Archive for September, 2008

growing up is not easy

September 29, 2008

Friday was a tough day.  Not for me, I got to leave work early for an employee event where we had some food, then went to a bowling alley for goofiness.  I’m not much into the work social scene in spite of the fact that I pilfered two work friends to play in my current band and ask work associates to come see us play.  It may be two faced, but I tend to look at it as two sided which makes it feel better.  By the way, my strike that I bowled left handed I credit to my drumming.  You learn to do things with both hands (don’t think too hard about that) and your feet.  I laugh when my son picks up things with his feet and looks at me waiting for a “good job” which I say since that’s what I do.  Hey, it beats bending over to get that sock, pen, piece of paper, small rodent, etc. off the floor.

No Friday was tough for my daughter.  Her school only does half day kindergarten (why can I never feel confident spelling that word) and some days she comes home, some days she goes to day care.  It seems she was on the wrong bus and come home that day.  Thankfully our school system has fantastic bus drivers who know what they are doing and care about the kids so when no one was there to greet the bus, she was taken back to school.  (Today was the first day I got her off that bus and the driver asked her if I was her father.  I thought that was fantastic.)  She got on another bus which took her to her correct spot and then the phone calls started.  In the end, the center got three calls, one from the school, one from my wife and one from me.  Apparently she has quite a following.

But that’s not why growing up is not easy.  Somewhere along the line, she left her jacket on the bus.  Of course she didn’t realize this until I picked her up.  Then the face went through the stages from happy to be heading home to realizing the jacket was missing to panic that it was left on the bus to tears that it was gone forever.  Fun parenting time: do you sympathise and say right away that you’ll do everything in your power to hunt down the jacket and get it back or do you say, “tough luck kid, you win some, you lose some”?  Okay, I’m a bit cold some times, but not that bad.  I said I would check with the buses Monday and if we couldn’t find the jacket, we would just buy a new one.  “But I love that one, it was my coat” lip quivering, eyes tearing (hers, not mine, rule 3 of the father application is to remain stoic and non emotional in times of crisis) and she looked at the sky obviously working some quick lyrics in her head.  (This kid comes up with songs at the drop of a hat, usually when she feels she’s been “done wrong” for example “why does this always happen to me, why must things always just be, how come I’m here sitting in my room, when I could be using a broom”)

This morning the detective work started with a call to the bus garage.  The dispatcher radioed all three buses to check if they had a missing coat from Friday (again, maybe I’m way out of the loop, but is that cool or what?).  The answer was no (okay not that cool).  A note to the teacher came back with a “nothing in the lost and found” answer.  So now we’re out a jacket.  Sad?  Yes.  End of the world?  Not really, after all have you seen the economy lately?  Which brings me to my point.  Can we afford to bail out a 5 year old for leaving her jacket on the bus?  Are the tax payers willing to fund another mistake?  Haven’t we had enough of these 5 year old fat cats leaving things on the bus so that we, the tax payers have to buy them new things while the “lost and found” committee keeps all those forgotten garments to craft some sort of fleece parachute by somehow connecting all the zippers and adding lines and a harness?  When will we say enough is enough? 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Dora the Explorer is on and I never miss an episode.  Swiper No Swiping!!!

A very strange visit

September 27, 2008

Mother X (I cannot use her name without her permission according to her website) visited Rochester this past Monday for a Darshan which took place at the Hindu temple.  Within this silent ceremony each person kneels before her, she touches your head which is bowed, and then when she picks your head up she looks into your eyes.  When she looks away, that is the signal to get up and go.  There is a certain beauty and grace in ritual.  I have seen communion performed with reverence.  I have watched meditation led with a respect for those in the audience.  These things are known to give off a positive energy that is both encouraging and uplifting.  The unfortunate thing is that sometimes that potential of energy can be completely ruined by supporting cast members. 

 Whether you believe that gaining light or enlightenment from 4 seconds of staring into someone’s eyes is possible is irrelevant to this conversation.  For the record, I followed through with the ritual and took my place on stage when ordered.  That I will get to later.  What struck us was the aggressive crowd control tactics of the organizers.  Now, I should point out that most of the organizers were very nice, but I think a few acting on behalf of the Mother, were a bit over the top.  By the end of the 2 and a half hour ordeal, I had dubbed them the kneel police.  (I’m sorry, you are not kneeling correctly, you need to be lower.  I don’t care if you weigh 400 pounds, have no idea if you still have ankles and have not seen your feet in 10 years, you need to get lower.)  A friend of ours is in a wheel chair.  He is paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a motorcycle accident.  The guy is nice, has a great attitude, is friendly and has an upbeat demeanor.  So when he asked politely before the event started how he could get on stage, I was surprised by the response.  “No”  What?  No?  To someone in a wheel chair?  Okay, it gets better.  The answerer of the question says, “Can you walk?”  Now my response would have been something like this:  “Actually, yes, yes I can.  In fact, I’m an exotic dancer but I feel this chair helps me pick up chicks better.”  Our friend is a better man than that.  He smiled and said, “no, I can’t.”  “Well then, I’m sorry, you can’t go, that’s just the way it is.”  Ah, but not to worry, we were going to get a room blessing at the end so you’ll be included.  Well, fan-frickin’-tastic. 

 This “handler” took over my thinking from that moment forward, I started watching him.  They announced no cameras as he was setting up a video camera and snapping pictures with not one, but two digital cameras.  I asked my wife if we had signed a waiver to be included in promotional photos and fought the urge to do that fun thing where you hold your head in your hands, but are extending a middle finger…I know, some people bring out the inner child.  Then he’s walking around adjusting the air conditioner.  All during the darshan when we are supposed to be silent and still.  Of course, by that point, I was so distracted and frustrated that the meditating I was supposed to be doing had gone out the window.  I started timing each interaction.  There was an average of 25 seconds per person from the time one person got up from in front of mother to the time the next one did.  She “interacted” with each (hands on their head, then looking into their eyes) for an average of 15 seconds.  It was clock work.  That also put a rather strange feeling over the proceedings.  I had attended another event a few years ago where each audience member approached the featured guest who hugged each person and whispered in their ear.  Some were with her for a few seconds, others for almost a minute.  Everyone seemed to feel a great energy in the room and felt touched by the presence.  Not so at this event this past week.  When it was my turn, I knelt in the queue taking care to be low enough so as not to incur the wrath of the kneel police (why does the song Dream Police run through my head when I write that, was that really a song?).  As we approached the stage I was thinking about the people sitting in their chairs on either side.  While we were the very last row to go, these were people who had gone first and experienced whatever I was going to experience and had to sit in these uncomfortable chairs for the rest of the darshan.  So they were either enjoying the energy from their time with the mother, or were sitting there going “that’s it?” for the next two hours. 

Still moving toward the stage, I noticed my wife had some very clean socks on.  That wasn’t unusual, but it just shows you my mind was not focusing on whatever it was supposed to be focused on.  I was thinking more about one of the rules I saw on the rule sheet placed on everyone’s chair.  “If you cough, sneeze or cry, leave for the lobby–come back later when you’re ready.”  Thanks, I forgot what it was like to be 5…  Finally I reached the stage, Mother X was sitting in her chair (note rule #16 “Don’t put anything on Mother’s chair!”) on the left side and one of the kneel police (queue song) on the right.  I was next in line to go and looked down on the stage.  There was a rug under the chair and draped over the front of the stage.  Holding this rug in place was Duct tape.  Yes, Duct tape.  On the tape were the letter S T O P.  Really.  That was just registering in my head when it was suddenly my turn.  I moved in front of her, bowed my head and felt her hands on either side.  She lifted my head and I looked into her eyes.  Here were the thoughts that went through my brain during those 4 seconds.  “Wow, her right eye is really brown, I’d better look at the left on too.  Yep, that one is really brown as well.”  Then she dropped her gaze and I was done. 

When everyone was done, she stood in silence, we all stood.  Then she walked down the aisle (incidentally, directly by my friend in his wheelchair who didn’t rate so much as a second glance) and disappeared out the back.  The lobby had a donation box, books, pictures, incense, and other fun things I’m sure that we could purchase.  Our group stood for a while looking at each other.  I think everyone was waiting for someone to say something.  “Okay, anyone up for a beer?”  That broke up the semi-trance as we all one by one expressed our disappointment and frustration with the event. 

So, what did we learn?  It is still good to try new things, and be open to the beliefs of others.  Every one is looking for some sort of inner peace I guess, but it sure is easier to find it when you don’t have some tall goof tapping you on the shoulder “excuse me, you need to have your knees at an 85 degree angle and point your toes in for this stage of the kneel.  thank you.”  Keep in mind Rule 11 on the sheet:  “Please follow instructions, though we may be strict or rough at times.  Thank you.”  Oh, and one more, rule 8:  “Only one Darshan per day!”  No problem, how about only one per lifetime.  Thank you very much.

Why the headphones?

September 4, 2008

I observe too many things I think.  Constantly looking around while I’m walking through the halls, down the street, riding my bike, driving, watching TV.  This way I pick out things that I may not have noticed, or find peculiar.  It also fills me full of questions.  Why the headphones?  Remember when the walkman was brand new?  Okay, if you remember what a walkman was, you reember when it was new.  I had the cheap version, it took four AA batteries, had one working gear (you could play or fast forward) and weighed approximately 25 pounds (slight exageration).  I was happy to listen to that on the bus heading to away basketball games, driving to grandma’s house, etc. when I was not in control of the radio or stereo.  AT some point, I started not liking headphones.  I think it was when I started playing in bands and my ears had a hard enough time putting up with that noise.  I never got an ipod.  That may seem strange since I do embrace technology, but I look at it like a tattoo or piercing.  If everyone has them, isn’t it sort of cool not to have one?  And you dudes who got your ear pierced and just don’t wear an earring any more don’t count.  That hole is still there like it or not.

Now, ipods are everywhere, and I don’t just mean ipods.  Really anything that can be connected to headphones.  I see headphones in the hallways, in the cafeteria, IN THE BATHROOM (which may be justified considering some of the sounds that you hear in public facilities…), on joggers, hikers, cyclists (and if I may, you are not the brightest bulbs especially when I see you with headphones and NO HELMET), and I keep waiting to see the weather guy on the TV take one ear bud out just in time for the camera to cut to them for the forecast before slipping it back in just as they are finished. 

I like music, my CD collection is enormous, I have mp3s on both PCs, and can even play a few instruments.  You know what else?  I like to hear other sounds.  I like hearing cars drive by, and birds chirping, and sticks snapping under my feet or tires when I’m on a trail.  It’s good to hear the wind, rain, conversations, thunder, laughter, even someone’s ring tone.  You may have the perfect mix on your ipod, but is it really necessary to have it going every time you get up from your desk to refill your water bottle?  Have I missed a rare disease that causes people to lose the ability to move without a soundtrack?  Maybe my brother was right, you need to look cool when you walk.  He told me to put a song in my head and stride to the beat.  Others must be taking it one step further.  Just remember, you don’t look all that cool when you’re singing as you close the stall door to do your business.