep in my heart, that the key to being happy is not getting everything I want, but rather appreciating everything I have so well that I don't want any more. I get there occasionally, but then occasionally I go the boat shows and my philosophical minimalism is undone by the lapping of waves and the gleam of mahogany. It's a burden. I am so smitten by boats that for the next few weeks I will be pulling the covers over my head each night and selling myself out wholesale to the foolishness that is the law of attraction. Hope to see you on the other side. Hope to be hailing you from the flybridge. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sarah Palin in the Aquarium

Even when I was still a Voldemort Republican, I was not a fan of Sarah Palin. She may have some conservative juice, but she does not have the political chops nor the finesse to accomplish anything of lasting value on the national scene. She may have the capacity to do a lot of damage, but she is not alone in that.
I think of Sarah Palin as a kind of seahorse—fascinating to watch, beautiful even, but what on earth to make of her? The seahorse is of the genus hippocampus, from the Greek roots hippos, or horse, and kampos, or sea monster. There you have Sara Palin—the noble lines, supple grace, and flowing mane of a thoroughbred mare coupled with a kraken.
The kraken is mostly mythical—probably based on giant squid, but not nearly so scary in reality as it is in legend. This too fits Palin, who is not nearly so evil and conniving as her detractors would have us believe. Really, the only thing that would make her scary is if you were afraid that you might vote for her even though you didn't want to, like she had some power over your mind and could force you to do her bidding.

           For all her charm, she is just not that persuasive. They have apparently canceled her TV show because no on can stand the sound of her voice for more that 15 – 20 minutes at a time. Or maybe it was because it took her seven shots to hit a caribou that apparently stood still through all the commotion waiting to be killed. Sarah Palin does not loom large on the horizon of things we need to be frightened about, even if we happen to be big game animals.
It is ludicrous then to suggest that she is somehow responsible for the tragic events in Tucson last week. You can blame the political vitriol if you like, but the vitriol did not start with Palin, nor, in the grand scheme of things, has she contributed very much to it.
The most amazing thing to me about all this controversy—Palin failed to show compassion for the victims of the shootings, Palin made it all about herself, Palin tainted her response with an ill-chosen phrase that is disrespectful to Jews and the legacy of the Holocaust—is that the people who say these things fail to recognize the irony in their saying them. These are divisive statements. These are vitriol. These are wholly self-serving. These are in fact exactly the things of which they are accusing Palin.
Palin may be an idiot when you think of her in terms of a bid for the presidency, but when you think of her in terms of what she is, a soccer mom who got accidentally slotted into the national political arena because the Republicans needed a female vice presidential candidate to make Obama look bad for passing over Hilary, she's just exactly as smart as she needs to be. Anyone who says out loud that Palin is guilty of complicity in the Tucson murders is guilty of the same offense against Palin. If Palin's offense was to spread overblown aspersions about Democrats, how is characterizing that as complicity in murder any different?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting to the Point...or Not

Not much of a tree anymore perhaps, but still better than paper.

I am temperamentally disinclined to talk, so I don't do it much. One reason is that I seem to somehow invite interruption, and I really hate being interrupted. I was even interrupted during my last conversation with my mother, as she lay in Hospice quite literally taking her last breath. I don't know why this should be so. I don't interrupt others. I wait patiently until they have made their point. Then I pause to reflect on what they have said and formulate a considered response.
This is, I believe, proper and polite behavior. This is an efficient social mechanism for building mutual trust and appreciation. This is the best way to get to know people. Unfortunately, if you try to put this into practice, you will often find that the conversation you thought you were in has progressed several notions past the place you thought you were. If you say anything at this point, you will seem to others to be having trouble keeping up. This doesn't do any more to advance society than the rudeness of interrupting. Not wishing to do either—to be rude or to be thought stupid—my usual course is reticence.
This verbal reticence and its chief cause—loathing interruption—also explains why I like to write. Writing does not invite interruption. Writing does not require you to find a vacant space in a lively conversation where you can insinuate your thoughts on the matter being discussed. When you write, everything belongs to you, everything said and even the vacant spaces. Readers may offer up editorial comments as they read. They may take exception to what you have written. They may even vocalize their agreement. But they cannot interrupt because you, as writer, are finished saying your piece before they begin to read it. Writing is a beautiful thing.
I would like to think then that I can be forgiven if my writing is sometimes over-long, if I say too much, or run on breathlessly as if I am making up for all the time I could have spent making a point except for the interruptions. I would like to think that, but apparently I cannot.
Going on too long is an unpardonable sin in this age of the 140 character opus. Who is going to read twelve pages in an era where you can pyramid a series of tweets into a book deal and a sitcom? If you write past the point where someone would interrupt you if you were talking, they just stop reading. A lot of my posts run between 2 and 3 thousand words. No one has time for this kind of verbosity. Not that they have anything really more pressing to do, but it's the Internet for crying out loud. True enlightenment might be just a keystroke away. You'll never get there if you stop to smell the writer.
So I'm still not making my point. Well, I am, but by the time I make it no one is listening. It's all just digital flotsam in the ether, searchable but ineffectual. Thankfully it doesn't take up much space or require felling any trees.