How To Be Maladjusted To Society How To Be Maladjusted To Society
This is not about music.
A few months ago some of you may have noticed a small blurb on our news page about one of our writers being out in the middle of nowhere and having been in Antarctica for a bit of time. The wayfaring scribe was I and that bit of time was long. For the sake of your patience and my mounting carpal tunnel syndrome, I'll compact the ins and outs of the how and why I was gone. I worked with an oceanographic science organization that was heading down to Antarctica. The excursion was to begin in November and last roughly six months with a return due in mid-April. Now, if you are like any other person that breathes our quality-waning air, you'll know that a two-week vacation away from home can seem to stretch on to eternity, I was to be abroad for SIX MONTHS. The bad thing (well, one of the bad things) is that I've done the same thing before not two years earlier and it was nearly the same experience I had this go ‘round. So, here goes, I'm gone, I write for this website (the one you're graciously viewing), I'll be in areas where there are virtually no record stores, and the distance from home isn't even remotely worth the energy to wonder about; everything is laid upon the altar of April's bountiful spring afternoon. I was on a ship, and the ship made a few stops during the transit to and from the bottom o' the earth. Because of the urging of buddy system use, I found myself awash in a sea of American tourists, each characteristically adorned in Lee jeans and Velcro shoes (if you've been overseas then you'll know that you can point out an American at seventy paces, easy), I was of course brought along an admirable wardrobe of snug fitting jeans, comfortable, yet snappy shoes, and a colorful assortment of band t-shirts (cheap, get the job done). After one day of the joy of going along with other peoples' shitty plans, I decided to go it alone and see things for myself. I'd love to regale you with the stories of my misadventures, but let's face it, stories of travel just aren't that entertaining. Have you ever gone somewhere after someone told you an amazing and unbelievable story about it only to find out that it's just as enticing as home? I'll save you the disdain for me and the money it costs to go there. Find out for yourself.So, gone for six months, come back, everything's not the same. As I've mentioned before, I've done this once a few years ago and back then the adjustment was hard. How does this go round stack up? Read on, dear reader, maybe you'll notice a few subtleties that snuck right under your nose. Keep in mind I've been gone since November of last year.
One of my favorite simple pleasures is going to the grocery store. The possibilities that are contained in the places are endless. You can come in and get anything you want to make anything you want, the possibilities are virtually infinite, optimism on retail. As I entered one of my favorite stores, I kind of expected a few small changes, but nothing substantial; maybe a few new brands here and there and a few more varieties scattered about. I think one of the main things that caught my attention was how big this carb counting thing has gotten. Net carbs are presented on everything, a carb-counting section, displays and advertisements that read, ‘for our carb conscious customers', all of it. This diet, although it has worked for people, is still a fad and it's the worst kind. People don't jump to it because it's in or because it's fashionable, people jump to it because it involves their health and how they look naked. It appeals to everyone's inner critic, that's why it's so popular. Wait…I'm reading something…THEY HAVE IT FOR DOGS NOW?! Super.
The Brawny guy changed, didn't see that coming. I found this out by passing over a roll that had some younger, less hairy gentleman with white teeth and chiseled features screened on it. I was actually kind of shocked. The hero that I had once associated with manly and absorbent strength was no more and this ‘new daddy' moved in and changed everything. I guess in an age of aesthetics, sex will have to sell everything, even towels to clean up baby spittle and chicken water. Coffee cans are on their way out, weird. All of those fun games, cuts, and infections that we all enjoyed as kids will be nonexistent for our children. This sort of ‘progress' gave me a new understanding of why our parents think that we are unappreciative of the past; we don't know theirs and our kids won't know ours, there's too much change to keep things close. I don't even have kids and I'm already mad at them.
Construction was done; buildings completed, buildings destroyed. Prices on everything went up, I expected that though, comes with the package. The price for gas is ridiculous. Where I live, it knocks between $2.35 and $2.49 a gallon, fantastic. Everyone knows how fragile politics are, they can change every five minutes. I couldn't keep up with anything of the political ilk while I was abroad so by the time I came home I felt lost. Oil, terror, money, international relationships, and constitutional amendments were changed, lost, and thrown out. The list of nations that were once welcome and sympathetic to our efforts are now ambivalent to anything we try to do. It's not their fault, they've stayed the same, we're getting worse.
Progress is a good thing, but try to adjust to it after a long absence. It's like missing an important day of work or school; the day you come back everyone seems like far gone strangers, unwilling to fill you in while you stand there bewildered, staring at the new snack machine that got installed while you slept in, dreaming of a more satisfying existence.
I'm back home now, pondering over what your thirsty eyes will skim over in the second part of this rant. Until then, keep your eyes open, you don't want to be left behind.
- Phil Del Costello | 2004-06-01