Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hound of the basket cases

"This isn't for the man who can't count the bodies
Can't comfort the families, can't say when he's wrong."

Biochemistry is a bitch.

For no logical reason I've been waltzing with the black dog again.

And now, having said that, I'll thrash through some of the illogical reasons why I'm doing the devil's dance right now.

Haters. With the presidential election just months away, and two impossible-to-like front-runners for candidates, the political climate on social media is off-the-charts vituperative.

Add in a terrorist-motivated mass murder of homosexuals with a semi-automatic firearm, and pejorative ugliness has been seeping out of the woodwork like virulent mycotoxins.

I know, I know. Stop looking, stop reading, stand well out of the cross-fire, if it makes you feel so badly. Or alternatively, do something proactive about it. I've honestly toyed with the idea of becoming an anti-handgun activist.

I'm not sure exactly what that means or how I would go about it, other than to open a window and yell, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Except it's too fucking hot to open a window right now.

I've been isolating a lot, staying inside in the air-conditioning, but that still doesn't insulate me completely from stupid.

Last week, I had a hair appointment, with the stylist who has done my hair for 9 years. When I walked in, she was working on another customer and they were talking about autism, and why it is so much more prevalent now. Predictably, that discussion led to the vaccination-autism-causation mythology.

So, I had to open my mouth and say, research has debunked any causative relationship between vaccination and autism. My stylist and her customer immediately pushed back, claiming conspiracies to hush studies done by the CDC connecting vaccination to autism, especially in African-American boys (my stylist and her customer are black). They also cited the movie Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe - and the fact that Robert De Niro's wife noticed an overnight change in their (now 18-year-old) autistic son after an MMR vaccine - as gospel.

I wasn't armed with the facts - but I am now - that since 2003, there have been nine CDC-funded or conducted studies that have found no link between autism and any vaccine or vaccine ingredient. Not that it matters. Once people have made up their minds, don't bother to disturb them with the facts.

I'm happy with the way Teanna does my hair. I'm not going to change her convictions.

Neil and I are watching the Murdoch Mysteries. In the last episode we watched, Constable George Crabtree uses the expression "stem to sternum." Detective William Murdoch corrects him, "stem to stern." George comes back with, "we'll just have to agree to disagree." That made me laugh. (Stem to stern, as you no doubt know, is a nautical allusion, meaning from the front of a boat or ship to the back.)

George can certainly offer to agree to disagree, but he's still flat out wrong.

Neil is traveling and I'm in the midst of an online bead trunk show that has been a disaster. After 18 hours I made three sales, and nothing since, no bids, very few comments. Sales have been really slow for me for the past week, and yet I'm still cranking out beads that I like, but it appears almost no one else does. And truthfully, I don't love them, although I think they are worthy of being bought.

It's not bothering me in the ego-busting way that it has in the past. For one thing, I know it has been slow for many. Some artists still sell well, but on top of being mega-talented, they also aren't flooding the market with their beads the way I do. Others are struggling to sell like I am. There are the usual rationalizations, summer vacation, election year, but it's always something.

Then we are competing with a lot of new lampworkers who are selling at low prices, which causes other lampworkers to lower their prices, which affects us all. In my case, I have a lot of jewelry-designer customers who have bought a lot of beads from me over the last two years and who just aren't selling enough jewerry to need to restock. They are facing the same challenges, a glutted market, buyers who aren't spending discretionary bucks so readily.

It's time to make a change. I'm going to take some time off from making and selling. Maybe a month, maybe the summer.

Other changes are in the works, changes that make it likely that we are going to move within the next 12 months. I'm going to have to deal with my feelings about that, and that is definitely one of the illogical reasons that I'm tripping the light fantastic with the dark hound of the basket cases.

My angst about moving stems from two triggers. One is the massive task itself. We have so much stuff, I have so much stuff, much of it aquired in the 9 years since we built and moved into this house. When I moved here from my prior home of 19 years, I got rid of a lot of stuff, but I also packed a lot of stuff that I never unpacked. I have boxes full of carefully tissue-wrapped collectibles. I just got new stuff.

In theory, simplifying, lightening up the load, has appeal. In practice it's overwhelming. Once I get past the many things that have meaning to me, there are still so many meaningless things that I am both attached to and have no clue how to dispose of. At one time I thought I'd spend time in retirement selling my stuff on eBay, but now that seems more effort than the candle's worth.

I took a basket of things over to my friend Pam, who owns the consignment shop that carries my beads. I didn't want to consign them, I just wanted her to take them. I know money is tight at times for her and her husband, and if she can make a dime from my junk, I'm happy. The problem was, I came home with three new things, two that she made me and one that I fell in love with and she gave me in trade.

I have more things I want to bring her, but it's not going to help at all if I just exchange my things for different things.


This is the piece I fell in love with. Cast aluminum by artist Don Drumm. Isn't it fabulous?

But I'm taking baby steps. I put some useless things that were just taking up space in the trash. I have a clothing donation bag started and already half-filled. I've stopped buying beads and glass. Pay no attention to that box that UPS just delivered - it's just a restock of colors for one of my frit blends - and a 1/4 kilo bundle of glass cane - since I was paying for shipping anyway. I've been selling some of my beadmaking supplies and will slowly be selling more, slowly because shipping glass is a pain compared to shipping beads.

And then there's that second trigger. Moving away. God knows I don't have a million friends, and I don't make friends easily, but I have some friends here. And there's family. Not that I see my kids and grandkid often enough, Austin and Fort Worth aren't exactly next door. They both work and are busy with their lives, so we visit a couple of times a year and they visit a couple of times a year (and then I have to share them with their dad).

Neil's kids will be living in Lake Charles for the next year or two, which is about the same distance as Austin, but they'll both be back in Houston sometime in 2017. And Laurie is having a baby, due on Christmas Eve. I'm fond of them, I enjoy spending time with them. And a baby. A new grandchild.

Family trumps everything, weather, scenic beauty, everything.

But Neil is my family. And I want him to be happy. And I really don't want to be the reason he isn't happy. So somehow, I will do this.

Down dog, down!


This isn't for the ones who blindly follow
Jingoistic bumper stickers telling you
To love it or leave it, and you'd better love Jesus
And get out of the way of the Red, White, and Blue

This isn't for the ones who buy their six-packs
At the 7-Eleven where the clerk makes change
Whose accent makes clear he sure ain't from here
They call him a camel jockey instead of his name

No, this is for the ones who stand their ground
When the lines in the sand get deeper
When the whole world seems to be upside down
And the shots being taken get cheaper, cheaper

This isn't for the ones who would gladly swallow
Everything their leader would have them know
Bowing and kissing, while the truth goes missing
Bring it on, he crows, putting on his big show

This isn't for the man who can't count the bodies
Can't comfort the families, can't say when he's wrong
Playing I'm the decider, like some sort of Messiah
While another day passes and a hundred souls gone

This is for the ones that I see above me
Three little stars in a great big sky
Light for the world and hope for the weary
They try

This isn't for the ones with their radio signal
Calling for bonfires and boycotts, they rave
Exhorting their listeners to spit on the sinners
While counting the bucks of advertising, they'll say

This isn't for you, and you know who you are
Just do what you want 'cause I know that you can
But I gotta be true to myself and to you
So on with the song, I don't give a damn.


(Mary Chapin Carpenter)

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