Thursday, February 10, 2011
Is something wrong?
Well, apparently it was not the Starbucks, because in between my deep two hour sleep sessions, I still found time to darn socks and write sermons and research my family back to 1402 somewhere in Gloucester, England. Considering I just spent the past three hours cancelling reservations for my long awaited vacation to Puerto Rico, and trying to figure out how to get home sooner without spending a lot of money- it seems that I could use a tall Starbucks Coffee right now, half coffee and half Baileys and half Vodka. Not that I don't enjoy the thought of a week off - it has been a long three months - I just don't enjoy the thought of a week off in a cold place. I will sit and stew and curse the viral gods for this one for the next couple of days, but I imagine as I drive down Highway 17 at four am tomorrow morning, most of this will be forgotten...ten hours of travel in the wrong direction - I am supposed to be heading to blue water and white sand beaches and fizzy rum drinks. Sickness has no schedule, and I cannot imagine being sick and having to fly across the country, or being the one who is sick...oh well, there will be other weeks, and from what I understand, Puerto Rico is not going anyplace anytime soon, and the SkyMiles and Hilton Honors Points and American express Rewards Points and the free rental car days - well those go right back in the bank.
Is something wrong is the most overused question - it came up today when I picked up my Mahwah Pizza and Pasta dinner (see box above) - I ordered the pie, waited the obligatory thirty minutes, then drove over to pick it up. When I got there, she looked at me and thought instantly, "Oh shit" - and then handed my ticket to the chef, who then, in his best "fuck it, I make pizza when I make pizza" looked at me, and slotted my order behind the other 11 orders. Then it came out "Is something wrong?" - well, now my emotional intelligence has gotten much better now that I watch re-runs of Oprah at two am, but in this case, I could not help but expand on the idea that something was wrong. Allusion, Allegory, all of those literary terms were of no use. I was straight and to the point, but stood patiently and swallowed my words. I figured it was better to get a pizza than to get in a shouting match about having to remind them that I ordered a pizza for pick up thirty minutes ago. It would have been pointless to explain to them that I ordered this pizza thirty minutes ago because I am not fascinated by watching someone make my pizza. I am fascinated by eating my pizza, yes, something was wrong.
It gets better though when this question is asked - psychologists ask this question alot - counselors - I am reminded of my marraige counseling - 'Is something bothering you today", well yes, I am pissed that you have a comfortable couch and I have an old couch. What the hell do they think counseling is for - of course something is bothering you - and I am not even a doctor. A better question would be, "I know there is an issue, because you are here. I know that something is bothering you. What I dont know are the details of your discomfort. Explain the discomfort to me using four letter words, adjectives, and obscure references to former sports stars who have either died or squandered away their millions on strippers or drugs or both." It is kind of like a doctor, who, after you have been effectively interviewed by six traige nurses, two administrators, and some guy who does not understand why you are bleeding from your head, comes in and says, "Well what do we have here" - I actually had this happen during my recent neck surgery - I kept getting asked "Where does it hurt" - well where the fuck do you think it hurts? "Well doctor, this neck thing, it is not anywhere as bad as this hangnail on my little toe. I mean the drainage tube hanging out of my throat, the needles in my arm, and the bandage your nurse glued to my chest hair and beard are fine, but damn, if someone could look at my toe." It happens in other places as well - returning an item at any department store - every department store manager has been trained to ask, "Is something wrong" - and my reply (don't think this is my first response, generally it is my eigth response, I am a prick, but it takes priming, it just does not come natural) "No, I have shit I want to give back to you. Your high school student cashier cannot, even with a reciept, a credit card statement, a security video of me purchasing the goods, and a high tech cash register figure it out. I have shit that I do not want. You have money that I paid for the shit. Let's trade."
Being bothered is a way of life. Folks have perfected ways to make millions of dollars to make people less bothered, make them feel like there is less than anything wrong. In fact, it seems now, that the folks want us to know that SOMETHING is wrong, SOMEWHERE, and that if we really felt compelled, that we SHOULD do SOMETHING about it. Go to the web, and do a search on "feeling wrong"- there were, as of two minutes ago, 47,600,000 hits for that exact phrase. On the first page, there were mentions of Chakra Healing, and some guys lyrics to a song. Apparently, there are a large number of folks who feel wrong. I guess that's my problem. with asking that question. Have we gotten to such a pansy state that we can no longer directly address what is wrong - instead we have to preface it with "feel"? Listen to me here - I think we have let the definition of defining something get out of hand - Glenn Beck crying and drawing pictures on a chalk board is an opinion (a shitty one) what caused things to be wrong - it is not a defintion of what is wrong - the definition is clear, concise, and understood. For instance, "Obama spends too much money with his socialist ways" is not a definition of what is wrong - "The United States has a Trillion dollar debt caused by rampant overspending, poor oversight, and lack of fiscal control" is a definition. I had to throw in a shameless shot at Glen Beck, I could have just as easily chosen Bill Maher for throwing unanswerable smart ass questions at guests - but hell, Glen Beck has a larger audience. Anyway - back to what is wrong. I just don't get it.
What is wrong with me -
1. I work too much. That is what I do. I spend 80% of the year working, 10% worry about what I am going to work on next, and 10% on vacation or away from work wondering why my cell phone is not going off. Pretty straightforward.
2. I spend too much money. I have x dollars, y wants, and z needs. That's a three variable equation, and much like my calculus grade, I do a very bad job of figuring out which variable to solve for.
3. I smoke too much. They keep making them, and I keep buying them. Yes, I am a whimp for not quitting. Yes, I do not enjoy them as much as I thought I would. Yes, I am addicted. No, I don't stop smoking when I am chewing nicorette or using the patch.
4. I am abrasive and obtuse. If you have been reading this for longer than five minutes, I have faith that you have figured that out.
5. I am selfish. My narcissisitic tendencies are only supressed by my need for acceptance and a general sense of awareness (choking back laughter as I try to remember what self-help test I got that result from).
See, that was pretty easy. Now, if I had a piece of re-bar hanging out of my gut, needed a kidney to live, had lost an eye - then something else would be wrong that was more pressing - but I don't - so right now, those things above are my wrong feelings. (Imagine the sound of the drum circle as I confess these to my brothers and explore my deep inadequacy).
So what do I think is wrong with everything else? That's a different question. That's a longer question. Hell, I tend to try and focus on what is right - and generally expand on those successes - nature hates things that are wrong - and they get punished or disappear - so I do not spend too much time feeling wrong - not that I am not in a constant state of being right, I just am not in a constant state of feeling wrong....I could complain - but the reality is, my complaints are not going to do anything about it. I could quit my job and become a philanthropist (except when you are broke they just call you a homeless person who works at the soup kitchen, not a philanthropist) -
Yeah, there are lots of things wrong, most of them obvious. We could spend, and have spent a lifetime about arguing what is wrong, and why. Really folks. We know what is wrong, so just do yourself a favor, and stop asking what is wrong, just ask what you can do about it.
Now I need to go and figure out why the damn hotel remote is broken, and go tell the front desk something is wrong with my alarm clock.
Until next time.