Category Archives: Balderdash.

Cause vs. Reason

I’ve been thinking a lot about that famous poem by William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow“.  It keeps popping up…and I find that it intoxicates me for reasons I can’t explain.

Words are like that.  They can be magically and musically inexplicable, for all their ostensible explicability.  I’m reminded of Bill Borroughs’ cut-up novels…the way that Kerouac chose the words in his novels for their be-bop readability…the way that Shakespeare would rather make a word up than let insufficient syllabic content muss up his perfect iambic pentameter.

I’ve recently been forced, by way of my efforts to secure a slightly more dependable paycheck, to undergo a bit of intense personal reflection.  It started like this:  I received a convocation from the French Office of Immigration and Integration (OFII) informing me that I would need to attend a one-day information session on la vie française.  

Lunch would be provided.

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Contend…the best you can.

Who doesn’t like Abraham Maslow?  I know this is taking most of you back to a 101 class of some sort – one of those soft sciences most likely:  Criminal Law, Psychology, Sociology, etc.  But seriously – who wouldn’t love this face?

Like Santa shaved his beard, am I right?

Something you all probably know about him is that he’s most famous for his “Hierarchy of Needs”.  Boy, I love this gem of psycho-social theory.  I don’t know if Maslow understood how much potential that little pyramid had for healing.  When I worked with young people, it featured prominently in my one-to-one work with them; when I managed, it was always on the wall in the office.

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Take it all off.

You may have noticed things have changed around here.  We decided to make a change…a little simpler, a little sexier…we’ve gone minimal.

The thing is, nobody really seemed to notice the last time we shook things up.

Ann:  (flustered) Why isn’t anybody commenting on our new theme???

Chris:  Dunno.

And I do not, I’ll have you know, go and get a nice new haircut just so I can stare in the mirror.  I am a fisher of compliments.

Ann:  Do you think they don’t like it?  Maybe it’s too close to the old one!  I mean, we put up a completely different picture, for crying out loud!

Chris:  Yeah…not sure.

Or suggestions, ideas, even a lovingly delivered critique.

Ann:  That’s got to be it.  They just haven’t noticed.  Do you think we should change it again?  But it took so long!  No, let’s leave it as-is.

Chris:  OK.

Chris – well, he’s a little more laid back than all that.  But, being that he’s all into design and packaging and what-have-you, I think it might be that he’s just supressing his true feelings on the matter.

Or not.

Do share your thoughts!  Don’t be mean!

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9 Reasons why being a grown-up is awesome

1. Buying stuff before you run out

While borrowing stuff from one’s flatmates (toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper) is okay, it’s not ideal.  There’s nothing worse than the DOH! moment of realization when, toothbrush-in-hand, hair-all-wet, or – better yet – sat-upon-the-throne, one stares helplessly into the great beyond because one no longer has flatmates.  The questions that inevitably follow (Can one brush one’s teeth with mouthwash?  Can one wash one’s hair with conditioner?  Can one make it to the other room where one’s sure there are some tissues/papertowels/old newspapers?) invoke the sort of humility most commonly sought after by devout monks and penitent prisoners.  The alternative, however, is the smug feeling of knowing, as one squeezes the 5th-to-last helping of toothpaste out of the tube, that there exists one or more (2-for-1 sale!) additional tubes in the cupboard below the sink.  Aw, yeah.

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A story.

And so it came to pass that the people of that very strange place, that place with so much power and so much sadness, waited – although not really with anticipation as such, because few of them were really paying all that much attention anyway.  Most of the people of that place were very, very busy following the lives of other people they didn’t know.  They watched those other people eat their meals, buy their clothes, lie to their friends.  Presumably those other people had lives far more interesting than the people who watched them so religiously.  They were busy with other things as well.  So busy, in fact, that many of them woke up one morning and wondered what had happened to their lives, where all the time had gone.

Nevertheless, whether they were entirely conscious of it or not (and some of them were very much so), they waited.  Inside a very important and conspicuous building, where the most powerful among them sat, an incredibly important decision was to be made.  This was a yes-or-no decision, but it was more complicated than that.  This was a decision that had to follow another decision that had been made in opposition to quite a few of their opinions on the matter, particularly those opinions of other people with quite a lot of power.

You see, these people, who worked very hard and who watched the lives of other people they didn’t know in order to regain some of the peace they lost working so hard for so many hours, these people had been given very clear instruction in one particular ideal during the course of their education:  Personal Responsibility, and the Taking thereof.  The people of this place (like the people of any place, really) didn’t know everything, but they knew that thing.  They knew that nothing was free, and no one wasn’t to blame.  They knew that if you had what you needed, it was because you deserved it, and if you didn’t – well, that was nobody’s fault but yours.  So these people cheered when their leaders said things like, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” and, “If I can do it, anybody can!”  Of course, if they didn’t have the bootstraps by which to pull themselves up, or if they simply couldn’t do it, they assumed they must be at fault, and felt terrible and went back to watching those people they didn’t know live their lives.

Back to this decision, or rather, back to the one that preceded it:  One of their leaders – an imperfect one, to be sure – decided to propose something that flew in the face of the people’s deeply held feelings about Personal Responsibility and the Taking thereof.  This particular leader thought a number of things, but this thing really upset the people.  The thing he had the audacity to think that upset people so was this:  that sick people should be looked after.  And that everybody should pitch in to make sure it could be payed for in the event that those people couldn’t pay for it themselves.  Of course the people raged!  Why, if they’re sick, it wasn’t anybody else’s fault!  And imagine the sin of letting oneself get sick in the first place, and then the shamelessness of being too poor to pay for treatment!  (Because, you see, most of the people were also quite sick – or at least their doctors said they were – and had to pay a lot of money for pills they had to take every day for any number of ailments.)

The fact that this leader thought somebody should be allowed to just go and get sick and not Take Personal Responsibility was just beyond their wildest nightmares.

But the leader pushed.

And pushed.

And pushed.

The other powerful people pushed back, but he kept pushing.  Finally, those most-powerful-people (there were nine of them, to be precise) had to decide if that first decision had flown directly in the face of the pieces of paper upon which the people’s forebears had written down the Most Important Rules.

Whether they knew it or not…whether they cared or not…they waited.


About the Day

The worst thing ever to blog about, I’ve been told, is one’s day-to-day: “I went to…, I saw…, etc” – this is the stuff snores are made of, although it can be quite tempting on a particularly interesting day, and I don’t think I’d be telling porkies if I said I’ve been guilty of it on a couple of occasions, particularly the more frustrating ones

This post, incidentally, is not about my day, however the word “circadian,” which will figure in more than once, quite literally is.  I mean to say, that pretty little word which I think I love because it sounds like cicada, and when I think of cicadas, I think of humid summer evenings in the Deep South or Philippine islands, is of Latin origin, and can be broken down into two parts, according to Mr. Webster:  circa, meaning about, and dies, meaning day.

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