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Coffee cups seem to have a curious aura about them for some people.  I am one of those people.  Are you?

As I was cleaning out some stuff from my former house last week, I found a particular box that contained things that I have kept with me since I left home at 18.  I’d been wondering, in idle moments, where they were.  The box holds things that I used to display on a small wooden shelf – where the shelf went, I have no idea.  Among the contents are numerous dried roses from forgotten special moments, a small empty bottle of Moet and Chandon from a perfect date in Boston, a can of Florida sunshine given to me by a boy I dated over Christmas break the year before I came to Colorado, a small oval still-life that my Mother bought me at an art show at Northgate Mall back when it was still a strip mall, a wooden vase my high-school chemistry teacher made for me, because he was fond of me and he said I tried the hardest and did the worst of any student he’d ever had, and a rust-colored pedestal pottery coffee mug that I stole from the first restaurant in which I worked.

I never particularly liked the mug, but it was one of two that I liked to have coffee from when I worked there.  I can’t recall the other one – I just know that there were two.  When it was time to leave the restaurant for the first time, when I moved to Boston, I wanted a reminder of my time there, so the mug joined me on my journey.  I didn’t use it much in freshman year, since I didn’t have access to coffee in my room, but it was with me like a talisman, reminding me of the place and time that I cast off the unfortunate bonds of my rather snooty school and came into my own.  It did see its fair share of coffee – and mold – in sophomore year, when I had my own little coffee pot.

I drank more coffee that first semester in college than I ever had before or ever have since.  By the time I came home for Christmas break, I was drinking three giant styrofoam cups full before 9:00 a.m.  So over Christmas, I went cold turkey. It was awful – I had horrible withdrawal headaches, and was about as bitchy as my parents had ever seen me, which is saying something.  I hope I apologized to them about that before they died.  I think I did.

Over the years, I had favorite coffee cups. There were two, one blue and one green, that I bought from a man curiously selling pottery in the middle of the woods by the Eno River.  A large brown one was purloined as a memento from the first catering company I worked for.  I took it to my last big company, and brought it into my very first meeting.  One of the women in the room said, immediately and loudly, “That is the biggest coffee cup I have EVER seen!”  I wasn’t sure if I should be pleased or embarrassed – you know how nervous you can be on your first day. And to me, it was a pretty normal mug – it’s not as if it were the size of my (albeit small) head.

Some people at work had their own mugs that they kept at their desk, but others would just take whatever mug came to hand in the communal kitchens.  I have always cared what mug I was drinking from – the size matters, the shape matters, the color matters, the design matters – it serves to enhance or detract from the coffee experience (or the tea experience, which is a different story, to be covered in a different essay.)   A mug that was appropriate for one morning’s cup will not necessarily be the right mug for the next day – or even for the afternoon.  Based on the casual consumption of coffee from random containers, I suspect this is not a feeling that everyone shares.  What essence does the character of a mug impart to the coffee, or to the experience?

I’ve always liked coffee cups with saucers.  I borrowed one from my favorite spot on Anegada some years back.  Last year, the cup fell from my wet fingers to shatter on my countertop.  I was devastated, but the need to replace it gives me a good excuse to go back.

The Captain and I liberated a cup and saucer from a special restaurant in San Francisco.  We shared them long distance, trading off who had them.  He was going to make a special travelling box for them, but he died before he could get to it.  I suspect they went off to some thrift store someplace with the rest of his things – no one else knew their significance.

I rescued an old mug from a little hotel on Jost van Dyke.  I felt as if it were my duty to do so before someone else did, as the place had been taken over by new owners and the special mugs were going to be replaced by something generic.

My father had his favorite coffee mugs – kind of oatmeal colored pottery with a wide handle.  He had two of them.  I don’t think I ever asked him where he got them, but he had his coffee from them every morning.  E-Bro took at least one of them home with him after our Mother died.  I was very pleased that he wanted them.  So I suspect that my Dad had the same sensitivity to drinking vessels as I do.

I’ve always had an affinity for the old-fashioned standard thick, white, chunky coffee mugs used at greasy spoon diners like the Busy Bee Restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts.  I guess that’s consistent with my affinity for the 1940’s era, which is when the Busy Bee most likely opened.

When I moved out of Pat’s house, it felt like I was evacuating before a fire or flood.  I didn’t really pack.  I just took things more or less at random in a state of semi-shock.  I left behind several mugs that had meaning to me, and many that didn’t.  I have very little room in the cottage, and don’t need a lot of things – or a lot of mugs.  In fact, I don’t often drink coffee these days – tea sometimes, but usually at coffee shops where I like to work.  Even then, the mug is important – none of those crappy paper to-go cups for me.

As life goes on, I will surely accumulate more mugs, and not always by stealth.  And each will, most certainly, hold not only copious amounts of coffee (or tea or tequila), but some unique sense of place, space and time that speaks to me with every sip.

I’m looking forward to those sips.

Today is the birthday of Amelia Bloomer, who significantly impacted the future of fashion for all women. Born in 1818 in upstate New York, Bloomer championed the idea of pants for women.  While she did not create the style, which was derived from images of the garb of middle eastern women, she was such a virulent advocate that the fashion itself came to be known as “Bloomers”.


Unfortunately, Amelia was unable to stand the ridicule, and returned to wearing dresses once the crinoline was introduced. For those of you who are not historically fashion-savvy, the crinoline is a stiff petticoat that allows the skirt of a dress to stand out away from the body.  It was the forerunner of the hoop-skirt, and just another tool to help women hide their true shape from men.  Clearly, if men ever got a glimpse of a woman’s true shape in the 1800s, they’d have all turned into raging satyrs.  Or possibly not.  Everyone was obviously very nervous about sex in the 19th century.

While Mrs. Bloomer rejected the comfort of pants for a stiff skirt that challenged mobility , her original passion for pants spurred into existence the Rational Dress Society of 1881.  This London-based organization argued for attire for women that did not deform the body, as whalebone corsets did, and that did not require women to wear up to 14 pounds of undergarments to ensure that their figures were decently disguised.

As a positive aside, the elimination of voluminous skirtage no doubt saved countless lives – each year, scores of women burned to death when their garments went up in flames from passing too near fireplaces and candles.

The Rational Dress Society encouraged women to wear no more than 7 pounds of petticoats – a step in the right direction.  The concept of comfortable clothing for women took a long time to mature, but it eventually did, as we can see by some of our fashions today.  Though I might argue that some of today’s fashions are a step backwards – skirts that are too short and tops that are too tight don’t make a woman comfortable, even though they may be fashionable.  As I’ve discussed before, we seem to be slaves to fashion. (Men are as well – it’s just less obvious.)  Fashion designer Corinne Grassini has branded her clothing line the Society for Rational Dress, and while her fashions look loose and unrestrictive, the hemlines are still impractical.

Vincent Price, horror movie icon from the 1940s through the 1970s, was born today in 1911.  I was in college (for freshman year) with his grandson, who looked just like him.  I loved Vincent Price’s movies – they were scary but so corny that they weren’t scary. My favorite was The Pit and the Pendulum.  Price and Poe seemed to have an affinity for each other.

Today in 1895, Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for sodomy.  Wilde was a fascinating and controversial character.  His wit and his focus on beauty and pleasure above all things characterized a life that was full of struggle and selfishness.  While married with two children, he had several socially prominent male lovers, one of whom was the son of the Marquess of Queensbury, who set the standard of rules of conduct for boxing matches for years to come.  The Marquess, in a note left for Wilde in his club, implied that Wilde was gay.  Wilde, given his blase nature, would probably have let this pass, but he was also one who could be easily influenced by his friends.  In this case, his friends encouraged him to bring a suit for libel against the Marquess, which he did.  The Marquess, with unlimited funds and resources at his disposal, proved, in his own defense, that his claim was not libelous, but was, in fact, true.  And so Wilde’s suit was dismissed and he found himself charged with sodomy.

Two trials later, he was convicted and sentenced to two years hard labor.  Wilde was an aesthete and totally unaccustomed to work, hardship or discomfort, and did not do well in prison.  Upon his release, he retreated to Paris.  His wife, who refused to speak to him or allow him to see his children, did provide him with a meager allowance, but he considered himself penniless.  He wrote De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol in his three years in Paris, and died in L’Hotel d’Alsace on November 30, 1900 of cerebral meningitis.  (Of L’Hotel, he remarked shortly before his death, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go.”)  He is now buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in a tomb marked by a modernist angel complete with silver genitalia, the original marble genitalia having been stolen by parties unknown.

On this day in 1937, 200,000 people crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on foot and roller-skate, as part of its inaugural day festivities.  The suspension bridge, painted “international orange” for increased visibility in foggy San Francisco Bay, has 80,000 miles of wire in its cables, and connects San Francisco with Marin County.  It’s the most popular place in the world to commit suicide; only 26 people are known to have survived the 245 foot drop into the Bay.  Among the successful jumpers was the husband of a college acquaintance of mine. He was a nice guy who couldn’t stand the idea of their divorce.  Very sad.

And finally, today is Cellophane Tape Day.  So go ahead, try to find a roll of tape in your house.  I’m sure you’re familiar with this mysterious phenomenon – you need tape, you go to look for it – everywhere – and can’t find it, so you go to the drugstore and buy three rolls of tape, come home, find the roll you couldn’t find before you went to the store, use it, and promptly lose the three new rolls you’ve just bought.  It’s like some kind of spiritual planned obsolescence for tape.

Thus endeth the history lesson.  Hope you feel slightly enlightened.

Today’s guest poet – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Love

We cannot live, except thus mutually
We alternate, aware or unaware,
The reflex act of life: and when we bear
Our virtue onward most impulsively,
Most full of invocation, and to be
Most instantly complellant, certes, there
We live most life, whoever breathes most air
And counts his dying years by sun and sea.
But when a soul, by choice and conscience, doth
Throw out her full force on another soul,
The conscience and the concentration both make
mere life, Love.  For life in perfect whole
And aim consummated, is Love in sooth,
As nature’s magnet-heat rounds pole with pole.

It crossed my mind today that recovering from a divorce is like recovering from an accident, or perhaps more appropriately, from a death. 

I was loading groceries in the car, trying to figure out how to structure the rest of the week – picking up and dropping off Kelsea, getting Pat from the airport, dropping off the recycle, doing laundry, doing the half-time job, dropping off stuff at the used bookstore and the donation center, working on the book, submitting one article, finishing two others, starting two new ones, having a date (!), working out, planting the back garden at the cottage, heading out of town this weekend, feeding myself (no small feat).

When someone dies, you have to clean out their stuff, just as you have to clean out your own stuff when you move out from a divorce.  It’s hard, walking through memories.  When a marriage has been ill for some time, it’s just like having been a caretaker to someone you love with a long illness.  No matter what you did, you couldn’t make it survive.  And so you experience a different kind of grief, that complicated grief that I had with my mother, where it’s as if a veil is before your eyes, a thin piece of black chiffon that changes the color and texture of your world.  It’s all you can do to just get the basics done – most of the time.  I feel as if I should be doing better than I am, be farther along in the loss (or healing) process than I am.  I actually suspect that I AM farther along than I feel today – being in my old house for a week has just caused me to have something of a setback.

As with an accident, there’s a lot of healing that has to happen after a divorce.  You don’t even know where or what some of the wounds are.  Wounds that seem to have healed can reopen, and one injury can cause another part of the body – or heart, or mind – to stop functioning properly as well.  I guess it takes more time than I imagined it would.  It seems like I’m drifting around in the healing process.  Am I supposed to be more focused?  Are there certain things that I’m supposed to be working on?  Processing?  Is there a “formula”?  (I hate that term when it is applied to anything divorce-related.)  Some book I’m supposed to reading?

Or is it just that great healer of all things, time?

It feels like I’ve been divorced for ages, and at the same time, it still feels kind of surreal.  Am I happy?  There are certain things in my life that make me very happy.  But I am a bit lost right now, between being unemployed, unsure of my future and divorced.  And that causes me to fall into depression more often than I would like.  Falling into depression impacts my part-time job performance, my housekeeping skills, and my ability to motivate myself to pursue my passions.  In other words, it’s not good.  Duh.

As I wrote the other night, it is not helpful to be housesitting for my ex-Pat.  I have spent a lot of today going through the “cat room”, getting rid of things.  That room is a disaster.  Yes, I had it full of stuff, but there’s no reason for it have become one giant litter box.  I have pulled out most of what I want to – or could – save.  Now I just need to figure out where to put it.  The cottage is too full as it is.  And I do pay for half the mortgage here.  It’s tempting just to get a trunk and put it all in it and store it until I settle someplace and can truly have a place for things – it’s actually a lot of pictures, negatives, slides.  It feels good to throw things away though. I’ve kept one drawer of shirts here, so I have something to wear when I do housesit, and some sweatpants, etc.  And of course, my books.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with my books – I guess my real house will need to have a library.  I’ve always wanted built-in bookshelves anyway.

It feels like, when I’m housesitting, I fall back into the old energy that I had before I moved out.  Which was sedentary, not taking care of myself, unmotivated – in a word, depressed.  I do love being with the animals, except for getting up so early to do their bidding.  And the smell of the lilacs drifting through the door is wonderful, as is the sound of the creek.

But I’m ready to have my new life back and be back in my own cottage, even if it is a rental.

As far as my relationship with Pat goes, we are getting along well.  When the blog hit “Freshly Pressed”, Kelsea told him about it.  I had never told him about it, not because I was hiding something, but because I didn’t think he’d care.  He did – some of what he read made him sad, and that made me sad, since I wasn’t writing anything with the intent of hurting him.  And he felt I wasn’t telling “the whole story” about some things, to which I responded that, as it’s my blog, I get to share what I choose to share.  But he did say that I was a good writer, and that made me feel good.

A friend asked me if being here makes me want to go back.  No, I can’t go back, and I don’t want to go back.  But it does make me feel the loss of possibilities so intensely.  And that’s sad.  Divorce is hard.  It’s just hard.

I learned more about hay today than I ever thought I would.  It was not an unwelcome lesson.  I can now say I’ve had my hayday – oh, wait, that’s heyday.  Whatever.

My landlord found hay for cheap (I personally thought hay was always cheap) on Craigslist, so we took my truck to pick it up today.  I learned that my landlord, who has lived here for 25 years, is seriously directionally impaired.  We finally found the farm at which the hay was located, and started sorting through the huge stack looking for bales that were relatively intact.  Not as easy as it sounds.

Here’s what I learned about hay today:

I now know what baling means when it comes to hay.  It means tying bunches of hay up into like-sized rectangles.  Perhaps that was obvious to most of you, but news to me.

Despite what I am sure is diligent baling by farmers or whatever haymaking equipment they use, hay bales can and do fall apart.

When hay is stacked, even in baled form, you can still sink in it up to the tops of your thighs.

Hay is not easy to pull your legs out of without assistance when you’re in thigh-deep.

Stacked hay has many things in it besides hay.  Like overly friendly bugs.  And spines of dead things with tails still attached.  And probably the thing that ate the dead thing.  But fortunately, we didn’t see that thing.

Hay is HEAVY.  Seriously!  I see why all those farm boys were so strong – if you’re hefting hay all day long, you WILL get a strong back, and strong arms, and strong legs.

Hay is fun to stack in the back of a truck.  It’s like fitting a puzzle together.  And the back of my truck holds 12 bales of hay.  It is, however, challenging to heft it up into the back of the truck – see the above point about having strong legs and a strong back.

Hay infiltrates almost every part of your body, including your socks and your teeth.  (Wait, are socks a body part?)  I was still picking hay out of my teeth an hour after I left.

Hay is itchy.  Really itchy.  So incredibly itchy that you want desperately to take a shower sooner than immediately.  I cannot possibly imagine anyone wanting to take the phrase “a roll in the hay” literally.

Doing anything hay-related on an incredibly windy day makes whatever you’re doing with hay twice as hard as it would be on a non-windy day.

A pug feels like the king of the world when standing on top of a truck loaded with hay bales.

Well, there’s your primer on hay for today.  I feel like I can cross something off my life list now.  And I am ignoring the fact that my landlord says it was straw, not hay.  In my heart, it was hay.

Girls today.  Soooo much more mature at 13 than I was.  Between make-up and physical development, some of the girls in 7th grade look like high school seniors.  This got me thinking today…why?  Is it the hormones in the food we’ve been feeding our kids for the last (at least in my experience) 13 years?  I was never overly concerned with staying organic in terms of Kelsea’s diet – it seemed that you have to go all the way with that attitude or it’s pointless – though I always tried to emphasize healthy eating.  Pat was more the junk-food supplier.

Think about it.  Back in the 12th century, girls were of a marriageable age at 12, which is a year younger than Kelsea.  They were often having kids at 13.  But the average life expectancy was age 30.  And about 50% of children under the age of 5 died.  So it made some evolutionary sense to start procreating early, because you had to work twice as hard to keep your child alive, and you weren’t going to live that long yourself.  Okay, logical.

As we moved into the prim and proper 1800s, life expectancy increased and the acceptable age for marriage and childbearing became more like 15 or 16.  Makes sense – we were living longer, and conditions were somewhat less harsh, so children had a slightly better mortality rate.  People even started naming their children at birth – they didn’t used to do so, since the child had such a low likelihood of surviving.

We then enter the prim and proper Victorian era.  Young women were chaperoned until the day of their marriage – they were expected to be wed and breeding around the age of 21.  With infant mortality rates down to 33%, and average life expectancy up to age 48 by 1901, women could afford to get started having kids later.  But why did their maturation rate slow down – why did sexual maturity start occurring later?  What evolutionary signal was there that said, “Hold up!  We don’t have to do this at age 12.”?

Moving into the kaleidoscope that was the 20th century, we went through different attitudes towards sex, childbirth and the definition of maturity, but we still kept the biological rhythm the same – women developed at about 14 or 15 and up.  

And that’s where we catch up to today.  Life expectancy is as long as it’s ever been – 78.4 years.  The average age for childbirth is 25.  And infant mortality rates are 6.7% in the US.  So why are girls developing so early?  Why are 7-year-old girls dancing suggestively to songs that should be way beyond their understanding?  Why is boy-girl drama starting in 3rd grade?  By 7th grade, it has escalated to who is making out with who in the stairwell (yes, there are 7th grade “players”) and who may be having sex.  I mean, what the heck?

This physical maturity is unfortunately not accompanied by emotional maturity.  You can bet your bippy that at 12-year old bride in the Middle Ages knew how to run a household, even a meager mud-hut household.  A 12-year old girl today can barely run a dustcloth.

What is the point of this evolutionary change?  Particularly since the whole concept of survival of the fittest, which in primitive or animal societies is the natural form of population control, has basically been eradicated due to “civilization”, improvements in medical care, and our system of “justice”?  (And why are all these things that are supposed to be “good” in “quotes”?  Maybe because I don’t think they’re very “good” – or “working very well”).

Perhaps there is something to this whole 2012 apocalypse thing, and we are reproducing and maturing at a rapid rate because survival of the fittest is about to make a comeback.  Or not.  As I said before, I don’t have the answers, I just ask the questions.

Today’s guest poet  —  Wendell Berry

The Country of Marriage

1.

I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs,   
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep. 

      2.

This comes after silence. Was it something I said   
that bound me to you, some mere promise   
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?   
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,   
like the earth’s empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you   
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer   
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.   
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped   
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss   
that lay before me, but only the level ground. 

      3.

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing   
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.   
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,   
provided we stay brave   
enough to keep on going in. 

      4.

How many times have I come to you out of my head   
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light   
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend    
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace   
in you, when I arrive at last. 

      5.

Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange   
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don’t know what its limits are—
that puts it in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering   
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always   
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,   
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing   
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.   
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing   
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only   
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light   
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,   
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I   
have fallen time and again from the great strength   
of my desire, helpless, into your arms. 

      6.

What I am learning to give you is my death   
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water   
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We   
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst   
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore   
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning   
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy. 

      7.

I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,   
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.   
I give you the life I have let live for love of you:   
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,   
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life   
that we have planted in this ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all   
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself   
again and again, and satisfy—and this poem,   
no more mine than any man’s who has loved a woman.

I’ve been in a foul humor all day.  I have nothing to blame it on.  I took ex-Pat to the airport this morning.  See, I’m a nice ex-wife.  Taking someone to the airport is only one step down from helping someone move.  But he will do the same for me on occasion – if I ever go anywhere again.  Pissy, pissy, pissy.

I joined the Rec Center last week.  While things have been going well with Dr. Atkins, I seem to have plateaued, so it’s time to put the exercise part in high gear.  Today was a kickboxing class and an Ultimate Core class.  Kickboxing was hard – I felt uncoordinated and realized that I need new shoes.  Tomorrow is Zumba, which I did once last week – it was fun, though I felt awfully big and (again) uncoordinated.  That’s hard to deal with.  I was always such a good dancer – and in my mind’s eye, I see myself as smaller than I look in the mirror.  Hopefully, I’ll keep shrinking.

An amazing thunderstorm passed through here tonight – well, over here, I guess.  It sort of flanked us.  But it chased me home, looking frightening in the rearview mirror.  It was the first real spring storm, because the day was warm and sunny, and the storm rolled in in the afternoon.  We’ve been able to see the lightning on the hill from the front window.

It is, once again, interesting to house sit in my own house.  The last time I did this was last September, when we were in the emotional throes of pre-divorce.  I wonder if it is part of my current bitchiness?  The good thing, though, is that the lilacs are in full-bloom, and they are spectacular this year.  The branches arch above the little front walkway, so I’m enveloped in fragrance when I go out the door.  The creek is also flowing strong, and being alone, I can sleep with the bedroom window open so I can hear it.  The best part about this house is the nature that surrounds it.  It always has been the best part.

You know, I can be the grumpiest, bitchiest, pissiest woman I know when I am in this mood.

In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (no relation to the Geico Gekko), portrayed by Michael Douglas, intones the following line:

“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

The line has been summarized as “Greed is good” and has been used by Australian prime ministers, Italian cardinals, and characters in Fallout 2.  While it meshed well with the strong economic times of the 1990s, it now represents the high price that our society has paid for the actions of a covert few over the last ten years.  The irony behind it seems to strike more and more people every day, like a dead fish in the face. 

In the 1990s, I made more than I was making when my job left me at the end of March.  I worked with ad agencies and pharmaceutical companies that had money to burn.  This was back in the days when Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski was spending $6000 of the company’s money on a shower curtain.  Everyone seemed to be flying high on the proverbial hog.  And then it all fell down – literally.  September 11 changed things.  Our soft underbelly was exposed, our humanity, our faith, all shaken.  For an all-too-brief time, we put aside our differences, our desires, our classist distinctions, and acted like a bunch of good people.  People who put others before our selves and our own needs.  Do you remember? 

Our economy took a dive.  Executives like those at Tyco and Enron were exposed for who and what they were and shamed for the damage they did.  Their victims were never compensated, but at least there was national, if not worldwide shame.  Then came the War on Terror – GWB always made it sound like “the War on Tara”, as if we were attacking the plantation from Gone With the Wind – and like confused children, we were hoping that things would get back to normal, that our world would make sense again.  But alas, that world was also gone with the wind.

(Please note that the opinions expressed here are just that – opinions – and my own.)  Instead, we’ve been sucked into eight years of bloodsucking, fiscally exhausting conflict that has apparently done nothing but fill with impunity the pockets of a few very special cronies of the past administration.  We all know it.  We just can’t do a damn thing about it.  Those of us who aren’t in a position to benefit from someone else’s power plays are resentful.  In fact, we’re sitting here watching what little savings we have left rise and fall according to the temperament of the stock market.  I swear, if I didn’t need my “assets” to be liquid, I’d be invested in real estate.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea.  As liquid as they are now, they’re getting pissed away.

And so, the point of this post….greed.  It magnificently and unjustly benefits a few.  I had lunch today with a  friend who is going through a divorce (join the club.)  Her “wasband” is trying to take her for everything he can, because he’s angry that she wants a divorce.  Her lawyer says he’s never seen anything like it.  And because she made more money than he did, he’ll probably get it.  Is he deserving?  No.  It’s nothing but greed.  Greed.  One of the seven deadly sins.  The question is, deadly to whom?  To the one whose soul is consumed by it?  Who has deluded oneself into thinking that things, money, revenge will soothe any pain that exists in the depths of the heart?  To the one who is now rich is assets but poor in spirit?

I have committed some of the 7 Deadlies myself.  I’ve been able to rationalize my actions – to delude myself, just like people who are guided by nothing but greed, into thinking that what I was doing was okay.  I’ve suffered the consequences, justifiably, and come out the other side.

I now comfort myself with the knowledge that those who are consumed by materialism, covetousness, and selfishness, deserve my pity.  And I know that they’ll get their comeuppance.  Greed may be the new black, but it will go out of style again.  It always does.  The richest people are the ones with their love of life and others intact. 

He who dies with the most stuff doesn’t win – he still dies.  Maybe one day, the people who live their lives driven by greed, will see that.  But I’m not holding my breath.  Then again, thank heavens, I don’t have to.

May 2010
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