Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cosmetic Surgery at Face Value

The observation that December is not the time for cherries may come as a surprise or at least an anomaly to non-Californians now living in California because the produce departments of at least four markets, all of them part of a chain, features cherries.  The place of origin of these cherries is Chile.

Through a convoluted process of being a native Californian and, thus, conversant with a wide range of produce and fruit, seeing cherries in supermarkets, amid the Christmas decorations, is no surprise, but, with respect to Chile, the cherries do not survive the long trip as well as California and Washington cherries, which appear in season.

As many as a third of the Chilean cherries arrive with mold, bruise, or rot.  Whole Foods informs you that they, too, experience the fragile nature of the transaction and if you find yourself bringing home too many moldy cherries, perhaps you should stick to such local fruits as pears, tangerines, and oranges which, they will tell you at Whole Foods, you might wish to avoid because the navels you like tend to be a bit woody because of adverse weather conditions.

Albertsons says more or less the same thing.  It's a jungle out there.  Buyer beware.  That sort of thing.  Trader Joe's recommends you arrive early, don;t buy more than a day's worth at a time, and eat those with all deliberate speed, by which they mean eat the cherries by day's end if you wish to avoid mold and mushy cherries.

Only Gelsons steps up to say their customers should not have to suffer blighted cherries, regardless of their point of origin.  They seem to you to be saying they'd be as unhappy if you were to find their cherries moldy or blighted even if they were direct from the local tree, as it were.

In this manner, you've illustrated your current vision that few things or people are what they seem to be, an observation that affords your inner cynic a full serving of pleasure, but which also folds back on you when, cynic that you are, you wonder if you are what you seem to be.  Do you in fact have traces of blight or mold or bruise?  If so, do these afflictions have a measurable effect on your transactions with friends, students, clients, and the individuals you write about in fiction and nonfiction?

The man who hired you away from Los Angeles represented attitudes and belief systems that were polar to your own.  Even while he was representing these attitudes and beliefs on a daily basis and you had considerable contact with him in the sense that you reported to him, he was also displaying an ethical nature and sense of humor you admired to the point of outright respect.  Well before you'd met him, you had the growing conviction that persons, places, and things--most nouns--were not what they seemed on the surface.

This meant the need to look at things with a practiced focus, and so you began practicing your focus, keeping score of your judgments to the point of awareness that you did not have a major league average when it came to rating and ranking things.  Your errors of judgment were about equal in terms of you admiring something for its authenticity and dismissing it out of hand as a product of humbug, self-delusion, and memorized behavior as opposed to behavior learned from observation and assessment.

Part of this practiced focus involves the equivalent of judging a book by its cover, then checking with the text to see if the totality of the book is more or less than it seems.  You have to figure yourself competent to do that, given you've published hundreds of books, edited hundreds of others, and written some. You've gone so far as to have designed a few dozen and been responsible for the smooth sail through the production process of a few hundred others.  Let the record--or your own self-challenge--show that you did not seem to be the sort of person who could or would do such things.

In consequence, you have enough experience with books in the various stages of their lives to seem like the sort of a person who could judge a book by its cover, if you wished to do so.  Experiences with a printer this very day remind you you are not nearly so patient as you seem much of the time, a situation you take as a strength because, although impatience may sneak up on you to the point where you do something precipitous about it, say order a twenty-nine-dollar printer from Canon, where at one time you may have done something physical to the present computer before ordering a new one.  Where you might have been physical in your impatience, today you were merely diagnostic.

By not taking nouns in general at their face value, much less yourself, you arrive at a state of in-the-moment edginess, perhaps bordering into suspicion.  Kick the tires.  This is quite a difference from a time when many of the high and higher hopes you had for yourself were things you hoped to learn and feared that because they were so high, you'd have to settle.

You've arranged things to the point where your goals continue to involve high risk, but they also involve loving those risks rather than going after them with jaw set at grim, and the possibility of enjoying yourself oh, so thin.

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