Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Hot Towel Finish

A key component of the Supercuts marketing plan these days appears to be what they call the "hot towel finish."  It sounds like a Happy Ending, probably by design, but I think it's safe to assume it's something in the neighborhood of a hot towel to the neck and possible face.  I can't say for sure because, despite being a regular Supercuts patron, I have never received the hot towel finish.  And that's the thorn in my side at the moment.

It's not that I want the hot towel finish.  If offered, I'd probably turn it down.  What chaps my hide is that I see it advertised in their commercials all the time yet I don't see it implemented at the ground level, in my local Supercuts location.  Two months ago, I spied the steam oven in the corner.  It was powered up and presumably contained hot, moist towels.  Nobody touched it, not at the conclusion of my haircut nor any others during my visit.  Earlier this week, I returned for a much needed trim and as I waited in the sitting area, I noticed a giant, new poster in the window to the street, advertising in bold letters and a photo, "HOT TOWEL FINISH!"  I thought to myself, okay the corporate directive has finally trickled down.  When my name was called and I walked into the cutting area, I saw that each station's mirror had a smaller version of the same poster stuck in plain view.  Surely, the hot towels would be going like gangbusters on this day, right?

My haircut turned out lovely.  I left feeling like a newer, fresher me.  And yet...no hot, no towel, no hot towel finish.  Not for me nor anyone else.  Not on this day nor perhaps any day going forward.  This Supercuts location apparently offers only the empty prospect of the hot towel finish.  They're selling affordable yet stylish haircuts, broken promises, and shattered dreams.

I'll venture that if anyone had asked for the hot towel finish, they would have been gladly obliged.  As fun as it is to type and to say to oneself privately, who has the courage to verbally ask a stranger who's just had your follicle fate in their hands, "Hey there, how about a hot towel finish?"

Not me.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Memory, etc.

I'm still a couple years shy of 40 and I feel even younger than that, but my memory or lack thereof seems to be that of a much older man.  So old that I can't remember shit.  I was recently pre-partying the Garth Brooks concert with two friends from college and they were bringing up specific memories I was apparently involved in and I didn't have the faintest recollection of any of it.  I've been guilty many times of being overly sentimental or sensitive.  It's one of my greatest faults.  I kind of need my memories for that.  It's such a pure and innocent joy when a memory is unlocked, something you hadn't realized you'd lost and are so thrilled to find again.  I suppose that's why old friends enjoy getting together to reminisce, so that they can give each other back their own lost memories.  They can kick open doors warped shut to rooms you hadn't stepped in for years.  They can add color and texture to those rooms you did already occasionally wander into.  Art, nature, drugs, and psychotherapy are the other catalysts to unearthing memories buried within your mind, but only old friends can return something to you that was truly lost.  The best is perhaps when they share new information you never even knew about at the time.

Even though it's hot as balls outside, the calendar tells me it's fall.  I suspect it's right because it's always at this time of year, even more so than at Christmas, that I get nostalgic, about the times I can remember and about the memories I can only feel the tracks of without knowing which way they've gone or where to look for them.

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is named Tyler Lyle.  He does this incredible thing with his fans, which he calls "The Secret Lair."  Every month he writes and records at least three new songs and researches, writes, and records a podcast on that month's theme.  We the fans can enjoy it all for a minimum of $3 per month.  He's a damn smart man, citing some pretty dense texts in his research, and I often have to listen to the podcast in installments if my commute doesn't afford me the focus needed to comprehend everything he's discussing.  The podcasts are never anything short of thought provoking and interesting and at their best they are enlightening and life affirming.  This month's theme is "Home" and I found it to be one of the latter varieties.  One morning last week, I listened to this podcast on my way into work and it really brought me a sense of peace and connectivity to the present world, as opposed to the inherent true unattainability* of memories (see, this WAS relevant).  Anyway, I'm babbling--I just wanted to share this passage that came from the last few minutes of the podcast.  Hopefully it still makes sense plucked out of the context of the full piece.  If you like it, I recommend his song "One Beating Heart" as a complement.

"The paradox of happiness is that it's the simplest things, the ones that we imagine to be banal and boring that are actually enriching, actually the most good.  Happiness depends more on the possession of a congenial companion than a well decorated villa.  Joy is different from bliss in the same way that street magic is different from the magic of connection--intimacy, empathy, creativity.  Saying that joy is a higher aim than bliss even though it requires a lowering of one's 'attainable felicity' is really another way to affirm that life itself is its own sacrament, that all life is holy.  There is no distinction between the spirit and the flesh, no need to escape from it.  If as Dr. Quantum says, space is the illusion that gives us the illusion that we are separate from one another, than joy is the shedding of that illusion.  We forget and we remember.  Life is unified.  Joy is the moment of realization that this is indeed true."


*Spell check doesn't think this is a word, but it's totally a word.  Or it is now anyway.  I have all the words.  I have the best words.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Whenever I feel old, I try to remember how many things I haven't figured out yet and that makes me feel bad about something else instead.

I feel like I should say something.

If only I knew what it was.  I like this idea you hear writers talk about, their "daily pages," a way to just keep the muscles from atrophying.  I don't think daily pages are usually posted online, and I don't fashion myself a writer anyway, but what the hell, this is easier for me than a Google doc.

Lately it's been bothering me how there's never enough time for anything.  Or rather, there's never enough time to do anything right.

I have a job, I want to be good at it.  I try to work out regularly to improve fitness and feel good physically.  I want to watch one or two TV shows so I can have something to talk about with other humans.  I need to practice acting (by way of acting class) because it brings me the joy of being present and unthinking.  My God, there are so many books I want to read, ones already sitting on my shelf and others adding pages to my Amazon wish list.  I have a beautiful wife, great friends, and a big family, and I want to spend time with them and be a part of their lives.  I have a garden I need to cultivate and maintain.  There are places in this city, this state, this country, and this world that I have never explored and am very curious to visit.  I enjoy cooking, which requires more time than it should because I'm not terribly proficient at it.  I like to keep a clean home, which necessitates cleaning (vicious circle).  Every 3,000 miles or so, my car needs its oil changed, its tires rotated.  And some days, I really like to do nothing at all.

It pains me the things I am not getting to at any given time.  It's not like I can even take it one or two things at a time.  Nothing above can be neglected or saved for later.  There's just not enough damn time to do it all (Except work, which always gets 110%.  Hello, Boss).

Basically, I feel like Brennan Huff sitting in his required therapy sessions asking, "What happens when there's inclement weather?  Where do you...?  What do you wear?"







Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Alive and Well

Conrad pointed out to me it's been just over six months since my last post so I figured, "What the hell."  I think a quick update on my last post is only fair.

I'm currently reading (see: Slowly) a book called Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, which, merely 60-something pages in anyway, seems to be one of those slow-burning books of  sneakily genius insight.  Early in his life as a young man, the main character, Jayber, finds himself in school studying to be a priest when his faith is shaken by paradigm-shifting questions about God.  He goes to his adviser and shares all his questions, hoping to get answers that will put his religious life back on track.  Jayber asks him, how can he ever stand in front of people and give a sermon to people on God when these questions are a thorn in his mind.  As it turns out, this last question is the only one of Jayber's the adviser answers.  He says simply, "You can't."  And with that, of course, Jayber promptly drops out of college and begins to explore whatever will become of him next.

To some degree, that's how I feel about what the questions I was wrestling with in my last post.  Six months later, I can't answer a single one of my questions any better than when I asked them.  However, I feel much better about life than I did then because I feel less compelled to ask those questions at all.  I don't think they are any less valid in being asked, but they just don't occur to me anymore.  Okay, they do, but not nearly as much.

When I ask myself why that is, why I've been able to just sort of move on from this dilemma that only six months ago had me paralyzed, I think it's that I no longer think it matters much.  I can give up or not give up, die trying to do this or resign myself to do that, but whatever is going to be is going to be.  It's not up to me.  Who or what it is up to is another discussion I don't really want to blog about, but it certainly isn't me.  I'm essentially powerless.  I find a lot of relief and freedom in that idea.  My life is a ride and I am in a passenger seat.  Sometimes I will like the ride and sometimes I won't, but there's no point in me trying to steer a wheel that isn't there.

Not that I'm wandering aimlessly about, untethered from responsibility or choice, waiting to see whether the wind blows me onto the sidewalk or into the street.  I can see how my tone here might seem like I've simply lost all hope and dealing with it accordingly.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I'm doing great.  Life is good.  Some things are presently working out and others aren't.  I'm just doing a better job, I think, of letting go and appreciating the beauty of the whole thing.

Monday, November 09, 2015

What To Do List

There is said to be virtue in knowing and accepting who you are.  "Make friends with who you are," the song says*.  I get that.  If you know who you are, you're likely to be more at peace than someone still "finding themselves" like any college kid or Kerry Russell in "Felicity."

There is also that American spirit to never give up, never say die, never stop fighting.  You could drown in all the cliches, sayings, and anecdotes to this effect.  I agree with this idea too, obviously.  If Matt Damon can survive being stranded on Mars, why should anyone give up on anything anywhere, right?

I am confused, however, with how to reconcile these two truths.  What if who you are, objectively, is not who you feel you are or who you want to be?**  At what point do you have to take stock and own your limitations or failures?  Isn't that an act of surrender?  Is it ever okay to give up?  If so, when does giving up stop becoming a sign of weakness or cowardice?  And if not, is the virtue of being so brave worth being ignorant of a practical self-awareness?

I realize specifics would give more teeth to my dilemma.  I feel that specifics, however, would steer an innocent, open question into a whining call for help or, God forbid, advice.  This is certainly not intended to be that.  I will say there is a life I would like to live, one that I feel suited to, a simple and modest existence, which most take for granted, or suffer mid-life crises in the midst of.  Life (Capital "L" variety), however, does not seem mutually interested in my plan.

What's a boy to do?  Accept that this is who I am and this is the life I am meant to lead, meaningless as it may seem to me, or continue down a dead-end alley a la the marching band in "Animal House"?  At this moment, the most comforting course seems to try to fool Life altogether, move to some completely new place, change my name, and take on the life of a more interesting character.



*"The Age of Worry," By John Mayer (Yes, I am quoting the eternal wisdom of John Mayer.  Is there a problem?)

**I realize this sentence could easily give the impression I am enduring some kind of gender identity crisis.  I assure you, this is not the case.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Well, I mean, I'm sure there is something wrong with it in that it's incredibly difficult for a person going through it, but I'm not distancing myself from the idea because I find it embarrassing in any way.  There, that's settled.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Pallet Cleanser

I don't have anything I particularly want to say.  I really just wanted to get something else up here that wasn't such a downer.  Hmmm….Oh I got one.

Our garden is really booming.  That little 15' x 15' square on the hillside that started as a wild, overgrown mess of dirt, weeds, and a dead rose bush is now popping out Jurassic Park-sized zucchinis three at a time.  And here come the beans and tomatoes.  We also pulled some lettuce last night.  We saw Jeff Garlin do a set last weekend where he was talking about how you get to an age where you can take comfort in knowing you will never do certain things again in your life.  I completely get that and agree, but I think this is the flip side to that idea.  I never gardened.  I never even mowed a lawn until I was 30 years old.  Who knew one day at 36 years of age I'd suddenly start growing vegetables much less loving the shit out of it?  Life--go figure, huh?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dear Universe (Because, yes, I'm at that point tonight),

I need a job.  It's been five months.  I am ready to work.  I was watching the "Mad Men" finale the other night and my big takeaway was, Gosh, wouldn't it be nice to have a career.

Universe, I have searched, I have researched, I have soul searched, and I have applied.  My God, how I've applied.  I sometimes wonder if online job applications go to the same place in the North Pole as letters to Santa.

I am more than the sum of my resume.  Kids, be careful the jobs you take in your life because people will generally only expect that your past is all you're capable of repeating.  As much as your heart may lead you to zig and zag, the working world would just as soon prefer that you zig, zig, and continue to zig because, well, you have no zagging experience.  Never have I worked a job that, despite the steepest of learning curves, did not become second nature without the proverbial house burning down.  Granted, I have never worked in neurosurgery.  I'll give you that one; it could very well be over my head.  But, for the most part, I've found the actual work to be pretty easy, or at least easy to figure out.

Please, Universe, don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed the time off.  I've decompressed and re-inflated with the air of a broader perspective.  However, that perspective, which values family, home, travel, and creative and artistic exploration, requires the benevolence of funding.

Of course, it's bigger than that, if size matters here.  I would like to regain some semblance of direction in my life beyond this aimless, rudderless, powerless drift, seemingly random as a Roomba.

Dear Universe, enough is enough.  I'm ready.  I have a lot to offer.  Please, help me find the right buyer.

If it doesn't work out, I'll be okay.  With new albums from James Taylor and Indigo Girls on the way, I'll have a very big June.  I'll take each of them for a long drive so we can get properly aquainted.  A jobless July will afford me the family trip to South Dakota I've missed out on for the last five years.  Should August (And Everything After?) arrive without the hope of work, it will at least be USC football season and I am pretty sure I still have at least a year of eligibility left.

But yeah, let's go for the job, huh?

Yours Truly,

John