Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Consequence, not Karma. Core and not condition.

Consequence, not Karma. Core and not condition.

Minding my own business.
Then I'm not.
And sometimes (this is where it gets tricky) it's better that way.

Standing in line at Sam's Club. We're all waiting our turn. Everyone is always in a hurry, me included. Someone almost always waiting for me to show. Always something expected. It's okay. I must like it. Cliche, I know, but giving does feel good.

The woman in front of me is almost finished. I'm pre-writing a check while I wait. I don't even notice who's behind me until a girl with a double-sized stocked-to-the-hilt flat-bed comes up and asks a man, who reaches his cart (parked behind me and a little to the right) at the same time she pulls hers into line, if he is, in fact, in line. She wasn't mean, just not sure. He obviously got to the line and forgot to get laundry detergent and maybe something else, because he's rushing back with two items in each hand. He moved his cart to the side, probably because he wasn't sure if he would make it back in time to not hold up the line. So they both get to the spot at the same time. His cart-load is much smaller than hers, and she doesn't seem to mind if he IS in front of her, but before he even gets a chance to answer, the almighty commander of who gets-to-go, the cashier, says to him, in a very loud and condescending voice "THERE'S NO HOLDING YOUR PLACE IN LINE!"

The man responds very calmly, "I wasn't holding my place. If I was holding my place I would have had someone stand here for me."

So I turn around, and say to him (because the cashier so obviously tried to embarrass him) "...Plus, you got back before your turn came up. Look, I haven't even gone yet. I would have watched your cart for you. And I turned to the cashier and said, "I've done that a few times: forgotten something. My cart was too heavy to take all the way back to the aisle, so I just leave the cart and run back." (Most people really don't mind because if you're not back in time, they'll just go ahead of you, no harm done.) So she says to both of us, "Well, you should see the fights that break out over this." And we say "Really? What a shame, over something so small..." and the guy finishes with, "and especially considering the music playing, how can anyone want to fight?" And I laugh, because it's Christmas music. Haha. Right, how can anyone fight over a place in line while Christmas music is playing.? (He WAS being ironic, but also sarcastic. Not sure she got that).

So then he asks what I'm baking. And I say I have a restaurant. And he says, "Oh, here, let me give you my card" and he adds, "but you have to sign it in front of me." And I suspiciously ask "I have to sign it? What kind of card is it?" and he says, its a PBA card. And the cashier says "What kind of card IS it? And he says it's a PBA card. And he turns to me and he says, "If you ever get into trouble, just pull out this card."
I told you, I don't believe in Karma. But I do believe in consequence.

Sometimes, I guess it pays to look out for one another. And not because some kind of reward will ensue, but because it feels good to not let other people get bullied. In this case, though, I have to admit, it felt good twice.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Phonies and other such sort of fancy hats

"What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff -- I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

-- J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield

"This fall I think you're riding for -- it's a special kind of fall, a horrible kind. The man falling isn't permitted to feel or hear himself hit bottom. He just keeps falling and falling. The whole arrangement's designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn't supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn't supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started."

-- J.D. Salinger's Mr. Antolini, to Holden

"...you're going to start getting closer and closer -- that is, if you want to, and if you look for it and wait for it -- to the kind of information that will be very, very dear to your heart. Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them -- if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry."

-- J.D. Salinger's Mr. Antolini, to Holden

I am going to admit that I'm not as well-read in fiction as I am in fact or in poetry. I haven't always had the time to read large chunks of fiction on a regular basis, though I did read large amounts of literature for college as well as huge amounts of other materials. After taking care of Austin, going to school, working up to three jobs at a time, having then recovering from brain surgery, and finally opening the restaurant with Joe -- well it didn't leave me much time to do more than get a book in edgewise here and there. I've read a lot of the classics and a lot of philosophers, though not nearly as many as I should have by my age.

Lately I've been catching up and I can't believe how exciting it is, although at the same time I can remember that before Austin was born and I had only me to look out for, I'd stay up all night just to finish a book.

I finally read Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, the annotated version. I wish I'd read it a long time ago. No, don't bother with the movie. It skips too much. You have to read the book. You must, especially if you're female, read the book. Oh, please do.

I'd like also to recommend J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher In The Rye" if you haven't read it already. It's been on my stack of "books to read next" for the past year, but here's the thing: I don't know if I loved it for it's own sake, or if I loved it because of how well it tied in with the movie I watched Wednesday night: Chapter 27, "A film about Mark David Chapman in the days leading up to the infamous murder of Beatle John Lennon" (1) starring a pimply-faced, plumper-than-I'm-used-to-seeing Jared Ledo as David Chapman. After the movie I knew I had to read the book immediately. After which I said to myself, "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." And I felt kind of sick for a minute, thinking about John Lennon's death. Outside the context of the book, the movie isn't much more than a documentary. But within the context of the book, the movie is utterly creepy.

The book, published in 1951, "remains widely read; as of 2004, the novel was selling about 250,000 copies per year, with total worldwide sales over 65 million." (1) I wonder if it would have seemed as creepy a read had I not seen the movie before reading it. I'm certain I still would have loved the way Salinger handled the character's contradictory, digressive and progressively more and more depressing nature.

I'm not crazy, but mood swings, I know.

So I wondered, given his nature, how many people self-professed "yellow" Holden would have really kept from running off that cliff. Being the catcher in the rye, and ALL. And was he really in the shower during the incident? And what were the other 19 times? I love when a book makes me wonder about a character as if it were a person. And I love that great books, in general, remind me that I'm on the very end of time line -- the very end -- the next segment of which has yet to happen and so does not exist. And that we are all children, never knowing where the edge of the cliff is, where, the window.

(1) Wikipedia