Saturday, August 07, 2010

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

I was waiting in a doctor's office the other day for what I knew quite well would be a nothing appointment, but everything was running gruesomely late. I had my Terry Eagleton book, but reading somewhat complex prose in the service of involved arguments was JUST NOT HAPPENING with goddamn fox news omnipresently on the television. It was an experience extremely reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. Thankfully (thanks for extremely small favors, granted, but whataryagonnado?) I was not forcibly exposed to any of their SUPER-horrible ideological pundits (beck, hannity, orally), but it was bad enough. Per some dude, the guy who leaked those military documents to Julian Assange should be executed for treason. You know they'd like for Assange himself to be, were he, you know, an American living in America. I also got to hear (well, I tried to avoid hearing it as far as I was able, but willing total sensory deprivation isn't that easy) Donald fucking Trump talk about--according to the caption--why he's hoarding money instead of hiring people. Presumably, the answer is because he's a horrible, repulsive sociopath who wants to make some sort of moronic point about how bad anything is that does anything other than funnel more money to rich motherfuckers. Fuck THAT guy with the force of a hundred thousand industrial, solar-powered pistons, and fuck the society that makes him into a celebrity.

Even when they were somewhat less explicitly polemical, they were still so grindingly stupid as to make you want to destroy your eyes and ears. Some ladies and gentlemen were debating whether or not viagra should be a thing that government-subsidized health plans provide, if birth control pills aren't. One of them made the point that viagra might be necessary to have kids and like that, and then the REAL genius of the bunch (I made no effort to discern who these people actually were, naturally) made the brilliant counterpoint that most people--shock!--use viagra for recreational sex instead of reproductive, and that therefore we should determine what they WANT that viagra for (presumably using a secret spy network--so much for the idea that saving money, rather than just making other people's lives worse, is the point here) before just passing it out all willy-nilly. What strikes one is how goddamn MEAN people are here: you can't just say, yes, okay, these drugs (viagra AND birth control) help improve people's quality of life, so why WOULDN'T we provide them; oh no, we have to get into long, involved hair-splitting debates about whether people "deserve" them, or whether, shock horror, we would be subsidizing people having FUN, which would obviously be a very bad thing (you can sometimes (but only sometimes) get them to grudgingly agree that public funds should be used to ensure that people don't actually die--but that it should be used to make their lives worth living? That is a few dozen bridges too far). How twisted do your values have to BE for this to be a debate you want to have? We can spend billions on utterly superfluous military hardware with no debate at all, and yet we get caught up in this cruel, penny-ante bullshit. Gah.

'Course, if I want to try to block out the TV, I can frantically flip through a magazine. I could read an article about some "fat academy" thing for obese teens, where their diets are strictly regulated and are, no kidding, NO-FAT. I don't understand how that could be remotely healthy, but I suppose that's beside the point. God knows we should try to be more sane about food, but I somehow don't think that oscillating violently between one extreme and the other is the best way to go about it. If being a part of society means that you get SO unhealthy that you have to temporarily exile yourself into a special camp thing--I dunno, people. Or, I could read an incredibly patronizing article about Susan Boyle in which her douchey-sounding brothers express their deep concern about her mental health, clearly multiplied exponentially by their deep desire to be in a magazine article. The question of why she can't fucking well speak for HERSELF if anyone has to went unaddressed. I'm sure someone somewhere has done some work on the reification of celebrities, which surely isn't a new phenomenon, but which I can only imagine is more pronounced with reality show winners and such--because there's this inchoate but real sense that we somehow own these people, having elevated them more or less directly to where they are. The implications of this are certainly Troubling.

One of these articles was in People and one was in Time, but reading them blind, there would be no particular way to tell which is which. I removed the staples from them and exchanged their covers. I'm pretty sure the only way you'd be able to tell the difference is when the double-page ads that start on the inside covers failed to match up.

Did I mention that I was in this waiting room for over NINETY MINUTES? I really felt like this forcible exposure to the deadening, vacuous horror of American culture in full flower was going to give me a nervous breakdown. It certainly didn't help that AS I was consuming this appalling stuff, there were some teabagger types behind me loudly commenting on the fox broadcast and economic news in general and what a TRAVESTY it is to have economic relief for, pft, teachers and firemen, because when THIS guy had financial problems of some unspecified nature, there was no one to bail HIM out, so SUFFER, BITCHES. It really does say something about the American mindset that instead of thinking, "everyone, me included, should get the help they need to live good lives," we think "everyone else should SUFFER like I suffer." There's a quote from someone I can't quite remember that goes something like: these people would be happy living under a bridge overpass roasting a pigeon over a trash fire, as long as the people living under the other overpass didn't have a pigeon. I have never seen anything to make me doubt the veracity of this. And you can bet our porcine plutocrats are chuckling piggishly over the way they've been able to buffalo the rest of us into such a mindset.

So that experience kind of sucked. In fact, given that the actual appointment was as meaningless as I knew it would be, you've gotta figure that the overall experience was, if anything, a net negative for me, healthwise. Fortunately, I have a good antidote for such rubbish, and that is to go out for a unicycle ride. I suppose maybe it's a bit too obvious, but unicycling is a good metaphor for living a balanced life. You're riding a bike, and who cares? You can only fall to the side, and that's easy to learn to avoid. With a unicycle, you can theoretically fall in any direction--a full three hundred sixty degrees of falling possibility. But if you're good (and let's face it: I'm pretty good), you can smoothly and serenely counter all of the forces trying to shove you this way and that.

So basically, I would recommend it to anyone. Plus, as a special bonus, you can be like Gyro:

No, that's not exactly a standard-issue unicycle, but come on--you can't expect to be AS cool as he is. You can only aspire.

To answer the question posed by this post's title: by unicycle, obviously. Here's a tip you're not gonna get from your career counselor, most likely because she's a blithering idiot: if you have a job interview for the position of Assistant Trombone Technician or whatnot, and it comes down to you and one other equally-qualified candidate, how are they going to decide who gets the job? Well, they might just flip a coin under ordinary circumstances, but if you, unlike your hapless counterpart, unicycled to the interview--well, it's not gonna be a tough choice, is it? Duh! A unicycle is the ultimate tiebreaker.

Less flippantly, I will say this about unicycling: it's one of those things, or at least it was for me. You know that people do it. And you know that these people can't just be circus performers and things--after all, you can buy a cycle any ol' place. And yet…there's this mental block that causes you to sort of place it outside of your potential realm of experience. So you don't even think about it. And yet…why shouldn't you? Why not, I ask you? Aren't you at least a little curious what it's like? Come on. How could you not be?

And it's super-rewarding, too. Right now, I go riding and I think, why did I ever think this is hard? This is no more difficult than riding a bike. But of course, that's discounting the sixty or seventy hours (I would estimate) that it took me to learn--hours of much frustration and thousands of involuntary dismounts. Which is a lot to discount. And yet--I prevailed. My mind couldn't understand complex physics to save my life, and yet my body has somehow learned how to make all the thousands of minute adjustments necessary to successfully ride a one-wheeler and make it feel easy. And the fact that you can program yourself like that is just plain cool. Start practicing today.


Blogger Kaitlyn pontificated to the effect that...

Oy. Who hasn't been there?

I only had to go about 3 times to this one doctor and the TV was on Fox News and no matter where I sat, it was in my ear. Though sitting close to it, almost behind/beside it helped a bit.

I just hate TVs in waiting rooms in general - the local news is vapid, I never wait long enough to watch all of Jeopardy...

My doctor - I've been seeing him monthly for about 3 and a half years, this summer every 2 weeks. I used to wait a long time, but that's changed. I barely get settled and I'm called in.

Also - I use my ipod to help pass the time when I'm bored with my book/in too much pain to concentrate on letters and such - and you have to do it so you don't have to listen to people but don't miss the call. Though they recognize me, so...

Not so sure about this unicycle thing, though. I think it requires good motor control and whatnot. And probably not being in mind-numbing pain and/or on medication for the pain.

eh I'm babbling because holy fuck it hurts and I have an appointment at 3:15 and waiting rooms suck.

why not schedule an appointment during your lunch hour (ha) or between classes? Because I have no guarantee I'll get back before the office closes or my last class is over. The night one.

1:39 PM  

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