The Zest of Life Is Not In Me

I just don’t like things. I sat down yesterday and tried to concoct a list of my favorite things. Some of it was the usual stuff: songs, books, TV shows, etc., and for the most part, I had a very difficult time.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be too alarming, but I’m starting to think I’m broken to the point that I can’t enjoy anything. My favorite book was “Holes” by Louis Sachar. I read it when I was in middle school and read it a handful of times over a three year period. However, I have yet to discover a book I like as much. My tastes have evolved – I prefer reading autobiographies and biographies now. So I tell myself that’s why I haven’t discovered a book I can’t put down. I told my 7th grade English teacher, “I don’t like books with a lot of adjectives and details”. I don’t like “the spotted dog ran, limping down the street with his tail wagging”, I prefer “the dog hobbled down the street” – I’ll insert the details, you just give me the gist. This way things can move along faster and I can get things over with. All those details muddies my mind and removes my creativity. If I imagine a dog, I imagine a brown critter with big eyes and an average tail. I do not want to know that it’s a black scottish terrier and has a white belly – those are details that I have to remember for the rest of the book and it fights with my imagination. This is why I can’t stand most fiction novels.

My favorite TV episode of all time is “The Loaded Goat” from the Andy Griffith Show. In the episode, a goat wanders into town and eats some dynamite being used at a nearby construction site. The acting Don Knotts (Dep. Barney Fife) portrayed in his sheer horror of having a goat in town that could go “blooey” at any moment was a real shining spot on acting in all the years people have been acting. It’s widely regarded as one of the funniest episodes of that show and of classic TV. But, anymore, I can’t find much else worth watching. I like Glee and Desperate Housewives, but none of those shows make me laugh out loud like I did when I first watched episodes of Andy Griffith. Glee has Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, and she does make me laugh, but it doesn’t quite compare. It’s only  because she says what I often think that I find her funny.

When I tried thinking of my favorite pass-time, I realized I didn’t have one. The best I could put down on paper was “sitting in my lawn chair”. I do this usually after I’ve mowed the lawn and I like to sit and enjoy my work. I don’t think that’s normal or healthy.

A lot of people get on my nerves, really, really quickly. I can have a pretty fiery temper – I get it from my mother, who could go off on anything – and it’s what drives me to loathe people who are perpetually late or don’t display some form of loyalty to me or a cause. This is probably why I can never have employees – I’d get ticked real quick when someone showed up late just because they overslept or “just didn’t move fast enough in the morning”. What lame excuses. Sure, alarm clocks fail, but if it happens every week, buy a new alarm clock.

I tried putting down my favorite song. I finally decided nothing rocks my boat quite like the live 1997 performance of “Tumbling Dice” by the Rolling Stones. Everything about that song is just stellar and it’s like sex for your ears. Then, I realized that it’s a 33 year-old song and nothing I’ve ever heard in modern times has really caught my attention. To me, everything just sucks. Songs, movies, TV – it all sucks.

I know it’s cliche, but sometimes I feel like Steve Jobs. He famously owned a mansion in the early 1980s and had no furnishings beyond a lamp because he couldn’t find anything he liked. I’m not so anal that I can’t buy things simply because I can’t find anything else I like, but I’m close. I only buy things that “fit” into my life somehow. It drives Brandon insane that I can be so utilitarian about everything. I don’t like needless clutter, knick knacks or “stuff”. Someone called my living room “sparse” once. That pissed me off. I’ve seen sparse – that’s when you have your 13″ TV on a TV tray and nothing else but a recliner and a lamp in a room that’s got twice as much space. My rooms are full and I’d call them “purposeful”.

Speaking of money, I loathe spending it. It prevents me from doing most everything. If I had a million dollars, I’d still probably only spend $40 a week on groceries – and I tend to cook most all of my food and shy away from boxes, bags and other processed crap. For some people, spending money is just something you do in part of everyday life – to me, it’s painful. I spent 5 minutes at the store Friday comparing boxes of Benadryl and comparing the net weight to the cost and active ingredients because I wanted the best buy. I literally feel ill when I see money being spent. It’s why I can’t look at the gas pump anymore – seeing those numbers roll around makes me want to vomit. I’m not exaggerating about that.

To see people spend money on drinks at a bar is beyond my brain’s capacity for understanding. If you’ve ever spent money on a drink at a bar or restaurant in excess of $2 (which is still too much), I’d tell you that you paid a “stupid tax”.

That lack of money flow, not because I don’t have it, but because I hate spending it, prevents me from doing a lot. Eating out, drinking, traveling, shopping, going to shows, etc. I’ve never been to a beach, but I’d love to go. But, I could never get there. Knowing how much the gas would cost, the hotel rates, food and everything else just makes me sick. I’ve tried figuring up plans before and I can’t even finish. I always end up saying, “You want me to spend how much for a small room with a bed for 24 hours?” I refuse to pay for things beyond what they’re worth to unhealthy levels. It’s why I call Comcast every 6 months to get them to lower my bill. It’s why I call my insurance agent every year and say, “I can’t stand this three digit number – I want it lower and how do we get it lower?” The answer is always the same – I can’t get it lower – but it doesn’t stop me from trying.

That’s not to say I don’t spend money – I’m looking at removing the carpet in the living room and throwing down hardwood floors. But, it’s a move that I expect will raise the value of my house and in turn, save or generate revenue. To me, everything boils down to, “Does it work in my favor? Is it useful?” Going to the beach sounds like fun, but I know I’m just going to end up back here. Those floors, however, I look at those every day.

Like Homer Simpson once said to Marge, “Why do you want to go out for? We’re just going to end up right back here.”

The zest of life, is not here. Some people enjoy life or relish the fact they get to get up each morning. I do not. I do not believe in life after death – when I’m dead, I’m dead and that’s the end of me. I have perhaps an unhealthy acceptance of death to the point that I don’t care if I died tomorrow. I’m perfectly fine with that because I know my absence isn’t going to be that profound.

When I do die, I want to be cremated and my ashes stuffed into a confetti blaster – preferably during a Stones concert when they perform “Tumbling Dice”.

States Looking to Tax More

In the scramble to find something, anything, to generate more revenue, states are considering new taxes on virtually everything: garbage pickup, dating services, bowling night, haircuts, even clowns.

“It’s hard enough doing what we do,” grumbled John Luke, a plumber in the Philadelphia suburbs. His services would, for the first time, come with an added tax if the governor has his way.

Opponents of imposing taxes on services like funerals, legal advice, helicopter rides and dry cleaning argue that this push comes as businesses are barely clinging to life and can ill afford to see customers further put off by new taxes. This is especially true, they say, in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, where some of the most sweeping proposals are being considered this spring.

Not in Indiana. Somehow, Indiana has been affected by the recession just as much, if not more than Michigan and Pennsylvania, yet we’re ok. Gee, I wonder what the difference could be…

This Week’s Tweets

  • Social Security is projected to pay out more than it takes in this year. A tipping point that wasn't expected until at least 2016. Great. #
  • Well shit. Winchester, Indiana threatened by giant poop bubbles: http://huff.to/b3FKXe #
  • In case you missed it, learn about those "Sneaky gays" and their "pre-existing condition": http://bit.ly/b7NcPd #
  • In advance of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution tonight on ABC, the US Senate is weighing school lunch reform: http://huff.to/dl5v5l #
  • Is it possible to design a website with multiple pages without a navigation menu? #
  • I've been able to spend a wonderful day doing nothing but drafting website layouts on paper. #
  • Holy crap, it's only slightly above freezing outside. That green grass and sun is awfully deceptive. #
  • Looks like Indy's weekly tornado drill test is 6 minutes behind schedule. Tsk tsk. #
  • First came "The Social Safety Net", next was "The New Deal" and now we have "The Big F*cking Deal". #
  • Doing screencasts for my students so they can work over spring break. Such studious students. #
  • "When you're owed a tax refund, we'll actually send you cash unlike Kansas and a bunch of other states. How quaint." – Mitch Daniels #
  • http://travel.justinharter.com #
  • Indiana really comes out swingin'. Good work, men: http://bit.ly/9X5f3Z (via @Jim4) #
  • The dominoes fall: GoDaddy follows Google, set to leave China for intolerable privacy rights violations. #
  • Indy DPW has a nifty app to find out if you get a new trash can or if your trash day is changing: http://bit.ly/9Zo9DO #
  • Americans sure are a fussy bunch. Now everyone likes the #HCR bill. #
  • Thank god we live in a country where we can buy insurance from…an insurance company. #
  • Indianapolis ranks second of the top 25 U.S. cities on the return rate of U.S. Census forms. We're awesome! #
  • I'm nice. Don't you think I'm nice? #
  • Chain restaurants will be required to list calories both on in-store and drive-through menus of fast-food restaurants soon. #hcr #
  • Ask me anything http://formspring.me/jlharter #
  • The Wash. Post has a page to see what the HCR bill means for you. I just get more taxes and no subsidies. Great. http://bit.ly/cBc3rP #
  • Sometimes, when I shave my face, I miss a hair that becomes longer than the rest. And that bothers me. And that's everybody's problem. #
  • It's a good day – two new clients in the last hour and they don't even know each other! #
  • That sound you hear is the sound of grandma being executed by Obama's death panels. #
  • Liberals put up with 8 years of Bush's hair-brained bat shit crazy policies doing far worse things. #
  • Amuricuh: F*ck Yeah! #
  • http://www.welcometointernet.org/ #
  • Rep. Carson (D-Ind.) claimed Sat. tea-baggers directed racial slurs at Rep. Lewis (D-Ga.). "Protesters called Lewis the N-word". #
  • If only we had debated important things like, you know, Iraq, this long. #
  • CNN reporting Reps. Gifford and Baird are switching votes to "Yes" on HCR. HuffPo reporting Dems have clinched all 216 votes needed. #
  • Thanks everyone for the responses. Health Care debate starts today at 1 PM ET and goes for two hours to cover three key votes. #
  • Does anyone know precisely when the House will take up the #hcr vote(s) today? #
  • To media artists out there: I'd like to invite you to RefreshIndy on 4/7 at 7 PM at Rock Bottom. RSVP at http://refreshindy.com #
  • The Jet Stream is a funny thing – it's 61 here in Indy and snowing in Chicago. #