22 May 2011

Hope springs eternal

In the wake of the recent rapture failure, I’m doing some retro- and introspecting and am feeling very sorry for all those poor folks that fell for this latest non-happening.  You know some people did.  I can imagine some of these people waking up tomorrow and realizing they’re still alive and well on Earth and being deeply, profoundly wounded by that simple miraculous everyday occurrence.

Today has been a depressing sympathetic sort of day for me, thinking about these lost, rapture-hungry souls.  I remember too well all those many times I woke up to see the world exactly as I left it and felt those loathsome waves of miserable hopeless doubt flooding over me, all merciless and seemingly endless.  It was a horrible, desolate feeling.

I had a really hard time in my childhood coping with inevitability.  I won’t say I’m over it – far from it, clearly, as my other posts sometimes attest.  But I’m over seeking out salves to combat it. 

I don’t know why in my darkest hour I turned to vampires.  It didn’t make sense and it didn’t have to, and all I can say is life transpired to put them there at my worst possible existential moment.  I turned to Anne Rice’s vampires in the hope that I could construct some plausible reality in which they really, truly existed and one day I, too, could attain what they had. 

I haven’t ever felt a yearning like I did for that unreality.  It was a potent all-consuming force, it was this constant aching pressure in my chest and I couldn’t let it go.  I needed it to be real.  It was this ridiculous paradox – I built vampirism up in my mind as simultaneously impossible and pivotal.  Vampires unwisely became my sole hope for escape.  

I sat in my bed every night praying that somehow some improbable telepathic something would hear my distress call and save me from myself and my inescapable fate.  Every single night I stared up at my ceiling, mind tumbling in frantic circles trying to convince myself it could be real, I could have it, I could choose not to die if I wanted to.  Night after night I drifted off to fitful sleep hoping against hope that my miracle would come and I wouldn’t have to wake to see another dawn.

The desert was the cruelest possible place for me to go through this.  Three hundred and sixty days a year I woke up to bright, beaming sunshine streaming through the blinds on my window.  Three hundred and sixty agonizing morning revelations a year, and another five which weren’t very much more comforting.  It was like God was laughing at me.  Some days I cried.  It was torture.  Come to think of it, I don’t know that I made it a full year doing this.  It wore me down really, really fast – that overwhelming palpable need that never, ever got fulfilled.  Not once was I rewarded with even the slightest glimmer of hope.  Obviously. 

So when I think of the rapture today and how it didn’t happen, I remember my own hopeless battle against the status quo and I feel a twinge of empathy for everyone who wanted so badly to believe in it.  I’ve been there.  And it sucks.  But, thankfully, life goes on.

15 May 2011

Thanks for the memories

My sister made me think of something the other day, about how so many events that have occurred in our histories are now housed only in our own heads and probably not even in the heads of the other people who helped execute said events in the first place.

The specific memory I conjured up to evoke this revelation was one from when I was working at Dairy Queen.  This really sweet, larger-than-life, very outgoing father brought his little girl in for a cookie dough blizzard.  And shy little miss didn’t know what size she wanted, so Dad sized up the medium cup with his hands, then put his hands up to his little girl (they spanned her entire torso) and said, “Yep, that’ll fit!  Get us a medium.” 

It was so endearingly sweet.  I don’t know if either Dad or Daughter remembers this event even occurring.  But I do.  How many interactions have I been an outside witness to, I wonder, of which I am now the only mental bearer?  Is it a lot?  How many, exactly?

I also wonder about events I’ve taken part in.  I often re-meet people who don’t recognize me.  I used to be quite bothered by this as a kid, when I knew other kids’ full names and birthdays and all sorts of things about them and they barely knew I was in a class with them the previous year.  I’ve taken to being very laissez-faire about first greetings so that later I can also be a person who doesn’t recognize people, probably because I equate this with being cool and popular. 

But events, too, I wonder about events.  Like the time I answered a question correctly in my sixth-grade math class and had to come up to the front to get a piece of candy (yes, they were still rewarding eleven-year-olds with candy in our wildly underachieving school system) and this boy I perpetually wanted to impress (but not in a romantic way because I didn’t know what that meant yet in sixth grade) put his hand out for a high-five, and I slapped his hand and he said, “No, I wanted your candy,” and I was absolutely mortified in his presence for the rest of the school year.  I wonder if he remembers that.

Hey, you know what I just realized?  I don’t remember that kid’s first name!  Score one for me!

I think about these kinds of things all the time – events and memories and what they all mean – and I have all sorts of questions for God about them, and I hope that someday I get to find out the answers.  You know you are a pedant when your idea of Heaven is God sitting you down and promising to stay with you as long as you require to have all your questions about your life answered, like how many breakfasts you ended up eating or whether that boy ever thought of you again or when was the exact moment you first saw a panther.  Is this too much to ask?

04 May 2011

Airlines suck

Sorry I haven’t been writing.  I had a very busy business trip and just could not find the time.  It was a two-night trip and therefore I have had a lot of concentrated air travel.  Yes, this is going to be a how-much-I-hate-airlines post.  No, I’m saying nothing new.  Yes, it’s still important for me to rant.

I’ve been especially annoyed by this in light of the whole recent Bin Laden thing.  I won’t aggravate you with my rant about that, too, for now.  I will just say that when people speculate about whether this will change our air travel rules… I’m dumbfounded.  I have no words.  Actually, okay I do have a word: Seriously?  You really think the assassination of one guy is going to miraculously reverse all the not-remotely-security-related changes our airlines have made solely for their own benefit?  The things I HATE about air travel have nothing to do with the safety regulations.  They have to do with prices and planning, and those are nothing but profit-making endeavors snuck in while other changes had to be made.

Here’s how much I spent for one round-trip ticket across the country, one stop each way: $410.80

Here’s what I got for that money:
-        One 5:55 AM departure
-        One scramble to find small fluid containers I could empty of their contents so I could carry my bag on the plane and still bring my face lotion with me
-        Two (declined) offers to be able to check my bags rather than carry them on, for a modest additional fee
-        Two (declined) offers to upgrade my seat forward just to the front of the same coach class area I thought I already paid for, for only $29.99
-        Multiple (declined) offers to pay a few hundred dollars to upgrade to a higher-class seat on each of my planes
-        One one-hour stall on Arizona tarmac while DFW dealt with some rain
-        One one-hour heavily air-conditioned exercise in hypothermia
-        One missed flight in Dallas
-        One realization that ten people missed our flights because the airline (which I should name but am too nice to) could not hold the second plane which sat two gates away from our arrival gate for five whole extra minutes
-        Four hours’ worth of quality layover in Dallas
-        Two leisurely 40-minute waits in standby lists for later flights
-        Many fruitless searches for a free outlet in DFW
-        One 10-minute opportunity to quickly attempt all the work I’d been planning to accomplish en route
-        One (declined) offer to spend additional money on wifi access, also needed to accomplish all my work
-        One wait at the baggage claim after the final standby flight was “too full” (no it wasn’t) to accommodate my second carry-on which, as I mentioned, was meticulously and arduously packed with the sole purpose of avoiding having to wait at the baggage claim
-        One missed free-alcohol conference reception
-        One half-hour wait on Florida tarmac while a survival kit (…?) was being replaced
-        One mad group dash through DFW to make a 20-minute connection (which I have to admit was actually kind of fun – there were seven of us all racing through the airport)
-        One in-flight movie
-        Three in-flight TV shows
-        Two armrest headphone jacks with a loud ringing buzz
-        Two window seats, one middle seat and one aisle seat
-        One cup of orange juice, one can of apple cranberry juice, one can of ginger ale and one can of Sprite Zero (also please note the persistent lack of caffeine in all beverages – I’m still keeping it up!)
-        ZERO food.  Not even a package of peanuts.  Not kidding.

I’m a product of the 80’s and 90’s.  I did not experience the true glory days of American air travel.  But even the 90’s were less ridiculously pathetic than this.  I get absolutely nothing at all for my WAY overpriced ticket except the apparently remote possibility that my airline gets me to my destination in the time they quoted me when I bought the ticket.  I get the reassurance that somehow, some way, as long as I’m not on any Do Not Fly lists and arrive at least an hour before my flight and follow all the myriad rules and directions with minimal griping, my airline will do its best to get me home in a few days and will make no effort to reimburse me in even the smallest way when they inevitably f**k it up.  No one will even attempt a simple “sorry” for all my world of troubles brought on by the airline’s collective incompetence.  This is disgusting and the entire state of the airline system makes me hate capitalism and government and business and terrorists and all of everything in the whole world that creates this state of affairs.  Even the best airlines suck.  Airlines are the sum of what’s wrong with the world.  I’m just thankful I don’t have to fly again for a while.