So, it’s a holiday weekend, at least here in The States, which means that most people are off doing interesting or at least diverting things, far away from social media. (Okay, we know that’s a lie. Most of them have at least one mobile device clutched in their hands at all times, even if they’re playing volleyball or hooking up with that cute waiter in Nantucket.) Still, I’m pretending that no one will read this next post, which gives me the freedom to do whatever the hell I want. Plot, structure and sense can shove it. Here we go, blowing random thoughts against the wind… (still runnin’…)
1. Is there any actual cheese in Velveeta?
2. Why would chemical engineers spend time creating Velveeta instead of curing cancer?
3. Why do we still have cancer when sound engineers have managed to eliminate the need for currently-popular “singers” to carry a tune?
4. Why does the current definition of “popular singer” mean “somebody who was nobody two days ago suddenly rules the world based on one novelty song that isn’t all that good” instead of “somebody who spent decades perfecting their craft in dive bars across the country”? It used to be that you earned the right to be successful. Now it seems that the current pop stars think they have the right to earn money, regardless of talent.
5. Don’t turn your nose up at dive bars. I’ve made many long-lasting relationships in such places, I’ve picked up some amazing fashion tips, and I’ve learned the proper way to dance while holding a beer and quoting Sartre. This is an important life skill.
6. I’ve also had to visit health clinics after some of those relationships got drunkenly intimate and I picked up something else. I’m sure the eyebrows of my insurance agent are permanently raised. (When is that boy going to learn? Jeez.)
7. Why is medical insurance so expensive for the average citizen? Oh right, I don’t have a team of lobbyists performing sexual favors for people in Congress.
8. Why is it still called “Congress”? That term used to mean “a gathering of people with the purpose of working out a compromise”. Maybe we should rename it “Egress”, with nobody listening to anybody and everybody running out the door as soon as possible.
9. So, if the Egress can just leave Washington without getting anything done, does that mean I can abandon my own job whenever I don’t feel like being productive, yet I can still get reelected to the position? (Let’s not quibble about the fact that I’m retired. I may have to take another job just to pay those damn insurance premiums. One of the fundamental flaws in our country is that many older people can’t afford to get sick, yet many of the major corporations don’t pay a penny of income tax. That’s jacked up, folks.)
10. Speaking of being productive, I don’t think I have been since I retired two years ago. This annoys everyone around me, especially since they’re already ticked off that I retired so early. (Don’t blame me because I planned ahead and worked my ass off. You know those financial wizards who tell you to sock away every penny you can? They’re right.) Granted, my writing has been through the roof, and I’m happy from that perspective. But that baby tree in the backyard that is now an adolescent, growing dangerously close to the power line to the house? Yeah, it’s still there. I may not be able to publish this post if the wind gets all uppity.
11. Wait, it’s been two years? [Sounds of checking the calendar app on my phone because most people haven’t had a physical calendar since 2010.] Holy cow. Yep, two years ago to the month, I went on a retirement-celebrating, whirlwind tour of Belfast, Amsterdam, London and Derby. (You may not have heard of Derby, but it really doesn’t matter, as two of the finest women I know live there and love one another, and our time in their own manor was quite grand.)
12. I want to go back to Belfast, just for The Crown Bar. We had the best time there, nestled in a booth with three complete strangers from Australia. I’d like to recreate that scene, repeatedly. You learn so much when you take the time to just listen.
13. I could easily live in Amsterdam. It’s such a welcoming, accepting and tolerant city. Some may argue that this is the result of the infamous “coffee shops”, where herbage is legally available, but we didn’t even take part in that. (Not judging, we were just on a tight schedule.) I think it’s more that the people of Amsterdam realize that life is messy and variable and wonderful, and there’s no need to complicate things.
14. I could not live in London. The city is fascinating and busy and drenched in history. But I can’t justify spending thirty bucks for a mere appetizer at TGI Friday’s.
15. I could also live in southeastern Spain, specifically in the tiny town of Cuevas del Becerro. It’s minutes away from Ronda and less than an hour from Malaga. In fact, I’m so entranced with Spain that I’ve been teaching myself Spanish for roughly the last year. This seems a far more important endeavor than chopping down that stupid tree in the backyard.
16. Spanish, at least the Latin American version of it, is easier to learn than the French I studied for umpteen years in my youth. Both languages have that odd repositioning of sentence structure that can baffle a native English speaker, but with Latin American Spanish you give proper respect to every letter in a word. (Except for “j” and “h”. You ignore those two a lot.) It’s easier to figure out how to pronounce something. With French, you essentially ignore half of the letters in any given word. On the flip side, because Spanish gives equal opportunity to almost every letter, it can take you twenty minutes to say “Can you put this margarita in a to-go cup? Gracias.”
17. I love margaritas, despite the tendency of tequila to make me share far more information with strangers than I actually should. This is how you end up with people in your Facebook friends list where you think “Who the hell is that”?
18. As a young child, I learned early on that you cannot share your true feelings with most people, at least in a red state. It’s all about status quo and party line and denial. Sad but true. Then again, if I hadn’t been subjected to closed minds, perhaps I wouldn’t have such an open one today.
19. I also learned about intolerance, essentially from day one, when the doctor spanked my ass and held me aloft for review on a cold January day. It took me roughly three seconds to realize that none of the people in that room would ever fully understand me. I had to find my own people.
20. And find them I eventually did. The early years were an arid desert, a mix of me not fully understanding what I needed and most others refusing to understand. And, to be fair, some of that was my fault. Because I was uncomfortable with myself, I had the social skills of a potato. Still do, in some respects. But eventually I would find myself in a potato salad, a place called college.
21. College opened my eyes, in many ways. I blossomed. I found the other misfits, reveled in their existence, and I even slept with a few of them. (Hormones and awkward fumbling, you’ve been there.) There was still denial, it was still Oklahoma, but I had the chance to dance, so I did.
22. The dance opened doors.
23. The doors opened life.
24. Life opened me.
25. And the me really wants to learn Spanish.
Previously published in “Bonnywood Manor”, which explains the odd “holiday weekend here in the States” when it’s not, although such is taking place NEXT weekend, a mild bit of happenstance as I wrench this one out of the archives. (The recycling of the post also explains why some of the time references are dated and therefore incorrect. I suppose I could have cleaned them up, but we had pizza tonight and I’m a bit bloaty. You know how it goes.) Very modest changes made for this revisit.
Note: Bonus points to those of you who figure out the pattern in this post. It’s really not that important, but it’s there. I just perused the comments on the previous version of this, and no one quite got the right answer, so the imaginary prize is still out there, sitting alongside my apparently mistaken belief that said pattern would be easy to spot.
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