Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Community Service

Most times, I'm a nice person. I like to treat people well and be positive. I like to do things that help out the community and make the world a better place. Which is probably why I ended up volunteering to represent the profession at career day today at a local high school.

A small team of coworkers and I set up a booth and had handouts ready to deal with moody, rambunctious teenagers. A few of them were actually interested and asked pertinent questions. Most were just wandering around from booth to booth, collecting the free pens and enjoying time out of the classroom. Then there were the few idiots who like to cause mischief in order to grab some attention (even negative attention), if it helps them stand out, however brief.

One particular idiot was carrying a guitar and decided to approach our booth when we had quite a big crowd of students laughing at our cheesy presentation. The guitar idiot made his way to the front of the crowd and started making wise cracks about my profession. I didn't mind that, because we kept it light and fun for the students, and we had used the same jokes earlier in the day.

Then guitar idiot asked us about how much we made. I told him, We make enough to do the things we like to do for fun! When he asked, Like what?, I told him, Fun things only adults get to enjoy. That got a laugh out of the other students.

Then the guitar idiot started asking inappropriate questions about the opposite sex and office hanky panky. I tried to be polite and steer the discussion towards other subjects, but the guitar idiot just kept getting louder and more obscene when I didn't take his bait. There were women present, and I don't think they liked the direction the jokes were heading. Guitar idiot was getting on my nerves, because he was getting crass and rude. So I shut him down and said that anyone who comes to work just to play hanky panky instead of doing their job will soon get fired and be unemployed; and no one wants to play hanky panky with a loser like that.

The students laughed at that, and I could tell that guitar idiot was pissed and getting ready to make a smart reply. But the bell rang for lunch and the kids dispersed. By the time we broke down our booth in the afternoon, I was tired and feeling a bit grouchy. I wasn't feeling so upbeat and positive when we left the building to go home.

On our way to the parking lot, we came across guitar idiot, sitting on the curb with his delinquent friends, trying to look cool and playing his guitar. He saw us coming and made wisecracks about us so his buddies would laugh. One of my coworkers asked them why they weren't in class. Guitar idiot puffed up and said he didn't feel like going to class.

So I told him, "You should try to go to classes more."

He snickered, "Why? So I could be a drone like you, stuck in a boring job?"

I couldn't resist answering, "No, because I've heard your guitar playing and it sucks. Frankly, you're better off getting an education. Don't be a fool; stay in school."

Most times, I'm a nice person. But there are a few times when I'm not very nice at all.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When Trees Attack!

Ah, Spring, the season of beauty and new life emerging from the long winter cold. It's the time of blossoming flowers and trees sprouting new leaves. But it's also the season when trees attack. They may look harmless, but don't let the fact that they can't get up and walk fool you. Trees are dangerous! We've been waging war against the plant kingdom for eons, and spring is the best time to catch the trees launching their assault on the human species.

Their large, heavy branches break off in storms and crash through your roof and on top of your car, causing serious damage. Their roots crack foundations and pipes. They dump all that yellow pollen all over your car, and that stuff doesn't come off in the rain. You have to wash your car to get that crud off. The only thing worse than the pollen is the tree sap dripping on your car! Those are a nightmare to clean off! And let's not forget that trees harbor those airborne disease carrying terrorists, birds, who like to crap on your car after you've washed it and wake you up way too early with their incessant chirping, depriving you of sleep!

The plants have managed to invade human culture and biology. We've become dependent on them for food. They've cultivated a loyal army of humans, known as vegetarians, who are out to convert the rest of humanity, to get them to become totally dependent on plants for survival. Meat! Meat is our salvation and weapon against this insidious plant attack!

And let's not forget that plants themselves have deeply invaded our society and become ingrained in our customs and arts. They've seduced us with their colors and scents. We associate flowers with beauty and put them in songs and poems and paintings.

Georgia O'Keeffe painted flowers, big, bold, beautiful blossoms. Some people claim that her flower paintings were actually depictions of the female vajayjay. But that's just ridiculous. She painted flowers, not vajayjays! And if you can't tell the difference between a flower and a vajayjay, then do humanity a favor and don't reproduce! We're trying to win a war against the plants; thank you, but we don't need your contributions to the gene pool if we're going to survive as a species.

Granted, flowers are basically plant genitals, but there is no way that they can be confused for human reproductive organs. But this bring us to perhaps the most insidious plant attack of all: The high pollen count, when plants release high volumes of pollen in the air, leaving yellow dust all over cars and people and causing hay fever suffers to have allergic reactions.

Do you know what pollen is? It's basically plant sperm! That's right! All that yellow stuff that's causing you to choke and cough, stinging your eyes, and covering your clothes and body is plant sperm! You've been sexually molested by a tree without your knowledge! And chances are, it wasn't just one tree who had their way with you! It was probably an entire grove! And the sad part is, you probably had it coming!

That's right. I said you had it coming. What did you think would happen when you started giving flowers to people you wanted to get intimate with? Flowers are plant genitals, and we give them to people we date so that they can smell them, admire them, and let them know that we want to pollinate with them. Is it any wonder then that the trees think you might enjoy some action, especially after seeing you stick your face into their plant genitals to get a nice whiff?

No one knows how the war against the trees started. Perhaps it was inevitable when we started eating their parts and chopping them down to build fires and homes. And as our species has grown in large numbers and taken more land, we've eradicated many more trees as we spread across the world. It's only natural that the trees would fight back.

We slaughter them, we burn them, and we annihilate them as we take over more and more of their territories. We cut them down in winter and display them in our homes like war trophies, decorating them with lights and colors, celebrating our victory in battle. But it's a Pyrrhic victory we win. We only destroy ourselves in the end. The sad truth is, we may not win the war against the trees. The reality is that we cannot live without them. Trees produce the oxygen that we need to breathe. And until we can find a way to recreate this complex process vital to our survival, we cannot live without the assistance of trees.

Trees can live for thousands of years; man can barely last over a century. And seeds can lay dormant for thousands of years. A 1,300 year old lotus seed and a 2,000 year old date palm seed have successfully germinated. That means that should the last man on earth die from a lack of oxygen or a plague or a man made disaster, trees can still grow again, and they'll go on without us. Like it or not, we need trees for food, for shelter, and for our survival. They provide us with nutrients and medicine and the air that we breathe.

So for this Earth Day, take the time to do something nice for nature. Pick up the trash; recycle some goods. Reduce waste and pollution. Call a truce on the war against the trees. Try planting a tree to say thank you, earth, and hope that someday, we'll be able to resolve our differences and live in peace with the trees. Because the truth is, we need them a lot more than they need us. By taking care of our trees and environment, we ensure our survival in the long run. And we can breathe a little easier, knowing that we are a valuable part of the ecosystem, and not sowing the seeds our own species' destruction.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Another meme about me

The creative IDV tagged me to do a short meme. I've done a few of these before. But most of these questions are different and varied compared to the ones that I've done before. So, here we go. A short meme about me.

Where is your cell/mobile phone?

Bedside; silent mode.


Out front; needs to be washed; but it's going to rain this weekend.


Is a weird but fascinating musical. When it comes to hair, sure, I'll flow it; I'll show it; but I refuse to let it be a home for fleas and bees! Hell no!


Mother? I now have neither. And it's a strange feeling.

Your favorite thing?


Dream last night?

I was making a pound cake, which is really something I haven't had in a long while!

Favorite drink?


Alcoholic drink: Screwdriver!

2 parts orange juice
1 part vodka

Room you are in?

Living room.

Your ex?

Don't know; doesn't matter.

You are?

On the computer.

What do you want to be in ten years?

Still alive and enjoying life.

Who did you hang out with today?

Me, myself, I.

Don't want to be the bad guy
Don't want to make a soul cry
It's not that I love myself
I just don't want company
Except me myself I
Me myself and I
Just me myself I
~Joan Armatrading

What you're not?

I am not an animal!!!

I am a human being!!!


Are delicious.

One of your wish list items?

World Peace.

Where is the ____ ?


The last thing you did?


What are you wearing?

Underpants. What? It's my home! And I can wear whatever I want!

Your pet(s)?

None. Although, there are a few stray cats that I leave out food for when they visit my porch from time to time.

Your computer?

Is old but still working.

Your life?

Is still my own.

Your mood?



Everything but the girl...Like the deserts miss the rain.

What are you thinking about right now?

Damn! I wish I had eggs so I could make some pound cake!

Your shoes?

Are on the floor, by the door.

Your work?

Pays the bills.

You and me
We sweat and strain
Body all aching
And racked with pain
Tote that barge
Lift that bale
You get a little drunk
And you land in jail

I get weary
And sick of trying
I'm tired of living
And scared of dying,
But old man river,
He just keeps rolling along.
--Old Man River, Showboat (1936)

Your summer?

Will likely have hurricanes.

Hopefully, it'll be more of this kind of hurricane:

Your favorite color?

Blue. Although, I do like all the colors and their various combinations.

And there you have it. I'm not tagging anyone to do this. But if you do decide to go ahead and do it, then please let me know. That way, I can come on over and read all about you!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Easter Hunt

When I was growing up, Easter weekend was one of the busiest church holidays for my family. Back then, it wasn't about Easter egg hunts or getting all dressed up. It was all about church. And it wasn't just for Easter Sunday either. While we usually got Good Friday off from school, we didn't get to sleep in. Oh no. We had to go to church early Friday morning. That's right. We had to go to church on Good Friday. And it sucked! I hated it, because I was still sleepy at five in the morning, when I was forced to attend church. Someone thought it would be nice to have a sunrise service for Good Friday. I'd rather sleep in! And I didn't care that we could come to the service wearing jeans and t shirts. I was sick and tired of the church taking up all of my free time!

And it wasn't just getting up at o'dark thirty for an hour long church service that sucked. After church was over, we couldn't go home and crawl back in bed. Nope. We kids had to stay behind and pull weeds and clean around the chapel while the adults went home! That's why those bastards wanted us to come to church wearing jeans and t shirts--we were free labor! What the hell? The minister's wife was our overseer, and we the Sunday school kids were her slaves. And after spending all morning weeding and picking up cigarette butts and scrubbing floors and walls, we went back into the chapel to rehearse our production for Easter Sunday. That's right, we had to put on a show for Easter Sunday.

I hated those rehearsals. They took up a lot of my time and added stress to my day! The rehearsals started at least a month before. Every day after school and weekends, we had to go to church for at least two to three hours to rehearse. It was stressful because we still had to go back home, do our chores and our homework.

We were handed bible verses to memorize and sorted into either choir or actors according to the overseer's, um, minister's wife's whims. Her strict adult daughter was the director, and if you were one of her favorites--the suck ups and the kids from the rich families who made the biggest church contributions--you were a major actor, playing either Jesus or his family and closest disciples. If you had some talent, you were either a supporting actor with a short speaking role or in the choir. The best singers usually got solos. If you had no talent or she didn't think you were anything special, you'd get a short bible verse to recite either before or after the big Easter play production. If she didn't like you or you pissed her off, you'd play the Romans who whipped Jesus and help crucify him or you'd be one of the Hebrews who called for Jesus's execution.

My brothers and I started off, as most kids did, reciting bible verses. When we got older, we got different roles. My younger brother (only a year younger than me) was the quiet, peaceful one who often played the innocent roles of either Jesus's supporters or an angel or some other part that required large doey eyes and purity. He's still a nice, peaceful, friendly guy to this day. Although, a few people have learned the hard way that just because he's nice and peaceful doesn't mean he won't kick your ass if you mess with him. He's a tough one--it comes from having older brothers who like to pick on you and fight from time to time growing up. Not that we fight anymore. The last time we got in a scuffle was just before I started high school. Since then, we've all learned to laugh more and get along much better than we do with our older siblings.

While my younger brother was doing innocent roles, I was chosen for choir. Not that I had a spectacular voice to begin with. I was just really loud and clear when I sang. I had no problem projecting my voice. I've had a lot of practice yelling out to my siblings across the fields or calling in the chickens and hogs for feeding time. Eventually I started singing in duets and solos. But as much as I loved singing and performing on the stage, I was starting to get really irritated at the minister's daughter for being so overbearing and trying to tell me how I should sing and what I should do. It brought out the rebellious side of me.

Don't try to tell me what to do! That just pisses me off, because it reminds me of my older siblings trying to boss me around. And don't tell me that I can't do something, because that just fires me up to go ahead and do it anyway. I started putting some soul into my singing, altering notes and pitches and harmony like I was an R&B singer. It freaked out the minister's daughter the first time I belted out a soulful tune that Easter Sunday during our live production. The look on her face--horror and shock--was fantastic! And the church crowd loved it! They actually broke out into applause, which never really happens at my conservative, boring, up tight church. And I knew that I had accomplished what I had set out to do--the minister's daughter got the message. I wasn't just some dog she could have roll over and bark on her command. I was likely to bite her back! The minister's wife, on the other hand, was thrilled at my performance and started to groom me for future productions. I didn't know it then, but the stage was set for an epic behind the scenes battle that would culminate in the fantastic fallout during the Christmas pageant at the end of the year.

But my battle with the minister's wife was nothing compared to the war of wills her daughter and my older brother waged. My older brother was just a year older than me. We actually have other elder brothers and sisters who are more than ten years older than us. But the three of us youngest boys were the closest to each other--still are. It's an unbreakable bond forged from shared experiences during our trying times and the crises that we survived as we were growing up together. Granted, we bumped heads from time to time and fought amongst ourselves when we were younger--just stupid sibling rivalry stuff. But we stood up for each other and backed each other up whenever someone tried to mess with any one of us. My older brother is one of the toughest people I know. Growing up, he never back downed from a fight, and he was quick to defend us and his friends. He had a reputation as a fighter and some called him a bully.

My older brother was always blunt and honest in his opinions. He often called people out on their bullcrap. This caused some problems with adults whose hypocrisy he challenged. He had a strong sense of justice and fairness and wasn't afraid to speak up to anyone, including adults. The minister's daughter thought it was her job to break him down and control him. And when she failed to scare my older brother or get him to do what she wanted, she'd often cast him as a Roman during our Easter play and as Herod during our Christmas pageant. She thought that portraying him as a villain would make him feel bad. That just enhanced his tough reputation and my brother reveled in it. It wasn't hard for him to play a tough guy who scared people. He loved it!

The Easter that I decided to try out my new found soul sound was the last time my older brother participated in a church play. And by the end of the year, my younger brother and I would stop participating in church plays as well. I wished that was the end of my involvement in church activities, but my mother had other ideas. She made the three of us join the church choir instead. That way, she'd mingle with her friends and keep an eye on us at the same time. It sucked being in the church choir with mom, knowing she could tell when we were misbehaving, and we got disciplined for it afterwards. But it's hard not to clown around with your friends when you're bored in choir practice. Thank goodness we were allowed to leave church choir when we started high school.

After my brothers and I quit doing Sunday School plays, the Easter production scaled down tremendously. The play was much smaller. The play choir was opened up to allow all the children to sing. And the number of children reciting bible verses grew considerably. Still, a lot of the preteen and teen Sunday school children were opting out of participating in the productions. My last few years at church, they introduced an Easter egg hunt to recruit more kids to take part in church productions. I never got what Easter bunny egg hunts had to do with Jesus's death and resurrection. Turns out later, I discovered that the whole thing was a pagan rite, including the name Easter.

I never got to enjoy those great Easter egg hunts some kids experienced growing up. Like I said, we didn't have those where I grew up. My church didn't start having them til I was a teen. Perhaps it would've been more exciting if the eggs were those chocolate ones, but no, the church used hard boiled eggs--and the ones that weren't found really stunk up the place!

The truth is, I'm still ambivalent about the whole Easter egg hunt thing, as I find it hilarious that serious devout Christians would embrace a pagan tradition. But then again, most major holidays, including Christmas, are pagan traditions. Still, I have helped to hide eggs and set up some great Easter egg hunts when I got older and moved away to be on my own. I like seeing those kids smile and hearing them laugh and have fun while they search for eggs. I've also helped a few of them find the eggs that I'd hidden, just to see them light up with joy and be so happy to find those chocolate candy eggs and eat them. It's a good feeling to see happy children.

It wasn't always drama and church oppression that took place during Easter while I was growing up. I actually have some great memories of Easter. Most of those memories include the great food we actually got to eat on Easter. In addition to our faves, we had ham and lamb and fish and ice cream and cake. I remember that sense of anticipation and excitement my brothers and I would have during the service, eager to get home and eat some delicious food. We'd laugh and eat and play afterward. And we'd all sit together and watch the Ten Commandments. I never understood why they showed The Ten Commandments on Easter, instead of story of Jesus's resurrection. I mean, isn't that what Easter is supposed to be about in the Christian tradition?

I also have very fond memories of sitting next to my mother during Easter service. She always seemed so serene. I wondered what she was thinking about. But whatever it was, it seemed to give her peace. It was one of those precious moments where I felt really close to her, just by being next to her, and I felt loved and hope and believed that the world was a beautiful place, that life was good.

Over the many years I've been on my own, I stopped going to church regularly. I'd like to think I'm a spiritual person, that we're all connected some way, some how. I've enjoyed exploring many religions and beliefs, learning about them and the people who practice them. It's been a wonderful, tumultuous, and fascinating journey. But try as I might to distance myself and forget all the drama and prejudices of my old church, there are still some things that I still do. Maybe it's out of habit or maybe it's something more. I'm not sure. But chances are, come Easter Sunday, I'll probably be at church. I do the same thing for Christmas. It doesn't matter what church--Catholic, Protestant, Episcopalian. I've been to them all. I'll usually find myself in a church somewhere, in the background, just sitting quietly and observing the Easter service.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for. Maybe I'm trying to find some sense of peace, find whatever it was that made my mother seem so serene, so long ago. Or maybe I'm just doing it out of habit, repeating a faintly familiar act, hoping to relive those good memories from a far away time when the world seemed full of wonder and hope. Maybe I am in a big Easter egg hunt, searching for something precious, something that would make me laugh and smile. I'm not sure what it is I'm supposed to find, but I'll keep looking.