Thursday, January 24, 2008

Random Rabid Rantings

Cuz, you know, I don't particularly feel like writing anything serious today...

I'm fifty. I've taken 7.5 million inhales through my nose. It's been a good nose to me, helps hold up my glasses (reading, distance AND sun!), gives me a place to put my finger when it's cold. Yes, it's big but it has character! It's been broken more times than I care to count (OK, eight, I think. I'm not counting the time I bumped it into the monkey bars). It's smelled some wonderful aromas: the scent of a tea rose, the wafting odor of hot coffee first thing on a Spring Sunday morning, a woman's passion. And it's smelled some godawful things, mostly that I made myself.

I'm going to miss however much of it I will lose in two weeks. I hope it's not much, but I know it will be some, and before it does go, I want it to know how much I appreciate it.

Someone at work suggested I could put in a nose ring when the doctor is finished. I like that idea.

I'm tired of seeing doctors. Every time I see a doctor, I get sicker! If I stopped seeing doctors, I bet everything that's wrong with me would go away.

I wonder about anti-abortionists and how they justify seeing a doctor. After all, you know, God's plan, but maybe God's plan includes us dying on His schedule...I mean, if every life is sacred to Him, every death should be, too, so when it's time to go, your life stops being so sacred. Why would you see a doctor and thwart His will? Maybe the Christian Scientists get this, after all?

I dunno.

Life is like bodysurfing. Ever bodysurf? You swim out to a wave, turn around and try to nestle in the break. If you get too low, the wave overtakes you. If you get too high, the wave slips out from under you. You have to get it just right and get your body pointed back towards shore just in the slope of the wave as it begins to break and you can ride it all the way in.

At first, you move pretty slow, trying to pick up speed. Then, suddenly, you're rocketing along, but eventually, the wave overtakes you, swallows you up, and tosses you about as it speeds on its way to crashing onshore, and dying, it's energy spent.

Life is like that. Tom Petty wrote "You never slow down, you never get old," but I'm moving as fast or perhaps even faster than when I was in my twenties, and I can *see* life passing around me. I didn't slow down, it just sped up.

I worry about what I see around me, too. People are people and for the most part, people seem to be better now about being people than when I was a kid. And then I look at how the world around them has changed, and that's what makes me worried.

The last recession, in 2001 and a pretty mild one, about 11% of the population of the country was below the poverty line. This time, heading into what will be a gale force of recession, the percentage of people who are below the poverty line is actually up.

That means that the "recovery" this country underwent in the intervening seven years was a failure: the people who were broken by the last recession didn't make it out, and indeed, they were joined by another 12 million or so Americans.

People live longer, but only to end up paying down their debts. No longer able to file bankruptcy, yet no longer able to pay off what they owe, they spend their lives in fear that the banks will throw them in jail if they miss a payment.

And why? So they could buy that one more thing that was advertised to them? That Playstation? That pair of shoes? Dinner for the family?

A man-- or more likely, woman-- goes through a divorce, or has health issues, and suddenly can't work or can't keep up with his (her) bills, and next thing you know, is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, rocketing debt about like a pinball.

What makes this worse for me is, no one running for President seems to get this. John Edwards comes close, but even there I get the sense he pays lip service to the notion of "Two Americas," because it plays well on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton got it, and showed he sincerely wanted to help people get up on their feet and fight for their dreams.

I'm lucky. I've got a bit to cushion the blow. But for the grace of God, that could have been my life story. I know people struggling right now, living in places that I never could have imagined them living. Some are in group homes, practically permanently, because they can't take the stress of living in a society that's passing them by, despite the fact they are talented, intelligent people.

And I have friends who had it all and lost it, and are trying to make something of their lives that erases some of the disgrace they feel.

Me, I just hate my job. I'm lucky, in that respect, because I have one to hate and I have a place to go home to, and while I wish I had a life, I can rest assured that I will when the time is right.

I can, however, remember what it was like to sleep in my car, and sneak into a gym to take a shower and try to make my clothes seem not-too-shabby so I could go to a low-paying job with a little respect and dignity. Even then, I was lucky to have a car to sleep in.

I wish the world was different. I bet we all do. It's not. And that's the tragedy of it all. And the wave is catching us, all of us, and tossing us around as if it was a washing machine.