What are you doing these days?

23 03 2009

I had a few awesome conversations this past weekend.  I also had one or two of the so-so conversations that we all dread.  For your convenience, I’ve listed a few basic tactics you can use to respond to the dreaded catching-up conversations we all face.  I’ve tried all of them, and there are certainly some that I have forgotten to add.  Either way, it’s well worth your time to peruse the list.  My time, I mean.

  1. The Brush Pass:  Named after the staple tactic of CIA and Google agents everywhere, this method involves subtle but clear communication of the desire to remain silent.  No real interaction or conversation is desired or even prudent, and a quick “not much, just working and hanging out” usually fits the bill.  If the person making conversation persists in their search for details, you may have to move on to a different tactic.
  2. The Norm MacDonald:  Needing no real explanation of its title, this approach usually has the effect (ala Dirty Work ) of completely repulsing any decent person through an outlandish and abhorrent claim.  For instance, “Where are you working now?”  “I work at the baby meat processing plant.”  “The…what?”  “I kill and process children for mass consumption.  I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.”   If your aggressor insists of laughing this tactic off, you will then need to move on to yet another step.
  3. The Chuck Norris:  While actually punching and kicking people has a good success rate, this one is a little more metaphorical.  One must karate chop the annoying conversationalist with umistakable hints about how painful this conversation has grown to you.  “Do you enjoy your job at the…”baby processing plant” ha ha ha?”  “Yes.  I do.  It’s the only place where I know I won’t have to waste time making small talk with random people all day.”  Then you just stare them down and continue to answer any further questions with an increasingly painful delay.  Which leads me to…
  4. The Deep Blue:  Just like a chess computer, you must know your move before the opponent has finished their part of the conversation.  The greatest part of this strategy, however, is that you can use your preparedness to pretend like answering their questions is extremely difficult for you.  Four to six seconds of blank staring before firing off an intentionally labored response can really weaken their defenses.  Just make sure that you don’t overact, as some simian-types may mistake your pauses for thoughtful intervals, and be flattered by your intense effort to come up with worthy conversation fodder.  However, if they insist on carrying the conversation despite your signals, you will have to launch the peacekeeper missile of conversational tactics…
  5. The iPhone:  You know who they are.  They’re always looking something up, checking their email, or updating their status on the Facebook.  While we all resent these obnoxious people for their mindless tapping and sliding, the basic principles of the iPhone forcefield are there for the taking.  Simply put, one must always show blatantly greater interest in anything at one’s disposal other than the conversation partner.  If you have some change, not-so-surreptitiously jingle it and inspect the quarters for interesting state mottos.  If you have shoelaces, immediately un-tie and re-tie both of them.  Read any inscriptions or food labels in your immediate vicinity and check any accessible clothing labels (yours or not) for possibly intriguing combinations of cashmere and polyester.  While the offender will undoubtedly be insulted by your ostensibly rude behavior, they will think their time too valuable to be wasted on someone as petty as you.  In other words, mission accomplished.

End of an Errattic Companionship

20 03 2009

I only regret that I wasted so many of my hours in the house of this man not enjoying him.

Farewell, Ryan, and may boots follow you wherever you go.


Soon to be translated to prose

17 03 2009

The prologue heightens my senses

And the overture rattles the nerves,

Twelve lines until the lights bare my body.

He says that Timing is Everything,

But the extemporaneous is the life-blood.

As the cue approaches, my memory begins to flicker.

I won’t trip over the curtain tonight

I won’t clear my throat so clearly

One must enunciate and emphasize

And never forget to cauterize

The wounds of stuttered lines

And jumped cues.

This is not home for me;

It is hardly even my choice of stops

But as I am here, I must learn

To learn what is here for me

To say what has been written for me

And to do what has been done better before me.

But Jack and Charley need their wine

(And Lord knows Babbs needs his hairpins)

So the resourceful valet shall be taken up

By the recalcitrant writer

Who just missed his cue.


15 03 2009

We don’t always get what we want, thankfully.  Imagine if your every impulse was satisfied, or even a few different ones throughout the day.  Our desires often override good judgment, but it’s not in the ignorance of these desires that we find temperance.  It’s in the subduction of them.  I had somehow gotten the idea that our desires are always going to be stronger than our penchant for good;  I hadn’t really tried to eliminate a lot of childish behavior because, quite frankly, I didn’t think it was worth trying.  Passions rule our lives so often that we can often start to believe that they will always be that strong, that we can do nothing to quell that yearning.  In fact, it was in a little bit of spiritual retooling that I began to suspect that the whole “you will not be tempted more than you are able” thing was actually related to our behavior.  We are not always going to be sheltered from the worst that this world has to offer;  there is no “barometer of human capability” that we can’t control.  One has only to look to some of the saints to see examples of those who had significantly quieted the desires of the flesh, and we must not fool ourselves into despairing in the face of temptation.

In one of Leo Tolstoy’s short stories, Father Sergius, an old man faces his fleshly desires head-on, and defeats them at any cost.  Sergius has lived a mostly isolated adulthood until, one day, he is beset by, essentially  a whore.  The story culminates with him shaking, alone in his room, as she coos and begs for him to open the door.  Sergius, ala Joseph, flees from temptation, albeit in a different manner.  The point (since I’m an expert on these things) of the story is, of course, up the to reader to decipher, but I drew a few conclusions of my own.  It is fairly clear that Sergius’s whole time living a disciplined and monastic life is just barely enough to supress his sinful desires when the woman first knocks on his hut door.  As she persists, his resolve wavers, and his overtly Biblical choice sends a stark message to those who would plead helplessness in the face of their own desires.  Sergius, in an act of desperation, grabs his hatchet and lops off his finger.  He then opens the door, and the woman, shocked as she begins to grasp what has just happened, is eventually led from her own sin as well.

Gratuitous Russian story plug aside, I’ve merely realized lately just how weak humans really are.  Considering how much faith we consistently put in our appearance, resources, abilities and reputation, it is little wonder that we have blinded ourselves to this weakness, but we cannot expect to seriously combat sin unless we put our faith in He who knew no sin.  I’m saddened when people pray to be delivered from temptation without making any adjustments to flee from it themselves.  I’ve been trying to seriously fight my own inclinations towards sloth this year, and it’s gotten more and more difficult the more conscious of it I become.  My thoughts begin to suggest that perhaps my bodily exercise is sufficient; my sinful heart tells me that others are largely to blame for not fulfilling promises or for helping me out.  The bottom line, though, is that I haven’t gotten onto my feet and motivated myself to make some things happen more often than not.  It’s all well and good to proclaim that God will carry us, but we cannot sit around and wait for him to do so and expect to be swept into righteousness.  Every Christian who has truly pursued their Savior has discovered that steep climb, that grueling journey;  of some of the greatest examples of this pursuit, we notice a great commonality among them: they all found rest with Christ, but never on Earth.  The world’s philosophers will sit by the fireplace, telling you why things are, will be, and have been the way they are.  As one called to run, flee, march, soar, get up, and follow, I must stop reveling in the idleness of the world and start throwing myself headlong into the grueling pursuit.  As long as I long for the comfort of my temporary home, I will never seek the everlasting comfort of my eternal one.

Don’t blink

11 03 2009

I’m in a play.

No, I’m not sure how it happened.  And I’m not a lead.  But I shall steal this show by hook or by crook, consarn it!

(What am I doing?)

Slipping Away

7 03 2009

There have been a few times over the past couple of months when I have started thinking about something and wanted to write down my thoughts while I my interest was still piqued.  This is often the place I use for those instances, but I have grown a little lazy lately, and I regret that I cannot quite recall all the things that I have been wanting to write about.  Perhaps a good writer will bolt to the nearest computer (or typewriter if you’re pretentious or Cory) to record their thoughts rather than let things like work and distance prevent them from doing so.  I’m forced to admit, however, that I am quite a ways from being capable of casting off my responsibilities and appointments for the sake of a boon.  I only wrote boon because I heard Stephen Fry say it on Jeeves and Wooster the other day.  I have all four season of it, by the way, in case you are ever interested in watching it.  I haven’t found anyone besides my brother who really seems to enjoy it for the reason I do, but I have watched it with admittedly few people, so I think that there is still time for that particular group of people to expand.

That does bring to mind the term “hipster” that I heard someone use on Friday.  While I am familiar with the term, I haven’t really thought about it too much beyond what it connotes.  I realized, though, that I have known a lot of hipsters.  A lot of the people I spent time with in college were budding hipsters, and the term “Christian hipster” definitely describes an even more frightening majority of them.  While Stuff White People Like has provided me with a checklist that is almost eerily comprehensive when it comes to a lot of these people, the mere fact that these groups are so easy to categorize is more than enough for me to be able to reflect on those times with a smile.  After all, I remember being distinctly interested in some of of those things at various points over the last five years.  Here’s an extemporaneous list of the traits on one or both sites that I personally saw adopted by friends of mine:

*Note — I’m not saying these traits are necessarily disingenuous, just that they all seemed to be frequently adopted by people that I knew.  After all, who could say anything negative about someone who likes Wendell Berry?

  • Pipes
  • Moleskine Notebooks
  • Hummus
  • The Pope
  • Bicycles
  • Poetry Readings
  • Flasks
  • Vegan/Vegetarianism
  • Tattoos
  • Being Faux-Catholic
  • Piercings
  • Wendell Berry
  • Coffee
  • Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops
  • Appearing to Enjoy Classical Music
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • The Idea of Soccer
  • Girls with Bangs
  • Vintage
  • Wine
  • Microbreweries
  • Wes Anderson Movies  (I just finished The Darjeeling Limited no more than thirty minutes ago)
  • Making You Feel Bad about Not Going Outside
  • Snowboarding
  • Marathons
  • Despising Christian Music
  • Not Having a TV
  • The Daily Show/Colbert Report
  • Sushi

The funniest thing about Hipsters, as Brett notes, is that they all hate labels.  This makes such a candid list that much more perfect, really.  SHRUG!

Eating My Own Dust

6 03 2009

Today was draining, in so many ways.

Tomorrow, I am incredibly busy, but it will end well.

Saturday, what have you for me? Mayhaps a wagon fulla PAMCAKES?

And Sunday, sweet Sunday, shall you bring rest unto my weary mind and body?

This was meant to make sense.  But I’ve sorta run myself into the ground tonight, so I’m gonna stop punishing myself and go to bed.  Go read some Garfield Minus Garfield and get outta here.

-R. W. T.

The Rest of the Story

1 03 2009

My first time hearing “The Rest of the Story” was on my way to a mobile home park sometime in elementary school.

I don’t remember whom it was about, and I didn’t really like it that much.  But Harvey’s voice has stayed in my head to this day (can’t you just hear it even now?) and I can’t imagine a comparable voice on the airwaves today.  He’s been called the godfather of radio news and much more, but surely you’ve heard all that.  All I really want to remember about him is the smiling, golden voice of the happiest man I had ever heard wishing me “good day” in the middle of a boring car ride.  After that first time, I always stopped (or forced my friends to turn back the radio dial to whatever station I had caught a bit of his voice on) to listen whenever Paul Harvey was on the radio.

Maybe that’s why elderly people like me so much.