237. circles

Lately it seems many things are going in circles like a slowed down NASCAR race. My focused desire to write has been on the wane. Life has been a skipping cd, which I realize is a dated reference but better than a skipping record. There are days, weeks or even months when monotony pervades.  The news stutters on, repeating itself over and over. It’s not new, folks. War, disease, racism, and ignorance are doing well.  Life’s same old, mindless routine has become a rut. It’s nobody’s fault, I just find myself looking at a fish in an aquarium swimming around and around his little tank, and I feel like a kindred spirit, a fellow ichthus. Glub glub. Boosh. Woosh. Thrum bum bum. My tank is eight miles wide and ten deep, approximately ten across. I swim back and forth to work and stores, church, friends, etc. The aquarium I live in is nice, just a little too familiar sometimes. Maybe a motorcycle jaunt or a skydive would jack me up. Couldn’t hurt. Well, it could kill me, but other than that, it couldn’t hurt.

Went to NYC to visit my oldest daughter. How many one way streets are there in Manhattan and Brooklyn? More than you can drive down. I had a parking space at a metered spot on a one way street last week. I noticed a free parking space behind me on another one way crossing street. It was 50 yards away but inaccessible unless I drove a half mile and made three lefts, which I did. Only to arrive as some deviant miscreant Brooklynite finished parking in that golden void. I cursed once or twice and kept driving in circles to my right this time. Make four rights and you will wind up in a square circle where you began if you don’t hit a bicyclist, which gets tempting after a while. They cut and swerve like birds through the herd of autobuffalos. A little envy naturally arises. Those guys can glide through stalled traffic and run red lights at will. They weave freely among the metal, concrete and asphalt canyons. Until the rains come, then justice prevails.

My daughters went to a musical while the wife and I went to a swing dance club. It was actually a nice time. We were anonymous tourists with no expectations placed upon us except the cover charge. Nothing is free in NYC. The Holland Tunnel cost $13.oo, just to get into Manhattan. (I still have two outstanding parking tickets from 2006, I think. We sold that car, so I think I escaped those charges… nearly $300, no kidding.) Everything seems to round up to a hundred dollars– tickets, club tabs, breakfast, lunch and dinner. By the time you add in a taxi home, well, there’s another $35.  But forget the cost of everything; remember the value of one thing, my Bliago.  Yes, I can dig that permutation of Shakespeare. Besides, next year it will all cost even more so today is gonna be a bargain in five more years.

Circles, circles, circles. My wife helps an antipoverty group in town called Circles. She’s a bit more practically committed than I am. I try to avoid long term commitments beyond marriage and family. Anyway, about a year ago she began mentoring a young woman who wanted to get out of poverty. It went fairly well for the first year. We could see progress despite some obvious limitations involved. Now here’s the kicker:  remember the loud drunk I posted about in post # 128?  Well, our little mentee girl met him and moved him in with her. Remember that I had the guy arrested and then went to the district justice’s three times before he pled guilty and got six months in the county jail. But it wasn’t over then. While I was on vacation in Florida, the arresting officer called my cell phone and asked if I could testify yet again because Mr. Screamy appealed his 26th drunk and disorderly conviction. Yep, so after Screamo got out of jail he hooked up with this woman. Indirectly she funded his alcohol consumption. Every dollar he did not spend for her rent, phone or utilities, he got to spend on liquor. Fantastic. Indirectly we were helping her indirectly help him directly abuse society. Cyclical injustice without bikes this time.

This development did not sit well with me or my wife. After all, Miss Mentee walked our dog. She was connected to my family. But… we are not stupid. After hearing her talk about her drunk and disorderly new boyfriend, my wife put 1/16 and 1/16 together and got 8/64. She inquired about the paramour, and what do you know?  One and the same dude. On top of that, mentee had known the connection for a while and had said nothing about it. Uh oh. On top of that she claimed, “You are all so judgmental!”  You know what? We certainly are. We can judge between a rattle snake and a baby’s rattle, by God. And we do this on a daily basis, most assuredly. In fact, I judged a completely antisocial drunk who was disrupting my business to be breaking the law and had him arrested a year and a half ago. The Boro police and district justice agreed with me and he was sentenced to six months in jail for the 26th time. That’s 13 years total if  you’re keeping score at home. Furthermore, I judged that helping someone reach to get out of poverty was a good and noble thing to do. Yes, I am so judgmental.

We judge all day every day, but we should not condemn. Judging is using our brains beyond simple perceptions and facts. We judge when we plug facts and memories and concepts into a mental matrix of values and priorities. Otherwise we simply chase our tails and repeat the same old mistakes forever. Poverty is not a lack of money, by the way. Many folks live spiritually impoverished lives while others practice impoverished thinking. In any event no good deed goes unpunished.



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