Tag Archives: tommy lee jones

Crises (and the Ongoing Saga of My Mom and Tommy Lee Jones)

It’s daunting to come home from work around 4am and have an urgent email waiting for you, especially one from a friend who is still trying to master the English language and is asking you to answer a question that might appear on their midterm in the morning:

How did we get into the financial crisis that the world is currently facing?

“This is hard.  I’m going to watch TV, instead.”  That’s what I wanted to say, but instead I produced a few sentences that could be mistaken for some semblance of an answer.  (The word “semblance” reminds me of Harry Connick, Jr. because he said it in an interview once and I was like, “Gosh, he has a nice voice AND a nice vocabulary.”)

Turned out the professor didn’t even ask about the financial crisis on the midterm, so all is well in the world (except for the financial crisis).

Speaking of crises, I’m in the midst of my own personal one.  Aren’t we all, always?  So last night I did what I usually do when I can’t deal with the seemingly important, unresolvable things in my life–I called my mom.  Only she was watching a Tommy Lee Jones movie, so she had to call me back.  (Which will be my excuse next time I want to avoid a conversation.)

When she called back I was on the street.  I had walked down to the coffee place I normally go to, but it was closed.  The only other coffee place is several blocks in the other, more trendy direction of my neighborhood.  Naturally it’s a Starbucks.  And naturally the semi-trendy people have made it their meeting place.  Not one, single time have I been able to find a free table or oversized chair in that location.  Not one.  What I do find are people who look like they’ve been camped out there since the Taft administration.  Only young and fresh-faced as though they just came from yoga.

So anyway.  Coffee at 11pm didn’t pan out.  I continued walking and whining to my mom.  And after an avenue of that, I came face to face with a bit of perspective– a car crash.

It wasn’t a big one.  Just a squealing-tires-fender-bender deal, but still.  You see that, not 10 feet from where you’re standing doing your whoa-is-me routine and suddenly you realize you’re sort of a whiny little bitch.  It’s like that moment in this week’s “The City” when Jay and Whitney are (spoiler alert) breaking up and he says, “I just feel like you have to be a little bit stronger.” 

Beautiful people who wear expensive clothes and can afford to feed themselves regularly are lame, especially when they’re on MTV reality shows, but just for the record…Whitney is a strong, savvy woman and Jay just ain’t ready for all that jelly.

What’s Wrong With Me? Part II

In the off chance that you dont know what Samuel Johnson looks like.

In the off chance that you don't know what Samuel Johnson looks like.

Samuel Johnson did lots of stuff. He published a dictionary in 1755, he wrote all sorts of things, in short, he was “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history.” I don’t know all that much about him to be honest, but I once dedicated a poem to him. Then today, I was thinking about habits because I recently came to a revelation about a sort of bizarre one that I’ve developed. Anyway, upon doing a Google search for quotes about habits, I found this quote from ma’ boy:

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. 

There was also this one:

To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.  –Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life

Think I’ll pick up The Tragic Sense of Life from the library for the next time I’m feeling intellectual.  I get what Miguel is saying about habits.  That’s how I used to feel when I worked at McDonald’s or in factories or filing for a law firm.  Once you get in the habit of doing monotonous labor, yeah, you begin to “cease to be” a little bit. 

The habit I’ve noticed myself doing, though, isn’t all that dangerous…except maybe to my social life.  So here goes.  It’s kind of like those jokes where people yell “Your mom!” only completely different.  My thing is, I find myself telling people about my mom…all the time.  And it’s not interesting stuff, either.  I just tell people stuff that my mom loves.  At work last week, a coworker and I were talking about how Heidi Klum waxed Ross the Intern’s arm on Leno and how funny it was.  Then, for no reason (except to unintentionally kill the conversation), I go, “My mom loves Heidi Klum.” 

Other examples.  My roommate brought a humidifier back to our apartment: “My mom loves humidity.”    My Bulgarian neighbor offered me dried cranberries: “My mom loves The Cranberries…you know, that Irish band.”  And comments like these, not surprisingly, receive no more than a blank look or an unenthusiastic, “Oh, really?”

This weekend I visited home.  My mom and I watched In the Valley of Elah on HBO last night.  And I got pretty excited because she provided me with a new conversation piece when she announced, “I love Tommy Lee Jones.” 



My roommate said, “Your mom would be really happy if she knew.”  And I was like, nah, she’d probably tell me to stop.  You know, something like, “Stop telling people the least interesting facts you know about me.” 

Anyway, if Samuel Johnson’s quote is true, this habit, now that I’ve felt it, is too strong to be broken.  So, I apologize in advance if I happen to tell you all about how my mom loves cucumber sandwiches or how she loves to sculpt lifesize likenesses of Saint Michael. 

Oh, and here’s that poem I dedicated to Mr. Johnson (I especially urge you to use the photo I provide above to help you visualize him in the south of France):

For Samuel Johnson

Not to toot my own horn playing the theme from Rocky
(soundtrack no longer available on Virgin Records),
but according to Philadelphian folklore, men with
high tolerances for confined spaces and neutral colors
are more likely to succeed in life, i.e. cubicles,
which of course all depends on one’s definitions
of success, life, and men.  Everyone is entitled
to their own dictionary, but my predilection belongs
to Webster.  Yeah, yeah: we all want to make babies
and vacation on a nudist colony in the south of France with Samuel Johnson,
but what about the creator of Dictionary.com? 
Don’t try to tell me that women and men alike don’t dream of built-in thesauri,
translators, and words of the day, especially the kinky ones.
Take that, you abridged bastard!  I know who your
mother is and word at the water cooler is everyone short
of Stallone knows her, too.  I won’t mention word at
the vending machine (soda, not candy), but let’s
just say I wouldn’t want to be a product of
her poor excuse for 21st Century lexicography.