I woke up early Wednesday. 11:00 am. It was early since I hadn’t been asleep for even five hours yet at that point and it was the third night in a row that my sleep had been shorted. I was tired and I felt it, but that wasn’t all that was wrong.
I just felt wrong somehow. I made breakfast knowing that I would likely go to back to bed soon, and then I went upstairs to do some busywork. There was a dust storm in El Paso, the weather site I visited told me. It was a couple of hundred miles away, but there was definitely dust in the windy air here too. It was wrong, just wrong somehow.
The world kept coming unstuck. I’d think “I’m having vertigo” and then I’d check and the world wouldn’t really be spinning. It would want to spin, but not actually spin. It was a weird feeling.
After several hours of this The Wife came home from doing her busywork with friends and I decided to join her in the bedroom. When I got up from my desk I realized just how dizzy I really was. Walking downstairs was a conscious one step at a time procedure. The steps are never where they first appear when the dizziness gets set to ramp up into vertigo.
When I finally made it to the bedroom a few minutes later the world was actively spinning. “That’s just great.” I was almost relieved to be done waiting for it. I took Xanax and laid down at 5:30 pm, dedicatedly staring at the catbus and waiting for the spell to pass. It didn’t pass and I fell asleep instead. Fitful sleep that lasted for a good long time this time.
I woke up just now at 5:00 am on Thursday, almost twelve hours later. I missed dinner. I missed my WoW raid. I didn’t finish Wednesday chores. How was my day? I didn’t have a day. How was yours? Now it’s time to get the bins to the street before six so that the city will pick them up, and then I see if I can have real day today. Fingers crossed.
It’s afternoon, just got back from a walk. This is now the best day since the 10th of March (the last time I was out walking) It’s the best day since getting the jab (I love that word for being stuck with a needle. Fits perfectly) last Thursday. It will never cease to amaze me just how much of a difference getting out and stretching the legs will do for your attitude.
I suffered through vertigo again both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. I spent all day today just trying to catch up on stuff I missed over the weekend. At least I got the laundry done. This turn to Spring will hopefully see a turn from the depressive trough I’ve been in for months. I’m trying not to see the weekend as a harbinger of anything negative for this year. It’s going to be sunshine and kittens 24/7. It’s just too bad I’m allergic to kittens.
Picture the Emerald city as seen in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Imagine that you had lived there all your life. Born there, raised there. It was what was normal for you. Then one day you wake up and you live in Kansas, the dull, drab black and white existence from the same film. No one has ever seen or heard of the beauty of the Emerald city. No one knows what the hell you mean when you say Emerald city to them.
Wouldn’t you try to create a version of the Emerald city? Just so that the beauty that you remember could be shared by everyone you know? So that they would know what you mean when you say the words Emerald city.
That is the essence of Yesterday. The story of a man who wakes up in a world in which the greatest influences of our past no longer existed. It is a movie with soul. A movie that makes you want to shout to the rafters about the beauty and inspiration that was the Beatles, and quite a few other things as well. Watching Yesterday was one of those rare instances when the movie that I’m watching is better than the movie I expected to watch when I queued it up. Give this movie a chance and it will surprise you.
This is usually where I type HBD into Facebook. It’s my annual, typical ‘sup? To my online friends. But you just said you dread birthdays. I read it. It meant something to me.
I frequently dread birthdays. Birthdays when I was a kid meant the end of freedom. The beginning of torment. School starting. The incomprehensible social jockeying for status.
As I grew older the dread festered. Now I expected myself to have a good time. Everyone around me was so anxious that I enjoy the parties they threw. I just wanted to be alone. By myself, where I wouldn’t have to try to figure out what was expected of me.
These days I toe the line of social norms. I type HBD on Facebook as I used to scrawl a spartan “happy birthday” on company cards, lacking any real connection to the birthday person in question.
I wonder if your dread is my dread? Are you adrift in social events? Lacking any clue as to what the faces around you mean? Terror at being the center of attention? An unbelievably bad liar because communication itself is a challenge?
The internet is a blessed wall that obscures the faces I cannot read. The gestures that have meanings that I do not know. The words mean what I want them to mean and nothing more. I can say “happy birthday” here and no one doubts that it is sincere. Strangers can ask “how are you doing?” and you know they really do care because they took the time to type it. I can shelve my canned response of “fair to middling” because I know that I can be honest with the inquirer if I want to be.
Oversharing is a chronic problem on the internet for me. For many people. The false familiarity leads to contempt for foreign ideas. Commenters whom you disagree with are driven from the field in a hail of ridicule. Your stream of information becomes a self-deluding stream of misinformation. Of comfortable lies you’d rather believe than truths you find hard to stomach. Unless.
Unless you take the time to understand the other. One on one. Pick apart the ideas. Discover the meanings of the words we all think we know for ourselves, but really aren’t the same meanings assigned to the words by others.
So I type HBD on friend’s Facebook walls once a year. SMS the real friends whose phone numbers I still possess. Friends I can disagree with and still stay friends. Hopefully stay friends, anyway. Yes I really mean it, especially if it comes with an exclamation point and a cake emoji. Do I care if you reciprocate? Not really. Consider it an invitation to open a dialog. What does a happy birthday mean to you? Maybe I’ll figure out what it means to me in the process.
It occurs to me that the reason I hated writing messages on office birthday cards was because my handwriting was so atrocious as to look like it was written by an eight year old with a brain injury (dysgraphia) not so much that I didn’t have a feeling of relationship with the people in question. When every character written has to be concentrated on exclusively for minutes at a time in order to be formed properly, it is a forgivable sin to just scrawl your signature and save the birthday wishes for when you have a chance to talk to the person.
…Unless of course you hate that person. Then you can even forget to sign and that is okay too.
I have a confession to make; several of them actually, and not all of them will occur here. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out on the forums of Dan Carlin’s website (newly renovated) largely because I tended to agree with his political arguments and loved his history show. Since I first signed on those forums I’ve abandoned them several times because of various hostile posters, only to be drawn back again because of some inane argument presented in of his Common Sense podcasts.
The latest Common Sense(titled Kickstarting the Revolution) is a nice illustration of why I have stopped spending time arguing with devotees of Carlin’s on his website, and why I contemplate abandoning his political podcast altogether. Starting from the false attribution to Churchill which he repeats and is debunked on Churchill’s website like so;
“If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” There is no record of anyone hearing Churchill say this. Paul Addison of Edinburgh University makes this comment: “Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35! And would he have talked so disrespectfully of Clemmie, who is generally thought to have been a lifelong Liberal?”
Never mind that I personally can disassemble the assertion by simply observing that I have never been an ideologue, and it is not solely the realm of the young as he insists when he brings up that misquote (ideologues making up the bulk of liberalism in his argument) since there are any number of hidebound hoary old ideologues out there insisting that their ideology must be followed, and that make up the bulk of the Conservative wing of the Republican party. But that’s just where he starts to go off the rails.
I don’t think a lot of you have perhaps considered that we are a month away from the 2016 election kickoff, and I know what you are thinking because I always think the same thing; already?!? Yeah, the midterm elections are a month away. If you’ve got some fancy-schmancy wise interesting outside the box idea for impacting the 2016 Presidential elections for all our good, you need to start it now.
No Dan, that isn’t what I’m thinking. What I’m thinking is that you (and the vast majority of the electorate apparently) are once again mistaking authority for ability. Attributing to the President more power than he actually has, and holding him accountable for actions beyond the powers of his office (on the one hand) and expecting the next President will be able to exercise powers he doesn’t have in order to fix things which aren’t under his control in the office of President (on the other) What this podcast represents, at the end of another long and winding hour and a half, is one more episode chalked up in support of the dictator theme; the false dream that electing the one right person will fix things, skipping over the very obvious fact that what is important right here and right now is that people go vote in the midterms.
The lackadaisical way that US Americans approach the obligation to participate in government both highlights the need for a requirement that people participate in their government; while at the same time reinforcing the observation that we get the government we deserve.
This reliance on the President, this common belief that this one person can fix the ills of an increasingly complex system inhabited by hundreds of millions of people who are all going about their merry way living their own lives, is the worst kind of naivete. Couple that with the blind insistence that the calcifying remnants of the two party system are no different from each other, in the face of the popular takeover of the Republican party by the Religious Right in the form of the Tea Party, evidence that the revolution that you agitate for is already occurring, has been occurring since 2008…
…Well, it boggles the mind, the lack of understanding of the system itself that these views now represent. I’m more than a little mortified. The reference link for this podcast points toward Lawrence Lessig’s site. I agitated for Dan to interview Prof. Lessig for ages on the show, and now that he’s done that and promotes him, he links the Prof. to the completely dysfunctional idea that 2016 is somehow more important than the day to day operations of party machinery, or the impending disaster that will be handing the Senate over to the hidebound Republicans if only their Ebola-fearing voter base goes out and votes this month.
That isn’t how the world really works. Yes, the individual can matter, does matter. Yes, authority grants a certain amount of power, but that power is limited by design and by the reality of there only being so much one person can do.
The fallacy here, as I so often come up against, is the externalizing of purpose. The false idea that your purpose in life can be satisfied by some external agent, can be defined by someone else than yourself. That voting actually does something aside from (as I’ve alluded to many times) seal the deal that you make when you set out to support a candidate or a position and then work to see the goal come to pass.
You have to decide what is important, you have to do the work to see it successful. You cannot simply go vote and expect others to carry your goals forward with them while you deal with things you deem are more important. They will do what they think is important. Either you accept that their goals are at variance with yours, or you don’t and are never (and will never be) satisfied with any outcome no matter how much better it may make your actual conditions in life.
…in that vein, the Democratic party and the Republican party are simply tools to be used, just like any other social structure. They are no more and no less good or evil (or monolithic) than the individuals who work in those groups to advance the goals they set for themselves.
So go vote this month! But not just vote, go scope out your local party, see how the sausage is made in the hands of the people who currently hold power; and if you want wild ideas about how the internet can fix the problems of aging structures in or government, maybe you should take a look at this;
Pia Mancini and her colleagues want to upgrade democracy in Argentina and beyond. Through their open-source mobile platform they want to bring citizens inside the legislative process, and run candidates who will listen to what they say.
If we want to get away from the kind of world that Noam Chomsky outlined in Manufacturing Consent, or the kind of world where the wealthy buy the votes of or representatives as described by Professor Lessig in Republic, Lost; How Money Corrupts Congress – and a Plan to Stop It then we should listen to people like Pia Mancini, or dedicate ourselves to one of the many groups who are working daily to modify the system so that is is more responsive to the voting population of the US.
The Wolf-pac – We must reverse Citizens United, Restore our Democracy, and Save the Republic. Join the Fight for Free and Fair Elections in America! That has had success in at least one state house.
Move to Amend – which has been trying to get legislation through congress; and not having much luck at it.
Lessig’s own Rootstrikers.org – which is the third iteration of his groups attempts to form a movement behind the ideas he has put forward again and again.
Or maybe even a group like Represent.us that is facing pushback on the local level in Tallahassee right now while trying to make inroads on the problem of corruption in or governments.
Governments. Plural. More than one. Local, County, State & Federal; not just the President. So go vote, because that’s all that is left to do right now with one short month left in this election cycle. But don’t allow yourself to sit back after voting and expect the problems to be solved, or (even worse) wait for a President to be elected who will fix the problems we face, that will do so in a way that you approve of (which is a pipe dream) go out and change the system by participating in it. At least then you will have earned the right to bitch about how things turned out, rather than just pretending you have that right because you have a right to free speech.
That’s the date and place that I finally got to see Tom Cochrane in person. I’ve been a fan of his since discovering him in a band named Red Rider and their album named As Far As Siam. I was a passenger in a black Cutlass driven by the guy who ended up being my roommate when I moved to San Angelo in 1985, but that was at least 4 years down the road from my introduction to Red Rider. In 1982, when I heard Lunatic Fringe for the first time, I knew that I was going to be listening to a lot of music by this band over the following years. The haunting guitar work and the lyrics just spoke to me on some level that is really hard to explain.
…and this one set at the Saxon Pub in Austin has made all the years melt away. I’m ready to go dig out the albums again and give them all a listen.
The bar was full, probably 30 people. It was a tiny little place, a nice music venue as small clubs go. When I asked if Tom was in the house, the doorman waved me over toward the stage, where Tom was in a conversation with another fan. Tom was warm and friendly and wanted to know what I would like to hear.
I know that Life is a Highway is the song you get if you ask for Tom Cochrane at a radio station, it’s his equivalent to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, but Life is a Highway has a special place in my heart because my children demanded I play it over and over again in the car when it was a new song. I asked for something off of Neruda too, because Neruda remains my favorite album of his. He left the table after that, and we sat down to enjoy some front row seats for the set. I started reflecting on “what I wanted to hear” at that point. Then it hit me, and I had to wander over to his manager’s table where he was waiting to take the stage and ask if he could play Beautiful Day, which is the last new song of his that really spoke to me. He laughed and said something to the effect of “that was four years ago, my memory doesn’t go back that far” although he said he liked Stonecutter’s Arms from the same album X-ray Sierra (another one of my favorites) and I discovered he has some new material out, an album called No Stranger
No Stranger is a name similar to a local band that I used to follow. No Strangers, a husband and wife duo. I worked with her at Graeber, Simmons and Cowan, and that was how I discovered them. We’ve seen them several times over the years. She has a beautiful voice and their duets are also beautiful, the lyrics thoughtful. I remarked on this to Tom, who of course had no reaction.
I look forward to giving his new album a listen soon. When they took the stage it was with Tom as lead singer/guitar, Ken Greer on steel guitar and Shawn Pander played rhythm guitar and sang backup vocals on the last three songs. I didn’t catch the drummer’s name. The Wife played percussion for years, so she probably knows. They talked for a good 10 minutes about the wooden drum that he was playing. (This looks like him, but surely not..?) Two horn players too. All part of Shawn’s band, from what I understood. They played Lunatic Fringe, White Hot, Northern Star, White Horse and finished up with Life is a Highway.
Shawn Pander played the next set and started his set with a unique take on the Beatles song Lonely People, and a quip about Tom being harder to follow than a Beatlemania band. I was there to see Tom, but Shawn’s music warrants a listen to. Hard to say what I thought of his act, since I was so psyched about getting to see Tom for the first time.
We talked for awhile between Shawn’s set and the next band’s start time. I complimented Ken Greer on his guitar work. I never realized just what an impact his presence in the band was until he sat in for one of Shawn’s songs. His addition to the music completely changed the feel of it. Ken Greer can make a guitar speak, and he can do it in ways that very few people can come close to mastering. He is a true artist.
All too soon it was over. I got a hug from Tom and The Wife did too. I hope to see them all again sometime, including Shawn. It was an interesting evening. One for the long term memory files, if only I can find the key to those.
I believe that was the second time we saw him. That event never made it onto the blog. The fatalism of being disabled and having no future plans had started to dig its claws in by that point, and I imagine I saw no need to record the little things that I did, like going to see an artist that I’ve followed all my life and seeing him for the second time. I still scoff at people who post pictures of their food as if anyone wants to know what they ate today and what it looked like. I don’t want to see that kind of stuff. Food pictures never look good, and a good rule of thumb is to avoid restaurants that have pictures of the food they serve on their menus. There is you free dining tip for today.
We’ve since seen Tom Cochrane a third time since then. That was the time that he played Life is a Highway and credited Rascal Flats for creating the song. I don’t hear any bitterness there for Disney not being willing to pay him for the rights for the song or anything, do you? There is no bitterness on my part for Meniere’s stealing my hearing and destroying music for me either. Nope, no bitterness at all.
I can almost hear her say The world is such a stupid place We’ll crack the sky and get lost in space again
My history with Tom Cochrane as a fan is interlaced with my history as a libertarian, and the fan that kept me going to Tom Cochrane events here in Austin is someone I met online on the old Tom Cochrane BBS system, where she was almost my sole supporter of libertarianism in the membership. She remains a libertarian while I do not, but we still speak on occasion.