Saturday, February 21, 2004

'Splain me, Lucy...

I'm surfing this stupid internet world for hours today...It's like I'm looking for the answer: What will IT be like? What will this whole weird gigantic change caused by the human being bursting from my loins be like? OK, you got it...I'm googling and shit to predict the future. As if I can somehow prepare myself. There's this trick that the world has the answers...the answers are out there. All you must do is find the answers. Then--no matter the extent of the challenge--you will be fully prepared. Anything hard can be easy.

It's the Self Help Book Delusion. The American Psychological Association would not put this in the DSM III (or whatever # they are on now). They sorta want you to believe it.

I once wrote about how I spent this whole semester watching TV. I became this sit com junkie and then I thought: Why? Am I enjoying this? What is the point of this television absorption.

Then it hit me: I actually believed I might learn something about adult life from sit coms. It all seemed so confusing. And yet, people on sit coms seem to figure it out somehow. What was their secret. Also--dating shows. What might they reveal about human interaction? Is it something you can go on?

I should say in my defense that this belief was barely made conscious. I didn't literally watch television thinking that it held some kind of esoteric knowledge on human life. I just suddenly realized that that was what I was hoping to get out of it. When I realized that, it was easy to stop watching. (Well, OK, I had to put the TV into the basement.)

Not so easy with the internet for some reason. It really does contain certain juicy tidbits that can be misleadingly satisfying.

But it's the same thing with the internet. I'm scared I guess--or somehow I want mentally to tell myself it will be alright. All you hear are the horror stories.

And so...I merely torture myself more by reading the weblogs of other new parents. Oh, and reading childbirth stories...those are hell-of fun.

Then, in my fear and confusion I run to the absurd or utterly unconnected with procreation and below you see some of my results.

But can someone tell me why? No, really, I want to know. If this is so awful, why do we do it?

Oh, and while you are at it you might tell me why it is so awful--What I mean isn't 'because you never sleep and have this fragile being whose life depends totally on you, etc.' No, please justify the awfulness. Or explain how the human race managed to evolve or go forward with this kind of strike against it. E.g., that infants are a nightmare sent to you from hell.

Oration at Malcolm's funeral

Louder than a chainsaw at arm's length.

How Crazy Would I Have To Make My Signature Before Someone Would Actually Notice? This one's quite funny.

from Dooce

Osama Bin Laden Found Inside Each One of Us

Galumpia: Adult...Adults Only! Do click on the photos...It's better than you think.

from The Presurfer

This is a guy's site about his crazy mother. And this could happen to me...or maybe to any of us?

from Kerewin's Whine Cellar
This isn't real...

But it was a pop-up. A website promising to help you remove your memories.

Erasing problem memories? If anyone knows what the hell this is please tell me...I'm kind of weirded out by it. It has to be a stealth ad for some TV show, movie, etc. but I'd love to know what. I know our society is getting weirder and weirder. I realized this most vividly when I stumbled across the show 'Fear Factor.' I'm assuming there are still some limits.

Besides, who remembers anything these days? Most people forgot what's happened politically in the last year.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Baby Freight Train

But first why is Merlin's list of fives so brilliant?

Chico said the other day that there is a baby freight train headed our way...and there's no stopping it.

And in one of my temptations to evil that I sometimes cannot resist I said: "You know though, our baby would be a hot commodity. Just think of how much money people pay for Cambodian babies--we might be able to get double that. I mean, if we change our minds there are definitely options."

That's right people, I actually suggested we might consider selling the baby.

And of course I cast no aspersions on Cambodian babies--they are surely worth as much as our baby...I may have been wrong in assuming that babies are like wood carvings or rugs or dinners out--ya know how they all cost so much more here.

There are a lot of motherhood taboos that I violate. One interesting side effect (besides the ordinary guilt) of making morbid jokes at my baby's expense (and it's getting harder and harder to do this) is the fear that you will be punished.

Like: This baby is a beautiful, helpless, sacred little thing and I don't deserve this baby. Something terrible is going to happen. I better straighten out my attitude right away. Shape up Missy!

I'm in fact very afraid. For every little shocking comment I pay a very high price, believe me.

Another interesting artifact of my occasional jokes about somehow getting out of parental responsibility is that it reminds me of how little I can trust my own impulses. It isn't completely surprising. I hate attachment. I hate desire. I fight those things. Well, until it's too late and then I become a basket case of need, desire, love, obsession. I suppose I should say--I resist emotional investment. Again, this is not permitted in mommies.

Advice to prospective parents: Read the freakin' manual first! No, really. For example: Did you know that babies eat every two hours and poop immediately thereafter on a 24 hour clock?!? I mean, we've all heard of 2 A.M. feedings but did we hear about 4 A.M. and 6 A.M. feedings? Plus, they are there at your breast for 15 minutes per breast 12 times a day. Yes, that's right--6 solid hours of being sucked on.

Just think about that a moment. I'm sure this is a topic I will be unable to resist returning to later.

Or better yet, read Dooce.

Before you get all worried about my baby (well, OK, worry a little) I should say that I am like this because I'm very emotionally intense and I already love my baby so much. I'm scared to love anyone this much. I love my siblings so much and spent years sweating over their well being. But that was different. Mostly, I just tried to minimize the damage my crazy parents might inflict. Or, to be fair, since my parents do have many strengths--I tried to balance out whatever my parents did that might screw them up. This is different though--this one's up to me. Utterly up to me.

I saw this guy today fighting with his son about doing homework. The father was kind of patient and kind of annoying but in the end he did get the kid--who was very resistant--to do some work. He invoked the inability to get into college--God, Harvard!--to a 7 year old, he threatened, he accused. Maybe that's is how you get them to do your bidding? I kept thinking there might be a less histrionic method but I know that this is the kind of thought that leads to your comeuppance.

And I sat there remembering how when they were little, I could get my siblings to do many things my parents couldn't. It was the grandparents syndrome--you know how kids will be sweet and nice with grandparents who are disobedient with parents? There's no point to making problems with the grandparents. You don't need to assert your autonomy against them and also they are allies. So if I said 'let's clean up!' they'd do it but my mom could threaten starvation and caning and they would not move a muscle.

I was not the man. I am about to become the man. Rather than a foil to my sometimes very flawed parents I will be the flawed parent myself.

Another reason, of course, that I think evil thoughts about my baby is that if there is a social taboo and I am expected to abide by some nicety then I always have a bit of a problem resisting the urge to violate it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I just can't wrap my mind around it...

There's a Toyota ad...It says "do unto you as you would have others do unto you..."

That's right. Toyota and an advertising agency have changed the Golden Rule.

You remember that one, don't you? It says "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

While I think there are some problems with this rule (What if you have really low self esteem and let people step all over you? What if you're a masochist of some kind? What if you enjoy jello but are expecting me for dinner?) I must say the idea makes some sense. You want the best for yourself. You want respect, kindness, etc. And so you are commanded to give others the value that you give yourself. If people were willing to look on others as having the same worth they had then they wouldn't be able to cut people off in traffic or stab them in the pancreas with ice picks, etc. People often do these sorts of thing and we all end up regretting it so I sure do wish people would follow the Golden Rule.

As for interpretation, I'm assuming it's kind of general and you'd find out from the other people what they wanted before doing unto them. You wouldn't just buy them tickets to a reunion of Journey without finding out whether they liked Journey.

Of course, you might consider the fact that no one should ever, ever like Journey and you really are doing them a favor not only not to buy them tickets but to cure them of their love of Journey. Or perhaps even to lock them away until the concert is over...But that's another issue.

I'm sure you can see the beauty and genius of the Golden Rule even though all the interpretive issues are not fully sorted out. If people followed it--would we have wars? Would we have poverty? Would we have reality shows like Survivor?

No!...In fact, on every reality show that depends on X screwing over Y the contestants would be force to concede to each other. Nor could they trick and lie to each other and all the rest. They'd even have to share. All the time.

For that reason alone, don't you wish the Golden Rule had widespread currency then?

OK, so what about do unto you as you would have others do unto you? I don't get it! If you already know how you want others to do unto you why do you need to know how you should do unto you? You already know what you want. What is this telling you to do?

But I do get one thing: This is the one that everyone's happy to follow! Why, we don't even have to tell anyone to do it...It seems to come naturally to all.

(While searching for the ad online I found
this commentary.

Monday, February 16, 2004

At this #1 Christian porn site they have a thing called 'Operation Save the Kittens.'

(link stolen once again from Idletype)

The movie's actually funny.

It's a joke, or seems to be. The idea? God kills a kitten every time you masturbate. It's sort of cute and amusing in a strange way...But I was thinking: Nuh huh! There could not be that many kittens in the world. I suspect my husband alone is responsible for his own kitten holocaust. I do my best but I'm only human.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Books Ruined Me

I've always had a problem with literature. That 'Reading Is Fundamental' thing. The whole celebration of reading where they put those celebrities on the posters with books in their hands that say 'read.'

Hello? Read what? Read anything? Read Mein Kampf? Believe it? The exhortation to 'read' is a bit too general, don't you think?

Can someone please tell me why reading--reading itself--is so good? I realize it is a complex mental activity and our capacity to engage in such activities is one of those things that distinguishes us from other species. Also, when you are reading you aren't assaulting or killing others or (usually) even taking drugs, shoplifting or committing arson. And this may be a good reason to get adolescents to read. Of course, the written word is our cultural heritage. It is most of culture. Maybe certain things that are written are intrinsically good in virtue of their beauty, meaning, etc.

And of course reading is highly pleasurable. Reading is scarily pleasurable. Books are my heroin. This is why I can't figure out why the act of reading (as opposed to the book itself) is supposed to be so good. Reading has had nothing but a terrible effect on my life. I have gone almost nowhere socially and economically because I read too much. I read instead of doing the things I'm supposed to.

(True, I always had high grades and test scores and got to go to the kind of schools that are supposed to be desirable for some reason--most economic. But the thing they never tell you is: After they let you in to that school, stop reading! Once you get your good SAT/GRE score, abandon all dilettante intellectual yearnings or it all goes to waste.)

Reading is good in the sense that experiencing pleasure is good but sometimes when you get addicted to certain pleasures the consequences can be very bad.

Still, I'm suspicious about this 'reading' propaganda thing. What's up with that? Why do they want us to read so much? I'm really starting to think: Maybe they know that this will keep people like me from making trouble. We'll be adequately narcotized. We'll complain but are too engaged in our passive activity to actually do anything.

Perhaps the worst problem of course is the way that certain books have infiltrated my thinking to such an extent that the world external to them seems lacking in some way. Or my values have become distorted.

So I get so jealous of the way it's super cool in Dostoevsky to go completely nuts... If you look at the books out there it would be almost hard not to conclude that going insane--perhaps even to the point of requiring hospitalization--was about the coolest, most creative thing you could do.

When I was at my in-law's house recently with all this sad cancer stuff I was browsing through Herzog by Saul Bellow. I read it before. Like me, Herzog is a loser who read too many books and went to school for a long time--but Herzog is the hero of the story. When Herzog does it, it's cool but when I do it--it gets a little pathetic. In other words, the protagonist of any novel is hardly worth imitating. It's better to be the reader--the protagonist is there for the reader's observation...His heroic, tragic and compelling qualities (in modern literature, at least) are the sorts of things that make real people in real life shunned by all.

Protagonists of modern lit-serious novels? They are serious losers. Why then is their plight on the printed page worth reading when if you really ran into one on the street you'd be afraid he'd (always a 'he' if you are reading the biggies of 20th C. American modernism) try and make friends?

So as we live near the neighborhood with all the hip clubs and I see the kids--who 15 years later are wearing the same clothes and listening to almost the same music as I was, where's the innovation--but we are so lame and don't do anything exciting like this.

And now we're having a baby. And it dawned on me right then that I had been thinking maybe the baby could be the start of a glam party life. And why? Why had I thought that?

Damn! Those John Cheever stories! In the John Cheever stories the parents of small children attend a constant round of cocktail parties, dance drunkenly, and kiss near strangers furtively near the coats. I knew adulthood was coming and marked it with the arrival of a child. And this. John Cheever stories. This is what I thought adulthood was all about.