Poder Súper

If I found a magic lamp and a genie came out to grant me one wish, I’d wish for the superpower of language. I want to be able to communicate in every human language ever uttered, to be able to teach and convince and sway with the power of my words.

That genie, though, being a pernicious bastard, will certainly grant me my wish. But instead of being a force for diplomacy and change in the world, people would only seek me out so I can give them the translation to “La Bamba”. Then they’ll look up other translations and tell me I’m wrong.

Soothsayer

Eventually, we have to start believing our own bullshit if we are going to survive in the world. The soul that’s constantly wracked by self doubt will slowly fall behind and lose its place in the fray. Can’t just stand there gagging on everything coming out of our mouths, gaging each statement for veracity, tenacity, and moral turpitude, or we will spin down into a standstill, paralyzed, paranoid, and lethargic, never really sure that what we think and know is correct enough to join the conversation.

I don’t mean the big picture truths, the major moral questions of our society. I mean the assumptions we have about ourselves, our lives, the things we learn and the truths we deduce and synthesize from smaller fragments; the stuff we talk about over coffee, the bits of chatter in the cubicles, the water cooler talk. We make jokes about know-it-alls, but to some extent, they have it right — they’re sure of things and are unconcerned with being wrong, and when they are corrected, they either learn or they double-down. The happy medium is always somewhere in the middle.

I write this more to myself than to you, but if I can say it with enough conviction, if I can believe it, then maybe you can believe it, too.

All the Ladies

So, in the renewed spirit of gender equality with the recent progresses made by the #metoo movement, I’m trying to figure out the most appropriate thing to say when addressing a group of women.

See, last week I was getting a haircut; the staff on shift was all women. My stylist laid a hot towel on my neck and instantly I caught myself before I blurted out, “Oh, I forgot you guys did that.” Instead, I edited myself to be more true, but what actually came out was “Oh, I forgot you folks did that.” She guffawed at my use of the word “folks” because who the hell actually uses that word non-ironically?

So my question: is it okay to use “gals” instead of “guys”? My problem is that “Guys” is masculine and not gender-neutral. “Gals” is condescending. “Y’all” or “Folks” or “You” is too provincial. Is it okay to use “ladies” or “gals” or “women” when addressing a group of women? Is that a safe thing to do? Or should I just buck up and say what I feel is right anyway and take my lumps?

I know the romance/latin languages use the masculine pronouns and conjugations even in gender-neutral or mixed-gender contexts. Is that still appropriate here in English? I just don’t feel right walking up to a counter and greeting the women there with “Hey guys, what’s up?” You know? What gives?

Embers

Moral ideologies do no service to creativity; they stand on its tail, keeping it from reaching above the table, keeping it below the roof, housing it inside to hide it from the world.

Abandon logic, destroy self, consider chaos as a tool to release Creation. The missing piece of the dream is motion. Motion begets creation. Direction doesn’t matter. Move, move your ass. Get out of stasis. Loose the chains and set yourself free.

You can be more than your life’s lessons. Those voices from the past are not with you now; they don’t give a damn about your future. They only give a damn about their own present, about convincing you they are right. Let them go. Your energy is no longer theirs; it’s yours.

Be bigger than that.

Surplus

Was just thinking about a guy I went to high school with. Boyd. He was a cool cat; we had mechanical drawing class together. Anyway, he was into model aircraft as a hobby. I was into model railroad. We bonded for a short few years, satellites to each other’s planet.

Funny that I remember him by full name almost 30 years later. But whatever; hope he’s doing well.

Got me thinking about my chosen hobbies. Strange, but it seems I’ve gravitated to the exact same sorts of hobbies that didn’t exist until the post-war period after 1945. Model railroads. Model planes. Ham radio. Home electronics. Hi-fi stereos. Electronic music.

Really, these are all a product of the post-war suburban ethic, that part of American culture, that part of the American landscape, that’s only made possible by a life of planned stability, of suburbs and highways and open space. That dream of owning a piece of God’s green earth, of being part of a community, of having enough free resources to dispose of that we’re allowed the luxury of committing ourselves and our talents to things that aren’t immediately necessary for survival.

I can eat just fine without a radio. I can get around OK without building my own engine.

This is all part of the American Dream, strange as it sounds. I like radio for the engineering aspect, for the technical problems, for the creative solutions, for the edification that comes from learning so much about physical laws. But I understand my privilege: I have enough disposable income to throw at these pursuits. I have enough free time to dedicate to it. I have enough time to craft it, build it, use it, enjoy it, share it, talk about it, and go to meetings about it.

Really, it’s the modern equivalent of pruning bonsai trees; it’s the human hope that we have enough, make enough, own enough, and aren’t too hungry and infirm that we can spend a few hours a week to trimming a few leaves and keeping a fruit-bearing tree so small that it doesn’t bear fruit, and we don’t starve because of it.

That, that right there, is the post-war American dream. The stuff that so many of the books that I checked out of my junior-high library showed to me. That I can have a life where I can do things that aren’t necessary for survival, that aren’t crucial to the continued existence of myself and those around me, that are fun. Fun! That’s the Dream.

I think it’s in that vast, breathless hope, that I enjoy my hobbies. And now, in repose, I understand why I do this.

Know your causes.