Posts Tagged ‘memoir’

March 20, 2016

Carl's Eyebrow

 Old Age

 Most of my life I have been looking for a certain place, a locale… maybe a milieu where I would be welcomed to speak and to think spontaneously, nourishing friendships that transformed  into fully realized community, rather than a plodding bus driver’s sort of life that froze awkwardly into a revolving Groundhog Day of bored greetings.

As it turned out, it was not a place I was looking for but an age.

Old age has become that place in life where in many respects, I fit.  And I enjoy it.  Not that this early idea I’d had of a friendship utopia has ever come to pass.  The completed vision itself still eludes me and may elude a final release date.  But I have made outreaches and created small settlements where the inhabitants and I are welcome and enjoy one another in a somewhat circumscribed way.  Which, as you age, suits the personality of old.  I haven’t either the energy nor the neural fortitude for any buddy trips, beer-addled nights out, nor intense philosophical inquiries nor romance.  Instead I Facebook interesting people in neatly digitalized encounters.  I meet to read and discuss poems with a regular crowd.   I enjoy activities with my wife and son, and spend a large share of time reading or writing.  I walk my dog around the neighborhood, now and then stopping to chat with a neighbor.  We all have to do a little upkeep on our homes and we discuss the ups and downs of that and exchange a bit of the very local (within a block) news.  And modern TV is a dream realized!  I can download my favorite series to watch at my pleasure, uncut by advertisers and without the interruption of unruly patrons at the theater.  Very few gripes to my life, you bet!  And it settles in every day around 3pm with a cold beer.

As for my earlier years, I re-create those early days as I make sales calls each morning in my ‘retirement’.  For this work you must be friendly, confident, keep the conversation quite direct, on track and goal-oriented, while giving the semblance of a relaxed but knowledgeable representative of a prominent, prosperous business.  You don’t waste their time with idle chatter.  You talk but listen more.  And an older voice with a bit of gravitas, a mature sense of humor and a knack or historical recollection for the right comeback is valuable.   People trust an older person more than they do a younger.   Any conversation lasting longer than 3 minutes usually goes south for me as my thoughts wander; my imagination opens its mouth.  I like having conversational fun too much.  So, all of this, plus the fact that I’m just missing many of the puzzle pieces to a successful chat makes the grit and slog of cold calling ideal.  For three minutes I’m a young Turk and in the game and I can obey life’s rules.

So currently, it’s my ‘new and improved’ youth in 3 minute stints for 3 hours a day, and then a lot of old age which is my New Age – as I’ve found old age to ‘exuberantly’suit my temperament.  Old people are rarely listened to, but I was rarely listened to when I was younger.  Besides, I’m often wrong, and this just keeps me from making a fool of myself.

Not much is required of old people.  We’re left to wander the grounds.  Old people are not required either to shine or to play at athletics.  Younger people don’t want answers or trouble from old people.  They certainly don’t expect miracles – at least, from me.  And they don’t ask where I work.  And they evidently feel they have a pretty good take on what I do by noting the grizzled chin hairs.  (Which I leave long primarily for that purpose – and because I’m lazy.)  Older people are even allowed to be eccentric or a bit silly.

Among ourselves the narrative has all been cherry picked for the best possible life’s story until we really get to know each other, and by then it doesn’t matter – either to me, or to them.  We laugh about all that.  And us older people are left alone to pursue our interests, while included by the relations.  Nobody asks me what I intend to do with my life, or if there is a special ‘somebody’?  And I can call a halt to most any conversation just by mentioning a death – and giving them the gimlet eye as I do so.

In short, when I was young I never realized that the best career I could have hoped for would to have been a has-been and to have rested on my laurels.  I’ve always loved the idea of a has-been.  To have been there!  To have accomplished!  And then, to be done with all of that.  Pure heaven!

(I feel Kevin Costner, especially, has pulled this role off very well in his movies.)

That’s how I see it.  And if I could have had my wish, it would have been to have been old sooner, while I still had all my physical abilities and mental capacity!

Unfortunately, I could never develop any laurel to rest upon.  So I’ve just had to age.

Carl working out

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From the Editor’s Perch…

May 18, 2014

Carl1 (1) Carl1 (1)Web

Erasing Yourself

 

One of the hardest things when preparing your home for sale – beyond the enormous amount of work involved – is scrubbing the place of your personality.  We like to believe we’ve added something.  It’s a very special place and first, of course, we found it.   Homeowners, before they are anything else, are like happy, ruddy-faced beachcombers returning with a ‘found object’.  Perhaps it’s a conglomerate with a bit of barnacle, aggregated gravel, some seaweed and a seagull feather stuck hard to it – all with a greenish, slippery touch that doesn’t immediately suggest itself as a paperweight.  But this is what the realtor is for – for making this connection; for painting this realization!  Because then, after finding our home, we realized its potential.  Initially, it wasn’t that paperweight you see resting on my desk today.  Oh no, no, no, no…  A lot of effort, dare I say talent for this sort of thing, and money went into creating what you just saw.  Our place, though small, is a jewel, with tremendous sparkle in a one of a kind location which should provoke a quick sale at a high price.   All we really hope is that we can find the person for it that will appreciate it properly.  And all the realtor really has to do is to show it!  We smile and nod emphatically.

 

The realtor often doesn’t quite see it as we do.  Their excitement level may not be ours.  They might make a few suggestions, besides asking open-ended questions such as, “What kind of person do you see as buying a place like this?”  ‘Well,’ we supposed, ‘individuals much like us!’   (We smile and nod emphatically again.)

Or, they might not be suggestions.  “Those cat silhouettes (hanging on the window and inner door frames) should go.   Lots of people don’t like cats.”   “That moss on the patio stones should be pressure washed away.” – “But moss is beautiful.  It’s a romantic detail that defines a patio bower and fits it within the community of the other vegetation.”  The realtor shakes their head.  “It’s moss.”   – “But I like moss.”  Deadly pause.   We walk back into the home.  “The chandelier needs to go.  And everything in the kitchen should be packed away, except maybe for two canisters and a bottle of wine.”  “No personal pictures.”  “Think empty.  Space is better.”   “And, of course, it all needs re-painting.  But I wouldn’t bother about that.  The buyer can handle that after the sale.”  “And are we far enough out that they could cut down that cedar, or what are the rules here on that? ”  He asks, staring out the picture window.    –  “Don’t cut that  cedar.”  “It’s in the view.”  – “But the view is more than some stiff scene way in the distance which could be replaced by a painting.  It’s also trees and vegetation, and things closer by, that move!”  –  “The buyer is not going to care about that.”  – “Well, you might tell him that it can get real hot here in the summer on this hillside and if he cuts down that cedar he can figure on paying about $150/month more for watering.”  –  “I’m not going to tell him that.”

 

“You don’t like moss.  You don’t like trees.  You don’t like cats.  I can’t see us bonding,”  I tell the realtor halfway through our stroll.  He doesn’t respond; just looks at me.

“But,” I continue, “I don’t suppose that doesn’t mean we can’t work together.”

“It’s not what I like, or don’t like,” the realtor explains.  “As a professional, it’s my job to tell you the things which will help you to realize a quick and profitable sale.  And what I have been mentioning are those things.”

I nod my head.  “I guess my personality isn’t  worth much.”

No one says anything, and we continue on.

In the days that pass, what I can’t stuff into a carton for transfer to our new home, I farm out like a foster child, or trash.  For quite some time it will feel like we’re living in a motel.  My office has even developed an echo.  And I’m about ready to leave.

Photo by Carl Nelson

Work, work, work… with Rita Andreeva

January 19, 2013

Editor:  And for those of you wondering about Rita:

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo...

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…

Rita Still Examining the Big Issues

“I was very happy yesterday as I ran into a porta-potty
in the park after getting off the bus. I wondered if I
could be happy if I were to be locked in this portable
toilet in the 100 degree sunshine for a day or two.
That was an interesting question, not so simple to
answer. Upon the entry into the plastic box I felt at
the height of happiness; after the immediately
pressing need was relieved, the happiness immediately
subsided, it was replaced by grattitude, then a strong
need to get the hell out of there. Isn’t it what
happiness is for most people – a strong need for
something and pain until the need is met or
eliminated, and then it a desire to get the hell out…”

Know for Speaking Her Mind

Known for Speaking Her Mind

Photos by Carl Nelson

Travelling Expenses

September 9, 2012

Editor:  Paul’s film is nearing completion.

Setting of the Scene

“Room 13 is in final edit. All cast and crew have been paid and the final cut is now a month away. From there it will go to a local studio for credit roll and graphics. It should hit festivals early next year. Thanks for you patience and support friends. It has been a tough road back.. But I did discover who my friends were. Film at 11…”  – Paul Eenhoorn

Photo by Unknown

Travelling Expenses

September 8, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Our hero Paul is beginning to pixilate…

“I have been feeling uneasy lately… It seems that as I get closer to my goals I feel more isolated.. I have some really good stuff in the can and deals on two of the four shot and another to shoot in December. I am a phone call kind of guy…

, I love voices. I can tell how life is by voices but i don’t hear any these days. Are we all so busy? Is a text really a human communication? My state of mind reminds me of a quote from Mandela I think and used in Coach Carter.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”

I have played small to fit in and all it did was make me sick.. still, maybe comfort zones are where we all belong…. but not me…”  – Paul Eenhoorn

 
Photo by Unknown

Work, work, work with Rita Andreeva…

August 19, 2012

Editor:  What’s our Rita been up to?  I saw her at the most recent WARP Production with a new video camera.  So I figured she might have come into some money.  She didn’t answer that query, but here is her reply:

Time to go!

“…planning to move frantically and sporadically…”

Well, I’m still planning to move soon, very soon, so I don’t have time for anything else but planning to move frantically and sporadically. Probably to cheaper South. Why is South always cheaper in all the cities, do you know? It’s not that much hotter… Although, there is like a common theory that sophisticated and intelligent go north, and those who stay south basically eat bananas, drink margaritas and laze around so they aren’t as cool… and north is cool because it is colder and motivates you to be busy and invent technology.  So all the cool new technology is up north, like Redmond, and all the losers are down in Kent and Auburn, so I’ll be joining them soon and talking with a southern drawl (or is it drool?) and probably join KKK. – Rita Andreeva

Editor again:  By the way… If you are interested in Rita’s musings on the Meaning of Existence, attend her Church of the Eternal Mind, right here:  http://churchofeternalmind.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-your-religion-of-choice-discount.html#more 

Photo by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

August 18, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Paul Eenhoorn, our in-house actor, has been busy lately.

The Delicate Art of Bird Watching

“Pretty much wrapped on The Delicate Art last night after 10 days of late night early morning shoots. The final scene was eight pages and I had a lot of trouble with dialogue. I think I had what could only be called a brain fart. I was awa… ke but I think the rest of me was fast asleep. Fatigue took its toll. For the first time for a long time I actually looked at footage we shot the night before, and for the first time in a long time I didn’t cringe at the sight of me on the screen. I think that means the portents for this film may be good. Or, I have grown up and accepted that that’s the way I look. Or possibly both. There was a lot of talent on this film and collectively they bowled me over.”  – Paul Eenhoorn

Photo by Unknown

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 10, 2012

Walking the Streets

I complained to a friend of mine, about a brief encounter with a vagrant on a downtown street, who had pestered me into conversation: “It’s so corrosive to the social fabric, so deleterious to the social compact people need to form in order to care for one another,” I complained.  “Here this guy is; he comes up to me and starts a friendly conversation.  He asks me questions, and draws parallels between us, like he wants to know me.  And as soon as he figures I’m not giving him any money, he leaves.  Or if I do give him money, he only chats further as long as he figures he might get more, and then he leaves.  He doesn’t care a fig about me or want to know me at all!”

My friend cast me a laughing smile, as if I were the world’s most pampered whiner.  “Of course he wants your money.  What do you expect?  He’s living on the street.  You have the money, and they don’t.”  He spoke with the assurance of a professional social worker.  “How do you think they’re going to act,” he looked at me as if to wonder if I were emotionally blunted, or had suffered a complete failure of imagination.

Well, nevertheless, I think it makes a great deal of difference how people  do act.  If I were to tell my friend that in my experience, the real reason people end up on the street is not because they run out of money, but because they  run out of friends – he would no doubt laugh at my idiocy and say, ‘The real reason they are out on the street is because they are flat broke!’

My friend believes what is needed is a total economic transformation of our current system and much more government involvement.  And this will come with more education.

Not that my friend is going to help them either.  In fact, he just shakes his head when I give one of these scam artists money!  But some of these street fellows: they show a bit of sales skills; we have a little fun parrying, they’re good story tellers or actors; maybe they are just shy or I admire their stoicism; or they are just pathetically so over the top!  As an aspiring theater person, I just feel I just have to toss some money in the hat.  I’m not supporting a drunk; I’m supporting the Arts.

 Photos by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

July 21, 2012

How Much Justice Can You Afford?

Given the World as it Is.

Okay.  So I’m nearing retirement age and still just figuring out how things work.  One of the things I’m not going to like about dying is not knowing how the story ends… and then not stopping off for coffee afterwards, with a smart and insightful companion, to sort out how it all fit together.  But enough of that.

I was in a bar years ago talking with a new acquaintance – who was a bit of a hothead.  A fellow next to him interrupted us, hoping, I suppose, to be included in the conversation.  My acquaintance told him to butt out.  The fellow, being I suppose a little miffed and a little drunk, made a retort.  My acquaintance took him by both shoulders and tossed him off his stool where he lit on the floor and went sliding.  The bartender jumped the counter in a blink and hussled the guy out the front door before anyone had a chance to say much of anything… except for the guy who was shouting his indignation the whole way. 

I was puzzled at the time, because it seemed that my acquaintance was the person who did the violence and so I had expected him to be the one tossed out of the bar.  The moral I drew at the time was that it is easier to toss out the loser than the winner, of a fight.  But as time has passed I’ve considered that there was probably more at play: the bartender had probably been hoping to remove this bothersome patron from his bar, and my acquaintance’s behavior gave this bartender his opportunity.

This principle shows itself in the workplace.  Someone does something to you that is absolutely wrong.  No question.  But before you create a stink, and rally the others to the justice of your crusade, you’d best ask yourself… who does the boss like better?  Or rather, who fits in around here better?  You may be an exemplary employee, but if you’re the Odd Duck – usually it’s best to keep your mouth shut, retain your low profile, and proceed to plan B. 

This is probably the thinking of a lot of illegal immigrants…  and Poets, too – if you could knock a practical thought into their heads.  – The Editor

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

June 8, 2012

Living Longer

Honey, we need to talk about our son.

It surprises me that some news does not get more of a ‘rise’ than it does.  For example, many years ago I read a small squib in the newspaper which noted that sociologists had found that children of practicing nudists had negligible rates of juvenile delinquency.  (Why?)  I’ve never heard anything more about this.   And currently our teenage son is behaving well, so we’ve had no reason to test it.

And now, just the other day, in an NPR interview I heard that scientists doing an experiment found that rats fed every other day lived 65% longer than rats fed every day.  They also noted that after correcting for other variables, Mormons are suspected of living longer because of the monthly fasting required by their faith. 

Well now, if I were to live 65%  longer, that would pencil me out at about 150 years, and I would be able to see what is going on around 2100 AD.  Moreover, I reasoned, if fasting would enable a person to live 65% longer – wouldn’t he/she also necessarily be 65% healthier.  And if I live well into the advent of The Great Singularity, isn’t it possible that I could go on to live forever?

So, I’ve decided to fast one day/week.  Yesterday went fairly well.  The first few hours following breakfast, I was more ravenous than at any other time.  All I could think about was food.  And I became appalled at how eating seemed to mark all the most pleasurable landmarks of my day.  But I reassured myself that this was pretty much all my dog and cat and the cows in the field I drove by every morning thought about, so it was a reasonable experience for an animal to have.  And it didn’t mean I lived a shallow life.  Which calmed me.

Then, as the day past, my hunger took a back seat to other activities.  And by the next morning, I honestly felt no hungrier than on any other morning.  Physically I felt better, except for a little listlessness.  It reminded me of an observation a friend of mine who served food in a homeless shelter made.  He said the men initially were quite docile and happy to find a warm place to eat.  But as soon as the food got in them, they often became quite bellicose.  All of the anger and resentment they felt about their situation began to express itself. 

I just became a bit more animated.  I’m not homeless.  And a day begun with a good breakfast is just a finer experience.  Anyone would guess that.

Anyway, if this works, you should be hearing quite a bit more from me.  Time will be on my side.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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