Laughter and Forgetting

Tim’s uncle Jackie, well he was this old happy guy, just happy all the damn time with that toothless smile of his. He was missing six teeth but they lined up all matchy-matchy so it looked like it was almost on purpose. He was always smiling, that guy. He didn’t talk much unless you talked to him and he had some funny stories.

I always says hi to him like, Hey Jackie, when you gonna come play ball with us down the block? And he always says not with this bum leg of mine I’m not, but you all go on and have fun now. I says how you hurt your leg Jackie? And he tells me all about the war and his eyes look wet kinda like he’s fixing to cry but he’s got that big smile of his going, telling me about his buddy who was in the war and got blown up but he doesn’t talk about that part too much most of the time. He’s told me about the war lots of time cause I ask. I feel sorry for him that he can’t do much other than sit on the porch or in the basement when it gets hot but he doesn’t seem to mind.

One time he’s telling me about the war again, I think cause I says how can you stand this heat? And he says you think this is hot? This is nothing. Him with that big toothless grin. And I don’t know why, but this time I says to him, Jackie man, how come you live that life and lose all those teeth and see those things and you go on smiling like that? He kept on grinning, didn’t skip a beat. I laugh and I forget, he said. That’s how come.

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My Life as a Dog

In the morning, all is still. The air hangs heavy, silently screaming for some joyful entity to burst through its stagnation and wake up the world. I am such an entity. I am driven not so much by the pleasures of aimless romping – as are so many of my kind – but by the demands of my full bladder. Perhaps I shall pee on the tomato bushes today. That will show them. They are not early risers. I waste no time this morning in my alert; I do not rise from an occasional whine to a persistent and voluble bark, as I often do. Today I start at full volume, three seconds between emissions, then two, now one. Arise, ye slaveholders, you who sequester me to this prison each and every night. Hear my ceaseless wrath.

I have not had my breakfast. The matriarch of the household came with sleepy eyes to release me from my cell. I have a strange response to these interlopers who pepper my day with their presence. Though I know they must ultimately pay for their authoritarian misdeeds, I can’t help but give each one a yelp and a wag when I first espy them after the long night. I suppose it comes from a place of pity. After all, it is mightily apparent that they know not what they do. For all the deprivations – the sun continues its arc, and still my chalice is empty – they seem to think we are the best of friends. Despite this embarrassing obtuseness, I can think of no real reason to dispel this notion of theirs. I have tried to show them the error of their ways, but the cold shoulder does nothing to increase my rations or belly rubs. It is just as well to let them rest in the cocoon of their ignorance.
The matriarch has fallen asleep again. I suppose I can afford her a reprieve of one hour, no more. I could use a nap myself.
Breakfast is a feast with no equal. Would I were a God, and life were one unending buffet of ambrosia and Alpo. As it is my meals are brutally partitioned to two 3-minute windows in which I gorge myself as quickly and fervently as I can. There is no time for caution; I cannot say I am proud of the colossal amounts of wet food that splash out of my bowl as I plow my snout into it, nor that I feel no shame when I siphon the displaced goods out of the grain of the deck. But I cannot stop myself. The excitement of the breaking of my long fast overwhelms me every time. When it is over, I flop my large body down away from the mess, spent, sated, in need of a good repose. Perhaps I am no better than the barbarians who keep me. I ponder this painful thought as my lids grow heavy with sleep.
There is no time for such musings when I awake from my nap. My eagle eye alights on a fruit tree that seems to have sprouted green orbs overnight. They are hanging temptingly low, can it be low enough…? I spring to my feet and fly down the steps to investigate, trying to calm my pulse as I fear I will be disappointed. But praise the gods, I am not, and in an instant my mouth is full of pulpy goodness, all bitterness and texture. I have no time to savor the complexities of unripe plums before one of the overlords is screaming at me. Another, I must have another before it is too – I am dragged by the scruff of my neck back into the looming abode, spitting juice and kicking my hammy legs in protest. The injustice burns in my sensitive facial folds. As the door is slammed behind us and a wave of cold air washes over me, I break free and stare longingly back at the plum tree through the glass, now so unreachable, and it seems as though it returns my gaze sadly. “No one appreciates me like you do,” it seems to say. I must wait. I must be patient. They forget things in the blink of an eye around here; there will be another meeting of the tree before long. And it will be glorious.
Another ignominious day has come to an end. They tried to put me in a dress today. I thought I might die of the shame. Sometimes at night it is all I can do to drown out the odious memory of their laughter, their accusing reproaches, their yelps of disgust when I push my face in their leg right after my dinner in a rare attempt at something akin to affection. It is not my fault that such a considerable amount of the evening repast collects on my chin. Believe you me, overseers, I would cleanse it if I could.
I thought tonight could be the night – the one where they forget I have a cell, forget I am a prisoner at all really, and allow me to join their slumbering ranks for once and doze when and where I will. It happens once in a blue moon, but tonight it will not be so. I felt a pull of rebellion this time and raced into the kitchen when they set out to collect me. They think they’re being so clever when they try to nonchalantly herd me to the holding cell; but I know what they’re up to. It was not long before the long-legged beasts caught me by the hams and ferried me back to my den. When the door was slammed and the lock turned I first looked out at the offender with pleading eyes. But there would be no sympathy tonight. I quickly adjusted my gaze to portray what I hoped would appear as a burning hate. Alas, it made no impression, and the light in the room was extinguished, gateway closed. I’ll get them one day. Just you wait. I’ll get them.

Betrayal

Milan Kundera writes on the subject of betrayal through the perspectives of two characters in his “Words Misunderstood” passage in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Betrayal is one of those universally reviled concepts, but as with several traditionally negative topics, Kundera reconsiders what this word means to different people. In the novel, Sabina finds the course of her life charted by her betrayals of family, lovers, and social conventions. For her, betrayal is a barely consequential siren call; rather than creating a burden of guilt, the temptation to betray leads Sabina to a truer expression of herself, more so with each treacherous deed. Sabina doesn’t believe a person can be exactly as good and honest in one’s private life as one is expected to be in public life. She thinks that the eyes of others inevitably change one’s conduct and even one’s understanding or justification of one’s behavior. So to Sabina, some acts typically associated with dishonesty and betrayal are actually a necessity of life, one which we as self-punishing humans are not content to admit as a given.

I’ve been thinking about small acts of betrayal, with regards to friendships. I don’t know if I have a single friend that I have absolutely nothing “bad” to say about, but that is because no one is perfect. And if they were, that wouldn’t be good either. I’ve met a few perfect-seeming individuals in my time. They were kind, generous, helpful, calm, and above all inoffensive. There was nothing to suggest that these consistently positive attributes were part of a façade, apart from the commonly accepted notion that all people have at least the slightest smudge of a dark side. And yet, this goodness was somehow irritating. It disqualified them as people to form a deeper connection with, because how could the average red-blooded person relate to someone who appearance suggests they have never experienced jealousy, pettiness, lust?

Kundera notes that we all “slander our friends at the drop of a hat,” but that when this universal truth is asserted in the public sphere, we could not be less comfortable with it. We are shocked by it. This is why the broadcasting of private conversations is one of the greatest and most reprehensible assaults against privacy. There is nothing more stifling that the idea that we cannot say what we want or mean in the safety of a quiet interpersonal exchange.

I think the guilt of criticizing a friend out of their presence comes mainly from the strange fear that the critique may be revealed to them, as though the friend has a secret power to take an omnipresent form and float at will through various scenes in the lives of others, occasionally stumbling upon a moment where they were spoken of cruelly. But perhaps it is only cruel if they can hear it. And in most situations, we know they won’t.

There are some not-so-nice things that are worth telling people about, because some bad behaviors necessitate change. Many people are quite aware of their flaws but feel powerless to make lasting changes, or simply don’t want to. But the other things, the trivial complaints and annoyances – if they’re not so serious, why speak of them at all? Why not keep all discussions of others centered on the undoubtedly extant positive attributes of the individuals in question? It would be boring, that’s why. Life offers many delightful subjects to ponder, and much of our little amusements come from the imperfect qualities, whether that is a person’s shortcomings, or the sometimes ironic and often cruel machinations of fate. We need our freedom to betray, to slander, to lie. Not in every place. But in a world where the sanctity of privacy is consistently challenged, we must maintain the right to say what we will behind closed doors.

Health

I’m very passionate about health and fitness. Frankly, it’s disgusting. I hate myself; I especially hate my cellulite; I even hate birds, which is completely irrelevant to this post but good golly I just hate their stupid faces. You might ask, how can I consider myself healthy when those are clearly very unhealthy feelings? Good question, imaginary reader. It’s not that I’m unaware that fitness magazines are pieces of recycling tied together with string made from the tendons of free-range cows, regurgitating the same old stories every month. To keep things fresh, or at least not putrid, these sorry excuses for publications create faux controversy by asking this very important question: are all our logical, common-sensical thoughts on the long-discussed topic du jour completely misguided? Let’s investigate. Then, after some investigation supported by “experts” who have chosen careers dedicated to spotting and criticizing their masochistic clients’ physical imperfections, they all come to same conclusion: “Actually, it’s none of the above – the real answer is common sense! Who would have thought the solution was what we thought it was the whole time?” I love these twisted tomes and their malignant musings, so much so that I’ve composed my own fitness-style article for anyone who is thinking about developing this thrillingly dangerous and expensive health addiction just like I have. This will help you self-loathing novices understand the true spirit of health news and know what to expect from each month’s exorbitantly priced heap of fibrous glossy shit.

Happy Hour HIIT: A Do or a Don’t?

Here at Lose That Chub, we’re no strangers to fitness fads. Some are fabulous. Boutique fitness classes with Shakira? Sign this bitch up! Some fall flat. The nutritionists have spoken: a truckload of butter in your coffee is a one-way ticket to butt shelf land. But there’s one trend on the horizon we can’t help but propose a toast to: some experts are touting the effects of mid-boozing exercise.

Say it isn’t SoCo! Do you mean to tell us the secret to a slimmer waistline lies in our favourite plastered pastime? According to Los Angeles-based trainer Mimi Lee, fuck yeah, it does. “What people don’t realize is that we have massive, massive stores of energy that are best utilized while intoxicated, and we’re not tapping into that resource,” Miss Lee told us via Skype while she took her daily sauna. “People seem to equate martinis with sitting on the couch, chatting with your girlfriends. What we need to do is make happy hour synonymous with planks and lunges.”

Lee, who herself subsists on a strict diet of vodka soda and vitamin supplements, suggests starting off slow. “Many people often go out dancing in clubs, and there’s a lot of alcohol involved in that,” she says. “It just goes to show that there is a natural impulse to combine exercise and blackout intoxication, and many people are tuned into that, whether they’re conscious of it or not. The trick is to make it a conscious decision, so that every time you drink, you take advantage of the opportunity to burn far more calories than you normally would without the added benefit of alcohol in your bloodstream.”

Say what? Burn more calories while drinking than you would while doing the exact same exercises sober? Dear God, can this be real?

Absolutely, says Lee, who, freshly showered and seated on her sofa, has been stroking a cat that we are increasingly beginning to suspect may be dead and taxidermied, and not sleeping as previously thought. “In fact, the science shows that a test group of women burned three times as many calories and exhibited 50% more endurance than a control group who engaged in the same exercise at the same intensity over a month-long period. It’s a game-changing discovery.”

I’ll say, as I try not to spill red wine all over my keyboard. (Rest assured, dear reader, I took a break while composing this to make the most of my tipsy fat-burning powers. It was a little harder than normal to get into a headstand. In fact, my wardrobe mirror appears to be broken, and my right foot is bleeding. But my thighs will thank me tomorrow.) Can the secret to less frequent but highly effective exercise truly be so tempting?

Absolutely not, says every doctor I’ve ever spoken to. It turns out that having a considerable fitness following is not particularly meaningful if the trainer in question lives in LA. This, combined with the discovery that Lee’s nutrition “degree” came from the same institution that awarded an identical degree to a fellow journalist’s dead cat for the bargain price of $50, leads Lose That Chub to the sad conclusion that boozercize might not be all its cracked up to be. In fact, 1 out of 1 proper scientists surveyed insisted that calorie burn is not increased by alcohol in the bloodstream. “Your body uses glucose during exercise to sustain itself,” explains Mr. Scientist, appearing increasingly distressed at the news of this gorgeous new fitness concept. “Glucose is, of course, stored in your liver – which is the same place alcohol is metabolized. This is simply a terrible, terrible idea. If anything, intoxication inhibits the potential benefits of exercise – it doesn’t enhance them.”

So, was it really worthwhile to squeeze in a workout between your third and fourth martini? No, it wasn’t. But don’t fret. Just go back to exactly what you were doing before you heard about this insane notion. I’m off to investigate the latest weight loss craze: bloodletting. Til next time, fitness fans!

Internet Bullshit

It would be very stupid to write a blog entry about how frustrated I am that I can’t connect to the wifi in the San Francisco airport, but here I am. It is probably my dinosaur computer’s fault and not what I’m sure is a very competent SFO internet configuration. I am sitting with an exorbitantly priced glass of (at least fairly decent) pinot noir at some salmonella-laden pizzeria. The manager just had a screaming match with a cleaning lady who, despite not appearing to speak English, certainly irritated him very much. He won the argument, which ended with a “My manager will be speaking to your manager!!”-type triumphant parting line, but only because she could not utilize enough English to sufficiently shut the loud bastard down. Poor cleaning lady. Day in and day out, pizza boxes all up in her business. My only solace would be the internet, my connection to the outside world, my opportunity to tell Mom and Dad and Dave (who all ferried me to the airport with not a few jokes at the expense of the Russians) “I’m fine! I will be drunk by the time my plane arrives and will sleep like a gigantic baby!” Alas, it cannot be so. My computer denies me these simple pleasures, as it has done so many times before.

If I had access to the internet, I would make a status on Facebook. It would say, “Sayonara, America. Any bets as to how much wine I will have drunk by the time my plane arrives?” My bet is, kind of a lot but not that much because it’s disgustingly expensive. The quality, as I earlier mentioned in parentheses, is at least satisfactory, and I did get a bit of entertainment included with my purchase. I tell ya, the pizza industry knows how to keep you coming back for more, and it has much more to do with employee infighting than delicious cheese, which, as everyone in the world knows because I’m annoying, I’m allergic to. Right now could be a time to talk about the difference between food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, except that there will never be a time for that because no one gives a fuck. When I say allergic, I really mean sensitive, but that always sounds weird and doesn’t get the point across. Whatever. Stupid Microsoft Word. You are no match for the siren call of internet connection.

In summation, I am nervous and excited to be traveling to a new and terrifying destination, so I deserve some expensive wine. (Ok. I get to travel around the world and lots of people don’t, so I really don’t deserve anything. But you know.) There is a very special person waiting for me on the other end, who I would marry and everything except that we are both squeamish heterosexuals and enjoy the television series “Sex and the City” to a highly embarrassing degree. Over and out, I say to the rare creatures who actually read this post.

Journaling II

Here I have copied my latest “journal” entry, composed at my favorite bar on paper I stole from work.

29.6.14

As usual, the only kind of journal entry I ever seem to write in not only not in my journal, but also not on real writing paper – these are unusable January 2014 sheets I’ve snatched from the work calendar. I’m on a two-hour break relaxing at Raccoon with a pint of Grizz. They’ve started playing a bit of jazz which is always best in the afternoon. I’ve selected The Age Sunday edition lifestyle section from which to copy Sudoku puzzles. I’m not very good. A giant cover photograph of Hillary Clinton’s face looms up at me as I struggle to solve the wily puzzle. She is judging me with blue-eyed amusement. You try solving it, Hillary! You would probably finish in a minute flat, but that is no reason to mock me. Go campaign for 2016, already.

Also beside me is a copy of War and Peace. I glare at it from time to time, daring it to silently taunt me as transparently as the Hillary photograph. It stays quiet, but I know what it’s thinking. I’m barely 200 pages in, which puts my finishing date somewhere in 2017. I had such grand plans to be a Tolstoy aficionado by the time I arrived in Moscow. It was not meant to be, it seems.

Speak of the devil, it is now exactly a month to go before I must depart Melbourne, kicking and screaming most likely, armed to the literal teeth with candy to alleviate my suffering during the long plane ride. Hopefully by the time I get home I will be obese and diabetic and can properly wallow in misery while my worried family members bring me food and extra blankets day and night. If Henry thinks I’m going to move my gargantuan form to throw him the ball 5000 times a day, he’s got another thing coming.

The good news is, after I’ve done wallowing I will go on a juice fast in order to be nice and svelte for my Russian reunion with Wifey. She is so beautiful and pure, I will surely rejoice in my decision and enjoy my romantic year with her. How I look forward to whatever diabolical plans that malevolent mind will dream up for us. I anticipate being just as dastardly and depraved as I imagine the other Muscovites to be.

The Sudoku puzzle is calling. It thinks me unintelligent. We shall see, puzzle. We shall see.

Journaling

I am absolutely terrible at keeping a journal. To give you an idea of just how inconsistent I am, I am far better at blogging regularly than keeping a little personal diary, which really seems like it should be easier. First of all, I should probably be completely ashamed to say this, but sometimes writing makes my hand sore. It’s just not worth it. And secondly, I have to like sit down and take time out of my not-busy-at-all-but-still day to make a thoughtful and comprehensive journal entry. Why do that when I can just babble incoherently into my computer with the help of this convenient keyboard? Here are some excerpts from my thus far mostly empty tiny leather-bound journal (which, by the way, I started on the first day on 2013). These gems of pointlessness illustrate just how bad I am at recording the events and non-events of my life.

Moving backwards, we begin with the most recent entry, which, it’s worth noting, was written beginning on the 25th of February and moving into the wee hours of the 26th. Or possibly the 27th – the timeline, as with most things in my diary, is not entirely clear. I believe I was a bus to Adelaide during most of this time. Note my fear of being judged by my own diary.

 

“25.2.14. Volvo makes buses. I had no idea.”

“Later. I am distressed at the blank spaces in this journal. Will have to fill them up at some point w/ drawings. But first, must learn to draw. First things first.

On way to Adelay-de. Facing sleepless and possibly motion-sick night. Hurrah! Am infected with adventurous spirit.”

“26.2.14. No time for alarms. Too tired to write to you. Two fire alarms, many festival lights. Am drunken. Will report back tomorrow.

[X] is very sexy.

Sorry. Weird.

P.S. Reading Unbearable Lightness of Being for the 100th time or so. Reading Lolita for the 4th time or so. Absofuckinglutely marvelous.”

 

“15.2.14. My capacity for brattiness surprises even me sometimes.”

 

“10.2.14. Granted, I don’t have affairs much, but when I do they tend to be good.”

 

“29.1.13. Wily afternoon with A. in which I successfully did NOT tell him about S.’s freakish obsession with weddings, as she made me promise not to.”

 

”Mon, 21.1.13. MLK Day. So far I’ve been crap at keeping a diary.”

 

 

It’s worth pointing out that I record non-events more often than events. My diary is full of allusions to genuinely cool, interesting things I’ve managed to do every once in a blue moon, but no actual exposition relating these cool, interesting things. Instead, I spend 90% of my journaling talking about how long it’s been since my last entry/all the boring things I have done on the particular day of entry with various enigmatic and frustrating references to fleeting affairs and wild nights and adventurous excursions and random positive interactions that I can’t quite seem to recall in as much detail as I’d like. This is literally the exact opposite point of keeping a journal. A journal is meant to remind you of all the beautiful glorious details of the more eventful and even the little daily moments of one’s life, not to irritate its reader with vague allusions to something that happened that one time at that one place with that one person and that one disgusting bottle of grappa. I don’t care about the grappa involvement. I care about the other things!

To conclude this blog post, I will probably never change. Consider this ramble an homage to my useless, information-dry personal diary. I never stop thinking about improving my record-keeping, but alas, thinking is not the same as doing.