“Rinse and Spit”

I like dealing with the older ones, she thought to herself. Those kids can be such a pain – constantly squirming in the chair, never staying still. Cleaning their teeth is a real nightmare. Still, it’s a good job, and I’m glad to have it. Dental hygiene was proving to be a real growth industry: it took very little to keep your teeth decent, but it seemed people had lost interest in even the smallest tasks. Well, go ahead, let ‘em rot – job security never looked so good.

“Say Martha, could you check on Mrs. Manning? Number ten, distal – crown strength.”

“Right away, doctor.”

The day usually moved by fairly quickly. Dr. Snyder had a large, thriving practice: four hygienists, two lab technicians, and forty-three clients, most of whom were his patients for at least ten years. All kinds, all ages, all sizes, and patients who practiced various degrees of home care. Mrs. Manning was one of the more diligent ones: other than the root canal on the upper right, she had excellent dental health. My teeth should look so good, Martha thought – more out of pride than envy, of course.

“Hi Celeste, long time no see. Guess your brushing and flossing is keeping us apart.”

“Huh? Oh, hi Martha – yes, I suppose so.”

Hmm. Seems Mrs. M. is a little off her game today.

“Are you okay, dear? You seem a little distracted.”

“Well . . . I’ve been thinking about what needs to be arranged for this year’s Fourth of July celebration. Ever since the Donovans moved to Pittsburgh, I’ve been at a loss of who else the town council might call on to organize the parade.”

Please don’t ask me – please, please, please, please, please . . .

“Any ideas? We’re a little more desperate this year: we need all the help we can get.”

“Have you ever met Tom and Jenny Wilkins? Young couple, came here about six months ago?”

“Wilkins, Wilkins . . . Geez, I thought I knew everyone in town.”

“They’re an amazing couple. He volunteers at the food pantry twice a week, and she’s a part-time nurses’ aide at the hospital. They might be overextended already, though …”

Beginnings

I was born on a Friday at 4:35 PM in Detroit, Michigan.  My mom seemed to know more of the details and circumstances of some of the other kids’ births.    I do remember asking Mom what if anything she remembered about the day I was born.  Nothing really came to mind.  “What about the time of day?  Was I born in the morning, or the afternoon, or the evening?”  “I don’t really remember.”  Even seeing the time stated on the birth certificate, she said she still never would have even guessed it was at that time of day.

One of my earliest memories was brushing and combing Mom’s hair.  I guess I might have been four or five years old.  After the other kids had gone to school, she’d sit on the couch and had me sit on the top of the couch just behind her with a hairbrush.  She had some pretty thick black hair then – I think all I did was brush her hair from the front to the back of her head.  I don’t really remember talking with her at all – we might have, but I don’t remember.  I don’t know that I had any special feeling being with her brushing her hair then – but it was definitely one of the few times I ever had her all to myself, even if all I could do was stare at the back of her head.

Our house wasn’t all that big, especially with fourteen people living there.  The kitchen was maybe fifteen feet square (225 sq. ft.) – a good-sized kitchen.  The older brothers did a fairly extensive rehab of the joint in the mid 70’s or so – a nice update.  New cabinets, new sink, refrigerator moved from a corner to a wall.  If you pull up the house on Google Earth now, it’s just sad to see.  Maybe the pear and cherry trees are still in the back yard – it’s hard to tell.  Seven houses are left on the block – maybe half as many as there used to be.

Is An Examined Life Worth Living?

Those of us who love philosophy cannot help but wonder, at least once in a while, whether philosophy is relevant, even necessary, to live today. But we may be blinded by our love of the discipline—to the contemporary world’s eyes, philosophy is at best a plain, dull, and uninviting subject.

It seems there isn’t anything our contemporary world cannot do better or with greater satisfaction in spheres of human activity than philosophical reflection. When the goal of human action is “results,” like those we expect of science, or art, or commerce, philosophy pales by comparison.

We might want to argue for the claim that philosophy’s only value, the only reason why anyone should spend extended amounts of time and energy with it, are the practical benefits its students can bring to a shop-weary world.

While most folks may not have any formal, “professional” acquaintance with the discipline, they do have a natural preponderance for reflecting upon the ordinary, everyday world. That is, upon their ordinary, everyday worlds. When academics try to remind us how much better our lives would be if only we would set just aside a few tasks that are not nearly as important as the life of the mind, we shrug and tell them they don’t have a clue what the “real world” is about.

Humans have a natural inclination to ask why. If we can do that at our leisure, in the small, quiet moments that give us a chance to put together the stories of our lives, we are (for lack of a better word) happy. Academics annoy the rest of us when they refuse to recognize that: 1) in the great curriculum of life, philosophy is an elective, not a required course; and 2) we already examine and critique our lives, we don’t want or need your “help,” thank you very much.

A Huge Lone Wolf Success

I’m on the train to St. Louis en route to my annual Missouri Ozark extravaganza vacation. My friends will collect me from the station in St. Louis – which will save a huge amount of time.

I was dumped on Tuesday (man, I really liked that woman) and totally dissed on Saturday (nice tits do not trump rudeness). At the beginning of the trip out of Chicago a pretty girl was looking for a seat. I hoped she would sit next to me, but she sat next to the guy across the aisle from me, saying “you look normal” as she took her seat. I was just beaten and broken enough to take her to mean that I didn’t look normal.

I was asked to move from my seat to let a granddad and granddaughter sit together. I ended up sitting next to a very pretty woman, easily thirty years younger than me. And, not to be a dick about it, much more attractive than my earlier desire. This girl was downright gorgeous: thick shoulder length strawberry red hair, slender build, and a face to make men weak in the knees.

God, karma, or whatever is running the show (if anything IS running the show) sure seems to be taking great pleasure in my tortured sexual frustration. Of course, that’s a bit egotistical – what reason do I have to think the universe gives a rat’s ass about me?

I won’t wallow in self-pity. I’ve worked hard at being by myself for so long that I now realize I’ve accomplished that goal summa cum laude. I’m a huge lone wolf success. New goal: work on yourself so that someone somewhere WANTS you. How hard can it be? BWAAAAHHH …

Aphorisms and Other Curiosities

Is the universe indifferent?  Who the hell knows?  Don’t use it as an excuse to hide from living.

Women’s roller derby team + religion:  church of the most holy rollers.

Intersection of solemn and playful:  serious.  See Nietzsche.

What makes for good comedy?  “It’s finding that fine line between smart and silly.”     — CBS Sunday Morning, 3/30/2014

From some TED talk somewhere:  How to make choosing easier:

Cut — less is more
Concretize — make it vivid
Categorize — more categories, fewer choices
Condition — move from less complex to more complex

We live in a world of paradoxes:  you’re special, and you’re no different from anyone else.  She likes you, but she doesn’t LIKE like you.

Check your judgments at the gates of hell — you can pick ’em up when you come back to stay.

Reverie, rumination — a blessing and a curse.

Life is neither black nor white / It’s full of joy and sorrow
Whatever fears we have today / Might all be gone tomorrow

A calm came over me.   Then something said, “We just wanted to know whether YOU knew we were here.”  That was the first time I really listened to my feelings in a long, long time.

“How do you make people feel good?
You have sex with them, or you make them laugh.
If it’s both, you marry that person.
People shun people they have sex with.
They never leave the people who make them laugh.”

— Chris Rock (paraphrase),
CBS Sunday Morning, 11/30/2014