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September 17, 2003

Life's Cruel Ironies

Friedrich --

Given the we-always-smarten-up-about-it-too-late nature of life, as well as the way the cruelties and ironies keep on accumulating with the passing years, it seems to me that "Life's Cruel Ironies" could become a regular feature here at 2Blowhards. On the other hand, I often find that there's no better way to ensure that something won't happen than to resolve that it will. Hey, wait: that's another one of Life's Cruel Ironies. So who knows, eh?

* Swimming. There's no physical-exercise/sports activity that leaves me feeling as loose and happy. But: I've got no feel for the water, and so will never be a better-than-OK swimmer. Is it really too much to ask that desire, pleasure, opportunity, luck and talent work in coordination? OK, I guess it is.

* History. Hey, I've finally gotten interested in the subject. But: pushin' 50, I've pretty much lost the ability to retain new facts.

* Computers. Great tools that allow me to do creative things more easily than ever before. But: by enabling bosses to streamline procedures and thus get more control over their projects, computers have played a big role in reducing my creative input (such as it ever was) at work. Further irony: I've discovered that, on the job at least, I prefer being a drone.

* Blogging 1. Easy, convenient publishing that's tons more fun (as well as much more intellectually, personally and emotionally rewarding) than any professional writing I ever did. But: no way to get paid for it. Further irony: I suspect that my, ahem, creativity may actually be stimulated by the hopelessly-impractical, hobby-esque quality of blogging.

* Blogging 2. The "postings" convention makes writing projects seem finite and manageable; it's ideally suited to the kind of grab-a-moment-here-and-a-moment-there life I lead. But: I'm an associative writer who's more drawn to the leisurely weaving-together of ideas and observations than to the making of short and punchy statements. Result: the creation of 'way too many long (and no doubt unread) postings.

Notes to self: renew determination to keep postings shorter. And remember that spacey associations can build up between and over postings as well as within them.

Interested to learn which of Life's Cruel Ironies have been rattling around the FvB noggin recently. Visitors are encouraged to join in too, of course -- if we can't compare rueful notes about Life's Cruel Ironies, what the heck are we doing hanging out together?



posted by Michael at September 17, 2003


Okay, I got one. I've noticed that there are certain things I always wanted to do, but had very little aptitude for. To take one example, I always wanted to write a mystery. As I've gotten older, I oddly retain interest in some of these "challenges." (Apparently some part of my brain has never really given up on the idea that I'll prove everyone--including myself--wrong and turn out to be a virtuoso at this stuff.) And, over time, I keep thinking about what goes into writing a mystery and developing more insights into it. But I don't get better at it; it just becomes clearer and clearer that this seems to involve a kind of logic that my brain never really "got"--and almost certainly never will get. (It's like I'm trying to disprove that old saying "Nothing human is foreign to me." Oh, yeah, I reply, how about writing mysteries!) Still, I suspect I'll be turning over the question (in some corner of my mind) on my deathbed.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on September 17, 2003 12:04 PM

And you aren't sharing your insights and musings about mysteries with your almost-a-mystery-buff co-blogger?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 17, 2003 12:08 PM

1. I have the soul of a singer, but not the vocal chords. Sigh. In my head I can belt it out like Aretha or Gladys or Barbra (or even Pat Benatar) but not in real life. And I want to get up with the band so much!!

2. Men were such a mystery to me in my youth. Unconciously accummulated knowledge has apparently manifested itself, as I have met up with three guys I knew in my youth in the last year. All three have, um, egos. A news anchor, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and an attorney who used to be a bass player for a rock band that actually hit the charts a few times in the early eighties. I flattered them (sincerely) by saying---"I used to watch you on TV," "I loved your column", "I think it's cool you were in a band." I have had lunch and dinner bought for me, received free reprints of articles, been kissed and hugged, and had one go around telling people I work with "I really like Annette!"

Awwww, you guys are EASY! What was the big mystery?? :)

PS---The Two Blowhards are SO SMART! I LOVE your blog!

Posted by: annette on September 17, 2003 04:04 PM

A cruel irony
I became a professional user of my native language by writing and lecturing about the economics and politics of my home country. And while doing this found out there's so much to hate here, I'd rather emigrate. But, exactly because I'm and first and foremost a professional user of my native language I'm also its captive.

Posted by: ijsbrand on September 17, 2003 05:34 PM

Annette -- Thanks, and we love your visits, provided you aren't giving us an ironic (and above-us) dig, that is. Where do you do your singing, by the way? I share an apartment that's so small there's nowhere I can do a little of my own lousy singing (I assume you're much better than lousy) without seriously endangering my marriage.

IJSbrand -- Wow, that is a cruel irony. I've read Euro-masterworks that turned on smaller pivots than that one. When are you going to start blogging more in English, by the way? Eager to read more of your thoughts.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 17, 2003 05:44 PM

1. Now that I have the money, I no longer have the time.

2. Now that I know what I'm doing, I no longer have the energy to do it.

3. I have never wanted to be a singer and everyone who hears me sing says I have a wonderful alto voice---how's that for cruel!

Posted by: Deb on September 17, 2003 06:22 PM

Who was it that wrote, "Experience is a wonderful teacher, but one whose lessons come too late?" That quote has been rattling around my head since reading this post.

Posted by: Nate on September 17, 2003 07:58 PM

Well, I am jealous of Deb. I sing when I'm alone to records, loudly and happily. I used to have a dog and even she used to (sweetly) lick my face when I was singing, I think to shut me up.

I also have a dear friend who really is a good singer, good enough to keep me on tune, and she lets me sing with her so I can feel like I can sing for five minutes. Of course, the illusion is shattered if she has to answer the phone or something and stops singing.

Posted by: annette on September 17, 2003 08:15 PM

Dont feel bad, Annette.

I am totally phobic about singing in public. I got chosen to sing "The Magnificat" once in the church Christmas Eve service and got scared, literally, spitless in front of a whole load of people all dressed up in their holiday finest. I managed to squeek it out after watching the room go dark a couple of times and unsticking my tongue from my teeth but that was the last time.

Now I belt out Broadway tunes while I clean and sing along, with dishcloth on the head so I get into the spirit of the nun's songs, to The Sound of Music. And lullabies to kids who dont care how good your voice is anyway.

Posted by: Deb on September 17, 2003 09:36 PM

At every stage growing up, a man learns what was necessary to seduce women at the last stage. Always playing catch up!

The better I learn to read French, the more opportunity I have to realize I want nothing to do with the French.

Posted by: alexis on September 18, 2003 03:50 AM

"I've discovered that, on the job at least, I prefer being a drone."
This is a cruel irony for me because this came on the heels of discovering that there were other options for a person "like me." And by "like me" I mean one who, like myself, had been raised on a chicken farm.

I suppose it's cruel that, although I have perfect hearing and can keep perfect time, my "singing voice" sounds something like an engine chewing itself to bits combined with a racoon's death throws. I should either be able to sing or unable to hear how awful my voice is.

Posted by: j. "Hippity Hop" c. on September 18, 2003 11:09 AM

Hey, we should all get together and collaborate on a book on this theme. I can see it now, for sale up by the cash register at B&N, making all of us millionaires...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 18, 2003 12:13 PM

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