Sunday, October 2, 2016

Odds And Ends, October 2016

1) Yesterday was the first day of October, and thus, according to tradition in our house, was the day Halloween decorations went up. Even though Sabrina is not a little kid anymore, and even though we haven't gone trick-or-treating in several years, we still note Halloween, because autumn is my favorite season of the year and October is the best time of the autumn. We don't go overboard; we have a scarecrow and witch, some figures, a few lights, a windchime, and a calendar that my mother, who has done this sort of craft stuff for the length of my life, made for us many years ago. It doesn't take a long time to put them up, maybe twenty-minutes.
But it brings me back many years. It's been easy to forget the last few years about the era when Sabrina was a little kid. But some of the best experiences of my life were the nights we went trick-or-treating on the South Side, when we lived there, and the first trips to the pumpkin farm, and the first time at the haunted house. I'm not much for the scary parts of life, but this sort of stuff is more or less harmless, I believe. And it is, even more than Christmas, a kid's holiday. Without children, no one would even observe Halloween. And even though she is an almost-adult teenager now (she took the SATs this morning), looking at the various knick-knacks and decorations reminds of a time when getting a full bag of candy that didn't include Zagnuts and Baby Ruth was about the most important thing in our lives.
2) I did something I haven't done in a couple of months today. There is a Price Chopper three blocks from my house, and I do the majority of my grocery shopping there. I used to go to Wegman's fairly regularly, in the years after the Giant changed over to Weis, but I've gotten out of the habit in the last year or so, only going infrequently. Part of the reason is that it's in Johnson City, and that obviously isn't as convenient as three blocks away. Part of the reason is that Wegman's held the line on prices for a few years, but in the last year or so, the bargain has almost entirely vanished from its shelves and departments. Price Chopper can be expensive, but usually there are so many items on special that shopping there doesn't break you.
But I needed cold cuts today, and Price Chopper, whatever their merits and improvements in other areas, can't touch Wegman's deli. I've started drinking tea again, after a hiatus of a few months, and Wegman's also has a much better (and cheaper) tea and coffee aisle than Price Chopper does, too, and so I drove over to Wegman's this afternoon. And remembered the biggest reason of all I stopped going there regularly within a minute of entering; it's because the average age of the average Wegman's shopper is "deceased." I have never seen such a collection of people that move so slowly in my life; everyone in there shops and walks around like they are on Quaaludes or something. And since most of them are retired IBM workers, I am sure they didn't move too quickly when they were younger... but as slow as they are, it's the sense of entitlement that gets to me. At the deli counter, there is invariably a complete, total pain in the ass person ordering. They are excruciatingly specific, and often are ordering three or four fricking slices, instead of by weight, and inspect their orders and the people preparing the order like a coroner at an autopsy. And elsewhere in the store, you are guaranteed to run into, in almost every aisle, some dessicated relic of the 1970's blocking the aisle with their cart, squinting up at the label on some item and haranguing the poor bastard/bitch that is trailing them like an broken mule with some inane observation that is being expounded like a passage from the Book of Revelation. And there is inevitably someone in the checkout line that, even though they've gone there every week for 25 years, doesn't have their Shoppers Club card out, or complains that one item rang out for 22 cents more than they thought, and they have to summon some poor teenage stocker to go back and check the price. And at least once during the shopping experience, there is someone that stops directly in front of you for no reason at all, staring straight ahead like catatonia has suddenly seized them--and then when you go to move around them, they suddenly spring back to animated life and give you a dirty look or mutter their breath at your impatience. I'll say this for Price Chopper; you never feel like you've stumbled into an episode of "Walking Dead" when you shop there.
3) I've been going to a lot of meetings recently, and I've been in real good space regarding them for a number of reasons. But nonetheless, there are a couple of issues, that tend to be cyclical, that are starting to crop up frequently. One of them is crosstalking---the side conversations that certain members in the room engage in while the rest of the meeting is going on. It would be one thing if the people engaging in them were whispering--but they don't. It would be another thing if they exchanged a few sentences and then fell silent--but they don't. And when you have four different conversations going on in a small room, like we did tonight--well, it was like trying to have a meeting in a bar for a while there. Whatever the hell you needed to say to each other--take it outside already. And the worst offenders were the chairperson and secretary--the ones that are supposed to be ensuring that the meeting runs smoothly. It's enough to make one sputter with impotent rage.
And the second recurring annoyance is the member with a grievance. There's one guy in particular that seems to believe that he ought to be the featured speaker at every meeting he attends and at every event we hold simply because he allegedly has 24 years clean. This is a guy that shares nearly every meeting that he goes to about his conflicts with, often with threats of physical confrontations, just about everybody he comes into contact with; that openly admits he's never worked past Step Three and that he doesn't have a sponsor or presently do step work; that works out of town all week every week and thus hardly is a vibrant presence in the fellowship; and whom the few people that were mesmerized by the amount of years clean who did ask him to sponsor them report that he is even angrier and less spiritual in private than he is in the meetings. Oh, and did I mention that he talks every meeting he goes to, nearly always for far longer than the suggested five minutes?
There have been periods when I am in demand as a speaker, and there have been times when I haven't--and I am under no illusions during the latter periods. Frankly, if what I have to offer isn't attractive, no one wants to hear it.  I know this guy has been told the reasons why he isn't asked to speak, and he persists in believing that there is a cabal of assholes conspiring to prevent him from speaking rather than look at the mirror at the lack of a message of recovery that he carries. Clean time does not equal recovery; if the guy ever opened his Basic Text, he'd read that right in the Step One reading. The solution is actually pretty simple--if you share something positive and meaningful, instead of just the most recent in an endless series of grievances, people might want to hear more from you. Believe me, it's not  a mystery why he doesn't get asked to be a speaker to anyone else in the fellowship--and it isn't because we're all somehow part of a vast conspiracy to control the message to newcomers.
4) The first debate between Trump and Hillary was about a week ago. Trump was--well, not good. And one thing he said needs to be highlighted and refuted. For someone to openly brag about how rich he is, and then tell the world that he is "smart" for not paying taxes--well, in the time and place of the 1%, this is not smart. Even some people that loathe Hillary Clinton and were thinking about voting for this ass clown changed their minds because of that gaffe. And nothing demonstrates Trump's disdain for not only the office he seeks, but the people he is allegedly fighting on behalf of... He's not for the little guy, or the big guy, or anybody other than himself.
Anyone that votes for this guy is a fucking idiot. And if I find out that a supposed friend of mine ends up voting for him in November, the friendship will be terminated. I'm all for free speech and the right to hold different beliefs--but there are limits, and voting for a crypto-Fascist spoiled rich hypocrite who delights in bullying others and who has benefitted from a gamed system his entire life because he baits minorities and doesn't like immigrants proves to me you're either too fucking stupid to be trusted, or that you hold views deep in your soul that are simply morally repugnant to enough of a degree that I cannot abide your company. I'm not a fan of Clinton, either, but for Christ's sake, she's not dangerous or a not-so-latent Fascist. If you can't tell the difference between a typical annoying politician that is only ordinary-level venal and someone that is truly dangerous, then maybe you shouldn't be voting.

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