Monday, September 28, 2009

Moscow Dacha

When Khrushchev was replaced in the Kremlin, he was driven, that very day, to his new retirement dacha on the far side of Moscow. There was actually a lot to do on the property, but he was miserable.

That has informed my opinion of retirement. Over the years, I have told everybody that it would not be good for me to retire. But, when it came, it came fast, that very day. The only difference between me and Khrushchev is that, in Khrushchev's case, it hadn't been his idea.

But I had to admit, the first few days weren't that bad. A general excitement lingered in the air. My wife and I visited friends and heard from well-wishers. When we were alone, we talked constantly, fleshing out Plan B. My head was full of projects, which I estimated would take me well into the next week. I told everybody, retirement is good.

Now, a week-and-a-half in, the thrill is gone. During that time, I completed a number of projects: I went to the grocery with my wife (once) and to the car place with her (twice). I cleaned up my home office (took a whole day) and copied 17 CDs to iTunes. One day, I went to the Kroger to tell everybody there that I wasn't dead. I told the Quiznos guy the same thing.

Today, I brought in the mail. There was a travel brochure from the Stanford Alumni Association.

I said to my wife, "Would you like to go to Antarctica, next summer, with the Stanford Alumni?"

She looked out from the kitchen and said, "You could wear the heavy wool turtleneck your mother gave you when we were living in Florida."

I showed her the brochure and she threw it in the trash.

I said, "You've been retired for ten years. How do you do it?"

She looked up from the stove and said, "I still have a job."

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lucky Man

I can't help it if I'm lucky.

I've done a lot of stupid things in my life, but I always landed on my feet. I flunked out of graduate school, but then lucked into a government job and found a home there. Growing up, I was too young for Korea and too old for Vietnam. My son was too young for Vietnam and too old for Iraq.

Where we used to live, when the storms were felling big trees and flooding out the rest of the city, we were always spared. Now that we've moved, the old home place is taking the brunt of the fury, and we are again spared. This morning, I'm lucky that I don't have to go anywhere.

Yahweh is setting me up for something.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Straight Razor

My choice of a haircutter has always been governed by how much they talk. The less the better. A few years ago, I used to get my hair cut by a woman named Joyce, a Barbara Mandrell type, who talked a lot. I liked Joyce. She was an exception to my rule.

Now I get my hair cut by a Korean woman, named Kim. Her interpersonal style is enhanced by a language barrier. She is also a master of the straight razor - incredibly smooth, no burn. I went to her shop today for a trim. I usually go after work, but today I made an earlier appointment.

She said, "You off work, today?"

I said, "No, I got fired yesterday."

She said, "Oh, yeh?"

I said, "Yeah."

She doesn't talk much. That's what I like about her. That and her steady hand with a straight razor. I wish I knew how to do that.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Mars Perspective

You tell 'em, Populi
You got the Vox

The perspective from Mars is that, from time immemorial, we have been engaged in civil war down here. From tribes to nations, we have been hating and fighting and killing our own kind through generations. Now and then, it gets so bad that Yahweh has to intervene.

I've always sensed Yahweh in multitudes. Whether it's his voice I'm hearing, or his ear getting tickled by the action of crowds, I'm not sure. Somehow the spirit emerges from the multitude and focuses on an individual who is transformed. That's the only rational way I can understand Lincoln. Or Elvis.

We may be building up to something again, now. Thousands believe that we are. And this time the crowd is global. Hysteria sweeps over the world and back like searchlights on that plain where gentlemen used to walk, bootleg whiskey in their hands.