Saturday, March 7, 2020

An interesting Q&A exercise Part Two

The very thing you've been searching for
Has been yours all along

~~ "Salt in the Rainbow" by Duran Duran

I'm so wordy that I needed a second entry to finish these questions. 

I make no apologies for that. I like to write and when I'm in the mood, I like to talk. I go for most of the day without saying much, other than talking to the cat or the TV, so when Ken gets home from work, he often gets an earful. 

But more often than not, I write it out rather than talk it out. It amazes me that in my younger days, I could easily spend an hour or two or three just talking with family and friends. Now I have to work myself up to making a phone call. 

That's not a problem when I write. 

So here is the second part of these excellent and interesting questions. 

6. What sound or noise do you love? 

There are many. Most involve music. A crunchy guitar chord, a sweet lyric or turn of phrase, a backbeat that rumbles in my chest. But sometimes it's the quiet sounds of rustling leaves, the chirp of a hummingbird, the rustling of a chipmunk in the leaves. 

My favorite nature sound has to be the sound of the peeping frogs in our ponds in the summer. When I'm lying in bed at night with the window open, their peeps are my lullaby.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? 

As with #6, there are many. Screaming kids. Dirt bikes. Gunfire. Loud mufflers on cars. Anything that disturbs the peace around our little retreat here in the boondocks. Loud people, whether it's cackling women or dudebros trying to out-shout each other. If it's not a concert or a game, I love my peace and quiet. 

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

An easy one. Author. I just wish I had more creativity. I am still working on that. 

9. What profession would you not like to do? 

Beyond the obvious, like working in a slaughterhouse or working the streets or breaking rocks in the hot sun, when it comes to white-collar work, I think being an accountant would be the most mind-numbing job possible. No human interaction, just number-crunching. Even in my job as a Microbiologist, I worked with others to get out the work and consulted with them, and felt that I was helping patients. I'm sure there are many accountants who find great personal satisfaction in their work, and I applaud them for it. It's something that would wither my spirit.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 

Who says I'm going to arrive at the Pearly Gates? Heh. 

Once again, I'm an atheist, so this question is merely an exercise in fanciful thinking for me. If I were to presume that this would actually happen, I don't think I'd wait for "God" to say anything to me. I think I'd have a shit-ton of questions for it and plenty to say. 

God: Welcome, my child. What questions do you have for me? 

Me: First of all, I'm not your child. I'm a grown-ass woman. And I've got some questions for YOU." 

Buckle up, pal, because you've got a lot to answer for.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

An interesting Q&A exercise

The question isn't answered if an answer isn't questioned
An answer has a meaning when new meaning has a truth

~~ "A Question Isn't Answered" by Temples

With the recent passing of James Lipton, a meme has been circulating on Facebook of the questions he would routinely ask his guests. I found them intriguing enough that I thought I would answer them here. 

A short response isn't enough to explain the answers. These are intriguing questions to me because they hint at something deeper. Why did you answer the way you did? Exploring that is as much fun as thinking of what the answer is. 

Sometimes I am a little too introspective for my own good. I can easily get lost in my own head. Most of the time, it's a pretty fun place to be. I have really interesting dreams and my mind takes me to some unexpected places sometimes. I don't mind it at 4 in the afternoon, but it usually happens at 4 in the morning, which means that I have some sleepless nights. Maybe if I write about this tonight, my brain will be satisfied and I can get a good night's sleep! So, let's go! 

1. What is your favorite word? 

Penultimate. I used to think this meant 'even more ultimate,' but I learned from Dick Cavett, of all people, what it meant. It means 'second to last.' I don't know why I love it. It's a little obscure, but not archaic or anything. I love to use it as often as possible, as in "It's the penultimate episode of this season of 'The Walking Dead' and I am so excited!"

A close second is one I learned recently: petrichor, which is the smell of rain falling on dry ground, like after a drought. What a wonderful word, one whose meaning can evoke the exact smell in your brain! 

2. What is your least favorite word?

I honestly can't think of one. I know the usual answer here is 'moist,' but I quite like that word, mostly because I know the way it pushes people's buttons! It's also fun to say in a whispery voice. Try it. 

There are many concepts of words that I hate, words like 'lynching' and 'Nazis.'  But that's hating the actual thing, not the word. I just can't think of a word that makes me cringe when I hear it. But hey man, I worked as a Microbiologist, so I routinely dealt with words like 'sputum' and 'pus' and 'exudate.' If anyone can come up with an actual word that grosses me out, I'll buy you a beer. 

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? 

First, I would like to see a comma between 'spiritually' and 'or,' but that's another topic entirely. I'll take each separately because while connected, they can all be very different for me. 

a) Creatively: Seeing evocative photos or paintings. Or abandoned buildings, especially hospitals. Things that make me wonder what the story is behind it. Those are the things that make me want to write a story, to try to imagine what happened there. Edward Hopper's paintings especially do that to me, and I once wrote a story about a picture I took of a light shining on a corner of a metal building. Abandoned hospitals make me wonder about patients who were there. This muse doesn't hit me on the head very often, but when it does, I love to free my mind and see where it takes me. Knowing me, it's usually fairly dark!

b) Spiritually: Well, I'm an atheist, so religious stuff doesn't move me this way. However, I find that nature is what makes me feel 'spiritual,' whatever that truly means. Sitting outside in the summer, feeling a warm breeze on my face, hearing the birds in the trees, a butterfly landing on my arm and watching its proboscis touch my skin. Why does it do that? Is it getting moisture off my arm? I don't know, but it delights me and makes me feel joy and awe. And it tickles. The world is an amazing place and I guess that is where I find my inspiration for spiritual matters. 

c) Emotionally: How much time do you have? Seriously, so many things make me feel emotion. The older I get, the more emotional I get. Even the simplest, silliest things can just slaughter me. A commercial. A song. A phrase in a piece of writing. The way Sheeba meows at me and looks up at me and wants me to pet his head. Of course, I can also feel anger and sadness, but more often, I feel joy. All three of these things are connected, too. Integrating them brings me happiness and makes for a contented life. 

4. What turns you off? 

Another two-parter for me. You might notice a common thread between the two.

a) Bullies: I have absolutely zero patience for anyone who bullies someone else. If you pick on someone, there is something wrong with you and you need to see a shrink, you insecure, petty jerk. 

b) Willful ignorance: There is no excuse for this. If you don't know about something, educate yourself. Don't say crap like, "I don't know about that and I don't need to know." Just regular old ignorance is understandable. We're all ignorant of certain things and it's okay to say "I don't know," but it should usually be followed by "but I'm going to find out the answer." That is how we learn. 

Now ask yourself who I might have in mind when I'm thinking of a willfully ignorant bully. Be best, people. 

5. What is your favorite curse word?

Well, fuck, this is an easy one! I didn't even have to think about this one. It's just so all-encompassing, you know? You can express approval or disgust. You can tell someone to go away or you can express desire for them. It gives everything a little extra oomph. It is truly the most versatile curse word and you can even make up your own variations on it. A personal favorite I've begun using lately is 'fucko.' I'm sure I didn't originate it, but it signifies the worst disapproval you can give. But you can even change the meaning by the tone of your voice. If you call someone a fucking lunatic when they're coming at you with a meat cleaver, you're expressing genuine horror at their action and their state of mind. But if your friend or whoever makes an outrageous joke or does something wild but fun, you can say, "You fucking lunatic!" with a laugh, and it's a whole different meaning. Isn't that fucking fun?

I'll admit that I have a mouth like a sailor and it's gotten worse the past three years (see Question #4) but I can behave myself when I need to. I don't talk that way around certain people, including kids, but if you're my friend, you get the full fucking vocabulary! Case in point: I just saw a bug on the ceiling and thought, "Fuck, is that what I think it is?" I walked closer and saw that it was a stink bug. I said, "Oh, fucking hell. Fuck me!" I hate those things.

This is getting long enough, so I'll finish the rest of the questions another time. In the meantime, put this in your earholes! 

Monday, March 2, 2020

Mayor Pete's Wild Ride

Sun turnin' 'round with graceful motion
We're setting off with soft explosion
Bound for a star with fiery oceans
It's so very lonely, you're a hundred light years from home

~~ "2000 Light Years From Home" by The Rolling Stones

Pete's Rules of the Road
Not quite a year ago, I waited in line on a cold, rainy April day. A bunch of us were waiting together and despite the weather, the mood was happy and excited. An occasional person came by to pass out stickers and buttons. When the doors finally opened and we got into the venue, it wasn't much warmer, but at least we were out of the wind and rain. 

We were in a large space in one of the old Studebaker buildings. Part of the building had been renovated but not this area. Rusty beams traversed the high ceiling and water ran down some of the walls. As the song says, "We're packed pretty tight in here tonight," so it wasn't freezing cold. But it was damp and chilly and we had a while to wait. 

A large American flag was draped on one of the side walls. A stage and podium surrounded by risers stood and waited for occupants. The backdrop of the stage was a large banner stating "Pete 2020." We were there to see our two-term Mayor make a big announcement and it was no big secret what it was: our Mayor Pete was running for President. We waited through a few speakers and then it was time to hear from Pete. 

Even though we knew what was coming, when he said the words it made me cry: 

"My name is Pete Buttigieg. They call me Mayor Pete. I'm a proud son of South Bend. And I am running for President of the United States." 

In the subsequent months, I watched as people got to know the person I'd come to love and respect as my Mayor. His intelligence, his eloquence, his empathy, his pragmatism, his ability to throw shade when it needed to be thrown. Town halls, debates, media appearances every time you turned around (thanks to Lis Smith, his brilliant Communications Director), a whirlwind of events as he tried to talk to as many people as possible. In that entire time, I never saw him get rattled or flustered or lose control. As a Navy intelligence officer, I think it can definitely be said that he has an even keel. 

We saw him win—by the narrowest of margins, but a win nonetheless—Iowa and place a close second in New Hampshire. Then came Nevada and South Carolina, states where he didn't do as well. 

Last night, Mayor Pete's Wild Ride came to an end right where it started, here in South Bend. He and his campaign looked at the math and concluded that it just didn't add up to stay in. So right before Super Tuesday, he ended his campaign. If I had to speculate, I would guess that it was a combination of three things. 

1. He saw the fractured field and for the good of the party, he dropped out in order for his supporters to coalesce around one of the other moderate candidates. 

2. There were some dealings made between either another campaign or the DNC. 

3. His campaign was running out of money. Pete and Chasten are middle-class Midwesterners and far from millionaires, let alone billionaires. No self-funding there. 

So we are at the end of this run. However, this is actually the start of a new chapter for our Mayor Pete. As one website put it, "This is what a rising star looks like." I don't know what is in store for him in the future, but I know that he and Chasten had better put on their shades because I do know that it's a bright one. As the song above says, "Bound for a star with fiery oceans." 

While I'm sad, and I was practically in mourning last night, I know this isn't the end for Pete. He's got a lot left to do for this country and I know he will serve his country well. He will answer the call when it is made. 

Please allow me a moment of reflection. The graphic up at the top is Pete's "Rules of the Road." That's what his campaign workers and supporters signed up for. Pete's current campaign might be over, but those Rules are going to stay with me. We simply must remember the main goal for this 2020 election: make this current "president" a one-termer. Do not get lost in the weeds. It is possible to stay passionate without trashing other candidates. I struggle with that at times, but I try my best not to say it publicly! We can do this. We need to do this. Think of American livers everywhere. Please save our livers! 

I hope I get to see Pete downtown once in a while this summer. I hope I get to thank him. I'm a proud daughter of South Bend, and made us all proud.