The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Boy Crying With Ice Cream Cone

Just felt like sharing a poem.  No particular reason.

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The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

-Wallace Stevens

 

Life is full of disappointments

Braum's

Waiting in line at Braum’s for a late-night dinner after a long day’s work, I witness a white-trash woman undertaking an arduous order of ice cream.  One of her feet is wrapped in an oversized protective boot as though she had fractured it falling out of her above-ground pool (or possibly trampoline) and the other foot taps incessantly as she stares at the overhead menu.  Quite a line-up forms behind her while she’s hemming and hawing at the myriad of ice cream choices available to her, and after several minutes of mouth breathing she finally speaks:

Woman:  “Now… with the pecan caramel fudge sundae… are those pecans… toasted?

Fast Food Worker:  [brief pause as he’s processing her question]

Woman:  “I mean, are they… raw?

Fast Food Worker:  “Um…

Woman:  “Or are they toasted?

Fast Food Worker:  “I don’t think they’re toasted…” [proceeds to hold up a cup of crushed nuts, apparently not toasted]

Woman:  “Ooooh… nope, that’s not gonna’ do.  Hmmm…

Apparently unaware that she is in a fucking fast food restaurant and not the Four Seasons, the lady goes back to studying the overhead menu, her epiglottis making an unappealing noise as she continues to mouth breathe with her head tilted back.  Her facial expression is one of deep consternation while she carefully weighs her confectionery options, and all I want to do is tell her, “Life is full of disappointments, lady.”  But before I get the chance, my order number is called, so I grab my to-go cheeseburger value meal, the grease from the fries already permeating the paper bag, and get the hell out of there.

Do You Realize?

Listening to late night radio again and happened to hear a tune I hadn’t heard in a long, long time.  I’ve never really been a huge fan of The Flaming Lips, as they’re more or less a pyschedelic jam band (and I fucking hate psychedelic jam bands), but I can distinctly remember hearing this song for the very first time on the radio in 2002 and being so moved that I had to pull over my car to finish it.

So here’s a brutally honest and beautifully poignant song (both lyrically and musically) from an otherwise absurdist band.  The video’s a bit ridiculous, but the song sure as hell isn’t.

Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize… we’re floating in space?
Do you realize… that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Do you realize? (oh, oh, oh)
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.
Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?

Do you realize?

(apologies to The Flaming Lips)

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

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Joseph Campbell is perhaps most famous for his mantra, “follow your bliss,” but this is dangerous advice (or so my father once said).  I can remember discussing Campbell with my father a few years back, and when I invoked this mantra, he told me “a lot of lives have been ruined that way.”  I, of course, thought my father was full of shit.  I didn’t want to believe him, partly because I’m an idealist and a romantic at heart, but mostly because I was ignorant and completely out of my mind at the time.  I was in the midst of an existential crisis, which I wasn’t handling very well at all, and I decided I had to make some radical changes in my life because I just knew that to not do so would mean certain doom.  So I made those changes and “followed my bliss” at my own peril, and now (too late, as always) I realize that my father was right.

Somehow or other during this existential crisis I managed to find myself on a mailing list for a motivational speaker by the name of Scott Dinsmore.  He founded a company called “Live Your Legend” whose purpose was to help folks “change the world by doing work you love and surrounding yourself with the people who make it possible,” which seemed like something I could get behind.  I never bothered to unsubscribe from his mailing list because his e-mails were few and far between and weren’t at all intrusive, unlike the ones I get from Pottery Barn.  [Side note: How did I get on their mailing list, anyway? And why the hell can’t I get off of it?  Being on the Pottery Barn mailing list is like being in the mafia– you’re in it for life.]  If anything, Scott seemed to be an infectiously positive guy and his Live Your Legend e-mails brought encouragement and hope to me in a dark time in my life.  I figured I didn’t have enough affirmation or motivation in my life, so why not remain subscribed?  I truly do believe in the importance of affirmations, though I don’t really practice them myself (hmmm… maybe that’s the problem).

scottdinsmoreScott and Chelsea on vacation

In the occasional updates I received, I followed Scott and his wife Chelsea as they sold all of their possessions and left their home in San Francisco to embark on a globetrekking adventure.  All in all they visited twenty countries on their journey, which ended in Tanzania.  Apparently it was a lifelong goal of Scott’s to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, so that’s exactly what he and his wife set out to do.  Well, I recently received an e-mail from the “Live Your Legend Team” rather than Scott himself (which I thought was odd) with the subject line of “In Memory of the Greatest Living Legend of Them All: Scott Dinsmore” (which was even more odd).

During his ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, shortly before he was to reach the summit, Scott was struck in the head by a falling rock and killed.  He was 33 years old.

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to Hemingway’s famous short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” which tells the story of a writer who [spoiler alert] dies while on vacation with his wife in Tanzania.  As he’s dying, the character finds himself reflecting on his life and wondering whether or not he’s lived up to his full potential.  But Hemingway’s protagonist had plenty of time to reflect, as he was slowly dying of gangrene.  Scott, on the other hand, was likely killed the instant the rock struck his head, thereby preventing him from such reflection.  But from what little I knew of this man through his e-mails, had he been afforded the time for such reflection, there would be no doubt that he was indeed living up to his full potential.

Below is video from his TED talk on doing what you love, and it’s worth a watch.  And feel free to check out his Live Your Legend page, too, if you’re so inclined.  As for me, I think I’m done trying to believe in the power of positive thinking.  Life is just too random and absurd to comprehend anymore.

Thought For The Day

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I know what you’re thinking: “He fucked up that proverb! It’s supposed to be ‘When one door closes, another door opens‘, right?” But no– I didn’t fuck up that proverb. Quite the contrary, actually, as that proverb fucked me up, and now I simply can’t help seeing it from the other way around. But then again, I’ve always been a bit of a “glass half-empty” kinda guy.

It’s downright ignorant to assume that closing the door on a crucial part of your life will automatically lead to something better. I mean, who even knows what’s behind that second door? Could be something good… could be something bad… we don’t know. And who’s to say there’s even going to BE a second door? Guess what, folks– sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes when a door closes, you’re left standing with your proverbial dick in your hand in an empty hallway full of other closed doors, and no matter how hard you knock on any of those doors, they’re going to remain shut. That’s cerrado, pendejo.

I think what’s too often overlooked in this expression is the finality involved in the closing of that first door, and that’s exactly why I’ve restructured it for this blog post– because people need to fully grasp the significance of having that first door forever shut. News flash, Holmes: regardless of whether or not another door ever opens, whatever once was behind that first door is now essentially gone forever. So consider this a PSA from your friendly neighborhood perennial loser.

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