Saturday, September 09, 2006

Roles that I play

Forced to teach business English, I was reduced to explaining to students that there once was this old Achean merchant who had no idea of where all his ships were, that all the masters were drinking while driving and so were half the slaves, that his son, Hippias was growing long hair and up to no good, that he needed a good report writer to tell him what the Hades was going on.

That, I insisted, was the granddaddy of all business reports.

Smartass in the class.

"Were those reports in Linear A or Linear B?"

"What the &^%* do you know kid? I have a tattoo of a fox hunt running all the way down my back (the stars and stripes are on my chest)--the fox hunt is in full progress, and the hounds chase him all the way up my major aperture...Take that, you little uptown asshole!"

At least that's what I felt like telling him.

Yeah, yeah, there was Linear A, which was a kind of pictorial pot-talk, a tad like Egyptian hieroglyphics and there was Linear B, closer to Classic Greek ......I had just graduated from a tech university that wasn't properly accredited and I had to go to Toronto to 'larn somthin' ; and that was why I knew some of that shit, but if a student had asked me three months beforehand, I would have answered in tulips and buttercups...Prof is a f*cking idjit.

There was an essay part to the course, and here is where the otherwise bland future MBA's could get a little creative.


Like in the morning, I wake up to my freaking alarm clock which throw across the room and knock batteries all over the rug--playing the role of day worker.

Like in the evening, I am offering my wife all sorts of amenities and nice talk, hoping later on to play the role of lover.

Like in graduate school, buttering up the prof so you'll keep getting those straight A's and not lose your scholarship, though she knows you are a fucking idiot; playing the role of graduate student.

I thought it was a fairly frivolous assignment until I got some of the essays in. Shakespeare was mentioned, of course, as well as Killgore Trout, a character out of Kurt Vonnegut Junior, on this day of a famous space shoot, where the astronaut was given a fairly straighforward role: "Take the village idiot and shoot him up in a pressure cooker."

And as for the Greek merchantman, why, all Greek philisohy was bumfucking. "The whole is greater than the part.

Right kid?

"Now bend over."

Hey, I'm just quoting Kurt Vonnegut Jr! Serious scholarship, this.

But in all seriousness, we do play roles.

All the time.

There are so many modes we get into.

I have a clown mode (you may have noticed).

I have a serious mode, where I edit good people's poetry and some of it really reaches me, makes me weep.

I have a mode as an avant-garde musician and all the hip talk that goes around it.

What are some of the roles that you play?

What are some of the modes you get into?

I am really curious.


Josie said...

Lately I have been playing the role of cheerleader for everyone else. My life is tanking, but good old Josie keeps a smile on her face and bolster's everyone else's flagging spirits. It gets fucking boring after a while (if you will pardon the Southern accent).

Just once I would like to be the centre of the universe.

ivan said...

I sympathise and empathise.
You are probably stronger and less selfish than most people.
There might be the odd crafty peasant who might take advantage of this.
Seems my parents were a lot like you. When I went through my divorce, I leaned on them too abjectly and too hard. They helped and helped and helped, and I took and took and took. Felt bad about it years afterwards.
My friend says what can you do? If it ever happens to your own child,why, you just pass it on. Do the same for your youngsters if it ever happens to them.
Trouble in the family seems to happen when the patriarch/matriarch should be comfortably retired and gone fishing. Nope. The shit happens when you're sixty or seventy (You are much younger, of course).

I once had something like a breakdown. I am half convinced it came from trying to be all things to all people...there's only so much of you.
I think your vacation was a very good idea. Take time for yourself.
Don't dwell too hard. A mood enters. It seems that the mood is clamoring for some sort of action
Then the mood is gone. Like a thought.
Your nurse's training will get you through. Nurses, I maitain, are near superhuman.
And can they ever write, if I can go by the material in my emails!

Forty_Two said...

I am using a weblog to play the role of a political radical and all around disruptor of all things socially stable.

ivan said...

forty two:


My god, I am seeing subversives all over. Must be the drugs.

I looked at my egg this morning and declared: "This is an anarchist egg!"

Sela Carsen said...

I'm being supportive wife, enthusiastic mom, book promo pimp, diva of everything, master of none. I play at being a writer, but that role is going down the tubes.

ivan said...

Now way, Sela.

You rock.

Writers are extremely versatile people. Musicians are are close cousins to us. Like us, they now have to be multi-taskers.

But writers are supersonic.

I'd give you at least a Mach 2.

H.E.Eigler said...

What roles do I play?

Super-Dooper-Fix-It-Woman: I am she who renovates, replaces computer power supplies, changes failed car batteries, cuts baseboard at perfect 45 degree angles. I like this mode, I feel accomplished.

Office worker: I am she who coordinates, record takes, pushes paper and gets things done. I don't like this mode, I feel bored, trapped, stifled.

I am wife, sister, and daughter but not yet mother. I am housekeeper, cook, driver and errand runner.

And once all else is done I am Artisan. I am she who writes, paints, and creates. She who dreams and hopes, and she who aspires. I like this mode, I do this for me and I feel complete.

ivan said...

Well I must say I really admire this type of person.
Especially an artisan.

Chuckercanuck said...

what about roles I'd like to play?

there's a song in Quebec - maybe a bit tacky in a heart-on-sleeve kind of way. Its called "Blues de Businessman" about a joe whose managed to build an industrial empire and spy on the city from an office atop his own skyscraper.

but he isn't happy because he really wants to be a bummed-out, dirt-poor artist.

there's a guy I can understand - between mortgage payments that is.

ivan said...

Love it!

There is a cartoonist in me.

Just thinking of that old line from
Peppy Le Pew:

"Ah, Gaston. You are such an artiste!

We are all little artistes, even if we sometimes come out like Peppy.

Josie said...

We all play roles, but in the end result, how do we appear to other people?

"Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us." ...Robbie Burns

Sometimes our "roles" are all for nothing. I'm learning that.

ivan said...

I've thought about this for some time, since I was a child brought into the Second World War in Europe. How do I appear to other people? I certainly can't see myself as I act, move among people and do what I do.
Children often think this way. They and baby Pongos, Orang-Utans, who are so close to being children.
What is inside, what is outside? How is it that I can somehow intermediate between the two, in an animal way, for instinct is all you can go by. We interact, at least as children, by instinct, the back of our brain, all we can trust.
And when the famous poet echoes another famous poet, who no doubt was echoing a Roman poet--If we could see ourselves as others see us--he is asking a basic question that began, no doubt with Plato, went through the intellectual siege of Immanuel Kant, Bishop Berkely and David Hume--"No matter. Never mind."
So as we become adults, "No matter. Never Mind"--at least in our interpersonal relationships; science, of course, tells you there is matter. You withdraw your hand from the hot stove.
We all dance on a hot stove;
We all live in a yellow submarine.

But all philosopy starts with a 911 against a single person.
With me, it was the Second World War.
With you, I would augur, it was your personal loss.
I can only go by my mother and my father, both of whom went through unspeakable situations, went on to raise a family, prosper and live to a ripe old age.
It does seem a litle like Mr. Spock out of Starwars.
But then Starwars was informed by the world's greatest books.
There is the balm of the old ancient words. Once we cannot hear those words, we seem bedevilled, lost.
We hear the words and we are soothed.

Josie said...

Yes. I am always surprised that people see me differently than I see myself. Being blonde gives me three strikes automatically. Blonde = stupid. Being a woman, another three strikes. I find myself having to dance around those things and still be the person I am inside. It's very frustrating.

ivan said...

Well it seem to me that when I was in a relationship and had lots of money--like lots, a million, all of my personal problems disappeared. All of them.
There was a new selfconfidence, almost an arrogance now. I could make somebody's asshole snap at fifty paces, I was so smart and rich, and beatiful and talented.

Like a man (heaven forbid, artist!) I chucked it all, gave up the golden factories and went off to find out something about life.
Well damn. A Woodstock life style, multiple lovers, Bougainvillea and the flowers, ladies of the red room, divorce, robbing my children of their childhood--all that Seventies and Eighties ME Generation bullshit. Ayn Rand's Virtue of Selfishness. Ah, but Ayn Rand could write. At the time, I could not.
And then I learned to write, really write, found my voice, but at what cost.
Rumpelstiltskin, tearing myself to pieces, for someone had found my name, the key to me. It was a smart redhead thorugh whom my previous manipulation of women had somehow come back on me. Ivan had met Ivana, who had it all double, in spades. F*cked me up for twenty years. And all the while I was missing the messages from my wife and lonely children.
Learning about life, yeah, learning about divorce and angry landlords and evictions and sleeping in cars and losing the stature of an independent man who at one time would have laughed at any landless serf on the welfare
Chase too many women, pick up the auras of too many lovers, and you go mad.
I am sitting in a ward, "This is the celebrity, this is the person who once told us what to do, how to behave. Look at him now, sitting in his pile of Ukrainian shit."
Masochist tango.
Yet I had once held the key, and that key seemed to have been love and money, especially money.
Money will end the nightmare, says a a frog caricature in a cartoon.

It's all so much like sex.
From a man's point of view anyway:
Once you have it, it seems commonplace, but if you don't, it's all you think about, the only thing you think about.
It's having a relationship, with enough money to keep it going. Makes the world go around.
Having a relationship. Sure quiets the wheels in your head.
Nice work if you can get it.
Myself, I can find somebody in a day.
But so many people can't make a fool of themselves, in a silly-ass way.That, more often than not, is the way, to take a chance, to risk being a fool.
Ah, to makea fool of yourself in a silly-ass way.
Jacques Brel is alive and well.
And maybe living in New York?

Good luck, Josie!
Love and empathy.