Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why, Yes,

I feel fine. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What's in a Name?

Today, I received an email urging me to buy cosmetic products for my Administrative Professional on April 22nd. I think they used to be called Administrative Assistants and before that, in the antediluvian past, Secretaries. It was considered innovational when Secretary's Day was originated in 1952, for now those thankless clerical workers would be acknowledged. Eventually, the word "Secretary" became shameful and lacking in importance, so now we have Administrative Professional's Day.

Everybody is a professional these days. I wonder if ditch diggers are called Entrenchment Professionals, and what about chain gangs? Would they be called Linked Incarceration Professionals? (L.I.P's.) Immersion, Agitation and China Purification Professionals = dishwashers. Garbage collectors, called "garbage men" in my youth, are probably classified as Environmental Waste Accumulation & Distribution Professionals.

I have issues with this pretentious renaming of livelihoods: Everyone deserves respect regardless of the kind of work he/she performs. Why must we dress it up to sound more esteemed than it is? Garbage collection, for example, is a very important job. If no one performed this service, our entire society would very quickly perish of nasty plagues.

There is also the matter of semantics. When I was a child, a "professional" referred to a doctor, lawyer or dentist. Later, the meaning expanded to include those who were paid for doing something which other people did for recreation, like athletics. Or sex. (Which can, of course, be combined endlessly, but that is another post entirely.)

There is also the assumption that if secretaries are not given a more important-sounding title, their self-worth will suffer. Or perhaps it's a cynical ploy to ensure a steady stream of people willing to perform secretarial duties for their bosses. And here we open another can of worms - the corporate hierarchy. I have no problem with the fact that there are bosses - those with the most training, ability and experience should absolutely be running things, and anarchy in the workplace is to be avoided. I just don't like the word "boss." It has ugly connotations. I especially dislike the term "superior" to describe a person who ranks higher than another because I am overly steeped in the quaint notion that all are created equal, even though some of us earn far more than others.

All these ruminations aside, since I do not actually employ an Administrative Professional, I will not have to take him or her to lunch on the 22nd, nor bestow said Administrative Professional with burnt offerings. But I certainly hope that like all people, they are appreciated and rewarded every day for their work, not just once a year.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Love Poem by Eight-Year Old

(A note found on the playground
pinned by wind against the chain-link fence)

I simply love this!

From: Daniel A.
To: Meesha

In case you guest
I love you it is a present
to see you.
When I dreem.
I dreem you Not gold
not a cristal pond not a bird
singing evry song
you ever herd jus you
Only. None else

Because I love you
and love to say your name
I saw you
and remember this
Thanks you for a dreem

Who? can take
Your plase

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tales of a Tired Road Warrior

Every time I drive my car, I notice that people are getting stupider. We are devolving, which seems the opposite of how our human journey should be going. I have witnessed automotive maneuvers which indicate either a collective false sense of security or a massive death wish. They all share delusions of invincibility which could only be attributed to the widespread wearing of superhero cloaks.

I have a theory. We no longer need the survival skills of our forebears, mainly because theirs were so acute. They had to be extremely clever and work hard every day to provide themselves and their families with things we take for granted: shelter, food and clothing. They had no time or energy for entertainment so it wasn't a big issue. As time went by, they invented machines to do the work of men and large animals, and eventually, stores to buy everything they needed so they would not have to labor to acquire them anymore.

When the wheel came along, life got much easier. It became the basis for vehicles that would be pulled by oxen or men, until finally engines were invented. The wheel had become the cornerstone of life in so-called "civilized" nations.

This was Progress.

Unfortunately, the less we were forced to exercise our brains, the more they atrophied. Most jobs could be performed by machines that were faster and more accurate than we were, which left us with huge blocks of time to fill with more pleasurable pursuits. Soon, we began to show signs of helplessness and confusion, traits which would have consigned our ancestors to abandonment by their clans since they could not contribute their share. While I would never advocate letting our helpless fend for themselves, I wish that we could have a wholesale reawakening of the magnificent powers that must still lie within us, our cellular memory of when using our brains was a life-or-death matter.

I wonder if there are spiritual consequences to not fully utilizing our excellent brains and extraordinary bodies. We go to gyms to work muscles that used to be active in the daily course of fighting off physical threats -- large, hungry animals, warriors from other tribes who wanted our share of the scant provisions offered by the environment, exposure to the elements, and to build shelters with our own hands, hunt and gather food, spin and weave fabric to make protective clothing, natural medicines... there was no leisure. There was only self-reliance and constant improvisation.

Perhaps the saddest loss of all in modern life is that so few people think for themselves but judge the merits of a thing by how popular it is, which is the kind of mob rule that should have been left behind in high school. Such prefabricated thought processes are junk food for the brain, readily digestible and so little effort that we barely notice how un-fulfilling they are.

We tend to believe that we are the pinnacle of Creation, the most powerful race of humans to ever walk the earth. We treat each other badly, and in every situation assume that we have the right of way. We have forgotten any semblance of fair play, of how to share the world with others. In our mindless arrogance, we see only our own objectives, regardless of who is standing in the way. Worst of all, we take our immense good fortune to be living in a time of such limitless possibility for granted. Instead of giving thanks for all those who worked themselves to death over many centuries so that we wouldn't have to, we feel entitled. When we could be using our excellent brains to develop ourselves further, most of us are content to do nothing but rest on laurels which are not even our own.

I think a little humility is in order. And a lot of driving lessons.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do

As we pulled into a parking space at Safeway, I noticed that the driver of the car next to us was a man we see in the neighborhood regularly. I smiled and Flip said "hi" as we passed him but he didn't acknowledge us. He never does. He inhabits his own world which seems to have nobody in it but himself. It is not unusual to see him walking with his characteristic bent over but manic gait, gesticulating wildly as he talks loudly to himself while riffling the newspaper vending machines. Trust me, there is no cell phone in the mix.

"If that guy has a license and I don't..." said Flip. I knew where this was going. We assume that Flip's driver's license was revoked when his doctor reported his condition to the DMV. "Maybe they don't know about him," he said.

But I do. And knowing that Froot Loop is on the road does not add to my sense of security.

I glanced back at the other car, a decrepit Edsel station wagon that looks haunted. Our friend was conversing with aliens. Later, I got in line at the check stand behind him. He was eating a handful of cookies from the bakery. The cashier looked at the crumpled wax paper he showed her and said, "Cookies?" He didn't respond. "How many were there?" she asked. He stared fixedly out the window at the parking lot. She rang up something and he extracted a withered bill from his sock and silently handed it to her. Apparently, he only speaks to invisible people.

A few months ago, he sported an impressive shiner on his right eye. One can only guess whom he offended. It didn't slow him down. I saw him rush into a launderette and methodically open every machine and bang it shut, arguing with himself the whole time. At least arguing with oneself assures that you always win.

Last year, his foot was in a cast and then a surgical boot, the kind orthopedists issue when something is badly sprained or broken. I asked him if he was ok as he whipped by me on the sidewalk, pantomiming wildly, even though I knew he wouldn't answer. (I'm an optimist.)

Flip has decided to zoom around making chimpanzee gestures and talking to himself so the DMV will give him his license back. Stay tuned.