Archive for the 'Fambly Baggage' Category

What doesn’t kill you just makes you less alive until you are then dead.

Four days ago, my eldest son came down with some kind of stomach flu.  Imagine something violently unleashed from the dark sceptre one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and you’ll get an idea of what is has been like.  He got swept up in it from the neighbor’s kids; not to point fingers, but I absolutely forbade him to ever approach them again, and furthermore in the near future I shall endeavor to wipe them and all that they hold dear from the cup of the cosmos like so much refuse.  From the attitude on display here it can easily be deduced that we all ended up with the same virus, and it is the diametric opposite of a good time.

Most bothersome is not the acuteness of the symptoms, but rather the span of the illness as whole.   This thing has got legs, baby.  I am hopeful that when they come to collect our bodies for the mass grave, they will at least remember to board up the doors and windows on their way out.

Call me cranky (guilty as charged, herf derf!) but I can think of better ways to pass the time.   Oh well, the one good thing to note is that I have lost another four pounds since contracting this pestilence.

Fear of a Black Superstore, II

To continue where we left off: our hero was at the precipice of great changiness and preparing for a small but significant new experience in leaf-turning, and had decided to set foot in a Wal-Mart for the first time in……..a long time (perhaps two years?).

I had some things to do anyway on a random Wednesday, and not much work to speak of, so I headed out to Portman’s Music to try that place out, as I’d heard they have a great selection of musical equipment.  This is certainly true: they had everything from Martin Backpackers, to banjos and pedal steel guitars, to slide trombones and Suzuki-method violin training materials.  Pretty great, really, for a backwater burgh like Augusta.  What they apparently didn’t have there was anyone at all willing to help me or even to grant the bare acknowledgment of my shared existence in their Billy Badass universe.  I thus really hated it, uselessly gave all of them a look of withering contempt which left me feeling basically like a noseless leper, and left after about ten minutes.  I’m not much for musical snobbery these days, and it’s never really been a game I’ve played to win. So I left and then traversed all of two miles to get to the next shop on my list, Center Stage Music.  It was a smaller place by about a factor of two, but still more than large enough.  Upon my arrival I was greeted by two very disarming guys, one of whom had a gray ponytail: he immediately set me at ease, and we talked at length about different guitars he had in stock, and I got to play a couple of 3500-dollar Taylors.  While fun, I really didn’t get why they were so expensive.  My little Martin D-15 has got a great sound and cost a quarter of the price.  (That was a really great purchase, I doubt I’ll do better anytime soon.)  The takeaway from this man-on-the-street test is simple: a bad music store can be the equivalent of the old-school record store (may they rest in peace): everybody there knows more than you, and even if they don’t, they certainly claim to.   So it’s a very great thing to finally find one and feel comfortable.  Anyhow, after we talked some more about things I really have no technical knowledge of (at some point he said the word “rectifier” in relation to an amplifier I was fondling, and I just had to leave it there), I picked up some strings for my new classical Yamaha CG201S, thanked him for his help, and moved on to my Primary Target.   Operation Piss In Boots was in effect, and soon enough Wal-Mart was looming large in my windshield.

I got as far as Customer Service, which is all I really expected anyway.

It’s hard to complain: I did what I set out to do, didn’t I?  But I left feeling slightly tail-tucked all the same.  I’m determined to make this a weekly adventure, though the exact store I visit probably should change: getting comfortable at one store really doesn’t really grease the wheel of my hangups, though at this point anything I can call progress will be something on which to hang my hat.  Mixed metaphors aside, I am trying to sincerely adapt to a rather unfortunately and unnecessary issue that has seemingly randomly presented itself.

Part of me still believes the old school wisdom of behavioral psychology, which would probably suggest that there must be some underlying reason for this dilemma, the rooting out of which would presumably lead me to a neat and tidy resolution, the denoument probably consisting of a jolly exclamation (So, it was really the Vietcong that did this to me? Ha!) followed by a hearty belly laugh and the subsequent purchase of a Magnavox VCR for absolutely no reason.  But after years of trying to mentally formulate a logical source of the problem, I’ve finally had to just throw up my hands and call it fate, or a random accident springing from a set of complex experiences that even I cannot piece together.  So now my quest, insofar as I can call it that, is to somehow build a new set of experiences which will lead me to the emotional response I seek, which will bring me mentally from this place:

WALMART = SOMEONE SET UP US THE BOMB!

to this place:

WALMART = meh, let’s go somewhere else already.

More later on this, I am sure.

Fear of a Black Superstore

Yeah, so there’s really no easy way to bring this up.

I’ve finally gotten around the point in this blog where I, reluctantly and with much consternaton against what I consider to be the necessary upkeep of a fragile sense of personal dignity, finally talk about SOMETHING PERSONAL.  And let’s not pussy-foot around the issues, here, because everyone has demons and everyone has their weaknesses.  I have chosen to shine a light on mine: call it a whiff of hopenchange syndrome if you like, though the manly men among me, insomuch as they even bother to read this blog (or anything else at all) would probably beat me about the face and neck for revealing, reveling, and altogether casually admitting beyond all shadow of doubt, that yes indeedy-do, I’ve got some ISSUES that need the light shone upon them.

My principal fears these days do not revolve around my imminent death.  It is not the utter horror of commercialism and crass convenience that afflicts us all on a daily basis, though both of these things (death and Circle K, respectively) do indeed send my liberal self down with the vapors every so often.  No, my greatest viscereal fear is fairly simple but mighty perplexing:

I fear Wal-Mart.

Of course, it’s not quite so simple as that.  I could walk into a Wal-Mart circa 1995 with no problem at all.  I do have a problem, though – and when I say problem, I mean cold-sweat inducing fear – with the superstore as it has evolved since 1995: Super Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club, even the new Mega Kroger grocery complexes.  You can probably already imagine the type I mean: you come for groceries, you stay to buy a large-screen TV, and get a haircut, and an oil change while you wait for the anonymous pharmacist to ring up your latest Amoxicillin presciption.

Of course it isn’t the fact that being able to do all these things in themselves is what scares me.  No, what irks me is the gargantuan warehouses that these places now require in order to offer such a huge range of service.  If you’ve ever seen the movie Idiocracy by Mike Judge, then you know immediately the sort of vibe I am hinting at:

But even this, as tasteless as it is, is not what makes me cringe.  I am, after all, an American: we make tacky into cool on a daily basis.  This is part of our collective charm, soulless though it might be.

No, the fact of the matter is that I am no longer comfortable in large spaces like Wal-Mart, and you can toss aside any moral objections I might have once had to such places;  I did indeed avoid Wal-Mart like the black plague for many years, but it is only in the last two years or so that I really just can’t even consider walking into such a place for fear of “losing my shit”, to put it as scientifically as possible.

It feels like a kind of agoraphobia, although I know that doesn’t really get at it, since I can enter an open field of any other kind and be completely at ease, even comforted by it.   But it is a KIND of agoraphobia, I suppose, since it is certainly true that when you enter a place the size of four large-scale airplane hangars and one is expected to navigate one’s way to the Electronics section, one is immediately forced to reckon with something MUCH bigger than one’s self.

I simply feel very small in these places, and totally unprepared for the challenge of having to make my way along the mazelike corridors of modern commerce.   I also feel small looking at the sky at night, though, as I’m sure most thinking people do, but I’d much prefer to be stranded on a starship in the middle of the Kuyper Belt than to be caught unawares in a Target, and this strange dichotomy between what SHOULD freak me out and what in fact DOES freak me out is really, well, freaking me out.

I could go on and on about the minor details of the things that have occurred to me when I am in these places: the forced anonymity, the cultural black hole of the shopping experience; I could even expound on the piss-poor lighting, which really turns me off.  But at the end of the day, what drives me away from Superstores is something I just simply cannot explain, though I’d like to get to the bottom of it.

So the question for me is simple: what is it going to take to get me over this naked fear?  I currently have no answer I’m ready to contemplate, though I have an idea.  Like most other things in life, sometimes you just have to suck it up and work through it.  I feel this is basically inevitable: since I work in IT, one day a job is going to come my which requires the leap into one of these places, and I cannot jeopardize my work just to get out of facing what is turning into bigtime baggage.  So to be proactive, I’m going to set a foot into a Wal-Mart this week.  I probably won’t get too far past the food court or the hair cuttery, but nonetheless I’m going to give it a shot.

If it merits a mention, I’ll be sure to explain what happened when the situation demands it.  But it’s not going to be fun, or easy, or even bearable.  What it is, is necessary, and that is all I need to concentrate on in order to begin to get over it.

I realize this is so silly to whoever will read this, but it’s real to me, and it feels like a real burden at this point.  Like I said, everyone has their weaknesses: mine happen to reside in the realm of  the inexplicable and ridiculous.  But as of yet, I’ve not been able to make much headway in facing it down, and I think it’s something I’ve put off way too long.  So wish me luck, would you, and I’ll promise not to tell everyone how scared you are of spiders.  Oops.


August 2017
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Currently Reading:

Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame - Charles Bukowski

Currently Listening:

Mr. Bungle - California

Why, yes, I am cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.

You lika de juice????