Friday, December 13, 2019

Vertigo, Framing, Extermination, and Narcissism

An exterminator visits to spray my house. He tells me he's been feeling dizzy but doctors don't know what to do. I ask whether it's worse when his head is in certain positions, and he confirms. This means 1. his doctor is a quack, and 2. he has what I have: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.
This is when crystals in the inner ear get misdirected. A series of head movements called The Epley maneuver can return them to their correct position, but the Epley maneuver (which makes you super-extra-dizzy for 30 seconds) is difficult to do on your own, so you need to go to a physical therapist for guidance. And physical therapists don’t love this, because it's common for patients to throw up on them!

I have an extremely clever gadget called the DizzyFix (it's a twisty plastic straw filled with oil that you wear like a hat, and, as you move your head to direct the ball through the twists, you're executing the Epley maneuver). It allows you to fix yourself, and it works like a charm, though you need to re-do it every few months.
DizzyFix is no longer sold - and you can't find it second-hand - so I loan mine to the exterminator. A month later, I ask for it back, but he won't respond to multiple texts. Finally, I offer, in a very neutral tone, to come pick it up at his home address, which I note, even though it's unlisted and he'd never given it to me. Dah dum.

This gets his attention. He responds testily/defensively (noting, in passing, that his dizziness is better) but leaves it in my mailbox that very night (without instructions, which he promises to mail separately, and never does).

It's yet another framing disjoint, much like with the subtenant and the gutter cleaners (these three very different postings are a triptych).

From his perspective, I’m one of the people making demands on him, a gaggle of incessant naggers who need stuff, who want favors. If it stems from a commitment he freely chose to make, well, that's just background information. In the foreground, these needy frigging people are on his case for him to attend to their various needy needs. Everyone wants a piece of him, and they need to chill the F out. He'll get around to them (i.e. he won't get around to them).

The entire world is nothing but framing disjoints. That's what Earth is: eight billion people starring in eight billion unrelated movie scenes oddly assuming it's all somehow part of one overarching film. As I wrote a couple months ago:
I don't see a grand distinction between good and evil (for one thing, everyone who's ever tried to define a clean border has failed). I think we're all just following the dramatic storylines in our heads, setting ourselves on courses which gradually cycle us through all the various movie genres, where we do our best to aptly play out scenes that come up. The scene in one head seldom syncs with the scene in another’s. There's no superseding movie, no single calibrating point of moral truth, because we're all caught up, and spun out, in our myriad parallel individual experiences.

Minor writerly aside: we were taught in school to always add an ellipsis when we skip words in a quotation. And you should do so when quoting Shakespeare or Boutros Boutros-Ghali or anyone else important or authoritative. But here's the advantage of being Just Some Shmuck: you really don't need to sweat it (which explains why I didn't with my self-quote above).

Unless you deem yourself a world historical figure, whatever you're presently trying to communicate to the reader is eons more important than preserving a formal accounting of your yaddda yadda. So anything I can do to make the writing marginally clearer, neater, or more digestible, I'll seize the opportunity every damned time. I'm not acting as a journalist here, and, even if I were, I am not the story.


Display Name said...

Good job not hardening your heart. Not much gratitude there. I play mtg which is not a cheap game. Most of my gamer friends are male and ages twenty to fourty. My mom was the hostess with the mostest. I learned to be quite the little hostess and enjoyed serving food and drink on gaming nights at my house. Most of my friends were not hurting for money but were happy to accept my hospitality and always arrived with one arm as long as the other. I love that expression from my grandfather who always said never show up at someone's house with one arm as long as the other. To avoid resentment on my part and still have gaming nights I cut way down on the snacks and drinks. One guy called pretty late and wanted to hang out. I agreed and he showed up with taco bell but only for him. He talked about how he thought of buying a few extra tacos but didn't. He plopped down at my living room table and started to eat. When I tried to interact with him he shooed me away telling me he was trying to eat in peace. I don't host gaming night any more at my house.

Jim Leff said...

This world is disappointing to those who expect quid pro quos. The only problem was your expectation.

The solution is either to retract your generosity or else stop expecting reciprocation. I look at it this way: 9 billion people live on the only colorful, alive, oxygen/water/sunlight/food-enriched place we've ever found in the vast cold grey vacuum of space. How many of us are grateful? How grateful are YOU in any particular moment? And why would you expect more gratitude for your meager snacks and drinks than is felt/expressed for these gorgeous trees and refreshing breezes and a hospitable world full of delight? How can I demand more for my paltry contributions?

Do your Doritos (and my Dizzy Fix) deserve MORE gratitude than those monumental gifts? Whoever gave us all this stuff, I never hear them whining bitterly from the heavens about what assholes you and I are for rushing around in oblivious distraction. Every day I wake up and it's all still here, still offered.

See the writing beneath the horizontal divider here:

Display Name said...

Wow you are up late Jim. I'm pretty grateful most of the time. I listen to a crazy electic radio station when I drive that plays all kinds of songs spanning the decades. wrdv hatboro I think. I have a warm chichuaha on my lap right now and I'm going to slowly read a few pages of an alexander mc call smith novel before I turn in. I hear what you are saying but I tend to be a human doormat, I'm working on it. I bet you continue to try to help people and even lend them cool stuff. That's awesome..

James Leff said...

Here’s the formula: don’t loan anything you’re not happy to lose and don’t give anything expecting even so much as an acknowledgement.

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