And Now A Word …

Talk, talk, talk, talk. It’s about time we heard from oil.
Not Big Oil. Just … oil.

Friends,

I hope we still are. Friends, I mean.

You set me free

I remember when you first found me. Things had been quiet for some time. My many years of being “alive” were long over, and I had languished in the depths. I felt useless until you brought me to the surface and somehow miraculously invented a way to involve me in the world you were building.

I understand that I wasn’t very attractive when you found me. I know that I needed to be “refined”. Would it have been nicer for you to accept me as I am? Of course, but that’s not your nature. I had been through so many changes already, I was not afraid of another transformation if it meant that we could be together, even for a moment. And the rapid combustion of meeting you … it was exhilarating. You were happy too. I could see your eyes watering with joy even as I became a gaseous haze and floated away. Let’s face it. We used each other.

We had some good times here

It did occur to me very early on that you might use me up. I didn’t care. But when some started to say that I would eventually “run out” … that hurt. I listened for an answer that mentioned how faithful I had been, how completely willing I was to sacrifice myself for you and all the crazy things you wanted to do.

Including jet fuel. Do you think it mattered to me whether you could fly or not? Big deal! But it was important to you, so I got refined again and again. Long after you got bored with flying, I still went through that anguishing “process” and then set myself on fire so you could “take off”. Is the thrill gone? For me, it was never here.

In spite of that we had a lot of fun. Yes, I blew up sometimes. You knew you had to handle me properly. I’m not saying it was never my fault, but it’s fair to say that you understood my nature and were careless in ways that I found astounding.

Me, everywhere

And now I’m unwelcome and apparently have made a mess of things. I hear you using words like “filth” and “ruin” and I wonder if you even remember that you came for me and opened the door and invited me and even begged me to come rushing to you.

Maybe I am just a horrible “spill”. Unwanted and uncontrolled and unrefined and unaware that I am undeniably in the wrong place. But this is my world too, and I didn’t ask for any of this. Perhaps I don’t belong on a pristine beach, but when I see you nestled into a pocket of glowing white sand, the word “blight” does not seem out of place.

I guess we really are more similar than either one of us is willing to admit.

Ever feel completely misunderstood?

62 thoughts on “And Now A Word …”

  1. it’s kind of like boxelder bugs. everyone gets upset that they are on the outside walls of the house, all over the trees, getting into things. well they live here too.
    the sulphur water in yellowstone comes burbling out of the ground and we build stations to observe it.
    oil kills all the vegetation and wildlife and marine life in the area and we get upset. not with the oil but the irresponsible dolts who knew it could happen and didn’t care. the name halaburton hasn’t come up for a couple weeks. they were the ones who put the cap on wrong if i remember correctly. call dick cheney and say hi.
    i spent my entire youth getting in trouble for stuff i thought was perfectly reasonable and now i’m married and that hasn’t changed all that much. i try not to be an irresponsible dolt but i do have my moments.

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  2. good morning, tim! where’s Sherrilee?
    there are many times when i feel that i don’t understand – more often than i feel misunderstood. and i don’t understand how this catastrophe can keep on going. my brother says that the short-life-cycle critters, if they lose two breedings (like shrimp) may be gone forever. he’s going out on the Gulf this morning – going west out of Fuchon i think – so we’ll hear more tomorrow probably.
    yeah, not the oil’s fault. people. i don’t understand.

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  3. I’m here…. I’ve been sitting here for the last half hour trying not to let my cynical, often-misunderstood side out. I’m not sure I want to go to that dark place right now. But leave it to Dale to make oil seem like a love-able, appealing underdog.

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  4. Rise and Shine Babooners!

    This is a very poignant entry. And Dale, pieces like this are the reason I have followed your work all these years. You turn the concept around and make me think. What is it like to be oil where you don’t belong? The ugly duckling? The lonely little petunia in the onion patch?

    I have read a few essays in which authors point out that we are all a part of this spill with each decision an individual makes to use energy. This is true. It is just so much easier to understand by blaming BP or The Man or The Other Guy That Done Me Wrong.

    Do I feel misunderstood? Yes. Many times. It is painful and oh so human.

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    1. Exactly, Jacques. I’ve already forwarded this post to a friend of mine who’s a science writer. I admire your capacity to be gently ironic, Dale–a tone that requires a deft mouse and an exquisite sense of balance. In a world of loud, funny, sarcastic writers and talk show hosts and shock jocks, it plays an important role.

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  5. Because I am a writer, I can’t legitimately feel “misunderstood.” Ever. As a writer, the burden is on me to make myself understood. When others misunderstand me it ultimately is my own fault. Rather than whining, I am obliged to try again to make myself clear. Are there some dense readers who just fail to “get it” even when the truth whacks them on the noggin like a club? Yes, of course. And the burden is still on me to find a way to make myself understood to them.

    I can sympathize with “oil” feeling under-appreciated today. Oil is wonderful stuff when it is in an appropriate place. The villains here are those cretins who mucked around with a well-behaving supply of oil and sent it burbling explosively all over the Gulf. And then we get all these Keystone Kops attempts to mitigate the disaster, all of which would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

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  6. Good Morning to All.

    Well, I can remember some intense feelings of being misunderstood as a child and disagreements as an adult that came from misunderstandings, but I seem have forgotten the details of these misunderstandings which is probably a good thing. There must be some comical misunderstandings that I could report, but one doesn’t come to mind.

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  7. Misunderstood? Yeah, it happens to the best of us (and the worst) – though, like Steve, I hope it doesn’t happen in my writing (as a sometime tech writer, misunderstanding would be bad for business).

    Thanks for putting a different spin on this, Dale. It reminds me that dandelions were brought here on purpose (by a woman who thought they were pretty and liked them in salads as I recall). I still like dandelions, even if they are a bit of a blight.

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  8. If people don’t mind, I’ll amend my answer. It sounds a bit smug to me now.

    I can write or talk about any difficult topic: religion, death, sex and politics. No special problems there. But a few years ago I did a lot of dating, and then it seemed I was swimming in misunderstandings no matter how hard I tried to be clear. I learned that there was no way I could avoid misunderstandings when talking to a woman who had experienced several divorces. When your conversations include the voices of nasty former lovers (voices she can hear but you can not) the dialog gets complicated, fuses blow, signals jump the track, Kleenex tissues get soggy.

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  9. Had a next door neighbor for 17 years (and 7 months) — we started out friends, then eventually were at odds over problems with my cat and our inability to “reach” each other. I was very sad at first, then mad as it degenerated into a situation where we couldn’t even speak to each other. At one “meeting” we tried to have, I wanted to bring the record of the Animals’ “Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

    Poor oil…

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  10. Your finest blog on this site to date, Mr. Connelly. We Americans are running around like maniacs trying to figure out who to blame for the oil leak. No one can agree on the culprit, the evil villain, the greedy entity, the callous wastrel, the conniving manipulator.

    To me, the answer is simple, but very painful to accept: Simply tilt your rear-view mirror toward the driver’s seat and take a long, hard look.

    Chris in Owatonna

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    1. Exactly, Chris. Now what do we do? It seems like the only thing that made us (temporarily) alter our driving habits was that $4 gas.

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  11. Oh, Chris! Right on. As someone raised on Pogo, how could I not remember: “We have met the enemy, and he is . . . . . ”

    Okay. I’m going dark now so others can get a word in edgewise.

    Thanks Mike. Thanks Jasper. Thanks Dale. Hey Blevins, is it too early for me to buy you one?

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    1. I’ll bet this is about Liberty Custard the other night… so how many of you made it? I hated to miss it…

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      1. B in L,
        I think Sherrilee’s talking about a road trip made to Blackhoof yesterday, which was more fun than a barrel of Blevins!

        Liberty was good too. Next time, OK?

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      2. Oops — I mean B in R. I must have been thinking B & L Railroad from Monopoly. I never know where my brain’s going to take me.

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      3. I think the Monopoly railroad was the B & O. I’m not sure what B & L is – a sandwich without the T?

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      4. Okay, West Side Linda — you got me. However, are you aware that there is a historic B&L Railroad (Boston and Lowell) that operated in Massachusetts and it was one of the first railroads in North America? The line later operated as part of the B&M Railroad (Boston and Maine) and when Monopoly was invented, it was the most famous railroad in the world, so of course Parker Bros. originally planned to call the B&O the
        B&M, but the first time they sat down to play, that little mustached guy with the monocle didn’t watch where he was stepping and got it all over his shoes and made a real mess of the game board. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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      5. donna holy cow. thats some information bank on your part. and i bet linda thought she caught you in some innocent error, not a crossfiring of the history of railroads in america. funny!

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    2. Yes! I’ve been showing the goat photos to everyone at work. It confirms they think I’m sort of nuts. But in a good way.

      Fun to put faces to names!

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    3. Thanks for asking, Sherrilee…as I only had 5 or so miles to go to get home…I made it without a rainstorm or incident.

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  12. Just received an email with this prayer from the Dr. Masaru Emoto, who did research and writing (“The Message from Water”) about how water crystals changed when different emotions were introduced…

    “I send the energy of love and gratitude to the waters and all living creatures
    in the Gulf of Mexico and its surroundings.
    To the whales, dolphins, pelicans, fish, shellfish, plankton,
    corals, algae … to ALL living creatures … I am sorry.
    Please forgive me. Thank you.
    I Love You.”

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    1. Thanks for that, Barbara. I loved his books and the amazing pictures. I saw him speak here in Twin Cities several years ago — such a sweet, caring and delightful man.

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  13. And let’s not forget Michael Jackson’s laconically affecting lyrics:

    I’m Starting With The Man In
    The Mirror,
    I’m Asking Him To Change
    His Ways
    (Better Change!)
    You Know . . .That Man
    No Message Could Have
    Been Any Clearer
    If You Wanna Make The World
    A Better Place
    (If You Wanna Make The
    World A Better Place)
    Take A Look At Yourself And
    Then Make A Change
    (Take A Look At Yourself And
    Then Make A Change)
    Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
    Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
    Na Nah
    (Oh Yeah!)
    Gonna Feel Real Good Now!
    Yeah Yeah! Yeah Yeah!
    Yeah Yeah!
    Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
    Na Nah
    (Ooooh . . .)
    Oh No, No No . . .
    I’m Gonna Make A Change
    It’s Gonna Feel Real Good!
    Come On!
    (Change . . .)
    Just Lift Yourself
    You Know
    You’ve Got To Stop It.
    Yourself!
    (Yeah!-Make That Change!)
    I’ve Got To Make That Change,
    Today!
    Hoo!
    (Man In The Mirror)
    You Got To
    You Got To Not Let Yourself . . .
    Brother . . .
    Hoo!
    (Yeah!-Make That Change!)
    You Know-I’ve Got To Get
    That Man, That Man . . .
    (Man In The Mirror)
    You’ve Got To
    You’ve Got To Move! Come
    On! Come On!
    You Got To . . .
    Stand Up! Stand Up!
    Stand Up!
    (Yeah-Make That Change)
    Stand Up And Lift
    Yourself, Now!
    (Man In The Mirror)
    Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!
    Aaow!
    (Yeah-Make That Change)
    Gonna Make That Change . . .
    Come On!
    (Man In The Mirror)
    You Know It!
    You Know It!
    You Know It!
    You Know . . .
    (Change . . .)
    Make That Change.

    If that doesn’t make you cry, I don’t know what.

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    1. Donna, I hope you cut and pasted those lyrics…I shudder to think you might have typed them all out…or, perchance, do you know the lyrics by heart? Oh, what a teacher you are if you did!

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    2. Or this, from 1965, The Animals
      “…Oh, oh, oh, baby – don’t you know I’m human
      I have thoughts like any other one
      Sometimes I find myself, Lord, regretting
      Some foolish thing, some little simple thing I’ve done

      I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
      Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
      Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
      Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
      Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
      Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

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  14. Okay, I guess there has been a misunderstanding that I should get out in the open. Why haven’t I received one of those Macarthur genius awards? I’m just as smart as some of those people who got them, right? I think this qualifies as a serious misunderstanding about me.

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    1. I’m sure you’re probably smarter than some of them. But what a nice fantasy that somebody shows up at your door, says “You’re really smart… so here’s a lot of money.” Big sigh.

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    2. Mac ARTHUR genius awards? I thought it was the Mc DONALD’S genius awards! So I guess this means I won’t find one in a Happy Meal, or win one as a prize in Mc Donald’s Monopoly game. I’m sure Bubby said it was the Mc Donald’s genius awards. Phooey.

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    3. What? They have passed you by too? Maybe we should start a support group for the seriously misunderstood. Blevins could join along with us.

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  15. Ah, passed over … isn’t that a Jewish holiday? Anybody catch the Tony Awards Sunday night? I had it on my calendar for months but forgot until about halfway through. The inimitable Nathan Lane — a sort of Broadway poster child for being passed over for awards was on — again. He and Bebe Neuwirth were presenting an award and they were cracking jokes about being passed over — again — for being nominated/winning a Tony Award. And both of them are amazing talents, well known on Broadway, TV and movies.

    And of course, I’m misunderstood. I just don’t feel up to indulging myself and whining about it. All of you are such amazing writers — especially our newcomers to the blog and the pros in our group. You’ve said it all so well already. Now, Donna stole my idea of Michael Jackson’s song … I just have nothing to add at the moment.

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    1. Joanne – you almost caused milk to come out my nose with your ‘passed over’ joke! Funny!
      And Renee – I think Blevins should be the President-into-perpituity of the Perennially Passed-over People – membership is free and open to all.

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  16. Passed over? Hmmm… Yes I guess I have been passed over for many things but there are a lot of folks out there that make me feel it is ok to be passed over. I wouldn’t want what comes with their lives. I wouldn’t mind a few more pennies. I do pick them up when I find them . I wanted to know where the “find a penny pick it up” came from so I googled it. There was a spiritual website that said that by picking up the penny that the universe knew that you could be trusted with small things so it could also trust you with larger ones. I just had to come to realize that the bigger treasures are not dollars but the family, friends, and beauty that come to us every day. Does that sound too sappy?

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    1. I actually have a little photo album of my daughter and the title is “Mama’s Treasure”, so I’m in Camp Sappy with you!

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  17. ok. i’ve been passed over in the computer-savvy dept. i notice that lots of you have photos instead of the quilty things. i like the quilty things, but wanted to put a photo of the triplets on. i uploaded them to the V thingy (see i have already forgotten the name of that place) and logged in to WordPress and the V thingy but haven’t been able to figure out how to post the image i uploaded. not even a McDonald’s award for me.

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  18. Barb — I think it has worked a couple of different ways for different folks, but the way I did it was to register with WordPress (upper right hand corner underneath Blevins’ trail). Then when I went to profile, I could upload my picture under Images. Hope that’s clear! AND… the picture didn’t start popping up until I had logged off and then logged back on.

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      1. OK, at this point I’m finally laughing out loud… good thing I don’t have a mouthful of coffee.

        Barb, if you get it to work, let us know. (We’ll I guess we’ll know because there will be a picture.) I’want to do it too…

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  19. Nice choice with “blight” at the end, Dale! Excellent! Brought tears to my eyes…

    Sometimes when I feel misunderstood, I also feel unheard. This seems to be a common condition for many in our world – so many feel unseen, unheard, misunderstood.

    Bush #1: “Shut up and listen!”
    Bush #2: “Don’t misunderestimate me!”

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  20. Quiet day here, it seems. I’ve had a busy little day at the workplace, so am just now getting caught up.

    I am going to start by saying one of the things I so cherish about this blog community is it is one of the few places where I actually feel UNDERSTOOD. I work in a place where the idea of blaming ourselves for the mess would be unacceptable, I come from an immediate family who find me incomprehensible (although the extended has many members who I recognize as kin in more ways than one).

    Thanks for an excellent post, Dale, and thank all the rest of you “kindred spirits” (bonus if you know the reference, and I’m sure some of you do) for being part of “the race that knows Joseph” (and big thanks if you can tell me where that is from, because it is currently escaping me).

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  21. I did not know the phrase “the race that knew Joseph” but a quick google has Lucy Maud Montgomery using it in one of her Anne of Green Gable books. Classic. Thanks kindred spirits.

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