Friday, December 26, 2008

Comfort and Joy

Good writing is good thinking. In order to be a good writer, one must have organized thoughts and an idea of how to traverse those thoughts in order to reach a point that is already predetermined in the mind. Not being able to think well impedes the process. This I believe is the nature of writer's block. It's something I've experienced periodically. I hate it when I can't think straight. It makes me uneasy and frazzled.

At Burning Man there's a camp known as Comfort and Joy. In 2007, a young man who was deeply depressed chose to take his life there by hanging himself from their dome structure. Nobody from the camp knew him, but that didn't make it any less tragic. The message boards after the burn were filled at first with messages from the young man's friends who lost track of him on the playa, and then with messages of support and sympathy from the rest of the community.

This year, "tidings of comfort and joy" have taken on significant meaning. As I see those around me beginning to struggle in this economy, desperately grasping for a sense of security, I can't help but wish tidings of comfort and joy. It's fundamental to what we really need and want. Comfort in knowing that we can make it through this crisis. Joy in the things we do have. Comfort in our own shrewdness and capabilities. Joy in our ability to employ them for the benefit of those we care for. Contrary to one sad soul's demise, Comfort and Joy is not a place to succumb to burdens or adversity. Comfort and Joy is the place we go to confront them; a place to organize ideas in one's mind in such a way that everything makes sense. And even if it doesn't make sense, at least we hope for such a place for others. So, to my friends and whomever else may come across these words, I wish good tidings of Comfort and Joy in the New Year. It's the best wish I can imagine right now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And the inevitable flip-flop

Yes. I believe that we have largely looked to consumerism as a method of gratification. But I left out a few caveats. As much as I like being frugal, I also very much enjoy nice things. Not that I indulge in such things on a regular basis, but given the opportunity, I love a good meal served in courses, well made shoes and clothing, and even domestic help.

Do I feel I deserve such things? Maybe, to a degree. I must admit there is gratification in knowing that I've been able to purchase a home, have a good car, and a decent computer. The reason I'm considering such things at the moment is a new blog on the Daily Beast, The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney.

Ms. Penny had made it. She worked, and accomplished, and created a life that I could aspire to. And, it all disappeared in what turned out to be a Ponce Scheme. And I can't help but feel her pain. I don't know if this is empathy, or sympathy, but I know that I've also worked very hard to be where I am today, and I have also been at the brink of losing what I've worked for. Such a loss is a shock at best, and a devastating blow. Ms Penney's blight is a good reminder for me to be thankful for what I have but to still aspire to do and be more.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Some things I just can't make up... . This falls into this category. This is the website for a commercial I saw tonight on cable tv, offering a gadget that gives flat hair an instant Lisa Marie lift a la Sara Palin. As though we have nothing else to worry our little heads about.

Just the utterance of the website name, sent me into a snide cackle. The absurdity of such a product isn't enough. It has to have a website name that accompanies it that implies a body part, that is actually made up of dead cells can feel emotion. This of course begs the question, what happens if our hair is sad? Now, some days, I do have bad hair, which is in fact sad for me, because my hair is short with a lot of wave, so when it's bad I tend to look like a Mexican Q-Tip.

Why would someone need Big Happy Hair? Maybe to hide increasing insecurities we recognize that this is not a drill. The economy really is in trouble. And despite multiple years of being coaxed into a fearful state by alerts in a rainbow of colors, we weren't entirely equipped for a real crisis. Because this is more than a financial crisis. This is a crisis on our national identity. Consumerism is more than an approach to economics, it's our culture. And, compulsive consumerism, which has been allowed to burgeon uninhibited became an accepted path to euphoric gratification. So go ahead and make your hair happy America!

Except, these quick fixes may not work anymore. I honestly hope they don't. I hope that a different norm wins out, that we decide what we do for our community and for others is more important than what we have. I hope we realize that our desire for things hasn't made us any bigger or happier than our hair could be. Because the reality is, that this happy hair devise is simply a ruse, designed to makes something you have look like more than it is. And in the same way, we have looked to the things we have to make us more than we are, or rather more than we choose to be.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Knowing what you don't know...

A shoe was thrown at the President during a press conference in Iraq.

To which the President says, "What do I care if someone throws a shoe at me?"

He should care. He should care that Iraqis have taken to the streets by the thousands in support of their new national hero shoe hurler. He should care that gestures such as this are not as casually given as our favorite one finger salute. In fact, usually such a gesture results swords or automatic weapons being drawn. These are the makings of clan warfare not unlike it's cousin gang warfare, because in American gang culture there are similar gang sign gestures that have the same response.

So what does this mean about the stature of our outgoing President? Does it mean that he is now seen to be no more than a common thug in this part of the world. Or does his question reflect a glaring wanton ignorance that not only led to this war, but will prove to be the legacy that the President is desperately trying to fabricate?

A shoe was thrown at the President during a press conference in Iraq.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes, the holidays are upon us. Call me sentimental, but there is a familiar feel to this year's season that I haven't felt for a long, long time. I was born in 1971. I can remember the Carter recession, long gas lines, and advertisements in grocery stores that identified them as "inflation fighters." The ad that comes to mind was a huge screen print poster of a woman cracking the word "INFLATION" in half with a rolling pin.

In those days we shopped at K-Mart where the novelty was that everything was made in China. And Christmas then meant maybe one toy we asked for and then a lot of kick-knacks. We always got pajamas, and on a good year slippers too. Stocking-stuffers included hair ribbons, Q-tip swabs, a toothbrush, and my mother's special care package that had an apple, a tangerine, hard ribbon candy and mixed nuts.

As the current financial crisis continues, I can't help but be encourage by an increase in what I consider sanity to holiday purchases. The frenzy seems to be gone, and in it's place thoughtfulness has re-emerged as consumers carefully consider how to spend the money they actually have as opposed to a ridiculous amount of credit used in years past. Gift giving, with the absence of credit just may regain its soul, and in turn so might the holiday season.