The sensitive goat

Monday, August 3, 2009

It’s another warm day. The heat is passing as the early evenings cool quickly and the unbearable becomes merely uncomfortable and then rather pleasant.

When I am on television I pretend that I’m sensitive. I’m not really on television (although I have a childhood friend who is). My sister told me she read my musings and found me sensitive. She was disappointed that I use sensitivity in a derogatory sense. After looking up “derogative” I assured her I did no such thing. I explained that however great she believes sensitivity is in a guy, there is a reason most men are not sensitive: it leaves us wide open for all sorts of attacks. And as we all know men have a low threshold for pain.

Doolies sat on the couch with me. We’re in her parents’ house for dinner. They’re in town for a couple more days, along with her sister who arrived today (although Jennifer stayed in New York). I turned the screen around so Doolies can’t see what I’m typing. It turns out I can’t see it either. I’m ashamed of words as I type them but I want people to read them. When I was younger I used to write and leave my words on my desk or in obvious places so my mother would find them. I wanted her to read them but I didn’t want to give them to her. It’s a little known fact that bad poetry reads better when it is stumbled upon rather than presented.

Doolies’s gone now. She’s off to help her parents cook and I can turn the screen around. It’s facing me and I can see what I’m typing. It’s better that way. There’s always the risk that if I type without looking it won’t record the words. That’s a horrible thought: spending time writing words that aren’t recorded. It shouldn’t be so terrible.

I went through a bit of a Jewish phase this past year. The hardest part for me with Judaism (or any religion for that matter) is the praying. I don’t understand it and it doesn’t do anything for me. I did have an interesting realization on this last go around, however. I realized that praying was like writing without recording. When I started the prayer exercise (my experimentation lasted a couple of months), I would fret that I was saying all of these interesting things without recording them. I worried that I would run out of words and some of my best works would be whispered to a being that I wasn’t even sure existed.

It took me a while to accept that I could enjoy speaking without writing. It was freeing to think and speak without worrying about how the ideas would look once recorded. An important part of copyright law is that the material must be placed in a fixed medium to be protectable. Once you fix your work you own the copyright in that work. If you just share words but don’t place them in a fixed medium, then you do not have a copyright in that work. In other words you do not own those words. Praying felt the same way for me at first: the words that I spoke in silence (in Jewish prayer, you actually speak the words loud enough so only you can hear them) were not mine. I had no way to recover them. It was frightening at first before becoming strangely freeing. I could think and say and then pray without ego. The ego cares only about the ownership. It doesn’t care about words that nobody else hears.

I did get off the prayer boat. I think it happened when we got the dogs. Something in my morning routine had to break and it was the twenty minutes I spent trying to pronounce the Hebrew words. I miss it sometimes but not enough to start the habit again. Maybe when I’m older or when I figure out what it means to me. Or perhaps not. I’m relatively happy—as happy as someone prone to blues and depression and mighty headaches can be (especially since I limited the time I play video games alone). I worry that prayer may change this balance.

I sent this NY Times article to a couple of people who are having trouble in their marriages (via kottke). I don’t know what it is about mid-life crisis in men, but I can’t wait to have one. It’ll probably involve a motorcycle and a deep and heart-felt depression. You can reserve your tickets at the counter. I figure once I’m wearing my chaps and letting what’s left of my hair grow long, Doolies can refer to the article to get through the period. That and take plenty of Wellbutrin.

There are two small dogs barking in the backyard behind the house. They sound like our dogs only they’re not. Unlike children, it turns out that barking dogs are annoying regardless of whose dogs they are. (I hear that you don’t mind crying children if they’re yours. While I will reserve judgment, I find it a bit incredulous.) We surrounded our house with an invisible fence, and our dogs bark when they see a neighbor or person nearby. Their barks cross the sanity mark when they see another dog. They’re relatively quiet dogs, but my guess is they think of our Villa as their home and they bark to defend it from intruders. It works especially well against mean UPS deliverymen (although the nice one always brings them treats). It turns out liking a dog has nothing to do with having a tolerance for its barking. Barking dogs are annoying. No two ways around it.

At dinner Doolies’s family shared stories of raising gerbils in their old house in Dallas. At first this was a consensual arrangement. That is until they found out the hard way that the two male gerbils were in fact a female and a male. There were tiny gerbils everywhere and one cold evening their housekeeper let the gerbils out. I’m sure she had good and valid reasons for this action, and soon the gerbils took over the house. Doolies’s sister claims that the gerbils somehow mutated by breeding with the rat population to form a gerbil/rat hybrid. I imagine it looked something like a large puff ball with a particularly pointy nose and ruddy eyes. They chased Doolies’s family out of their house. Literally. They ended up trading their Gerbil-infested house for a new one. The mutant nest was located under the refrigerator, but to keep my PG rating, I’ll spare you the gory battles that followed.

It’s almost time to head home. It is cool outside and I expect sleep will come quickly after our big dinner. Until next time.