Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I’ve had a man shout at me because I made his lox and bagels closed-face, not open-face. Same ingredients, mind you, but different presentation. He literally slammed his plate down on the counter and stormed out of the bagel shop.

I watch people mutter when the have to stand in line for more than a minute. I’ll be standing behind them, and they’ll turn, shake their heads at me, and make little comments about how long it’s taking.

We have TV shows and magazines devoted to what celebrities wear and what they do on the weekend. Lots of them.

A couple weekends ago, I was talking to my friend Tony outside of Arden Fair Mall. You can usually find him down there, hanging around out front. Working, actually. He’s homeless, and he spends his days begging for change, so his family can stay in their hotel room for one more night. We talked about his wife and daughters, his medical problems, and God. During our conversation, he referred to the mall as “that Babylon over there.”

When we finished talking, I walked to the food court to get lunch, and was more disgusted with the mall at every step. For the price of one stupid-looking, supposedly cute pair of shoes, Tony and his family could keep their only place to stay for a few more days. While Tony stood out in the sun, begging for money for food and shelter, someone was complaining about the price of a video game, which they simply did not need. Pointless, I thought, glaring at the designer clothes and DVDs.

Even as I thought it, I knew I would be playing City of Heroes by the end of the day.

I’ve calmed down a little since that afternoon. See, I’m something of a capitalist. I like having cool stuff. And what I’m thinking is that the problem with our consumer culture isn’t having goodies. The problem is when we take them seriously.

People actually think they need frivolities. Whether they take the form of Calvin Klein pajamas, some oversweetened coffee thing at Starbucks, or what have you, the fact is that they’re extras. Non-essentials. The problem is, some people seem to be buying into the message the commercials are feeding them: you need our product, and you deserve to have it however you want it.

The problem is, that’s just not true.

While the iPod is a brilliant invention, doesn’t really matter. You can make it worthwhile – a friend of mine was working on copying the entire Bible into a text file on hers – but that’s not what it’s meant for. Like so many things, it’s for fun. And in today’s culture, we’ve begun to prioritize fun above serving others, personal responsibility, and morality. Obviously problematic.

I don’t believe it’s wrong, in and of itself, to buy cool stuff and enjoy it. Just don’t pretend you have to.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The last mission of Starcraft is preposterously hard. I feel like if I beat it, I'll become some sort of superbeing. Like I'll graduate to a new level of tactical mastery. The secrets of the Xel'naga will be opened to me. Every last one of the outlying colonies will be brought in line. I'll command the Zerg swarms with a thought, and the galaxy will fall before my onslaught.

It's seriously pretty hard. And I'm giving it a fair amount of my time. When I do beat it, I'll more likely sit back in my chair, watch the ending cinematic, and think... okay, now what? Next time I play against other humans on the network at Lenny's, Chase and Adrienne will still flatten me. Probably.

And even if not, I'll just be better at Starcraft.

I've gotta kinda re-insert myself into society. Sitting on top of eight acres in a small town next to the small town just outside of Grass Valley isn't quite my speed. I'm extremely grateful for the open couch at Lenny's house, which gives me a chance to see people on the weekend.

It's hard to be a servant when it's just me and dad. Dad's house has always been sort of an alternate dimension to me. A different, lazier place. Have to remind myself to get up after dinner and do the dishes, since dad never asks. Come to think of it, I have to remind myself to be a servant when I'm around my friends, too. It's far to easy to slip into self-centeredness.

I'm once again in a place where I must figure out what my life is and isn't about. Careers, relationships, what have you. As yet, it's all pretty ambiguous. Expecting some sort of resolution soon.