All Thumbs Going Forward

“Whatever you get paid attention for is never what you think is most important about yourself.”
– David Foster Wallace

Last Thursday, in one of those ‘stupid clumsy me’ moments, I bashed my hand against a wall and screwed up my right thumb. As I’ve had my fair share of broken bones over the years, I didn’t think it was fractured and even managed to play guitar with it for a couple of hours with my buddy. Nevertheless, I had it x-rayed the next morning just to be safe; it was swollen and stiff, and the thumb, too! 

While waiting for the x-ray report to come in, I sat thinking back to when I had broken both elbows in a bike accident a couple of years ago, on April Fool’s Day no less. I thought about how crappy it would be to start the New Year incapacitated, trying to get by with my left hand, especially as I’m right-handed. I thought about toasting the New Year holding a champagne glass in my shaky left hand, as well as typing this post one letter at a time in true ‘hunt and peck’ fashion. I considered how 2011 might be giving me one last kick in the crotch before it winks out of existence. And then, a sobering thought struck me, “aww was 2011 really so bad to me?”

About 6 hours before my accident, I had been reading the last post of Joe Bodolai, a comedy writer with many notable television stints to his credit, including Saturday Night Live (SNL). Eulogizing himself, he listed his life’s achievements in length, as well as noted his regrets, personal peeves and even his sardonic predictions for the coming year. He then closed his extensive suicide note expressing thanks to the many who had been a part of his life, as well as suggesting “I need to feel the good that I did and whatever good I have ever done for you is enough for me.” … Well, apparently whatever good he did in his life wasn’t ‘good enough’ for him to rest his laurels on and so he offed himself by drinking a mixture of Gatorade and antifreeze.

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The Wooly Hallows: A Freudian Halloween

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.

– William Shakespeare

No holiday conjures up as much existential angst and ‘parental control’ conflict in kids as Halloween does. Really. It’s no wonder many kids have issues with authority and ‘role confusion’.

In the days running up to the holiday, most kids dream of toting home the sugar encrusted spoils from a night of ‘trick or treating’. On the morning before the ‘hallowed eve’, some kids are also trying to figure out how they can smuggle into their bedrooms the stuff they know their parents will most likely confiscate.

Then there are the ‘safety’ talks …

  • “DON’T eat anything until I can check it.”
  • “DON’T cross the street.”
  • “DONT go into anyone’s house. STAY on the porch.”
  • “DON’T talk to strangers.”
  • “HOLD your baby brother’s hand!”

… and the requisite stern lectures about kooks putting razors in apples and rat poison in popcorn balls.

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I think, therefore I am distracted.

Photo source

More than occasionally, I get distracted by things I take more than a passing interest in. I’m working and then somehow “tele-pathetically”, my attention and thoughts have been teleported to some obscure webpage which I micromanage my way through. It just takes one stray thought to hijack my stream of consciousness. It could be about something trivial I read in the news that morning, or something profound I thought about the day before, or even something ethereal I dreamed about … or daydreamed about. Whatever it is, I pursue this new found interest with behemoth vehemence, almost as if I’m championing some cause.

It could be, I think, a coping mechanism of some sorts that I inherited genetically from my father. You see, he was a real estate appraiser, and a reformed mathematician. Half the day he spent driving around different neighborhoods looking at “comparables” (houses that had previously sold) and trying hard not to look like he was casing said neighborhoods for a future home invasion scheme. The other half of the day he would write up his appraisal reports: monotonous long and short forms to be completed with data and figures that mortgage lenders would eventually rip borrowers off with. When completing such forms, my father needed distraction to break up the stress of monotony. If at home or at the office, he’d listen to talk or sports radio. Usually though, he liked to sit at busy places so he could  look up at the all the hustle and bustle and watch people and the world go by. Really! You’d find him sitting at a mall, at the airport, in a hotel lobby, etc. Had Starbucks been around when he was working he most likely would have been a fixture. He had an active mind… so he needed distraction. I’m pretty much the same way … (pensive pregnant pause entered here) … though most likely due to the raging modicum of my mom in me as well, I fear that a small part of my willingness and penchant to be distracted might also betray a much needed break from reality.

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