It’s been a very strange week. Monday, I was a high school student looking out the window of my history class. Sure I loved history but I was thinking about the future that day. I decided there was no future as that day was never going to end. I was convinced high school would never have a conclusion. I was just one more awkward teenager without a damn clue. Like most goofs my age I was sure I’d be dead before I hit thirty. Hell, who’d want to live longer than that when these days are going so slooooow.
Tuesday, I was a sophomore at college. I was going for art but had switched to commercial art. That was a bad move as now I had to take business classes. Being in art is more brutal than you might think. In a lot of classes your classmates have no clue as to your progress. In an art class when all one has to do is look around at your neighbor’s easel it’s apparent when you suck. It is quite intimidating to realize that on a daily basis. Especially if you are the guy like me who didn’t measure up.
I was in a writing class that I really enjoyed. The young associate professor told me some of my writing struck a chord with her. She asked me to bring in some of my art. I did and she suggested I was wasting my time with art and should think about writing. If you’ve followed my writing on these pages you know by now she was wrong. I will readily admit I hate grammar and loath commas so it even makes it worse. I liked abstract art so now I do what I call, abstract writing. Commas be damned.
I went to a management class where the professor taught us the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Laws. He told us the theory was to give workers a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. That way you would get the best performance out of them. After spending a week on that and passing a test on it we came to next weeks class. We were then told to now throw what we learned about the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs out the window. Instead we were told, give your workers just enough pay for food, clothing and shelter. That way they will make sure they drag their ass into work everyday. I realized this was pretty typical of the crap I was getting from business classes. My father is a union barber who had been his union president. My grandfather was a steelworker, my two grandmothers and all my aunts and uncles worked at Westinghouse. I was the proud descendent of a working-class family. Screw this business B.S. I headed to admissions and quit school.
Wednesday, I was off to be a steelworker and tell my union brothers and sisters about what the next bunch of young managers coming up were being taught at colleges. I said, how they were being taught to be even bigger a-hole bosses than the bunch already at the plant. Some of my fellow workers actually resented that news. Many of them were busting their cans off working overtime to put their kids through college. They did not want to believe their kids would forget where their roots were. I felt their pain but the next decades brought us what became known as, yuppie scum or soulless pricks as my fellow workers would say. An alarming number of this ilk turned their backs on their blue-collar upbringing.
I imagined my life as a steelworker would be to join in solidarity with my fellow Joe Six-packs and fight for the coming worker revolution. Workers of the world unite! Instead our political “representatives” didn’t represent the U.S. and our corporations had no patriotism so the companies up and left. Joe-Six-pack had been reduced to Joe-Two-pack after years of concessions that didn’t save his job in the end. Joe was rewarded with a tiny 401-K fund or worse a stolen pension and no health care.
Thursday, I started in the new economy. The service-sector economy which should be called, the anorexic paying-sector. I work with autistic kids and love the kids and staff but if my wife wasn’t working, we’d easily be eligible for food stamps. I volunteer to coach my eight-year old son, Adam and five-year old daughter, Mac’s recreational league soccer team. I learn along with them and meet some great parents and their great kids! I also met John, a coach from Lordstown who was so sick he actually taught his 5-9 year-old players how to injure their opponents. He finally was thrown out by the county’s soccer organization, as a coach. Without volunteering for coaching I never would have realize people that sick actually walk among us.
Friday, Mrs. Elecpencil and I picked up our daughter, the Mac from college in Pittsburgh. My son, Adam is the other way in college near Erie. Mac soon borrows the car and goes to visit her grandmother (my mother-in-law) . She is 87 and doing well enough that she still lives in her home. Grandma loves to play cards and Mac beats her three out of three times. The only one that ever beats grandma is Mac. Grandma calls her one lucky kid. I realize I am one lucky guy to have her and Adam as children and Mrs. Elecpencil.
I am still fighting a nasty cold. I try some oregano oil that I bought some time ago and figure it can’t hurt. Actually, it did hurt in the fact it tasted like liquid metal. I had just read this article about oregano oil being a good anti-biotic (Do some research on side-effects).
Saturday, I go to Youngstown and someone tries to kill me. I’m only kidding to see if you are still with me. Truth is it’s one of the few times in Youngstown when I don’t face death. Every time I go some idiot waiting at a red light takes off before it turns green and pulls in front of me. I am told by suburbanites that they’re afraid to wait at red lights in Youngstown. I guess actually waiting would make them pee their pants in fear. Damn it Janet (Rocky Horror reference), put on a pair of depends when in Youngstown and stop at the lights. I have said this before and I will say it again, “the life you save may be mine.”
I went to the, “Artist of the Rustbelt” event down at the Rust Belt Brewery in, Youngstown. I am proud of how many talented artists we have in the area. I wanted to try the beer but why waste the money when it would have tasted like oregano oil ale. That still would have been a step up from that right-wing skunk water, Coors. I am not feeling good so I head home to rest after getting Mac some supplies she can take back to school on Sunday. I wanted to attend an event about, Rachel Corrie, at YSU this evening. She was a hero of mine but I decide no one wants me coughing and hacking on them. I stay home and hack and take some more oregano oil. Yuckkkkkk.
I get the newspaper and bring it in from the cold. I head right for the obituary page first, like I always do. It’s sad but I have reached that age where it’s what we do. I note that four people younger than me have died. I have been finding this disturbing for a couple of decades now. Are you shaking your head agreeing with me? If not you’re still young. I see one of those younger than me who died was an accident. Somehow that makes it less frightening to me. Then I note it’s a guy I know named, Russell. He was the father of one of the boys on the soccer team I coached for half-a-dozen years (or Thursday). His kid was a great player and he was a guy who always offered to help. Russ died in a fire and it’s noted he didn’t have a smoke detector. If you don’t like one thing I just wrote that’s fine but please make sure you have a smoke detector. Promise me. I certainly don’t want to see your name in the obituaries for not doing so. Especially, if you are younger than me.
Five for Fighting: 100 Years
The Police: Born in the 50’s
Youth is a disease from which we all recover. ~Dorothy Fulheim