Opinion

Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #1

Sunday in the Park 1

Let’s talk about a few things, shall we?

In the midst of my randomness here at Bonnywood Manor, I often have briefly inspirational blog ideas that quickly flame out once I realize that I don’t have enough material to slap together a compelling, full-length blog post that will amount to anything of worth. Still, these thought-snippets rattle around in my head until I pay enough attention to flesh them out or I relegate them to the dust bin of “not gonna happen”.

This can be annoying, especially to a writer who has momentary fever dreams that what he has to say might actually carry some weight in a society that has not been invented yet. I really do want to chat about these fleeting thoughts, but I don’t have the perseverance or proper diet to adequately sledge-hammer these random musings into something that will entice readers long enough to reach that sacred “Like” button at the bottom of the page. (Side note: Many writers in the land of WordPress, or any land for that matter, pretend that they don’t seek digital glory in the form of a simple click. Most of them are liars. We want the clicks, those little affirmations that we have accomplished something of worth, even if that something is vaguely defined and smells a bit like vanity.)

So, as my partner and I finished watching the last few episodes of Season 3 of “Arrested Development” tonight, I had a few more random thoughts. One, “Arrested Development” rocks. It was ahead of its time, it pushed the boundaries, and the carefully-crafted jokes reward the viewer who faithfully watches from episode 1 into infinity. If you like witty absurdity and you have an appreciation for breaking the norm, you’ll love it. If you still think that Ozzie and Harriet in the 1950s was the pinnacle of humor, then you should probably watch something else. And vote for Donald Trump while you’re at it.

See? The preceding paragraph is what I mean by random thoughts that cannot sustain a full blog post. I can squeeze out a decent paragraph or two, but I can’t surmount the debacle of creating an entire post that will enrapture the reader to the point of running out and buying my books that no one else wants to buy.

(Did you catch that second whiff of vanity?)

Two, maybe I should start doing a blog series where I just mainline what is coming out of my head and see if I can wrestle my unregulated thought-processes into something that minimally approaches an acceptable level of communication. And let’s stylize it a bit, pretending that it’s more important than it really is. Something along the lines of the Algonquin Round Table of yore, wherein certain American writers gathered at various pubs in 1920s New York City and had sarcastic conversations concerning how everyone else was wrong and they were right. But in this version I’m flipping it a bit, in that I may be wrong and everyone else is right. I’ll leave it up to the like-clickings at the bottom of the page. (Vanity, checkpoint 3.)

So here we go.

ONE: If you don’t have the “Like” option enabled on your blog posts, please reconsider.

I get that some people don’t want to do this. It’s a draining task to pour your blood and sweat into a post, and then the entire world ignores your efforts except for that one creepy guy from high school who really belongs in some type of rehabilitation program. Still, there have been so many times when I’ve stumbled across a blog, really enjoyed a post, and then discovered there is no way to acknowledge my appreciation in a single click. Yes, the comment option is often available, but I may not have anything to say that hasn’t already been said by the 446 people commenting before me. I’ll probably leave your blog without any trace of my visit other than a mystical uptick in your stat counts. Of course, if you have 446 comments, you are not going to notice my input one way or the other, so there’s that.

TWO: People who are talking on their phones in the checkout line at Target.

There is no reason for you to be doing this. If you are actually in the midst of a personal crisis, with loved ones in some type of jeopardy, then your ass should not be queued up to buy yogurt and condoms. Run out the door and take care of things. Otherwise, you’re just coming off as a self-absorbed twat, regardless of gender. If you don’t have the decency to put your phone away for the twenty seconds it takes for you to be cordial to the cashier, you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house. End of story.

Wow, that one felt really good. I guess I had a bit of angst stored up.

THREE: The citizens of Dallas who raised holy hell when the city tried to implement a 5-cent surcharge for consumers who preferred that their yogurt and condoms be nestled in a plastic bag instead of a paper bag.

This one is a bit archaic, in that the city council caved and rescinded the ordinance some time ago. But it still irks me, and here’s this for the people who demanded the caving: Have you been to a landfill lately? It’s not a pleasant environment, granted, what with the unattractive odor and the possibility that you might stumble across the remnants of what used to be the Republican Party. Still, what you can’t avoid are the massive amounts of plastic whatever that are lying about and chemically refusing to decay. Bags and water bottles and breast implants from here to the once-shining sea.

You own that, you created that. Take at least minimal responsibility for the fact that you are destroying the planet with your selfishness. I know that some of you were raised to seize the day, with no regard for culpability. (Thank you, Ronald Reagan. Not.) I believe that we were meant to share the day, especially the future days when we hand off what we have done to those who haven’t yet had a chance to do anything.

FOUR: The privatization of public education in America.

I’m not a fan of publicly-funded charter schools. I can’t fathom how any elected official who truly cares for their constituents would sign off on legislation that allows corporations to instill values in our youth. Charter schools are nothing but factories designed to produce a product. (Granted, most “news organizations” of today are guilty of the same thing, but that’s a topic for another post.) The most annoying thing in all this mess is that my tax dollars are being diverted to the factories. I don’t have any say, despite the fact that I have paid school taxes for decades even though I don’t have any children.

To be fair, I didn’t have the most splendid time during my own internment in the public school system, or at least the system that it used to be. I was a little gay boy who didn’t have the brazen ability to butch it up for the masses, and I suffered for it. (Bursting into a Broadway song in the middle of Home Economics did nothing for my machismo, suffice it to say.) But that was a time and place. Overall, my servitude at Broken Arrow High School managed to instill a few things: a sense of community, albeit lopsided in favor of the football team whose members were considered demi-gods; a sense of accomplishment, albeit hindered by certain school administrators who used to be on the football team and were clueless about meaningful growth; and, most importantly, an exposure to all elements of society, good, bad and indifferent, the hallmark of a true public education.

That last checkpoint is critical, in that the factory-line concept of education does not prepare our youth for the real world.  When students become commodities and statistics on corporate earnings reports, trained in the art of taking standardized tests and yet not allowed to explore the subjects which actually interest them, to explore life, we all fail.

I know this sounds really dramatic, and I’m sure there are some great charter schools out there doing the right thing. But when I drive by the local strip mall and see that a charter school has opened up in what used to be a Mervyn’s department store, I know those kids are not getting the traditional educational experience which is crucial for proper social development. There are no sports teams to cheer, no choirs to join, no Friday Night dances in a gym that probably doesn’t exist, no eccentric teacher who quietly hands you a volume of poems, no debate team, no decades-long cross-town rivalry with another high school, and, worthy of repetition, no sense of community. Just oiled machines, churning and spitting out. How is this right for our children?

FIVE: My knee joints.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but it did. My knees have been taken over by a mind that is not my own. I’m 51 years old, which means I no longer qualify for the “Freshly Picked!” sticker in the produce aisle. But still, there’s not a quantifiable reason for me to be decommissioned and shoved into a storage facility just yet. I exercise fairly regularly (via the treadmill, which rips at my soul but still I persevere), I try to be healthy with my eating (cheese is my downfall) so my weight is at least somewhat respectable, and my physician has not noted any symptoms which would lead to him decreeing a change in my lifestyle and a surcharge on my bill.

Still, my knees do not care for these efforts. Instead, they follow an agenda of their own. I simply want to stand up from the couch in a discreet manner. They want to issue explosive cracking noises that sound like gunfire, leading to family members diving for cover and a police helicopter flying overhead. I want to merely walk to the refrigerator and see what kind of cheese we have in stock. My knees insist on contorting themselves in unhealthy ways, with my lower extremities cavorting about like I’m in a Salvador Dali painting that someone will eventually find in a flea market in Amsterdam. What the hell is that all about? Do I no longer have any ligaments down there?

Oh, wait, yes I do. Because if I’m on the floor for some innocent reason (petting the cat, finally tending to the cobwebs in the corner of the dining room, looking for my dignity under the bed) and then I try to stand? Those ligaments are definitely present and they are not happy. Little pain bolts shoot in all directions if I simply use my legs for ascension. My knees insist that I grasp nearby furniture and hoist myself, with a grunt and a randomly-chosen curse word. It’s not pretty.

Scotch the Cat just looks at me. Dude, I can leap 9 times my own height with complete ease and then hoist a leg and clean myself whilst I ride the ceiling fan. You need to take some vitamins.

Sigh. He may or may not have a point, but at least he has an opinion and he’s willing to express it, instead of waiting for other people to tell him what he should think.

Cheers…

 

38 replies »

  1. “Something along the lines of the Algonquin Round Table of yore, wherein certain American writers (read my idol, Dorothy Parker) gathered at various pubs in 1920s New York City and had sarcastic conversations concerning how everyone else was wrong and they were right.”
    And fortunately, or unfortunately, they were actually “right” considering that brillance has it’s own rightness.
    This writing does too.
    It has it’s own “rightness.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind words, Cindy. I am fascinated by the Algonquin concept, and I think Dorothy Parker is a goddess. In fact, a small and probably vain part of me would like to think that I am the reincarnation of Dorothy. Sadly, she passed two years after I was born, so either she was really reluctant to let go of her soul (which sounds just like her) or the transference did not actually take place. Side note: Perhaps we should start our own Algonquin?

      Like

  2. A few comments. Yeah, I like the like buttons. Canberra’s policy is to charge for all bags—so bring your own or pay 5–10 cents a bag. People pay way too much attention to their phones. Luckily we have no such things as charter schools in Australia. And finally, very sorry about your knees. More rants welcome anytime.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually had fun with the ranting. And to be honest, I have an alarmingly large folder full of rants that I never published because simply writing them is usually therapy enough, but I might just be plucking a few things out of that folder in the coming months… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Autumn! Yes, that Number Four really gets under my skin. I actually decided to edit out some of the harsher paragraphs in that section because I sounded a little bit crazed. But it just kills me that education is not valued in this country…

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s amazing, isn’t it? The stealthy way in which our youthfulness suddenly dissipates. It annoys me that by the time you have (hopefully) figured out what is important in life, some of the important parts of you are no longer in the proper condition to make use of your life-gained wisdom…

      Like

  3. “If you don’t have the decency to put your phone away for the twenty seconds it takes for you to be cordial to the cashier, you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house. End of story.” Preach!

    There was a woman at work who talked on the phone while on the toilet in the ladies room. I found myself waiting to flush so I didn’t make noise. Finally, I started doing the opposite. I did extra flushing. I ran the hand dryer. Every day I made as much noise as I could. She didn’t care. Until the day I turned out the lights before I walked out. That quieted her. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am in awe of your light-extinguishing resolution to this situation. Perfect. I also had a coworker who knew no boundaries in the bathroom, babbling in baby talk to his girlfriend whilst clear signs of “recycling” were echoing throughout the chamber. What is going on in your head, Baby Man, that makes you think this is okay in any way? Of course, I never confronted him about this mess, just mentally filed it away for an eventual rant on WordPress, which I am now doing… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The knees, it happened when you turned 50 – it is part of the rite of passage to becoming mature! And the Dallas plastic bag ordeal, I was there and experienced it – I did for a time bring my own bags – there was some good that came from it. Thanks for a great post my friend, hope your weekend is fun and happy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • True enough, some good did come of the Brief Ecological Sanity in Dallas. I naively assumed that such a sound regulation would remain in place, so I stocked up on reusable bags, which we continue to use, and I do see other people doing the same. Still, I just don’t get the folks that shirk responsibility for the damage they are doing to the planet. Anyway, I did indeed have a great weekend (on Saturday we had a decadent breakfast at Norma’s, did you ever go there?) and I hope you had the same…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have had the pleasure of dining at Norma’s! So I am away from Dallas for almost 3 weeks now, I assume not much has changed and honestly I do not miss it. I will most likely be back to visit there in the future. Have a great week my friend. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oooo, I like your Sundays in the Park, very nice, very thoughtful!
    1. Agree. I’m shy and don’t always have something to say, but I’d like for authors to know I like their work and appreciate them.
    2. People are beyond rude these days. Yes, get off your phone while you’re in the checkout line anywhere. Common sense, common manners, common courtesy… gone.
    3. I’m an environmentalist to a point and I take my bags everywhere I go. Do people not know that plastic is forever? There is so much plastic in the ocean these days that they can’t remove it all because it’s created it’s own ecosystem and life now exists within this ecosystem. This is not a good thing. Never mind all the poor fish that eat this crap which clogs their system and kills them. Okay, sorry, I’ll stop there with this one.
    4. Oh my hell, this one makes my blood pressure rise. Has Texas adopted the common core yet? (I know you have a niece, so you might actually have some insight, and yes, this goes along with your charter school corporate takeover). Corporate America is taking over our public schools as well, not just charter schools. I’ve been putting off writing a post about this as it doesn’t fit my happy-happy-joy-joy self (lol), but a group of business men got together and decided this is how our children should be taught, with the common core. Because of this, the kids no longer get appropriate lessons on how to do stuff in elementary school, such as the basics… math principles, sentence structure, handwriting, the basics I’m telling you. Anyway, it’s these business men, and they created the “common core” and all these common core workbooks and only one publishing company prints these books, nothing is free, and guess who is making a mint because they’ve convinced the world that this is the way kids these days should be taught. No more creativity, just critical thinking. (I completely lost it when, not only did my child have to know that 2+2=4, but he had to know WHY). These men aren’t even educators. Just rich. So, no… corporation-led charter schools should NOT be granted public funding. They have enough money. Bastards.
    5. Getting old is hell. I hate it and I want it to stop, but I don’t really want the alternative, so I’ll retract that last thought. Ahhh, to be as limber as Scotch…
    Probably more than a comment you wanted, but hey, you opened that can of worms (which I say lovingly and with the utmost respect, of course, :D).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVE long comments, really do. You get to know so much about a person when they express themselves in detail. Of course, a long comment can make it necessary to create a long reply, but in our case we seem to basically agree on everything, so I’ll just focus on Number Four. You’re so right, the Common Core crap is just as infuriating as charter schools. Both of the concepts are shams designed to make certain business people wealthy at the expense of students.

      It just astounds me that in our country, where freedom is supposedly idealized and guaranteed, Big Business has such a stranglehold on the livelihoods of the common citizen. There are a number of reasons why this is the case, and I could babble on for hours, but the fundamental truth behind most of the dissatisfying situations in America is that so many people DON’T VOTE. I truly believe that the vast majority of Americans want the best things for everybody, but “wanting” is not the same thing as “action” and, unfortunately, the inaction (not voting) has led to politicians getting elected who do not represent the heart of America.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, so much to say here. However, bottom line is I feel the parties are not being forthcoming with the public re: meeting and rep info. I had never heard from my regional or distrct rep, I had to search long and hard for the breakdown of our district, and even finding a caucus meeting was hard. Sometimes I feel super helpless with the entire process and system, but I still vote. Like I said, so much to say, so little time.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, I like Like buttons, too, I don’t always have something original or enlightening to add or perhaps the post is a serious or sad one and I just want the writer to know I witnessed it and took notice.
    Plastic bags are evil! We have to provide our own bags now or pay extra and we as a nation are using billions less and this can only be a good thing.
    Mobile phones. Grrrrrrr.
    Businesses have no business having anything to do with schools.
    Knees. I am much older than you and my knees are probably the only part of me that do function without objection! I think the treadmill may not be aiding you there. My brother was a runner for many years but his knees are shot, my son is a mad cyclist, likes going up ridiculously steep hills, but his running days ruined his knees for that activity (running, that is, he’s fine on a bike). My daughter is far younger than you and has had creaky knees for as long as I can remember – she too used to run. She prefers yoga, cycling and swimming now. Perhaps you need a gentler form of exercise?
    Great post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Chris. You have a good point, in that a gentler form of exercise should be considered. But I do keep my knees in mind when using the treadmill, and I adjust the machine so that I’m really only doing a brisk walk instead of the full-beast running that some folks do on the treadmill. I think my issues stem from what you also mention, the physical activity in my younger days. I played soccer for years, with constant running and training. Adding to that is the fact that, for decades, when I would sit I would tuck one of my legs under my tush. According to my doctor, this is a no-no. It over-exerts the ligaments in your knees, making them more elastic and wobbly, which is exactly what I’m experiencing now. The body is a complex thing, so hopefully we’re all learning more about how to treat it right, which is what you’re doing with your healthy and informative blog. See how I eventually turned the spotlight on you? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha well done! Yes, my grandson would always sit like a frog when he was little and he has had problems with his hips and knees ever since. For decades I slept -as he does, amd my son – on my stomach and the first time I visited an osteopath for my back he could tell and told me all the things this does to your neck and upper spine. I haven’t slept in that position since, but neither have I slept as well, I can’t sleep on my back!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I can’t imagine NOT using the ‘Like’ button on a blog…it seems imperative, to me!

    Charter “schools,” simply put, aren’t “schools” at all. I have no idea why anyone thinks that they’re a good idea…I completely agree with your opinion on them.
    On that note, why the hell does TEXAS, of all states, get to choose which school textbooks are used for the other 49 states?!? That’s never made any kind of sense, to me…each state has a unique history of its own, which revisionists seem set on erasing.

    My knees kill me often, but 50 isn’t even close for me, yet – it’s those harsh sporting events that I involved myself in, during high school…and those damned stiletto heels worn whilst modeling didn’t help, either!

    I hate running – I love my elliptical, my rowing machine, cycling, swimming, and yoga…those are great exercises that don’t make my knees scream.

    I try not to use paper or plastic bags, for the most part; I take my own, cloth shopping bags to the store when I need to grab a few things…going to Fred Meyer every few months, to get things that they don’t carry in the small, local store, gives me plenty of plastic bags that I use as trash-can liners for the bins in the bathroom and under the kitchen sink.

    People who need to talk in line at Tar-zhey on their mobiles are horrible…but, people who are talking on their mobiles in a restroom are worse – especially if they’re on the can whilst doing so!
    XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, such a plethora of things to respond to, but like my answer to Paula above, we’re on the same page with all of this, so I’m going to focus on the “textbook” angle that you mention. Here’s the deal: Texas is a huge market for schoolbooks because it’s so damn big and there are over a thousand school districts, even more than California, surprisingly enough. At some point, most of the textbook publishers decided that they were going to offer one “basic” version of their products. If you wanted a variation on this version, they jacked the prices up so high that most states could not afford an alternate. And since Texas was the biggest market, that became the default model. Sadly, the Texas Schoolbook Commission is (for the most part) populated by extremists instead of visionaries. (They recently tried to excise Thomas Jefferson from history because they deemed him “too liberal”.) Therefore, America as a whole gets the Texas version of all things scholarly. It’s pathetic.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Lordy please no I practically BEG people not to like my posts. It is a badge of honour to be ignored and unappreciated for your budding genius…oh who am I kidding. I would write it anyway even if no-one appreciated it…that’s motive… but sure it’s a lie to say it’s not nice to get some acknowledgement for effort (in my case usually a ‘D minus could do better’). I like the stream-of-consciousness style…short posts have their merit as it doesn’t take people long to read them…you can meander over subjects niggling on the brain-surface over time rather than in a flourished definitive one-post manner. That assumes some sort of regular readership, but hey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You bring up a good point. How far does one go in testing the limits of their followers? In fairness, as evidenced by some of my epic posts, I generally don’t hold back when I want to expound on an opinion or a story. In reviewing the stats, I see that sometimes those massive meanderings lead to a delicious spike; other times, I get absolutely no response whatsoever. So, in essence, it boils down to the time-worn caveat: Write for yourself, not your readers, and cross your fingers. Eventually, hopefully, the right people will find you and the “clicking ‘like’ just so that person will click back” sketchy followers will eventually drift away. End of the day, honest writing tastes a lot better than manipulated writing…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. First and foremost: I hope this will be a regular feature?
    Onward ho:
    Yes, I like the likes. It disappoints me when I can’t give my silent approval.
    Cell phones… well, I’m too nosy to be annoyed. Just let it be known, if you are talking on your phone in a public place, I WILL listen and I WILL judge you. I might even make a blog post about it.
    As for bags, in AZ, most stores give a choice of paper or plastic, or will credit you for bags you provide, anywhere from 5 to 15 cents per bag. And I’m totally cool with this. The first I encountered a surcharge for using a store bag was this summer in California. We stopped to pick up a few things and the clerk asked if I wanted a bag. I said yes, thinking we’d use it for garbage in the car. I was shocked to find I had to pay 10 cents for it, and they only had paper. We still have that bag, by the way. I mean, gosh, I paid good money for it… 🙄
    Charter schools… Yeah, there are issues. Of course, I work at a public school in a fairly ritzy area, and there are issues with that as well. I’m rather happy my two kids went to a school that was more economically and racially diverse.
    Finally, I’m so sorry about your knees. Lately I’ve developed a deeply disconcerting, occasional hitch in my right hip. Most of the time I’m able to ignore it, other times I remember my great-aunt Maude who broke her hip and then two weeks later DIED!
    Pray for me…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do think this might become a regular thing. In all honesty, the post percolated on my laptop for a couple of weeks before I was satisfied enough to actually release it into the world. I know that I have a tendency to ramble and rant when I’m not confined to some type of fictional narrative, and not everybody wants to hear my mess. On the flip side, and taking us all the way back to Cindy’s comments at the beginning of this post-post discourse, I have always admired the bravery of folks who mean what they say and say what they mean. It’s a risky venture, letting it all out. Tangling all of that up is my life-long yearning to be accepted, representing as I did the unsavory (to some) margins of society, what with that pesky gay angle. When you have been in the midst of the tumult of simply being acknowledged as worthy, there’s a natural hesitation to rock the boat. Still, the boat wasn’t initially designed for my inclusion, and I might as well forget about the turbulence.

      So, yes, I think “Sundays in the Park” should become a staple. Let’s see what the next Sunday brings, shall we?

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Hey dude, I bought your books of my own free will. AND I enjoyed them. My knees started to go for my 50th birthday gift. Take good care of them (get off of the damn treadmill and go exercise in a pool!) and for heaven’s sake, do not get a knee replacement unless you absolutely positively cannot make it across a room without screaming. At this point, after my knee replacement, the new metal knee on the right is giving me MUCH more grief than the creaky old knee on the left.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you have been a lovely patron of the arts and I greatly appreciate both your financial investment and your tireless efforts to spread the word about this little writing thing that I do. Seriously. As for the knees, I’m definitely not messing with them, surgically, unless I don’t have a choice. Right now, it’s more of an annoyance than any true life-affecting situation.

      Like

  11. I don’t have a lengthy comment..but that doesn’t mean I don’t agree or that I don’t want you to get to know me. Just means I think your writing is wonderfully funny. Besides, you are an Okie. Can’t be all bad, contrary to what some might think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Margo. I already think you’re really swell, so I don’t care how long your comments might be. I’m just happy that you make a comment, period. And yes, the Okie angle (well, the GOOD kind of Okie) bonds us for all eternity, and that’s a rather nice thing… 😉

      Like

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