Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's in an anthem?

On the episode of Glee that focused on anthems, among other things, we witnessed the character of Loren Zizes singing, “I Know What Boys Like”, which she called her anthem, because it spoke so well to and about her.  If that’s the definition of an anthem (and it really isn’t on any level) then before two years ago today, my anthem would have been Uncle Kracker’s “In A Little While.”  To me, the song speaks to every level and age plateau in life, at least for those with a hole in their lives.
              
“Here’s to the good life, or so they say”… an expectation of the best being yet to come.  “All those parties and games that all those people play”—what to expect and what we should hold as an end unto itself.  “They tell me this is the place to be”… and these are the best years of your life.  “All these beautiful people, and nothing to see”: the realization that it’s all a fa├žade and nothing of substance.  I felt like this was my life, first high school, then college, then when I moved to Lansing as a young adult; I’d finally gotten to where and when I was told that I needed to be to really enjoy life.  Of course, I knew from my Christian upbringing that this wasn’t necessarily going to be true, but I still hoped that the sentiment would still be truer than it had been before, and be less of a lie, that reaching a certain age meant a leveling out of how much life sucks.

But the bridge, or second half of every verse, is the part that really made the song mean so much to me.  “Sometimes I feel like something is gone here, something is wrong here”, something’s missing and it sure ain’t right that way.  Then where he sort of exclaims, “I DON’T BELONG HERE.”  Not just the line, but also the way he sings it.  You just want to scream, “THIS IS NOT WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE!”  Similar to the way Freddie Mercury screams/sings “LET ME OUT” in “Under Pressure.”    I can’t tell you how many times I just felt like I didn’t belong where I was.  Every dayjob I’d had since leaving college, every group of roommates (except Edwin), at the radio station during the day when almost none of the salespeople had any clue who I was—even at church of all places, where I felt out of place at the various ministries I was in or tried to be a part of, or during the early morning service because I was the only one under thirty not with their parents or in college, or at the later morning service where I wasn’t moved by the contemporary praise songs to lift my hands to Heaven (that’s more my problem though… I was raised in a conservative worship tradition, and raising hands still feels weird to me).  I did feel comfortable at the evening services, which were smaller, but even then that was only when I could make it.  Going back home to my parents place to visit, I felt like I belonged at home, but there was always the issue of how I didn’t feel comfortable in the rest of the town just because it’s changed so much over the years, and even being at my parents’ place carried the reminder that I’d soon have to drive back to Lansing, so there was no point in getting too comfortable.  Which bridges nicely into the line, “Sometimes I feel like a stranger in town”… duh, not just my hometown, but Lansing too.  I was supposed to have been just passing through.  “And I’ve lost what I found, it’ll all turn around.”  Maybe just about having to make sacrifices to set the things in motion that you want in motion and in the desired vector.

“In a little while, I’ll be thinking about you.  In a little while I’ll still be here without you.”  For me, the desire for love and to be loved.  “You never gave me a reason to doubt you.”  Can’t have a reason if you don’t have they who’d give you the reason. 

“On the other side of the coin, there’s a face, there’s a memory somewhere that I can’t erase.”  Past love?  Past memories?  We’ve all got them, and they still come back to us.  “And there’s a place that I’ll find someday, but sometimes I feel like it’s slipping away.”  The destination that you feel called to, but that’s coupled with the doubts that you’ll actually arrive there.  And the last verse.  “Some things are lost, some left behind, some things are better left for someone else to find.”  Let the past be the past, and have someone else learn the lessons for themselves, too.  “Maybe in time I can finally see, I just wonder, wonder do you think about me?”  Maybe I’ll get over it, but are you struggling with the memory of me as I do with yours? 

As I said, this was my theme song.  I identified so very strongly with that song… up until two years ago, when I finally found the nerve to approach a girl I was interested in.  And eventually I got her interested in me, too.  It’s proven to have been the best thing I ever did.  This girl has turned my world upside-down.  I mentioned a bit of it last year in a blog on this date, but it’s still true, maybe even truer, to think about how she’s just changed my world.  I’m now living on the other side of the country, making plans to move to another country to be with her.  This year has definitely been a harder year for the both of us.  But I believe I can speak for her as well when I say that this past year’s struggles were much harder and nearly tore us apart a couple times, that we’ve both had to step up more and work harder to make this work, but that we’re also both happy that we did and happier to have each other in our lives, and that we very much look forward to a life together, a future, an eternity.  And any time I start to doubt it, all I need to do is call and hear her voice, even if it’s the recording on her voice mail, and everything returns as to how I know we belong together.  And I don’t know if she’s ever felt any kind of creeping doubt (at least not since I moved to Washington), but hopefully there’s something about me that she just needs to see or hear again to spark her memory about how much I love her and how much she loves me. 

So, sorry Uncle Kracker, your song is no longer my anthem.  I still love the song, but it’s no longer as meaningful as before.  This woman has made me feel like I belong somewhere, that nothing's wrong here, what's best lost and left behind has been, and that I am indeed getting close to the good life.  I don’t know what my anthem is now, probably don’t have one (at least not one that I’ll readily admit to), but it’s not a song about depression and resignation, and it probably won't be "Smile" either.

And to you, Erica, my love, Happy Two-Year Anniversary.  I’ll always be thankful to God and to you for your presence in my life.  I love you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What's in the front yard?

The short answer to that question would be: leaves.  It's autumn out here, and even here in the Evergreen State, deciduous trees are losing their leaves.  It's pretty everywhere else, but not so much in your own front yard.  Which is precisely when I was almost/sorta beaten over the head again with the roommate agreement.  The agreement states that I will help with the care of the yard.  The head roommate put this clause in because she is on disability and cannot be doing things like mowing the lawn, and shouldn't be raking leaves.  Well, I have two more roommates, a married couple, and the husband usually does the yardwork.  When it comes to the yardwork, he prefers to do it by himself for a couple reasons: one, he's got a particular way of doing it that he wants done that way every time; two, it's his "me time"... when he's away from his wife, the head roommate, and even me.  He gets to be left to his own thoughts and just get lost in his thoughts. 

Nonetheless, this past week, it apparently took him four hours to do the leaves in the front yard.  He was out there with a leaf blower, and just blowing them away the whole time.  The day he did this was a day off for me, so I was inside my room the whole time, in my own little world.  A few hours later, the head roommate came to me, upset, asking me why I wasn't out there helping him.  What could I say?  I don't mind helping out, but I've lived in rental areas for the past eight years where only ONE of those eight years was I actually required to rake the leaves, and before that, living with my folks where if they wanted me to rake the leaves, they took away the Nintendo controller and told me to get out there.  Suffice to say, raking leaves is just not something I think to do.  Just doesn't even appear on my radar.  It's almost a pointless task, really.  At least, that's my opinion.  Anyway, I said defensively and plainly that since I don't have a door from my room to the outside (like the others do), and my blinds and curtains are always drawn (because it's not very sunny this time of year), if there's yardwork to do, they'd have to tell me, because I won't notice and won't think to do it.  She was still pretty huffy about it when we finished talking, and I even went to the roomie who'd been out there and apologized. 

He and his wife both said to ignore the head roommate's admonishment, but nonetheless, it's a lesson in what it means to be living with a woman who has expectations of you: if she has to ask you to do it, you're already on her shit-list.  In this case, I don't think it's particularly fair, but since I hope to be married by the end of next year, it'll soon be a love situation, and like war, all's fair.  The transition from bachelor to husband is definitely more than a matter of standing next to a woman and having a clergy or justice, in the presence of at least one witness, declare you each other's poor sucker.  It's about realigning your antenna (not a euphemism) to pick up signals that are sent just as tacitly and perhaps just as electromagnetically as real analog transmissions. 

This lesson was compounded further by today's day off.  I had seen that there were indeed leaves on the front lawn again, and had made plans to do them.  Even coordinated with the leaf blowing roomie about letting me help him out just to keep Head Roomie off my ass.  I planned to do it at 1 in the afternoon.  It'd be about as warm as it was gonna get, and there's nothing on TV from 1-7.  But at 12:45, on a premonition of sorts, I peered out my window, and sure enough, someone was already on it.  This time, the head roomie!  The last person who should be raking leaves was out there, raking her heart out.  Well, that last thing I wanted to do was give her any more grounds to holler at me, so I went out there and told her she shouldn't be out there, and that I'd take over.  Pretty pointless gesture actually, because she was about done.  But I kicked a few leaves in an effort to "help."  She didn't get on my case about not having been out there sooner, but nonetheless, I learned today that I would very soon be, if not already, living on WST, Woman Standard Time.... meaning it gets done when SHE wants it done, and my plans to do anything later in the afternoon don't mean diddly if she (whomever "she" refers to at any given time) wants it done at a different time, be it sooner or later.  It gets done when she wants it done.  And that's definitely something that'll be a factor in my eventual married life, though in all honesty, the woman I intend to marry is going to have to concede a little bit, not for my sake necessarily though.  But yeah, better synchronize the watch and calendar.

What the hell am I getting myself into, I sometimes wonder.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What's in a vacuum cleaner?

“I lived with you … and your definition of ‘table settings’ was a six-pack of beer, a gallon of ranch dressing, the top of a pizza box and a roll of paper towels!  We had two forks, and we didn’t wash those everyday!”—My friend Ben, about a former roommate of his… NOT me.

This past week I’d gotten a note from the “head” roommate, so dubbed because she writes the amalgamate check to the landlord, serves as liaison to aforementioned landlord, and all the utilities are in her name.  She said we needed to talk about my roommate agreement, and I knew pretty much what it was she was specifically referring to.  I was a little bit upset.  Actually, I was more upset about the passive-aggressive means she took to address the situation.  We never actually talked per se; she left her copy of it out circling the issues in question and writing a footnote about what it was that was upsetting her.  I felt that was pretty disrespectful to just not talk directly to me about it.  But that’s not the point… the issues are.  All but one were petty, and were actually pretty defensible for me.  The one that was really bothering her regarded the carpet.

The roommate agreement stated that I would keep in mind that the carpet was new and would treat it with respect.  I’ve been living here for just a hair over a month now, and had at that point not yet vacuumed my room.  She had tried to suggest that I do it earlier that day in a subtle way, and I did catch her drift, but I got engrossed with other things and it clean slipped my mind.  And I still had something of a mess on the floor.  There was a little bit of dirty laundry, one pizza box (I’ve actually been really good about throwing out anything involving food like cans, bottles, containers, wrappers, etc.), and mostly my bed sheets.  The blankets were the big eye-catcher.  In my defense, I hate having to make my bed, not because it’s so annoying to do, but because literally ALL the sheets and blankets you tuck under the mattress are sized for my old mattress, which is approximately half as thick as my current one.  So if I make my bed, getting in at night will be like getting into a short-sheeted bunk.  Add some tossing and turning and most of the blankets are on the floor each and every morning, including the sheet that’s supposed to hug the mattress and stay under me while I sleep.  And I don’t want to bother putting upthe money to buy all new blankets for a mattress that’s at least eight inches thick.  So making my bed is pretty pointless: just put on a pillowcase, get my much bigger comforter, and off to dreamland I’ll go.  But having nowhere else to put them, I pretty much left them on the floor.

All this rendered the floor unable to be vacuumed.  Which put the roommate in a snit, apparently.  Normally I would tell her it’s none of her business, but she went out of her way to make this part of the roommate agreement, so I could tell this was a hill she was willing to die on, whereas it really wasn’t for me.  And as I said, I was more upset that she left a note rather than actually talk to me.  Seriously, that dang note didn’t even mention the fact that the landlord was expected to pay us an inspection this month as part of renewing his insurance on his rental properties.  If she’d even just mentioned that, it’d have been done before she could have finished her sentence.  But no… a note.

Baaaaack to the focus of this: the floor, the contract, and the meaning of words.  See, the contract said, “Respect the carpet.”  What the contract didn’t take into consideration is that for the past eight years, I’ve lived life with a style that was a hybrid of “grad student” and “bachelor pad”, mainly because two of those years were with grad students as roommates and six with the landlord as my roommate, he also a bachelor.  Living as such, phrases like that mean something else to me.  For the past eight years, if the rental agreement had said, “Respect the carpet”, it would have meant: a) don’t torch it, b) don’t pull it up, and c) use Resolve and a paper towel if you spill.  That’s it.  Vacuuming was an “oh crap, we’ve got company coming in 20 minutes!” kind of thing.  Seriously, I went at least a year or two between the penultimate occurrence of vacuuming at my last place, and the final time when I was getting ready to move out.  It was a veritable dust bunny ranch.  It just wasn’t something done with any regularity

It would seem however, that the phrase “respect the carpet” means something entirely different to my new roommates.  It seems that vacuuming is supposed to be a weekly occurrence.  And maybe using this “Carpet Fresh” stuff on the odd occasion is recommended.  Pizza boxes are supposed to go out the next morning instead of being converted into writing surfaces or lap tables, and trash bags should be inside a plastic or metal can of sorts while they’re being filled up.

Okay, in all fairness, I didn’t expect to continue living like I had or even being allowed to.  I moved all the way across the continent to be closer to the woman I intend to marry and start a family with.  To continue to live with a bachelor mindset would simply destroy the marriage we plan to have.  So I knew that I was going to have to change a lot regarding my lifestyle.  Boxes will no longer be stacked to convert into the TV stand, the bathroom will need to be maintained a little more attentively, and “for now” will mean less than a week when it comes to temporarily placing something someplace. 

Strangely enough, I kinda expected much of this to happen automatically.  From the minute I moved in, certain changes happened instantly.  Probably because I was conscious about them and trying to make sure I took care of them.  But there’s stuff below the obvious (at least what wasn’t obvious to me).  Just to state for the record, vacuuming was NOT one of the “below the obvious” things.  The frequency with which it was expected to be done probably was, though, even though vacuuming ^was^ something my parents made me do on a weekly basis

Overall, I’m thinking of the time I’m in Everett as something of a purgatory.  I’m where all the sinful habits of bachelorhood must be purged away before I can ascend, both metaphorically and geographically, to the paradise of a marriage with a wonderful woman.  I know, “paradise of a marriage” is probably a contradiction in terms, but don’t spoil the metaphor.  Thanks.

So, on the horizon, more nagging and constant reminders that I’m far from a perfect roommate.  But better to drive a temporary roommate crazy with old habits that I’m trying to quell than the woman who’d have to put up with them for the rest of her life if I didn’t curb them now.  And looking at the floor now, I see it needs a going over again, because time has passed since I did it last, and it needs to be maintained.

Right after I get all my blankets off the floor and make the bed again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's in a road trip summary?

Now that I'm in Washington, I thought I'd talk a little about the trip.  We'll see how much.  On a pseudo-poetic whim, I’ve decided to sum up my little excursion across the country with this ersatz acrostic.

A is for Alexander and Aiden, the two nephews I finally got to meet.
B is for Boise, the only stop I made in Idaho.
C is for Coca-Cola, which I drank a lot of while behind the wheel.
D is for the dolly upon which my car was towed.
E is for Erica, the very reason for the move.
F is for Flying J, which has surprisingly good pizza for a truck stop chain.
G is for the Great Salt Lake in Utah, which I got to visit.
H is for Hamilton, Michigan, still my home though I’m so many miles away.
I is for Iowa, the first state on this trip that I’d previously never been in before.
J is for Jerome County in Idaho and Joliet, Illinois: the former, where the longest road construction backups were for me; the latter, where the construction actually forced me off the interstate at one point.
K is for Kennecott, the copper mining facility we went to visit.
L is for Laramie, Wyoming, the first city with serious downgrade warnings.
M is for Mark, the brother with whom I reconnected.
N is for Nebraska, the only state I didn’t see a sign welcoming me into, because I was driving into the sunset and through a work zone at the time.
O is for Oregon, which had the most beautiful mountain scenery.
P is for Penske, the company that rented me the truck.
Q is for quesadillas, which I had for dinner my second night.
R is for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame series of homemade CD’s I listened to in the truck for most of the trip.
S is for Sandra, my sister-in-law whom I finally met.
T is for TomTom and TracFone, the two technological presents that made this trip a lot easier.
U for Umatilla, both the only stop I made in Oregon, and the reservation with the deadliest stretch of road the entire trip.
V is for the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame series CD’s, the other homemade disc set I listened to while driving.
W is for the wounds that reconciliation have finally healed.
X is for the Xanadu Restaurant, where I ate my first breakfast in the state of Washington.
Y is for Yakima, which was the projected hit point for day five (or seven depending on how you looked at it), and where I should have stopped that day, since I found myself driving into the sunset after that point.
Z is for zero, the number of regrets I have for having done this.

And the Top Ten significant numbers of this trip:

10. States I drove in.
9.  Days of the truck rental lease
8.  Days I actually used the truck
7.  The time I usually woke up each morning.
6. Motel chain I spent two of my three motel nights in.
5. Maximum number of states driven in within a single day (Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska).
4. Relatives in Magna, Utah visited.
3. Time zones moved across
2. Times we readjusted the wheel straps to make sure my car was secure on the towing dolly.
1. Woman who made all this worthwhile.

Hammy and cheesy, yes, but hold the wry.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What's in a dream job?

Commercial broadcast radio.  I love it.  It's a job I look forward coming to just about everyday.  Even a weekend like this, I enjoy it.  It's an extended weekend with the holiday, and the guy who does two of the weekend overnights asked me to cover his shifts.  Works out pretty well, because one of them means 5.5 hours of holiday pay.  That's worth a few missed hours of sleep.  And after having worked 12.5 hours in a 14 hour stretch, I got asked if I could come in and do the third (second, chronologically speaking) overnight of the weekend because the guy asked for it off and my program director simply forgot to ask people if they'd be willing to fill in.  And so it fell to me.  And despite being tired as all get out (I was literally brushing my teeth before going to bed when he called, and had to make him wait a second so I could spit out the toothpaste so I could actually talk to him), I was actually happy to do it.  This job is great.  It's literally the reason I moved to Lansing in the first place.  If it wasn't for this job, I might still be living with my folks, working a job I was really hating, and probably suffering very deeply in depression.  Not to mention I probably wouldn't even have the social circle I do now, since it's almost all internet based, and my parents have dial-up since they live out in the country.  Heck, my social circle would probably be just a dot.  This place has been an absolute dream to work at.

Although lately, that dream has been taking some of those weird, inexplicable twists that usually only dreams are capable of taking.  It's starting to get aggravating and frustrating.  And not eustressful.  But not really even distressful either.  Just a lot of little things that aren't your (my) fault, but still have to be dealt with.  Mostly it's a matter of handling people.  And I don't just mean the mentally handicapped (literally in a couple cases) call-in listeners.  But that's a whole nother blog that I'll only publish when I'm sure that I'll never work in radio again.  I don't want to get into specifics, because I don't want to be thought of as the office gossip, but a combination of procrastination, free-spiritedness, difficulty learning new tricks due to being an older dog, super intensity, people getting mad at me for doing the job the way it's supposed to be done (and I don't mean that in a snooty manner, I mean actually doing the little things that we're supposed to do but are so little that others often ignore them) and a hint of territoriality spread over a number of co-workers has been feeling like a bit of a push out the door lately.  And it's sad.  I really want to be on the verge of tears from missing the place when I leave.  It takes some balancing out, too.  I mean, I've got my faults to be sure too.... anal retentivity and the preference to walk around the building with shoes off are probably my two biggest flaws, that and probably complaining and timidity.

All in all, that's what made this place a blast.  Sure we've got flaws, but what we bring to the table far outweighs those things.  But since I'm one of those guys who doesn't speak unless something's wrong, you'll probably only usually hear the negative things from me, which by the way, is also why NONE of my current co-workers are Facebook friends with me.  I don't want anything I say to be construed as me not liking my job or my co-workers.  Also because my sense of humor is generally self-deprecating a la Ray Romano or Dave Barry... I complain to be funny....like "you would NOT believe what happened today!" and expecting to get a laugh from it.  I've actually had negative reviews because my superiors didn't realize that's just what my sense of humor is like, and thought I was a real malcontent.  With this place though, nothing could be further from the truth.  I absolutely love it here.  Part of me really does not want to leave.

Kind of conflicting emotions in this post.  I'm saddened because I'll be leaving here soon.  Really scared by the fact that I haven't been able to land a radio position in the city I'll be moving to.  REALLY scared.  This is what I really want to do, and I'm not enjoying the thought that I might be closing the door on what I want so badly to be my lifelong career.  All the same, I'll be remembering the good times.  And the bad times, because I think they're funny stories... when told from a retrospective perspective.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

What's in me?

"But it's all right now.  I learned my lesson well.  See, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."--Rick Nelson

I just happened to notice that I went the entire month of March without posting a blog.  With everything going on and going so fast right now, it's hard for me to stop and catch my breath and pontificate upon it all long enough and write about it. 

I think it's also because I didn't really plan on blogging unless I felt I had something interesting or useful to say.  I was thinking of my audience, the readers.  I felt I should try to say something that could either relate to the reader or at the very least get them to read or comment on it. 

But as I read the other blogs of those I follow, it strikes me that all of that rather belies the point of even having a blog.  It's an online diary, for crying out loud.  Or just a sounding board for interesting or amusing stories.  Not being a parent and pretty much having no social life here in East Lansing, my humorous anecdotes are pretty much relegated to the workplace, and much of that is either inside jokes or instances where you had to be there, although saying you're open-minded to the thought of using metal cans to sanitize your crevass will ALWAYS earn you that look that asks if you've been drinking cleaner fluid again.  Again, though, you pretty much had to be there to really enjoy it.

But all that comes to the point that I realize that like being funny (steakhouse in Bloomington anybody?), I'm also usually my most interesting when I'm making no effort to be so.  Or when I'm horribly sleep-deprived, since that's when the brain filter doesn't receive its recommended allocation of oxygen to function properly... like being on Ambien, only with a marginally better chance of remembering what you said later on.

And as I read the blogs of other people, it becomes more and more clear that they're doing it for their own benefit, and not really for anyone else's.  And I realize that that is actually a challenge for me... to do it just for my own sake.  My adult life I've been so desperate to be cool, accepted, and normal.  As a child, at least up until my senior year of high school, I actually reveled in the fact that I was so different from my classmates.  Then I realized they were laughing at me and not with me, stabbing me in the back as well as to my face.  Now, I just want to fit in, to like what other people like, to have similar tastes in everything from food to movies and tv, to music.  And if you know anything about me, that quest has been a horrendous and dismal outright and abject failure at every turn.

So I can't force myself to like what I don't.  All I can do is expose myself to it, and if it doesn't expose itself back, oh well.  And this is where the voices in my head come to duke it out, not stage a performance for the amusement of others, though I still want to entertain and amuse you.  Can I be myself again?  Well, the first step is going to be wanting to do so again.  I'll keep you posted on that, I guess.  To mine own self be true.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's in an "adventure"?

Adventure (n):  1. an exciting or very unusual experience.   2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.   3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.   4. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.  5. Obsolete . a. peril; danger; risk. b. chance; fortune; luck. -- dictionary.com

Everyone has those words that they absolutely hate.  A former co-worker of mine hated the word "eventually" because a boyfriend of hers used to use that word a lot, and it drove her nuts when he wouldn't give a straight answer.  Internet friends of mine hate "irregardless" because, as they would say, "IT'S NOT A F***** WORD!!"  Others hate words for the way they sound to the ear or roll off the tongue.  But for me, one such word is "adventure."

I suppose it's because of children's programming most of all: those shows that promise that every episode is an ADVENTURE filled with excitement and personal growth lessons to take from it, or worse, the word "adventure" is in the name of the program.  Seriously, that's annoying.  As most of the definitions above will tell you, risk or hazard is involved, and for the viewer, there is none, since a happy ending is always guaranteed, and equilibrium is always restored to normal.  In fact, I'd say the only reason that definition number one gets top billing is BECAUSE of children's programming's saturation of the word, bringing that much safer, even milquetoast I would say, definition and connotation of the word to the forefront of our collective consciousness.  Oh sure, the characters on the show don't know they'll be okay at the end, but for the viewer, we always know better.  Like Bob and Bing sing in "Road To Morocco": "we might run into villains but we're not afraid to roam/Because we read the story and we end up safe at home."  That primary definition is the reason I hate that word.  At its absolute best, the word "adventure" by that meaning is a term used by super-annoying "glass is half-full" people to try and put a positive spin on something that anyone with any hint of sanity would look upon with dread, like going to the orthodontist or something.  My own sister once used that word in giving me some life advice, and it came off like a "today is the first day of the rest of your life" pep talk.  Sorry, sis, I know you didn't mean it like that, but grrr..... 

In its truest and oldest form, however, risk is involved.  The word "adventure" should give us pause.  Safety is not guaranteed.  We could lose something, something important (like the true definition of the word "adventure", haha!).  In this sense, those aforementioned optimists would still be using it to put a spin on something dreadful, but with a much more somber tone.  At its absolute best, I feel the word "adventure" should be used in past tense, and sometimes present tense, like what you would say about something risky after it was done.  "Well, that was an adventure."  It'd be kind of like saying, "I wouldn't mind doing that again now I that know you can live through it."

I guess it's not all bad to use that first definition.  I would say my impending move across the continent would qualify as an adventure, because it is unusual, and would definitely be exciting, especially because of who awaits me at the end of it, but that's not the only reason to use the word for this circumstance.  Given how much I'm giving up and how much can go wrong (even though not likely to) on the road, there is both short and long-term risk involved.  But overall, I resent it being used to describe television programming, summer camps, travel holidays, etc.  Yes, it's true to the first definition, but the first definition is annoying too, so knock it off.  The word "adventure" should NEVER be cheerfully or perkily used.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's in my pants?

Some years ago, when I was working in fast food, I remember commenting to my dad at one point about how odd it was that it used to be khakis were Sunday-only pants, and jeans were for getting dirty in.  Now, as an adult, my job required getting dirty in khakis, and it was pretty rare that I was wearing jeans.  I'm not saying it's a huge switcheroo, but it's an irksome one, nonetheless. 

There used to be a symbolism behind the khakis (admittedly, a term being used somewhat loosely to include all pants that fall between denims/jeans and suitpants on the Scale Of Dressiness).  For me, they were church pants.  And it made sense.  Putting God first in your life meant giving Him your best, including your best attire for the times when your express purpose was to focus on Him and your relationship with Him.  However, I'm not lamenting the loss of the symbolism so much as there are atheists who shouldn't be denied the right to wear khakis just because they don't acknowledge a deity to get close to; nor does it deny the suitability of khakis for other dressy occasions, because they are dressy and can really do wonders to make a good impression in an interview or when meeting your girlfriend's parents for the first time, or whenever being dapper is a major asset.

The problem for me is that khakis are NOT the pants you should be wearing at work if you work a blue-collar job.  You should be working in denims.  Seriously, khakis fucking piss me off.  They're more expensive than denims and nowhere near as durable.  When you have to walk around or twist and turn while standing all day, your pant-legs are bound to rub together.  They wear thin from the abrasion and you get holes.  Okay, now part of it is indeed due to the fact that I'm overweight, but look among your fast-food workers or other blue-collar laborers whose jobs require khakis... I won't speak to percentages, but simple observation says that a good deal of them also are not athletic.  That's a lot of khakis getting ruined quickly.

And let's be real here... in these kind of jobs, you're gonna get dirty occasionally.  It is SUCH a pain in the ass to have to do a SPECIAL load of laundry for your work uniform because they CAN'T BE WASHED WITH ANYTHING ELSE!!!  Seriously people, (hard) WORK clothes should not be FUCKING GENTLE CYCLE WASH!!  Why is this so freakin' hard to comprehend?!??!!  It's just a waste of energy besides to have to do a separate load!  And realistically, anyone who's working blue-collar probably does NOT have a lot of gentle cycle clothes in their wardrobe besides the uniform. 

Now we come to the "uniformity" aspect.  Look, I get that there needs to be distinction between the employees and those who aren't employees.  That's why you have uniform shirts/blouses (again, which should NOT be gentle cycle wash, but sometimes are), and name tags.  And you can always mandate/allow black denim that don't have the ripped or faded effects to them.  They do look nice enough and maintain the uniformity concept.  But if you really want to get after uniformity, how about you get after those employees who are still wearing huge hoops in their ears, have painted press-on nails, and all those body piercings?  I guess nine earrings in the left ear and seven in the right looks professional, but don't wear black denim, as you value your life and job!

And speaking of professionalism... really?  Making the teenager who's spitting in my burger wear khakis is gonna somehow transmorgify him into an upstanding citizen of the American dream?  When he's accepting his honor as President of a Fortune 500 company, he's gonna start his speech with, "First, I'd like to thank Burger World, for making me wear khakis, so that I could be professional!"?  Let's be real.  You could wear a tuxedo, and you still wouldn't be considered professional because a) you're working in a socioeconomically laughable position for a company whose global reputation is only slightly higher than that of BP, b) you're making crude jokes and using profane language with your co-workers when your back is turned to me because apparently you think I can't hear you anytime we're not making eye contact, and c) you still spit in my damn burger in the first place!  Speak with proper grammar and with manners and show some social grace in your work, and maybe then I'll start considering you "professional."

Really folks... khakis should NOT be work pants!  It's completely impractical.  Khakis should be worn only in moderation... you know, for special occasions.  Let's start a movement to get black denim in the workplace.  It just makes much more sense.