Showing posts with label idealism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label idealism. Show all posts

13 September, 2013

Gator People Live In The River: Schlubbus Interruptus

He that is robbed, not wanting what is stol'n, Let him not know't, and he's not robbed at all. - Shakespeare

I was planning on writing about tomatoes.

No. Really. The gauntlet being thrown down, Amanda and I cooked down and froze, liquified, or canned 50 pounds of tomatoes. Of course, 50 pounds of tomatoes  preprocessed takes up a hell of a lot more space and seems more onerous than 50 pounds of post-processed tomatoes. And the scope of it all would probably be more impressive had I elected to use pint jars instead of quart jars for the shelf stable maters that are currently occupying shelf space in the basement. 

But alas, Dear Readers, that is not the tale I am allotted to tell today, because my phone was stolen, along with the picture of the tomatoes that I was planning on using.

Not to be thwarted, however, I will replace it with an albeit less useful, but more plot-driven and predictable stand-in.

I walked into the Writing Center this past Tuesday -- one of my jobby jobs -- and it was slammed. I was all of two minutes late because of a brief stopover at the Iroquois Branch of the Free Louisville Library. Between that and an unexpected illness, the Center was unmanned for all of those two minutes, during which time everything went to hell. There was only one scheduled tutoring appointment, but the internet was down and no could print or check Facebook (gasp!). 

There were some actual writing issues that people had questions about, and I was fluttering around between students, answering questions, and trying my best to portray an IT Guy (WHICH I AM NOT NOW NOR EVER SHALL BE). It's understandable that students could be easily confused, since the Writing Center is configured like a computer lab, thanks to the fascist tactics of the IT Department and their Draconian insistence that straight rows of computers make for functional space in a Humanities driven Writing Center. They are not known for their interpersonal skills and therefore do not understand or intuit that a Writing Center is a place meant to foster communication, not to be a farm of computer banks where the sex deprived can pleasure themselves to uploaded episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse.

I will admit, I should have kept a better eye on my phone. But I did not. At some point between 3:57m and 4:15pm, my phone grew legs, walked out the door, boarded a bus to 3rd Street and Kingston, and later ended up on Hale Ave on the west side. According to the GPS tracker the address is somewhere around this quaint meth den:

Of course, I made a report to campus security. Not because I expected to get my phone back, but to establish a paper trail in case the schlub who stole my phone decided to go on a technology-grabbing frenzy.

Now, if you know me, I have a sort of ethical flexibility when it comes to theft. For me, it's all about context. People stealing for food or shelter don't bother me. Legalized corporate or government sanctioned theft offends me deeply. And if you know me, you also know that I am perfectly content without a cell phone and keep one primarily because there are still a few people who would like to be able to get in touch with me. 

(And NO. They are not ALL bill collecting parasites.)  

(When I'm Out and About, I turn it off frequently, as much to free myself of it as to save the battery.)

I was bothered less by the actual theft of the phone -- let's be honest, it was probably only a matter of time -- than by the fact that a student stole it. Yes, it's a downtown campus in what some people consider a dangerous part of River City. Yes, I am aware that not everyone holds my view on the ethics of stealing.  And yes, I have been betrayed by a student before. Higher education is shark tank, not a kiddie pool. 

But I do insist on holding to my ideals. Otherwise, why have them? Ideals are not necessarily reflective of what happens. They are reflective of what ought to happen.

And that a student stole from me -- a student I was probably helping with a writing problem or half-heartedly trying to help with a tech issue I am not trained nor interested in being trained for -- was and is more of a violation than the theft of the phone.

The other thing that offends and violates me is the sheer stupidity of the schlub. I prefer not to use the term "thief" because that implies a level of intelligence that is nonexistent in this case. 

Politicians are thieves. Lawyers are thieves. Bankers are thieves. 

Schlubs who pinch my phone and think that I will not find a way to make them regret it are not thieves. They are schlubs and do not deserve my consideration.

I was able to lock the phone and track it within a block of their residence. The phone also has another function: I set it to beep loudly for two minutes every time they turned it on. The phone also has another function - setting a text message to display on the lock screen. 

I used that as an opportunity to communicate with them. Or taunt them, if you will.

But after a full 12 hours or so of insulting him, his mother, and pointing out his precise location, I got bored and set the phone to erase. I may not get my phone back, but they won't get access to any of my shit -- including the picture of our canned maters, which I was going to proudly post. 

It is important to point out, however that in spite of the sheer schlubbiness of the schlub, that two different people -- neither of whom are related to me -- offered to let me use their old phones until I get a new one. The negative effect of a single schlub does not stand a chance against the positive impact of two genuinely nice people -- which, believe it or not, reflects my deeper idealism more than any metaphor I can conjure.

20 September, 2012

Southern Jaunt: Intermezzo - Useful

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. - Jiddu Krishnamurti

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help. - Abraham Lincoln

The Parsons family are all about working hard and doing what is needed to get ahead in life and be the best we can, and making a good life for our children, and serving our Country. what in any of that have you done or are doing? - Screechy Mary, Gun-running Cousin

The autumnal tinge in the air is telling me it's getting time to move on, and so is the calender. This time next week, the local magistrate will have backwards genuflected and any reverse broom-hopping will have been done. My return tenure at the paper will be more or less done --much to the glee of the grumps who are content to strangle the town into the nitrate poisoned dust. As the song goes

The chilly wind will soon begin and I'll be on my way....

As much as I've enjoyed seeing my friends here, listening to some great music, and getting the chance to tell a story or two, I'm ready to shake some the dirt off, stretch my legs, and get back out on the road. I plan on staying in the Midwest for a bit before jumping down to Albuquerque, New Mexico for Mothpocalypse and The Happy F%$^^in' Endings  on November 2nd-4th.  After that, back up to the Ohio Valley, for some Turkey Day celebrating with My Dear Sweet Ma, and then, another run through Kentucky, hopefully to visit friends, to the East Coast, where I'm hoping to see The Kid in between her school and work and generally impatient insistence on trying to be a GROWN-UP. And then, down the coast, to Florida, down to Port Charlotte -- where the beaches are warm, the water is beautiful, and there will be no snow.

At least, that's the plan. For now.

Because I'm still pondering flying against common sense and my own inclinations and going NORTH, to the Bakken Oil Fields in the Northwest corner of North Dakota to see what a boom town looks like... particularly in far off off OFF chance that Mitt Romney wins the election, since he would have us drilling even more than we are (even though Obama has allowed more drilling than GW Bush and we're taking so much coal out of the mountains that we've graduated from mine shafts to strip mining to mountain top removal ... that's TAKING THE TOPS OFF MOUNTAINS THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND LONGER THAN WE HAVE.) 

To be fair, it probably doesn't matter who's sleeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- they're both backed by  big banks, big business, and big pocketbooks. 

Please don't take this an opportunity to flood me with the virtues of Ron Paul. You want to see his virtue, look at his son, Rand -- named after Ayn "Fuck the Poor" Rand -- and listen to him after he's finished telling you he would abolish every government agency that you think is making your life miserable. He's a mook of the highest order -- a Libertarian who's too scared to use the label, his idea of America would effectively take us back to the dark ages.

But... North Dakota is still on my mind, yes. And so is the fact that I hate cold weather. But I am (re)learning -- constantly -- that the universe will blow me where ever it damn well pleases, and not always to my preference.

A motif that has been coming up... well...  since January ... is What I Plan on "Really" Doing. And even though I have, at various times, stated pretty clearly what I intend NOT to do... and even what I intend to do --which is travel, write, not buy into the dead myth of Pax Americana, love my country, question the government, meet good people, find stories worth re-telling, and (re)learn to play the guitar --  the question keeps cropping up, though in different words.

Mostly, people want to know what I'm going To DO... as in, what respectable job will I get. I feel I've been perfectly clear on this one as well.  But if anyone is confused, I plan to avoid anything that might cause me to be respected. To be respected in this society is to acquiesce to the rules and machinations of said society... regardless of how screwed up it is.

Fuck all that.

My hope is to be useful, though. And in spite of one recent Letter to the Editor which referred to what I do as "spinning lies for pocket change" (thanks, Nina for that. Sorry that you're such a lousy writer yourself and a miserable, bitter hag to boot.) I do think there is merit in paying attention. Because, if I'm being honest, that's pretty much what I do. I pay attention. To people. To stories. To poems. To songs. To events. To history. To you. 

I was also called out recently for shaming my father's memory and for not following one particularly bitchy relative's notion of what my family tradition is. Then again -- it seems like the Parsons family tradition has more to it than money grubbing and exploiting misinformation to make more money selling bullets to people who believe Obama is going to take away their guns. My dad didn't keep guns around. He didn't need them. One tongue lashing / lecture from him and you'd rather be shot. Believe me. My Dad DID tell me some stories, try and get me to think right about some things, and tried to keep me out of jail (Which would have been preferable to any of his punishments.)  He did things his own way more or less. He told me about my grandfather -- who did things his own way. From what I can tell, the only thing anyone on the Old Man's side of the family has in common is that we have nothing in common except that we do things our own way.

In this, then, I am not far off the mark, at least.

With any luck, I will find ways to be useful -- and not in some way defined by someone else. Generally I find that most problems, personal and otherwise, arise from language barriers. Useful is one of those words that people tend to define narrowly and with very little imagination.  When you begin defining language for yourself, when you begin defining the elements that impact your life in your own way, you cease being useful to a lot of people. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

What can be a bad thing is when you stop short of redefining for yourself what it means to be useful. Or, in the process of defining what it means, you forget that humanity is more important the terms people often use to define it.