After some years, I have a new radio gig. It’s live streamed, so international listeners can tune in via purefm.sc … and I do take requests.
There’s nothing new about trying to keep old, dead iconic autocrats around; the Egyptians came close to perfecting the process more than 3,000 years ago, after all. What differs now is the lack of the bling, the box and pointy building.
These days there seems to be the thought that people will actually yearn to be very close to a lifeless corpse and to lament the lost leader while gaping at said corpse forever. Hugo Chavez is the next despot in line for non-desposal. Being somewhat iconic in life, someone apparently figures displaying the icon rather than burying it six feet under will render it (not in the candle sense, please, although my guess is that would shed more light on more subjects than a carcass) somehow still tenacious.
Yes, Chavez will soon join the ranks of Mao, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Ferdinand Marcos, Eva Peron and the Kims … father and son, both Il in life, both dead-but-not-gone, Jong and Sung … on display, like Roy Roger’s horse. (Russia offered Stalin The Stiff as a side show until 1961 when he was finally buried as part of a move to “un-Stalinize” the country, figuring, I suppose, that out of sight is out of mind.)
I have had the dubious honor of filing past the perpetually present corpse of Mao, an experience fraught with emotion … but not the sort it was designed to inspire.
It was 1989, just a couple of weeks before the soon-to-be-deadly protests started in Beijing. I was in China with my nineteen-year-old daughter, out and about to see the sites. At that time, it was required visitors be guided, both physically and with the intent to lead them toward unreasonable conclusions. On our way to visit Tiananmnen Square, our chaperone explained our upcoming experience.
“You will now have the great pleasure to see the most famous exhibit in all the world,” she said in heavily accented not-quite-Chinglish. “Millions of people come every day to see what you are about to see.”
We waited for it …
“THE MOUSE MEMORIAL!”
At least that’s what Jenn and I heard.
It took a few minutes to realize that the queue of Chinese peasants stretching for some distance … four abreast, equal distance apart, eerily silent … were having their places pushed back some so we tourists from the decadent West could officially cut in front to enter Mao’s Memorial.
Well … sorry propaganda machine of the government of the People’s Republic, but there was no way in hell we Californian’s had not already constructed a working version vision of Mickey Maos.
We had previously visited the Beijing Zoo (Remind me to write a post about that nightmare someday.), so weren’t expecting much in the way of quality, but were a bit surprised at the lavishness on the inside of the square, squat building. It was posh in the way that flash-over-substance always is and filled with enormous bouquets of white chrysanthemums in garish vases. The military was well represented with dozens of uniformed men holding automatic weapons and standing at attention. (My daughter got off the line of the day when she noticed the Red Army wears white socks.)
Reserving pride of place amongst a bazillion flowers sat a glass-domed casket inside of which lay the perpetually rigid corpse of Mao Zedong.
He wasn’t looking so good.
Being that we entered the place with certain images already in mind, could we help it if the thoughts and whispers we shared had to do with what the Disney people could have done with him? He’d be sitting up and waving at the crowd, perhaps even pacing the floor like Lincoln on Main Street instead of simply assuming the position of the waxy, fake-looking lump of whatever he might actually be after all the years … not that he was a particularly attractive man when he could still walk under his own power, but obvious inches of pancake re-dos hadn’t helped. (Here’s an explanation … sort of … on how he was made up.)
Laughing was definitely out with all those guns and properly inculcated citizens of the PRC around and stifling our giggles took a LOT of self control, but we certainly had no problem going along with the no-photos-no-videos rules. Since we’d passed on the offer to buy flowers to add to the heaps, we meandered by with our hands over our mouths and swallowed our chuckles until we made it to the other side.
And now Chavez is in the perfect position for the same treatment … if trocars and formaldehyde can be considered treatment … and legions of the faithful, the morbid and the amused will be filing by as he continues to be dead.
Personally, I hope someday to rest in peace, not in public … it’s just so TACKY.
Well, hello! I know it’s been a while … about a year and a half since my last post on this blog … and although I’ve been grateful to the nagging readers as they did their best to prompt a bit of writing here, I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination to blah, blah, blog.
An experience last night, however, set fingers to keyboard as I was forced to recall just how important it sometimes is to watch idiots twitch and sputter no matter how futile the activity so often is.
The inspiration for this post is Lori Carangelo, a screech from the distant past I’d had the pleasure of forgetting … until last night when she apparently learned how a search engine works and found a blog post from 2007 and decided to try to chew my face off with her wrath … and show off her writing skills at the same time.
Of course, she has a book she’s trying to flog, so most of the comments included a sales link in amongst the ridiculous blather. Fine by me, as anyone silly enough to actually pay real money for poor punctuation, bad spelling and nonsense either deserves what they get or will see she’s done the work of showing what a moron she is all by her lonesome.
Feel free to read her comments I allowed to post, and my responses, and if you can figure out what actual points she’s trying to make … well … you must have some sort of super power that sees through stupid.
Although I’m guessing she has a blog, the way they work and the concept of moderating comments seems to have escaped her. One long ramble not posted takes issue with me referring to her as “Honey” in a reply, so the idea that this is my blog she’s plopped herself into, a fact that conveys upon me the right to call anyone “Honey” if I so desire, must be beyond her. She also took to accusing my children of being terrorists, mentioning assault weapons and drones FFS!, which is more shit than I’ll allow anyone to throw at a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.
On the moderation thing …
I rarely filter comments, choosing almost all of the time to approve what comes and let the chips fall where they may. As I slept last night, a flurry of them came in from her, each wackier than the last. Now, I’m no fan of hers, but I’m also not a cruel person, so opted not to publish the comments she sent overnight. Should anyone think this was an attempt to edit her, it was for her own good.
One small example in a screen shot so no one thinks I’m making this up …
No way I’m posting any more of that stuff than necessary to make the point …
On the adoption front, over the years I have made it very clear that I am a strong advocate of ethical adoption, that I favor children having families over some horrible alternatives, that I support all efforts to open records, believe that everything possible should be done to rid the world of poverty, cruelty, war, greed and selfishness, all of which impact children, and I don’t suffer fools.
I’ll suggest Lori Carangelo stop spiking the Ensure, become friendly with her meds and stop haranguing those who don’t agree that adoption creates mass murderers.
A: Every useless bit ever mentally digested pops up even decades later.
Q: What is really fucking annoying?
I have a prodigious memory, one that recalls without prompts everything from the profoundly impactive to the ridiculously trivial and much in between. I remember names, events and circumstances leading to them, jokes, phone numbers, all the verses of the Mr. Ed theme song … and a zillion other bits of pop culture … recipes, teachers, lessons, and much more going back now a very long way.
If sometimes comes in handy, and as the depository for life’s detritus in my family my brothers can find me useful. At other times, however, it is just fucking annoying.
Take last night for example …
I’m trying to get my head to slow down enough to drift off to sleep when I’m suddenly conjuring images of the guy in the photo at the top of this post and wondering what ever happened to Commando Cody.
While sleep evades, I recall buzzing around a living room with arms outstretched, then reaching down to punch an imagined communicator button where a lapel pin might go, cocking my head toward my chest and sending messages as I fly from the couch and run patterns on a braided rug as a little brother tries to mimic the antics.
Because I can, I Google ‘Commando Cody’, find images I instantly recognize and the disturbing information that this was a TV show that aired 12 episodes over a period of two months in 1955.
I was FOUR.
NBC, weekly, Saturdays, 11:00 to 11:30 AM, July 16 to October 8, 1955 …
Two years after their (very unsuccessful) theatrical release, the 12 films were sold to NBC, which ran them during the late summer and fall of 1955, only after all other space adventure TV programs had vanished completely from the air.
What else is locked up in this head of mine that might seep out in the dark of night? If recall of not only the sights and sounds, but also the true title and lead character of a TV show that was barely a blip on the radar of entertainment for an eye blink of time when I was four-years-old can slide from a cranial fold into conscious thought fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus more than half a century later it’s a wonder I ever get any sleep.
New Year’s Eve is a turning point and I can almost not remember the last time I didn’t spend a portion of the event not engaging in an internal debate over what was more depressing — the year I just went through or the one I’m facing. (I know that’s a lot of negatives, but ’tis the season … )
Since none of my children died in 2011, it certainly wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, but there wasn’t much else to rejoice over. For the most part it’s been a 365-day slog with far-too-regular, far-too-often-futile attempts at dodging incoming shit asteroids.
Yep. So much like last year that I could just repost the blog I wrote as 2010 closed out, but I’m just that much older and that much more jaded, so less inclined to end on the up-note I managed then.
One more year of the disappointment parade has me beat to a pulp. Having managed to whip up anticipation of breakthroughs and opportunities to grab a brass ring or two, in retrospect I have to wonder how any glimmer of optimism ever managed to reflect off dreary, dull surfaces in the first place. How flickers of hope appeared in such soggy, dismal ground is a mystery.
I know. I know. New beginnings … anything’s possible … if I set my mind to it … blah, blah, blah … or as Anne Lamott put it: Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
Experience, however, has me turn more toward Nietzshe when it comes to hope:
In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Since my dawns are usually accompanied by anxiety, dread and a case of the shakes that lets me know I am, indeed, awake, if I were to hold some hope somewhere I would like it to take more the shape of a good night’s sleep, and prolonging torments sounds less constructive than admitting defeat.
I’m tired, you see: tired of working my ass off for zero return; tired of trying to mold a world around me that refuses to go anything but pear-shaped; tired of convincing myself a better day is in the making only to take another load of shit to the head; tired of pretending there’s anything within my control to change for the positive. Tired to the point of no longer being able to work up a head of steam or care enough about anything to form an opinion worth writing about.
Plans turn to dust at my feet, so I now just duck and cover as best I can while working on a “don’t give a shit” stance that might at least allow me to keep standing between hits. It’s not a case of damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t because there’s little I have options to either do or don’t do.
One thing I can and do do is try to find the lessons in this life and own up to my role in my demise. No doubt about it, I’ve made some crappy choices, been too harsh, too opinionated, too defensive. I’ve neglected relationships that should have been cultivated and cultivated some that didn’t deserve the efforts. I have a sharp tongue that defensively masks a damaged heart and forces distance that would be better bridged. I harbor resentments and forget nothing, so carry toxins and use them as excuses. Although generous with joy, I am selfish with misery, a trait that is a setup for loneliness. I am intolerant, short-fused and overly-impressed with my propensity to be right.
Dwelling on my faults, as active a venture as that is, does little to give hope, however, as I don’t see the basic me changing much in the time I have left. I do my best to practice kindness, to contribute in positive ways, to keep my fucking mouth shut, but am nonetheless still subject to the knee-jerk reflexes of a lifetime.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Sam and Cj keep me going, giving good reason to get up, get moving and put on a happy face. They keep me laughing on the outside as I agonize over how to keep them motivated, happy and secure, pay their school fees, provide for their futures and answer all the questions I have answers to as Mark disappears into his new life and adds to their long list of losses. They are what make regrets impossible and my constant reminder that things do happen for a reason.
Looking backward down my path, it does all make sense, one-thing-leading-to-another-to-another-to-here, and there’s not one thing I would change as I’d fear altering the present reality. But that doesn’t mean this reality is any less sucky on a day-to-day, year-by-year basis or that I’m any less tired or scared or worried.
Any more questions on why I haven’t been writing here much? Whiny poor-me-life-sucks posts bore the shit out of me, especially when they’re written by me, and since I have little else to say I’m shutting up as I’m shutting down.
If I had hope left, I’d pump it up about now, grab at my disintegrated bootstraps and yank. As it is, however, I’ll keep an eye out for a set of jangling keys to divert me from my funk and call that ringing in the New Year.
As for hope, this is about the best I can do …
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
It’s the Day Before Christmas and the Tenrec is Stirring
It’s the day before Christmas
and the house is a wreck
The kids are excited
like dogs, cat and tenrec
The tortoise is unfazed
and Ryan’s asleep
and I’m hoping like crazy
the turkey will keep.
There’s a breeze in the palm trees
some waves in the ocean
Yet, no matter how normal,
the kids have a notion
that tomorrow is special
(I need some of their potion!)
The tree does it’s spinning
all covered in bobs
and tomorrow we’re dinning
on veranda with mobs
of friends from all places –
from Texas to Perth –
and the hope is all faces
will beam forth with mirth
I’m missing the heck
out of everyone far
and hoping that someday
we’ll find we all are
within distance to share
holiday hugs and kissing
and all end up where
we can pause all this missing
From all of us here
down in this hemisphere
Merry Christmas to you
that we hold very dear.
We miss you, we love you
We hope you are happy,
and know you all know
Christmas makes me sappy
With love from Sandra, Sam and Cj …
Christmas gifts being rather a big deal for 9-& 6-year olds, a top priority in the run-up to the holiday is getting some … gifts, that is. Wandering the maze that is Victoria’s huddled shops in search of anything that is age-appropriate and not complete crap that will fall apart on first use is one method employed.
Mail order from abroad is another, but unless one pulls this off sometime around August, the chance of much getting here before a new year dawns is slim, so I try to do my Christmas ordering … well … about August.
Family and friends living in the real world tend to put off their shopping until the 4th quarter of the year, often until even November or early December, thinking it worth the extra shit load of dosh they pay FedEx to make bloody sure the gifts arrive in time to make it under the tree. This year I know of at least five parcels sent at least two weeks ago, all dosed with the added cost of “priority” shipping, all with the naive hope that the Ex in FedEx doesn’t stand for EXcuse-us-for-being-total-incompetents.
Which brings me to a Seychelles Christmas tradition I “celebrated” today. It goes like this …
Yesterday a FedEx delivery guy had something with Sam’s name on it, but decided driving down my road was too much trouble, so he “delivered” to another Benoiton, asking them to pass it along to me. The passing happened this morning … the 23rd of December … which some may think is the end of the tale.
What was put into my hands was not Sam’s Christmas gift from his uncle, but rather a wad of papers saying Sam’s Christmas gift from his uncle had arrived in Seychelles, that the paperwork had been processed and that I was to take said wad of papers, drive to the airport cargo terminal and clear it through Customs — Customs having announced that they would close today at 11am … it being the Friday before Christmas and all.
Knowing that gifts from uncles are cool and that Sam would be pleased to find one under the tree on Christmas, I made the drive, then did the dance, the steps to which I know only too well after so many years here. It goes like this:
Step one: Find a place to park.
Step two: Stand in line at counter for 20 minutes.
Step three: Hand paperwork to woman behind glass (Probably bullet-proof.)
Step four: Have woman look at paper, then point to another line.
Step five: Stand in new line.
Step six: Wait 20 minutes.
Step seven: Hand paperwork to woman behind glass.
Step eight: Wait while woman eats from a takeaway box, looks at paper, rifles around other papers, chats with other people, does a calculation, fills out another paper, hands back the now-one-sheet-thicker stack of papers, then points to the line you had been in before.
Step nine: Stand in line for 20 minutes.
Step 10: Hand paper to woman behind glass, then pay 334 Seychelles Rupees (about $30 US) in import duty.
Step 11: Get receipt attached to pile of papers.
Step 12: Woman points to the line you just came from.
Step 13: Stand in line you’d just come from.
Step 14: Wait 20 minutes.
Step 15: Hand paper to woman behind glass.
Step 16: Wait while woman drinks a Coke, chats with other people, checks receipt that shows you’ve paid the import duty.
Step 17: Follow woman to cage where goods are stored.
Step 18: Wait 20 minutes while she rummages around every bloody parcel that’s arrived in the country over the past month while asking what yours looks like … and since it’s a gift you’ve never seen, you have no idea.
Step 19: Be handed a box.
Step 20: Take box, then follow woman back to counter where she goes back behind glass.
Step 21: Wait 20 minutes.
Step 22: Woman produces book you are to sign.
Step 23: Wait 20 minutes while woman looks through book for place where you are supposed to sign.
Step 25: Get the FUCK outta there with your parcel.
Piece of cake, heh?
So … Sam’s gift from his uncle is here. Cj’s, unfortunately, is not. It’s probably sitting in a huge pile of FedEx boxes that have come in over the past two weeks that have not been processed because those whose job it is to process them have been overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs doing, so have slowed the process to an imperceptible crawl.
The kids should have the rest of their gifts from abroad sometime in January, at which time I’ll get to do this all over again …
(And people wonder why I’m not posting much these days … )