Monthly Archives: October 2010

The pumpkin farm

I like pumpkins.  These pumpkins were in a display window for a hair salon–telling passersby that their establishment is so good they can even style vegetables.

For most of my life I lived up the block from a pumpkin farm.  The guy who ran the pumpkin farm was also my bus driver all four years of high school.  That’s the kind of town it was.

One October I walked down to the pumpkin farm with my mom and my older brother.  They offered free hay rides to pick your own pumpkin straight from the field, but we just wandered around near the farm stand.  And while wandering around, we spotted a very, very large pumpkin.  And my brother approached it and tried to move it to get an idea of how heavy it was.  That was when he grabbed onto the stem on top–and it immediately came off in his hand.

When it comes to pumpkins, the stems are valuable.  No one wants to buy a pumpkin without its stem.   Unless maybe the person just wants to cook with the pumpkin, not decorate with it.  So the stem coming off the monster pumpkin was this gasp-inducing moment, followed immediately by the sounds of an angry Jamaican farm hand  yelling about how that pumpkin would never sell now.  Like an orphan no one wanted that would slowly rot and get tossed onto the street on its eighteenth birthday.

I felt bad for my brother.  I still feel bad thinking about it now.  I remember his face so vividly.  It’s the same face you’d make if you accidentally dropped a crystal vase at a rich lady’s house.  Shame.  Embarrassment.  Worry.

Yeah, it was just a pumpkin.  But to my bus driver, the pumpkins were his crystal vases.

TV! $&^%!

On CBS at 9pm every week you can watch good looking people get brutally murdered as a team of good looking people works to solve the case.  There’s violence–blood and rape and 9mm–but at the end of the episode one of the good looking people leaves you with a heartwarming quote to ruminate on, like the one a few weeks ago from Buddha when he talks about family and harmony and beautiful gardens.

I don’t have a small family or beautiful gardens to tend.  But I just watched a woman get shot at pointblank range on national television and I watched a man force a married couple to have sex in the backseat of a van while he watched.

The writers, the actors, the producers–these are the people getting nominated for Emmy’s and celebrating a great sweeps week with bottles of expensive champagne.  But what about me?  What about me who has to walk home from work at 3am and suddenly I can’t shake the idea that I’m going to get raped on the sidewalk and become the next great plot.  And don’t tell me I can just turn off the TV, because it’s my job to watch.

No really.  It is.  Except I’m getting laid off from that job, so then it won’t be my job to watch and I can just turn off the TV.  And I’ll have to turn off the TV because there will be no money to pay for the TV anyway and the Republicans are going to take over control of the House and what the hell good have I been, wasting away in front of a screen.

Even more disturbing than I described.

But this really is a great Buddha quote they incorporated 🙂 :

A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.

Impending lay off and it feels so good. Impending lay off like we knew we would.

More and more lay offs have begun taking effect at my workplace.  My own release date is still a few weeks off.  But the goodbye hugs and the “Nice working with you”s have made it all more real.

Made me think of that movie from last year, Up in the Air, with George Clooney.  I saw it in the theater by myself and I snuck in a calzone.  Made me think of one scene in particular, the one when Anna Kendrick’s character fires her first man using the remote system she pioneered.  Kendrick tells him over a computer webcam that he’s been fired.  And the look on his face.  That man’s performance affected me more than the film as a whole.

But I couldn’t find it!  So here’s something else from it:

“Anybody who ever built an empire or changed the world sat where you are right now.  And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.  That’s the truth.”

That “truth” makes me feel equal parts suspicious and inspired.  Because of course it’s not as simple as that.  Being laid off alone doesn’t automatically give you the tools or opportunity to change the world or build an empire.  But I do think it can get the fire in your belly burning enough for you to make steps in that direction. 

If, of course, you can find the means to feed and shelter yourself and survive while heading in that direction.  If you’re George Clooney?  No problem.  If you’re anybody else…