Sunday, October 30, 2011

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ironically, I Love Ambiguity (but what, exactly, do I mean by that?)

somewhere back in the early 1980s, I seems to have a poetic mind. I don't even know what a poetic mind is. Of course, perhaps, it would depend-as Bill Clinton would say-what your definition of the word is is.

Back in the earlier times of this blog, years ago, I was able to write out a poem. the substance of that poem I don't remember, but I do know that it was fueled by fear, by anger, and by pride. My love of words and my love (ironically) of my own anger gave that one, last poem some substance. I'm not necessarily saying that it was a good poem, only that it was entertaining enough to keep me writing.

I'm not currently in psychotherapy. I can't say if writing poetry would be therapeutically good for me or not. I just know that there's a part of me that wants to be able to tap into that part of my brain again. I think I remember the day that I started to feel the freeze. A chill swept over my brain, and for one fleeting moment, okay, a few hours, I was able to tap out one more poem.

I'm not going to look for the poem, here. It really has little significance for me. If writing is truly that significant in my life, perhaps my last moment of poetry should simply be noteworthy on that account alone. But, I'm too busy thinking about this chill.

Years ago I found myself in a laundromat, and on the door was a note explaining that the laundromat will be closing. I already felt a bond with this place, a closeness to the glass, the tile floors, the quarter devouring machines. I believed that it was perfectly placed right in that part of town. I knew it's quiet times, and I knew it's busy times. This was a relationship I developed over years, and I felt as if a bomb dropped on me. (in the months that followed, I discovered that the laundromat simply changed hands, and never actually closed)

This laundromat operated right near San Jose State University, and right near my little studio apartment on S. 8th St. movement of people, the swirl of energy, mixed well with all of the people from the neighborhoods nearby; parents came in with armfuls of children and station wagons filled to the top with clothing to be washed. I remember well hovering over occupied machines, watching the seconds ticked down on them, and waiting for my opportunity to leap. This was an important part of my week, sad and true.

So, this day I decided to write a poem. I didn't know was going to be an important poem to me. If I had only known I might have found a way to guard it, protect its, and make sure that it would stay available to me in the coming years. But I didn't know, and I didn't protect it. So, almost 10 years later, I can only remember forty syllables of the poem, just enough to keep this sadness alive: forty syllables, four lines, the beginning of my last (my only?) sonnet. Like a meditation it was alive for me in the moment, and I couldn't find a poem more expressive of how I felt, and what I thought at that exact time.

I showed that poem one day months, maybe years, later to a person for whom I cared very much, and she read my thoughts. I knew better than to ask her what I wanted to ask her at a time when it was clear her silence meant something disturbing. Yet, I had to ask her what she thought of what I wrote. Without directly addressing the question, she told me that she does not like poetry, and remarked that it was after years of college that she developed this strong dislike for poetry.

She said that every poem seems to have unnecessary layers of meaning, and is fraught with an ambiguity that makes poetry reading very unpleasant for her. So, here it is for me, eight years later. I've written one substantial poem in all that time, and I never explained to her that there are no layers of meaning in my poem. I'm just not that deep. What I wrote about is what is, and I am still absolutely delighted in the creation of those words. She didn't give my poem a fair shake, because she hated ambiguity. Sad to think that it was on the one poem so simple, and so absent of ambiguity that she failed to see it for what it was.

I'm so tickled by this explanation that I just might start writing again. I'm glad I shared this with you. Wow!

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Exercise, a Remedy for Shrinking Clothing

I'm trying not to take it personal. If I wake up in I see things exactly as they occur, I know if my heart that not everything occurs because of me. Thoughts like these, these words even falling on to this page, serve as sufficient evidence my ego is way out of control. My readers, understand I'm not sad; I just realized that there's changes that need to be made.

I went to Sacred Heart community service today, and assisted at our regular English as a second language class. The instructor asked me to lead the day's dictation. I will reiterate: I know this is not about me. I know in my mind this has nothing to do with me. But, I am affected emotionally, and I must relate this to you.

The teacher tells me that she selects her dictation sentences based on the exercises, the homework from the previous week. She doesn't even seem to understand my concern. She handed me the paper and she said,"Keith, these are the sentences I want you to dictate the class."

1. Too many people in the United States each too much, and they are overweight.
2. Her grandmother was thin, and she needed a small size.
3. He wishes he was taller, but he is just average height.
4. My daughter is short, and she is thin.
5. He needs a big size, because he is fat.
6. I went to the store to buy a large shirt.

If the exercise was just to say the sentences once I would've been fine, but with this class- people totally unaccustomed to writing the English language- I was in the position of having to say the sentences over, and over again. It's like I was having an intervention. The only difference is the person doing intervention was me, while everybody else that is watching does not even know what is happening.

there's a comic irony that I should receive these sentences on this day. The YMCA has just approved a reduced rate for my membership, and I'm thrilled to be able to start working out again. Sometime, many months ago, a friend of mine saw me on WebCam and said," Keith, are your shirts getting a little tighter lately?" I laughed it off, and said it's just a cheap fabrics that keep shrinking on me. My largest of shirts had started to fail on me. So

I still have all my old clothes, some of which I received back in Indonesia. So, this isn't an unpleasant experience that I'm relating. It's just a strange one. The best way that I can celebrate the progresses that I've already made, is to keep them going. The strengths that I've acquired my shoulders and then my arms- as well as the strength, control, and balance- I have developed in my legs, can only properly be appreciated by building upon them. I assure you I will wear these clothes again.

Let it begin with me today. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Best Haircut, Yet

So today, I have to believe that there is something wonderful, something special, about being alive. I mean here we are, on the twenty-third of October, two days after the world was slated to end (according to the great pastor Harold" I misread my PDA" Camping). The very fact that I can go out and get my haircut is a special thing, indeed.

I will not cry over the lack of recognition-recognition that I am owed- from my ability to predict things. I have precognitive ability that is truly amazing. Year in and year out, day in and day out, I make predictions that come true. Unlike pastor Harold, I have predicted the world not ending, over and over again. I have been right every single time! That's why I feel little sad.

I have not gotten on any talk shows. I do not have a parish. Despite my desire to minister to the masses, I have no flock to which I can preach my good news. Still, I do not cry.

I went and got my haircut today. Feeling the sun in my face,the wind in my hair, as well as a growing warmth of gratitude that builds in my chest, I went out to Walmart, and watched people. Just like you, my readers, they didn't see me for the genius that I possess, and they don't know that when they woke up on October 21 that by me it was predicted, successfully, the day would go on normally.

So today, I felt imbued with this opportunistic spirit. I went and bought something, and I got myself some cash back. I went out, and got my haircut.

The lady who cut my hair didn't know how special it was that the sun came up today. She also wasn't letting on the fact that standing above me, as many people do, she was privy to information that I just didn't have. Scientists, doctors, geologic hipsters that groove off of scientific magazines, the kind of people that understand what's going on with the ozone layer all know what is happening above. In my life we've gotten reports from the news community about what was being said, from the scientific community, about the discoveries to a mate regarding the enormous growth of the hole in the ozone layer.

For me, to have this woman with her big m mirror, walking around my body, after completing was a perfectly acceptable haircut, threw me for a loop. I have to stare at that mirror in shock and dismay as I realized that that whole that into space of useless follicles, fallen into disuse, has become enormous. For years I've watched these growing spaces, these widows peaks, creeping their way up my forehead. I really did not know what happened on top.

Trying not to overreact, I pointed to my God made tonsure, and yelled," what did you do up here!" She smiled, took my money, and sent me on my way. I suppose this day went well enough. Celebrating my newfound life, enjoying another day free from rapture, I can stay grateful. The reality is I don't believe anyone can predict the future. I do not believe in psychic phenomena, I'm not a big fan of divination, and if your a Bible reader how could you ignore that passage that says" you will not know the day or the time" of Jesus's return?

So today, I celebrate a new day. I can enjoy my haircut, and I look forward to reading about more predictions about the imminent demise of planet Earth.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just One More Chance

Sometimes I believe I can train myself to like the that I didn't like in the past. I suppose that I probably could do Ithis. But, today is not one of those days. Realizing that here in the midst of Little Saigon I could find all manner of fruit smoothies-with tropical fruits and little black tapioca pearls- I decided on a couple occasions to try different types of fruit smoothies. The last time I went to the Bambu Snack Shop, I endeavored to try the avocado fruit smoothie.

The avocado fruit smoothie did not have much flavor, but it was cold and it was sweet. I love the chewy, tapioca pearls. because these avocado drink seems so popular in so many different countries, I felt challenged by the fact that it never seemed like a natural choice to put sweet frozen drink. So, I tried it out and I enjoyed it. But, even though I felt that I had tried this one fruit enough times to establish that I didn't like it, there was one fruit on the menu I wanted to try.

that fruit is durian. Grown overseas, this fruit grows the enormous balls, green balls, every inch covered with ominous looking spikes. Worse still, even from several feet away, ripe durian gives off this unpleasant, pungent odor. Even people who eat this fruit describe its odor is smelling like something like dirty feet or unclean clothes. I'm not alone in my perception of its smell.

But, someone is found a way to ship enormous quantities of this fruit overseas to America. Now, in the parking lot of Grand Central Mall, two ladies run a fruit stand; there they sell all manner of exotic fruits. This includes mangoes, grown locally, jackfruit, and durian. I decided I was being tempted again, challenged again, being asked if I had truly given this fruit a fair evaluation. After all, many people from all over the world eat this fruit every day.

Would I allow myself to be dominated by my olfactory receptors? After all, what part of my brain determines whether I should like to food are not? I have many friends online, overseas who seemed to think that durian is just a wonderful, wonderful food. So today, I found myself once again at the Bambu snack shop. I I ordered a fruit smoothie, made with durian, black tapioca pearls. The girl who sold it to me asked me if I know what durian is. She was shocked to see ordering this drink. Okay, maybe she was not shocked, but she did seem surprised.

After the fall equinox, we were hit with a cold day, cold winds, and all this occurred with the arrival of the fall season. So, I was surprised to find that the heat is still with us, and I went outside, with my fruit smoothie, and started to drink. I love the black pearls, and the drink was cool and refreshing. I enjoy the way it felt on this hot hot day. Still, there was something that I was bothering me; I realized what it was. The one thing that bothered me about this beverage is that it tasted and smelled like durian.

So I'm not going to make any guesses as to whether it is a genetic thing, a cultural thing, it comes from -environment, proximity, experience. I do note that this stinky fruit is gotten a fair trial from me. I do not like it. I don't believe I'll ever like it, but I tried.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Who's Going to Close the Clubs?

I'm not much of an activist, and there are certain things on which I failed to have strong opinions. The other day I was walking along downtown San Jose stopped in the local Safeway The Market grocery store downtown. Outside of Safeway, just as are outside about every supermarket in town, was a man promoting some type of special interest, with a portable stand up table a clipboard, and a sign.

His sign said," keep the clubs open." Outside my disinterest -in recreational drugs, loud music, or free-spirited interaction with large groups of strangers-I love the party just as much as the next guy. So, when this man shows me a sign that says" keep the clubs open", I am inclined to access that libertarian part of my soul, and and ask myself, why would anyone want to close the clubs. Of course I had no idea what clubs this man was talking about. I certainly didn't know why they were danger. I had to ask this man what the heck he was trying to defend.

Apparently, he was getting people to sign a petition, a San Jose-only petition, that was aimed at making sure the medicinal marijuana clubs -clubs aimed at providing medicinal marijuana to those that need it-would not be closed by the political establishment that runs San Jose. Newspaper reports in recent months have talked about how San Jose city Council, and its mayor Chuck Reed, are trying to pass regulations that could close down 90% of the medicinal marijuana clubs in this city.

I don't smoke marijuana. I have no medical need for marijuana. I don't particularly like my experiences shared with people who enjoy smoking marijuana. But, looking at the whole libertarian spirited idea, one of few libertarian ideas that I would entertain, I have asked myself what does it hurt. the city of San Jose seems to be strangely schizophrenic for issuing business licenses to the people who opened up 110 marijuana clubs in San Jose, and then just a few years later decided that they could shut 90% of these businesses down just to entertain their constituencies.

Ironically, the groups most likely to want to shut down these marijuana clubs are the very people who are in favor of free markets. I'm sure the vast majority of them join in hand-in-hand singing the praises of 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith, and their belief that unfettered markets alone can sculpt a healthy society.

I am no more opposed to the smoking of marijuana than I am to the drinking of alcohol. If you want to live in a capitalistic, free-market society, why would you not want to encourage these legally formed businesses to thrive in our society?

So, I've met a new friend, Dana, who came down to San Jose just to get my signature and the signature of others onto this petition, in the hopes that we could keep our local pot clubs open. I believe that as a capitalist, I would hate for my local government to be so capricious as to close down a business to which they gave a green light to open.

Thank you for reading.