Friday, December 23, 2016
One of the less obvious downsides to Christmas is that, like a tinsel flotsam oozing through the gutters filled with eggnog despair, it chases the bored and restless retirees back to their previous employers like rats being herded out of their holes by a flood of sewage. These exact words are spoken to me by a friend who was trying to work today but a guy who retired five years ago, who sat in the same desk as my friend, returned like the Ghost of Christmas past, to reveal what this guy is going to be like if he retires.
I don’t have enough negative thoughts about Christmas so someone loans me some of their own, and even though I figure I have enough to share, now I have even more. Apparently the retired, and if you say the word correctly it sounds like they are tired again, has a very few conversations he repeats, much like my Christmas rants; if you’ve heard a half dozen of them you’ve heard them all, but Christmas keeps happening, and I find it hard to ignore.
One of the things this guy wants to do is go buy a bushel of oysters and eat them while drinking beer. He likes Mexican beer, and always forgets the name. He will pause, waiting for suggestions, then slowly walk through the aisles in his mind, Dos Equis, Corona… and then ten minutes later it will surface, but in the meantime, he will channel Forrest Gump and go through the different ways to cook oysters, but he likes them raw. Then comes the conversation of what to put on raw oysters, and by that time my friend realizes he’s trapped at his desk in a one-sided conversation from which there is no escape unless this man dies of old age.
Tecate. That’s the name of the beer that finally surfaces, and so the conversation drifts back to beer.
Some people retire into an endless sea of time where all they can do is go from point a to point z during the day, aimlessly watching the minutes tick away as they go through a slow motion routine of trying to make a day of it. Christmas gives them an excuse to go back to where they once were needed and perhaps even useful, and reminisce about the day when they yearned to retire, and do this?
Some people have to work this weekend, Friday and then Saturday, and the Final Frenzy of waste and stress pick off the pitiful Black Friday survivors who have recovered enough to go back into the breach again. People are being too aggressive in traffic, knowing that if they’re in a bad wreck it will get them out of all this, subconsciously praying for some hospital stay that will last at least until December the 28th. Perhaps they are secretly yearning for the sweet peace of Death herself, a darkness never-ending yet devoid in the void are the crammed shops of last minute buyers who are looking for something that might make it all worthwhile but cost less than fifty bucks.
There must be more. There must be something that glitters or speaks or pees or pukes or shines or computes or has hooves. Without this mythical object, at an appropriate price, life will be diminished and all of the frenetic activity and energy spent for the last month will be empty and wasted. There is no do over until next year and then if this Christmas goes bad there has to be something next year that will bring a commercial consumer redemption. The mall is full of temples dedicated to the act of redeeming coupons for Christmases Past and Lost Souls of Sales Missed.
“Ride, Boldly Ride, the Shade replied, if you would search for Eldorado!”
We’ve become intrepid explorers, in miniature form, like toy poodles descended from wild wolves. We no longer risk out lives for the newly discovered territories but some parking spot that’s in the same zip code as the Wal Mart we’re trying to invade. We no longer seek out new people to conquer but spend our time now looking for a sales associate to “go look in the back” to see if there is a chest of gold hidden away, no wait, a toy that is in style, yes, that is the mission now, go and see if there is one in the back, yes, why are you rolling your eyes at me?
Whereas once there were deaths of crewmembers and captains alike, killed by scurvy or natives or in storms or by sexually transmitted diseases found only in livestock, we now eat ourselves to death, consume too much fat and mythical glutens, and we will die by the score on the asphalt as we skid around as if tossed by tempest that killed sailors five hundred years ago.
I wonder, once there was blood spilled, and a small city laid to ash, put to the sword and torch, and what little valuables there were in gold or gems or slaves were taken, if the Conquistadors ever stopped and felt a sense of emptiness, a sense that perhaps what they were doing was not only wrong, but destructive in a manner that could not be undone or forgiven. And I wonder if the parents of kids, who are sitting in a pile of wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, with new toys and shiny devices, yet who still look a little disappointed, as if in all the ripped paper and pulled boxes, It wasn’t found, I wonder, if these parents will think about the near slave labor in China used to make these toys, and the trees felled to make the paper, and the petroleum pumped from the ground them spewed into the air to go back and forth between a dozen stores, and I wonder if they will wonder at the true cost of celebrating the birth of a Savior who if he is going to save us from anything, then Christmas most surely will be at the top of the list?
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Every year I tell myself I’m going to endure Christmas without getting stressed out or homicidal and every year I fail. This is without doubt the most miserable time of the year. There isn’t anything good or holy about it. If there is a Hell on this earth it looks, feels, and sounds a lot like Christmas. There is nothing worse than Christmas. Were I not a student of history I would believe that Hitler invented it. If I were to write fake news I could sell the idea that it’s part of the Nazi culture invented to torment people. If I could erase anything from the American culture Christmas would be on the top of the list, the bottom of the list, and everything in between.
Christmas is that time of year I have to plan my life around what happens in the places I normally shop. I went in today and bought enough dog food to last us two weeks. There’s no sense at all in trying to get into, much less out of, any retail store for the next ten days. I went early in the morning, to avoid the worst part of the crush and it was still crowded.
My first stop this morning was to go price a pair of boots for work. There was a dozen or so people shopping and one salesperson in the store. One. Maybe the rest quit. Maybe the rest of the committed suicide in the breakroom by drinking eggnog laced with poison. All I can tell you is the one salesperson to be found was being held hostage by three generations of Christmas shoppers in the form of an older woman, a woman who seemed to be her daughter, and a screaming infant who had a fountain of snot pouring out of its nose and the sound of the damned being butt raped by reindeer issuing from its mouth. The entire conversation repeated itself endlessly, much like the infant’s screaming. Yes, that is the boot in the sales paper; it is the same size, it is the same model, it is the same color, it is the same brand, it is the same price. That was what the Lone Saleperson was telling the mother. It don’t look the same. This was the mother’s position. Mama, it’s the same. That was the daughter. SCREAM! That was the infant. I listened to this conversation repeated three times and left without boots. I need boots. My old boots leak and my socks get wet. But no. I cannot have boots because it is Christmas.
Buying fifty pounds of dog food and some razors to shave with, as opposed to razors used to opening up my wrists and bleeding to death waiting in line to buy fifty pounds of dog food and some razors to shave with, became an ordeal. Not just an ordeal but a Christmas generated ordeal and it’s the Christmas mindset that causes it. People have to have something for Christmas right now. At this very instant, there has to be a Christmas thing. They have to get to a store right now. They have to buy it right now. They have to have what they want right now because on Christmas Day someone will want something that very day and the world will be diminished, their existence will be diminished, and the whole of their world will cease to be good if their ideal of that day isn’t fulfilled by buying what they want when they want it. Everyone else and everything else can just go get fucked. This is Christmas.
So there I am, dog food and razors, and all the checkout lines are filled with people with carts filled with stuff for Christmas. Cheap plastic decorations that will break this seasons and thrown away, cheaper plastic toys that will be broken and forgotten before the new year, and the resources to live comfortably are being flushed down the toilet of commercialism in the name of Santa Claus. But the line isn’t moving. It’s frozen. I can’t back out because there’s five people behind me. I do not realize it but a woman has brought a bunch of stuff to the cash register and then went back to get more stuff, stranding everyone and the cashier. A supervisor comes and cancels the transaction. The line creeps forward. The woman ahead of me is buying a dozen bras. This is the first thing I have seen all day that has nothing to do with Christmas. I’m amazed that she needs to many. But then again, I realize I have no idea how many bras a woman might need.
The woman who stranded the line wades back into the front of the line and she’s angry she’s been cancelled. She doesn’t realize it, but she’s within my personal space. As she’s railing against the inequity of the whole world and retail not waiting for her, she turns towards me and then it hits her; I would love to watch someone choke her to death by force feeding her tinsel. If someone took her down and violated her with an oversized candy cane I would feel somehow vindicated. If someone made her wearing bright red stockings for a bra I would feel better about life. She can sense this in me.
But she’s bought more stuff than she can carry. The two trips she’s made means she’s got eighteen plastic bags worth of cheap plastic shit made in China by slave labor and she has no way to transport it to her car before it starts its journey into our environment in some shape fashion or form. She looks at me, with my fifty pounds of dog food in my cart and asks, “Do you still need this cart?”
As far as I know, this is the first time I have ever said those two words out loud in a store to someone I didn’t know. I’ve crossed a line I did not know I could be pushed or dragged or compelled to cross in public. Suddenly, I’m one of those people trying to make a left turn from the far right lane. I’m all of a sudden the same type of person who drives fifty miles an hour in the parking lot. I’m one of those people who disregard all forms of common courtesy because Christmas, you know? Any other time of the year I would be trying to help this woman carry her stuff but right now I want to push the cart with fifty pounds of dog food over her ankles until she has to crawl out of the store screaming like an infant in a boot store.
“I am so sorry I said that.” I tell the cashier and I can tell she’s seen too much of this. She looks at me and nods, as if she wants to agree with me but cannot. She cannot afford to surrender to this sort of madness with more than a week to go in retail. The guy behind me cannot stop giggling about it but I’m embarrassed. I’ve lowered the bar. I’ve increased the insanity.
I’m back home now and this is the day that I began to hate Christmas this year, more than ever before. I hate the waste and the hurry. I hate the way it makes people. I hate the sorrow and the disappointment. I hate the music and the movies. I hate everything about it and it doesn’t take long for me to realize I always have and I always will. But mostly, I hate what I said today because more than anything, it makes me a part of Christmas.
Sunday, December 4, 2016
|Tyger Linn, in the pen.|
It’s a call that has gone out, and will go out, time and time again. “Urgent” “PTS Today” “Tomorrow will be too late” and far too often the call isn’t heard, or it’s ignored, or there just isn’t anyone at the right place at the right time. Dogs die. They die every day. They die by the hundreds and by the thousands and those who cry into the darkness waiting for the call to be heard get up and do it over and over and over again.
I’ve seen those posts. I’ve seen the photos. I’ve heard the call but at the time I had three dogs, and one of them was on his last legs, and he was not totally right in the head, at best. But there she was; a tiny brindle pit girl who had gotten into a fight at the shelter. Time had run out on her. But someone had taken a photo. Someone had called out into the internet and asked for a foster, a rescue, a home, a kennel, someone, anyone, today is the last day of her life.
A thousand years ago, maybe even further back in time than that, when I was in High School, there was a brindle Pit who visited the school, got fed pieces of sandwiches from the students at lunch, and we called her “Tiger”. There were times Tiger and I would sit beside my car in the parking lot and I would drink Jack Daniels and feed her, and she would love me. I think there were times that brindle pit was the only person who did. Now I might be the only person who loved the brindle pit.
The tiny female pit was named Tyger Linn and she came to live with me, as a foster. On her second day here she bit me on the hand, down to the bone, when she fought with the older dog, Sam, and I realized if I told anyone Tyger had bitten me they would kill her. She hadn’t had her shots yet. Right then and there I decided that Tyger Linn would stay with me, in my home, ever it may bring.
|Official Adoption Photo|
This hasn’t been easy. Tyger was damaged, belligerent, reactive, and she was afraid. Tyger was not loved. She was not kept in a warm place and given enough food. Love, home, and food, will cure damn near anything wrong with any dog.
But this isn’t about me getting a dog two years ago today. This isn’t even about Tyger Linn getting a home, and a name, and being able to chase squirrels in the woods. You see, this is all about the people who took the photo and made the call, and tried to save a dog’s life, because without those people, and those people are still there and they are still calling, this never would have happened. These people, day after day after day, try to save lives. Sometimes they fail, often they do, in fact, yet they are still on the front line of the war, and they fight like hell every day, and sometimes, they win, and this is all they ever get; a photo of a dog once on Death Row, the minutes slipping away, now sleeping on a sofa inside a warm home.
So here’s what December the fifth, 2014, was really all about. It was all about people who tried to save the life of a dog, and this time, they scored big for a little striped Pittie girl dog. The next time you read something about a dog about to die, think about the people working behind the scenes and trying to save lives. Or better yet, if you know someone working at a shelter, just walk in give them a hug, and tell them thank you.
Tell them Tyger Linn sent you. It won’t matter if they know her or not.
For my part, I would like to thank about a dozen people, but three stand out.
Michelle, Kat, Britt, thank you.