Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Alan Shore level of disgust

I'm feeling remarkably Alan Shore-ish today.

Any Boston Legal fans? David Kelley groupies? Show of hands? Ahhh

I have never done this for a TV show, ever, but I seek out and read the transcripts of certain shows because there are some lines I'd like to read slowly and savor.

Alan Shore's closing arguments are unbelievable (and I mean that in the suspension of disbelief and awe and amazement at stunningly good writing and point-making ways).

For those of you not in the know, Alan Shore is an idealistic idealogue who stands on principle and has remarkable courage of conviction.

That's not how I feel, though.

I feel the incredible sense of disgust at injustice and an off-kilter world, with values and priorities askew that Alan often reveals in his closing arguments in the courtroom.

I wish this was related to some big issue that I could write persuasively and eloquently about. But it's not. It's not about one thing or a big thing. Instead, it's about a series of small things that I suspect all gel to form a big thing.

There's a story I heard on Boston Legal, although it's not the first time, I think, that I heard the story. (Link to PDF source.)
Judge Gloria Weldon’s Courtroom
Attorney Samantha Fried: A catastrophic flood—a man is on his roof. The flood waters rise, inching closer to his heels as he clings to the chimney. A rowboat passes. “Get in my rowboat or you’ll certainly drown,” says the man in the boat. “No. God will save me,” answers the man on the roof. A motorboat passes. “Get in or you’ll certainly drown,” “No,” says the man on the roof. “God will save me.” Now a helicopter flies over, and the pilot shouts, “Climb up this ladder to me or you’ll certainly drown.” “No, God will save me.” And the helicopter flies off, and the man drowns. And when the man gets to heaven, he says, “Lord, why didn’t you save me?” And God says, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, a helicopter.”

I feel like the man on the roof. Am I so blind as to be missing the obvious? Am I looking for the wrong thing? Have I asked for the flood waters to recede when I ought to be paying attention to ways to stay above water?

Most of all I want to cry out to ask, "What do you WANT from me?"

Last night I dreamed again about living beside the sea. No, not this sea, no, not this house. There was a little fishing shack, past the beach, where soil allows sparse grass to grow. My ghostly self entered the shack and saw it stocked with things of ease and comfort: old cans of fresh water, some blankets and towels, books, as well as practical beach side equipment. I didn't stare too long. The items seemed to be circa early mid-20th century, 40s, or maybe 50s. Who can tell. Certainly not me, the dreamer. My ghostly hand reached to pull a book off the shelf. My not-there mouth smiled and I felt a little spurt of fondness for the me I used to be. Such a silly little book, on the shelf there, alongside the weightier classic tomes. And yet I recalled it as my favorite. I could not resist flipping it open, to look once more at the pages. My mind tried to make sense of the words on the page, but they were from a different time and space. In front of me now are hatching crocodiles, or maybe alligators. I never can tell. Two hatched and scooted quickly under a bit of tree root and watched in resignation and horror as an adult croc-i-gator gobbled up the siblings. "What do we do now?" asked one to the other. "I don't know," said the other, "I've never been a crocodile before." Just then the view panned back and I saw it was the same beach area. A large Newfoundland dog ran along the beach. I snapped my attention away from the reptiles and stared at him. I knew that dog! I knew him! I knew the fluffy furry softness of his head, where I used to bury my nose. I knew how his tongue lolled to the side while he slept. He leapt into the water and I wanted to warn him of the dangers, but he seemed to know. I could only float gently and watch.

I snapped awake, confused and distressed. I wasn't worried to have such an odd dream. I was worried that I knew that dog and book and couldn't think of the name or title.

The clock told me it was 4 a.m. and I chastised myself to go back to sleep, but my mind whirred around and around about the choices and issues weighting me down so heavily just now.

These things are making me feel mad and mean inside. I am a petulant child who sulks and resists having to make all the choices and shoulder all the burdens. I am a tantrumming child, resisting change, not wanting to stop doing what I like to do something I might not like, and I'd rather not, just in case, if it's all the same to you. I'm an angry child yelling about fairness when I do not get what I want or expect. I'm a parent chastising myself, telling myself baldly I am not entitled. I'm a young woman, wondering if, unbeknownst to me, I am the silly contestant for the American Idol reject reels.

I'm not good at drawing lines, and I long ago gave up trusting my instincts. I lost a while back what it is that I mean to go about doing.

What do you do when you decide to reclaim that...and are immediately tested in many ways?

I talk and whine vaguely, and a friend recently asked, "What does it cost you to never tell what happened, the context?"

I imagine it costs less than telling. People can have opinions about keeping secrets---something I dislike, for the record, when it is simply a power play, such as a close friend or relative saying, "Oh we aren't telling what we're naming the baby"---but they have judgments about events.

When my husband came down at 5 a.m. to prepare to leave for work (yesterday he left at 4 a.m.), he saw me downstairs and asked, "What's wrong?" and then was too stunned to reply when I said the only answer worse than nothing, "Everything."

My life is a dryer full of rocks right now, chunking and clanging, knocking and banging. Dryers are good, rocks are good. But not together. So which do you need? Which one do you keep?
Alan Shore has brought his very own personal soapbox with him, and sets it in the middle of the floor; steps up onto it, and buttons his jacket for good measure.
Judge Gloria Weldon: What are you doing?
Alan Shore: Climbing on my soapbox, Judge. I do it once a week.
Judge Gloria Weldon: Get off that thing now, Mr. Shore!
Alan Shore: You sure? This is vintage soapbox stuff.
. . .
Has anyone ever heard of restless legs syndrome? It’s where you move your leg about in your sleep. It’s awful. You may have it. It may not keep you awake; it doesn’t really harm you in any way. It may not bother you in the slightest, but nonetheless it’s awful. The pharmaceutical companies have declared it so. So they’ve invented a drug, and you simply must take it. If you haven’t heard of restless leg, by the way, you probably have attention deficit disorder. Awful. We’ve got a lot of drugs for that one. You must take them. You’re depressed.
Cut to a female juror who looks somewhat sad
Alan Shore: You’re not sleeping enough.
Cut to Denny Crane, who IS sleeping!
Alan Shore: You think you’re shy, but you’ve actually got a social anxiety disorder.
Cut to male juror who looks a bit uncomfortable with the attention.
Alan Shore: as camera pans across an older male juror Weak stream. and another male juror Irritable bowel syndrome. You people have all kinds of ailments you don’t know about. Luckily, we’ve got drugs for
every one of them. You must take them. My colleague has a case involving a “Forgetting Pill.” You can take that one to forget you ever had restless leg or irritable bowels!

There is no pill for decision-making or life-changing, not to help you decide, not to help ease the transition. There is no epidural for it, either. So, au naturel, sans pain relief, we must charge forward, as grown-ups and do what must be done.

But what must be done isn't so obvious.

Because while there is no pill---not yet---there are plenty of must-haves.

And the trick? The trick is sorting out what is truly a must-have versus something you've been told you must have.

This is about school, kids, career, next steps...not my health, no news on that front, which is good news, although I am chronically tired of chronic sickness.

NOTE: Heads Up for Hump Day. Tomorrow...

Lawyer Mama was inspired by my 27 Dresses post and suggested for this week (2-13): Are people we know fair fodder for writing? People in our real lives? Online? Other bloggers? Things we read, such as blog posts, emails, news stories, etc?

How do you handle writing about people? What are your criteria for discussing the people who affect you? Have you ever dealt with someone finding themselves in your writing and reacting (in any way)? Share with us your ethics and mores as a writer, when it comes to characterizing others.

Every single one of you ought to tackle this one. Seriously, we need a lot of voices weighing in on this. I think it will be useful for newer bloggers, heck, any and all bloggers.

If at least 6 people post I will trouble myself to employ SOCIAL MEDIA for publicity.

I hope you all know how much that means, coming from me.

Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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Maddy said...

Health is one of those things that all too many of us take for granted until we have reason to think otherwise.

Thanks for the reminder

Suz said...

You know...I've been thinking of another TV show today, the celebrity version of Trump's App.rentice. G.ene Si.mmons was on the show a while back and was hysterical. I mean, I don't even know what you call what he has self-confidence. The man's certainly an ass, but there was something to admire. His team lost a task. He kept insisting that they actually won it and that when the executives finally woke up to that fact, they would come to him and say: "Gene, you're not only brilliant, but a good-looking man."

I think about this and I want that type of confidence or arrogance or whatever it is that allows someone to chart out a path, pursue it, and defend it against all comers.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm going to try and right about this Hump Day--I'm feeling like a dryer full of rocks myself, and wish I could have a block of time to just SIT and THINK.

jeanie said...

Oh, you sometimes take half-baked ideas out of my I-wish-I-had-the-guts/talent/thought process-to write box and throw them onto your potters wheel and create such marvels from them.

I am going to take you up on your hump day challenge - it is already Wednesday here, and I think I need to do something other than ponder the what I should be doings...

melissa said...

I'm having one of those periods, too. There isn't one big thing that's gnawing at you, just a whole bunch of little ones. And some of them seem petty and you feel guilty for getting bent out of shape about them, but you are upset all the same. And you just want to stamp your feet and scream like your preschooler. But you can't because someone has to be the grown up. Sigh...

Hang in there. Try to work through what you can just a little at a time. It's like tangled string; if you pull too hard, it just gets tighter. But if you work with it, you can unravel it.

Robert said...

Not to trivialize this deep post, but the dream you wrote of reminds me of my own. I frequently dream extremely vivid dreams, so clear that it is disorienting to wake from them. Most often, I realize I am dreaming because at some point in the dream I begin to take running leaps into the air and fly, which I seem to have the consistent ability to do in these. Several of them have given me cold chills when I woke, though. The type of dreams you wake from and go find your wife or child (if they're not nearby) to check their breathing. So I know how it is to have dreams that gnaw at you.

As for the health, I used to have terrible health problems on top of each other. I had bad knees because I was overweight, which made it harder to get better since I was overweight, which made me tired a lot, which was amplified by having the beginnings of sleep apnea, which made the weight pile on faster... a vicious cycle, compounded by some measure of depression. Finding my way through one door, though, helped me with all the others at the time, and even though my health is not perfect (far from it), I have a much better outlook. Good luck with all you're dealing with.

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh babe. This is so similar in a way to what I've been going through. It's a crossroads time in our lives. I always feel like I'm whining when I write about it though. You did it much more articulately. (Write. Not whine.)

I'm definitely in for the HDH but my post may be up later in the day. Busy day tomorrow. Ugh.

Mayberry said...

But if there were such a pill, think of the side effects.

I'm sorry this is a tough time. Take care.

thailandchani said...

I know exactly what you are talking about and will be the first to admit that I don't necessarily handle it with the grace you have. The rocks in the dryer. Oh, yes.

I'll link my post on your topic in the morning after you post yours. Mine's already done.

liv said...

this is a question i ask life a lot: what do you want from me?

Karen said...

Is calling people on the phone SOCIAL MEDIA? That is my question. As for the rest, I get it. I do.

A. Beaverhausen said...

Love "Boston Legal". I mean...LOVE IT!! Alan Shore's arguments are topical and fabulous and want for nothing in the way of intelligence and humor and common sense.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could write like you.

Just say "denny crane"


Gwen said...

Sorry the patch is so rough right now, Julie. I have no words of wisdom, just sympathy.