On Self’s Mind This Tuesday Morning: Cable (Or, How Can Self Get “Weeds” Without Paying More than $4.95 Extra a Month)

Today, hubby has given self the task of checking to see how much more we will have to pay the cable company if we get HBO and/ or Showtime. Honestly, self doesn’t even know what plan we are on. So, five minutes after he leaves, after checking one last time to see whether self has received any e-mail (Alas, no), self picks up the phone and dials the number for Comcast. Following, an approximation of what transpired after the call was answered:

Menu 1: English or Spanish

Computer-generated Voice: Effective October 2nd, comcast customers will need a digital receiver in order to continue to view (garbled)

Menu 2: For Trouble w/ Service press 1, For Billing Inquiries press 2, For Upgrade press 3, For Downgrade or to Discontinue Sevice, press 4, For Pay-per-view press 5

Menu 3: For Cable press 1, For High-Speed Internet press 2, For Home Phone Service press 3

Menu 4: For Account Balance press 1, For Payments press 2, For Payment Locations press 3, For All Other Questions press 4

Menu 5: To Make a Payment by Phone press 1, For Assistance with Billing Questions press 2

Menu 6: To Pay Current Balance press 1, To Make Partial Payments press 2, To Set up Automatic Monthly Payments press 3

Whoa! How did self get here? Must begin again:

Menu 1: English or Spanish

Computer-Generated Voice: Effective October 2nd, comcast customers will need a digital receiver in order to continue to view (garbled)

Menu 2: For Trouble w/ Service press 1, For Billing Inquiries press 2, For Upgrade press 3, For Downgrade or to Discontinue Sevice, press 4, For Pay-per-view press 5

Menu 3: For Cable press 1, For High-Speed Internet press 2, For Home Phone Service press 3

Menu 4: For Account Balance press 1, For Payments press 2, For Payment Locations press 3, For All Other Questions press 4

Menu 5: To Make a Payment by Phone press 1, For Assistance with Billing Questions press 2

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Frustration? Ha! Self, What Do You Know About Frustration?

This evening, self is reading about Saint John of the Cross in an essay by Paul Mariani in Parabola (May 2005). Picture the poet/saint :

squeezed into a cell — a cupboard, really — in the priory of the Carmelites in Toledo, Spain, in the winter and spring and beastly summer of 1578. So cramped were his quarters, in fact, that John could never quite stand up. There he languished, to be taken out each day and led to the refectory, flogged by each of the friars in turn in what was called the ‘circular discipline,’ the saint’s bare back exposed to the leather whips until his neck and shoulders were permanently scarred.

Dysentery, lice, lack of warmth in winter, lack of fresh air in summer, lack of adequate nourishment, lack of companionship, of understanding, of light. His own Carmelite brethren, out of fear, out of zeal perhaps for maintaining the power that comes with holding to the status quo, no doubt meant business. They would break this thirty-six-year-old poet and mystic as others had tried to break that other unrecalcitrant, Teresa of Avila.

After a time, they forgot about him. Eventually the beatings became boring, repetitious, unfruitful, and decreased from one a day to one a week. A new jailer took compassion on him and gave him paper and pen so that he could write down the lines haunting his ear.

Other personages mentioned by Paul Mariani:

Ezra Pound, stuck in a “gorilla cage” at an Army detention center outside Pisa in the summer of 1945. Pound, a proud man broken by his own recklessness, the intense camp lights pouring down on him like rain, his only companion a cricket, as he wrote his Pisan Cantos. “Pull down thy vanity,” he warned himself, in a rare moment of self-understanding, “I say, pull down.”

Other suffering visionaries mentioned by Mariani in his essay: Miguel de Cervantes, penning whole sections of his Don Quixote from prison; Emily Dickinson, writing “poems that still burn with an incandescent flame” in the isolation of her little room in Amherst.

Here are words of John of the Cross written in the original Spanish:

de ti me van mil gracias refiriendo
y todos mas me llagan,
y déxame muriendo
un no sé qué que quedan balbuciendo.

And here is how Mariani translates the above:

Everything about me
sends word of your myriad graces.
And yet everything hurts,
everything leaves me dying,
stammering on about I don’t know
what’s what.

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