10 February 2007

Why Must I Fart So Much?

Hubert Korneliszoon Poot: Dutch Enlightenment-era writer
and namesake/author of the first fart joke.


I don't know if you've ever farted before. I didn't really keep track while we were growing up. Maybe you did and you just blamed it on your tuba and no one was the wiser. After all, the tuba is the most flatulent of all the brass instruments. Just in case you haven't, don't take it up as a hobby. It's really not worth the alienation and/or social stigma. To wit:

I had two going-away parties to attend last night, one for my friend and (now) former co-worker Francesca (hired away by the Starbucks creative team) and another for my friend and (now) former co-worker Tyler (leaving on a round-the-world voyage)...

Wait, first I simply must digress onto the topic of Naughty Limericks. Francesca is one tough old bird, and though that tough old bird is a songbird who trills like a meadowlark, (Drop that goddamn bird metaphor now before I shoot you with a bb gun. -Ed.) she occasionally peppers her discourse with Naval-grade profanity. So I figured hey, what's a better send-off for a pottymouth like Francie than writing and performing a trio of Naughty Limericks in her honor at the event? So yeah, I did. And for your edification, here they are - with reactions from the present company included parenthetically after each:

There once was a hooker named Francie
Who found her vocation too chancey
She found some employment
Much more to her enjoyment
And safer than dropping her pantsies

(Francesca hoots with joy; one token giggle by the rest of the company; many anxious brows furrowed.)

Francesca has gone to Starbucks
We wish her "so many good lucks"
All we ask, Francie dear
In your heart, keep us near
And come visit us miserable fucks

(Francesca blushes with joy and cackles; much nervous clinking of cutlery on the part of the rest assembled.)

Francesca the horny wordmonger
Needed fresh meat to lessen her hunger
She felt wrongly pent
By the age of consent
"Eighteen? Hell, I'll go ten years younger!"

(Francesca shrieks with glee I LOVE IT!; cold granite silence and frozen, contorted grimaces of abject terror from the rest. Apparently pedophilia, even in Limerick form, doesn't play well in Seattle.)

Yeah, so as you can see, I was a smash hit. And soon after that I continued to ingratiate myself to the present company by furtively playing an oboe cantata with my butt. As you know, I'm a vegetarian. That means when I go out, if I'm not going to a strictly vegetarian restaurant, I have to make do with whatever legume, twig, or compost heap that's on the menu. And usually the selection is pretty much anything you see pictured on the label of the Beano bottle. I don't know what it was about the entree I ordered, but it could've been called The South Wind Special. Blazing sciroccos of acrid stench were emanating from my backside. Since I had the handy "out" of Tyler's party, I clenched my hiney as best I could and said my goodbyes.

Needless to say, I never made it. On the way there, I stopped off at home to pick up Teresa, but by then such a fugue was going on - with grumblings, claps, and staccato horn-bursts (with the occasional bold firmata and scintillating arpeggio) - I couldn't possibly subject another group of air-breathing humans to its terrible majesty. I mean c'mon, my ass was practically respirating. Someone would've called the police. Or the Guinness Book statisticians. So instead I sat at home and did my best to inflate the couch.

It's perplexing. Why do I gotta toot so much? And how do I explain to Tyler that I couldn't make his party because my ass was practically shouting and I was afraid of asphyxiating the guests? I've combed Emily Post's rules of etiquette, and I got zero hits on any combination of the terms "fart", "party", "wind", and "stanky". Any advice you may have short of using a cork would be most welcome.



08 February 2007

Why Am I Such A Total F@#king P&%sy? And Other Profane Musings

Dear Baby Jesus, how can I quit being a such a total fucking pussy...
and how come I swear so fucking much? Hallowed be thy name,


I've slipped and hit my head this morning on a brick of self-hatred which resulted in an effluvium of profanity, much like hitting one's head on an actual fucking brick might cause. Bear with me.

Have you seen me lately? If not, look up. I'm the guy in the picture. I look like a potato made of Silly Putty. And my standing curl form is horrible. Plus - Jesus, wouldja look at my moles? What am I, a Dalmatian or something? Plus plus, I'm weak. I'm a total - well, you know what.

Hang on, I'll be done in a minute.

Oh yeah. And I'm convinced that I set a horrible example as a father. There's that, too. Here's what set this off. Aaron's been sick for - oh I don't know, long time now. Nothing acute. Just feeling like a stack of shit on top of a bunch of mystifying symptoms. He's been to the doctor a few times now and they've turned up nothing - nothing in the bloodwork, nothing in the throat culture, no underlying pathology detected, nothing. I keep telling him that it's the beard, that he has toxic mold living in his beard, and that one day it's going to eat his whole head while he's not looking. My comments, of course, are borne out of beard envy. I cannot grow anything more than mange if given a month, whereas he can grow all of Fidel Castro (including the fatigues, the hat, and the cigar) practically overnight.

I mask my true concern with humor, of course, as no one likes to see their kid be sick. Did I say concern? I meant neurosis. Did I say neurosis? I meant a clawing, burning, self-immolating obsession with a mantra that goes "OM - ifIweren'tsuchahorriblefathermykidwouldn'thavethisproblem - OM"

You know what would probably be a good thing to do right now? That ABCDE exercise that I'm supposed to do for that University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology study that I'm part of. (Duh! -Ed.) I really don't think this whole "my kid's problem is all my fault" thing is going to do me much good in the long run, and may even result in me looking more like a fucking potato more than fucking ever. (I can think of at least two things fucking wrong with that statement. -Ed.) And it will probably only wind up annoying the h - e - double - ski -boots out of Aaron. You remember how I showed you this exercise previously using Lange as an example. The point of the exercise is to disarm pessimistic thought patterns by citing contrary evidence and then generating alternatives. Anyway, lemme give it a shot. But be forewarned. Like malaria, it'll probably get worse before it gets better.

Adversity (the bad situation): Aaron is still sick despite several trips to the doctor and negative test results.
Beliefs (what unrealistically pessimistic beliefs do I have about the situation): 1. That it's never going to end and there will be nothing I can do about it - just like his mom was sick all the time, just like my mom was sick all the time, just like I felt sick all the time when I was a kid. It's hopeless. There's never going to be a definitive diagnosis. Or worse, some well-meaning medic is going to doom him with some dubious and contentious illness (like fibromyalgia, a term that some people in the medical community believe is a wastebasket diagnosis). Or even more worser still, some really idiotic and well-meaning medic is going to tell him that he has MS or cancer - like they did to me. (You're fucking kidding me, right? -Ed.) (No, I am not fucking kidding you. -TRG) 2. This never would have happened if I had set a healthier example. When he was growing up, I was always Smokey McDrunkenstein, always complaining about my health and doing very little about it. A great role model for a healthy kid I was not. I may have changed my ways, but that's not going to make much of a difference now. I've gone and saddled my kid with a bunch of sickness behaviors and not a single wellness behavior. It's my fault, I tell you! My fault!
Consequences (what happens as a result of harboring those beliefs): I swear a lot. And I feel like a big steaming turd of poo. I'm generally angry and irritable and no fun to be around. I feel like I'm snapping at everybody, including Aaron. I feel like I just went and undid all the work I did on my happiness. My nose is stuffy.
Dispute (disarm pessimistic thinking with specific, concrete examples): What am I, nuts? Turn that frown upside down! For starters, Aaron isn't my mom or his mom or me. He loves his job, so he's not using illness as an excuse to blow off responsibility. How he handles either his wellness or his illness will be authentic to him. He has an excellent network of friends, so he's not dependent on me for...well pretty much anything, come to think of it. It's not my responsibility to prevent, cure, or over-parent him. He's a grown-ass man (Point of proof: awesome beard. -Ed.) and will make his own decisions. I can go ahead and relieve myself of a responsibility that wasn't even mine in the first place, and stop driving myself nuts.
Energization (a word they had to use to be consistent with the alphabet theme): My head feels clear, I don't feel as tense, my thoughts are no longer racing. However, I still look like a potato.

Well, three out of four ain't bad I guess. Thanks for listening.



04 February 2007


Michael Coates today. You've probably never seen anyone so happy to see
a dentist.


First things first. Michael Coates is gonna be okay. Like I told you in my last letter, an oral surgeon is going to do the work pro bono. I'm sending the money I was going to use for his care to the Auburn Community Dental Clinic instead because as they said in the follow-up article in the Seattle Times ...

...to really get an idea, people should visit a community dental clinic at dawn on the days they treat poor people needing urgent care. "You'll see a line of people holding their teeth and crying," [Coates] said. "I'm not a special situation."

I did write him a letter directly and sent a few bucks for him to get some ice cream. I told him that when I got my wisdom teeth pulled that's about all I could eat. I told him that I even had to put my birthday cake in the blender. (Cake shake is freakin' ossum, by the way. You should try it!)


Mahakala, the wrathful deity of violent compassion. He will
kick your ass, but in the nicest way possible. This is the thangka
that hangs in my dining room. Mahakala reminds me to eat
my vegetables...or else.

I watched a documentary yesterday about the destruction of the giant Buddhas in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan. You may remember that the Taliban government sent out a decree back in late 2000 that all non-Muslim art and statuary was to be destroyed, so that meant the two 1,600 year old giant Buddhas of Bamiyan (180 and 121 feet tall) had to go. So the Taliban rolled up there with a shitload of explosives and spent a couple weeks trying to blow them up. Eventually they were successful. Sixteen hundred years of history and culture blowed to hell.

Seem like a shame? Well here's the ironic thing. Think of it from the dhammapada's perspective. Didn't Buddha preach that "nothing is permanent; everything changes"? As great a loss as it was of irreplaceable historical objects - to paraphrase the ubiquitous bumper sticker, What The Fuck Would Buddha Do? I'll tell you what he'd do. He'd prolly just say, "See? Like I said." And then go off and do shots of rice milk with the monks. I mean, c'mon. Ever seen the kalachakra ritual? A whole phalanx of monks spend a week or more laboring over an exquisitely detailed sand mandala, only to have the Dalai Lama come along and fuck it up. Either it's an object lesson in impermanence, or those monks really have to figure out a way to keep His Holiness' mitts off their sand paintings.

Okay, so the site where the giant Buddhas stood was not uninhabited, mind you. There were hundreds of rooms carved into the cliffs around them, vestiges of an ancient monastery that was part of the whole complex. These rooms were inhabited by the Hazaras, the most persecuted ethnic group in all of Afghanistan. They had been the protectors of the giant Buddhas for the past 1,600 years. Even when the Taliban blew up the statues, they left the Hazara there. It wasn't until some very well-meaning folks from UNESCO and several art-hugging European nations got together and decided that they would rebuild the statues that the Hazara got removed from their ancestral homes. Seems like once you turn something into a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's okay to keep the frescoes and kick out the folks. No longer living in their cliffside caves, the Hazara have been relocated to a windblown plateau somewhere out in the desert. They're now half an hour from their water source, three hours from the closest bazaar, and freezing their Buddha-loving asses off in the howling wind on a daily basis. Where's the love?

Again, I ask What The Fuck Would Buddha Do? In my self-serving fantasies, I see the Buddha calmly taking in the situation through his all-seeing eyes. Then raising his right hand in the mudra of blessing he says, "Verily, that is some fucked up shit, man." Then, instantly trans-carnating into the form of Mahakala, the deity of violent compassion, he busts down the door at UNESCO HQ and kicks every ass in the place twice. (Those who are not present at that time because they're traveling for business or out sick will have their names taken down by the Buddha for ass-kicking at a later time.) Then re-forming himself into Avelokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion, he bandages their wounds. Finally, transforming himself one last time back into the Sage of the Sakya tribe, he does shots of rice milk with the entire posse. Then the Hazara go back to their ancestral homes in the Bamiyan Valley caves and live happily ever after. Amen.

So yeah, I know I'm not waking you up to the fact that there's a shitload of misery in the world whether it's infected teeth or eviction from one's ancestral home by well-meaning dipwads. Like I said in my last letter, with so much misery going around, I can see why people do nothing. There's just too much of it, the problem is just too big, and one person can't do anything about the whole problem. But I think that a solution that keeps getting missed is that one person can help one other person. That's not too much to do. There has to be a way to do just that little bit and make a huge difference. Each one help one. That is my rumination for today.

All of this reminds me somehow of my favorite quote from Shantideva. It needs a little introduction if you're not hip to how reincarnation figures into the Buddhist religion. The point is not to try to reincarnate, but to break the cycle of samsara and quit reincarnating. Boddhisattvas are folks like you and me who have sworn off enlightenment and nirvana for themselves so that they can assist all other sentient beings in attaining Buddhahood. Sound like a big job? Oh mais oui. It's probably both the biggest project and the most shit detail on the Buddhist job roster. It's tantamount to saying, "I'm going to forego nirvana and spend eternity trying to bring shitheads to Jesus." (...or possibly bring them to some more appropriate Buddhist deity. -Ed.) So bearing that in mind, it takes compassion-balls the size of pickle jars to say what Shantideva said way back in the 8th century:

For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

Hopefully he got his wish and he's still out there somewhere, bringing shitheads to the Buddha.