Categories
Journal Memories My Best Posts

Memories of my Grandparent’s house

 

Bellaire11
I only remember visiting my Grandparent’s house four or five times when I was a kid.  It was located in a dying coal mining known as Bellaire next to the Ohio river, right next to West Virginia.  Pulling up to the house the first thing I always noticed was how the sidewalk in front was new, unlike the cracked and crumbling sidewalks which surrounded it.  After climbing a few steps one found themselves in a screened in porch which led to the door of the house.

Opening that door led to the living room where one had to make a quick left turn so as not to bump into end table next to the couch. In this room were, the previously mentioned couch, next to it my Grandfather’s recliner in which only Grandpa was allowed to sit, a T.V, an enormous grandfather clock, stairs leading up to the second floor and a gate which had to be unlocked and moved in order to enter the forbidden front room.

The front room always fascinated me since I was never allowed to set foot there.  The furniture was covered in plastic and although I cannot remember exactly I believe there were some sort of collectibles that were fragile they did not want us kids to break.  It was though this room was to only be used in the case of a visit from the Queen, or perhaps the President of the USA should either of them happen to stop by such as massive, grand doors of cathedrals in Europe are only opened for the King.

Every house contains a particular smell and the smell of my Grandparent’s house is something I’ll never forget.  They were smokers but the smell of smoke did not overpower the other influences except for the kitchen where they usually smoked.  The windows were always shut and this created a musty type of odor combined with a smell that I cannot accurately describe but is one commonly found in homes of the elderly.  It is a smell, of times gone by and that this, at least for a kid, was an ancient, mysterious home which had always been since the dawn of time.

Adding to the sense of enchantment was the grandfather clock which would ring out deep, somber tones on the hour, every hour.  These gongs, especially when chimed at night would transport the listener to another dimension where the living room had always existed, timeless, and in that moment shall remain unchanged for eternity.  It was dark, silent, where only the continual ticktock of the clock was amplified.  When the clock struck 12 AM the living room became alive, conscious and recorded the events, feelings and emotions of all that had passed through it in its voluminous book, never to be forgotten.  It etched these memories into my mind as though it encouraged me to never forget, which I have not and am recording in this post thirty years later.  The room still exists, although with different inhabitants who have most likely changed the contents.  But at midnight, the shadow of the clock most likely reappears with a faint, ghostly chime heard by only those who listen closely.  Shadows of the past take form and the room of 1985 is once again, dark, silent, yet eternal.

Proceeding up the stairs one looks directly into the bathroom where I still remember seeing my Grandmother without her wig for the first time.  It came as quite a shock to see a mound of hair next to someone that only resembled my Grandma to a very slight degree.  It was as though my Grandma had suddenly aged decades, hunched over the sink washing her face.  I called out with hesitation and not a little fear “Grandma?”  to see if it was truly her or if I should flee down the stairs.  She did respond which gave me some relief although I found it more comforting to retreat back down, away from something that I didn’t think I should have seen.  At the top of the stairs and turning right with the bathroom on the left was the room we stayed in.  There was nothing particularly interesting in it and I did not spend much time there except to sleep and never alone.  For a bit further down the hallway were two more forbidden rooms.

The following room was my Grandmothers and I believe the door was usually shut and I may have never seen inside.  At the far end of the hall was my Granfather’s room which was indeed a gateway to a room that existed outside of space and time.  I was absolutely forbidden to even approach that room and the fear of angering my Grandpa resonated loudly in my mind.  But my curiosity won out one time as I just had to see what was inside.  I listened to what was happening below to ensure that I wouldn’t be discovered and silently crept to his room where the door was always open.  It was as though the room called to me, inviting me to see what mysteries lie within.  I only remember a bed and a dark orb made of black stone on a stand which I now believe to be a false memory created by the room itself.  This was indeed a somber place, full of its own energy.  The window shades were open but even though it was light inside there was a heavy weight which pulled you in and was hard to escape.  It was not a happy place and I feel that this room too, reappears as it was in 1985 when the grandfather clock strikes midnight.

sc0030

Returning to the living room I have one memory where I opened the gate and encouraged my little sister to step inside.  I then shut the gate and locked the latch which distressed my sister quite a bit.  The person to the left is not my sister but Heather, the pretty girl who, much younger then, was very kind and opened the latch for my sister.  She was like an angel who had the power to deliver my little sister from that forbidden place in which she was trapped.  I always hoped to see Heather every time we visited and was extremely disappointed when we didn’t.  On one visit, her mother Paula informed me she couldn’t come because she was busy eating hot dogs back home which was just a few steps across the alley directly behind my Grandparent’s house.  I imagined a plate of hot dogs all being consumed by Heather and wondered and why she would be eating so many of them?  After all, I could only eat two, maybe two and a half, which would take approximately 10 minutes.  So why was it that Heather still could not come play as surely eating hot dogs could not take all day?  But being a young kid I wasn’t able to continually question this and express my desire that Heather promptly come over and play.

Heather only had her mother and there is speculation that she is the product of a union between Paula and my Uncle but this was not openly discussed.  This makes Heather my cousin and someone who I’d like to have coffee with one day and trade memories of our youth and that old house.  From what I understand she is married, has moved from Bellaire and now lives in Tennessee.

Leaving the living room one passed into the kitchen in which there was a very large table.  Grandma always sat at the top, closest to the sink and smoked her cigarettes.  One time she had left a cigarette burning and while no one was in that room I picked it up and blew into it to see the tip glow a fierce red.  I was terrified of being caught so it only lasted but a second.  For dinner, the favorite meal was cabbage rolls which I didn’t entirely dislike, and certainly had to eat all that was given me for fear of making everyone angry.

In that kitchen there was a door leading downstairs which I was never allowed to venture down into.  All I got to see were fishing poles and a tackle box which resided at the top of the stairs.

Passing through the kitchen one reached a door which led into the backyard.  The most interesting thing there was a statue of the Virgin Mary which seemed as old to me as the Roman Coliseum does to me today.  Mary stood there, in her protective enclosure watching over the happenings of the yard, the neighborhood and Bellaire.  It remains in that yard to this very day although it has been moved to the side which was probably due to make the grass easier to cut.

Finally there was my Grandparent’s dog – Cuttles.  Cuttles was a rambunctious little poodle that liked to hump things.  One time he even tried humping my arm and I had no idea what he was doing – so I asked my Dad.  My Dad scolded Cuttles and when I pressed the question he gruffly replied, “nothing.”  Well, it was certainly not nothing as he was performing this action, which seemed unique on a regular basis.  My Mom provided a better answer saying, “Cuttles needs a female dog.”  In those days you didn’t openly talk to your kids about sex but instead gave them a book called “Where Did I Come From,” and have them figure it out for themselves.  Instead of an educational book I consider it as my first porn mag.  Should relatives be reading this blog, I declare that I never owned any porn magazines and that is all I have to say on the matter.

The first time my Dad attempted to talk to me about sex was as a Freshman in high school which was much too late.  I learned all about sex from 2 Live Crew and their song Me So Horny in the 2nd grade.  There were two kids in my class, Jason and Adam who had access to such materials and let us listen on their walkman.  It should also be known that there was a porno stashed in the bushes next to St. Christopher’s which was next to my grade school.  In addition, my knowledge might have been enhanced by a song that Adam taught the entire class, away from the recess monitor which went like this:

One, and one, we had some fun, in the bed room all day, and all of the night.
Two, and two, I undressed you, in the bed room all day, and all of the night.
Three, and three, you undressed me, in the bed room all day, and all of the night.
Four, and four, we f***** on the floor, in the bed room all day, and all of the night.

Looking back at this song, I now realize it would make sense to be doing all four of these actions simultaneously or even successively as the act would take four consecutive days to accomplish; I mean why would it take ALL DAY plus ALL NIGHT just to get undressed unless it was in super slow motion and what fun would that be?

But this isn’t a post about my sexual education, it is about my Grandparent’s house so let’s continue with that.  But I have already laid out all of my memories and would just like to close with a final thought about the living room at midnight.

At that time I was always upstairs and always awakened on the hour to the sound of the clock and that room etched itself into my dreams.  If I close my eyes now at 38 years old I can be transported to that old room which shall always be attached in a forgotten corner in my mansion of memories in which I will reside in the afterlife.  Some experiences are so strong that they are never forgotten, even if it is just an old dusty room, in a dead coal mining town, on the banks of the Ohio river, at midnight.

Postscript:

It is difficult to completely describe the thoughts, emotions and feelings that the gongs of the grandfather clock created in me.  I did find a description by Edgar Allen Poe in his story “The Masque of the Red Death,” that illustrates something similar:  it shows how the clang, while announcing the passage of time ironically stops the moment, creates its own space outside of our perception, outside of our reality and lasts forever.

“It was in this apartment also that there stood against the western wall a gigantic clock of ebony.  Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang, and when the minute hand made the circuit of the face and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions, and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company – and while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation.”

Categories
Journal My Best Posts

Journal entry – Check-in at 38

My birthday is on the horizon; I thought it was time to do a quick check-in on what my thoughts are at 38 years old.

I’ve written about this in previous posts but 38 years old is exactly 20 years from being 18 and thus my 20 year high school reunion occurred this past October.  While it was great to see many of my old former classmates I’m a bit disappointed that more didn’t show up as only a third of the total attended.  I did my part in reaching out to a few people and was surprised that even in this age of instant communication through Facebook one or two didn’t even bother to respond.  One classmate, Julie, who I had known since kindergarten and had received some fame after college is one of those people who didn’t respond.  This was odd as the last time I had seen her – about 16 years ago – I’d had the fortune to run into her, do a quick catch up and even give a hug!  But alas, there was no response when I asked her if she was going to the reunion.  I do understand that my class was rather fragmented and some groups would rather not see others: what is strange is that many of those who would be considered popular didn’t attend either!  And I would say that 90% of my classmates live near Columbus so could have easily attended.

I guess one of the reasons I’m a little mystified on this is I’m big on life experiences and high school is the last and only time I’ve been required to spend every weekday over four years with the same people – and there were only about 125 of them so not a huge group.  And for the most part everyone was pretty happy and had a decent high school experience.  I think there might be a feeling that life has changed so much, that many have no wish to look back upon the past; seeing old girlfriends, boyfriends, recalling who was popular and who was not; recalling certain feelings and emotions etcetera.  I learned that the 20 year high school reunion might be an awkward affair for many more than I had previously thought.  I suppose that I had a grand image of it such as they show on tv and in the movies.  Oh well, I guess I’m content that we at least had one.

Thirty eight is also the time in life where you see many old acquaintances and friends start to get divorced.  Between 24 and 30 the majority of them are all getting married and so far it looks like a quarter of those have broken up.  At last that isn’t half but from current societal trends I imagine I’ll be reporting closer to the 50% mark when I write my check-in ten years from now.

I also have four old friends/acquaintances that are absolutely beautiful and are not married.  In all cases, they just haven’t come across the right guy and those in Asia are in even more of a bind.  Just as white guys in the USA can get hooked on Asian girls, Asian girls can get stuck on foreign guys in Asia.  I spent three years in Japan and two in Vietnam and if I look back at all those friends and their relationships – and keeping current through the magic of Facebook – I think I have a pretty well founded opinion in regards to Asian girls dating white guys in Asia.

The first is that just as Asian girls can seem exotic here in the USA, foreign guys will seem exotic in Asia and the guys know it.  Frankly, it is very easy to get a girlfriend, or many and the standards for a suitable boyfriend are much, much lower than they would be in the guy’s home country.  That is to say even the nerdiest, awkward guy could get a girlfriend in Asia.  To illustrate this point there is even a cartoon in Japan, written by a Canadian, called Charisma Man.  The protagonist is a complete loser in his home country of Canada but when in Japan has a special superpower, turns into Charisma man and gets lots of girls.

WesternVsAsianWomen

Now, I would say there are some decent foreign guys in Japan but unfortunately when you get to the third world, the quality severely decreases and I’d say about half of these dudes, my beautiful female friends would definitely not want to date or even speak to.  I’d also say that it is damn near impossible for a western woman in Asia to find a western man to date.  While it does occur the vast majority of foreign guys in Asia are going to date local girls.  I won’t go too much into this but for a clarification just look at the image to the left.

I’ve gone off on a side tangent a bit more than planned so getting back on point I understand why two of my most beautiful friends in Asia are still single and I really hope they find happiness weather or not it involves a guy, a dog or something else.

At 38 I’m asking myself a little more how much my job/career plays into who I am and how I see myself.  In American society the most important aspect of a person and thus pretty much always the first question is, “What do you do?”  What this means is, “How much money do you make?”  In current American society the purpose is to make a lot of money so one can buy a lot of crap and as long as you have more crap then your neighbor then you’re winning the game.  This is the mentality of the mainstream; while there are subcultures of course, the main characteristics of America at present are greed, entitlement, selfishness and money.

Thus, the career and how much money it pulls in, is a very large part of how men see themselves.  Should they end up losing their jobs their egos would be crushed.  For me, the work I do is just a means to earn money and that is going just fine.  Work does not define me in the least and being in sales I can easily trade one company/industry for another and given current trends it seems that is what is preferred from companies these days as it is rare for younger people to stay more than three years in the same position here in the Bay Area.  But at 38 I have acquaintances that have reached the Executive level.  These people have worked hard, spend all day at the office and really deserve it as they’ve traded the past twenty years of their lives for the success of the organization they are in.

For me, I look at them with a tinge of envy and the thought enters my head that I too should be an executive by now at 38.  This thought quickly dissipates however when I see how they’ve traded their lives for that position, which more me is a price much too dear to pay.  I’m very thankful that I spent a good amount of time overseas and that working from home I’m pretty much always with my family.  My relationships with my kids are much better than other fathers who have to spend most of their time at the office.  I then realize that most of these other fathers are not executives which increases how thankful I am for my situation.

So I guess, it would be nice to hit the Executive level but I’m not, nor will ever be willing to trade time away from my family for more money and position.  I tell myself to put a price on these moments when my kids are little.  How much would I pay 10 or 20 years down the line to have these moments again?  The fact is that time itself, and especially time spend with your kids is absolutely priceless – there is no amount of money that would be enough to buy these moments back 20 years from now.

When I think of it this way, I’m no longer envious of those executives.  They are trading their life currency, their limited time on this earth in order for something vastly less valuable.  With the money they make they can buy things and even buy experiences but what I’ve found is that most fall into the trap of always needing to make more money and thus they are stuck in a type of vortex where the scales are tipped unfavorably and they’ll miss out on so much that life has to offer in the hopes they can just buy it later on down the line; but that moment will never come or only be when they are old.

At 38 I’ve come to realize even more-so how wonderful life is.  Life should be full of magic, of excitement and wonder.  Many years ago I’d look to fantasy such as LOTR to provide a lot of this; what has become very clear, especially this year, is that life itself and this human experience is absolutely awe inspiring.  I’d say that travel, living overseas and learning other languages has played an enormous part in helping me realize this.  Speaking other languages is like being able to peer into other worlds.  Should I tire of American society I can turn on a Mexican drama, or listen to a few Spanish songs and be reminded of what true passion is; a smile appears on my face as I remember what alegria is and it makes me want to dance!  Then should I tire of that I can tune into a subculture which certainly seems like it is from Mars and is called anime in Japan; or if I don’t feel like anime I could watch one of their crazy variety shows where old men who thought they were about to relax in a recliner after a hot spring bath suddenly find the recliner sliding down a snowy mountain slope.  I’m never stuck in the same world if I do not wish to be.

Another thing that has awakened my excitement and wonder for my life experience is seeing how my young boys are excited about pretty much everything.  It has been a long time since I’ve really inspected a pill bug, or appreciated the beauty of a Stellar’s Jay.  The world around us is incredible and I feel that for most adults this truth is lost and forgotten.  Adults concern themselves with completing tasks – time and responsibility has turned them into task-doers.  Everyday and even on weekends there are a number of tasks that must get completed and this sets the schedule.  There is a movement now called Mindfulness which is catching on and tries to remind people of something Yoda said in Star Wars to Luke Skywalker:

All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.

To just be still and appreciate the moment; to watch the sunrise, or take the time to smell that flower is something most adults have forgotten how to do.  Another thing that has helped me appreciate just how incredible our very existence is, is the internet, videos and ease of obtaining knowledge.  Shows like Cosmos, or YouTube videos like Vsauce just amaze me.  All we know is that the universe started with a “bang” and over an inconceivable amount of time here we are.  If one were to contemplate this deeply then it should leave them in constant awe and wonderment which it pretty much has done for me.

Well, the post is getting to be much longer than I usually prefer to let’s get to recent events.

Yesterday I went on one of the longest hikes I’ve been on in a while.  I was curious about  trail from Sweeney Ridge down to the orchid shop that is hidden off Highway 1 and that I’d never seen even though I’ve lived here for a number of years.  That was pretty good exercise so I’m feeling pretty good today.  Today, my friend Ana, her child and husband are coming over for a cookout and to collect their car.  They live in San Francisco and only have one parking space.  Well, they recently had a baby and the two-seater BMW wasn’t going to work anymore but the husband wasn’t ready to sell it.  So this BMW has been sitting in my driveway for a number of months which I’m sure has thoroughly confused the neighbors since now in addition to changing my corporate car every month there is now a BMW just sitting there.  Today will only confuse them further because my other friend is renovating his house, needs garage space to put furniture in and has a Corvette.  Well, he is going to pay me in wine to keep the Corvette in my garage so I’ll move my RAV out to where the BMW is now.  It is also the end of the month so I’ll be changing my corporate car again which means I’ll now have two different cars sitting in my driveway.  For those neighbors passing by my house everyday they have to be wondering what is going on.

Well, I woke up early today and have finished this post at 5:13 AM.  Time to surf the net or perhaps write in one of my other blogs.  In any case, I’ll be listening to Gordon Lightfoot.

Final thought – at age 38 I’ve realized the decade in which I really belong is the 70s.

Categories
Journal LTMD My Best Posts

The Lonely Elderly

I’ve been thinking recently how lonely it must be for the elderly.  I’m not speaking about how often family comes to visit or how much time they spend in a rest home.  I’m speaking about their generation passing away and the life experience they shared passing away with them.

I remember my Grandfather watching the History Channel pretty much non-stop.  Nobody engaged him in conversation or asked him about his experience.  Most of his friends that had experienced the same were now deceased and so he sat there in his recliner simply remembering his own life as a young man in time of war.

How lonely it must be to be surrounded by a younger generation that knows nothing and simply does not care to know about the things you’ve experienced in life.  I imagine it to be as though one is stuck at port waving goodbye to old friends who have embarked upon the final journey we experience with death.

I watched a movie recently that really put this in perspective called “Ode to My Father.”  It is a South Korean movie that follows the tremendous events of a Korean man who experienced the war as a child and then had many other major life events such as working in a coal mine in Germany.  He kept a simple store and as the neighborhood grew up around him and modern buildings erected, he refused to change.  The young would always tease him calling him hold fashioned and stubborn but he was still waiting for his father to return who told him he would meet him at this store when they were separated during the chaotic events during the war.  He never arrived but did come to the old man in an apparition

I imagine myself growing old, my friends passing away and how nobody will be interested in my own life events.  They may listen with a sympathetic ear but can never really relate.  I’ll be alone, reading this very post and reminiscing about my own past.

How lonely it must be to grow elderly with nobody to relate to.  I imagine that when this feeling grows severe I would rather walk into the waves of the Pacific Ocean never to return.  The young would try to stop me, just to keep me around for their own sake, to keep me on the mantle as a souvenir, as something that “belongs” to them and thus something with which they would rather not depart as it might make them sad with no thought to my own feelings.  Our society only focuses on keeping something alive at all costs because they believe that any type of life is better than death.  If I should become incapacitated or if I’ve grown so lonely in my old age I truly hope I’m able to leave this world in a fashion of my own choosing and not have a tired life drawn out by a society that simply cannot understand when letting go is the best option.

It is now, at 38 years old that I understand the importance and am truly interested in listening to the stories of the old.  In fact, I bought a book called “Memories of Silk and Straw,” which is written by a Japanese doctor who also realized how precious the memories of the elderly are.  He tended the elderly and through their stories made a marvelous book.  Society forgets the past, and does not care.  This is a grave mistake as a society should learn from the past but more importantly these memories should be kept alive for their own sake.

I am master of my own ship and God forbid the day when others try to take the wheel and dictate what I should do with my own life.  Should I have the fortune to grow very old, I may one day disappear without warning but would be certain to leave a message of farewell should you be clever enough to find it.  Do not try to stop me or I would prefer you be disinherited.

I often write about my descendants hearing this very post in hologram that looks like me.  From an article I discovered today about Japanese scientists creating a touchable hologram I imagine that my idea will turn into a reality in 50 years or so.

Thus, I give my descendants these instructions.  If I ever lose my mind it is my will to die as quickly as possible.  If I’m at a state where I no longer have any say over my own affairs or can control the course of my own life I would prefer to stick a dagger in my own belly and be done with it.  Should any descendant block these attempts it is my will they be disinherited from any meager fortune I may have and may I return as a ghost to haunt them.  The preferred method of death would be by being dropped in the ocean at night so I can feel the numbing cold of the ocean, look at the stars and slip away into infinity.  I imagine that would be a grand finale to a lifetime trying to feel as alive as possible.  It is this feeling of being alive which makes me watch the sunsets and sunrises; it is why I enjoy sliding down a mountain on a snowboard or walk quietly through a rice field; it is the reason I get on a surfboard and enjoy being in the ocean even though I may never catch a wave; it is why I lay on the bench outside on a cold night just to look up at the stars and ponder all the unanswerable questions.  To be an old man, bobbing in the ocean while my body slowly turns numb, with the profound depths and unseen creatures below while I look up and the infinity of space and the Milky Way.  A life with a unique experience about to slip away forever holds a bit of romanticism, an utterly fantastic way to say goodbye to this world.  The worst way would be for you all to stick me in a rest home with young, impatient nurses with whom I can never relate ordering me around and telling me to eat my mashed potatoes which I still hate as I did as a child.

Should I make it to 90 years old I wish to die alone, as far away from the shore and polluting lights as possible.  Leave me there to float among the waves and gaze upon the stars; to really feel alive once more.  I wish only to ponder the infinite one more time before I join it.

Categories
Culture Journal My Best Posts

The Decision to Have a Child

Today in the news I caught a headline about a certain celebrity couple that is ready to “start pumping out kids.”  

This got me thinking about how much thought people in general really give to have children and their reasons for doing so.  

Now, when we discuss this with others and think about it ourselves it is usually in a happy positive context.  As I’m of the age where many of my acquaintances have had children I am afforded a glimpse into their lives and a small share into the joys, hardships, trials and successes of bringing up kids.  

However, as any reader of this blog knows, we tend to be very good at understanding the other side and bringing forth questions that are usually not discussed, let alone even thought about.  

Therefore, my question in this post is the following.

Exactly how much thought do future parents give in regards to the life experience of the child? 

As I read what I just wrote above, it seems like a very strange question.  I’ve got it all worked out in my head so let me see if I can transfer it into words.  

I suppose it would be best to state that I believe in an afterlife and thus a before-life.  I may not have stated this clearly in any previous post and it may seem a strange position for me as I am always attacking organized religion.  I also do not feel like spelling out how I came to this conclusion but the fact remains that I do believe we are part of something grand, something inexplicable to our tiny brains.  I do believe we are made up of some kind of energy that will move along after the body expires.  

So what is my idea of this?  I do not buy into any of the simple stories that many believe such as a heaven or hell and there are “Pearly Gates” waiting for us.  

My question is, after we have passed on, do we even have any control?  Do we just hurtle about in a kind of void with different planes of existence sucking us into them like a black hole over and over again?  Or can we pick and chose the type of temporary existence we would like?  

Regardless of control or not we have all ended up in this plane of existence and I wonder if we were able to catch a glimpse or even design how our life experience is going to be before we are born.  My idea is that we are looking across the vastness of space, time and reality and we have either chosen to enter our existence to perhaps gain certain experience (both good and bad).  I do not know if there is a specific reason or not or perhaps we might just be some bored eternal looking for something to do for a blink of an eye (80 years or so).

If we are able to choose our specific existence then great!  But what if being born is like being sucked into this existence like a black hole and we have to take what we get?  

Now, when future parents start talking about “pumping out kids,” exactly how much thought have they given to the actual life experience the kid is going to have?  

Does this eternal even wish to be born?  

Again, kind of a crazy question here that merits further explanation.  

What I believe parents do not consider is they are bringing a conscious being into the world that will experience pain, hurt, disappointment and eventually death as well as all the joyful periods.  

This brings me to the reasons for bringing a conscious being into the world.  I’ve got the feeling that for many, the reasons are entirely selfish.  I know this will be an incredibly unpopular thing to say but since when have I been concerned about that?  🙂 

For many, the reason to bring a child into the world is to feel a sense of accomplishment, to feel that they are doing something worthwhile with their lives.  For many, life goes along a similar path.  They are told to attend school, find a job, get married and then have kids.  It is simply the next thing to do.  

I think many need something to take care of, to love.  To look at it this way this is completely selfish.  So again, how many have considered “Hey, this kid is going to feel pain as well as joy, life is going to be hard!”  

Perhaps it is just something that as mammals, we are programmed to do?  You see an attractive mate, go through the customary societal rituals (or not) and produce a living being since our biological urges instruct us to do as such.  

If I were to imagine myself as a pre-born looking down at the world and trying to decide if I even wanted to be born I think this would be a difficult decision.  Let’s see how this thought stream would go.  This could be upsetting for some but it is reality.  

Well, the act of entering that world is going to be unpleasant.  I’m going to be nice and warm for about 9 months and there could be a chance that my body parts will be ripped apart and sucked out before I even enter the actual world.  That would NOT be pleasant.  

Suppose my parents do want me, I’m not killed and I do make it the entire 9 months without anything going wrong these people in white coats will take me out and I’ll suddenly be very cold.  They’ll start wiping me down, I’ll cry up a storm and then get so tired from yelling to much that I fall asleep.  

I’ll then wake up, have no idea what the hell is going on, scream, be comforted and then repeat this process about 10,000 times.  I’ll start to develop according to the laws of that plane of existence and being to move about.  I’ll have no coordination at first and bump my head about 500 times as I gain motor skills.  At this time I’ll experience pain over and over again.  

Even though there will be pain I imagine it will be exciting to play with my toys of which I have no idea what they are, but for some reason banging them on the floor or even together makes me happy and I’ll laugh.  I’ll also enjoy when mom holds me in her little pouch and comforts me.  Well, I hope this happens since it all depends on getting a good mommy or not.  I do have to consider that should I get terrible parents this life thing could not be much fun at all!  What are the odds here?  Am I a betting person?  

Should I survive infancy I’ll most likely have to go to school unless I’m born in sub-saharan Africa or a place like it.  I won’t like having to leave home and the school experience will most likely be very stressful.  I’ll then have to compete with all the other beings who have joined that world in order to get a job.  I’ll have to struggle to make money and then perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll repeat this process for another immortal as I follow in the same steps as my parents and invite a being to get down into this world and have an experience.  

Yes, there will be great times and many pleasurable experiences but gee,,, life is going to be hard.  

Further, let’s take a look at my fellow immortal, we’ll call him Frank, over there pondering the same thing as I.  Will I be taught to hate Frank as he probably won’t be born into the same tribe as I and I’ll be taught different things.  Maybe our nations will go to war and I’ll be the one to end Frank’s existence in that world with a bullet?  Maybe Frank could even end up being my brother?  Do I even want Frank for a brother?  He always has been a wily one.  I imagine that whatever happens in that life that after it is all said and done and we are returned to the void that we’ll be able to get together and discuss what happened just as those humans would after a successful or unsuccessful camping trip.  

Now, when I read about “pumping out kids,” I wonder if anyone else has ever considered this life from the pre-born’s point of view!  

As for me personally, I have so far invited one being to join this world.  And I have considered all of the above.  I realize there will be many painful moments but I’m pretty certain I can provide an environment that will be very pleasurable for this immortal, or temporarily mortal guest while they inhabit t
his short existence.  I have asked myself the question, “Am I doing this for myself or am I doing it to provide a good experience for this consciousness I’m inviting here.”   

My thought is that I will be a hospitable host and when we meet up in the void after our individual life experiences he will say to me, “That was a great ride, thank you for the experience.”  

That is all.  

—————-Update 12/23/2014———

If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist?  Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence?  Or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood.  – Arthur Schopenhauer, from Studies in Pessimism.  

Categories
Culture Journal My Best Posts

Catholic Grade School – 8th Grade Dances

You may wonder why it has entered my head to write a post on 8th grade dances.  Well, I can tell you that the main reason is that I discovered the “Monster Ballad” station on Pandora.  Further, my buddy and I had opened up a bottle of JW Green Label and I tell you, combined with the music,  the memories just came flooding back.

You see, I have an uncanny memory but to really tap into it involves music and a bit of the liquor.  Only then can I fully recall the exact emotions I had at that particular time.  Sure, I can remember without any enhancements but it is the emotions that really light up the eyes and take you back in time.

So, in order to place myself in that time period I now have the Monster Ballads playing and have consumed exactly three Samuel Adams beers in preparation.  It is also 2:00am on Saturday Morning (Friday night as far as I’m concerned) and I can think of no better time to get these thoughts down.

Without further delay, let us get started.

The 8th grade dance is perhaps one of the most exciting events of any adolescent, hormone-crazed youth.  You have just reached the magical age of puberty and for some odd reason simply cannot get the females out of your head.

Administrators may wonder how to increase tests scores among middle school males and engage in all sorts of cerebral activities.  But let me tell you, the solution is to make the females wear those Catholic school plaid skirts down to their ankles.  Anything less is simply a distraction.

During this time period we are still very shy and have trouble approaching the ladies.

Enter, the school sanctioned 8th grade dance.  This is the time when you are actively encouraged to go up to a girl and touch them for an entire three minute song period!

The anticipation for 8th grade Catholic school dances is quite draining.  It is the main event of the entire year!  Your entire social network will be there and chances are you have a very intense crush on one of your classmates and this is your chance to get close to them!

The day finally arrives and you prepare first by taking a very thorough shower.  Then it is time to dress and you will do so according to the fashions of the time.  Unfortunately, my fashion period was in 1992 (holy crap I’m old) and for some odd reason we were led astray by the fashion forces that were.

What I’m referring to in what was considered fashion are Reebok “Pump” shoes or perhaps Air Jordans along with a kind of zebra stripped sweat pant called “Zubaz.”  To complete this odd melange, a brand spankin’ new T-shirt was also required.  For me, I chose to don “In Living Color’s” “Homey Don’t Play That” T-shirt.

So yes, Reebok Pump shoes with Zuba pants and a T-Shirt (brand new).  To add to this disaster I also wore Old Spice cologne.  Now this cologne was so old that it didn’t even have a spray nozzle but instead a cap that sucked up liquid and you would apply it to your wrists and neck.

I have recently been informed by my fashionable gay friends that the proper procedure when applying cologne is to spray and walk through.  Well, I didn’t have this knowledge in 8th grade and applied it copiously using 1/4th of the bottle.  I probably smelled like an old man trying to cover up the stench of gout but for me, I was the bees knees.

The day finally arrives and we have our parents, yes parents, drive us to a location where we have heard about but have exactly no knowledge of where it actually is.  For me, I remember St. Agatha which could have been in the worst ghetto in the world but none of this mattered.

I walked in the door and you make a beeline for your friends.  There could be nothing worse then simply entering and being all alone.  So, you find this cocoon of safety and this will be your base of operations for the rest of the night.  Should you have the courage, you will emerge from this huddle and actually ask a girl to dance but this is not assured.

The problem with girls is that they are also in their own cocoons and one must try to dislodge them to try and gain a dance.  To add to this challenge you have to wait for the approximate right moment when the song is slow and they haven’t gone to the bathroom with the rest of their entourage.  It is akin to catching a a minnow among her pod.  You can thrust your hand in but if you do so too abruptly they all scatter and you’re just left with a handful of mud.

To add even more misery you have to get up the courage to put that hand in.  The timing must be right and you must be confident in your objectives.  It could happen that she flees and you end up having to ask a less desirable or even worse mingle back in with your huddle without your previous intention being recognized (you would be ridiculed), so concentration is paramount.  OH The Pressure!!!!

There have been many a time when I left without even one dance.  When this would happen I would be quite angry with myself.  Simply overcome with the frustration of a severe hormonal imbalance and I’ve just blown any chance of a girlfriend (or momentary pleasure) for at least 4 months.  (The average time between 8th grade dances).

But saying we do lay our nets properly and come up with the prize, it is a sweet sweet moment indeed.  A song is in order.

So, our plans have worked out, we have the right song and SCORE!!!!!  We almost must take a moment to simply bask in the glory but NO TIME MAN, NO TIME, BE COOL.

Now, the 8th grade dance is no lambada.  They simply would lay their hands on our shoulders, you put yours on their waste and you turn in a circle.  The first thing you notice is that you are SO DARN CLOSE to them!  You can even smell the gum they are chewing!

Being so close may make your palms sweat (especially if you’ve caught the prize) so I would always be sure to wipe them on my Zubaz.  LOL.

Now being 33, I’ve found that this experience no longer exists.  I almost wish I could go through puberty again and GET ALL EXCITED.  I think Chris Farley in Tommy Boy puts it best, but instead of a “sale” it is actually obtaining the dance of your dreams without blowing it!  I wish I could have this enthusiasm again.

Yes, this is how it feels to try and get that dance.  You have to have the courage to emerge from that cocoon and actually ask without “ruining the sale” and having them all swarm to the bathroom.

Further, as the peacock does you must properly display your feathers to be noticed.  At that time period there was no better way but be able to DANCE.  For our dances, there were two boys who could do so and should you read this you know who you are.  🙂

The song I associate their fancy footwork with is without a doubt, this:

The song goes on, a patch of dance floor clears and in sync they have everyone’s attention.  Masterful it was.

I must also mention the absolute cluelessness when the DJ would play a song like “Do Me” in a Catholic School.  I do not think “grinding” existed yet but if it did this is the song you would do it to.

Are you KIDDING ME?  Yes, the administration let us play this song during the dances.  You have NO IDEA what went through the heads of 8th grade boys by allowing this to happen.  Too young to follow the instructions and having us wait at least another year for high school and the debauchery that went along with it.  Unacceptable.

But, to end this post and gain some intense interest, I’ll relate to you my memories.  No initials posted here because, hey, people will know.

1. Kissing – Two of my classmates decided they wanted to make out.  So what did they do?  They had their respective cocoons shield them from the prying eyes of the administrators while they locked lips.  Unfortunately Catholic administrators have a second sight and ended up throwing an empty soda can at the offending students.  Not a very romantic way to end a kiss but it was Catholic School after all and it is God’s will that we all have the sex drives of eunuchs until marriage.

2. Fashionable dances – At this time the fashionable dance was akin to running in place.  Popular it may not be now but I challenge anyone to come up with a better workout.  Further, acrobatics were involved and required one to grab his/her foot with the opposite hand and then jump through with the other foot.  Agility is always desired among mates in the wild kingdom and I see no reason why this would not be fancied by the hormonally charged youth.

Finally there was the twist your ankles while advancing forward and tap a foot with your partner then retreat in the exact same motion routine.  Exciting as a dance to a proper slow song it was not but at least contact was made.

3.  Girlfriends/Boyfriends – There can be nothing worse then your desired partner having a girlfriend/boyfriend.  This meant that they would dance with them the entire night and you had absolutely no chance.  So, you just stay in your huddle, make jokes with friends, perhaps get a drink of water and WATCH IN COMPLETE AGONY.

4. Stink Bombs – Should you have no chance to dance with your desired mate there was always the good old stink bomb.

Definition:

Stink Bomb:  “A stink bomb or stinkbomb is a device designed to create an unpleasant smell. They range in effectiveness from simple pranks to military grade or riot control chemical agents.”

Now I do not believe we had access to the military grade bombs but even the commercial versions were quite effective in clearing out a room.  So, while you look on in despair while your love is dancing with “Joe” the grade school basketball point guard, as a last resort, you could always let one loose to be sure to disrupt the dance.

Unfortunately you also disrupted the dances of 90% of all dancing couples who would be fleeing the room in disgust.  The remaining 10% are the ones who are too darn excited to have actually gained a dance that the mind-boggling smell of flatulence isn’t enough to break their “I don’t notice anything amiss, do you” mind powers.  If you’ve never experienced the stench of a stink bomb I can tell you that it is like a fart amplified by 1000%.

Then, the lights would turn on and Sister (insert name) would get up and in a very stern voice warn us that if it happened again the dance would end abruptly.

Well Sister whats-your-name, what you have failed to consider is that ruining the dance for everyone is NOTHING compared to not being able to dance with THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE and letting Joe the point guard get all the action.  It’s called “The Nuclear Option!”    Politicians use it all the time, look it up.  ROFL!!

Finally, the lights turn on and we are all left either completely heartbroken having not obtained our 3 minutes of euphoria, OR, we did gain that dance and have visions of marriage and life ever-after dancing in our heads.  Everyone scatters like liberals when Sarah Palin enters the room and we are doomed to wait, God forbid, until either the next dance where chances at a three minute spell of euphoria will again be low, to high school, where they get a little better, to college where,,,,  well, where things are quite better to say the least.

Long live 8th Grade Dances!