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Posted on November 3rd, 2020

The Soft Core of the Earth – Getting Groceries

As I sit down to write this, I’m admittedly in a writer’s block. You might say, “I’ve read your columns, when are you not?” And perhaps that is true. But let me tell you about how I go about “planning” for this endeavor: about a week before the 1st of each month I open the template that I work from and save it to my desktop with the title of that month’s piece; the title is supposed to be the reminder as to what to embark on. However, sometimes the title makes little sense, or doesn’t trigger anything in my mind, so I either try to come up with something else, or I work with what I’ve got. Brock has had to reprimand me many times for writing about nonsense, or sometimes topics that are too taboo or esoteric for the newsletter, so I’m doing my best to stick to something that might be mildly amusing toilet reading without ruffling any feathers. As he has pointed out to me, none of these are good, some are just worse than others. I often wonder why he stills pays me to do this, but I think the reason is because his girlfriend finds them amusing to read on the bus to work. I doubt Katie ever reads them, but she’s the one who actually pays me, so we’ve got a good thing going. Thanks, Katie!

In all fairness, Brock gives me a pretty long leash as long as I don’t get too mouthy. It’s decent pay for the time and effort I put in (if you were to ask him, he would say that the latter is non-existent), so I like to approach these things as writing exercises. Sometimes actual decent ideas come from what’s written here that I explore elsewhere, and sometimes this column is where dreams come to die. Many rejected op-ed submissions have landed here; I can’t let my “art” go to waste, can I?

Looks great. What do I do with it? Remember that cartoon, The Jetsons? They had those meals in a pill. Why hasn’t that been invented yet?

In the early years of doing this I had specific things I had to try to incorporate: one short piece on alternative energy, another on global connections, and a third on education. In the beginning I found them all to be tasks I looked forward to taking on, but that gusto soon faded, and you could tell by the “quality” (i.e., lack thereof) of writing that it was drudgery for me to take part. Though still I persisted because I got paid to do so. I doubt any of those “columns” would be worth using to clean the dog shit off your shoe. Well, I then proposed to Brock that I go from three pieces to two and I get to focus on, well, whatever I wanted to. That was approved and we made some headway there for a little while until I got in trouble. I was told to shape up or ship out and that’s how we got here, to one column that is supposed to go into a little more depth and supposed to be somehow related to geography. Sometimes it is, but not always. Really, these are just streams of consciousness that sometimes sound coherent and sometimes don’t. I’m always amazed to hear that some of you actually read these; every once in a while, he’ll get an email from one of you that gets forwarded on to me. On occasion that will inspire me.

If there were no rules (and out of fairness to Brock, there are very few), I would channel my inner Charles Bukowski with a little Hunter S. Thompson mixed in. In fact, I like to consider these columns as the prison toilet wine version of HST. That’s probably being a little too generous… I subscribe to several magazines, mostly the investigative journalism type, and I often daydream about writing in their pages. I fancy myself an essayist, and an aspiring novelist as well – hell, I even write poetry from time to time. But nonetheless, I often find myself floundering on these monthly opportunities. If I really thought I had the chops, then I would make these little ditties be my platform to possibility. Instead, they’re just the precursor to my inevitable crippling dementia that awaits me in my “golden years.” They say if you keep your mind active by reading and writing you can ward off cognitive decline, but for those of you who read what’s written here, it probably appears that decline has already set in. At least I have a measuring stick to gauge how bad it’s gotten…

There are a few alternative weeklies in my hometown, and one of their top tier columnists has in his byline something like, “…the author of many works, some I’m proud of, none I’m ashamed of.” Well, I think it’s obvious that can’t be said about what I write here. It’s downright cringeworthy sometimes. In fact, sometimes I want to change my name just so I’m not associated with this stuff any longer. I mean, once it’s on the interwebs, it’s there forever. Have you ever checked out the Wayback Machine? Be careful of what you put out there, kids. Jeez…

I also wonder about what I write on here at times being incriminating. I don’t ever plan to run for office, and by the state of our political climate, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore, but I probably have let slip a few things that I shouldn’t have. I’m an indulgent, filter-less fellow, and I can run off at the mouth with the best of them. I’m still often reminded of what my dad used to tell me as a kid: that I should count to ten before I say anything to avoid saying something stupid. Of course, I never followed that advice, and I certainly never learned that lesson, but nonetheless, it was/is sound. I find myself telling other people that these days sometimes. Do as I say, not as I do, you know…

So, what on Earth was I going to write about regarding “getting groceries”? I hate grocery shopping, so that could’ve been it. There is a really cool song by Mallrat called ‘Groceries,’ so that could’ve been it also. But I doubt it. I assume it had something to do with mundanity, especially since I buy and eat the same thing over and over. It could also have been how much I hate the fact that the managers at my grocery store suck because they’re either out of stuff all the time – no matter when you go – or they get rid of the products I like. I especially don’t like grocery shopping during the pandemic – not because of fear of getting sick, but because they have all those one-way signs, occupancy limits and cash restrictions, not to mention I feel the need to wipe everything down when I get home and that’s annoying and takes time I’d rather not offer up. I definitely hate the people who try to bag my groceries because most of them have to be of the inbred variation based on their methodology: bread and soft fruits on the bottom, cans and jugs of liquid on the top. I always bag my own whenever I can. In fact, on one occasion when I didn’t bag, and I actually got someone who knew what they were doing, I called the store to tell them how happy and shocked I was, and that they should let her train others because everyone else was a moron. She got promoted, obviously, so was no longer available to bag my groceries, and the next time I foolishly let someone else do so, guess what? They screwed it up. So, yeah. I don’t like the grocery store, but I have to eat. I’d be totally cool with eating out every meal, I used to do that back in the day, but I have zero interest in traveling any measurable distance from my house to do so, and the stuff nearby me ain’t that great. So, I go to the grocery store instead…

Man, I just don’t know what I was going to write about, but if there’s one thing I’ve figured out with this column, it’s that more than likely you’re not reading it anyway, or if you are, you’ll read anything – that much has been confirmed. So, if you have all that extra time on your hands to read this garbage, why don’t you go get my groceries for me instead?

Marco Esquandoles
Paper or Plastic?

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