Friday, December 21, 2012

It's time to get the pole out of the crawlspace!

No, that title is not a euphemism.  Although I suppose it could be... Uh, let's not even speculate.

It is, rather, one of the traditions of that grand and most under-celebrated holiday of all: A Festivus for the rest of us!

Tonight is my annual Festivus At Bone's party/gathering/communal dinner/spontaneous relationship intervention.  What, you thought surely I wouldn't still be celebrating a fake holiday from an episode of a TV show that aired fifteen years ago?

Well, you thoroughly underestimated me.  Or is it overestimated?

This will be the ninth year for me to host a Festivus celebration.  Or eighth, I'm not entirely sure.  It really doesn't matter, for as you'll see in a moment I've taken the liberty of tabbing this the "umpteenth" one anyway.

What?  History gets rewritten as time passes.  You think George Washington was really the first President?  He was probably like the third or something and the other two guys just had bad PR.

By the time I'm done I figure this story will have morphed into me being the inventor of Festivus, who served as a consultant for the episode on Seinfeld to ensure the integrity of the holiday was not compromised, in the process becoming a comic hero of Larry David and someone he secretly considered funnier than himself... and who was romantically linked at various times in my life to Sandra Bullock, Kate Beckinsale, and possibly John Cusack.  (What? We were in Serendipity together.  I was having confusing feelings.)

But for now, I'll have to settle for being known as the guy hung up on some TV show from the '90s who held Festivus gatherings for entirely too many years in a row.  Or in other words, the guy who saved Festivus.

As a special treat to you this holiday season, I now present this year's official Festivus Evite (sent out earlier this week so as to discourage :

Bone's Umpteenth Annual Festivus
Host: Bone
When: Friday, December 21, at 6:30 PM
Where: Bone's Humble Abode (That's abode, not adobe. Although adobe would be kinda cool.) 
Address redacted so as to discourage paparazzi.

You are one of the few souls who have been generously invited to Bone's Umpteenth Annual "Festivus For The Rest Of Us."  I mean, think about it: Our of nearly 7 billion people in the world, you're one of 15 or 20 (but probably closer to 15) who have been selected.  The chosen few.  You have better odds of winning the lottery than being invited to Festivus!  And the lottery would probably be a LOT more fun. 

Nevertheless, come one, come several.  I don't know if there'll be snow, but there'll be pizza.  And probably several little kids.  (Did that sound weird?  Probably should take that part out.) 

We'll gather round the Festivus (read: coffee) table to watch the Seinfeld Festivus episode.  That'll be followed by the always contentious, yet lengthy Airing Of Grievances, then the singing of "Silver Pole."  And of course, the night will wind down with the Feats Of Strength, which this year will consist of someone trying to beat Bone at Words With Friends.  (Nearly impossible.)  Or someone trying to win an arm wrestling match with Lil' Booty.  (Less impossible.)  Or most likely, a game of Taboo.

And who knows, if the Mayans are correct, the world might actually end DURING Festivus.  Talk about a Festivus miracle!

Who wants to have some fun?

Reply options:
I wanna have some fun! (Yes)
Lalalaaaaa... I don't knoooooow. (Maybe)
I'm outta the contest!  (No)

As always, you are all invited.  Evite asks you to set a limit on the number of guests, so I put 400.  I figure that keeps anyone from feeling excluded while at the same time sufficiently violating the fire code.

And I'm still open to doing an online Airing Of Grievances this weekend if anyone is up for it.  Renee?  Ed Abbey?  Anyone???............  Uncle Leo?

As for tonight, if the world were to end mid-Festivus, I'm not sure if that would make this the best Festivus ever, or the worst.  Hmm.  I'll get back to you on that.

Or, I won't.  You know, if...  well, obviously.

"Then it's time for Feats of Strength / It's Frank Costanza's big scene / Festivus won't be o'er 'til someone's pinned / 'Neath the silver pole / Silver pole / It's Festivus in the city..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


There are no words.  And yet here I sit trying to come up with some.  The heartsickness, pain, anger, and utter disgust I have felt cannot be described, for they have never been felt before, not to this degree.  Wordsmiths surely never thought they'd have to come up with words for something such as this.

Every child I see reminds me of these twenty.  These who will never see their hopes realized, who never even got to dream their dreams, much less set out to chase them.

I find myself staring at their pictures and sobbing, apologizing that we failed them horribly.  Because that is how I feel.  I agree with the President.  We let those precious children down.  And it must not happen again.  Not without us doing everything within our power to prevent it.

Some will say you can never stop that kind of violence.  And while that is true, does that mean we simply accept it and do nothing?  And why does it keep happening so much more frequently here?

Have you seen the statistics?  America, by far, has the highest number of gun-related deaths per capita among developed nations -- 36 TIMES MORE than Australia, France, England, and Israel.

How does one reconcile that?  Surely reasonable people can agree it's not simply some bizarre coincidence.  And yet even as I type that I know that for many the answer will only be to buy more guns.  It never ends.

Somewhere along the way we have gone horribly off track.  We have cultivated such a culture of guns and violence.  And I never thought I'd be the one saying this -- heaven knows I've watched more than my share of Forensic Files, NCIS, and Law & Order -- but you can't discount the effect of the violent nature of so many movies, TV shows, and video games.

Are you gonna tell me this kid sat and came up with this plan having watched nothing but sports and I Love Lucy reruns on TV?

And now reality shows basically glorify these people who are "prepping" for some sort of doomsday by stockpiling all kinds of guns.  I hope to God the people on these shows are the very fanatical fringe of our society, but I'm not so sure anymore. 

Why on Earth does a United States civilian need a machine gun?  It's a rhetorical question.  Nothing anyone could ever say will convince me they do.  To protect against your government attacking you?  I've got news for you, if the government sets its mind to attack you, no amount of firearms you can amass is going to protect you (see Ruby Ridge, Waco, etc.).

And I know the mental health aspect of it is a part of the problem, too. The lack of funding.  My friend, Pia, has complained (rightly) about this for years.  We had a large mental health facility near here which closed its doors several years ago, and it sure wasn't for lack of patients.  What happened to those people?  I believe addressing this must be a part of the solution, as well. 

We are so obsessed with what is going on in the four corners of the world, yet we can't protect our own innocent, precious, dependent-on-us-for-everything children. 

Meanwhile, there have been 86 deadly school shootings in the United States in the past twenty years.  Did that number stagger you?  Because it sure did me.  It's gotten to the point where if only 2 or 3 people die in them, I feel like they barely register anymore on a national scale.

Do we just accept that this is the status quo now?  That this is how things are going to be and we can't do anything about it?  Is this just the price of freedom?

You can answer for yourself.  For me, the answer is no.  A million times, no.  It's not a political issue to me.  It's a moral issue.  A matter of life and death.

As long as this world lasts, there will always be evil in it.  No law or restriction or increased security or amount of mental health funding will completely put an end to it.  Maybe we won't make all the right decisions.  Maybe we'll go too far at first.  But if taking certain measures can reduce the number of these tragedies -- by half, or more, or any at all -- aren't we obligated to at least try?

All of this is coming from me --  a self-admitted poster child for apathy, not wanting to discuss politics, and not feeling like anything I could do would matter anyway.  Me, who just wrote not that long ago on this very blog about why must we bring up politics and issues so quickly after a tragedy, why can't we just mourn.

Well I was wrong.

Change must happen now, while the images of these slaughtered little ones are piercing our hearts and fresh in our minds.

"Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching and turn on I Love Lucy reruns?"

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Are you down with HSP?

Contributing to my recent two fortnight absence was Hurricane Sandy.  Though it was nowhere near here, immediately my geoblography kicked in and I began to worry and wonder about my blog friends.  There was Cooper in Maryland, Sherri in Virginia, Lucy in New York, Brooke in New Jersey, and Carnealian, Actonbell, and Susan in Pennsylvania.  (If this isn't where you live, just go with it.  It's where you live in my mind.)

Through blogs, Twitter, and my most common method of communicating -- the playing of Words With Friends moves -- within two or three days, I learned everyone was OK.

But the footage of those who hadn't been so fortunate wouldn't leave me.  I felt like "how can I post when so many are suffering, displaced, have no power, have lost property, pets, and loved ones?"  Who wants to read about the delicious remoulade I made last week or how ear hair maintenance has become a daily chore for me when something that devastating is going on.

Then I think that I let things like this affect me way too much.  Immediately that is followed by a rebuttal, "but how can I not?"

It was during this line of thinking when I remembered an article my blog friend Sherri (in Virginia, or Maryland, or some adjacent state) had linked to awhile back.  It was a Psychology Today article on Highly Sensitive Persons.

I remember thinking at the time that it fit me pretty well.  So I went back and reread it and was even more convinced: I am an HSP.

It's an excellent article and there is so much I want to share from it.  For the sake of time and space, I'll refrain.  But if there were only one line I could pull out of the article it would be this one:  ""It's like feeling something with 50 fingers as opposed to 10."

As with any diagnosis or grouping of people, not every characteristic in the article applied to me.  I don't walk around on the verge of tears at any moment.  But while reading, I definitely found myself saying "Yes!" and "That's me!" much more so than not.

I hear the slightest noises in the night, noises that would even register with most people.   For years, I slept with the TV on at a low drone so other noises wouldn't keep me awake.  Recently, I started sleeping with ear plugs.

I'm super-sensitive to smells -- perfumes and lotions and colognes -- to the point that a girl has had to stop wearing a certain kind of body lotion (Marshmallow Fluff, blech!) because it bothered me so much.

At the dentist, I've always required two or three times the amount of Novocaine as a normal patient.  I've even joked that it wasn't a low threshold for pain, but rather a superhero-like sensitivity to stimuli.  Never did I dream that might actually be the case.  Along the same lines, pain pills never seem to dull my senses in their prescribed dosage.

There is an amplified feeling of everything, good and bad.  It's life to the nth degree.

Even the briefest unpleasant conversation or hint of discord or strife can leave me feeling uneasy and bothered for two days.  Many times I'll have a gnawing in my stomach that something is wrong, yet I can't put my finger on what has caused it.  It leaves me to wonder if nothing happened at all or if it seemed so insignificant at the time that I can't remember it.

Of course, it's not all bad.  It works the same for life's positive emotions and sensations, too.  For example, the beauty of nature often affects me immensely.  And now that I think about it, I can recall several less-than-enthusiastic responses from others when I've remarked at how gorgeous or awe-inspiring something is.  Although even now, it's hard for me to accept that not everyone feels and senses these things the same.

I think maybe this is a big reason why I rarely watch the news.  Maybe it's something I've done as a defense/survival mechanism.  I can't just watch the news and move on.  The stories stay with me.  My sensory volume is on fifteen, and I can't simply mute it or turn it down.  It's not that I don't care.  But I think I'd be in a continual state of depression if I watched the news every day.

I'm not sure what my point is in sharing all this, other than I've sort of learned/realized something new about myself, and also the article estimates as much as 20% of the population may be HSP's, so maybe some of you are the same way.  And if not, then certainly someone you know could be.

And if I get a little misty-eyed while watching Andre Agassi's retirement speech, Mister Holland's Opus, or Linus explaining to Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about, well now you know why:  I'm one (highly) sensitive guy.

I imagine there may be a couple of females in existence who would disagree with that last statement.  Others would (and have) encourage(d) me to delve further into my psychological, um, uniquities.

"All mornin' I'd been thinkin' my life's so hard / And they wore everything they owned, livin' in a car / I wanted to tell them it would be OK / But I got just got in my Suburban and I drove away..."